Tuesday, August 20, 2013

At Lock 50

Tommy Carter at Lock 50

This is a true story. It was fall and chilly and the towboats were waiting to lock at Lock and Dam 50. It was always a sure bet that you would find your towboat there when you made a crew change. I was on duty at the lock and part of my duties was communicating with the towboats (before the cell phone and smart phone). 
A car pulled up at the lock and a deck hand said goodbye to his wife and came to the lock shack on the lock wall and asked me, “ CCCould yyyou CCCall mmmy tttow bbboat?” I noticed his stutter but I had stuttered until age nine so I said nothing and called the boat and told them they had a crew member at the lock. They said they would send a john boat to pick him up.
Tow boat crews work 6 hours then off 6 hours then on 6 then off 6 in a day.7days a week for two weeks, then go home for two weeks. And it was about 1 pm when we called the boat. Towboats have a Captain and a pilot and by 1 pm the Captain had gone to bed and would come back at 6:00 pm to work his evening shift.
For some strange reason I had to stay another shift so when that towboats time to lock came it was getting close to 6:00 pm. On the approach to the lock wall the towboat crew was making their crew change. I was standing at the end of the lock wall when I saw the Mate who had asked me to call the boat relieving the other mate in front of me at the end of the wall. The captain had not met his new mate as of yet. In those days they had hard wired speakers at the head of the tows to communicate with the pilot house when approaching the lock walls. 
And this is what I heard at the end of the lock wall as the barges approached the wall, “CCCaptian wwe aare aabout tthrity ffeet ooff the wwwall.” And then I heard the Captain answer on the speaker.

“Aare yyyyou mmakin ffun oof mme?”

My apologies to folks that stutter.

No comments:

Post a Comment