Editor & Publisher of the St. Croix Review.
Asphalt Driveway Co.
I was lucky years ago to work on
The crews that put in asphalt driveways in
The summer and we came in tall trucks with
A tractor a roller and a paver
And we were young men exercising our strength
And honing our skills and learning what was
Necessary — like standing on a load
Of asphalt while the soles of our boots burned
And shoveling from the truck down into
A wheelbarrow because that is the
Only way to get the asphalt to an
Odd place — there was no use in wearing
Gloves because they would be worn out very
Fast so our hands developed calluses.
I used a maul
and a pickax
and grew a
Willie’s appearance might not impress you
Because he was too thin and tanned almost
Black and the sun is not kind to exposed
Skin — he was silent unpredictable
And volatile — but as the chief on an
Asphalt driveway crew he was a master
Craftsman working from his tractor seat at
Timing the arrivals of the trucks and
The moving of the grunts and at tearing
Out the old driveway and sculpting the ground
With an eye for the drainage of water
And he was good at raking stones into
Place and once the asphalt was flowing he
Knew how to lay an impeccable mat.
Willie was wicked
in his rages over
for no reason.
Davey folded the six plastic rings that
Connected a six-pack of pop into
A single ring and with his hands grasping
Behind his neck he tore it apart and
Joey franticly shoveled the stones
In the correct general direction
And Joey drove hastily weaving
Around the traffic with a hot load of
Asphalt and there came a day I had to
Prove myself so I swung a pickax like
John Henry and the next day they let a
Surplus guy go and kept me and with my
Boot I balanced on an empty pop can
And with my fingers tapping crushed the can.
The crew chief mastered
all the necessary skills
and he sits in the
tractor seat and he
A tamper is a steel pole with a square
Ending that is used to put a raised edge
Alongside an asphalt driveway and I
I had a good eye for tamping a straight
Line and the chiefs selected me because
My tamping was a fine finishing touch
And I was happy because I could keep
Working and I had a skill setting me
Apart and I enjoyed riding to jobs
In the back of a tall dump truck wearing
A bandana but not a shirt feeling
Like a pirate and encountering the
Curious expressions of passersby
Because I was a member of the crew.
It is easy to
encourage a young man
and entice him to
work like a raging demon —
give him some belonging.
A roller uses two cylinder wheels
That we filled with water and it’s about
Twice as big as a golf cart and I went
Forward by pushing a lever forward
And backward the same way and one day I
Was rolling pressing a just laid driveway
Going right to the edge of a ten foot
Drop enjoying an easy interlude
Between hard labor and I pulled back on
The lever but the roller kept on so
I jumped and down it went boom boom and like
A cat I landed with my heart going
Boom boom and I might have been dozing a
Little beforehand but then I woke up.
a mechanical failure
a ten foot drop and
produced a happy ending.
It was a joke we enjoyed — four of the
State government road crew were leaning on
Their shovels as one was shoveling — though
There might have been a little envy too
Because we were like skinny feral cats —
And from the moment we arrived at the
Yard there was ceaseless motion before dawn
And through the heat of summer days until
Returning past the evening twilight and
The only occasional rest was if
There was room for me in the cab to doze
On the way to the next job otherwise
I’d stand in the dumpster part of the truck
With my arms over the sides holding on.
Such a test of pride —
to lift a wheelbarrow
and hurl it up and
over the side into the
dump truck about ten feet high.
Our Mission Is to Reawaken the Genuine American Spirit . . .
It is obvious in many who engage in or watch politics and governance: cynicism. My hero/commentator, Charles Krauthammer, is an admittedly proud cynic, expertly honed to see underlying motives. Charles sees motives, goals, and likely results: self-promotion predominates, solutions ignored, Americans without power suffer, and problems accumulate - the veterans who die waiting to receive medical care while VA managers hide waiting lists so that managers win bonuses is a poignant example. The Veterans' Administration is not being run for the benefit of veterans but for the benefit of VA managers, which epitomizes the nature of bureaucracies.