Ironwork is rigging heavy loads and erecting steel structures. I was in the trade for ten years and went through formal Apprenticeship training with classes for three years.
Working on towers, high-rise buildings and bridges was an experience that I enjoyed. The men were a breed apart from any others. There were virtually no women in the trade while I was an Apprentice and Journeyman in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I even got to work on the Golden Gate Bridge. Most of the hands I knew have passed on or retired now.
Things have changed a lot. The experience was better than going to college and taught me many lessons. The value of a work ethic might be the most important. That helped in getting through law school at Gonzaga!
I worked in Wyoming and a few other states on huge coal fired power plants during the 1970s. Rock Springs and Gillette, Wyoming were boom towns and seemed much like Dodge City or Tombstone, Arizona. Those Wyoming boomtowns appeared to a MidWesterner like me as if they were time-travel cities. It was as if I was back in the days of Wyatt Earp. A city slicker traveling from Chicago (I was raised in Chicago before I went to California to join up with the hippies) into a mining town or railhead where cattle were shipped Back East must have felt like I did. We had to kick snow and ice off the girders and the below-zero wind howled all day in Rock Springs.
That is when I decided to move to North Idaho. There weren’t many high-rise buildings or towers on which to work. I went to North Dakota to work on another powerhouse under construction and at Hanford a few times. Then I left the trade and went to work underground at the Lucky Friday Mine for Hecla Mining Company. That was the only steady work I could find that would make my house payments and feed my family.
So many experiences along the way. The biggest adventure was discovering Christ. Knowing Christ opened up a sense of purpose and destiny. A sense of surprise still overwhelms me when I think of how the experiences of so many generations all came together to make my story something that I can even begin to grasp. Maybe that is because I left home when I was sixteen with little experience outside of reading novels, poetry and philosophical subjects. And a fairly shallow religious training from two years of confirmation classes via the Lutheran Church.
I do appreciate what I learned, however. The Lutheran confirmation classes only seemed shallow because I didn’t know Christ. By the time I was in High School, a teacher introduced me to Aldous Huxley. He was a novelist who dealt with very philosophical and “spiritual” subjects. Huxley was a proponent of what we call New Age religion today.
I wanted to be a novelist also and absorbed much of my worldview from those books right when radical Socialism, Eastern Religion, psychedelics and alternative lifestyles were taking over on college campuses and at universities. If I had not dropped out of high school and avoided higher education, I might have become totally brainwashed!