A Journal For Charlie

Memories Of Concrete

A Family Business

When I took the photographs of the old equipment and buildings at our concrete business several months ago, I posted most of them.   Then I realized that I had talked about the business, but I didn’t do it in a way that tells you what it represents to me. I hope this post tells you something about me that I believe is essential to who I am. When people visit our plant, I am certain that they never see what I see when I walk out to production.  I see beautiful shapes and colors and textures.

The next photo illustrates what I see when I look at an old, steel cylinder cap sitting discarded on a steel beam at eye level next to the oxygen and acetylene tanks.

This hook and chain are critical components of the lifting device that is used to lift thousands of pounds of concrete tank to a level above the crane operator’s head. His life depends on the integrity of this device. She is a beautiful sight to me.  She is rusty on the surface, but she is inspected and strength tested, watched and cared for.  This device is used to lift smaller tanks.  It is the device that I used to load and move five-hundred and thousand-gallon tanks in the old days.

Ah, the beauty of a stick of rebar with its wonderful rust.  Steel is a remarkable material.  These sticks have been cut with a cutting torch so you see the melted steel at the ends.  The welder culled these pieces for some reason so they were leaning against the building when I passed the rebar welding rack.

The next photo is of a concrete pier.   We made them to use for leveling houses and supporting small structures of all kinds.  This pier has been under one corner of a vibrating table for many, many years.  It has layers of old cement and oil and grease deposits much like a stalactite in a cave.  The deposits create an interesting texture.

A concrete pier under a lid form that is ready to be poured.   (Pouring is the term for filling a form with cement.)

The next image is of an old brace with clamps on each end.  It is placed across the steel form and tightened to help to prevent the sides of the form from “bowing” under the pressure of the wet concrete.  This brace is used only on the old forms.  The newer forms do not require it.  This one is many years old and covered in concrete. This simple bar is a clear reminder of the early years.

The next photo is of a lifting device.  In the background, you see the other end of this device.  Between the two bars with lifting eyes there is a set of chains that wrap around the tank and tighten against the tank when it is raised.   This device has safety features to insure that it doesn’t fail and drop the tank that weighs several tons.  There is a concrete tank in the background showing an inlet.  I never used this device since it lifts the big tanks that I never poured or worked with.  To hear the chains and steel whine and clank is an alarming sound to the uninitiated, but it is everyday music to a concrete manufacturer’s ear!  It means that production is running smoothly.

This is another view of a stack of rebar waiting to be cut to the required lengths and welded into a flat reinforcement mat to be installed in a steel tank lid form over which wet cement will be poured to form a lid.

There is one item that no concrete manufacturer ever needs to buy.  Hooks for hanging stuff.  Need a hook?  Cut a length of rebar, bend it, and weld it to a steel upright in the plant for instant storage of anything that needs a hook … electrical cords, hoses, wire, chain, apron, hats, anything.   Lovely to look at and as handy as sliced bread too!

This is a roll of wire ties.  They’re used to tie rebar together for reinforcing concrete in precast concrete production or in slab construction or anywhere that requires holding reinforcement steel together.  There is a handheld tool that is used to twist these wires around the joining lengths of rebar to hold them together.  I’d like to have a nickel for ever wire I ever twisted!  Now, most of the steel is welded together.

One summer, against my better judgment, I agreed to hire the teenage son of a guy who ran a construction business.   He was assigned to tie mats of wire mesh together to form “cages” to use as reinforcement in tanks.  We were all eating at a nearby convenience store one day, and I was sitting beside the kid who was eating a greasy hamburger and fries.  I noticed that his hands were completely covered in rust from the wire.  That is, all except the tips of his fingers which he’d licked clean!  He effectively ended his career as a concrete magnate later that day when he jumped off the platform onto a stack of wire mesh and stuck a piece through his tennis shoe into his foot.  We took him howling to his mama who was a nurse at one of the local hospitals.

This is a valve on a welding tank.  I don’t know who Victor is, but he left his welding glasses here…  :-)

This is typical of the old days.  An old apron hanging with a saw on a rebar hook in production.  It looks as if it’s been there for awhile.  It probably belonged to Eulogio who used to run production for us.  He’d been in concrete production for so many years that he was always clean.  The measure of experience in this business is how clean a person can manage to remain.  The newbies are covered from head to toe in oil and cement and rust within an hour into the day.

This sledge hammer must be as old as the business.  Often, you can hear the unmistakable sound of somebody pounding steel with it.  I’d guess that it’s one of the things that has been around as long as I have.  Sledge hammers just don’t wear out.  When you need one, nothing else will do.

This old pair of wire cutters has survived too.  I guess they look too bad to walk off.

This is a corner latch on a steel form door.  The latch is a safety feature that is designed to keep the form door from opening when the form is filled with wet concrete.  There is one on each corner of every form except the big forms.

As it is with everything employees use, the hard hats end up being tossed aside somewhere.  This one has been lying in an unused steel form for a long time.  Everybody in production is issued a hard hat, gloves, and eye protection.  Nobody wears them, of course.  Hey, it’s a family business.  We never wore safety gear either.

This is a step.  It hangs on the side of  steel forms that are too tall for the employees to reach.  They step up onto this hanging grate to work inside the form and to level the wet concrete when it is poured into the form.  It’s been around a long time too.  It’s beaten and battered and covered with concrete, but it works.  I’d like to know how many guys have stood on this step.  I no longer remember where it came from or who made it.   The bigger forms have boards that run along the entire side of the form.  One of our employees was acting the fool during a pour one day and stepped off the platform.  He fell flat and broke his collar bone.  It had to be surgically repaired.  He was out of work for six months.  Silly boy.  Believe it or not, he still works for us.   We call him “Giggles”.

This is a rebar bender that we use to bend handles into a u-shape to use as lifting eyes for concrete tank lids.  The lifting eyes are tied or welded onto the rebar mats and placed into the steel lid forms before they are filled with wet concrete.  I have no idea why somebody wound a rope around it.  Dry cement dust is constantly settling on everything in the production area.  It is corrosive in the humid air and rusts everything it touches.  Our production is in the open air.  It is under a twenty-foot overhead building, but the sides have to remain open for ventilation.  I suppose this bender could be cleaned up, but it wouldn’t work any better.  I’m certain that it will outlive me.

I’ve shown you some of the old stuff from my end of the production area where the five-hundred-gallon to twelve-hundred-gallon tanks are made.  I am familiar with the manufacture of these tanks along with parking blocks, cattleguards, and other pads and miscellaneous concrete stuff .  If we walk further down the slab, we come to the big tank forms that are components of the aerobic treatment plant.  One tank weighs twenty thousand pounds.  The crane operator punched “down” on the controls one day while one of these tanks was suspended mid-air.  She came down all right.  Straight down, non-stop, and crashed on the concrete floor.  The controls had failed.  Chunks of concrete, wire, steel and every other component inside the tank flew off in all directions.  Miraculously, nobody was hurt.  This stuff is too big for me.

This is one of the steel forms like the one in which the fallen tank was made.  The tool leaning against it is used to punch the wet concrete down into areas of the mold evenly.  Concrete has to have a specified “slump” which means that it does not pour into the form like milkshake.  This is a bigger and a more complicated form than any that I ever worked with.  I stopped working in production when we moved to our present location and began manufacturing larger thanks.  I am not familiar with the operation of this steel form.  It has several compartments.  The tanks that are made on it are used in the aerobic treatment plant that we sell.

I still love the sounds of production.  The clank of steel against steel, the clatter of chains, the ominous creak of chain against concrete as the wenches grumble and the chains settle into the tank grooves as they are lifted onto the trucks, the sound of the concrete mixer running, the guys’ banter, the radio blasting over the din of production.  Then the heightened alertness when the big tanks are being turned over; the crane operator releases the latch; the monster tank hesitates and moves tentatively; then she flips over in what looks like an uncontrolled roll accompanied by the sounds of groaning chains and clanking steel; she rocks back and forth and finally settles down; the tank is safely lowered to the plant floor; the banter and noise resume.   That moment before the roll always reminds us that we are ants on the other end of a leash trying to control a twenty-thousand pound lady with an unforgiving attitude!

To a concrete manufacturer, this is “liquid gold”.   There is a “recipe” for making it, but anybody who works with the mix for very long knows how it should look.  The principle is the same whether the person is a baker working with dough or a batch mixer working with wet concrete.  Each knows how his mix should look.  Each is equally satisfied when the mix “cooks” and comes out in a lovely form.

This stuff is dusty, dirty, wet, caustic and very heavy.  It sets up fast leaving little room for mistakes.  When water is added, it begins to cure.  Nothing can stop it at that point.  Wet concrete is fickle and susceptible to heat and cold and all sorts of variables.  When she works, she works well.  When she fails, she fails big time.  I don’t know how we who work with her come to love her, but we do.

When the heat subsides here in South Texas, I will take you out to the plant to see how precast concrete is manufactured.

Here are other photos of miscellaneous stuff around the production area of the plant:

Water settled in a steel lid form covering some odd washer-looking pieces of steel.

Edge of a cement pour bucket after it has emptied its load into a steel form.

Oxygen and acetylene tanks for welding and cutting steel

Safety lock on a steel form

The ever present chains are a reminder of the danger inherent in precast concrete production.

Safety devices and chains hold the production world together!

Sealant between the lid and the tank.  It has melted in the heat and the excess has run down the tank a bit.  Once this sealant is applied, the lid cannot be removed.

This steel form is called a gang form because it allows us to pour twelve parking blocks in one form.  We used to pour the cement into single forms to make one block at a time.  This was a messy, difficult business and the blocks were heavy to lift creating the potential for back injuries, smashed fingers and crushed toes.  With the introduction of the gang form, the new generation has eliminated much of the labor and the danger involved in the production of these blocks.  I suppose this steel form alone represents the transition from the old to the new … from parents to children … the forging ahead of generation after generation of American family businesses.

THE BOSS

This young man is the face of a new generation of young business people in this country.  They are second-generation operators of family businesses.  No, they don’t start out with a dream, their life savings, a couple of trucks and a few steel forms on a bare concrete slab with a portable building for an office.  They miss the sweat, the long hours, the uncertainty.  But, they also miss the adventure.  They inherit far more complicated problems than the first generation encountered.  Their responsibility is a heavier load to carry in many ways because they must work through the transition from the old to the new to find their own voice and their own vision for the future.  That is the way it has always been and it is my real hope that is the way it will always be.

Thank you for sharing my reflection on my life in the concrete business and my vision for the future.

91 responses

  1. I personally Believe that blog post, “Memories Of Concrete She Kept A Parrot” was in fact good!
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    January 11, 2013 at 11:06 am

  2. I love your photos! They tell a story…

    December 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    • Thanks, Roberta! I think there is always a story everywhere, isn’t there? :-)

      December 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

  3. There really is a raw beauty to industrial spaces. A wonderful photographic series and your text is really interesting.
    I happen to love metal, rust and cement – I think it’s the earthiness that they invoke.

    December 4, 2012 at 7:25 am

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the photographs. I posted photos of rusting mufflers from a friend’s old muffler repair shop some months ago: http://tinyurl.com/b7nq76d. I have admired your work for a long time. Your recent post about the lichens and the storybook black mushroom were particularly wonderful, I thought. Thank you for your visit and the kind comment., Karen.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:40 am

  4. Ewa

    I like your point of view. A lot of people pass beautiful places and things without even looking. Two things are teaching us to look at things in different way: photography and love. And I think there are both in your case :)

    November 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    • Ewa, you are too kind. Thank you. Often, I bang into stuff because I’m staring at some detail somewhere instead of looking at where I’m going. I drive my family crazy because I almost never see the big picture the way they see it. :-) I love the concrete business. I suppose it’s because my husband and I developed every aspect of it in a hands-on way that not many young people have the opportunity to do now. We were fortunate to be able to spend most of our working lives together building something for our family. When I drive up to the plant now, I still enjoy the sounds of it. Thank you for stopping by and looking at these many photographs. You are a sweet child, I can tell. :-)

      December 4, 2012 at 9:49 am

      • Ewa

        Thank You as well. But I’m not such child any longer ;) I totally understand looking at details. That helps much in photography. Most of my friends or family see just the big picture and then they wonder why do I take photo of something, especially when I go closer to some pipe, flower etc. And I think it’s great to have that ability.

        December 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm

  5. You can see how far I’ve fallen behind George – but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your post, and to tell you i’ve zinged the permalink over to my ex, who owns a precast concrete business in Sydney. I’m sure he’s too close to it to bother taking pictures, but i’m sure he’ll enjoy your beautiful images. :)

    October 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm

  6. nice textures and rusting :)

    September 17, 2012 at 5:58 am

  7. artblablablablog

    Beautiful photos and story! I used to be a Business Broker so I enjoyed it very much. One of the few things I enjoyed about it was getting to learn about businesses and what they did, always fascinating. Nice job!

    September 14, 2012 at 8:40 am

  8. A wonderful story told mostly mostly through terrific photos.

    September 13, 2012 at 6:27 am

  9. Lovely series of photographs

    September 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    • Thank you, Graham. And, thanks for taking the time to look at so many! :-)

      September 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm

  10. I am kind of familiar with concrete, but have never heard of it spoken of with so much love, nor seen the beauty in the rusty steel used in its creation. But I see it now George, from every angle of your lovely photos! Thank you for this fascinating walk through your plant!

    September 6, 2012 at 11:25 am

  11. This is an unusual post with very different images. I find the rebar bender holds a particular beauty for me. Thank you!

    September 2, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  12. Wow! This is absolutely spectacular! You are a great photographer :)

    September 2, 2012 at 4:51 am

  13. Very nice collection of photos — like these a lot

    August 31, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    • Thank you, Art. I am enjoying your work tremendously!

      August 31, 2012 at 6:59 pm

  14. I’m late to the party, George, but I had to let you know how much I enjoyed this post. You are the master when it comes to photo essays. The images are amazing and the story touching because it’s so real. I took a couple weeks off from blogging – kind of hard to jump back in. Your blog was the first one I checked in on!

    Elisa

    August 30, 2012 at 11:11 am

    • Ah, Elisa! Happy to see you. Hope you had a good vacation. It is very difficult for me to keep up on a good day. I am shaky enough to PO the pope! I’m glad that you liked the photos. Sometimes, I think I over sentimentalize my stories. I am not a sentimental person, but I enjoy telling the side of my story that isn’t obvious. I believe there is always a human story behind everything we see. Of course, I’ve always been totally shameless, you know. Lord! Wonder where this will all end! My favorite old lady was a delicate, prissy little thing who took her clothes off and wandered in the hall of a nursing home that I supervised. She was a total delight! (well, at least to me..) I still chuckle when I think of her!

      August 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

  15. Thank you for the tour, George…feels like I walked through the plant holding your hand…felt the gentle squeeze as you got excited telling me about what a certain something was or did…so nice to be there with you….

    August 28, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    • Thanks, Scott. Glad you enjoyed the little tour. I’m afraid you wouldn’t have thought it so great if you’d been there! You’d have been preoccupied with watching the overhead crane swinging the pour bucket near out heads! I can’t think of anyone whom I’d rather have accompany me on the tour! :-)

      August 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      • I enjoyed it very much, George…I would love to have been there with you. :)

        August 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm

  16. Wonderful close-ups of things we take for granted. You can find beauty anywhere!

    August 28, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    • Thank you, Jonel. Everything on the planet has some intrinsic beauty if we look closely enough. You know they old adage: It’s so ugly, it’s cute! :-)

      August 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm

  17. George, I would say I envy your ability to find art in what I might determine art-barren, but I’m not envious; I’m grateful. What you do with that eye and camera of yours is one of those special mysteries that sets my toes tingling, like when I read Gabaldon, taste a really good Tiramisu, or listen to a song that speaks right at “me.”

    I would never have been able to tell the story you told by word and picture, I just wouldn’t. Thank you for doing it.

    ~ Cara

    August 28, 2012 at 11:49 am

    • Ah, Mollusk Girl. Gabaldon … I could have titled this post, “Echo In The Bone”. I often describe my life as having been lived “close to the bone”. I am difficult to know because I brush aside the surface of everything. I want to see what is underneath. It is close to the bone that the meat is sweetest and the truth is clearest. Perhaps, that is why I see details and stumble right over the obvious! Thank you for your kindness, Cara. You have followed me for a very long time, and I appreciate that.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm

  18. Many of the photographs seem abstract and there is a beauty to them that surprises me given what they really are. You are truly an artist, creating beauty for us to see in what most of would define as ugly or decrepit. Amazing…

    August 28, 2012 at 9:16 am

    • Lorna, I remember that reaction to the mufflers too. I told you then that you would have seen the same thing. I believe that. When we stop and look, really look, we all see the same way. My hands-on involvement in the business made these things as familiar to me as any tools or objects that we use every day. I am happy that I could convey the beauty of the colors and textures of an everyday, dirty, hot job! I hope every person who works with his head or his hands can feel that sense of beauty in his work. Wouldn’t the world be such a happy place! :-) Thank you, Lorna.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm

  19. There is something really fascinanting about these photos; the textures in all of them.
    I think oyu have a great eye for details George, I enjoyed looking at your photos and reading your post :)

    August 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    • Ah, Pablo, you are kind as always. I am happy that you see what I see. The most wonderful thing about writing this blog has been my acceptance into a community of young, bright and talented people from all over the world. I am old and shaky and sentimental sometimes, but you guys overlook my faults and applaud my little successes. It is my fervent hope that all old people can experience such a blessing during the twilight of their lives. Bless you, Pablo.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:04 pm

  20. Your photos are so beautiful! Funny to say about old concrete equipment odds and ends, but your eye for detail and your ability to bring these objects to life and tell their story is truly amazing. Hats off to you, I’m in awe!

    August 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    • Thank you, Lori. The business is such a part of who I am that I see it very differently from a casual observer, I’m sure. That is the way it is for anybody who loves his work, I think. I’m happy that it came through in the pictures. :-)

      August 28, 2012 at 3:01 pm

  21. I don’t know what is left to say, everyone’s expressed my feelings for me….but I’ll say it anyway…
    I loved this, loved learning about your life and your family business…Thanks so much for
    Sharing this :)

    August 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    • Thank you, Suzanne. I just saw your cows. The perspective is really effective. The colors and shapes are so very appealing. You see animals the way I see the objects in the manufacturing process, I think. Your book, “Being Bob” is another wonderful story with a critical message for young people of all ages! You know we all love Bob! :-)

      August 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm

  22. George, these are absolutely wonderful, powerful and captivating images.The variety of subjects, compositions and textures together create an amazing on-line exhibition. It could even form the core of a photo project that who knows, might even turn into an exhibition. Your have a fabulous eye for seeing deeply into subjects and skill with the camera to reveal them to blog readers. Thank you for the joy and pleasure of seeing these works of art.

    August 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    • Rick, are you sure you aren’t a candidate for office? :-) Seriously, you have no idea how much your words mean to me and how encouraged I am to read them. I post about subjects that interest me or things that I have a passion for. I see that in your work. I am not a photographer. I point and shoot, as you know. I am like a kid in a candy shop when I manage to get a photo that is both in focus and looks good to me! My eyes are bad and my hands have a tremor, but I am grateful that I can still manage to get them to work okay together on a good day! :-)
      I am so happy that my love of the industry comes through in my photographs. I had no idea what I’d photograph that day. These just happened as I walked around. I hesitated to post such a strange collection of images about an industry that is hardly regarded as the subject for “art” of any kind. It’s even regarded by the insurance industry as a dirty, dangerous business replete with liability exposure. We never viewed it that way. Thank you for the wonderful appraisal of my work.

      August 27, 2012 at 9:03 pm

  23. Madame George the texture is killing me in a nice way!!! Cheers Nonoy Manga

    August 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    • Thanks, NoNo! I’m glad that you like my photos! :-)

      August 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm

  24. Beautiful pics George, really beautiful. They’re moody and cheerful at the same timeThanks for sharing them and your story

    August 27, 2012 at 10:50 am

    • I just read “Pass the bacon, Pig” on your blog. (http://truedesignliving.wordpress.com/)
      What can I say? You are a talented writer. To be able to take words and string them together in such a powerful way is astounding to an old storyteller like me. Ah, to have the heart and soul of a speaker of truth… Thank you for reading my little story.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

  25. Wow, I love this George. Incredible photography and words which give me a look into a world I’ve never visited. When someone truly loves something that love can never be hidden, and your love is evident in every word and every shot. Great work!

    August 27, 2012 at 10:04 am

    • Thank you so much, Alex. I surprised myself that day. When I looked at the photos, I realized that I had not photographed the manufacturing process at all. I kept the draft for a long time wondering if I should post it. I’m happy that you understood what I was saying here. But, then, you always do, don’t you? :-)

      August 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      • It’s not so much that I understand ‘what’ you’re saying, more so that I understand ‘why’ you say it. Your excitement of it, love of it, appreciation of it, is infectious.

        August 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm

  26. eldinsmille

    I like the concept!

    August 27, 2012 at 7:09 am

    • Thank you very much. I’m glad the concept is appealing to you. I didn’t illustrate the precast concrete manufacturing process, and I was a bit concerned about the abstract approach to telling my story. I’m happy that you understood it. :-)

      August 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm

  27. Wonderful photos!

    August 27, 2012 at 5:15 am

    • Thank you, Debra! I am old and have a tremor in my right hand which makes photographing anything difficult for me. When somebody likes my photos, I grin from ear to ear. :-)

      August 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm

  28. Reblogged this on photographyofnia and commented:
    This is AMAZING and GREAT!

    August 27, 2012 at 4:41 am

    • Thank you for re-posting. That tells me you understood what I was trying to say. I am old, Nia. Your kindness is more significant to me than it might have been when I was young. Bless you, child!

      August 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm

  29. First of all I should say this, I am so happy to see you/hear you again through your own photographs. And then, the photography is not to have a camera and to shot BUT to create or to make something talking/alive, etc. Your eyes are amazing, you know what to do with your camera. How beautiful all these objects… Unbelievable… This is art of photography. Fascinated me dear George, you did great shots. Thank you, have a nice week, love, nia

    August 27, 2012 at 4:39 am

    • Ah, Nia. You are always open and receptive and appreciative of everything you see. I love that about you. It is a gift. I’m happy that my photos told you something about who I am and how I see the world around me. Thank you for your kind words, Nia. Have a wonderful week! :-)

      August 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm

  30. First, let me say that I really like the new Avatar image – nice. Also, the photography is very nice indeed – the images you post here really capture a feeling. I like it very much. I agree with Chinnie above that they could form an exhibit! D

    August 27, 2012 at 4:20 am

    • Thanks! I tried to post photos that told you how I feel about the industry. I always get a real sense, not only of your work, but of who you are and the life you live when I visit your posts. Your philosophy comes through as clearly as your expertise in your industry. I’m glad you liked the post!

      August 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm

  31. Syeda Maham

    George you made concrete to seem alive.Even the rusting steel is exciting in this story…wow.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:09 am

    • I’m glad you liked the photos. I didn’t show you how precast concrete is manufactured. I showed you what appeals to me in the details of it. Once the manufacturing process begins on the floor, it does come alive. Wet cement is very much a volatile, active material that demands fast and careful handling. I’m happy that you got a sense of the tension and excitement involved in handling it. :-)

      August 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      • Syeda Maham

        It was a very nice post.I think this is the beauty of blogging that one gets to meet real people with real dreams. :)

        September 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

  32. elmediat

    Excellent sequence. Fascinating insight and recollections. Industrial aesthetic can help us see the beauty in the everyday and remind us of the design & thought that goes into manufacturing things we take for granted . You should consider turning some of these into B&W. They remind me of the Life Magazine photo-essay shots. Great work George. Hope the heat is not too uncomfortable.

    August 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    • Thank you, Joseph. I love the business since my husband and I started and built it. Your suggestion is good. I will do that to leave for the kids. Thanks! :-)

      August 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm

  33. A truly beautiful post, with impressive, powerful photos, and a text that rings with the sound of the work, and the grunts of the weight, and true people coming through, and some viewed in retrospect. Enjoyed it very much, George. A post to keep, and one to remember.

    August 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    • Thank you, Shimon. Explaining how precast concrete is manufactured doesn’t appeal much to me. I didn’t set out to do anything in particular with the photographs. I smiled when I looked at the photos from my trip to the plant. There were none that illustrated the manufacturing process although the boys were in the middle of what we call a “pour” and working all around me. I’d spent the entire afternoon snapping details that interested me. :-) I think that’s the way I view the world around me. I’m happy that you enjoyed the post.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm

  34. George, what an incredible series of photographs! These are really some of your BEST! What a wonderful post, and what a great way to show us more of who you are! I can’t wait to have a chance to spend more time to go back through more carefully. These images tell REAL stories: the textures and compositions are amazing. Some of the abstracts are fantastic. I’m so excited about this one!!

    August 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    • I’m happy that you liked the photographs. Oddly, I had no concept of what I’d photograph that afternoon or what I wanted them to say. The guys were in the middle of a “pour” when I was on the production floor right in their way, of course. They had to watch me, I’m sure. I saw the crane operator stop the crane several times to wait for me to get out of the way! These photos just happened. I snapped what I saw that meant something to me. They don’t illustrate the precast concrete manufacturing process at all. I will do that later maybe when it’s cooler. Thank you for your never-ending support, Lemony! You always make me feel good about what I post. :-)

      August 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm

  35. G. You sure make my mess at work look GOOD!!!! Your photos are just amazing!!! I’ll let you know when the new addition is ready for it’s
    photo shoot!!!

    August 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm

  36. thank you for sharing it. There is an honest beauty in this post, I very much enjoyed it

    August 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    • Thank you, Bill. I’m always happy when something that I post is enjoyable to others. I continue to be fascinated by the advances in the industry, but I remember the old days too. That’s where the photos came from. :-)

      August 27, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      • it was a tribute to the America that built

        August 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm

        • I feel very much a part of the family business tradition on which our country was built. With the rapid advancement of technology, I only hope there will continue to be a niche in which families are able to work and produce products successfully. I expect that families will find a way to do that. :-)

          August 27, 2012 at 8:51 pm

  37. Great post! Love the shots, great to “see” you

    August 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    • Thanks, Boomie! Glad you liked the photos. It was fun to go back out to production while they were working. I visited with the guys and snapped the stuff that reminds me of the old days! :-)

      August 27, 2012 at 8:43 pm

  38. Wonderful abstracts, George! And a really nice portrait of the boss. It’s so interesting to see an industrial process story-boarded like this.

    August 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    • Thank you, Richard. You know that I admire your work so it is nice to hear you approve of some of my photographs! I didn’t provide much insight into the industry here. I just snapped the things that represent it to me. I will try to illustrate the precast process in a later post that isn’t a sentimental journey into the past. ::-)

      August 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm

  39. Linda

    I thought this was extremely interesting even though I already was familiar with a little of it. I loved the artistic look at the equipment….and the inclusion of the very handsome boss!!!

    August 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    • I’ll tell the boss. :-) He’s on a dozer in Freer this weekend working on his wildlife place.

      August 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm

  40. You have really shown the beautiful side of your work. So interesting to look at the pictures and to read the words you have written. I have learned quite a bit . You have shown that people who do this type of work are artists in their own way – as a baker or a dressmaker is.

    August 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    • I come from a long tradition of farmers and skilled laborers. I learned early on to appreciate people who work with their hands. Nothing fascinates me like watching a skilled stone mason work. I could never level wet concrete. Our production supervisor was an old concrete precaster who laughed at me constantly. He could do things with wet concrete that I could only dream about. He’s dead now, and I get tearful every time I think about him. Thanks, Colline!

      August 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm

  41. Awesome post, George! You find the beauty in so many things! (and I like your new gravatar pic,too)

    August 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    • Ah, WhiteLady, if you grow up “close to the bone”, I think you value the work people do with their hands. I always say that you can take a shower and get a night’s rest and feel great after you’ve exhausted yourself with manual labor. It ain’t so with “brain work”. I’ve done both, sometimes at the same time, and I felt a sense of satisfaction with the work of my hands that I never felt with intellectual labor! Maybe I’m a laborer in my heart of hearts! :-)

      August 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      • You are just great, George. I love your honesty. I was taught at a very young age that having a job was a privilege – you went to work unless you were really sick, you did the best of your ability and you earned your paycheck. A hard days work can be a good thing!

        August 26, 2012 at 2:29 pm

        • We came from the same place, I think! :-) My parents always said that we were not too good to do any job that was honest work. I owe them big time for that. It has served me well for a lifetime.

          August 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  42. HI George-
    Nice post. Thanks for sharing this part of you.
    The pictures are fabulous. I love all the character & texture represented in them.

    August 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    • Thank you, RoSy. I love the dust and dirt and oil and heat and sweat and the whole thing! :-) I guess family businesses get into the bloodstream of families. I always see the old and rusty and ignore the new and shiny!

      August 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm

  43. I love this post and the images are beautiful to me. I see the world as you do. Cute boss too. ;)

    August 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    • Thanks Susan. I’m glad you liked it. The cute boss is my son-in-law who was a godsend for my daughter who took over the business several years ago before we retired. They work work well together. I have been blessed for sure!

      August 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm

  44. Brilliant post. GREAT photos and all so well expressed.

    August 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    • Thanks, Mike! I started this a long time ago, but I couldn’t decide whether anybody would be interested in it. The business is so much a part of who Dean and I were that I don’t see it as separate from us. I suppose that’s the way with all family enterprises. It was fun. I hope it is fun for the kids. :-)

      August 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm

  45. I can imagine these photos blown up and exhibited in a gallery in a series. Wonderful rust and industry!

    August 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    • Thank you, Chinnie! :-) I have so many of these that it is hard to pick. A good part of my adult life was spent in building this business so it is who I am. Glad you liked them.

      August 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm

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