October 1, 2019 By Jerry Martin

My First Job Out of College

The year I graduated from college, I had no job lined up, no life plan, and I was faced with the draft into the military. World War II was over, the Korean conflict was in high gear, and the draft was still in effect.

One of the fellows in my fraternity was from Kalispell, Montana. He told us about a dam that was under construction not far from his hometown. Several of us went over to Montana with the hope of getting a job.

Kalispell is located in the northwest corner of Montana, not far from the entry to Glacier National Park and close to the border with Canada. The dam was a huge project between Kalispell and the entry to the park.

A fraternity friend, Bobby Dark, and I got jobs on a crew of eight or ten laborers. The work was hard and physical, rigging heavy equipment and climbing out over the face of the dam on a flimsy scaffolding 500 feet above the ground.

We worked from four in the afternoon to midnight seven days a week. At the end of the shift, it took up to a half an hour to walk and climb to the side of the dam to get the small school bus down to the makeshift office and living area where Bobby and I shared a small room in a dormitory. Then I spent a full half hour or more in the shower — which felt really good. Then we went over to the dining hall that was open 24/7. The meals fit the hour, so, it was breakfast at three o’clock in the morning. Only a dozen or so workers who lived in the dormitory showed up for a meal at that hour. The professional dam workers and the local men had homes and families in the area.

Breakfast was the main meal of the day for Bobby and me. Our typical meal began with at least six fried or scrambled eggs followed by two or three slices of ham, or half a dozen sausages, or eight or ten slices of bacon. Four or five hot cakes, or four or five pieces of French toast completed our meal. At the end we ate bowls of canned peaches or pears and a couple of large glasses of milk.

Then we went back to the dorm and slept until about noon. We hopped on the bus around 3:15 pm and started the routine again. We did that from May until either Thanksgiving or Christmas, I do not remember which.

My mother was a decent cook and my wife is a superb cook. BUT I have never had a sustained string of meals that I have enjoyed as much as those breakfasts in the middle of the night during the six months I worked on the dam.


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