Who is the Wise Master Builder Online?


Brother TC - Coming Out of Babylon


A Ripple in Still Water When there is No Pebble Tossed


The Wise Master Builder Online story spans over 50 years and is one that is filled with memorable stories of great wonder’s seen but not often understood.  My upbringing was in a home that didn’t attend or talk about church services.  However, I was allowed to go with the other young boys in the neighborhood and one of their mom’s, Mrs. Wise, to the Pentecostal Church that she was of member of.

I guess I was in the 3rd. Grade, 8 years old - 1967, and Mrs. Wise took the boys to a Pentecostal Healing Fire Tent Revival!   It was so long ago that I don’t recall which Ministry it was but the tent was HUGE and they traveled around cause they were only in our area for a week and a half or so.

The Evangelist called out for anyone that wanted to give their life to Jesus to come forward.  I came forward, gave my life to Jesus and he laid his hands and me and began to pray.  I begin to uncontrollably cry and as he prayed over me their was some sort of cleansing on the inside to the outside.  After that event I was very confused about what happened, some 50 years later, only now I'm beginning to understand what occurred and tell the story.

When I was a senior in High School, 17 years old - 1977, I remembering getting ready to signup for the draft and a few months before I was of age required to register several things occurred about the same time.  The draft become a “Volunteer Army” and when I turned the required age I wasn’t required sign-up!   Then … the legal drinking age was lowered from 21 to 18.  So when I turned 18 I did what every blue blooded American boy would do, get a six pack….then a case a long necks and before you knew it…Whiskey River took my Mind!    I started looking around and all my friends that I grew up were starting to die.   I lost count how many died from alcohol related automobile accidents, I was very, very, very, very, very lucky - no doubt a Guardian Angel was watching over me, even though I didn’t cotton to that sort of thang.  Slang for Effect.

My life as a builder began in 1977, after High School I started working for the City of Tyler, Texas Survey Department.  The Party Chief I worked for, O.B. Patridge, had worked for the City for over 35 years and was nearing retirement.  He and his 10 year city side kick, Red, had laid out all the roadway designs, infrastructure and boundaries for the growing City’s needs.

The equipment we used was called old, even then, a Dumpy Level and a K+E Transit.   Every time you had to turn the level it had knobs on it to rebalance each end of the bubble in order to get it level to read through the telescope.  And the transit…well…without a 10x power magnifying scope hung from the lanyard around your neck, you couldn’t read the engravings on the plate to turn angles, not that radial layout was even an option in those days.

We didn’t have calculators yet, they were just about to be invented I believe, so we did all our math with a number 2 pencil in a field book that had formulas printed in the front and Logarithms in the back.  I got my first programable scientific calculator in 1978, an HP 11C.  All the old timers taught us the tricks of the trade.   It was amazing!  I had a machine that I could tell how to do things … and it would!

After working for the City of Tyler, one year to the day, giving my two week notice I quit and went to work for Brown and Root Construction Co.  B&R was the largest construction company in the world the first several years I worked there.

My first project was a renovation of a petroleum refinement facility in Tyler, Tx called, La Gloria Gas Refinery.  I learned a lot while working there, mostly how NOT TO GET KILLED!  I had 3 near death experiences while working there.  After the third one I decided that the PetroChemical Industry wasn’t for me!  But B&R had a textile division and had just landed a project for International Paper in Mansfield, La.   I was able to get a transfer from the Tyler, Tx project to the Mansfield, La one as a Rodman on a Survey Crew.

This was a 3 year project that was building the largest paper mill in the world.  This place was amazing!  It took the logging trucks in one driveway and sent out rolls of paper on railroad cars through a maze of junction tracks!  During my time there I learned programing HP calculators from other employees.  The continual development of our custom survey program continued vigorously when our other lay out duties had been completed.  I was promoted very quickly after learning and demonstrating my ability to use these custom programs for Survey Layout.  First I was promoted to Instrument Man, that’s when I really went into sponge mode.  Then I was promoted to the Final Check /Sign-Off Crew.  All the control of formed concrete, bolt/steel construction was done by a team working in that area.  When they were complete they called us in to check everything … location CL, Elevations, Changes, Coordination of Design with Intended Equipment and Function.  We looked at it all!  I learned so much from the Party Chief, Danny Metts.  Thanks Danny!

Just about 3/4 of the way through all the structural Final Check stuff we were doing, Danny decided to retire from B&R and start his own Survey Business.  He did just that!  Follow Your Dreams!   Yeapers!  You guessed it, I got the bump to Party Chief on the Final Check/Sign-Off Crew!

As our work continued an Ol' B&R Old Timer was transferred on the project.  He had a big wooden box shipped with him.   He was Legendary in B&R Culture, another 30 year + man, they called him Snake P. Levels, RIP Snake.  The big box was full of precision survey equipment for building paper machines.

Ol’ Snake took a liking to me and entrusted me with his secret, that using these Paragon Tilting Level’s have made me blind and I can’t see to do this anymore.  So he taught me how to use all the precision equipment and the methods of using it in working with the millwrights to build the various components on a grass-roots paper mill project.

And so it went, he taught me all he knew - Thanks Again Snake!, handed his world over to me and retired.  I continued working with B&R building several projects as the Final Check Party Chief then finishing the project as the Optical Tooling Engineer. We moved from project to project building pulp plants/mills, paper machines/mills, boilers, turbine generators, and all types of support buildings/equipment/conveyor systems, above & below ground.  After about 7 years of employment, in Tex., La., Miss., now married with our first baby on the way, we finished up the project and decided not to pursue the next state/town/project with Brown & Root.

We packed up everything and left Mississippi!  We moved back to Logansport, La. where my wife was born and raised.  We grew a garden and I built bird houses and bird feeders out of cedar.  My work life continued about the time our baby girl was born. 

I started working for T.L.James, which - at the time - was the largest general contractor in the State of Louisiana. I got a job as a rodman on their Survey Crew.  Three Days later, they gave me a truck and made me the Chief Engineer on a 23 mile conveyor system that ripped through the Louisiana landscape where strip mining Coal Operations were allowed to exist.  The vast conveyor system was to feed a new coal fired power plant being built as we were building the conveyor system.

My skills grew immensely with the custom program during this time.  Once we finished the conveyor system we started landing LA State Highway 49 projects.  Over the next few years, we built 5 sections of Interstate Hwy 49, about 15 miles of ROW.  It was all double lane CONCRETE PAVING in each direction with frontage roads and on/off ramps.  We became Expert in Milling/Paving Machine Operations laying down over 60 miles of double width concrete paving.  We also did all the layout and engineering on all the bridges.  You better believe there are a lot of bridges in Louisiana!  That 15 miles of Right of Way had over 300 bridges and 60 miles of paving.  

As we started into these new projects I was promoted to Chief of Parties, the Surveyor over all projects.  We had many survey crews, that covered the various projects. During this time something called Technology was trying to move forward.  I convinced the LA. Paving Aggie Supervisors to buy Electronic Total Stations and these new data collector devices called SDR-1.   By the time we got all our new equipment the SDR-2 and the new Digital Lieca Total Station setup is what every crew was decked out with.  Also got the Cogo Software on Magnetic Strip Cards that were loaded into a card reading HP Calculator.  That’s what the Aggie Tech’s in the office used to calculate the basis of design coordinates for all the projects.  

We've found that New Technology rarely lives up to the limits that it's software professes.  We were always pushing the limits, working directly with these manufactures in real world/real time situations resolving issues, developing better functions and alway trying to improve GUI.   With the HP Calculator and Custom Survey Program we could still calculate faster than the SDR-2 Data Collector but we couldn’t store or retrieve data on our calculator due to using all the memory for the Custom Survey Program.

What an exciting time!  Technology was working to make my job produce better results!  We had realized that we were Masters of All We Survey!   About that time … a call came …

It was my childhood friend, Ricky Browning calling to get me to come to work for the company he is working for.  They were having lots of issues on various projects and hoped I would be interested in working the issues.   I told Ol’Rick that I’ve got enough issues with out inheriting someone else's!  I told him. “If you get a new project, let me know!”  About 6 months later, I got another call from Rick.  This time, the call was about a new project that Clearwater Constructors Inc. had just gotten, The Largest Contract in Company History! $21M

Speaking to the Project Manager, Don Pool, over the phone, we agreed on moving expenses, salary and benefits - that was it, I loaded up the pickup and took off to Austin, Texas. Leaving the wife and kids back in Louisiana till I got a place established.  The family moved out to San Antonio, Tx after our son Luke was born.

The Texas DOT project was building a connecting roadway from US 90 to SH151 that would go to the new Sea World Resort that one of Our Sister Companies was also building.  Both were to be completed for the facility opening dates.  The project had many challenges.  It was longest free single span bridge in the State of Texas, almost 1000’ long.  It was to be built onto of very narrow but very tall steel girder beams.  The alignment of the bridge was super-elevated and in a curve.   The extreme length was due to the distance required for the new State Hwy 151 to off ramp over US 90.  While the over bridge section was impressive also the underground tunnel system for the other direction was equally grand.

Back in the day there was no Mandated Safety Requirements.   Once we had these 1000’ long beams set while traffic is being actively routed around the operations we had to survey them in order to figure out how the grading and alignments where checking out.  So you guessed it, we walked the beams over LIVE 70 MPH TRAFFIC with No Fall Protection.  That’s how things were done back in the day.   

One windy day I was on the level and my partner on the rod and the narrow beams.  While stepping between the 4” spaced Nelson Studs he lost his balance and fell.  I remember seeing the rod fall through the telescope then quickly looking around the level seeing hime somehow with one hand grabbed the 8’ long level rod, keeping it falling, and the other hand grabbing a Nelson Stud.  The beams were just over 6’ tall so he couldn’t stand on the bottom flange of the girders.  As he hung holding himself and the rod from falling I raced out onto the girder getting him and the rod back onto of the beam.   We sat both sat there a long time watching the semi trucks blasting by under our feet, both of us not wanting to stand up on the beam and walk between the Nelson Studs back to safety.

That was the last day Clearwater Constructors Inc. ever worked a beam without fall protection measures in place.   We were both very thankful we had come out alive!

The years rolled on at Clearwater Construction as an Engineer.  We worked 4 roadway projects the first several years then My Eyes were Truly Opened to what Our Beloved US Government is capable, or rather willing and ABLE todo!  

I was assigned to a project that was in three parts of the US.  Each location selected was due to  its pivotal USGS crustal point monuments.   At each of these locations we built Seismic Monitoring Stations. As part of this era’s nuclear agreements, underground nuclear testing above 100 megaton limit was restricted.   These Special UG equipment vaults, seismic tables and support buildings construction were all monitored by Soviets onsite.  As part of the nuclear  agreement we were to build facility locations in the US and the USSR were to build three facility locations in the USSR.  USSR construction monitored by US and US construction monitored by USSR.

The main location in the US is in Oklahoma.  All measurements of crustal movement are measured from this point.   So when Newport, WA. slips off into the Pacific Ocean they’ll have the printout of the Seismic Event in Oklahoma.   

What concerned me was this.  Our US Government performed UG Nuclear Testing directly in and all along the San Andreas fault line.   I was sorta glad to hear that “Only a 100 Mega Ton Device will be allowed to be set off in this fractured and critical crustal point.  It’s almost like they were trying to stop the Digital Age!

 Then we landed a project in Downtown San Antonio, Texas called The Tri-Party Safari.  It’s scope was to renovate infrastructure & surface amenities over 70 square blocks of downtown San Antonio, Tx., Another Biggest Project - this one @ $37M.  I guess the 

We rolled into downtown San Antonio and got an office space right across the street from the Newspaper Office!   Back in the day….Newspapers ruled…..now somebody else rules and the Newspapers act like they rule, and even have ethics’s !  Journalism Ethics’s left with the Ten Commands and a lot of other things that used to make America Great.


This next part is pivotal….


Under Construction … LOL!





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