Author: Rhynes, J.D.

Musings of an old Pipefitter/Welder, with a little poetry thrown in too.

For the better part of 35 years I made my living welding pipe. It is
a trade that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I looked forward to each and
every day I went to work. I guess that you can say I was one of the
luckiest men in the world, because I loved what I did fer a living,
and that's worth a million bucks a year as far as I'm concerned!
Pipefitters are men who love their craft and as a whole are very
artistically inclined. Every "fitter" i knew loved music of some
kind, and most of 'em really liked GOOD country music. The ones
that I worked around on a regular basis, also learned to love
Bluegrass. You either learned to like it or you were kickin' rocks
down the road, in no short order. I learned from the Bible a long
time ago that the parable of NOT being "yoked to an unbeliever" is
very true. If the man yer working with fer months or even years on
end doesn't like your music, then it's a given that eventually you
are NOT gonna get along. Like my ol pickin' pal Vern said one time;
You might get away with bad mouthin' me 'er my friends a time er
two, but if'n you bad mouth Bill Monroe and his music, then me and
you are gonna have a "come to Jesus" meetin'! [You could say that
Vern was serious about his music.] My working pardner of over 25
years was David Van Steenberge, and after about the first 5 years of
us working together David could harmonize on the chorus' of most of
the songs I was always singing as I was welding. When you work with
a man fer over 25 years, you kinda get to know jes when he's gonna
breath, and we were closer than brothers ever was. My pard David
has been "gone over Jordan" fer 9 years now, but that's another
story fer another time

Welding is a monotonous, lonely professsion most of the time, due to
the fact that you have yer face stuck inside of a welding hood fer
hours on end and you are alone there with jes yer toughts. You
either sing to kill the motonotony, or like me you composed songs or
poetry in yer mind too, to make the long hot days bearable, and to
go by faster. When I got into one of my poetry composin' mode's,
I'd get a verse written in my mnd, then I'd stop and write it down
right quick. A lot of my poems had to do with the particular job I
was working on at the time, and when I finished a poem, I wold share
it with the rest of the crew because they were usually principles in
it. SO, that's how the poem I'm gonna share with all of you this
month had it's root's. A bunch of us were setting around on the job,
back in the summer of 1977, when we were building a big pumping
plant on MIddle River in the Delta, to help alleviate the drought
that California was going through at the time. We got to talking
about the different kinds of food that we liked, and after the lunch
break was over and my crew went back to work, I got to thinkin'
about the conversation, and about an hour later, I had this poem all
did up. I must say that the whole crew gave me a standing round of
applause when I recited it fer 'em at coffee break the next day..
Here then is my poem.
Foods I've Known
Way out West a cowboys fare
is daily steak and beans
His slim physique attests to the fact
that his diet is mostly proteins

Way up North where the nights are long
and the Northen Lights do play
it's Caribou stew, and Grizzly Bear steaks
or so I've heard them say

Down East the grub is Codfish stew
and chowder made of clams
corned beef and cabbage on the side,
and dont forget the candied yam's

The southern folks all like to dine
on cornbread, fatback, and greens,
blackeyed peas and hominy grits,
Vittles that are fit fer a King!

I've tried them all from East to West
and their fare is mighty fine
from Alaska's shore's, down to Alabam'
below the Mason Dixon line

I've eaten in the worst of the greasy spoon's
and in places where you had to wear a tie,
hamburger joints, and ice cream parlors,
and in places that just served Pie

But theres one dish of food that I could never eat seperate,
they should sell it in a box.
I'll never understand why it's just not the same,
that's Bagel's without the Lox.

So, there you have the result of a hot July day's musing of a
pipefitter killin' time, while the crew was busy piping 5 huge 24"
pumps. I dedicate this poem to that hard working bunch of fitter's
that got that job done and online in record time. Those pumps
supplied multiple millions gallons of water to the East Bay during
that drought, and all made a little easier by a poem their foreman
wrote fer 'em.

As long as I live I will always remember that hard and tough bunch of
men standing and applauding my poem that hot summer morning, lo
these 34 years ago. Oh, to do it all again!

Posted:  8/25/2011

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email