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It's A Great Life: 51 - Another Promotion

... One day he said 'Oh, in England you drive on the wrong side of the road don't you?' I got hold of his arm, looked at him and said 'George, you've got that wrong - we just drive on the opposite side to you.'..

Jack Merewood tells of further success while working in America.

Hutchinson's had bought more land, a farmhouse and all the surrounding fields near the small town of Arvada, not too far from Golden, and planned to build 450 houses there. The Bear Creek project was far from finished, but work was to start at Arvada straightaway. The man who was in charge of the earth-moving equipment at Bear Creek, Cecil Halstead, was transferred to Arvada and promoted to Field Superintendent in charge of the project, and I was promoted to Assistant Field Superintendent, to work there with him. We had a field office at Bear Creek where I'd spend my time when not out on the project. Here at Arvada they built a field office on the site for the two of us, each with his own desk and telephone.

Cecil went over to Arvada first, to supervise the operation and get the project underway. The old farmhouse had a long drive lined with trees leading to it, and outbuildings for the animals. Everything was removed and the area flattened. I travelled between Bear Creek and Arvada, and then as the first houses were nearing completion, moved there permanently, and Sheila and Doris moved there too to clean the houses. (We couldn't do with Sheila and myself working on separate projects.)

Here at Arvada the responsibility of my work increased. I had authority over more people, and also had to deal with more inspectors. On this project they were handling GI loans. These were mortgages with special rates to be given to ex-soldiers, and the people operating them had their own inspectors. I had been on friendly terms with the inspectors at Bear Creek, they still came to Arvada, but in addition were the GI inspectors. There were only two and I didn't like either of them. They didn't inspect every house, only the ones being bought by GIs, but one of them in particular by the name of Thornhill was a thorn in my side. If he could give me a hard time he would, and sometimes after peering into every corner would pick up the tiniest thing he could find. I almost felt he had to find something. I got on reasonably well with the other man and as time went by, life for me became easier with both of them. I remembered that there was a street near where I used to live in Huddersfield called Thornhill Road. So I thought (to butter him up a bit) I'd mention this to Mr Thornhill. It quite pleased him to know that there was a street in England named after him, and this knowledge paved the way for a more friendly relationship. All the same, when GI inspections were due, I was never happy until they were over.

Now, to have these houses inspected I had to take the cards to a room in one of the skyscrapers in Denver. Denver was a very busy city, parking was a problem, and eventually it was agreed that I could phone in and make arrangements for inspectors to come out.

In addition to all these inspectors, the town of Arvada also had its own inspector. This was a gentleman called Mr Rowe, and he really was a gentleman. Aged about sixty, so easy to get on with, never gave me any trouble, a man I really liked. It was a pleasure to go round with him. But then one day I learned the awful news that he had died from a heart attack. He lived with his wife and three daughters quite near the project, and I went to tell them how sorry I was. They were very nice people, and Mrs Rowe asked if I'd go to the funeral. I did so and was very moved, for I felt I had lost a friend.

The man who took Mr Rowe's place was called George, and if Mr Rowe was clever and intelligent, George was the exact opposite. In fact I felt he was a bit simple. Had I wanted to, when he came round, I could have hoodwinked him with anything. One day he said 'Oh, in England you drive on the wrong side of the road don't you?' I got hold of his arm, looked at him and said 'George, you've got that wrong - we just drive on the opposite side to you.'


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