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It's A Great Life: 52 - Jack The Ripper

Jack Merewood was given a nickame he did not like.

Cecil Halstead was a man in his early fifties, and could he talk. He never seemed to stop, and on top of that he was painfully boring. He was from West Virginia and over and over again he'd tell me something 'abaht mah Daddy back there'. I could never get a word in edgeways. He had the habit of not stopping at the end of each sentence to take a breath as is
natural, but would stop in the middle, thus not giving you a chance to say anything, and in any case he was rarely interested in what anybody else had to say. He also had the irritating habit of ending many sentences with 'and so on, and so forth'.

He wasn't a bad man, just a bore. However, in spite of this Cecil and I got on quite well together. We both regularly left our office to drive around the project, so were in and out all day. One day Cecil announced the very exciting news that
they had bought a colour television. This was something of an innovation, for nobody else had one, and he invited Sheila and
myself to his house one evening to see it. His wife, Abigail, made us very welcome, we had coffee and cake and watched a
colour TV programme. Actually, the colour wasn't too good, but it was colour.

My old enemy Wesley Watkins was over here at Arvada, and we had the occasional argument, generally about his slow-working Coleman; but even he mellowed, and for a change we'd occasionally have some friendly conversation. He was included when Mr Hutchinson invited about twenty of us out to a dinner. Mr Hutchinson was there, along with George Mullins and Ed Northway, and we had a very enjoyable time. The food was good, and I particularly remember that we all had steaks, and if you ordered 'well done' your steak was adorned with a plastic black bull, 'rare' and your steak had a white bull. That night Wesley and I sat next to each other - a sort of (temporary) peace agreement.

Without a doubt the man I liked most on this project was Carl Johnson. He was such a happy, friendly and very intelligent
young man, good-looking, with fair wavy hair, and we took to each other at once. He was a very clever engineer, was in charge of the earth-moving equipment and knew more about that than Cecil, so they didn't always see eye to eye. Carl and I got on like a house on fire.

Hutchinson's son-in-law George Mullins was a quiet young man. Ed Northway was just the opposite. He was large and heavily built, a real bruiser, and looked it. How he came to be one of the top three men I don't know, but Ed was the driving force of Hutchinson Homes. Some of the people immediately under him seemed to be afraid of him. Sometimes we'd notice that one of them wasn't around. Where was he? - Ed had fired him. I was never in his company a lot, but whenever I was we got on well, and more than once he told me in his own rough manner how well I was doing. One Christmas he had a party at his house and invited Sheila and myself. It was a very nice house, his wife (so little at the side of Ed) was very friendly and we had an enjoyable evening there.

Ed had a boy about eleven years old and he asked if I'd decorate a birthday cake for him. He said 'Put plenty wheels on it because he's mad about wheels.' So I covered the top of the cake with wheels of all sizes and types and they were delighted with it. Ed had a brother Bob, about as rough as himself, who was in charge of the sheet metal department. He used to delight in calling me 'Jack the Ripper', something I really wasn't keen on, and told him so, but it didn't make any difference, he still called me that.


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