The old man was a good brick layer. He was old school too. They are not necessarily the same. As a good brick layer, the old man knew how to lay brick. He was a good technician and could read blue prints; most bricklayers can’t. On any job back then with more than three brick layers on it, one had to be made foreman by union contract. That was the old man. He would get the job going by building up the corners of the wall or whatever it was; if the corners aren’t built up properly the wall might lean one way or the other or simply fall over. He knew how to make the whole thing plum. On really big jobs a lot of his work was building up the corners.
But he was old school too. Unlike the newer generation of bricklayers he did not steal from the job; they would drive off in their little trucks playing heavy metal with sand, brick, concrete, flues—since the boss had fucked them, which he regularly did, they would fuck him back. But the old man being old school bent over the other way. As the foreman on the job, he was supposed to get 25 cents or 50 cents an hour above scale. But if he was foreman on a job for a couple of days of a week, and he didn’t find that time paid for on his check, he wouldn’t say anything to the boss. His way of getting ahead was to take abuse.
The new guys would arrive on the job at 730, unload their tools, get set up and actually start working at 8. The old man would arrive at 7 and be at work by 730. Also the young guys would start laying off, cleaning their tools, washing their hands, twenty minutes before 430. The old man would work right up till 430 and then clean up his tools and head home.
A couple of times he was foreman on really huge jobs, like building a bunch of barracks and out buildings for the Marines. A government job was always agood job since the government was so wasteful. But the old man was not a good foreman. He would almost have a nervous breakdown and around the house he would get positively dangerous. The boss would put pressure on him to keep on schedule (otherwise they might lose money) and he would go around blowing his top and squawking like an old lady at the men for not double-timing it. The fussing around and cussing and throwing things and kicking the dirt and throwing his hat on the ground stuff didn’t work outside his family. So after a while the boss didn’t make him foreman on those jobs anymore.
The old man wasn’t a man’s man. He didn’t know how to talk to the guys; he didn’t go out for a drink with them, not even on Friday evening. He was pussy whipped. Anybody could tell.