Thursday, October 18, 2018


Damn it, I think that pitchers should bat. I think that the Almighty God would decree that pitchers should bat. I think pitchers should bat.

Pitchers should bat. That's all there is to it. Pitchers should bat.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Fun facts

Did you know that in 1953, Joe Cosgriff Welding Machine rentals bought more new Hobart welders than anyone else in the country except Ford and Chrysler? Well, now you do. I'm not sure how many units that was, but it must have been a lot.

At its height I know me Grandpa had over 200 welders. In the 1970s, I remember them being numbered up to 210. That number, of course, does not include the total number of machines he ever owned. Things go bad; things get scrapped out or, horrors, stolen.

I'll tell what impressed me most, though: me Pops had every serial number memorized. If I asked him the 'Joe Cosgriff' number, say, JC-167, he'd rattle off the machine's factory assigned serial number. Right now kapow. I was awed by that when I was 12. I'm still awed by it. I mean, we're not talking simple little four or five digits with maybe a letter. We're talking 12CW5497 or 5DW68873. I remember the 5DW ones were 400 amp welders, so there was a code to it which could help memorization. But still, over 200 (likely closer to 300 counting machines out of use over time) committed to memory? Wow.

Now they're all gone. The last one we rented, fittingly enough, was the month Joe died, August 1991. The last ones we had we sold to a guy who shipped them to Nigeria. Yes, that sounds like a joke. But it's what the fella told the old man, and he paid cash. He could do whatever he wanted with them after that.

There. Now you're all set for when 'Cosgriff welders' is the Jeopardy category.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Joe's cars

I really don't know where to begin. Me Grandpa Joe had a plethora of cars which ran the gamut from neat to bad, and on downhill to particularly, excruciatingly bad. Yet he was proud of every one of them, and I was somehow proud that he was proud. He often had so many that it qualified him for the fleet rate with his insurance company.

There's the 12 cylinder Packard I wish I had seen. Pops always seemed impressed, even wistful, talking about it. Perhaps Joe's biggest claim to celebrity was a big white Chrysler Imperial (which I did see, and even rode in) which supposedly had a governor of Florida as a former owner. Man, that thing was huge. And who could forget the 1961 Ford Fairlane which he bought for thirty five bucks? It went from zero to sixty in, in, well, I don't think it ever actually made it to sixty. Oh, and a 65 Chevy Bel Air which always smelled burnt because he had flicked a lit cigarette out the driver's window only to have it sucked into an open back window and burn out the rear seat. That one became (more or less) my brother Phil's. It lasted until 1983, when it was t-boned by a guy who ran a stop sign. But the one I remember the fondest was a 1967 Cadillac. It was purple.

Well, more like lilac really. He had bought the car while we, me Pops and Mom and the family, had been in North Carolina visiting her folks. Joe felt it needed painting and found a paint shop running a special obviously intended to get rid of unpopular colors. Since Joe always said "I ain't Hell on pretty," he didn't care about the color. He cared about the great price for the paint job. I can still hear me Pops, as we pulled up behind that beauty on the return home, asking incredulously "I wonder whose purple Cadillac that is?" He should have known.

Joe being Joe, he had a hitch installed on that thing because any vehicle could pull a welder. That's exactly what he had me doing when I was an older teen: delivering welders with it. I heard every purple Cadillac joke imaginable taking machines into factories and onto job sites.

Still, it was a neat car in its own way. It was the last style of Caddy, I believe of any American car, with tail fins, modest though they were. It was the car I drove through a small lake, on orders from Joe, when I was 17. You can read about that here: if you care to.

Yep, me Grandpa Joe had some cars. As I remember more I'll tell you about those too.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The staring contest

Old Amos was tight. He was a good man yet he was very careful with his money. Consequently, me Grandpa Joe would often send Amos out to buy this or that for the welding business. He knew Amos would get him the best deal. One story me Pops liked to tell involved such an event.

I can't remember now what it was Joe wanted, but he sent Dad and Amos after it because it would take two people to handle whatever contraption he wanted to buy. Dad drove, and then simply stood back to watch Amos at work.

Amos tried every way in the world to get the seller to back down on price. He begged, he pleaded, he pointed out flaws in the machine. The guy wouldn't budge. It reached the point where Amos stopped talking and began pacing. He would pace a few steps beyond the man and then return. On his return, Dad said, Amos would stop abruptly right in front of the guy and spend a few seconds just glaring at him. Then he'd walk on, return, and do the same thing. He must have been trying to intimidate him, was all Pops could think.

After as few minutes of this, during which the seller did exchange a quizzical look at the old man, the guy finally said, "Look, just give me my price. But I'll put a lower one on the bill of sale to help you out on the sales tax."

Amos would have none of that. "Now, listen here. I want to get the best price I can out of you," he explained to the seller. "But what goes on paper is going to be right no matter what we agree to." Amos then resumed his pacing tactic.

As I recall (I wish I'd have listened more closely to Pops' stories) they eventually agreed on a price and Dad and Amos took the thing to the Shop because Joe had to have it. But I sure would have liked to have seen that battle of wills, that staring contest.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Child labor

The story, so far as me Pops told it, was that he voluntarily began working at the Shop when he was 10. The story, so far as me Grandpa Joe told it, was that Pops wouldn't leave so he was put to work.

Grandpa Joe claimed that he ran Dad off one too many times one day and finally thought, if you're gonna stay you're gonna work. Dad claimed he just liked hanging around the old barn.

Myself, I remember hanging around the old barn many times before I actually worked there. All those welders, all the dirt and grease of a workshop, all the noise - I never did get entirely accustomed to the sound of a gas drive - were intriguing. I have no idea why.

But I do wonder if Pops felt the same way.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

They'll do it every time, or, Cloyce and the sweet rolls

When me Pops were a young lad fresh out of high school, he became, well, sorta the dispatcher for Joe Cosgriff Welding Machine Rentals. While that sounds like an impressive job title, what it meant was that Pops had to be up ahead of any of the drivers to make sure they got on their way promptly.

Bear in mind that in the middle of the 1950s there weren't the kind of superhighways we all complain about today. When a delivery had to be made the driver had to bull through Detroit and then through every wide spot in the road once past the city limits. Have I ever mentioned that me Grandpa Joe's welders went all over Michigan and Ohio? That meant some very early starts when a unit had to be in Muskegon or Bay City Michigan, let alone Ashtabula, Ohio. And me Pops job was to be up early to hitch up welders (if they be gas drives, that is, driven by attached gasoline engines) or load electric drives (electricity powered welders) onto stake trucks in readiness for the drivers. Then he had to make sure the drivers got out on time. It meant a lot of 4 AM wake ups for Pops. But he did it, and he became a good man for it.

So there was this one driver, I'll call him Cloyce just to give him a name, who worked for Joe back then. As was his custom, me Pops always had hot coffee ready for the drivers, to help wake them in the wee hours. Several times in a row, when Cloyce would sleepily arrive for an early morning run, he would gratefully enough take a cup from Pops. And every time he would ask me Pops, every single time, "You don't have a roll to go with this?" Pops would apologize as he said no.

After this happening frequently, Pops got ahead of the game. One evening before a morning run he knew Cloyce had, he went to the corner store and bought a package of sweet rolls.

Along about 4:30 the following morning Pops got up and hitched a gas drive to a vehicle in anticipation of a delivery to Midland, Michigan. Cloyce soon appeared at the Old Barn and availed himself of the coffee Dad had at the ready. He and Pops chit chatted for a few minutes as they each sipped at their hot drinks, the previously opened package of rolls between them on a desk.

You know where this is going, right?

After a few minutes of Cloyce not taking one Dad pointed out, "There's some rolls there, Cloyce."

"Nah, I don't believe I feel like any this morning, Bill," he replied.

I doubt the old man bought him any more after that.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Amos and Alice

Yep, Amos and me Grandpa Joe were good friends. They'd visit frequently, Amos stopping by at me grandparents', Joe and Alice's, house regularly for coffee and talk. Amos also worked for Joe for years at the old welding rental shop. And like friends do they would help each other out with things. Within reasonable bounds, of course. No need to go above and beyond the call of duty.

One day me Grandma Cosgriff decided she wanted a new stove. She went out to the appliance store, found what she wanted and paid for it. This left only for Joe and Amos to go get it. Dutifully, they took a truck from work and went to fetch the new stove.

Then somewhere along the line they broke it. Not badly; it was still safely operational. It was a superficial injury: they had managed to crack off a piece of the porcelain which coated one of the knobs for a burner. Well, what can you do? With I'm sure an aw hell from me Grandpa, they took it on home.

Once home, they got the appliance off the truck and up onto the porch. Yet As Joe went to brace the front door open, Amos turned to leave. "Where are ya goin?" me Grandpa demanded.

"You're on yer own now Joe. I ain't about to face Alice's wrath with her new stove broken," Amos explained as he reached the gate.

I don't how Joe got the stove the rest of the way. And I'm sure me Grams wasn't all that angry...