Friday, March 20, 2020

I used to work in Dolores, In a hardware store

By Rob Carrigan,

"I Used to Work in Chicago" is a drinking song. I have adapted it to fit my own circumstances, and 'regionalized' for my own narrative. It follows below.
Years ago, my good friend Jeff used to "bring up the house" with his guitar and this little ditty in the oldest bar in Fort Collins, when it was still a 3.2 beer only place.
The song was written by songwriter and entertainer Larry Vincent. The earliest printed date for the song is March 1945 in the underground mimeographed songbook Songs of the Century, however versions of the song circulated "on the street" as early as 1938 according to the Digital Tradition Folk Music Database. Many of the lyrics are considered humorous because of the oblique sexual references. The song is often chanted by various British university sports teams, often Rugby teams.
After World War II, there were various versions of this song commercially recorded (e.g. by Spike Jones).

  • A variation of this song is also occasionally performed by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam during their live performances with the final lines, "Liquor she wanted / Lick her I did / I don't work there anymore."
  • The same (Liquor/Lick her) version is also sung by Dusty and Lefty, played by Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly, in the film A Prairie Home Companion.
  • One verse sung by Charles Durning in the movie Jerry and Tom. "A woman came in for a house dress. I asked her what kind she wore. 'Jumper,' she said. Jump her I did and I don't work there anymore."
Three Bits Of Rhythm - 1946
Also recorded by: Merle Travis; Oscar Brand;
Rick Bedrosian; Sammy Kaye & His Orch. 
Adapted by Rob Carrigan, for regional emphasis.
 We used to work in Dolores
In a hardware store
We worked in the candy department
We did, but we don't anymore
A lady came in for some candy
"And what will you have?" we said
"Kisses" she said, and kisses she got
We'll never work there anymore

SPOKEN: And then we got fired

I used to work in Dolores
In a hardware store (You did?)
I worked in the hat dept
I did, but I don't anymore (What happened?)
A lady came in for a hat one day
"What'll you have?" I said (What'd she say?)
"Felt," she said, and felt 'er I did
I'll never work there anymore

1st Voice: That was my Wife!
2nd Voice: She's all right
1st Voice: I'm not talkin' to you
2nd Voice: I'm not askin' you
1st Voice: Ooh!

I used to work in Dolores
In a hardware store
I worked in the glove department
I did, but I don't anymore
A lady came in for some gloves one day
"And what will you have?" I said (What she say?)
"Rubber" she said, and rub 'er I did
I'll never work there anymore

1st Voice: I love my work
2nd Voice: I bet you do

I used to work in Dolores
In a hardware store
I worked in the shoe department
I did, but I don't anymore
A lady came in for some shoes one day
"What kind would you like?" I said
"Boot" she said, and boot 'er I did
I'll never work there anymore

1st Voice: You get a kick out the work, don't you?
2nd Voice: Well, you see, that was my mother-in-law

I used to work in Dolores
In a department store
I worked in the stockings department
I did, but I don't anymore
A lady came in for some stockings
"And what'll you have?" I said
"Hose" she said, and hose she got
I'll never work there anymore

1st Voice: You're fired!
2nd Voice: You can't fire him, he means Nylons
1st Voice: Ooh!

I used to work in Dolores
In a hardware store
I worked in the bakery department
I did, but I don't anymore (Make any dough, Joe?)
A lady came in for some bakeries
"And what will you have?" I said
"A layer" she said, a layer she got
I'll never work there anymore

SPOKEN: I love my work

I used to work in Dolores
In a hardware store
I worked in the poultry department
I did, but I don't anymore
A lady came in for some poultry one day
"And what will you have?" I said
"A goose" she said, and a goose she got
I'll never work there anymore

We used to work in Dolores
In a hardware store
We worked in the meat department
We did, but we don't anymore
A lady came in for some meat one day
"And what will you have?" we said
"Baloney", she said, and wieners she got
We'll never work there anymore
Photo Information;
Hollywood gathering years ago. Photos courtesy of Scott Weinmaster.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Swords to Plowshares in Colorado, nearby New Mexico

“But we are only termites on a planet and maybe when we bore too deeply into the planet there'll be a reckoning. Who knows?”
Harry S. Truman 

"What's important about morality in politics is us. We own the chicken farm. We must give our bird-brained, feather-headed politicians morals. Politicians love to think of themselves as "free-range" but they do not have the capacity to hunt or gather morals in the wild. If we fail to supply them with morality, politicians begin to act very scary in the barnyard. These are enormous headless chickens and they have nukes."
— P.J. O'Rourke (Don't Vote, it Just Encourages the Bastards) 

In search of Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE)

By Rob Carrigan,

In the late 1960s and the early 1970s,  remote locations in Colorado and nearby New Mexico became testing grounds designed to salvage the idea that we can be peaceful and useful — with nukes.

Project Plowshare was the overall United States program for the development of techniques to use nuclear explosives for peaceful constructive purposes. As part of the program, 31 nuclear warheads were detonated in 27 separate tests. Plowshare was the US portion of what are called Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE).

A similar Soviet program was carried out under the name Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy.

"On May 17, 1973, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the predecessor agency of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), detonated three nuclear devices nearly simultaneously in a single emplacement well at depths of 5,840; 6,230; and 6,690 feet at the Rio Blanco site.
The test was conducted in low-permeability, gas-bearing sandstones at the base of the Fort Union Formation and the upper portion of the Williams Fork Formation. This was the third and final natural gas reservoir stimulation test in the Plowshare Program, which was designed to develop peaceful uses for nuclear energy. The two previous tests were Project Gasbuggy in New Mexico and Project Rulison in Colorado. The AEC conducted the test in partnership with CER Geonuclear Corporation and Continental Oil Company (Conoco)," according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Energy.

'Project Rio Blanco' was an underground nuclear test that took place on May 17, 1973 in Rio Blanco County, Colorado, approximately 36 miles northwest of Rifle.

"The purpose of the Rio Blanco test was to stimulate the flow of natural gas in low-permeability geologic formations. The detonations produced extremely high temperatures that vaporized a volume of rock, temporarily creating a cavity at each depth. The fractured rock above each cavity collapsed shortly after the detonation, forming a rubble-filled cavity and a collapse chimney that extends above each detonation point. It was expected that the collapse chimneys created by the detonation would be connected, allowing for improved gas production from the fractured rock surrounding each collapse chimney," says the Department of Energy information.

Three 33-kiloton nuclear devices were detonated nearly simultaneously in a single emplacement well at depths of 5,838, 6,230, and 6,689 feet below ground level.

This was the third and final natural-gas-reservoir stimulation test in the Plowshare program, which was designed to develop peaceful uses for nuclear energy.

The two previous tests were 'Project Gasbuggy' in New Mexico and Project 'Rulison' in Colorado.

The United States Atomic Energy Commission conducted the test in partnership with CER Geonuclear Corporation and Continental Oil Company. A placard, erected in 1976, now marks the site where the test was conducted. The site is accessible via a dirt road, Rio Blanco County Route 29.

Project Rulison, named after the rural community of Rulison, Colorado, was an underground 40-kiloton nuclear test project in the United States on September 10, 1969, about 8 miles (13 km) SE of the town of Grand Valley, Colorado (now named Parachute, Colorado) in Garfield County.
The location of "Surface Ground Zero" is 39°24′19.0″N 107°56′54.7″W. The depth of the test cavity was approximately 8,400 ft (2,600 m) below the ground surface. It was part of the Operation Mandrel weapons test series under the name Mandrel Rulison, as well as the Operation Plowshare project which explored peaceful engineering uses of nuclear explosions. The peaceful aim of Project Rulison was to determine if natural gas could be easily liberated from underground regions. This site remains under active monitoring by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management.

The test succeeded in liberating large quantities of natural gas; however the resulting radioactivity left the gas contaminated and unsuitable for applications such as cooking and heating homes. Although projected public radiation exposures from commercial use of stimulated gas had been reduced to less than 1% of background, it became clear in the early 1970s that public acceptance within the U.S. of any product containing radioactivity, no matter how minimal, was difficult if not impossible.

The Department of Energy began a cleanup of the site in the 1970s which was completed in 1998. A buffer zone put in place by the state of Colorado still exists around the site. A January 2005 report by the DOE stated that radioactivity levels were normal at the surface and in groundwater, though a later report due in 2007 was expected to more fully explore if there was subsurface contamination and whether or not radioactivity was still spreading outward from the blast site itself.

A placard, erected in 1976, now marks the site where the blast took place. It is accessible via a gravel road, Garfield County Route 338.
'Project Gasbuggy' was an underground nuclear detonation carried out by the United States Atomic Energy Commission on December 10, 1967 in rural northern New Mexico. It was part of 'Operation Plowshare,' a program designed to find peaceful uses for nuclear explosions.

Gasbuggy was carried out by the Lawrence Livermore Radiation Laboratory and the El Paso Natural Gas Company, with funding from the Atomic Energy Commission. Its purpose was to determine if nuclear explosions could be useful in fracturing rock formations for natural gas extraction.

The site, lying in the Carson National Forest, is approximately 21 miles southwest of Dulce, New Mexico and 54 miles east of Farmington, and was chosen because natural gas deposits were known to be held in sandstone beneath Leandro Canyon. A 29 kilotons of TNT device was placed at a depth of 4,227 feet underground, then the well was backfilled before the device was detonated; a crowd had gathered to watch the detonation from atop a nearby butte.

The detonation took place after a couple of delays, the last one caused by a breakdown of the explosive refrigeration system. The detonation produced a rubble chimney that was 80 feet wide and 335 feet high above the blast center.

After an initial surface cleanup effort the site sat idle for over a decade. A later surface cleanup effort primarily tackled leftover toxic materials. In 1978, a marker monument was installed at the Surface Ground Zero (SGZ) point that provided basic explanation of the historic test. Below the main plaque lies another which indicates that no drilling or digging is allowed without government permission.
The site is publicly accessible via the Carson National Forest, F.S. 357 dirt road/Indian J10 that leads into the Carson National Forest.

Following the 'Project Gasbuggy' test, two subsequent nuclear explosion fracturing experiments were conducted in western Colorado in an effort to refine the technique. They were Project 'Rulison' in 1969 and 'Project Rio Blanco' in 1973. In both cases the gas radioactivity was still seen as too high and in the last case the triple-blast rubble chimney structures disappointed the design engineers. Soon after that test the 15-year 'Project Plowshare' program funding dried up.

Later, with the coming of the millennium, early fracturing tests such as these were, for the most part, replaced by hydraulic fracturing technologies.

Photo information:
Workers with the Atomic Energy Commission place a nuclear device into a shaft drilled on Doghead Mountain on Sept. 10, 1969, as part of the government's attempt to find peaceful uses for nuclear explosions. This effort sought to extract natural gas from the Rulison Field near Rifle. The gas that came out, however, was radioactive and could not be sold.
Department of Energy/1969

Thursday, March 5, 2020

You are never going to kill storytelling

Sam Strong: "Betrayer of women, couldn't keep a promise, litigious and quarrelsome"

By Rob Carrigan,

 J.K. Rowling is given credit for the idea that "No story lives unless someone wants to listen. And the stories we love best, do live in us forever." But I personally hold that a lot of fine stories live because somebody who doesn't want to listen — got killed because of it. 

So goes the tale of Cripple Creek millionaire mine owner Sam Strong.
Papers all over the country, from the New York Times to the papers in San Francisco, reported his death.

Mining areas and labor hotbeds like Telluride, and local publications like Daily Journal (Telluride), August 22, 1901, were particularly interested.


The Millionaire Owner Meets His Fate In a Drunken Quarrel in a Gambling House.

Cripple Creek , Colorado, Aug . 22 . —Sam Strong, the millionaire mine owner, and one of the best known characters in Cripple Creek, was shot and killed this morning in a quarrel with Grant Crumley. Sam Strong at 6 o' clock this morning entered a gambling house and met Crumley. He became abusive over an old trouble and finally pulled his gun and shot. The bullet missed the mark, and other men jumped in between the two, while Crumley stepping behind the bar, picked up a gun, took aim at Strong and fired, blowing nearly the whole top of his head off. The incident caused the wildest sensation in the gold camp.

A not-so-flattering obituary in the same paper, also on the front page, followed immediately.

Colorado Springs , Aug . 22 . —Sam Strong, the millionaire mine owner, killed this morning in a gambling house brawl at Cripple Creek, lived here for some time. He was not a cultured man and his personality made him few friends. Despite his wealth he was practically ostracized socially. Wealth spoiled all the good traits in the man. He cut his old friends, developed into a typical Shylock, loaned money at heart-breaking rates of interest, was notorious as a betrayer of women and when he married for the second time last year, a Miss Lewis sued him for breach of promise and secured a judgment, the largest verdict ever returned for a similar case in this county. He was sued by many women and was a born rake. He was tried a few months ago for blowing up his own mine, but was acquitted.

For a story-telling event sponsored by the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum, the museum noted Sam Strong's death was a favorite.

"The most famous story about the Strong Mine has to do with its founder. The mine’s 1890’s owner, Sam Strong, was killed in an argument in the Newport Saloon in Cripple
Creek in 1901, his shooting the result of an argument over gambling. As a result of the incident, the mayor at the time outlawed guns and gambling in Cripple Creek.
In the August 23 issue of the Colorado Springs Evening Mail, Mayor Crane ran a decree on the front page. He publicly denounced Strong and all other gamblers for the common practice of carrying concealed weapons, saying: ‘I believe that in a community so well governed as Cripple Creek, where warrants are worth 100 cents on the dollar, any person who carries a gun or other dangerous weapon concealed on his person is either a coward, a bully or an outlaw.’ Crane ordered that all gambling houses in Cripple Creek be closed and that ‘all persons carrying concealed weapons quit said practice.’"

Other stories about Sam Strong had made headlines before. In the San Francisco Call, April 14, 1900:

Strong Must Pay Heavy Damages for Breach of Promise. Special Dispatch to The Call.

COLORADO SPRINGS. Colo., April 13.— The jury In the breach of promise case of Nellie Lewis vs. Sam Strong this afternoon returned a verdict In favor of the plaintiff for $30,000. The trial was sensational in many respects. The defendant is a millionaire, having made a fortune in Cripple Creek, principally in the famous Strong mine. The parties to the action met in June, when the plaintiff was 15 years of age. The relations began between the two six months later, continuing to January last, when the defendant married Regina Neville, a belle of the mining camp of Altman.

Local historian Jan MacKell linked Strong's death to troubles for the gambling industry at the time and reported this way in her book "Cripple Creek District: Last of the Colorado's Gold Booms, in a chapter titled "Eleven Years of Gambling (1991 to 2002)."

"The death of Sam Strong, gold mining magnate, seemed to punctuate gambling problems in 1901. Sam had ran up a gambling tab of $2,500 at the Newport, which he paid by check. The next day, Strong stopped the check, claiming the roulette wheel was fixed. A week later, Strong settled with Grant Crumley for $200. All seemed well until one night when Sam and some of his friends ambled in the Newport. Strong was very drunk and jeered at Crumley, even when he managed to win $140. At the bar, there was brief exchange of words, before Strong suddenly withdrew a revolver. He shouted at Crumley to take his hands from his pocket. Crumley reacted by pulling a saw-off shotgun from under the bar. In the next moment, Strong lay on the floor, in a puddle of blood slowly spreading around his head. He died a few hours later, and Crumley was acquitted of the killing. Grant Crumley's action put one cap in Sam Strong and another cap on first gambling era of Cripple Creek."

Academics like Benjamin McKie Rastall got in to the act with "The Labor History of the Cripple Creek District: A Study in Industrial Evolution

"It has been generally believed in some quarters that the blowing up of the Strong mine was accomplished by Mr. Sam Strong himself, in order to prevent the property from being worked, and in this manner to break the valuable lease, which would revert to himself. This is exactly what did happen, and Messrs, Lennox and Giddings, the lessees of the mine, later brought suit for heavy damages against Mr. Strong on the above charge. The admission by prominent union men that the mine was really destroyed by a party of miners now settles the question beyond any doubt, and clears Mr. Strong of all suspicion."

And even Labor experts  got in the act. Following is an account by Emma Langdon, in her book "The Cripple Creek Strike," of that reported exoneration.

"The following morning a number of men quietly entered the building of the Strong mine and ordered Sam McDonald, Charles Robinson and Jack Vaughn to come out. They declined to do so and retreated down the shaft. Dynamite was then deliberately placed in the boiler inside the shaft house, and with an electric battery, the same was exploded, demolishing the building together with the its valuable machinery. Great interest in the fate of Sam McDonald, and the two men with him in the shaft of the destroyed Strong mine was felt, but twenty-six hours after the calamity, voices were heard in an old shaft connected with the main shaft of the mine by drift, and the imprisoned miners were taken out. After getting washed and something to eat, they were taken to what was known as 'Bull Hill stronghold.' Charles Robinson suffered considerably as a result of the terrible experience, but none of the others suffered to any extent. Who was responsible for the destruction of the Strong mine is still a mystery?"

Photo info:

Photograph posed days after the death of Strong, by Strong supporters in the Newport.  From the Ray Drake collection at the Cripple Creek District Museum.