Sammy Sweeper

CHAPTER ONE: Sweeping Up: Almost done!

Sammy worked for a big construction company. One of the biggest road builders in the country, with many projects in many different places. Sammy's job was to sweep off the road surface just before the asphalt layers were put down.
Building a road is kind of like cooking. Like a layer cake. Or lasagna. The road is made up of layers: the first being the base layer, consisting of clay or limerock. On top of that come several layers of asphalt, which is a mix of sand and gravel with bitumen, or tar. The first coats don't have very coarse gravel in them. The final coat, called the traction coat, has a coarser mix of gravel than the lower coats. This helps a vehicle's tires get a good grip on the road and avoid skidding. This is especially important when the road is wet!

Each layer must be compacted and made smooth before the next layer is put down.

After each layer of asphalt was laid, Sammy swept the new pavement. If he failed to sweep the roadbed completely free of sand and debris, then the next layer of asphalt wouldn't stick to the layer beneath it, and the road would fail very quickly.
He had finished sweeping the last layer of the road before the traction coat. This section of road was almost finished! Ready for for Polly to put down the final layer.

A well deserved break!

The road was swept. A job well done. Sammy turned his radio on: it was playing "For What It's Worth" (Stop, Hey, What's That Sound) by Buffalo Springfield.

"A classic road song!" Sammy thought. So many vehicles have gone to a junkyard before their time because they don't stop, look, and listen! Especially at railroad crossings!
"You gotta stop, hey, what's that sound? everybody look what's going down!"

The song made Sammy think about his friend, Bo.

Bo loved Buffalo Springfield tunes, and liked to tell how the group named themselves after his grandfather!


Bo's Grandfather, Buffalo Springfield

Seems Bo's grandfather was working on a road in front of producer Barry Friedman's house and recording studio in Los Angeles. Friedman was helping Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Richie Furay to form a band. Bo's grandfather had given Friedman his nameplate, and Friedman had hung it on the wall of his house. (Steamrollers have ALWAYS been big rock fans).

Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Richie Furay try to think up a name for the new band

The guys in the band were trying to think of a name for their new group. They saw Bo's grandfather all the time working on the road in front of Barry Friedman's house and studio in Los Angeles. They all loved road construction equipment (who doesn't?), and seeing the "Buffalo Springfield" cast iron nameplate hanging on the wall, they decided to call their band "Buffalo Springfield", in appreciation of Bo's grandfather's inspiration and support.

Sammy was so distracted by the music, he almost missed Bull coming down the side of the road. Bull had been in the roughest area of the project, digging out stumps.

Bull messes with Sammy: Literally!

He passed right by Sammy, but veered off a bit, while dropping his blade. A streamer of nasty swamp mud slung across the area Sammy had just swept. "You missed a spot, sweeper boy!" Bull growled.
Sammy was really mad. Why did Bull have to pick on him like that? Sammy had never been that popular. He was kind of dorky looking, with his tilted windows and gawky wheels. His job wasn't that glamorous, but he did it well. He just didn't know why Bull had to be like that.


Wanda came driving by.
"What's up, Sammy? You look like you're running rough!" she said.
"Oh, no big deal. Just some mud I have to clean up. Thought I was done: I guess not!" Sammy replied.
"Well, how on earth did that get there?" she asked.
"Oh, Bull dropped it there: just an accident, I'm sure" Sammy replied.
"Oh, that guy's a real tailpipe!" Wanda exclaimed! "But here: I can fix that: don't get your broom muddy. You'll just smear it around."
Wanda pulled up to the mud on the road, and opened up the valve on her water tank. The mud was washed off the road, leaving the asphalt black and shiny.
"Wow, Wanda! Thanks! I didn't know how I was going to deal with that! And Polly will be here soon to put down the traction coat!"Sammy said.
"Nolo problemo, Sweeperman! I gotta go get a drink!" said Wanda as she rolled off down the road to refill her tank.

Ram drove up. He noticed the water on the roadbed.
"Where did that come from I wonder?" he speculated.
"Sammy, did you see where that came from?"
Sammy replied "Oh Wanda washed some mud off the pavement. Should be dry by morning!"
"Mud? How did mud get on the road?" Ram asked.
"I really didn't see" Sammy said. "Wanda and I just noticed it and took care of it"
Ram said, "Well, if more folks would do that we'd be on a better road! See something wrong, fix it! Good job!"

I'll see you tomorrow morning!

Ram has an uneasy feeling

Driving home that night, Ram was worried. Something was wrong. He wasn't sure what. Just an feeling, a flickering trouble light. But Ram had been down a lot of roads, and one thing he'd learned was to trust his instincts. He had a meeting with Ms. Silverado tomorrow morning. Maybe he'd mention his feelings. Maybe not. After all, he didn't have anything specific, nothing he could hook up to.

He sure hoped nothing bad was about to happen. It's easy to make a wrong turn in the road business.

The Ramrod

Some of his friends called Ram "Ramrod", after the character Clint Eastwood played in the old TV series "Wagon Train". With classic TV, the old series is running again. At first the nickname annoyed him a little, but he figured, "Hey, not a bad thing to be compared to a young Clint Eastwood!"

In a way Ram thought it was a fitting nickname: In "Wagon Train" there was the trail boss who gave the orders, and the Ramrod, who made sure orders were carried out, and the wagons rolled down the line.

On the road project, Ms. Silverado was sort of the Trail Boss, and he was the Ramrod.
Trail Boss speaks, Ramrod makes it happen.

Ram pulled into his driveway just as the sun was going down. He turned off his engine. Time to cool down. Enjoy some down time.

NEXT: Chapter (2) "Another day, another digger"



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