Another Man Down

July has the most fog of any month of the year at the Golden Gate Bridge. It rarely comes in on little cat’s paws. It is more like a lion that is on you before you know it. At least that’s the way it seems at night, when you’re the only one on duty in the EShop and responsible for operating the foghorns.

We kept a logbook—The Fog Log—for 45 years, recording how many hours and minutes the foghorns were on during our 24/7 shifts. The month of July averaged 161.1 hours of operation. That’s more than 6 days straight, if they ran continuously, and sometimes they do operate for days at a time.

The record for July was set in 1979. The foghorns were on for 361 hours and that was about the time that our friend, Pat, came to work in the Electric Shop at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Last week I attended a memorial service for him. He passed away two weeks ago, another notation for the month of July in the Big Logbook of the Hereafter.

One of my favorite memories of working with Pat was on a foggy morning when we were tasked with replacing the 1,000 watt lamp in the aerial beacon on top of the South Tower. It is cold, wet and slippery up there in the fog. Firm footing, a solid grip, and no sudden moves are the order of the day.

After replacing the lamp and watching it begin to flash on and off, we spent a few minutes enjoying the cool wet solitude on top of the tower. The thick wet fog dampened the noise of the traffic below and we were just two guys completely isolated from the world below. 746 feet above sea level, zero visibility, and holding steady.

I took a few photos that day and completely forgot about them until the memorial service, when one of them scrolled across the slideshow screen. There was Pat, at peace with himself and fully enjoying the moment.

P.K. was a God-fearing man and an active member of his church. Pat was a big help to me when I started at the GGB in 1999. He assisted me with navigating the rigors of shiftwork and the challenges of working on the bridge.

He’s been retired for 13 years and now he’s laid to eternal rest.

Here’s to blue skies, Pat. Save me a spot on Swing Shift for the Northern Lights.

Peace, brother.

This one’s for you.

  18 comments for “Another Man Down

  1. August 26, 2018 at 11:45 AM

    I’m just getting caught up with posts I set aside while working on one of my own that was heavy on research, so I missed this. I’m so sorry for your loss, but so glad for you that you had the friendship of such a man.

    You know, it’s a little odd… In that record-breaking year of 1979, I was living in Berkeley, and spent a good bit of time atop the hills, fog-watching. It’s strange now to think that the two of your were either on or atop that bridge, and that only now I should become aware of Pat. It reminds me of that wonderful Biblical phrase about a “cloud of witnesses.” We may not know who they are, but they’re there — even when we can’t see them in the fog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 26, 2018 at 12:16 PM

      Well put. It makes me wonder what I am unaware of even now in real-time.
      Ω

      Like

  2. August 17, 2018 at 5:00 PM

    I’m sorry for your loss, Allan. You would have made him proud with this beautiful anecdote.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 17, 2018 at 5:49 PM

      Thanks, Jose. I had a chance to share the story with his widow and it did both of us a lot of good.
      Ω

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous
    August 17, 2018 at 11:00 AM

    Thank You Allen : There were a number of touching stories that I thought about after the memorial. I was still in shock. Gary

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 17, 2018 at 12:35 PM

      He’s still alive in our hearts and those memories will remain forever.
      Thanks, Gary.
      Ω

      Like

  4. August 16, 2018 at 3:50 PM

    Lovely tribute, Allan, to a very special friend.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  5. August 16, 2018 at 3:22 PM

    I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, Allan. I hope this good memory of your time together will be a little beacon in your heart always.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. August 16, 2018 at 10:55 AM

    A very touching tribute Allan. I cannot imagine being up there in the first place, much less in the wet fog. Takes a special breed and it seems he was fit for the task. RIP

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 16, 2018 at 2:46 PM

      Thanks, Tina. Pat was as quiet as the fog, no matter the weather. A good example for us all.
      Ω

      Like

  7. August 16, 2018 at 10:21 AM

    Beautiful memory of friend. Like how you framed it in fog. Today we lost Aretha Franklin.. yesterday a dear friend went fighting cancer all the way. The hazy fog sets the right mood for passing into the mystic. Thank You

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 16, 2018 at 2:45 PM

      You are welcome, Carol, and I’m sorry to hear about your loss.
      Ω

      Like

  8. August 16, 2018 at 10:19 AM

    Wonderful tribute. Always sad to lose one and have to make the log notation.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. August 16, 2018 at 10:12 AM

    A lovely tribute, Allan. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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