On day one a guy knew.
Climbing high steel was only for the chosen few.
In the old days a man road a "headache ball",
connected to a crane cable to the top.
The Chicago winds blew ominously.
There I stood, 13 stories high.
Vertigo ruled my guts for about three days.
I was 156 feet tall on the tower crane deck.
The old timers said, "You'll get used to it son."
I learned to walk beams without safety gear.
I walked with my body hanging off the beam,
into the lashing wind.
After a few years of thies, my face got red and leathery.
My hands became caloused and knotted from the cold.
I relished using a cutting torch and welding rod on these cold, Chicago days.
Iron workers and crane operators are a rough breed of men.
We spent ten hours a day on high steel, and four hours in the tavern every night.
We were paid well for our labor.
Pride and guts motivated us, and a lot of hard-earned skills.
When my body aches with the onset of the winds in the fall,
I remember high steel in Chicago.
These were the days of guts and glory.