This was the scene in Kenosha yesterday afternoon, as workers piece by piece dismantled the old WGTD radio tower, which had been there since 1975. (More photos are on elsewhere on my website, on the WGTD page.) Mother Nature apparently was attached to this old thing, because she threw all kinds of disagreeable weather our way which forced several postponements- but finally yesterday, they were able to bring the thing down once and for all. . . and I was sitting in my car in the parking lot for almost two hours, watching the process. Actually, to call it a “process” is maybe not quite the best choice of words because it took FOREVER – and most of the time what you’re watching is three ants up on a tower, doing something with tools that you really can’t see but hearing a clanking sound that apparently indicated that they were ever closer to completion of the next step – but from a distance it mostly looked like a lot of nothing happening. But then you stop to think that they were up there trying to loosen nuts and bolts that have been tightly wedged to each other for 33 years, and it’s not the kind of thing that a couple of squirts of WD40 is going to loosen up. It would be tough enough just to be up that high and that exposed if you were just sitting there admiring the view. But they were up there wrestling with metal, banging on stubborn bolts, pulling with all their might – – – in short, doing a job that I could not and would not do for a million dollars.
Anyway, there was not a whole lot to see most of the time- but I was there nonetheless, sitting in my car in the parking lot at a safe distance, hoping to capture an image of the top piece of the tower finally coming loose . . . and after 90 minutes of patient vigilance, the moment finally came. No trumpet fanfare. It was really just a matter of the clanking finally finishing and of a muffled yell from above which I suppose was something like “take her away, guys!” And slowly and silently, the crane lifted that now liberated portion of the tower away from the rest and then set it down on the ground as light as air. And the three guys, rather than scampering down and taking a lunch break (by this point they had been up on the tower for about two and a half hours) descended to the next point which needed to be loosened and resumed their laborious work. ( I don’t know how many zillions of dollars they earn doing this, but I doubt very much that it’s really enough! )
By the way, I did not sit in my car doing nothing except stare at those three ants on the tower. I had my Side by Side by Sondheim scores with me and was figuring out some solo assignments. . . and then started writing on Opera Question#4 (casting an all-star Aida recording.) But every fifteen seconds or so I would try to remember to look up in the sky so as not to miss the big moment of separation. (I must admit to falling asleep at one point, and then waking up with a start and looking up anxiously at the sky, hoping that I hadn’t missed it. And I hadn’t – it was still three ants on a tower, hammering away.) When the moment of separation finally happened, it frankly wasn’t all that thrilling except in the sense that it was welcome sight after waiting for it for so long. What was almost more dramatic than that was when I came to work today and saw the entire tower on the ground, in sections . . . It felt like the end of an era. Fortunately, looming in the background was our new tower- taller and better and (I hope) a sign of even better days ahead for WGTD.
pictured: the three tower workers scurrying down, just after the top section of the tower had been lifted up and deposited on the ground. More pix on the WGTD page.