I was staying at my Aunt Cot’s house during this time. My grandfather was living with her along with my old dog Scrappy that had become his dog. Gin never went anywhere without that dog riding with him in his little blue 39 Ford coupe. My mom was staying at Cot’s as well. After the war, Mom left her engineering work on aircraft carriers and returned to teaching in San Antonio.
I could not re-enter the University until February, and the wedding was set for January, so I had to occupy myself for several months. Dad Sawtelle had always wanted a shop, so I decided to build him one out behind his house. He gave me his desires regarding size, and I took it from there. It took me about two months to build him a 10’ x 20’ shop. The ground sloped to the west back there and I had to build some rather high forms before pouring the concrete. I needed to fill the space inside the form with sand and a lot of rocks. Charlotte’s brother Dan owned a two-wheel trailer which I had retrieved from its resting place in Minneola, Texas. I used it to haul the rocks that I collected along San Pedro Avenue, north of town.
One day, I was pulling the empty trailer along Hildebrand Avenue on my way out for another load of rocks, when I looked to my left out of the driver’s window, and there was a trailer trucking along beside me. It was not attached to any car and all of a sudden it hit me: “Hey, that’s my trailer!!” It drifted over into the oncoming lane, but fortunately, all the oncoming cars dodged it. It finally jumped the curb and stopped against a big cedar tree. I always had to learn by doing. I had a 1 7/8” ball on the car and a 2” hitch on the trailer and no safety chain. I went over and bought a 2” ball as soon as I could, as well as a safety chain. I hauled all kinds of trailers all over Texas, and up to Kansas in the next 50 years but always with the proper ball, and hitch, as well as a good safety chain.
Another little mishap occurred, this time with the concrete form. On the downhill side of the slab, the form was about three feet high. The concrete truck started delivering the concrete, and I was wading around in the concrete in rubber boots. All of a sudden there was a “Crack!” and the form on that high side bowed out and was about to split open. I rushed into Dad’s garage and got a jack. Then I drove a 2x4 post into the ground with his sledgehammer and used a jack to hold that side of the wall. I was working alone, so I had to finish out the slab before it set up and hardened. I had started at about seven that morning, and finished working the surface of the slab at ten o’clock that night. I had been out there going as hard as I could the whole time, except when Charlotte brought me something to eat and drink. I think Charlotte had to drive me over to Cot’s where I was staying. I literally crawled into the house that night.
I was gratified that for the rest of Dad Sawtelle’s time there living on Kings Highway, he would head for that shop almost every afternoon, when he came home from work. He would come in for supper, and then after supper back to his shop. He spent thousands of hours puttering around in his shop building things, especially for his grand children.