When I was growing up, I loved going to the rig with my dad. When our boys were growing up, they loved going with me to the rig and Piglet’s daughter loved going to the rig with him. Kids love learning, but today many kids have to stay home and entertain themselves playing games on the computer.

We used to order well gravel by the truckload. Then, as our company grew, we ordered well gravel by the railroad hopper carload. When it arrived, we only had a few days to unload the hopper car. We had to unload the car with a conveyor. I would try to round up some help, but when I mentioned unloading a hopper car load of gravel it sounded like too much hard work, so no one was available.

Bess was a Den Mother of 12 Cub Scouts, and when we mentioned helping us unload a carload of gravel they were all excited. All they had to do was climb in the hopper car and jump on the gravel and the gravel would flow to the hopper car bottom. The hopper was opened just enough to let the gravel flow but not enough that anyone could or would get caught. The kids had a ball and all it cost us was cold drinks, boiled peanuts and a trip to the Dairy Queen for ice cream afterwards. The kids were always asking us when we were getting another load of gravel.

Then came well regulations and regulators. County and state regulations would no longer allow the use of bulk gravel in water wells for fear of contamination. We had to purchase approved well pack sand in sealed bags. So the hopper car went by the wayside.

We had to order well pack sand by the truck load. When a truck arrived no one wanted to unload a semi-trailer load of 50-pound bags. Our two sons loved getting out of school to help dad. I’d go to school and check them out for the day. The school principal knew the boys would have the opportunity to learn a trade so it was always OK to let the boys trade a day in school for a day of on the job training.

The 50-pound bagged gravel was loaded on pallets but we had no fork lift to unload them. Plus, there was no way that a fork lift could move the pallets from the truck and stack them in the building because of a lack of ramp access and a low ceiling. The boys had to unload the bags by hand from the truck and stack them in the building to the ceiling. This required making steps of the bags.

After unloading hundreds of bags of gravel once, the boys weren’t so excited about getting out of school to unload gravel again. It seemed as though, come unloading day, they always had a test and couldn’t miss school. Either way, they were outdoors, not involved in TV or computer games and getting smarter.

Our granddaughter always loved working with her dad Piglet drilling wells. At the age of nine, she had learned to drive a pickup on site, and run an Excavator, Bobcat and an ATV. Who has time for games or dolls?

Now, OSHA rules limit what jobs kids can do in the name of protecting them. So, where are our young people today? Hanging out, many getting in trouble with the law, playing computer games and not getting enough physical exercise, which causes health problems. A few get on drugs, causing mental health problems. Are your children following your trade today? Likely not. But, surely, there are ways to keep them safe while helping them avoid the distractions of TV and video games, and get a taste of good, honest work.  ND