Unbuilding the Grace and Pearman Bridges

For Sparky and myself, curiosity drives passion which in turn fuels our life's engine. Our passion was capturing the story of both unbuilding the Grace (1929 - 2007) and Pearman (1966 - 2007) Bridges and discovering the unbuilders. It takes a lot of passion to track a project from July 2005 until April 2007 - rain, shine, hurricanes or moving to Singapore. We discovered the joy of discovery learning. Ken Canty opened the front door for us - then Steve Testa, Ponch Billingsley and Mickey Rogers opened many side doors. Below are the highlights of what we discovered, who we met and what we learned.

And a reminder from T.S. Eliot (East Coker from the Four Quartets)

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

March 10, 2006:Another Signature Bridge

Looking over Cashman's shoulder and Steve Testa's boys over the past 6 months has been more than a liberal education. Every time we interact - both Sparky and I come out ahead. We have learned more than we imagined and developed more friendships than we though possible. These guys made both of us feel like we were part of their family - and I shall certainly miss all of them (already miss some of them). Today Sparky ventured out to the Navy yard and found our team busy signing the last section of the Grace bridge.

The signatures - including Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#8) - and Dale Earnhardt Sr. - #3 - Is there a better way to use orange spray paint? Sparky and I also joined in (though I was in absentia)

Sparky, Jackie (with non-reflective sun glasses - just to test whether I recognize him) and Steve (Richie was in absentia - and no questions from Joshua Hebb - asking where is Absentia?)

March 16, 2006 - More fun with the Hebb family:
Frank, (from Tina Hebb)

I thought you would be amused to hear that Joshua just went on the site and 
asked, "what is in absentia?"  Then, he quickly said, "wait a minute and 
I'll pull it up on dictionary .com.  This always gives me the answer."  
This is what he found:  No entry found for absentia.

His next response was to think a bit and see how it was used.  
He has decided that the base word is absent, so it must mean that 
the persons presence was absent.  

Then he realized he only looked up absentia not in absentia and tried again.  
He was psyched to find that he was correct.  This is what he found: While
 or although not present; in absence

He also Googled the word and thought you may find this amusing: In 
Absentia is the seventh studio album by British progressive rock 
band Porcupine Tree, first released in September 24, 2002.
Joshua, at the age of 11 is clearly Internet enabled and has apparently discovered the fun of learning. Smiles from Frank - to Joshua and all the other young learners out there!

Meanwhile, back at the Navy Yard - Rotating the players - Jackie, Steve and Sparky. This is the same Jackie that introduced me to Michael's son, Joshua - when I misidentifed them in one of my photos

By now, if you have your curious mind churning away - you are wondering how the Earnhardt family got into this business. Steve, of course, is a Dale and Dale Jr. fan - above all fans. Here he is with his #3 seat cushion

Pio is almost in absentia which in this case is Drum Island

What remains of Grace are small bone fragments

and Sparky and his artistic flare - looking down one of Grace's box girders

Among the bones are the pins that connected the cantilever sections to the main span

and another sunset (sort of)

Bye Bye Grace

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer