Odd times with Groovy and Goat
October 26, 2007
Back in the ’70s, I worked with a pair of individuals who were, if nothing else, unforgettable. Groovy and Goat went everywhere together and I imagine probably even slept in the same bed, they were that close.
To a young man, a gravel pit was a marvelous thing ” big machines digging and hauling dirt, huge apparatuses crushing and screening rock into various commodities ” all needed as part of Aspen’s burgeoning “renaissance.” A guy I sometimes drank and gambled with, Joe McCarthy, had just bought the Stillwater pit from Pat Hemann and offered me a job, skills unknown.
I could hardly wait to run the big loaders and Caterpillar dozers, but being the new kid on the block, was assigned the job of running the rock crusher. It was a good job and I loved the purr of the gigantic diesel engine, but when I think about how I used to jump over moving conveyor belts and whirring jaws and screens, bypassing every safety device, in the name of increased production, I realize I’m fortunate to have all my limbs, much less be alive.
The man responsible for clearing away the produce of the crusher and stockpiling it elsewhere was a man I knew only as Groovy. Tall, 6 feet 5 inches at least, probably in his 60s, with a big, toothy grin, he incongruously wore tight jeans that were, of course, too short and altogether, he made a hulking sort of vision as he climbed in and out of his front-loader. After a time, we got to be on speaking terms, but that was about it. Every once in a while, an afternoon rain shower would roll in and Groovy would head for his ’60s vintage, white Chevrolet pickup truck and I’d go sit in my red Volkswagen bug. Depending on the storm, we’d go either back to work or home.
One day as it started raining, Groovy waved me over to his truck. “Get in, you dumb bastard. It’s wet out,” and with that we crossed the line into friendship. Entering the cab was an unexpected experience, for there in the middle of the seat sat Goat, a small dog of unknown description, possibly some Pekingese and poodle mixed up with something else. A low growl filled the cab as Groovy implored Goat to be silent. “Oh, for Christ’s sake, let the man sit down.” And then, in the way it always seemed to be, necessity required me to be offered the role of accomplice. The vodka bottle came out, small in Groovy’s large hand, and there was an urgent desire on his part for me to partake, to taste the forbidden juice, for then it would be impossible for me to implicate him for something we both participated in. It worked, and from then on, whenever it rained, Groovy and I would sit in his truck, drink vodka and pass Goat back and forth, laughing at his antics as he begged unmercifully for tidbits and attention.
What does a tiny dog do at a gravel pit all day, as his owner drives a huge loader that could smash 50 dogs at once, and large trucks of all description move back and forth? I can’t say, exactly, except that he’d better stay in the pickup and wait for the boss.
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It’s hard to tell what happened to Groovy, but he traveled on in one way or another and soon after, we began moving the operation to the Pitkin Iron site in Woody Creek. As we pulled the office trailer away from the sandy bank against which it rested, dozens of empty vodka bottles slid down into the place where the trailer had sat, and Groovy’s “secret” was there in the open for everyone to see.
Maybe Groovy drank too much, maybe he didn’t, but either way, it couldn’t matter to Goat, for every fiber of the dog’s being existed just to please his master. There are heroes and there are heroes, and Goat could tell of one he never got over.