Every time I cross the Shem Creek Bridge and view all the massive construction equipment doing various things in the creek, my mind goes back to a critical day I had on the bridge in 1957.
For many years the bridge only had two lanes and in 1956 the Highway Department called for bids to four-lane it. My little construction company won the job, and we contracted with a young man who had a pile driver to drive the piles.
He was Tommy Parker, an exceptional individual. As we were about the same age, we were “Arthur” and “Tommy” to each other until he went to his reward several years ago.
A problem arose when Tommy got tied up on another job and was late arriving. But, fortunately, we soon got a call that he was on his way. So all of us, even the lady in the office, turned out to watch him arrive. And here he came with a home-made pile driver mounted on a barge pushed by two outboard motor boats.
When he almost got to the bridge, we clapped and cheered but then his barge hit a snag and sank. We were devastated. But Tommy was not. “Don’t worry, you all,” he called with a big grin, “I’m going to plug the hole with some rags and old towels, raise this barge and drive your piles.” And he did.
Arthur Ravenel Jr.