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Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 81
Albert Offline OP
Great shots of maintenance crew ("sign monkeys") at work, plus views and explanation of the sign's electromechanical flashers and scrolling-message display: Behind the Bright Lights

Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 827
Likes: 1
Thanks for sharing! I guess you could call it an earlier type of paper tape reader.

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,294
Very Interesting Watching, Albert! thumbs

At the end, it shows a sign monkey atop a flashing section at night, with no fall protection.
It almost made me ill. sick

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,949
Likes: 34
Computers certainly did make those moving message boards a lit easier to do and getting rid of all of those lamps was quite a labor saver.

I agree about the fall protection. I wonder how many sign monkeys fell. Do you think they may have been belayed and we just did not see the rope?

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,273
The skill set they use came directly from the sea.

Falling from the rigging was the number one source of:"Man-over-board."


The ultimate in crazy: in the 19th Century, out of Malta, it was the custom for midshipmen (teenage boys) to stand vertically atop the highest mast as a sign of bravery and balance. A dinky circular platform was set there just for that purpose.

When in procession, the Royal Navy (HQ'd at Malta, BTW) would have battleships all in a line... each one with a boy standing tall atop its highest mast -- with no support or tie-off!

Yes, they did lose a few each season. No biggie, though.


This kind of ethos can still be seen on construction sites all over America: with immigrants. Whether Russian, Polish, Mexican or unknown, they all persist in taking astounding fall-hazard risks on every job I've seen. They just won't tie off. When the inevitable falls occur, their employer is sued into bankruptcy.

This explains the astounding turn-over in roofing contractors -- and their special workmans compensation rates.


As electricians, we see the same folly with A frame ladders. You're just as dead from even ten-feet. One fellow took a header off of a ten-footer -- a total straight flip -- and became a quadraplegic in one blow. He now spends 100% of his time laying in a bed -- totally parallyzed from the neck down.

Joint and back injuries terminate many j-man careers.

Consequently, I prohibit one-man portage of even 12-foot ladders. I will terminate anyone who 'walks a ladder' more than twice. Such practices are easy to spot -- because they destroy the feet of the ladder. And one fine day, the j-man takes a brutal tumble -- always, it seems, onto a nest of rebar / elevator pit / a kill zone.

Falling causes more grief than electrical arcs. Stay paranoid.

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,294
It's not that surprising that they didn't have fall protection.

The Empire State Building had been completed just 4 years before.

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 206
I think it was normal practice in the 1930s. Living in Blackpool, with our tower, we often see pictures on local history websites such as this link.

One of the contributors comments that her grandfather took such a job as "it was the only job he could get". That's how things were then.

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 368
Originally Posted by electure
It's not that surprising that they didn't have fall protection.

The Empire State Building had been completed just 4 years before.

Also noticeable was the lack of hard hats, hi viz vests and probably steel toe boots which are required just to walk on to any work site now.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,455
Likes: 3
Cat Servant
Kind of makes you think ... like "How on earth did I ever survive growing up?

Let's see .... the 30's.... America on the verge of becoming a true world leader, in everything 'positive,' and destined to fight - and defeat - those who held a much darker view of the future.

In short order, we defined the limits in the sciences, in engineering, in construction, in productivity - and don't forget, PROSPERITY.

Now let's fast-forward to today. these days, the great feats of construction and engineering are taking place in China, Malaysia, India, and the United Arab Emirates. Our academia and medical research is dominated by foreigners only temporarily visiting the USA. Our corporations are increasingly gobbled up by firms based in such economic powerhouses as France, Brazil, and Argentina.

How did we let this happen?

Well, perhaps we adopted the methods of those we defeated earlier: the society that is centrally planned and directed by anonymous and unaccountable apparatchiks.

"Safety" has been perverted into a bludgeon, used to cow the masses into blind conformity and the aping of the party line. Special interests just can't wait to insert their agenda into rules for others to follow, while code publishers piously assert copyright over the law.

It's not about "safety" (whatever that is), but about who's in control, who gets to make the decisions.

Look at "our" NEC: today it adamantly requires the use of a product that science (physics) plainly states cannot ever possibly work at household voltages. The NEC also mandates a home phone jack - a recent requirement - at a time when the home phone is becoming as common as buggy whips.

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