May 7, 1908
SEVEN STORIES ABOVE THE STREET THESE TWO MEN CLUNG TO A ROPE FOR DEAR LIFE.
The falling of a large bucket of water and a brush on the sidewalk on the south side of the Commerce building about 2:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon caused many passers to look up. Dangling from a rope beneath a scaffold almost seven stories above the street were two men.
In the crowd which quickly gathered were three women. The spectators all looked on with bated breath while their hands were tightly clenched. Lower and lower the two men dangled. Just as it seemed that one or both would surely lose their hold and drop to certain death, one of the men managed to get the toe of his right foot on the ledge of a window on the sixth story.
"Oh Lord!" cried one of the women. "I can't look any more. They're both going to drop!"
"Hush up," came from a little nervous man. "You make me dizzy. Don't let 'em hear you say that."
This all took place in a very few seconds. While it was going on the man who had reached the window ledge with his toe managed, by a superhuman effort, to draw himself up. Once there, he assisted his companion, whose toe had by that time touched the ledge and both were soon standing side by side in the window.
"Good boy! Good boy! shouted a spectator. "You are all right."
The two men did not appear to hear him. They walked about on the window ledge as if they were on a flat tin roof. One of them tried the window. It opened, the men entered, and the crowd sighed with relief.
The two men who came so near death are Charles Pepperdine of 3112 Bell street and Paul Jacoby, who rooms near Fifth and Walnut streets. They work for the Ben P. Shirley Company of Indianapolis, Ind., which has the contract for washing the big building and "pointing" the brick and terra cotta work. One washed while the other "pointed."
They were working on a scaffold made from a ladder. Ropes and pulleys are attached at both ends and securely fastened at the top of the fifteen-story building. Men who do that class of skyscraper work become careless. One of the became so yesterday, for, as the two men attempted to pass on the narrow platform, he placed a hand against the side o the building to steady himself. This caused the scaffold to shoot out from beneath their feet.
The two men shot off first, quickly followed by the big bucket of water and brush. At the back of the men, just about even with their hips, was a safety rope to keep them from falling outwards. Just as they fell both managed to grab that rope. It was attached to the two upright ropes, or "falls," as they are called. The weight of the men drew the two long ropes closer and closer together as the men dropped lower and lower. It was while in this position that Pepperdine managed to get his foot on the window ledge, and Jacoby was soon drawn to safety.
The men made their way back to the next floor and were soon on their ladders, ready to go to work. But as both had got a ducking from the big pail of water, they were excused to go home and get dry clothes.
"Nervous? Scared? Who, me? Not much. That wasn't any more than happens every day. Some of us slip or fall a ways, but there is not always a gaping crowd to rubber and make a hero out of the incident."
"I was giggling all the time," said Jacoby. "Just like a woman when she is tickled at something and can't laugh out loud. Just like kids in church, you know. I was kidding 'Pep' for the way he was attempting to swim in the air."
"No I did not look upon the incident as at all unusual," said Mr. Shirley, who has charge of the work. "It may have looked odd to the people in the street, but when you take into consideration that most every man I have can climb a rope hand over hand for seven stories at least, you can see that that lessens their danger. They are just like cats, always light feet down, and if their hands touch anything that looks like a rope they are sure to grab it and skin right back to where they fell from . Both men will be at work in the morning. They didn't go home because they were nervous."
There are two other scaffolds on the same side of the building on which there are from two to three men at work. They laughed heartily at the predicament of their fellow workmen, especially because they got a ducking, and thought the whole thing was a joke.
While the Long building as in course of erection a workman was laying terra cotta on the cornice at the very top, fourteen stories from the street. The piece he was laying fell from its place and the man with it. Near at hand was a rope with which the material was hauled to the roof. End over end the man went twice. Then his hands touched the rope and he grasped it, slid a few feet and remained still.
After getting his breath he went back to the top, hand over hand, got another piece of terra cotta to fit in the place of the one which was smashed on the pavement, slapped some mortar on to hold it in place and went to work. His hands were badly burned from "skinning" the rope in his fall of thirty feet. Otherwise he was alright.