The Washerwoman’s Genes

June 27, 2006

A Good Mason Story

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 9:22 pm

In Old Esopus Lore, Wilson Tinney tells a story I just loved. Here it is, in Tinney’s own words:

Some years back there was a mason that I knew, and he got a job laying up a fireplace and chimney for a man, and the man told him that he couldn’t give him any money until the job was finished and then he’d pay him in full.

Well, the fellow didn’t trust the guy, and I guess he knew from what he’d heard that he was a little bit slow in paying. Anyway, he laid the chimney up and got it all finished and said to the fellow, “Well, there you are, you owe me so much.”

The fellow said, “Well, I’ll pay you in a week or two—whenever I get the money, I’ll give it to you.”

In about a week’s time, the fellow came back to the mason and said, “You know, that chimney don’t draw smoke—there’s something wrong with it.” He said, “I looked up the chimney and everything looks all right, but it won’t draw smoke. The smoke all comes back in the room.”

So the mason said, “You know what’s the matter, don’t you? You didn’t pay me for it. As soon as you pay me for the masonry work on that chimney, it’ll draw smoke—it’ll be all right.”

So the fellow waited a day or two, and then he paid the mason in full. And the mason went back with a ladder, and went on top of the chimney and took a couple of rocks up with him. When he got on top, he dropped two stones down through the chimney and heard glass shatter. What he had done [was], when he got about three-quarters of the way up the chimney, he laid in a piece of window glass across the opening. You couldn’t see it when you looked up from underneath—it looked like the chimney was open. So he said to him, after he dropped the stones down there and cleared the glass out, “Now, light a fire in there and see how it goes.”

The fellow did, and everything was all right. I thought that was a pretty good way to get paid for work. (52)

Just like washerwomen, masons have a heck of a time getting paid.

Tinney, Wilson, et al. Old Esopus Lore, Vol, I. Esopus: Klyne Esopus Historical Society, 1996.

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