Slimbo (An Ode)

Back in the day (’66 or ’67) there was a smash hit recording of a (spoken) song called Ringo by the actor who played the father on the TV series Ponderosa. The recording told the story of a cowboy who found a gunslinger shot and near death in the desert. The cowboy saved the gunslinger that night but, ironically, later found himself in a life-or-death gun fight with that very same gunman. In that narrative, the cowboy was forced to kill the man whose life he had once saved. All this has nothing to do with the ode that follows except that our Slimbo screed is, to a great extent, based on the Ringo verses and steals liberally from that writing. And ours is lovingly dedicated to Slim Sheldon, an installer without parallel. The ode was composed one night after a few beers in a small bar in El Paso by yours truly and with great encouragement by and no mean contribution from Bob (Spider) Moore. So, with no further ado, here is our paean to Slim


He lay face down on the power room floor, acid was flowing from door to door,
He had eighthundred-thousands (1) around his neck,
And his work location was a total wreck,
So late that night I took a knife, cut the cable and saved the life
Of Slimbo

He soon got well and then went back, to eat and sleep on cable racks (2),
I knew one day, for I had hope, that he’d be found by Walter Pope (3),
Since he had not a single friend, I knew that it would be the end
Of Slimbo

One day he transferred out of town, and not because his nose was brown,
I ran the cable, had no fun, while he worked on three-forty-one (4),
I‘d drink tequila at a bar, while he spread rumors near and far,
And as he walked along the halls, he talked of pretty baby dolls (5),

I knew someday there’d come the test, to see which one of us was best,
And sure enough the word came down, that he was coming back to town,
I sent the crew along to break, and I went in alone to take,
Slimbo (6)

He had a six-pack, took a sip, bullshit flying from his lip,
And as the bull was getting deep, I fell into a dreary sleep,
And soon I knew that since his youth, this man had never told the truth,
And everyone now understood, that there was never any good,
In Slimbo (7)

I rose above his monotone, and told him House (8) was on the phone,
He turned around to make his break, it was a terrible mistake,
For Slimbo

A threaded rod (9) that hung down low, had hit him as he turned to go,
And even though the shit was deep, I saw him lying in a heap,

And on the day they laid him down, no one was sober in the town,
The baby dolls (5) were happy now, but no one can explain somehow,
The words emblazoned on his grave, “To battery and ground he was a slave. (10)


(1) Eighthundred-thousands was the gauge (in millimeters) of the biggest, baddest power cable used in power rooms. Mere human hands could not bend this cable.

(2) Cable racks are pretty much horizontal ladders on which cables are laid as they run from one piece of equipment to another.

(3) Walter Pope was an installation supervisor who either had a personal problem with Slim or his name simply rhymed with hope.

(4) Three-forty-one (341 on the original document) was, I think, a payroll code for a lucrative temporary transfer that paid per diem while allowing the installer to drive home every night.

(5) Baby Dolls– This was one of Slim‘s all-time favorite phrases. Any time the subject of women came up (often in installation), Slim told his tales about baby dolls. Slim also often made references to six-packs (like in beer) and admits there was a time when he drank too much. But we congratulate him on 28 years of sobriety.

(6) This verse was pretty well taken word-for-word from the original song. I continue to contend that rather than indicating plagiarism, this proves that Ringo was the perfect source material for Slimbo.

(7) Contrary to this verse, Slim is, in fact, a great guy and a wonderful human being. His stories were never self aggrandizing bull, but merely intended to add spice to our dreary daily existence. Yes, he was- and still is- a colorful, entertaining guy.

(8) House– This is a reference to Tom House, an installer (please see the list) whose presence at WECo caused severe responses among all fellow workers he encountered. I do not recall the specifics of Tom‘s personality that elicited these responses. Let’s think of this reference as some sort of inside joke in installerdom.

(9) Threaded Rod– A technical term for a threaded rod, that is, a rod that is threaded. Well, this is going nowhere. Suffice it to say that these were metal rods that were attached to the rafters or building superstructure and hung down from the ceilings. Cable racks (see No 2) and other equipment were supported by these rods.

(10) This somewhat disjointed ending is pretty meaningless and can only be explained as being the result of the number of beers that Rick and Spider had quaffed and the lateness of the day when the verse was completed. I’m sure we were both more tired than drunk because neither of us was really a boozer.

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