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by David W. Asche

I don't know where this big ape came from, but he was at quarters one morning and we had no idea about him.  This guy was HUGE!  6 feet two at least, arms as big as my upper leg, and was sitting at our little table like a gorilla.

When we went below to start work in the lower foundry, we discovered that big "Tex" didn't travel light either.  A new weight lifting bench and several hundred pounds of big discs of steel and bronze were also new to our shop space.

After work, he set up his bench and began his routine.  Always sets of eight reps, always a different routine each day, working his arms, legs, body.  He would do eight reps of 475 pounds at the bench press.  At least NOW we knew why he was so big.

He could pick up a #70 crucible and six bronze ingots all at once and carry them to the furnace.  A lot of us were amazed at what he could do, and a lot of us began to like him and we started to work out with him after work.

There were tales of him in various places and if we went with him to a bar, we didn't exist anymore because the ladies didn't have anything to do with us little twerps. 

But big Sam had a bad habit.  He used Copenhagen snuff.  He was always walking around with a "load" of that stuff in his lower lip.  He would spit into whatever container was handy at the time.  It was nasty!

I was running the aft lift coil furnace one afternoon.  It was hot and someone had made a geedunk run to the ships store and brought back cold Cokes.  I had finished mine and set the can down and stepped away for a second to make some tap setting changes.  When i came back, I instinctively grabbed my Coke can and gave it a shake.  It had something in it and I thought, "I must have not finished it after all." so I took a hit....   

GAG, COUGH, SPIT, GAG..."WHAT THE F**K!!!????"  I went up to that big gorilla of a man who could bench press more than twice my body weight and stuck my dirty finger up in his face and said loud enough for everyone to hear over the whine of the furnaces and the rammers, "IF YOU EVER SPIT THAT CRAP INTO MY COKE CAN AGAIN, I AM GONNA KICK YOUR ASS!"

And he replied in his sweet Texas drawl, "But Dave, it was EMPTY."   I didn't give a damn if it was empty or not.

The next morning at quarters he has one of his protein tablet cans with the label peeled off and black felt pen writing on it that read, "Tex's SPIT CAN.  DO NOT DRINK!"

Just as he had come, one night he was gone along with his weights and that was my relationship with big Tex Maddox.

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