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House Moving Story
I was riding my bike to the grocery store one day and ran into a house coming down the street...

by Scott Teresi
February 23, 1998

After a day of classes I was riding my bike to the store in Urbana, Illinois, and I ran into a house. Some people were driving it down the street. A couple policemen happened to be passing by and saw the commotion, so they parked their cars nearby and started talking about their weekend. I stood there on the sidewalk with a couple large old men with big beards who hadn’t seen such excitement since the 1970 world’s fair. Under the house were two grungy young guys jumping around between the steel girders, moving a bar to steer the wheels. One guy was walking along using a steel beam as a lunch table and finishing his sandwich. He was a seasoned house carrier.

I peered around the corner of the block and watched electricians untie wires from the top of a telephone pole. When they finished, another truck pulled up and another guy was sent up into the air to remove a street light. Then they brought the house around the corner and down the street at top speed. One old man remarked offhand that the house was supported by as many as 48 airplane landing gear tires. But it was pulled by a regular old farm front-end loader. The driver was another big guy with comparably large tangly beard. He’d get out and stand around whenever the house would get tired and need a rest. When it came up to the street lamp, the house just wouldn’t fit through without knocking over the whole pole. So another truck zoomed right up, grabbed onto the pole, and eased it out of the ground, and the house proceeded.

A little tree by the side of the street put up a valiant fight, but five men easily bent it over with ropes as the house passed. First, though, they sent a trained, experienced tree-climber up into the branches to saw off the more daring tree limbs. I watched his technique. He was up into the tree in five seconds, and I swear he could wedge his legs so securely he could probably fire a .50 calibre rifle as easily as eat a plate of scrambled eggs up there. When he moved out into the smaller branches, he reached in his belt and pulled out a machette-type saw blade and zip zop, lopped off the necessary branches. Then he stood up and strolled down the trunk to the ground, where he became a normal human being again. However, he still seemed to be the most industrious of anyone around. He had no team of workers, no walkie-talkie, he just ran up and down trees for fun.

The house glided another fifty feet before being challenged by the twisted limb of an older tree. Within minutes, the tree man climbed directly up a rope and landed on a strong horizontal branch thirty feet in the air like it was a big jungle gym. He removed a chainsaw from his pocket keychain and started it up in one motion. The house began cautiously inching forward. The tree man walked out to the end of the limb, chainsaw in one hand, and began precisely severing any branch that might block the house. The tractor driver and tree man were so exact, in fact, that not one branch further than an inch from the house was unnecessarily removed. After the roof of the house passed beneath him, down slid the tree man and he cleaned up his tools quickly to be on time for the next tree. I tired of watching the electricians take forever with their man lifts and various nuts and bolts to unscrew and left after this went on for an hour. My bike was starting to wander around impatiently.


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