Tuesday, September 02, 2008

'So Help Me, Jesus, This Is Dangerous Work'

book review By David Beers, TheTyee.ca
'Stay away from archives if you don't like the taste of death,' writes Gary Geddes at one point in Falsework, his masterful evocation of the heroism and tragedy surrounding the deadly effort to build the Second Narrows Bridge spanning Vancouver's Burrard Inlet. On June 17, 1958, an engineering miscalculation caused the bridge to collapse during construction, killing 18 workers and a diver sent to salvage their bodies. The finished structure was renamed Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing.

'I had to do some fast talking.' Geddes continues, 'for access to file CVA #354, containing sensitive material, including the photograph of a dead ironworker on his stomach, a fireman trying to empty his lungs of water. The first items you observe are the fireman's watch and wedding ring as he raises the victim's left shoulder. Another photo shows a group of firemen, one with his face turned away, kneeling and bent over a drowned ironworker. A perfect summer day: sunny, clear sky, no wind. How gently the rescuer places his hand on the dead man's chest.'

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