George F. (Sparky) Cochran

Name of interviewee:  George F. (Sparky) Cochran
Date of birth/age at interview:  unknown circa 1920/about 72
Interviewer:  Lance Metz and Zip Zimmerman
Interview date:  December 22, 1992
Interview location:  Cochran home
Interview length:  15 minutes
Time span discussed:  1920 to 1955

Summary:  A short talk that paints in a number of tragic incidents on the canal through the eyes of a 10 year old boy. His telling of his tasks and his family’s work tending the Lodi lock, maintaining the canal, and knowing many of the boatmen brings life to the day.


Time markers:
00:00 – introduction; born at Lodi Lock, death of Denny Scott death at lock
01:37 – began tending lock at 10 years old, describes the system
02:46 – mother tended lock; 15 children; father tended lock and worked on section gang
03:51 – stone mason for the state after 1943
04:56 – bad icy flood in 1936, destroyed gates
06:05 – repairing Groundhog Lock (locks 22 and 23) story, 18-foot drop lock; new gates built at lock
09:00 – after rains canal chocolate colored from silt streams flowing into it
09:58 – rode at times down canal; to Bristol with Whiskey Jack Miller; never drove mules
10:47 – great-uncle locktender behind mill in Bristol
11:23 – getting coal, father’s shoe-making skills traded for coal
11:55 – boatmen as occasionally rough people, heavy drinkers
12:22 – Jimmy Brown; drownings
13:40 – decorating mules
14:07 – misses canal and boatmen

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