Frank Doll battles rodents and rudeness |

Frank Doll battles rodents and rudeness

Gopher poison nearly lands Doll in jail
Vail CO, Colorado

After the gravel pit shut down, Frank needed to find another job. By checking the newspaper, he answered an ad at New Electric for someone to help with payroll.

Frank landed the job and spent 15 months with New Electric. Once again, Frank found himself working for an organization that needed help. The office manager, while a competent woman, was a nervous wreck, didn’t know how to smile, smoked incessantly, and didn’t have a winning way with customers. Frank saw this right away and knowing that she was sensitive, knew not to verbally take her to task. Instead, Frank began to draw stick pictures of her actions and leaving them on her desk. Over the course to his tenure there, she began to change, and by the time Frank left New Electric in January 1978, he left the organization a better place.

In March, Frank met with Jan Niedziela at Eagle-Vail golf course, who was the superintendent at the time. “I’m looking for work,” Frank told Jan.

“We can always use help,” Jan admitted.

So Frank went to work for Jan, starting at $4.50 an hour, working as a laborer. Later in the season he became a ranger.

One summer, the golf course was overrun with rodents, those bothersome tawny critters that build boroughs and are commonly called gophers. These rodents were such a nuisance that drainage became a problem, golfers lost ball down the gopher holes, not to mention the treat of a broken ankle or overturned golf cart due to a gopher hole. The maintenance department tried all sorts of things to get rid of the gophers but nothing worked, so Jan went down to the Eagle County Extension Office and to get some advice. He was told the county would provide poison oats and that he should be ready to administer it the following day. The next day Old Bob Mackelvain arrived at the golf course with poisoned oats. Springtime in the Rockies can be fickle, but that day Bob arrived with the poison oats from the country, it was hot with nary a breeze nor cloud in the sky. Frank and Bob spent eight hours covering the course with bucket and spoon, bending at each hole, carefully delivering the required amount of poison.

Right about dusk, when the men arrived back at the club house, each man covered with dirt and sweat, Mr. Edeen, the county health officer was waiting for them. A deep frown marred his brow and his lips were pulled tight. “What are you guys doing?” he roared.

Jan told him.

“You can’t cover a golf course with poison. I’m arresting all of you.”

Bob just laughed. “You can’t arrest me. I work for the county and I’m the one who authorized the poison.”

Frank joined in the laughter, “And you can’t arrest me. I was only following orders. I work for the golf course.”

Jan shook his head and said, “Don’t look at me. The country said to use this stuff.”

Finally, Edeen gave up and went back to his truck, shaking his head.

The poison sent by the county did manage to put a dent in the gopher population ” for that season, anyhow.

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