Bob Beadnell – The Master Story Teller

True Stories from the 20th Century at Pacificorp

By J. Charles Cheek[1]

© May 2005

Bob Beadnell, the Master Story Teller

Bob Beadnell was a superb storyteller. I heard him tell many amusing tales during coffee breaks and lunch-time at the second-floor cafeteria of the Public Service Building in Portland, Oregon. One such story revolved around his heart problems.

Bob was one of the early recipients of coronary bypass surgery. The surgeon was Doctor Star, a pioneer in the field. In their initial get-acquainted appointment the doctor encountered and quickly appreciated Bob’s keen sense of humor. All went well with all the initial medical examination and the doctor scheduled a stress test on a treadmill.

Doctor Starr met Bob at the appointed date for the stress test. Bob’s end of the conversation included his usual witticisms. Doctor Starr listened intently and was sincerely entertained. Then, as the medical assistant was attaching the wires for the electrocardiogram to Bob’s body, Doctor Starr handed Bob a release form to sign.

“What’s this?” asked Bob.

“I’m obligated to inform you,” said the doctor, “that there is some risk to the patient in this test so you must sign that I have told you about the risks and you accept them.”

“How much risk,” asked Bob.

“About one in 10,000 people taking this test have a heart attack and die during the test,” replied the doctor. “However, it has never happened to one of my patients,” he quickly added.

Finding the humor in the situation, Bob tested the doctor by feeding him the obvious straight line, “How many of these tests have you performed, doctor?”

Without hesitation, Doctor Starr replied, “Nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine.”


While Beadnell was Manager of the Centralia Generating Plant he was obligated to accompany dignitaries who wanted to see the plant. Bob would take them on a walking tour around the plant and show them the complex makeup of the huge coal fired electric generating plant. The dignitary tours were scheduled to begin at eleven in the morning and conclude with a catered lunch. After hosting lunch he would thank them for coming and ask if anyone had any questions before they depart. One of the Washington State Congressmen in one tour of a dozen or so legislators asked, “How much does this plant weigh?”

“I was dumbfounded,” said Beadnell while telling the story over lunch in the cafeteria of the Public Service Building. “I thought, what kind of a stupid question is that?” However, he had read in an engineering magazine recently that manufactured things usually cost around one-dollar per pound of finished product. “Well now, I knew how much the plant cost so I just changed the dollars to pounds and told him with confidence that it weights 402 million pounds.”

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[1] Mr. Cheek has written dozens short stories under the general headings of True Stores from the 20th Century at Pacificorp and Digressions of J. Charles. He is also the author of the novel Stay Safe, Buddy – A Story of Humor and Horror during the Korean War,300 pages, Publish America ISBN # 159286631X

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