Tanned and toned, Fast Eddie takes a break in the hot sun from hanging sheetrock. He gleaned the nickname from friends years ago, not for his speed on the road, but his speed on the job.
“For all my life, I’ve been a sheet rocker,” Eddie Russell of Chico said. “I’ve been really dang quick at it.”
Years ago, Russell worked for his dad doing road construction but had a commercial license.
“I got tired of working 80 hours a week, and somebody told me about a sheetrock company that needed a truck driver,” he said. “One guy said, ‘Well, he’s not busy driving the truck, so let’s put some tools on him.’”
Russell worked in Dallas in a union company, but grew tired of the traffic, so he moved to Fort Worth. He did contract sheet rocking, hanging 20 sheets at $1.70 a sheet.
“I can make three times the money in half the time,” Russell said.
After growing tired of Fort Worth, Russell’s friends invited him to Wise County.
“Some friends of mine moved out here from where they were working in Godley, and I would see them at parties on the Brazos River,” he said. “They said, ‘You need to come out one weekend.’ I got my tools and went out there with them. I called it a working vacation.
“After about a week, I said I wasn’t going back to that rat hole in Fort Worth. I like it out here.”
Russell lives next to the United Brothers Clubhouse near Chico. He said he enjoys hanging out at the clubhouse, playing washers and horseshoes, and can drink beer without driving afterward.
Right now, Fast Eddie is building rental cabins for NRS in Decatur, but wouldn’t pass up a job with benefits and less physical labor.
“I can’t hang sheetrock all day like I used to,” Russell said. “It just kills me. I used to hang 150 sheets a day. Now, if I hang 40 or 50, I think I’ve done something.”