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When Everybody Called
"This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.""This publication was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee."
I have a lot of points to talk about, but lot of them are just sketches. A lot of them are about places that I was. Others are about things that talking to others reminds me about. When I talk to other old timers I know what they're talking about. Then I begin to enjoy it, because I was through that life. I went through times like the timber days. I went through the timber days and the logging camps and all that stuff. That was good.
The white frontier came into our area as loggers to log off our area. The logging camps were moving in about 1916, '07, '08. In the meantime, when I was at school,(2) they came in full blast. And they came heavy in 1912, and after World War I. They were moving on Mud Lake -- west of Mud Lake -- on what we call now National Forestry land and on what we call tribal land of Leech Lake. It was our timber they were going after, but we got a certain percentage of that timber money. The Federal Government gave a percentage to the Indians. So we didn't mind.
In those days they had big logging camps that would hold about a hundred
fifty men -- a hundred fifty lumberjacks. Lumberjacks in Indian is giis-ka-aa$-kway.
"They're cutters" is giis-ka-aa$-kway. giis-ka-aa$-kway I-nI-nii,
that's a "cutter, a man" -- a lumberjack. See? Lumbercamp in Ojibwa is
gii-ska-aa-kwam -- "cutting-timber, and that's a camp." gii-ska-aa-kwan
is a building where the cutters stay. "The camps of all the building"
is giis-ka-aa$-kwan. That's camp. That means "they cut timber
in there, there's nothing but timber work, and that's where they stay."
The camps had big long bunk houses with double bunks made of lumber,(3)
and lumberjacks with whiskers -- and tobacco juice running down their
whiskers -- worked the whole day. Early in the morning all the lumberjacks
got an axe and went rushing off for timber.
When I was a little boy I was standing there watching them, wishing I was able, some day, to join them. Every time I'd take hold of some cant hook,(4) or learn how to spin a cant hook and grab a log, I thought that was slick. How those lumberjacks would handle those tools!
These loggers weren't all Finlanders.(5) There were French too, and some of them were Norwegian. They were cutting Norway and white pine on the high land west of Mud Lake. Then came the Finlanders. Finlanders were pretty good at logging, especially with the cedar. Later on, there were Swedes mostly. Swedes came about war time -- about World War I. Swedes are good too. They're wonderful piece-cutters.
All nationalities can learn logging. Anybody can make a practice of it, and can soon learn how to piece cut, if they're at all interested when they get in the woods. But the Finlanders have the right act with the timber. They like that. They like timber, really. Finlanders and Indians work together very well. They get along very good. They work together like a team of horses, and they look good in the woods. They have the act.
But I mean to say we were working on a big scale in those days. There were Finlanders and Indians, and Swedes and Norwegians, and a Frenchman here and there. They were all good. They're steady. They're calm.
First of all, they always look for safety in the woods. They look how to protect the labor man, how to manage for safety. You can get killed very easy in the woods, if you don't know the woods. And that's what Finlanders and Indians think about. All woodsmans think about that; I don't mean only certain nationalities -- but the Finlanders are really good at it.
The frontier loggers were awful good to us, because some of them just came here to work and they didn't know where they were. The Finns came here to settle down, but many of the others came here just to work. Lots of them didn't know where they were -- they were just shipped in here for a job.
On the frontier the whites and Indians worked together. We got a job from the whites in the logging camps. In the logging camps they hired Indians and whites both. It didn't make any difference. There was no discrimination. No. All worked together. All worked happily. You'd live right amongst them in the lumber camp . . . if you wanted to. When the Indians got a job, some of them camped with the whites, and the whites work with the Indians. They were our neighbor. Of course, we had a few drag‑alongs that went in with the whites, but . . . still . . . we overlooked that, and the whites thought the Indians were all right. And they get along fine in the logging camp.
In those days when we went to work -- when the Indians wanted to work somewhere --
they most generally went to the lumber camp and got their job. And it didn't take too long to learn how to do the
job. And finally the Indians became loggers themselves,(6) by learning from
the whites and using their tools. We got along just fine; we learned
how to use tools, how to file our tools, how to sharpen tools, from the
white man that was well‑equipped up here in the North. The whites showed
us how to use the tools. And that's the way we got along in this state
When the lumberjacks came in -- as soon as the loggers came in -- they gave us lots to do. We had jobs after they came. When a bunch of us Indians would go look for a job somewhere the loggers would say, "Sure, go to work." They put us all to work, and that's what we liked. We liked to be in a group, just like the Finns. When six and seven Indian boys(7) were in a group, ah! -- that work was playing! We'd think nothing of work when we were in a group.
"Well," the logger said, "as long as you do good work, and as long as you know the woods and work and learn how to work just the way I want you to, I'd have you work anytime." He likes the Indian, you know. "But the Indian won't stay sometime," he said. "They don't know the value of money and how to save it for the winter. As soon's they get money enough, they draw their money, and away they go. They'll be gone for a few days; then they come back."
I've talked to the loggers and they say that; but . . . ya . . . they couldn't turn the Indian down -- because the white loggers like the Indians' work. I never was turned down. I think there's very few Indians that were turned down in a logging camp -- in my days anyway. They always hired us. We enjoy that. They fed good in the camps. We led a happy life.
We were willing to work. We made a play of it, and we were willing to do it right. That's what I've seen. I was in the bunch too. Ya, and that was a good day, those days.
And the Indians were happy when they got their money and went to
town and bought what they needed for their folks -- if they had a family.
This was the great life of our days.
We felt that we didn't have to have an education to log with the tools in our hands in those early days -- to chop with our strong muscles. Now, everything is in power. You have to know how to run -- operate -- the machinery. You have to have an education now to keep the machinery a-going. Because education is coming in the loggers now follow the easiest way of life -- the press-the-button life. And I think it's much better -- much easier -- now.
Of course, in the old days -- before machinery and power tools -- it took a lot of energy to work in the woods. We'd wake up, work out in the woods ten hours a day, and come in. We didn't mind it. And we knew we accomplished a day's work. In a camp we'd play cards. And then in the spring came the log drives. We'd drive the timber down the rivers, down the streams, from lake to lake, and over the rapids to the mills. At the same time -- during a drive -- some tore across the lakes booming logs with steamboats.
They always used one another good at the camps. In the camps we were just like brothers, and it didn't make any difference what nationality came in the camp. Some of them stay as high as a month on one job. And when they hit a camp they like, some of them stay all winter. Some stay as high as all the season -- all winter. Then, when the spring break-up comes, some of them draw out their checks and move on.
I was shifted around so much from camp to camp in my early days that I was becoming capable to get around anywhere amongst the whites and also the Indians. I can talk English a little bit. I can talk a little Indian. And I know the history of the area. I remember when I was six or seven years old as I rode the canoe over the seas of the great lakes.(8) I knew a lot of that stuff and sometimes went from one camp to another to talk about it. I asked friends why they would jump from one camp to another. I never liked to do that -- jump one camp from another . . . quit, and then go. But still . . . I would always be drawn into that camp jumping and the visiting that went along with it. Oh, we had a great life!
Lumberjacks years ago would come out of the camps just high strung to move the so-many-thousand-feet load of logs.(9) Logs were piled high on the eight-foot bunks -- cross-wood bunks -- of the big heavy sleds.
They moved timber those days! What I'm talking about were loads!
There were no truck loads, there were horse-drawed bunks
-- good twelve-foot bunks loaded as high as sixteen feet.
They used bunks in those olden logging days. I'm talking about logging days, not these second-crop brush loggers. I'm talking about timber -- real timber -- the timber they used to have to roll on the bunks and stack up without side stakes.
That's another thing. They took those logs and built them up on those
bunks like a wall -- straight up in the air. They'd throw just those corner
binds -- corner binding chains -- on the bottom log. They'd just put the corner
binds on the bottom log, and then they'd fill up the bunk -- building it
to a peak as high as eight or twelve feet. It peaked about twelve feet
high -- sometimes sixteen feet.
Four-horse teams pulled the sleds, but it took six horses to start that load. Before they started, the teamsters always worried about getting stuck coming out.(10) The lumberjack's the same as a truck driver -- he's afraid he's going to get stuck all the time.
Early in the morning -- right after breakfast -- the old teamster(11) puts on his coat and gets his team out -- a team of four horses -- and hitches them to the sled. He'd stand there looking at the sled, and everybody's come out to see him start that load. If he's any good as a teamster he'd be a good truck driver at this time. They'd come out there, all looking at the load -- a wonderful load -- and they'd ask him, "Are you gonna get that down?"
Sitting there all night the runners of the bunk would freeze down, and in the morning they'd break the runners loose from the frost. When all four runners were froze down, they had to be jarred with a heavy maul or post or something to get the load started.
They build ice-rut roads those days. They brought a tank(12)
in and worked all night on icing the ruts. The teamster would be the first
one breaking the frost with the sled.
He'd stand there . . . thinking. . . .
"Well," he said, "I don't think I can move the load. You better get the leaders on there. Get the starters."
Sometimes they had to have a starter on that load, you know. But how the hell -- ah . . . how the heck -- are you going to put a starter on the four horses?
Well, out came the buying boss with a heavy team of horses, and he just eases the extra team up to the load, hooks them up to the pole of the four horses, and gives them a start.
Before the teamster starts he reaches in his pocket -- with the men talking to him there -- and he pulls out a package of Peerless.(13) He takes about pred'near a quarter of a package to chew and shoves it back of his cheek -- back of his teeth.
Then he puts that Peerless in his pocket and he reaches over to his other side and gets about a half-a-pound of plug tobacco from his hip pocket. He takes out his jackknife, whittles that plug into chips, and he stuffs the chips into the other side of his jaw.
He looked like a gopher standing there talking!
Well, everybody would already think that he's taking quite a chew, but on the top of that he'd pull out that old birch bark snuff box they used to have, he'd dig his two fingers and a thumb in there, and he'd take a big chew of that snuff and put it in the middle of his mouth between his bottom teeth and lips. He was all tobacco in his mouth, but he'd keep on a-talking and you wouldn't think anything would bother him. That big of a chew was enough to knock anybody out! But it takes quite a lot of tobacco to steady the nerves of that teamster starting a load that big.
He'd pick up the line and he'd say, "Sam, Dick, Don." And the leader team, they obeyed. All the horses were trained, and they all got down to the collar and lifted the load just as pretty as they could, and the load was started. And when the load started the guy that was alongside the leaders would unhook the leaders and the four horses would continue that load on their journey.
Then the teamster would stand on the roller.(14)
Instead of riding the top of the logs he'd stand on the roller -- back of
the horses . . . the roller of the pole which pulls the runner. It gets pretty
cold there sometimes -- so cold that the teamster would have to stomp his
feet on the road to keep warm. He didn't dare to jump off, and he didn't
dare to walk because at times it was going down grade and he had to pull
the reigns for the leaders. Otherwise if the sled goes down the hill too
fast, the leaders would get excited and probably have a crash in through
I've been in the lumber camps. Sure, I've been out of Bena there,
near where we used to live when I was a boy. At Bena, and other camps
close to the railroad line, they had locomotives which would switch off
railroad cars to the logging area.
And they had big flatcars -- railroad cars -- and the flatcars were loaded by big teams. These teams had sixteen-hundred-pound horses. Boy these horses had power to pull those sixteen foot logs that would scale a hundred -- two hundred -- feet to a log. The horses were well fed in those big camps. The teams would pull those loads, and the men would walk along beside them hours after hours and day after day, skidding the logs over to the flatcars with their one-bunk drays.
They'd roll those big timber logs -- real timber -- onto the flatcars and build them straight up -- just
like a wall -- without the logs slipping out of the load. That's called "cross-hauling." That's how they would load those big timber logs.
When they say, "Hold'er," the horses understood and they stopped. "Whoa,"
the cross-haul man would yell.
When I was a boy I often wondered how they'd get them logs up in there like that -- but they'd get them there. Later on I saw just how they did it, and later on they did it by hoisting the logs up with a jammer rather than rolling them up.(16) That's what they call "top loading," and that's tricky, that top loading. A man would be standing there on top of the pile loading with a jammer -- a chain or cable on a big hoist. He is the one called "top-loader," and he's the boss of the loading. When the top-loader says, "Hold'er," the horses hold 'er.
They pull these logs up with horses, and the top-loader would then pull on the jammer cable to put them in place. The top-loader would spot these logs just where he wants them dropped.
The teamster is just hooking and unhooking the logs, and helping along so there is no disturbment of the horses. Even when the logs are hooked up high in the air all the teamster has to do is tie the lines on the cross-evener(17) so they won't drag on the ground. Then all he does is hang on to that ring where the evener is. They would hook the horses' double-trees -- that is where the eveners . . . the chains of the eveners -- are hooked on as tugs. "Evener" is where the horses pull on. It is a double-tree. Then they hook the log on the head -- the top-loader head -- and the horses would listen for the top-loader.
The teamster doesn't have to say a word; the horses just listen to the top-loader back there. It's natural. You'd think that they'd listen to the teamster. At times they do, but at certain times they're listening to the top-loader way up there on the top of the log pile.
"Huui," he'd say, and the horses would tighten up and raise the timber higher. They were well trained. It was natural. They practice that. Some of the best cross-haul teams that you could ever get understood the top-loader. Gee, that is a trick, heh? You'd think the teamsters start them off that way. Sure, the teamsters would start them off, but after the horses get a-goin' they would listen to the top-loader. Any team could come there and calm down and work this way. They know what to do when the top-loader hollers. When he said, "Hold'er," they'd tighten up and hold that load up in the air while the top-loader straightens the logs the way he want them to be dropped. They'd hold the logs way up there on the railroad cars. The lumberjack has the knack of handling those tools, and they were quick about it. You have to be quick because you have to keep up. Sometimes you had to catch a log on the fly -- while it's rolling -- and they would snub those logs on top and flick them ajar. You were supposed to "hold Canada" on them or slow them down with the point before you got them with the cant hook. I don't know how they do it sometimes, but it's well done. A lot of them knew how to do it. A lot of them can even load these flatcars from the ground.
When the top-loader is ready and well positioned with a log, he hollers, "Down!," and the log is dropped down to where he wants it set. When he says, "down" the teamster unhooks the trip, and down comes the log. And when the top-loader says "down easy," they'd even put the log down easy. When the top-loader says, "Come back down," or, "down," the log is dropped. Just as soon as the log is dropped, the teamster unhooks that chain from the cross haul team. When the cross haul team hears that chain drop on the ground they turn right around naturally, and come back. They're trained for that. They make a turn right around and spot themselves ready for another hook.
If they didn't re-spot themselves on their own, the top-loader says, "come back," and those horses would swing right around and come right back and wait for another hook. And they would come back just that quick too. Sometimes the fast ones would run back. Soon as the horses start running the teamster just runs right with them. I've seen that. Everything was just like it was automatic. He's ready when they set themselves again, and he grabs that chain hook end and hollers, "Ahead!"
Sometimes the horses would get so used to that work that one of them maybe would fall asleep a little bit. Then maybe teamster would call 'em, "Tim, Jerry, or Dick." He'd holler, "Dick . . ." and Dick would back right up -- because he knows there's somebody watching him. But all the while he's still listening. While they are working they're blind. They have blinds on their eyes.
That's how they loaded those flatcars. They loaded cars after cars.
Logs ten, twelve tier high were stacked and tied and shipped many miles
to lumber mills in the olden days. They were big logs too. The railroads
would stand full with those loads.
It's fun to stand there and watch them. You wonder how these horses are trained, and how these logs move. Now-a-days they have motor-powered jammers with big chains. Now-a-days it takes a lot of logs to make a thousand feet. Now-a-days it takes three, four logs to make a hundred feet -- maybe even five or six. Really! They're just like match sticks now. When I'm talking about cross hauling with horses, those logs were timber -- the first saw-logs that came up. These trees would run the scale. Sometimes we had -- and we still have -- timber standing in the forestry lands that runs a thousand feet to a tree. So that's plenty of wood in there. And there were lots of them big trees, years ago.
Pretty near every tree held a thousand feet. Why it didn't take long to fit a million feet out. A million feet of logs, you know, that's quite a bit -- quite a bit of timber. After a while the trees come to seventy-five thousand and eighty-thousand feet a load. The scale of the trees kept cutting down because the original timber was running out. There then came a time when it was difficult to get a thousand feet out 'cause it takes so much of the overall timber to make a thousand feet. Timber was well-scaled years ago. It was beautiful timber. It was fun logging.
In the spring there came a drive -- a breakup. In the spring, when the ice was breaking up, we all got ready for a drive. The children -- the mother and children -- stayed home and took care of the place while the men-folks went on the drives. Some lumberjacks, of course, stayed in camp all winter. As soon as the stream opened up, the logs would be ready to move, and the lumberjacks were all ready to move the logs down the stream. A lot of Indians and white people liked to drive logs.
We had big log drives along the current of the river. There was also timber booming(19) on the lakes those days. They'd boom the logs across Winnibigosh(20) with a boat, then they'd bring them into the river -- the Mississippi. These logs would jam up there because they'd put a boom across the river down-stream until they got all the logs on the tail end ready to move. When they were ready, they opened the boom and moved on down the river.
As the boom flowed down the river, the other logs would float down behind, and the lumberjacks kept the logs a-going. The lumberjacks would walk the river banks and push these logs out. Down the river they'd go. They went along all day long like that. Ya, they'd do that all day long.
When I came home from Tower school my folks were gardening on Leech and Mississippi Forks.(21) When we were gardening in the spring we'd see the logs a-going down the river. At that time of the year big log drives would come by. In spring the big log drives would come right past my house. Sometimes the river was jammed up clear down to the forks. You couldn't get through with a boat -- hardly. They'd block it up, oh . . . for miles. There'd be five-, six-mile jams. The river would plug up with logs by the forks, and after it plugged up you'd see the drivers coming through to move them on.
These logs, I remember, went to Deer Lake. They would put another
boom across the main channel and then shoot them into Deer Lake. There was
a big sawmill at Deer River and that's where they'd tear them up. I remember
when right down to the point was nothing but pine sawdust. That was at
Deer River Landing.
As I heard, some of them logs went clean through to Grand Rapids. And maybe even further on down the line. Quite a ways down there were different lumber companies buying. But geez, there were a lot of logs that went through there.
As they drove the logs down the river along the Mississippi a lot of lumberjacks -- a lot of timbermen -- would walk on the bank of the river. There was a regular trail along the bank of the river. They all had pike poles which they used to shove the logs away from the shore. And they had a camp floating down the river. This camp was built in a great-big flat-bottom boat they called wah-ni-gan.
They have good cooking, and by somebody who knows how to prepare food
for a labor man. They cook whatever the lumberjack wants to eat, and they
give them plenty to eat. We got all we wanted to eat in logging camps.
And they give them coffee time too. You could go in the wah-ni-gan
and help yourself to cookies, cake, pie, or anything you want. By the
time a lumberjack's able to work in the woods, he's able to wear it off,
and he's a man because he's eating good. Because they eat the proper food,
they can stand the work. They have food that's rich enough and heavy enough
for the lumberjacks. That's what kept them up without catching colds.
They also had woolen clothes which kept them warm. They all had short pants, but they were dressed in wool to keep warm. Oftentimes they'd work in the cold water. They'd jump in the water, they'd jump out, but it didn't bother them because they had substantial food to strengthen their blood and body. They had power enough to work, and they weren't run down. And they'd breathe that fresh air. And they're used to being out in the cold.
At the end of the day they know they've done something for their health and they know they're going to be well paid for it. There was good money in driving, and they were fed good in the wah-ni-gans -- in the houseboats. They slept in there too. They would eat and sleep in the houseboat, in the wah-ni-gan.
The lumberjacks were quick as a cat on a log, floating on along the river. They stood on one log and rolled it. They'd jump from one log to another -- just to keep the logs a-going -- with a pike pole on their shoulder. When they would cross the river on those logs all they had to balance with was a pike pole or a cant hook. They would balance with that. They could walk across anywhere on a log, on that "tree-in-the-water" -- as we called them in Indian. Once in a while they would roll a log just to see how fast they could go, then they'd jump on another log, and jump onto the wah-ni-gan. They were so clever. They wore "cork shoes" on their feet. That's why they could do it. That's how they could stick on a log.
The "Chippewa boots" were the greatest boots for lumberjacks -- they were one of the greatest. But on the drive the lumberjacks wore what they called "cork shoes." The cork shoes were kind of high priced, but they were waterproof; they were water-preserved shoes. It was a good shoe. I wore them too. I liked to wear them. They would protect your feet. The cork shoes had kind of a high heel. Otherwise, if you had shoes with thin soles and low heels, you couldn't stand on the logs. They were a good shoe. And when those lumberjacks walked in the dining room you could hear those corks chewing up the floor of the wah-ni-gan -- su-it, su-it. The wah-ni-gan was made with a pine floor and those cork shoes would tear into it as they walked. Oh gee, that was a wicked-looking bottom that they had on the soles of their feet!
And when they came to town they'd walk into a joint(23) or into a store with those cork shoes on. They'd walk on that pine floor in the store, and anywhere you went you could see those little slivers on the floor.
They just walked in. People didn't mind that. And when us kids would go along in the store we had to be very careful where we stepped because we were barefoot. We feared we'd get slivers. But if we were careful where we stepped we would be all right. They picked up and swept up after the lumberjacks. They held down these slivers on the floor by sweeping it and cleaning it. So that'd give us a chance to walk around and buy candy. But when we were kids with bare feet we were glad to get out of there.
As I say, the lumberjacks would go in public places with their cork shoes. We didn't mind the lumberjacks walkin' around with corks on their shoes. Lumber was so cheap they could change the floor anytime they wanted to. We had lots of lumber.
Those cork shoes had a lot to do. When the lumberjacks came to a cement sidewalk, when they came to a cement porch or something, you could see sparks on the bottom of their soles. And they'd make sparks by kicking around.
They had a lot of fun with those cork shoes.
Those lumberjacks -- the ones on a drive -- used to stay on a drive 'till the 4th of July. They'd stay 'till the drive was over, but it usually was over by the 4th of July. When they completed the drives they got paid off. Then they'd come in to town with their stake and would they celebrate! Then they came home and they got ready for the winter.
Them days they could still celebrate with a little alcoholic drink.(24) And many of them did that. But groups -- communities, you might as well say -- would also celebrate together. They had a good time, them days. We all had a good time when we got together. And when they got together lumberjacks liked to contest one another to see who was best at doing what.
We have an old timer here in Ball Club who was one of the best on the logs. He liked to roll logs. He was on the logs all the day long, and he could drive! He likes drives. He was a good man, Charlie Bibeau. He rolled logs in contests and celebrations. Log rolling was the greatest thing at a celebration. It was something to see!
He'd go to Big Fork and roll logs with anybody. There were good log
rollers in those days -- about 1918-1919 -- and he would roll with the best
of them. He'd roll logs just for a $10 prize -- or something. They'd give
him money for an exhibition on how these logrollers done it. That's something.
Two of them on one log would go out to the deep water, and they'd roll. Boy, I tell you when they'd fall off somebody's got to swim! When the log was rolling they could stop it quick too. And when two of them are on a log they try to roll one another off. One guy is rolling to beat heck and he'll stop and jump over to the other side and reverse it. And they kept trying that. Oh, that was fun to watch them! They were so quick on a log. Rolling was nothing to them. They had the action. They had practice. And it was a lot of fun for the audience to watch them on the contest.
When they were going to celebrate in town -- after the drive -- they would take off their cork shoes. They always had dress shoes, you know. They would buy themselves nice oxfords -- nice dress shoes -- in those days. They'd hang their cork shoes at home until they'd go back on a drive. Those cork shoes cost money those days. They cost about eight dollars, so they took good care of them.
In the olden days -- about 1910, '12, '15 -- money was so hard to get. At that time money wasn't so plentiful, but there was always plenty of
work. And the value of money was there. The money wasn't
so plentiful, but there was always work to work for the money in those
days -- in my times. You could always get on a job, but sometimes it was
for less money. I suppose then -- at that time -- they got paid, oh we'll
say, around fifteen or twenty dollars a month for cutting brush or for
common labor. That was a little before I went to work in the woods, so,
to be honest about it, I wouldn't exactly know firsthand. But whatever
it was, we didn't think that it was too bad, because these were hard times
to make a few dollars. You didn't make much, but you always had a chance
to work, and if you stayed in a logging camp they would board you. They'd
board you, but you still got your credit, a dollar a day -- more or less.
Later on, when I first started working in the woods, some of them starting
off got only twenty-six dollars a month. That's what we got for brushing
and doing roadwork in the lumber camps. And when we stayed through the
winter, we got better pay. We got pretty good pay in the winter. Oh, I'll
say we got thirty dollars a month to work in the winter -- besides a good
place to stay.
But we had a dollar then that was worth value then. And . . . after all . . . there were logging camps where we could work if we wanted to, and many of us were in them logging.
When my friends and I got big enough we went to the camps and made
twenty-six dollars a month. When I started in the camps -- about 1918 -- we
earned twenty-six dollars a month -- with board and room. One time I worked
for twenty-six dollars a month cutting roads for timber. That was way back
in the 1919, '20s. Finally -- about 1926 -- some of them got thirty, thirty-five
dollars a month. That was good for families. Those that had bigger families
tried hard to make it better. They tried for better pay. They got good
at it in the woods and stuck with it. They made good money.
That's how we got by.
Some of them got thirty dollars a month in the olden days. I remember working for only thirty dollars a month -- twenty-eight at one time, twenty-six at first. I had thirty dollars a month later on. Still, they had a pretty good check when they came out of the logging camps, because the dollar was valued as a full dollar in their country. Now there isn't much valuation in the dollar. The price of things now is high. Now you may have lots of money all right, but it sure goes fast when you begin to buy now. But thirty dollars a month was a lot of money in those days. They could live on thirty dollars a month. In those days there wasn't much taxes -- or no taxes at all -- on a lot of stuff they bought. And the dollar was valued. It was a full dollar those days. There was a difference in life. There was a difference in what you buy.
They were good days -- those days -- in a way. The value of money was all there, and I think the people did pretty good. The road contractors paid well, the railroad paid well, logging paid well. They all paid off too, at a certain time every two weeks. And those people that stuck to their jobs and stayed on the work all winter, they're the ones that made the money. They stayed in the camp all winter, and only took a little of their money out to take home, or send home to their families. That was a good deal for them. A lot of that was going on in what was the frontiers of northern Minnesota.
That was the main way of life in the frontiers of northern Minnesota -- outside of trapping. The trappers made good money too, by selling their fur and everything. The fur price wasn't much, but there was lot of game. The answer was there. They had homesteads, little farms, too. They had little potato patches and gardens, and they grew corn. That helped them lots.
So, I think it was a pretty good time, in a way. But money was hard to get. When the homesteaders had that money, they were careful how they spent it. The harder it is to get cash, the harder it is for you make up your mind to spend that dollar. Sometimes you like to keep that dollar in your hand in case you really do need it, but sometimes you invest that dollar for some chickens or for something around your place. It all depends on how they use their money. But they had money them days. They had cash -- and secret pockets. Well . . . that's all right. That part's all right. So, they got along fine.
Road contractors, the railroad, and logging all paid about the same in those days. They compare about the same -- for laborers. I think the railroad did well. Railroad companies paid well, but you have to wait for your pay. One thing about the railroad is that you'll have to work 'till payday. And when you want to quit, you sign off then, at payday. On the railroad they had regular paydays, which was satisfactory to the poor people, or to the lumberjacks, and when they stayed on the job they got their check on a certain date. And even when they quit they got their check on payday. And also the timber workers got their checks.
How much you were paid depends on what company you work for. It's all figured out by a good man who works for the company. There's one who adjusts your pay. Maybe there are a few workers who just put in their time -- but you can't fool the logger, you can't fool the farmer, you can't fool the timber worker. And everything that you do in labor is reported. The boss is the one that adjusts your pay. He adjusts your valuation -- the price the company pays you. About 1918-'19 twenty-six dollars a month was the going price for common labor. I don't know how much the boss would make; I wouldn't know. I think the boss gets just about the same amount as the workers. He may get a little more because he has to run here and there to see the crew. But he had only two or three helpers assigned to him, so he didn't have that much extra to take care of.
Some of the lumberjacks also cut cedar and sold it on their own. Those were telephone poles and cedar posts. Cedar posts were in big demand for the farm area. The homesteaders were trying to curb their animals. They put a fence around the few cattle they had. They had barb wire and everything. They sold some posts for that; ya! They had a lot of extra posts. They would get, oh, a couple, two or three cents for a post. They just went and got it. It was there! It was there . . . as a gift.
Later on in years -- quite a few years later -- they also sold timber to the railroad company. They hewed a log out and sold it, and that was good money -- about 25 cents a log. It was 25 cents! for a stick eight feet long. It was pine, Norway, or any kind -- including cedar and tamarack. They sold the best lumber then to the railroad companies. What's good, they sold to the railroad.
Later on, loggers also did some piece-cutting on Forestry contracts. When I started piece-cutting -- later on -- we got two dollars and a half a thousand(25) for white pine. We got two and a half a thousand, but that was later on. I've seen times -- in the olden days -- when they made seventy-five cents a thousand. Yuh, in the old days, that's how hard it was to get the money.
Do you know how much a thousand feet was? The trees were so big those
days that I don't believe you cut two trees to get a thousand feet. Here
and there one white pine or Norway would scale a thousand feet!
It was good clear timber, and it was nothing to get a thousand feet with
a good saw.
We worked as a partners‑ship. Two people in a day -- in the days of the original Norway and white pine -- could cut about, about -- two or three thousand feet -- that's given room for exaggeration. I don't know exactly. I'm forgetting lots. I have too much on my head to think way back on some things.
"Boy it must-a been good days," they ask me.
"It was good days. On the other hand you had to work for what you got." If you got five-hundred feet a tree, let's say, and you cut two trees, you had enough for your partner's share. If you cut three or four trees, he got his $2.50 a day, and you got yours. Yea. If you get two and a half a thousand, and you get, let's say, four trees for the two of you, that's five dollars a day. Ya. Five dollars. He gets two and a half; I get two and a half. At that time -- later on -- we would be making sixty, seventy-five dollars a month, if we were getting that many trees. But that was later on. See, they kept raising what they were paying.
It would take you a couple hours anyhow -- maybe an hour and a half -- to cut a tree. And then, we had to stump them by hand -- chop the limbs. But in those later days we didn't have to get them out. That was up to the logger. He had teams for that. No, we just cut by the thousand. They dragged the logs out with teams.
But in actual fact that two thousand feet is poor scale, compared to the white loggers. There were good Norwegians and Swedes that knew how to sharpen the saw. And with their saws they sure could make six or seven thousand feet a day! But they had reaches. They had eight foot saws, and saws seven-and-half feet.
Geeze . . . that was bright!
I believe now-a-days, for a thousand feet, they probably get six or five dollars. That's six or five dollars a thousand. But now, in this day and age, so much is taken out(26) that it goes back to two and a half a thousand again.
But now they have that tax on the forestry. I wish we had that long ago. The country wouldn't have suffered so much. There wouldn't have been so much pressure on taxes later on. We started in a little bit late, but it wasn't too late. Still, it works out good, you know. I think it helps to better this part of the country by not taking the cream out of this area and just leaving the skim milk here. Now we have some cream that drops back into the area.
The Government gives us just enough to be satisfied with. But that's going to help the country too. And the income taxes are dropping a little bit back into the area. If you want to continue working, you have to continue with the taxing. In that way the Federal and State continue making money on both sides -- labor and production. Then the money that comes back is a help to the whole area. It helps the whole area. That's a good thing.
Now you're able to pay taxes. We weren't able to pay taxes on thirty dollars a month because we didn't really have it to pay. We only got thirty dollars a month, but I suppose we could have been able to pay some taxes. The price of food was right down then, but now the price of food is way up; the cost of living is way up. Now with the living up they should make a lot of money, and they should tax them because there are more schools now, and necessary money has to be spent in the area. Now they say the prices of everything are high. They are high, but I think they think they're making more now -- even with the taxes taken out.
Now they make big money. It took us a whole month to make forty dollars, and now, as I hear, some of them make thirty, forty dollars a day in the mines. Now people get twenty, twenty-five, thirty, forty dollars a day!
Money is too easy to come by now, and people are paid so big that I don't think some of the people know the value of money. Now they have beautiful cars and they spend their money to beautify their cars. Sure, it looks good -- shiny and everything -- and when you get in one of them you feel big; you feel proud. But when you go places in those high speed cars, you don't know whether you're going to come back or not. Then probably they'll start spinning the wheels -- showing off. Those cars end up to be just another hardship. How they spend that money on cars! When you got a car you might try to save, and you try to figure out how much you're going to save, but the first thing you know, you have your money spent on your car.
Who's fault is that?
They buy; everybody'd buy. Pretty soon there's a city, a town -- a little town. Pretty soon it's run cooperatively.(27) Everything was coming along in those days. The horses were in the pasture and pretty soon cars came. It's no fun to drive a car over rough roads, but the roads are getting better. Pretty soon their cars wear out 'cause they don't take care of their cars. Cars last a long time if you take care of them, but when they make them go continually they don't last. Their car breaks down and they buy another one, and it takes money to buy it. They can just leave a car sit there when they run out of money . . . and they do. But in the olden days they had to take care of the horses or they wouldn't have any horse. See the difference? The old man was watching, the mother was watching: that horse has got to be taken care of. But that's not the way it is with the car. All they have to do is put in gas, put on new tires, and what you put in comes to money. You have to pay something when you use a car, and there's no return on that. Instead of working out there with a horse and bringing in logs, wood, anything, plowing, cultivating, and doing your chores, when the cars came everybody said, "Let's go. Let's go. Where? Where? Where?" And that costs money.
They left home. They didn't want to be home. They wanted to make money. They thought, "There are better jobs over there. There are bigger jobs." They didn't have a home.(28) They didn't want a home. They wanted to make big money. They'd buy a place in town. Pretty soon they sell. "We'll go to another place," they'd say. See? They thought, "We'll go to a different state and make bigger money." I think there were some that did well; good. They stayed put and hung on to their money. That was good. They know how to do it. But those that were reckless and didn't care, didn't do very well. Think of the future of the children. The children coming behind you is the great thing. You're responsible for your family. They have to eat. They have to have a place to stay. Stay there 'till they get on their feet.(29) They'll respect you for that. They'll respect you. I see that.
Not too long ago I did reading in a book(30) write-up they call The Republic or something like that. That's quite a book‑prediction. It's a prediction of what's coming. It's really the same as the old man was telling me -- right on the spot, in Duluth -- quite a number of years ago. It's a prediction that the country is getting in the hole; each and every one in the United States is dropping in the hole every year. And to pay that debt that the United States is dropping in each and every child will have to pay about . . . what did he say? . . . I think they figure that the labor would have to pay about forty-five to fifty dollars a day for every person.
I said to old Mun-dam-In in Duluth, "Oh, it'll never be. What are you talking about!?"
Well, what he said then, that's just what I read now! They predict that more money is needed to make the country come back partly anyhow. They say now that we're so far in the hole that even if they get labor up it will take two or three generations until they will be able to get on the level -- that is if we don't go any further in the hole. But the country is still sinking in the hole with our security. The value of money is going down.
Boy the ways things are now!
They predicted that. The old timers knew enough to study that and read that. Mun-dam-In was telling me that, and I said, "It'll never happen!"
So now I begin to see things. I see that it's true what he said. I think it'll go up higher too. I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe I won't see the time, but maybe there'll be a day that people will be getting a hundred dollars a day to get us up on the level and to pay up debts and make that account black and white(31) in Washington.
But still, the government's got a lot of overhead to pay. They have employees and all that. Where they going to get that money to spend? The people that's paying taxes have to pay it. The State and the Federal have to have tax money to pay their employees. The people's governing body of the monies has to pay that.
We all study that. We all see that. We don't really study that, but we think of it. We ask, "How is it going to be? How is it going to be in the next few years? How is that going to be?" we ask ourselves. I know many -- many -- are asking, "What is it going to be?" Many, many of them ask themselves, "I wonder how it'll be the next ten, fifteen years, twenty years." It keeps changing all the time.
That's the way I do things. I just sit and wonder about a lot of the times from a-way back, and about what life is going to be like for the little ones following behind.
In the old days, the lumberjacks didn't care for the money the way people do now, because the living was right there before them from natural foods and game. I've seen them cut timber, and you couldn't walk over the timber they laid on the ground.(32) And it was all trimmed up and all ready to go. They kept one or two skidders a-going all the time. But even then, mostly -- even with all of that timber a-flying -- they really made 'er by hunting, raising a couple cows and chickens, and growing their potatoes and garden patches. Especially the Finns.(33)
Log jams were always a problem in them log-driving days. One time they hired Charlie Michaud to clear a log jam up by John S. Smith's place. Charlie worked in the logging camps when he was about fourteen, fifteen -- somewhere along in there. He was very active. He's about the same age as I am, but older, maybe a little older, than me -- I know, he's three or four years older than me. He has more experience than I have, and knows how to do things. Charlie married my half-sister. Her name was Rose Nason, and they were both the same age -- pred'near. He had a nice woman -- a beautiful lady -- but she passed away. She was a nice lady.
'Course I only heard about Charlie Michaud and the log jam
by John S. Smith's.(34) I didn't watch
it. Charlie told me about that later on. But I know the logan(35)
where he cleared the logs. My grandfather lived up there. I used to trap
a lot, and I went to that logan to trap. I saw the old logan filled up with logs
-- cedar . . . and rafts,(36) and peeled stuff.
I thought, "Jesus, how they gonna get those logs out?"
There was an outlet to the logan. The outlet was about . . . oh, say, six feet wide -- where it should-a been about fourteen to sixteen feet wide. The heavy snow and the ice break-up and the spring streams pushed the water down with lots of dirt. The dirt was caving in from the side of the river and the quick-sand had filled up the outlet of this logan.
Well, the big log buyer went up there and saw this. He had orders on the posts and cedar. This was a cedar drive, and he had orders he needed to send out. He had money -- lots of money -- tied up on this timber, and he didn't know how to get these logs out. He had hired quite a few around there to help him before. Quite a few would tow logs with their launches. Some of 'em looked at this logan, but they didn't free the logs. They didn't know how. It was too much of a job to dig that outlet open.
He was pretty sharp, this Michaud. He's still living. He was very smart around the rivers and on a drive. That's all he did was tow. The 4th of July was coming -- it was late in the spring. Usually the drive was done by the 4th.
This buyer said to Charlie, "I got a bunch of timber up the river. I tried to get this guy to get it out with his launch, but he wouldn't take the contract. I offered him good money."
"Well," Charlie said, "what'll you offer?"
"So much. So much. Could you help with that Charlie?"
"Ah, that's nothing," he said, "that could be simple."
Charlie had a good boat with a single-cylinder Redwing motor.
The boat was about 20-22 feet long. It was wide though, and had lots of power. It was a pretty good-sized boat. It was a launch -- a towing boat.
"So," Charlie said, "I'll take the job. I'll get the timber down. When do you want it?"
"As soon as possible."
That's about a 12-, 14-mile drive -- a 12-, 14-mile drive, anyhow.(37)
"I'll go and get that timber out for you."
"Charlie, how are you going to get that out?"
"I'll get it out."
He never told anybody how he was going to do it. He went by himself up there. Gas was cheap those days. They let him have four or five cans of gas. He took it along, and he took his tent up.
When he got up to the job, he knew what he was doing. From the main stream he just turned the boat around to the outlet and anchored the boat backwards. After he had a lunch, he says -- after he had a lunch(38) -- he started the boat and just kept that motor on idle. The propeller began digging into the quick-sand, sending the loose water and sand through the blockage. It wasn't hurting the motor because it was idling.
It was stirring up that quick-sand. The current of the propeller had stirred up that sand and that sand was going out to the main stream and opening up a channel.
After a while it was wide enough to bring his launch through the outlet. He got through on one side and he said, "I could run it forward after that." Then he'd go back and forth through the channel. As soon as he got to the deep water on the other side, he'd turn around and come forward again. Then he'd come forward and anchor it backwards to the outlet again.
He turned the motor around and started to dig the channel wider. He sat there and rolled a cigarette once in a while. After a while the motor and the propeller of the launch had done the work. He opened the channel up wide enough for a raft to go through. Those rafts must have been about, oh . . . say . . . about twelve feet wide. He opened the outlet twelve, fourteen feet, and he dug it deep enough.
The water started rushing from back of the rock, under the rafts. Water started going in and coming back through the opening to the mainstream. So Charlie got busy. "Well, I think this is deep enough for the first rafts to go through. I'll just hook on to them."
He turned his boat around, backed his boat up to a raft, and hooked the rope onto the rafts he wanted to tow. He hooked his rope up and cut off three or four rafts from the bunch. See, they line up the rafts and tie them together. He cut off three rafts.
"If I get these rafts through this," he said, "then I'll drag the rest. I'll force them with the launch tow. By moving the water with the towed rafts, some more of this dirt that's standing up will go."
He had a powerful launch. He skidded them out. The first raft went through with all of those pole-length logs. The first raft went through and started to hit the main current. That main current of the stream gave him more power with his launch, and the second raft came out of there like nothing. And there was nothing to the third one. By doing that he opened up the stream and all that water rushed in. The water leveled off in that backstream -- in that back-shot to the mainstream. The water level was there, so he hooked on to more rafts -- five or six more.
He let the first three rafts go down the stream by themselves -- which was easily done as they go by the current. He kept working on these others. He got some more out and sent them off down the river -- down the stream. After he left the rafts out of the lagoon there, they had about twelve or fourteen miles to go, and he didn't worry about them until he caught up with them. He turned them loose and caught up with them later on. They followed like a cross-chain on a sled -- they followed the "rut."
But he got so many out he thought some of these rafts might plug up down the stream or get hung up. But they didn't; they followed the mainstream all the way.
It was getting late so he went downstream and anchored a few. Then he re‑lined them up again. He took, oh . . . say . . . six, seven, eight, and chained them together. He wired them together, so that they were behind one another. He wired them as a cross chain -- with what they called that "booming wire." If you cross chain it, the rafts will be flexible to make the bend. You just have to be sure that you don't tie them too short.
After he got all the rafts into the river, he had to bring them into the Ball Club River off of the mainstream of the Mississippi and Leech Rivers.
"How you gonna do that? How are you gonna swing the rafts in on the Y?"
Again he shortened the rafts up to six -- up to the river width.
He drove a big anchor post in the meadow bottom just up from the "Y" of the Ball Club River. OK. He drove that anchor post in on the bank of the river there -- on the Ball Club side -- and he wrapped the bailing-wire around the post. He took the first raft and tied it to that post. The first raft had to meet that "Y" on the upstream again, where it was coming into the Ball Club River, off the main river.
He anchored the first one. The second one followed around and at that time he jumped on the rafts. And as fast as they came down the river he just drove the pike pole in them and hooked them together. They all sooner or later followed in line, and they were out of the way for the other boats.
It took a long time for his boat to pull the first raft into the Ball Club River since all the while the second one was pushing back because of the current. All of those rafts formed a line down the stream -- the Leech-Mississippi -- and he was pulling them back up the stream to get them into the Ball Club River. That's where he was taking them. And he took them up towards Ball Club Lake, and right there in the yard he pulled them out and unloaded them -- years ago. They had a mill there by Ball Club Lake and after he got them to the mill they pulled them up on the booms.
It took two or three weeks for Charlie to get those down there to the mill, but by the 4th of July he was done. He was a smart boy. Oh! he was a very smart Indian -- Ol' Charlie. He was a river man. He got that timber down. He got his money too. Boy, that was a smart guy, eh?
Later on he'd tell that story and then he'd laugh about it. He'd say, "That was nathing. That was easy money. It's just what you know that counts. That's what you get paid for -- for what you know. I tried it and I think it worked pretty good. I was figuring that the water would help me. The current of the water has done a lot of pushing for me. With me towing and the current pressure on these hanging back, I made it. When I started to move them, they all moved."
Boy, he's interesting!
When he got paid off he had the best suit, the best clothes. He always dresses good anyhow.
The mill that Ol' Charlie took those logs to was by the Ball Club River -- by the Ball Club-Mississippi "Y." There was another mill a mile and a half or two above the "Y" -- upriver from the Leech-Mississippi Forks. There was an old mill bottom there that was made somewhere in the early 1900's. They moved out by the time I was a young boy, but their work showed that they moved. There were sawdust piles there and everything. That was an early mill site, but they moved out before I got interested in who it was who had a mill there.
Later on when I was a little older I would go down to Willow Bridge; there was a mill there at that time. It might have been the same mill that was moved -- or a mill owned by the same party -- but I couldn't say. I didn't pay much attention to that stuff in my younger time. But there was a big mill there, south of Ball Club(39) -- about two-and-a-half to three miles south. The mill sat pred'near under the Ball Club bridge -- pred'near under the bridge -- on the side of the bridge. It was located south of the Leech and Mississippi forks -- where there's the separation of the Leech and Mississippi Rivers. That Ball Club bridge location was a good site for a mill too -- at that time. I think you can still see the foundation there on the side of the bridge.
I would like to recollect who owned that mill, but I can't. Anyhow, it was a pretty good sized mill, for a stationary mill.(40) I used to remember when it was running. I would paddle by there in canoes and look at the conveyor that ran up about forty-five feet at a forty-five angle slope. The conveyor pulled the logs up into the mill. They worked on a big scale, with big pine logs. I remember them cutting three, four years there. Then I went to school,(41) and when I came back the mill was gone. I don't know what caused it to move. I never did ask. I had a dad -- a step-dad -- that was well-posted on what was going on along the river, but I never did ask him about that mill.
Talking about the river sites and mills, there was another bit of seen‑ery there that they called "Dumas."(42) It was out by the Ball Club River and the Mississippi of Ball Club. And there was a mill there too -- a good sized mill -- along the railroad tracks. That big mill site on Number Two highway by Ball Club River they called "Dumas Mill." I think they called it the "Dumas Mill." We called it "Dumas Mill" anyway. I think a young Dumas still lives there on that plantation. He's about as old as I am, and he could verify a lot of stuff that went on along the river, if I was sitting here with him. But he works for the gas company now and he hasn't much time to come over and visit.
He's a very nice boy. They had a store there at "Dumas Spur" -- they called it "Dumas Spur" later on. It was located by the bridge of Number Two highway, just outside of Ball Club. A railroad crosses there now. Where the railroad is now there was no railroad then. There was a mill site there. But Dumas Mill was only one of the buildings. There was also the Dumas Store, and -- later on -- a buyer's(43) office. The mill was on the south side, and they had a loading dock in there, where they loaded cedar and everything.
You can still see those pilings that were driven down to hold the boom back -- the loading boom of the logs. There was quite a mill there too. You could walk anywhere on the river bottom there and they had it full of sawdust and everything. They had horse team‑works there to pull the lumber away from the mill. That was a pretty fair mill. They did a good job there. They shipped a lot of lumber out of that mill. They shipped it to the buyer in Grand Rapids, and a train hauled it out from Grand Rapids. They shipped all the stuff that came down the river. And these lumberjacks could really keep the logs a-coming. Boy they had a good mill there. Boy, I tell you, they put out lumber!
That Dumas was a good little town. It was just a little store, with boarding places, and company buildings all lined up there. There was a store there and we'd paddle with a canoe or boat to go down there and get our bacon, flour, white sugar. We'd paddle up river all day to get that stuff.
Oh, the current was swift too, especially in the springtime. But we paddled boats and canoes up the river anyway, 'cause the river was a main highway those days; ya.
I remember those days. . . . The mills were a-going. . . . The production was there. . . . They had it. . . . And they produced the best timber at that time. . . .
Below Ball Club River -- at the outlet of the Ball Club River where it empties into the Mississippi -- there's a point they call "Gannon's Point." On that point -- on the river bottom of the meadows -- there was a store, made of timber. This guy had a store, a trader called "Gannon." I don't know how long he ran that store there. That was a store for the lumberjacks to go and buy tobacco, or whatever they needed for the wah-ni-gan. Seelye down here at Ball Club River had quite a mill there too. That was a big mill.
Later on in time, if we had a little timber we had a chance to get that timber to some little portable mill that was there trying to saw. I'm speaking now more of portable mills. Stationary mills were different.
One portable mill was at Leech and Mississippi Forks, on the south side of the near-by bridge. There was another mill there earlier -- a stationary mill. The portable mill was run by Sundquist, a Swede from the old country. He was then about 56 years old. But the mill wasn't running on a big scale. Very little he took in. He barely had enough to keep it going.
But we were happy and we had faith in the mill. "Well," they'd say, "it's gonna start up." Then we were all glad because maybe we could sell a log or two. Probably we'd go pick up an old dead-head and pull it in. When those big loggers go through with the great big Norway pine and everything the logs which lodge on the bottom sometimes show up later on. Well that's what I mean by a "dead-head." It'll get water "lodged"(44) and they'll get to be a dead-head.
We used to clean the river by dead-head picking, and they'd saw them up at Sundquist's mill. Earlier on we'd pick dead-heads and put them in at the other saw mills. Dead-heads make one of the best lumber, after it's water "lodged," cured, and after it's dried. That is more interesting.
When the mill was going we could sell dead-heads -- the ones we'd pick up along the river. We didn't get much money for them. There wasn't much money in it. It was good lumber, but there was so much of it that they could get any amount of it easy all along the Mississippi River. They cleaned that out pretty well along the Mississippi River . . . over time.
Sundquist himself barely had enough money just to buy oil and wood and to hire the man to shove in the wood. I remember that. Joe Barnes will verify that.
I got a job working in that mill. I played there three, four days -- about 1917-1918 -- but the boss of the mill didn't have enough money to feed the crew. We had very little to eat. And he used to have a tough time transporting that lumber to sell. There were no roads for that. We had to wait until he drifted that lumber down that river. There was no money until he got the stuff to the buyer in Grand Rapids. There was no loan. That was rough.
Sometimes the overhead(45) -- the big wheel -- would come over, look at the situation, and give him a hundred dollars or couple hundred dollars to get so much timber out.
That's the way he kept going. When he ran out of money the mill stopped and everything stopped. It stopped because the bill guy came. The mill closed down about 1928-1929. The scrap iron division was buying up scrap iron, so people began taking the mill apart piece by piece and selling it for scrap. They just helped themselves. Finally, the scrap iron people bought the boiler for junk.
As I remember, about, oh . . . up until about 1920, there was another mill at Deer River.
Finally we got small buyers who came in here and set up offices at the
mills. We had cedar yards here, and they cut posts and poles. White Oak
Lake -- along the Mississippi, where I was born -- was a good pocket to reserve
all the logs.(46) They used White Oak
Lake as a log landing spot. Then -- in the spring -- they'd just put a conveyor
down to the lake and some men would push the logs up the conveyor into
the mill. That mill was a big mill. The posts and the foundation of that
mill still show a little at Little White Oak. I worked there for a few
Off and on I'd work at other mills. Then times again -- often at haying time(47) -- I'd fool around Ball Club looking for a job. It was easy to get a job if you knew what you were doing in the experience of labor. Occasionally I came down to Ball Club to help with the hay, and I would see all these mills -- I'll say there were one, two, three, four mills -- about three, four miles apart, not any more.
When I was a youngster it was just like it was wild(48)
around Ball Club. Ball Club wasn't any bigger than about three, four houses.
Those houses aren't here anymore. They burnt down. They were log houses.
They all burnt down. They were located where the Shell Oil station is
now. There was a whole line of those log houses there. There was another
house -- a big hotel -- where the other store -- Olsen's store -- is. There was
a big hotel there -- a great big lumberjack hotel -- but that burnt down too.
That hotel was about . . . gee, it should-a had room for about fifteen, twenty anyway. It was a big square building. It burnt down in nineteen-twenty-six, I think it was. Twenty-six, thirty . . . in there somewhere. Maybe it was in 1916 or 1917. I don't remember. They never rebuilt it. I suppose there was no insurance, or the party moved. It was a total loss and they probably had no insurance. They didn't have insurance much them days. Anyway, the party moved after it burned down. The party was getting older and they bought a place somewhere else.
Oh yes . . . the party that owned it was a Representative of the State.(49) Ya, she was a senator, I think. Ya, she was a Representative of this area -- a woman representative.
She had a trading post there too. That was just where the Indians traded moccasins and all that stuff. She'd buy and sell.
There was another hotel around here the time they logged off this area, a place they called "The Halfway Hotel." That half-way place was at the Third River, I guess. See, there's woods they go through to get to the camp -- the logging camp on the other side of Third River. In the winter they walked most of the way up there on the ice.(50) But they don't walk on the ice all the way. Then, when they got on the land, maybe they got a chance to take a rest. There's a camp way out in the woods. They called that "Midway." It was right on the outlet of the Third River.
There's a new "Midway" now. The new "Midway" is along the Mississippi -- below the Mississippi-Winnibigosh Dam. That's a different place all-together from the Old Fairbanks' place. But they like the name of "Midway," and that's what they called the new place. That's where the lumberjack stops to rest now-a-days.
I know an old party here who remembers that original "Midway" -- old Michaud, Charlie Michaud -- the Indian boy that cleared the log jam in the logan. He lived in my times too. We hunted and traveled together. I remember, he was fourteen years old when he started going to logging camps. He was a wonderful teamster. He was wonderful with horses, and he got a job anywhere. Just think, a young kid like that driving horses in a logging camp. That was in nineteen eight. . . . It must have been about 1910, when he was fourteen years old.
Now he's an old man that guy. He looks young, but he'd old. He never did hard work; he'd just drive team. He was a wonderful teamster.
"One time," he said, "we went to work wa-a-ay up by Third River.
This other place was by Third River, on the way to Bena. There were no
roads, just a logging road -- no highways, just a wagon road. Once in
a great while you'd meet a team on that wagon trail. Maybe only one team
a day'd go up there, a supply team."
That was, about 30, 25, 30 miles up there, to the northwest corner of Winnibigosh. Going 'round, it was thirty-five, forty miles -- going on those winding trails, those wagon trails. They say that those wagon trails up there were so windy that sometimes you'd meet yourself going around these slough holes.
"Well, what did you do when you got paid and had to go to town?"
"We didn't go to town," he says, "we had to stay there the whole winter."
"Well, what did you do if you didn't like it?"
"Well," he said, "there'd be a crew on the road, a crew in the camp, and a crew in town."
"Well, how did they get up there? Did they take sandwiches?"
"Everybody had what they called a 'turkey' -- a 'goose' for their back. That's a pack sack, a flour sack where you kept your clothes and lunch. . . ."
They talk about it as a "goose" or a "turkey." That "goose" for your back -- that "turkey" or "goose" for your back -- is a bundle you put your belongings in and tie up and put on your back. They call it that because when you tie it up it looks like a goose or a turkey. See, they tie it up, choke it up. When it's choked up, then the rope is the legs. It's a picture of a turkey. It looked like a turkey, but that was his clothes. And there's two pack straps on it -- that's what they call "pack straps" now-a-days -- and they put that across their shoulder. And then they can walk clear-handed.
". . . We put our clothes in there with a sandwich or some loaf of bread, we tie it up, and we walked. If it got dark anywhere," he said, "you kept right on walking, if we could feel the road with our feet. Then, after it gets dark, you could see. You can see after it gets dark. Ya, you get used to it and you can see a little by reflection of the sky. You could see enough to walk, anyway -- if it don't get too dark."
"Well," I said, "what did you do when you got tired?"
"Well, there was a halfway mark on that wagon trail and there was a hotel there -- it was supposed to be a hotel stopping place, a dinner place. All of these folks and teams, all of them who brought supplies, all the lumberjacks and the big wheels, they'd stop there and over-camp, overnight. 'Midway' we called it. They'd all stop there."
That was above George Tibbetts' place. It was by Jackson's up there -- on the other side of Flemming's farm -- by that big farm up there. Jackson lived pretty close there somewhere, on the other side of Decker's. You know that George Tibbets' place? That was Jackson's home ground. They had a big house there. I think it was a log house. It was a big place anyway, and they served meals there -- just like a hotel.
"What did those lumberjacks have when they were walking on the road," I said to Charlie Michaud, "did you have cash or what?"
"Those days," he said, "it was cash, silver, when we got paid. But you didn't get paid the silver in the camps."
"Where'd you get paid then?" I asked him -- but I knew just about what he was going to say when I asked the question.
"When we got paid in the camps them days," he said, "we got a white slip a paper -- a 'time slip.' We had to take those time slips in to the headquarters. Bena was the headquarters then, when we were working for Tommy Welch, a logger for Canada & Clement Company. We went in to the headquarters and cashed the time slips in. Sometimes there was money to cash those time slips at headquarters, and sometimes there was no money in. They'd run out of money."
"Well, what good is that time slip to you if there's no money at headquarters?"
"It's no good sometime," he said, "but it is good when the money's available. Sometimes they'd run out, but most of the times they had money. Only sometimes they ran out."
So supposing we want to quit, or go to town. Maybe we'd have to quit, or have to get some money. To get our pay, we had to go many miles to town by foot. We had to go twenty, twenty-five miles, or maybe thirty miles. The boss didn't trust anybody to have a lot of money in camp. I think it was more or less organized in such a way that there wasn't much money in the camps.
The lumberjacks couldn't carry much money, because it wasn't very safe those days -- at least they didn't have a trust in it being safe. They didn't trust a man to carry around so much money in his pocket, so they had lumberjacks' puzzles to work out a way to get paid. By giving "time slips" with numbers, the lumberjacks didn't have to worry about their money when they were in the woods.
Well, anyway, the camp operators took care of their lumberjacks. Instead of giving them money they presented their lumberjacks with a white sheet of paper telling how much pay they earned. They'd put down so much on the slip, telling how much you made. They'd give you a slip and record the number and amount in the company's book.
"Time slips," they called those pieces of paper, in English. In Indian that slip -- that white sheet of paper to show that you had money coming -- is called giis-ka-aa$-kwa-ni-m^ss-i-nay-g^n . . . giis-ka-aa$-kway oo-gii-maa m^ss-i-nay-g^n. That means "the logger gives you paper." oo-gii-maa means "he's the boss of the whole camp."
So when you want to quit or be excused you have to report to the camp clerk, and he puts you on the book. So you'll know how much you are credited by the company. You were paid by so much a month, or by so much a year, where you stayed.
"Are you going to come back?" the camp clerk would ask you when he gave you your slip.
"I'll be back sometime, but I don't know when. Maybe I will find another job."
But, anyhow, their camps were good.
The timber workers all understand that. If you weren't working for the railroad, there was nothing but timber labor those days, anyhow. Sometimes the time slip record went to Grand Rapids for the paymaster and you'd have to go there to see him to get your pay.
The paymaster got the time slips from the timber workers. When the paymaster gets that slip -- your time slip -- he checks it with his book. He looks to see if it's the same number of that slip he's got. If your number is the same number as that in his book, he'll give you your pay. Most generally he'll give you your pay. The lumberjacks made twenty-six or thirty dollars a month -- in 1918 -- and when you gave the paymaster your slip you got your twenty-six or thirty dollars -- in silver. For this reason they gave you time slips, and you'd get the money -- silver money -- in Grand Rapids or Bena or someplace else.
It wasn't safe for you to carry any money on your passage through "the jungle."(51) It wasn't safe to have too much currency in your pocket. Something might happen that you may not be able to talk. I think that was a pretty wise stunt, even if you did have to go to Bena or Grand Rapids to find the paymaster.
When lumberjacks came to town, they most often put their money in
a restaurant, or wherever they stopped, or wherever they did their trading.
They were afraid to carry money. That's why they gave it to someone they
trusted. They'd leave most of their money someplace in town, because they
didn't want to carry it. It was too dangerous to carry money. They might
lose it or something. There were lots of them who drank something -- alcohol
-- that wasn't very good for them. They could fall down and go to sleep
on the side road. They by the next morning the money's gone. So that's
why they put some of it away. They'd take it a little by little from the
place they trusted -- the place where they had put it. Putting money someplace in town was a good deal too.
But they always got it little by little, taking out just enough to get
The loggers in those days left their money in a restaurant or someplace in town with anybody they trusted. A guy in Duluth, at the Garfield Avenue Newsstand, had a nice little business charging lumberjacks to keep track of their money. They always left it with someone they trusted. There was a bank, but they didn't want their money tied up at the bank. They wanted it loose. The bank was open only at a certain time in those days. Sure, lots of them put money in the bank. Yes. I don't say they didn't, because they did. The banker was trusted. The banker had trust. We still have good bankers. The lumberjacks also put their money in with them. But most of them kept their money with some businessman they trusted.
Old Pog was a paymaster in Grand Rapids. When I'm talking about Pog I'm talking about 19 . . . oh about 1917, and from there on. That's a-way back. Before that I'm talking about 1914, '15. Those were mostly logging days. That's a way, way back. With Pog's programs it was kind of hard to get the money, but he paid it. Whether he paid full or not you don't know. Old Pog was a pretty good guy. He favored the poor man. He was a poor man himself. He was a logger -- a timber worker, and he favored the people pretty much. Yea. He had a kind of a business office there at Grand Rapids. I wouldn't know what his real name was. But with Pog I think that'd be easy to find out, because there's some of them living yet who used to work for him.
Oh, it was a rough field them days, and it was better if you came
down through those trails without cash and anything of value. Maybe it's
a good deal that way, because there's no foul work or ganging up then.
That's a good deal -- maybe that's what it was for.
But in later years they got rough with those time slips! The company just tried to wear the time slips out, by telling the lumberjacks to come back, come back, come back for their money. So, in the meantime, the lumberjacks got other work and those time slips would wear out in their pockets.
It got so rough that times were beginning to get hard. Times got kind-a-hard in the twenties. Everybody wanted money then. When the lumberjacks showed up with those worn-out time slips, the paymaster of the company'd ask, "What'd you do there?" Some of the loggers would come away with nothing; some wouldn't get their full amount.
So they commenced to get a law against that, and they made a law that when a lumberjack quits a camp, he's supposed to be paid within forty-eight hours. "Right now" he's supposed to have his money. He's supposed to get paid right away. Those laws helped a lot of lumberjacks. With the laws the lumberjacks got brave and after that they got paid off right away.
There was a colored lawyer at Bemidji -- Skrutchenson. Everybody remembers him! And when he got in the courtroom and bellered, he was just like a bull. He was just like a bull when he laid down the law. Boy he was a lawyer!! He was a great man, that guy.
So, these lumberjacks would go to him and tell him, "Well, I didn't get no money!"
"Who'd you work for?"
A certain company. And they'd tell him the company name.
"Okay. Where's your receipt? Did they give you a receipt?"
"A slip? Ya."
The lawyer read that time slip and he'd say, "You got so much comin'."
"They didn't pay you? You didn't cash this in there?"
"No. The officer wouldn't cash it. He didn't have no money."
That lawyer'd tell them to board at the hotel and wait 'till he called
them: "Okay. Go down to Markham's Hotel, or any hotel you want to. You
stay there 'till I call you."
He'd go down to the hotel and tell them, "Take care of them guys."
He'd wait 'till three, four of them came in. Oh he'd get a lot of those time checks! See, they started abusing those time slips. Oh, he got a lot of time slips off of timber workers on drives. He'd just send them into the hotel: "You stay there overnight, and tomorrow I'll settle it for you -- right there! According to law, all they have is forty-eight hours to pay up. That's your money; you take it home."
So the lumberjacks'ed be there at the hotel, just boarding over, anxious to get their money and send it to their wives or send some money home in to the bank. Then -- when they got too anxious and wanted to send home some money -- he'd call the logging companies in and tell them that the loggers demand that payment. They'd pay the men.
And if he had to, when he had enough time slips, that colored lawyer'd call those loggers -- big loggers -- in court. In court that colored lawyer'd bellar out, "This man's time is valuable! He's gotta be paid. He's got a family. He's gotta eat!!! You made him suffer! Now, you're lucky to get out just by paying what your damages are!!!" Oh boy, when he laid down the law, he laid the law!! You could hear him clear to the other side of town. He was just like a bull.
He couldn't be beat, you know. He was a lawyer. Huh! Aye! he'd demand that these guys get paid. He'd lay down the law right now.
All right; they'd pay them all right. When they paid the men off, then he'd demand their board bill. He'd tell them, "On top of that, now you'll have to pay the board bill."
They'd pay that too. And they paid the lawyer's time too -- figuring from the time he began working on those time slips. They'd pay his time, the loggers' wages, and the time for the loggers' waiting at the hotel.
"Oh man! Ho-ho! Oh, he sure cleaned that business up in a hurry. Before he got through they all paid up on that. They had a good man there, boy! He was very good, yah.
Tommy Welch, and Campbell, and Canada & Clement, and all them, they all understood time slips. Ya, they all used time-slips too.
A while after, McKusick of Hibbing did the same too. McKusick
was quite a logger. Quite a few years after -- around 1930, '32 -- he did the same.
Some Indians from Ball Club were up at Orr working for McKusick, the great pulp logger for the northwest. They were lumberjacks who worked for him in the woods. They peeled and pulped. McKusick was more generally in the pulp business. He hired the Indians to peel the pulp with drawknifes and spuds. They were hired to take the rough bark off of the logs. His men generally pealed the pulp and everything, and they'd get so much for doing that. Oh, they probably would have forty, fifty, dollars coming at the end of the month. That was up at Orr. And it was about '32. The foreman would make them out a time slip, and they had to take that to Hibbing, or wherever they could catch McKusick. They'd tell the men, "You give that to McKusick and he'll pay."
I first got up there to Orr to visit.(52) I didn't go up there to work. I had some folks up there I wanted to see. Just think how inquisitive we were, how we searched out how the people are.
When I got there I asked my cousin, "How's everything going?"
"They pay you all right?"
"Oh yes. That fella's got money."
"I heard he doesn't have any money."
"Ya, but with all the timber and all the security he has, he can get money in the bank," they said. "He'd be foolish to walk around here with cash in his pocket and pay you cash. But his slips are good."
"Where are they good?"
"Ya. They're good," they said. "I think Chisholm. I know where Chisholm is. One of my in-laws is a police there."
"I'm up here to visit, but maybe I'll go to work -- to see all the Indians who are working for him."
So they furnished me a draw-knife, and I built a horse -- a saw-horse, to hold the pulp up. Then I worked too. I don't know how many carloads we peeled.
Where I stayed, my cousin, my in-laws, and my relatives were camped together. We all camped up there. We were furnished with food, but we had to pay for it on our account. There was a big camp of us, with about eight or ten in that camp. There were three or four other groups of Indians camped there like us. Then we did have fun!
We were laughing and joking, and they were teasing Old Paul about some young widow.
"Why ain't you married, Paul."
I said, "Ohhh no!! I can't find anybody because I'm related to all," I said.
"My mother told me, she said, 'look out. If you want to get married you have to go to some other reservation.'" I said, "I can't afford that. And I like the way I live. I like to be with mother and dad. We have a farm to take care of. We have hay to take care of. Have I got time to go? No. I try to do what I can just the way it is."
Charlie Michaud'll tell you the same thing. We sat and talked over there at Orr. I remember them days. And I remember way back there when I was a kid around the Leech and Mississippi Forks.
That was about the way it worked in those days. Now-a-days, when people go to work anywhere they give the employer forty-eight hours time to pay. They have to pay within that time. If it's overdue, they'll charge the employer. Now they have a good law that says within forty-eight hours they have to pay you. That's the law. If you quit -- or if you get fired -- they're supposed to pay you right there.
That's another thing. Now-a-days when you have to be paid you get a check. But that's still a piece of paper until you get it in the bank; then it's cash. Come to think about it, those checks are pretty much the same as the old time slips. But now-a-days, a lot of them cash their checks through the stores -- small stores -- or someplace like that. They don't have to go to Grand Rapids or Bena or Chisholm or Cass Lake.
In the old days, after they cashed in their time slips, the loggers had money in their pocket -- but they still didn't know the value of money. There was so much, plenty of everything, and everything was so cheap that when you bought with a dollar, you got something. A dollar was valued a dollar them days.
Besides that, there was a lot of work. It was simple to go get a job anywhere -- those days. There was all kinds of work -- roadwork, timberwork, pulp cutting, railroad work, and all that. But it was most generally the loggers that gave us the jobs.
Those loggers were great, really great, those days, because they're the ones that furnished the labor(53) to the older class. Those wah-ni-gans were loaded with men at all times. If you didn't have a job you'd just meet the wah-ni-gan at a certain place, and they'd always give you a job.
There was another logger -- a great logger -- they called George Caulkin. I remember one time there was a school class in Ball Club, and they were having some kind of Bible school or catechism class. The teacher asked one boy, "Hey buddy, who is the greatest man of the world? Who is the greatest Creator of the world?"
He was supposed to say, "Jesus."
But instead, he said, "George Caulkin!"
They laughed at him.
"Ah . . . " he said, "George Caulkin was the greatest. He was a logger!"
That was a simple question, but the boy didn't care who was supposed to be the greatest because he was studying at the same time from the book and didn't want to be bothered -- and we always had great respect for the loggers -- them days. So he answered, "Oh, George Caulkin!"
I remember that story. Gee, that was nice.
So, I'm able to get around, and I think I'm still active for my age. My little defect on my right leg and arm, my little paralysis, doesn't bother me. I wish I could do more work to help others along and to help myself. I wish that at all times. I was able though, to string myself along and help myself, and it felt good. I worked and did exercise and did not overdo it. And labor I enjoyed. When you make a practice of working a little bit, exercising a little bit, you feel good. You are satisfied at the end of the day. Then you feel like resting, and you have a good rest. That's the way your nature is. If you don't exercise then you begin to pick up excess and all that. You don't feel like yourself because you don't know what to do. Continue your schedule, and you'll know yourself.
Some people, I feel, have a certain hour to do something regular, like their work. They got their work planned out in detail what's next to do. They go along and do their work when it is time to. They'll probably put in two or three hours of work.
At my age(56) I have nothing I have to do. I maybe work two, three hours, maybe four. Four hours of working is quite a strain with me now.
In my younger days I could take more hours in logging. I could take more hours in logging because I was interested. The more I got done, the more I'd have to do to provide for the family. And it was fun tugging the run. I could stand it more.
We'd wrestle those logs -- at first. We didn't have any jammers. We had horses for skidding. We had to pile that stuff by hand and with pickaroons or cant hooks. We pick the stuff up by hand. We had to lift more. We got a lot of lifting, and by practicing lifting we got used to it. And the more you work, the harder you work -- when you're in prime -- the more you'll get used to it, and it doesn't bother you. You get tired after so many hours on that job. Then when you rest, you're fresh again the next day. You're fresh.
So that's the way life is.
Day comes -- day comes -- and you do your regular work. You enjoy that, doing stuff. You enjoy seeing what work you've done in the past. Pile that wood and sell it, get your money, and then cut some more. You work regular, you know your duties when you're logging, cutting, and helping with piece-cutting.
You do a good job on every stick you cut and pile so the next man
can come along and skid it. They do wonderful work when they work together
good. But I've seen some lumbermen that just cut so fast that they just
throw the stuff in the pile. It's not piled very good, and it's hard for
the skidder to pick up the logs. This guy that picks up the logs and drays
it by hand has a hardship if the logs are not piled up straight. He loses
time on that. Everybody piles the logs along the roads where the dray
goes through to pick them up. It's handier and faster if you do it
right. If the loads are good, skid roads are good, and the stuff is piled
up good it doesn't take that long to pick up the loads -- 'specially pulp
logs piled into cord piles.
So, that's how things go.
If you do neat work, your work is well liked. If you do poor work, you're not deeply interested with your work. When you do it right and clean -- which is required when you go out into the woods to do your work -- the people speak about that. They say, "He does wonderful work. His logs are well trimmed, well piled, and the load is well done, straight. He's not sultry with his work. He's very active."
So that's why I try to do it right. I feel that I should do it right if I'm going to do it at all -- or I should not try. But if I try, I'll do my work right. By trying, you're taking care of yourself.
If you've practiced to learn, and know how to do your work well, you've done well. That's all your foreman wants in any kind of work. So when you do that he knows you're interested in the work you're doing. And if you're interested he knows that you do very good work.
That's half of life. It reflects to you that they know they're satisfied with your work and you don't owe anybody anything. What you got paid for, you already earned, so you feel that you earn it honestly. If the work is only half done, why you think they overpaid you. But if you're paid in full and you've done your full duty, then you both feel good about it.
Then you can go to work anytime, and you can work anywhere. Sometimes you go to a strange place and the boss'll ask you, "Have you done this kind of work?" or, "Have you labored anywhere where you're from?"
"Well, who was your employer?"
Well you name the party and it doesn't take him long to find out what kind of a man you are.
That's a big thing in this country too! They want to know if you are trusted, if you know how to handle work with no danger of wrecking yourself or hurting yourself on the job. If you practice, you're perfect; so if your practice is good, you're a good man. That's a big thing in this world. So you're happy, you don't owe nobody by earning your own dollar -- that is, if you earn it. You're well paid, and they're not afraid to pay you.
They trust you. Your word's good. They listen to your talk. They look at you as a man. "There's a good man," they'll say.
Everybody tries, you know. But with some, it's a hardship because they're defected and they can't work because they're unable. Of course there were some works where I wasn't able to do very well. But I tried. If you try, if you could try and do better, maybe some day you'll be pretty dang good at it.
But if you don't care to do any work, if you don't care to get it well done, if you're not interested, then you failed. And at first when you go to the next job they think you might get hurt, you might injure yourself, you aren't interested in your work. Your boss knows this. They hear about you. But if you're interested in your work and try to get it well done, they'll trust you and expect that you won't get hurt.
People consider those things too. A lot of things flash to the employer. If he doesn't already know, you should tell the employer where the slow-down is. Maybe he'll help you to better yourself.
It works together good that way. It goes along well. It is a good thing that the employer knows what's to be done. You do it right -- what he requests you to do in your line of work. If the employer's well satisfied, and you know he's well satisfied, you feel good about working. That's the main thing.
As you go along in life you can go out and do anything. You can try any kind of work. You've been trying this work and trying that work and you try to do it well -- although it takes time to learn any kind of work. It takes time to learn the acts -- to get the different acts -- of work. After you get the acts then you can improve your work.
Later on in years you might want a job and the boss might hear about you, which is natural. The loggers, or any contractors, or anyone that manages hear about who's a good man and who isn't. This man who does good work doesn't have any trouble getting another job wherever he wants. He's already known. His record's good from this guy who was his reference. That way it's easier for the man that works as labor. And that's easier for the boss. He trusts this man, he knows this man does good work, and he always likes to hang on to the man that does good work.
That way it's easier for him. It's easier all around.
So . . . that's woods work. . . .
Do good work and you're trusted. You're trusted.
That's the way it is with any kind of work -- not just logging.
But that is the way it is in logging . . . and that's the way it also is in life.
1. Cf. Ch. 4, "And Then the Logs Were Gone," in Rottsolk (1960, pp. 20-32). For much earlier accounts, see also Stanchfield (1901).
2. Paul attended the Tower, MN, Indian Boarding School, Fall 1909 - Spring 1912. See Ch. 35, "Boarding School Days."
3. "Double bunks made of lumber" means that they were made of sawn boards from the mill.
6. "And finally the Indians became loggers themselves . . ." refers to the fact that after a while some took logging cutting contracts themselves, rather than work for an hourly or daily wage with someone else.
7. The term "boys" is used to include people as old as sixty or seventy or eighty. Here it refers to individuals, probably young to middle age.
8. Paul is talking about Lake Superior. See Ch. 41, "Talking with the Old Folks: Recollections and Predictions."
9. The unit measurement commonly used in logging is the "board foot" (or "board-foot"). A board foot is the equivalent volume of a board that is one foot wide and one foot long and one inch thick (or 144 cubic inches).
10. The teamsters worried about getting the load out of the woods without an incident, and safely delivered to wherever it was supposed to go.
11. The teamster is the one who is in charge of driving the team of horses.
12. They brought in a sleigh with a water tank to spray down the ice-ruts in the logging road.
13. Peerless was a "chew or smoke" tobacco, thinly cut for rolling you own rice paper cigar‑ettes. Manufactured by what became the world's largest tobacco manufacturer at the time (1880-) Peerless and its allied company brands are often credited with popularizing cigar‑ette smoking in the U.S.A. Peerless eventually became part of the American Tobacco Company.
15. The leading horses might get excited and run into the trees in the woods.
16. "A jammer was used to help load the logging sleighs. It could be thought of as a horse powered crane lifting logs up onto the sleigh rather than rolling them up as you would when 'cross haul' loading. On average a load was 20 logs, or up to 6000 board feet of pine. Using a jammer was quicker and safer than cross-haul loading, but it was still dangerous. The 'top-loader' was the man in charge of loading the sleighs. His job was one of the most dangerous job in camp and one requiring great skill." (Minnesota Historical Society, "Jammer and Description." Accessed 28 August 2018. http://sites.mnhs.org/static/fhc/jammer.html.)
17. A cross-evener is part of the mechanism that hooks two or more draft horses to the sleigh that they are pulling in order to equalize the pulling forces of the horses. Part of that mechanism includes a pivoting horizontal bar that distributes the pulling forces of the horses, located between the horses and the load. A "double-tree" is a second bar behind two or more whippletrees (also known as an equalizer, leader bar, whiffletree . . . ) that further distributes the load and balances the pulling forces of the two or more animals. (Cf, "Whippletree." Accessed 28 August 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whippletree_(mechanism).")
18. They "stamped" them with tools that looked like a branding irons. Cf., Bachmann (1945).
19. "Timber booming on lakes" involved using log booms -- big logs chained together -- to control the movement of the other logs. Sometimes the boom would go around a group of logs to pull them across the lake, sometimes the boom would be stretched across the river, to keep the logs from going beyond a certain point (like a mill, or a branch of the river that they wanted to divert the logs down).
20. Lake Winnibigoshish.
23. Paul is talking about the lumberjacks walking into a "beer joint" (i.e., a saloon, a tavern).
24. Later on during Prohibition in the United States (from 1920 to 1933) alcohol was prohibited in the United States. Additional Federal laws (up until 1953) and laws of tribal governments also regulated or prohibited alcohol use on their reservations.
26. Much is taken out of one's paycheck for taxes and social security.
27. Pretty soon cooperative stores and businesses ("Co-ops") began coming in, especially in the Finnish towns.
28. They no longer actually had a place or area where they stayed more or less permanently.
29. Stay in one place, at least until the children are grown and can live on their own.
30. Things that are printed and folded are considered a book. Hence, a newspaper or magazine is a "book."
31. That is, get out "of the red."
32. There was so much timber cut that you were not able to walk over it.
35. A logan is, locally, a small pond or backwater area connected with the river. The word in general is said to be perhaps a shortening of pokelogan, probably from an Algonkian word meaning something like "very shallow," or "wooded swamp," or "wooded wetland."
36. "Raft" here refers to logs tied together as a group (with cables or "booming wire") which resemble a raft.
37. Paul is saying that it is "at least" a 12- or 14-mile drive.
38. Having lunch is a very important priority in life.
39. When Paul says, "It was south of Ball Club. . . ," in this case he means downstream on the Mississippi River. On the road one essentially goes east from Ball Club to get to the Willow [Beach] Bridge. When Paul returned from Tower Indian Boarding School he lived at the Leech-Mississippi Fork. See Ch. 36, "Jack Nason, 'My Dad. My Step-Dad.'"
40. In addition to the more stationary mills they also had portable mills.
42. Dumas was the Great Northern Railroad stop between Ball Club and Deer River. According to the 1915 Great Northern Railroad Valuation Records, a 12' x 74' railroad platform with a station sign was built there in 1903.
43. A timber buyer.
45. "The overhead" refers to the boss or supervisor.
46. "The Itasca Lumber Company had taken over the Deer River Lumber Company by 1910. Most of the logs from the northwestern part of the county were sawed there. But October 8, 1921, this mill on the shores of White Oak Lake sawed its last log; by June of the following year all its stock of lumber had been sold." (Rottsolk, 1960, p. 29.)
48. Not developed. At the turn of the century there were only three incorporated villages in all of Itasca County, Grand Rapids (pop. 1,428), Deer River (pop. 251), and LaPrairie (pop. 88). (Rottsolk, 1960, p. 25.)
49. Rosanna "Anna" Catherine Stark Payne was the postmistress in Ball Club for twenty years, and ran a general mercantile business there, starting in 1903. Payne served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1927 to 1932, and was a member of the Game and Fish Committee of the Minnesota House in each year of her terms of office. She was married to Frank E. Payne in 1905. Paul Buffalo always referred to her as Annie Payne. James E. Rottsolk notes the following: ". . . Miss Annie Stark, later Mrs. Rosanna Payne -- the first woman elected to the legislature from Itasca County, captained one of these [steam]boats for several years." (1960, p. 28.)
53. The loggers were the ones that furnished jobs that paid wages to "the older class," the Indian people who were there basically before the arrival of most of the whites. Most of Paul's friends early on either worked for a logger or for the railroad.
54. Paul is referring to his childhood paralysis.
56. Paul was 76 when he recorded most of this chapter.
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