Stories of Loggers bring back funny memories
These are stories of loggers in the upper Skagit Valley. Some of the antics of the old loggers was horseplay of men confined to camp and bored by routine, but even so, some of it was pretty wild.
By C. Holmes aka Corrine Pape
One logger came to Boyd [Savage] and Minkler Mill on Mill Creek in the 1880's and stayed until payday, then crossed the river to the saloon in Birdsview (a big yellow building on the waterfront) and he then forgot all about work. A couple of days later he came back just as the men were coming in from the day's work. Well, he threatened to beat up everyone in camp, pasted a big logger in the eye and got thrown out of the bunkhouse.
He came roaring back wild-eyed and was again thrown out the door. All this commotion attracted the attention of the oxen team driver who was just unhooking his team. The ox driver hollered to his old, "git him" and the old ox used his horns to tear the seat of the mad logger's pants every time he caught up with him.
The workers thought it funny as the logger ran ki-yi-ing down to his boat, never to return, even for his bed roll.
Up at English's camp, big Ed used to snore and keep the rest of the bunkhouse awake. They said he didn't just snore, but he practically raised the roof and everything vibrated. Well, when some logger had enough he would wham one of his caulk shoes against old Ed's bed and wake him enough, so the rest could get to sleep.
Ed finally got mad and shouted, "the next guy that throws his damn shoes at my bed, I am going t cut them shoes all up with my knife!" So the next night after Ed went to bed and started snoring the boys sneaked over to Ed's bed and got Ed's shoes and threw them against Ed's bed. Ed reached down and got the shoe and cut it all up. The next morning he found those cut up shoes were his. He got mad and quit.
Ralph Pape was going to high school in Seattle during World War I, and when he heard of all the big money being made in the logging camps, he quit school and hired on at Dempsey's Camp. His first night in camp he unpacked his grip and got in his pajamas much to the amusement of the loggers there.
One big logger said, "What's them?" and Ralph said, "Pajamas." The big logger said, "Well, we don't want no sissy kids here wereing those things, this is a job for men." Ralph just laughed and went to bed even though all the loggers were having fun about his PJ's.
One evening, when they were all running to the cook shack for the evening meal Ralph was startled to see the log train go by, and there nailed to the logs were his pajamas. The last he ever saw of his pajamas they were flapping in the wind going down the tracks.
Gene Pape worked for Selective Log up at Newhalem in 1943, when Lyle Stowe came up with some photographers to get some pictures of the logger in action on the job. Well, the terrain is pretty steep in there and it had been raining off and on so things were slick. Stowe stopped everyone for the moment and told the fellows he wanted some pictures.
Seems no one wanted to be in the movies, so they all stood around and looked at each other. Finally, Stowe said, "Gene, why don't you grab that choker hook and run down there and throw it into the log?" So Gene grabbed the hook and ran down a steep log toward the landing, just then he slipped, but he hung on to the cable and scooted right on down the log on the seat of his pants. He went right by the cameras with his feet in the air, clinging to the cable for dear life. He laughed afterwards and said, "I guess you know how I made my debut in the movies."
In 1917 my mother cooked for Johnny Hightowers Camp, in the cook shack at Woods Ferry Landing. Every Saturday night the loggers would all go to the town of Hamilton. About once a month, one of the loggers would whittle some sharp prong on a huckleberry bush near the cook shack and stick all colors of jelly beans on these prongs. Then on Sunday morning he would come get my brother and me and tell us the jelly bean tree had bloomed overnight.
I will never forget how fast we would run, Jim with his bare feet and white hair flying, always won the race, but then he always shared the beautiful jelly bean tree with me.
C. Holmes aka Corrine Pape
Authors of Skagit County 1883-1983
Born in 1913 in Birdsview, Washington; is the grand daughter of Mary Olive and Lewis Alexander Boyd who settled in Skagit County in 1882. L.A. Boyd taught all the Savage, Bird Minkler, [Pressentin] and Boyd children in Birdsview, and was county clerk for Mount Vernon, Washington around the turn of the century. [1896-1898]
From the versions handed down to her by the "old timers', she writes stories about the early pioneers of the Skagit Valley, her most recent being "The Hopkins Story", Courier Journal, 1983; one of her first, "Horse, Buggy & Canoe Doctor", which appeared in the Courier Times 1975. She now resides in Canyonville, Oregon.
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