Last week, Willie ended episode 2 by telling us what he told people who asked him why he was a logger, “Because I’m having a whole lot of damn fun.” This week’s oral history begins with his follow-up to this comment.
I would ask them “What do you live in?” A lot of them would just shut up. I ask them, “Do you live in a wood house?” Anything—I don’t give a damn what kind of house it is—it has wood in it somewhere.
I had a huge snag up at Hope Valley and there is some big stuff up there. I had a three-log load there one day. You know, where Highway 88 and Highway 89 meet, Dick Hufford was running that job up there. It was on private property and we were logging it. He put two half-ass, two-and-a-half-foot logs on the bunks and he told me he wanted me to pull ahead, because, “I have to get ready for this.”
I thought, what the hell has he got here? He had the biggest 32 and he had to lift one end to
get it on my truck! He put it up and I had to back under it and he set it down. Then he went to the
back and pushed it on my truck. When I got to Loyalton, I was a little bit over. Ray Saari worked
at the mill and he said “Holy shit, Willie, where did you get that?” I said, just tell me how much this is. It took him about three minutes to figure it out, and there was 8,600 board feet on that load! That was a huge log. Usually that bigger stuff from up that area has all kind of cracks and wind check in it, but that log was nice and clean. Oh
You know where Moscow Meadows is? It is on the Southeast end of Jackson Meadows Road, kind of up in
the Meadow Lakes area. We had some pine from up in that area that we could make logs out of the limbs of some of those trees, they were so big. When they are sitting on the ground you can see that they make a 16-foot
long log. What the hell is going on here? We were logging the limbs. You never see that.
People have no idea what it takes to get this stuff out of the woods and to their home. The snakes don’t like the noise, the vibrations. They usually get out of there when the fallers go in. Those timber fallers lose their
fat and they are all muscle—that’s all there is on them.
The worst for me was the people I had to deal with while driving on the roads. It was the worst! Years ago it really wasn’t too bad you know, but then when they started getting Datsuns and Toyotas and stuff like that, they had to get out there before you. They felt like we were going way too slow. You feel like asking them, “Did you learn anything yet, you dumb —?”
I have to admit, I never did get into any wrecks, but I had a lot of close calls. In fact the last load I hauled for Robinson I hit the bank. I got into some soft dirt. I was coming back up Highway 193 from Lincoln. I looked down to see what the hell was on the floor and I got off in some green grass there and it just sucked me right in
and I went sideways and I hit the bank. Not a soul came around the corner or nothing. I was
I was the luckiest guy on earth that day. I backed up and went back the way I was coming because something wasn’t right. When I got down to where the old highway comes into the new highway (that is all new high way), down by Machado’s it’s all nice and wide through there. When it came out to the wide spot and I could pull over,
I stopped. So here come my buddies Joe Honey and Stanley Stanton, coming out of the mill. I hollered at them and said, “Hey, you guys want to stop here a second?” They razzed me, but once they saw me coming back, they saw something wasn’t right. I couldn’t steer to the right very well and I can’t figure out why and it wasn’t enough to stop me from going around a corner, but it wasn’t right. I was okay on the highway there, but if I had to make a sharp turn, I never would have made it. My bumper was up against the frame rail and the wheel turned a little bit and it
went inside of the tire.
So I got an old wrapper out and tied it to a telephone pole and hooked it to the bumper and backed up. I kept telling those guys, “Tell me when—tell me when!” They were telling me back, “Yeah, you’re not doing a
bad job,” and laughing about it. I still couldn’t get the tranny into overdrive in the Brownie. Joe lifted the hood and said, “Come around here, I have to show you something.” I had busted the bell housing right in half, but I drove it all the way to the shop at Robinson’s.
That’s one thing I can say about a logger: he can get it there—he finds a way, you know. It has to be really bad before he can’t get it there. We are really survivors.