Rigging Shack "Classic"
(This column originally appeared in the October 1973 edition of Loggers World.)
I found a fine book called “Far Corner” by Stewart Holbrook. It says on the cover, “A personal view of the Pacific Northwest including certain places no longer found.” According to the Eugene Register Guard it is, “one of the best books ever written about the Pacific Northwest.”
I read the following paragraph, “I wanted to know who had named ‘Pluvius’. Nobody knew. Months later I found a man who had been there when the railroad was built. He said there had been but a single resident then, a testy old man who had taken a homestead years before and had continued to stay on after he had proved-up. Why he remained was a mystery, for he cursed the spot with malignant eloquence. Said he never sat down to breakfast until he had consigned it anew to all the devils in Hell. He told my informant that right there in Pluvius, he had seen it rain for 362 consecutive days, and recalled that the other three days ‘was goddamn cloudy’. So he named it, and Pluvius it was and is.”
After reading this I had to go and look up the word Pluvius. Dictionary said “Rainy. Pertaining to rain.”
Now if you like your history of the Northwest in such a manner be sure to buy this paperback book. It is fast, interesting and quirky. Stewart Holbrook was a master and no book of his proves that statement more than “Far Corner.”
“Big Sam” by Sam Churchill is now out in paperback. Would advise you to buy several copies at the new low, low price. Give some to friends, keep two for yourself. Keep one out to read and keep one safely hidden and never never reveal its hiding place so that you can be sure of having your own personal copy after your other one is stolen. People steal “Big Sam”, you know. People that wouldn’t ever ever steal a single other thing. So be well supplied or carry your copy in your hind pocket right next to your pistol.
He has a way with words and description that has excited my admiration, respect and envy for many years. Never did get to know him but that bothered me more than it did him.
He is the sort of fellow who could write a novel about a little place back in the valley. He could write it and you’d stay up all night to read it-at least I would.
And that brings me up to the man who could use words in a way that would delight me more than anyone else could and that was...
A short time ago they had a movie about him on television. Started at 10:30 which is about half an hour after I should be in bed. Stayed up and watched it and felt it time well spent.
Next day wasn’t so sure.
I had a guy make a special trip of over fifteen feet to ask me why we didn’t do a book about the history of logging. Well, there are several reasons why I don’t want to. One of them, and the most important, is that I’m scared.
I’m scared of getting shot or pummeled or smashed or mashed. I find that old time loggers are pretty fierce when they are telling you the “honest to God truth”. Yet I’ve never found two old time loggers that could agree on anything. Most of them can’t agree with themselves from hour to hour. I’ve heard about the first spar tree and the first bull block and the first “Cat” and the first time logging trucks were used. I’ve had the gospel on the biggest log moved by bulls; on the highest trestle; on the tallest spar tree. I’ve had the gospel about these things and more. I’ve got the true word on the “biggests” and the “firsts” and the “mostests” time and time again and from different people and no two “truths” are the same.
You ain’t ever going to catch me making any representations about any of these things. I don’t know many things for sure and am not certain what they are.
Must take a lot of guts to write history. I’m going to pass up this opportunity.
“Logging”-now there is a word. Quite a word. One that paints different pictures in different minds. If ever a word flashed a picture into the heads of all who heard it, this is the word. Not to mention “logger”.
I don’t believe that any two descriptions of logger and logging by any two loggers will be the same-not over 85% the same and then only on Sunday afternoon. That would be two loggers from the same area-neighboring loggers.
Now move around and get descriptions from different areas. They get farther and farther apart although there is a thread of concrete running down the middle. Sometimes a wide strip and sometimes a little thin thread. Now move around outside the industry and talk to the guy at the service station and the storekeeper in a logging area. More and more difference, in fact it sometimes gets weird and most amusing.
Now move to downtown Seattle and pretend you are the man on the street and ask some passerby what a logger is. Caution him before answering that he cannot swear. If he can answer at all under that handicap you will get a different picture than the one you have held for years based on your experience and first-hand observation. Interesting!
What’s the point of all this? There isn’t any.
My office excites some comment from visitors. Not all of the comment is unfavorable. Two walls are lined with pegboard. Purpose is to hang things on the wall. Two walls are lined with paneling. Things must be nailed to these walls.
On the walls are taped six pages of a calendar for 1973. Each page holds two months. As a day passes I mark this event with a big black “X” thru the date. Much as a prisoner does. But for a different purpose. This morning I marked thru the first of September. There are only two pages of the 1973 calendar left (four months).
Scheduled events are marked in their proper dates. The second Saturday of every month is marked because that is when the Washington Contract Loggers Association hold their Board of Directors meeting. Printing dates, meeting dates, logging show dates, and indeed all special events are available at a glance. The first three days in September are marked out for the closing days of the big big logging sports show at the P.N.E. in Vancouver, B.C. In spite of planning and wanting and hoping and wishing wasn’t able to make it again this year. Which makes about the fifth year running that I missed this event.
This year thought sure I’d make it. Had commissioned Earl Roberge to get the October paper full on information about the tussock moth from the eastern Washington and eastern Oregon logging country. Earl wasn’t able to make it. This blew up my personal schedule.
There is another date that is shadowed in red ink. That is the 22nd day of September. On that date Hap Johnson, Phil Johnson and probably George Oller depart on a moose hunting trip to Northern Alberta. They are taking blocks and tackle, and much other equipment. They are taking a pair of the ground huggingest all-terrain vehicles that have ever been built.
They are going 35 miles into the back country, where there are ten thousand moose who have never seen a human being. They will use trails where they exist and make trails where there are none. This is going to be a real hunting trip. I won’t be there.
Not playing “pity poor me” because I have many, many things to do that are both exciting and interesting. One thing any person learns before the mantle of many years fits upon his shoulders is that one can’t do everything he wants to. Second choice is this case is still pretty darned good.
So although the system of putting up big calendars and marking upcoming events works pretty good it isn’t perfect of proof against this fool. But without the scheduling where would one be? Future planning is a necessity for any degree of efficiency. Yet one must be aware that things come along to wreck the best of plans. Then flexibility enters in-plan with flexibility because your plans are going to need changing and fixing.
To me an office is same as a shop. It is built to work in and it is supposed first of all to be functional. If it can be functional and still be handsome, then fine. If it must be one or the other, or if it must be more one than the other then by all means let it be functional. My office is messy. Not handsome.
For instance I have 30 feet of bench table running down one end and along the wall. This is usually stacked and cluttered with papers pictures and such. I have one large table in the middle of the room that is usually covered with pictures, mail, magazines and so forth. I have a large desk that at the moment looks like a cyclone deposited odds and ends from four homes upon it. A cabinet or two, a couple of file drawers, two packboards, a paper rack, a rifle standing in the corner plus dozens of bags and cases for cameras and such finish up the room.
All unanswered mail stays atop my desk until it gets answered. If I file it I lose it. The table tops are cleaned up periodically and re piled and re-shuffled and then when we start a new paper it again takes on that look of carefully arranged chaos. Everything I am working on is out in the open and in the clear. If I file it, it is gone.
I am a student of time organization. Not terribly successful at it, you understand, but keep pecking away at improvements and better systems. My big impairment in this area is a lack of energy much of the time. This is caused by acute laziness spread over two thirds of any given day.
Now I hold it to be a big victory to accomplish as much as I do in the face of the roadblocks imposed by a negative state of mind married to a condition of general inertia. My accomplishments don’t stack up very high against most people’s achievements, but they are considerable when measured against the defects mentioned and a contrary nature that becomes savage in the face of any sort of work or discipline.
So study, scheduling and learning bring me up to a level of depressing mediocrity. And I have to struggle like the devil to stay there.
If left to my natural tendencies almost any suggestion or idea that requires any action, effort or work will get short consideration. I’d much rather just let things be and my natural reaction is that “it isn’t worth the trouble.”
So my victory is not in achieving great things but instead is in getting anything done.
Think I’ll go and watch a baseball game or something.