Columbia Helicopters (early 70s)

Working for a gippo logger can be off and on. My retirement account was not growing working for Charlie Veach, and a friend said there were some really good jobs to be had out of Clark Fork (Idaho) logging with helicopters.

I went to town and bought some new leather gloves and a plastic hardhat with a bill. Up the mountain I went to meet my new boss, Lew Morgan. He looked like Paul Bunyan; black beard, suspenders, and a red and black plaid shirt.

He said, “Good, you’re hired.” and threw my gloves and hardhat off the edge of the landing. “Get a tin hat that will keep stuff off your neck and cloth gloves. They need to tear if you’re in trouble. And cut that hem off your jeans so a stick doesn’t hang you up.” I was like, “Okay.”

We were logging cliffs and other hard to reach places because the chopper didn’t care. The timber we took was rare because of that. All the other log trucks through town were loaded with pecker poles. Ours often had a full load of only three logs. The Boeing Vertol could make a round trip in a minute and a half if we were close.

I set chokers, which means putting cables around logs. The chokers had eyes on the end that were grasped by an electric hook. We had to estimate the weight and pair up the logs to maximize the efficiency of each trip, the opposite of a housewife driving a Cadillac Escalade. We put the eyes together so the hooker could put them in the hook when the pilot lowered it to him. The hook weighed 150 pounds and swung on the end of a 150-foot cable.

Mostly I worked on the landing. We had to remove the chokers from the logs and coil them in piles of ten to send back up the mountain. Any logs that aren’t limbed and bucked to suit the mill have to be taken care of between turns or later in a separate deck from the ones ready to load on a truck. I can’t remember the name of the loader operator but he was a master at his craft. He also taught young newbies a lesson about gambling.

When we were done around Clark Fork we traveled and lived in motels. That loader operator held crap games and cleaned out some paychecks in a lesson cheaper than school.

I got pretty good with a chainsaw cleaning up tree-length and brushy logs. Usually we had two guys on the landing. Retrieving and coiling three chokers in a minute and a half was good sport. Doing that and running the saw was extreme. One day Lew came up in his pickup and found the guy I was working with swearing at the saw. He looked at it and the chain was in backwards. Haha. Lew fumed like there was smoke coming out the collar of his shirt and grabbed a double bitted axe. The loader was waiting on us, but not yet the ship. Lew ran down a brushy fir log with that axe and it looked like an old Disney cartoon, with limbs flying all over.

We stared in awe. Then I turned the chain around.

The Black Community’s Best Friend

I’m sure our friends remember Wally, our Huntaway Dog. He has been gone three years now. He was named after Walter E. Williams, because he was black. He also was a dedicated friend, as Dr. Williams was to the black community.

Now we’ve lost Walter Williams as well. Sometimes a friend is taken for granted. A real friend is there for you no matter what.

I’m speaking as a white guy who has lived in diverse neighborhoods. As such, my viewpoint can be objective and judgmental. Being in rural Iowa for the last forty years makes me distant from those diverse neighborhoods but also not swayed by group-think and propaganda.

In everyday life we deal with others as individuals. Those of us who see others as mere members of a class or race are depriving themselves of many joys as social beings.

As a black man who was born to a single mother in the projects of Philadelphia, Walter Williams was a neighbor to Bill Cosby, Weird Harold, and Fat Albert. In the service he was an activist for racial equality. He was even court martialed for speaking up with fellow soldiers. He defended himself and was found not guilty.

Walter Williams constantly harped on government constraints as defined by the Constitution. It grew tiresome. But let’s examine his intent.

Walter Williams focused on this because of his roots and his realization that it is violations of the Constitution that are responsible for problems in black and low income communities. He never looked at the Constitution as some ancient scrap of paper. It was a set of rules to him and wound up as the answer that settled uncounted debates.

I find it interesting the role models that are promoted by community leaders. It is almost like they are promoting failure to ensure power for people who don’t deserve it. Achieving stardom in the world of entertainment or sports is extremely rare, requiring exceptional skills or connections. Aiming this high guarantees failure if the learning of useful skills are ignored in the process.

Anyone who plays sports would be appalled if rules were routinely broken or compromised. Why bother to play if a touchdown were achieved by a run to the five-yard line or you were called safe when the throw beat you to first base?

Dr. Williams called out the same thing in his focus on the Constitution. Article One, Section Eight spelled out Congress’ duties and Amendment Ten declared all other actions by Congress to be unconstitutional. Breaking these rules has corrupted the purpose of government.

In his later years Walter Williams focused more on education, as that was his path to success. He exposed the failure of inner city schools to prepare students for a successful life in the article he wrote the day he died.

In two Milwaukee high schools only one student tested proficient in math and none were proficient in English. Yet an entire week was spent learning about “systemic racism” and “Black Lives Matter activism.” What kind of a cruel school administration and teachers would do this to their students?

Reading a letter in the Cedar Rapids Gazette a few months ago criticizing Dr. Williams’ column, I was so disheartened that such a gift to the black community as he would have his help rejected with such hatred.

I will miss the loving kindness of both Walters forever.

A Duty to Read

Mr. Trump is certainly a wild and crazy guy. Two thousand dollars apiece is still not enough. Why stop there? In this world where we are willing to destroy our childrens’ futures and call it compassion (people are hurting), anything goes.

At first when I heard Trump wanted to give (or have Santa give) each of us $2,000 I thought he was kidding. But anyone who can declare bankruptcy five times and get elected president proves that the cream does not rise to the top. The top is where the scum is and it’s pretty crowded. Or, is Trump trying to educate us on the stupidity of legalized theft? The minimum wage follows the same philosophy, an arbitrary declaration of how much liberty is to be sacrificed for a guess at fairness. If a minimum wage of $15 suits the millionaires’ utopian vision, why not $100? Fifty dollar hamburgers anyone?

Anyone who has voted for Charles Grassley or Joni Ernst on the grounds of fiscal responsibility should be comfortable with what went on just north of us last month. There was fifty acres of grass in the Conservation Reserve Program. The contract expired and the land was sold. I came out of the house and looked north to find it on fire and a giant disk was murdering all life that had been thriving there for the last twenty years or so.

I asked the new owner what they planned for the land. He said “organic soybeans.” “Organic” is supposedly morally superior to chemically dependent farming. There was this extremely rare ecosystem, a refuge for God’s creatures. The disk releases vast quantities of carbon (theoretically responsible for “climate change”) to the atmosphere and most soil life is destroyed. Morally superior? I doubt it. On top of that, he asks, “What about that river, does it flood?” I told him only 37 out of the last 40 years. He bought 50 acres without knowing it floods too often to profit from growing crops. Only government central planning (tax breaks in this case) could produce such illogical waste.

A logical use of that land would have been grazing (or maybe haying) the usually good grass with the option of moving the cattle out of the inevitable flood. But nowadays lawyers and accountants make more profitable farmers than producers of food.

Various lobbies had produced tax policies that made illogical land use justified in the same way the insane Covid relief bill benefits lobbyists instead of people.

The Smithsonian received a billion dollars from that program. We have a subscription to the magazine and there was an article about indigenous people in Southeast Alaska. They have a concept “ …that not only honors one’s ancestors but takes care to be responsible to future generations.” Future generations are being impoverished by these reckless attempts at correcting these fascistic decrees as a feeble attempt to stop a virus.

But let’s not stop there. Egypt is to receive $1,300,000,000. Show me the American who wants to give Egyptians $1.3 billion. We gave an Egyptian some money once for a pretty neat little ottoman that we stuffed with kapok from my father-in-law’s old mattress he had in World War II (two). We thought it was a fair exchange.

We’ve arrived at this point through interpretations of precedent by courts through the years. Judges no longer go back and read the original design, they just look at the most recent decisions that, like the telephone game, have expanded the limits of government over the years.

We no longer look for mutual beneficiaries for our financial dealings. We are addicted to “seeking funding,” which means finding the best way to steal. H.R. 133 is 5,593 pages long. As I looked through the list of thieves who voted for the bill I noticed that outgoing Congressman, Steve King didn’t vote on it. I mentioned that to Dawn. She said, “Maybe he hasn’t finished reading it.”