I didn’t really complain about the low wages working for Charlie Veach. Life can be good if you have a warm place at night and good food to eat.

Charlie was a gyppo logger out of Heron, Montana. I worked for him in winter where summer was too swampy for machinery. Most of the available timber was second growth so it was suited for the stud mill in Trout Creek. The timber we logged was mostly cedar from where it had been too wet most of the time.

Charlie had a self-loader truck and an old John Deere skidder. We would be sitting on a log eating lunch and he’d jump a little. I’d look at him and he’d say, “Hear that?” We left the skidder running through lunch so we’d be sure to have it running afterward. He could hear any little change in the idle and kept it going like it was part of him.

He taught me a lot as we trudged through the deep snow with a Salem in his mouth, except while we ate. Old-growth cedar is often hollow and real tricky to cut down. Pulling logs out through deep snow and around other trees and stumps required some knowledge of physics but I didn’t know to call it that at the time.

Charlie was a genius and knew how to teach. I wish some of his genes were available to the whiz-kids who design computer websites. Every time I get fluent, the language changes. I suppose it’s been the ways of the world forever. Turn back the hands of time and I would be complaining about cooking food over fire instead of stuffing grubs in my mouth as I pulled them out of the sod.

Anyway, Charlie had a brother, Floyd. Floyd was famous for hauling seven loads of logs at once. ( That feat earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Then Chevrolet hired him to pull five loads behind a pickup for a commercial. ( The pickup appears to have bent its frame in the video and not covered by warranty. But it wasn’t his.

I lived in a house with two other guys called “The Dead End.” It was at the end of a road. How about that? We had no running water but we had electricity. We carried water in buckets about 150 feet from a creek. The windows were mostly gone so we substituted clear plastic and lath. The middle of the main room was about six and a half feet tall. At the walls it was eight. The ceiling sagged and the walls sank (more physics). No problem finding a ball.

At that time I had a ’59 Bug that my sister had given me. I left the backseat cushion out so I could carry the battery into the house to keep it warm at night. It started great that way partly because of the manual choke. With 64% of the weight in the back and chains on the tires I never missed a day of work.

One time I came around a curve in the road and these cowboys were busy pulling a car out of the ditch. Their pickup blocked the whole road but I had momentum. I headed for the ditch and just floated through and back on the road. I looked in my mirror and those guys both had their hats off scratching their heads.

Sure beats city life!

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