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INTERVIEWER: This conversation with Alben Halen took place at his homein Deary on February 20, 1976. The interviewer is Sam Schrager.
AH: I could just - in a few days, why I didn't care for cigarettes—I had Copenhagen, why that's good enough. But, he used Copenhagen and his sinuses just like I've got. He quit for over a year - he could see a post down there and he said, "Give me a little of that, and I let him take some and it wasn't more than an hour afterwards he said, "You got to give me another pinch of this Copenhagen." Then on the way coming back home in the car, he says, he was going up to his place and I went to mine - he says, "Bring me a box tomorrow morning." Well, I said, "As far as for that well, take the one I've got here." He said the habit was back just like when he quit; as soon as he took one.
SS: Well, that's the same way with cigarettes.
AH: I suppose,,
SS: I know people that stopped for years; one cigarette does it allover again.
AH: Well, alcohol I guess is about the same way. You take a realalcoholic, if they take one drink they know why - they're cured, well one drink will start them off again. And I know two or three guys-that way - they quit. Just one little swallow and it will put them right back.
SS: Were lumberjacks as hard drinkers as they say? Did they drinka lot?
AH: Well, there was bell drinkers in those -they'd get thdir paychecks -why, then there was drinking, then after that, why sobered up and went back on the job. There wasn't much drinking. I never knew of anybody when Iworked in camp, 'cept, that carried any liquor in. But, most of them used Copenhagen or some cigarettes, of course. If it was a dry summer, you wasn't allowed to smoke in the woods. You could go and sit down on alog and smoke acigarette if you was sure it wasn't hanging in your mouth when you was sawing or swamping or anything. Scared of fire in those days.
SS: Do you remember the fire that they had here -the one in 1923 thatburned down a town?
AH: Oh, yeah, I remember that.
SS: How did it start - what do...
AH: I wasn't working in camp at that time but Iremember the fire allright. My brother, Oscar, was working up there. Started just a little ways off from the camp there in the driest part of the summer. I didn't work there, but at that time I was out in the farm in the summer. It was that harvest anyway. I remember when they had the big fire and Idon't know, in Coeur d'Alene and all the way down. That was 1919, and the air up in here was - you could stand and look at the sun and then it wouldn't hurt your eyes for .days from the smoke. Iguess that's the worst part we had at the time. I don't think they had any fires when I was right around close here, though. They had the fires afew times started up above. Up in that country, of course, but in here, why Idon't think they ever -oh, they had one down in Kendrick, that burnt there one time. I don't remember what year that was. Burnt up ahaystack and burnt along the side in there. I could see the smoke but I never went down and looked at it.
SS: What about the time that Deary burned down - that the town heredid? Were you in town at all to fight on the fire?
AH: When Deary burned?
AH: Well, Deary burnt two or three different times.
SS: It did?
AH: Oh yeah. The first building - I stood right there where that ConnersCafe is at, and that thing - well, that wasn't the first one. There used to be a butcher shop and the whole where that store is at along in there. A big shed outside and the store and a meat market and that thing caught on fire. One evening I was up here, folks lived up in this end of town. Old Gartland did - and I went over and visited with him across the street before I went home, and he looked out the window and he said the whole town is burning* We ran down and I went up and walked in - he lived in the other building up on the corner out there and pounded on the door and said, "Your store is one fire." It wasn't more than a few minutes before it burned down. So, right where that Odd Fellows Hall is at, there's some building behind, owned by old lady, mother to Frank Jean. My brother was working for Jean there at that time, Robert was. I went up and walked in across Franklin and Second at the hospital and I went down there and asked her if she was scared. "No," she said* "I'm not scared, but if anything happens," she said, "I've got my coat on and I'll get out." But it's right across the street from where that other building burned. Then another store - it was a drug store first, and the store and then they changed that over to a beer parlor - that thing burned down during the night. I don't know - I wasn't here at that time. That went down. But they all burned separately just about. Jorgenson has a store where the garage is at - the big wooden building.. That went up in smoke, but that was after the other part of town burned. They cleaned out there where that brick building was at - that was a big hall up on the upstairs and a fellow by the name of Peterson had that.. That burned during the night. I didn't know about it until the next morning when we drove into town, but I think three or four buildings burned there. Then that hotel - that stood right out from the street across from Lawrence's store on the other side. That beer parlor - that burned up, that wasn't too long ago either. So the oldest building that is left is the one where the Odd Fellows Hall is at - that was a saloon building before. Before they fixed that over to a grocery store, Frankie had in there. I guess that's about the last of that hall.
SS: Which is the fire that burned a lot of the buildings, exceptthey saved the bank?
AH: Well, that was when that hall burnt. There was a store, and therewas a building up above that, that was a beer parlor, or a pool hall. That burned and there was a building or two this way- I don't remember who lived in them, that burned* I believe the the one that burned, probably was the post office that burnt. Or Devoigns had a restaurant, I think - that burned down. But I always had it in my head that was where they had the post office, No, there was quite a few buildings that went that time.
SS: Well what was the deal -they didn't have any water?
AH: No, they didn't have no water. Unless they hauled it in the tankor drilled water some way -I don't think they even had adrilled well. For many years there they didn't -to start with. Right across from where that hotel is sitting,ror that, what they call it the park where they got that shed. Right down in the draw there was astrong spring -they took ahold and took water from that spring to start with. But Iwas thinking, there was another building that burnt after that. Iguess he had jewelry store there that went up in smoke at that time too. It was out pretty well and them brick buildings, they was put up afterwards. One building was moved. Was moved off from the corner there and moved up above above the bank on that corner and that Reliefson that, that burned, but Ithink that's the only building that burned at that time.
SS: So did most of the other buildings there besides the bank, mostof those other buildings burned right around it then?
AH: Yeah. Right around this way. Down as far as, Ithink, where the -the post office was down in there, down there too, you know, I think that burned out at that time too, and everything that was in there.
SS: Did they just rebuild the town right away? Did it take very longto put them buildings back in?
AH: Well, they put in where Lerder's store is at, that's two differentbuildings, you know. They cut the hole and connected them up, see, otherwise, that belonged to some other party. I don't know exactly who has it. Up there were Lawrence's - Jerry Lawrence is at, that was a building, I guess, in there too that burnt. I think there where the post office is at. No, I figured when I woke up in the morning, why we drove uptown and we'd been there the evening before and bought a bunch of groceries in that store that burnt up. That was nothing but ashes there. I said to my brother, "We're just hauling the grain to the warehouse in time to get the whole thing burnt." We had about fifteen hundred sacks of grain in there. But that didn't burn. I guess, if it would have, there would've been no insurance on it or nothing at that time. But the later years they changed that so as soon as you owned anything you had insurance on it* I didn't carry any insur ance on the farm when the grain's out0 I could've had that trans ferred up here but I didn't even have any insurance on the grain there so I didn't bother with it* Everything was all right.
SS: So the warehouse didn't burn at all?
SS: And lucky...
AH: I was lucky at that. No, that is really the oldest building ofthe first buildings. That's the third building that was built in Deary.
SS: Which one?
AH: Where they got the Odd Fellows Hall where that saloon is at - that'sstill standing there. Then they had -. on that, below on this side coming down the highway, they had a dance hall and the show - run the show there - that darned thing burned up.
SS: Where was that at?
AH: That's coming this way down from the - on that side of the highwaycoming down aways. I don't know exactly where it stood, but it must be down in there someplace. Like some of them older houses like the living houses, they're still standing. A lot of them are still here.
SS: Did you know who homesteaded here before the town started up?
AH: Well, Iheard many arguments, Iwouldn't say which one, but theysaid Blalock had one part, but Iwon't say that's farther down, they used to say I was always thinking that Stockwell had one and Blalock had the other one on this end of it, I don't know. I wouldn't say that for sure though. It didn't look anything like now, you know* in there at that time. Like the house that the folks had up there and the house that Reed's gotten in them houses - they went in there pretty soon. Then all the old farmers out there, they went in and build a living house, Barkland, John Carson and Applquist.and Nels Burkland ,and they all had buildings up along - and I think they are all standing. Up along the street -there, going up, Idon't know who owns the place now, but built the house there. His daughter, Jessie Andreasen oh, what the heck, what's her name--A was the tirst kid born in this town, so they gave herlot. He built the house and I think that's still standing there.
SS: Got the lot for free?
AH: He gave her a free lot because she was the first..He built the store down there by Reed's, to make it in a hurry, you see. He didn't know the town wasn't even big - he bought that store that burned up there where the garage is at. That was store. He had a place down at Nora before and when they started the town, why, he thought they was going to start it down there, see. So he bought up a building, but that store down here and he built up here. That house that Lawrence's got up there, a big house - that Jorgensem built that house - that1was his home. I guess he sold out to - I think he sold out to Rolle
SS: Was Jorgensn's store a very good one?
AH: It's a big - covered quite a ground and then Bjoro had it andit - when it burned up it belonged to Bjora
SS: I heard Jorgenson used to undersell the other stores.
AH: Yeah, he did. He never lived— he lived at Nora before he comehere, see. All that was there was a saloon and a store. He had a store and I guess - I'm not sure, unless there was another store in there, but I don't think they even had a post office. I don't know where that building burned up there across the creek over here, where you go out of town aways - about two miles - where that road forks and goes that way and this little house that burned up and they put in a trailer house* Well, you see that's where father to Mike; Cluver lived - he had a store there and he had the post office. That was Anderson's post office. Anderson's post office started the first post office they ever had, I guess. This wasn't where I lived, over where they had the Kleths living. That's where he homesteaded and he got the mail there once a week, or twice and Dean Anderson. This was Anderson's post office when Cluver had it - it never changed names - it's Anderson's post office. So when Deary was built, why, they changed the name to Deary and Anderson's Post Office was taken away and von went down there* Had a post office there, but you know, that was Vasgar before. It wasn't Avon when it was Vassar* No, it made quite a little change in things.
SS: Did Avon lose its post office too when Deary came in?
AH: They didn't for awhile, but after awhile they put it up here.Take Avon on the route now.
SS: Well, when you say it made quite a little change, what do youmean? Did all the people move into Deary?
AH: Well, all the change was made when they changed the name, youknow, lots of sent by mistake to Anderson's post office and it was Deary. Had to get that straightened up. A lot of people never knew that there was anything like that, I guess.
SS: Well, did a whole bunch of people move into Deary real quickwhen the town started up - a lot of new people come in?
AH: Yes, quite a few got in here* But then, farmers they bought thembuildings, and built them houses - hardly ever lived there* They rented them out all the time. But, you know, there was a bunch of carpenters come in here - I think their name was Grangers - I wouldn't swear to that, but they built an awful lot of houses. I knew - shouldn't say this about the man, anyway, but - fellow was married to my sister, his name was Swenson. They was building that hotel and he, Louie was painting and you know, to make all them rooms it's a lot of work* One morning he asked me if I would take- the old horse down and pack up a sack of spuds he'd bought. So I took the old saddle on the horse to come down and he was laughing so big and I was asking him what he was laughing at. He dumped them spuds into sacks and tied them on.the saddle. They had this old Orrie and was washing his whiskers and his hair - he went and stuck his head in the paint bucket - drunk. (Laughter) He had long whiskers - way down - and I don't know if he got it in his eyes or not, but his whiskers fell in the paint bucket. They .had him out there washing paint out of...
SS: What did he do with the spuds?
AH: Well, I took them up to spud hill there, to my sister's place.I was He was married to my sister and staying up there. A kid you know, he tied that sack on the saddle horse and Iwalked up and tied the horse up and got up there, I don't know, I thought I had enough to handle the sack or not. My sister came out there and we took them off the horse all right. I got the saddle off the horse too, as far as that goes No, lots of funny things happened there. (Chuckles)
SS: Do you think he caught it from her pretty bad? From your sister?
AH: No, the more he got drunk - that fellow he was living there inthe house. He went and got drunk and my brother was painting and he had a paint bucket standing there, my brother-in-law, and he went and stuck his whiskers in there and fell down. Oh, I remember them guys in there pretty well, we as far as that goes* Fellow by the name of Sale.ne and Albert Pearson, they was the one that built that building there where the saloon was at. They was such a hurry, that Troy guy came up and put in the bar in the front end of the hotel while they was building the saloon, so it wasn't short the liquor or anything. No, I...
SS: Salene - he came from Troy didn't he?
AH: Yeah. And Albert Pearson. They had the saloon down there, yousee and moved it up there and I guess they added on to it probably, I don't know.
SS: Didn't Swan Ericson move up here from Troy? I think he'd been- downthere.
AH: Swan Ericson moved off of the place I guess. Yeah, he probablylived in Troy for awhile. He was a blacksmith here - he had a place out here south on -well, you know where that Dry Creek cemetery is, well his place is just on the east side of that road and the cemetery on the west, I think* I think four of them fellows owned places in there and donated land for a cemetery*.
SS: Right where they met at the corner?
AH: In the corner, yeah* No, they got that tangled up too, that cemetery stuff There was two people buried there and didn't know - a ain't never knew who they was. Buried at night. One -theyAmarked itone was right in the drive-way where they drive over it. But they tried to trace who it was and somebody said they thought it's a Holiday - they wasn't sure. But there's two graves there that nobody knew who they was. Funny things have happened, you know, everything was wild and they had aman looking at the cemetery and that wasnt more than just try to get the lots in it. But you know they came pretty near to missin' some of the graves there when they surveyed it. But it wasn't worse and they let it pass. I dug lots of graves in there, as far as that goes.
SS: Is that hard soil to dig through?
AH: Oh, it's harder than heck down in the bottom. Clay. I dug onegrave there for akid alone. It was for akid so Ididn't dig more than that one four feet. There were graves down there we had to get them down to six feet - and you know they've changed all that stuff. They never dig a grave that deep any more. Dig them about five feet and when they get the cement blocks around, get the coffin in and I don't think they're more than about that far from top down to the... Somebody dug agrave up there, six feet deep* Going to bury the guy, why they didn't have them straps that they got now when they let them down; they wasn't long enough. They had to get abunch of ropes and stuff to put it down. Now they tried to get by as easiest as they can I guess.
SS: Well, when do you start hitting the clay pretty bad? Right closeto the surface.
AH: Well, for the first two feet you can go down pretty good and afterthat, why, it got harder and harder. No, Iwas with lots of that they grave digging, you know. Somebody died, "somebody to dig. Probably five or six men would go dig that grave. There was no charging or anything like that. Nobody ever charged for it. Now adays, why it's different. You get one of them back-hoes and dig it out. I guess you pay off from $25 to $50 for a grave.
SS: Did it take a very long time to dig in that clay?
AH: No, it didn't take too awful long* You know, you can't work morethan two men in a grave - two men can work in there, of course, one on each end. You'd work like heck when you're down in there, but you don't stay there too long till you tire out and somebody else would take it. Over on this other cemet ry there we had one awful time. A guy died - Arwick died and we was going to dig a grave, so we got up and started digging and all at once, why, they got in the head they was going to shoot it "Shoot it?? No, let's not shoot it." "Oh, yes, we'll shoot it." It's much easier than digging. So they put in a charge of dynamite and dug down, loosened up the dirt, and when they got that done why, now the grave was made a year or two right beside it...everything was water and that side from the other grave and into what they was digging* But that happened one time* They had planks and everything else in there, I don't know if they ever got it out. Water and you know, what it smells like coming from another grave. No, the way they dig them nowadays, why they can dig in harder ground. Well, it wasn't harder than we could dig it.
SS: Well, which cemetery was that? That wasn't the Dry Creek?
AH: No, that wasn't Dry Creek. It's up here where this church isstanding, right out of town on the south side where he was buried. No, the biggest grave that I ever helped to dig was room enough to set three coffins down at the same time.
SS: Why was that?
AH: Well, got in a car wreck and killed Joe Whybark and Mrs. Whybarkand one daughter and we buried her down in Bear Ridge* It was no use to try to space it, we dug the whole works and put them in there. We dug it and set the coffins down in there That's the biggest grave I've ever had to dig. It was like digging a cistern or something.
SS: Did you ever hear about those two girls that drowned around townhere?
AH: Yes, I can't think of their names. My wife should know them.
SS: What's the story. Do you remember what happened to them? Howthat happened?
AH: Well, they went out on the raft up here at some brick yard uphere where they had a pond* They got throwed off I guess, and drowned I think it was - I'm sure my wife would know the name.
SS: Yeah, I've seen it someplace in writing - but I don't rememberit. That's okay.
AH: You probably remember the girls that drowned up here? [speakingto his wife]
MRS. HALEN: Knott girls. The name of Knott
AH: Well, you probably went to school with them.
MRS. HALEN: No, no, it would be more like going to school with Marythan it would me - my daughter They were just out playing in the big pond on a raft. I don't know whether it was just the two of them or not. But one of them fell off the raft and the one went in to try and get her out.
AH: Well, one fell off probably and the other one...
MRS. HALEN: The other one went in to try and get her and they wereboth...drowned.
AH: The raft tipped over or something and throwed the one.
SS: Were they real little then or were they already teenagers, or doyou remember?
MRS. HALEN: No, not quite.
SS: They were pretty young then?
MRS. HALEN: One was quite small, five, six years old probably. Theother one was a little older, probably ten or eleven, something like that.
AH: Oscar, wasn't he the that time?
MRS. HALEN: Yeah.
AH: Well, he was here for quite a few years, I guess.
SS: These guys that laid out the town here, was that McGowen andHenry that laid out the town— that started it?
AH: Yeah, they was the ones that started it.
SS: Did they work for Potlatch or how did they find out?
AH: Sure, there was not but Potlatch concerned the whole thing. Asfar as Bovill goes, up there was nothing but a Potlatch man. You've seen that they got all that land piled for so they could get in there and buy the timber* Bill Helmer, I guess he was a locator He took the lines out, see, and anybody wanted timber claim, why, he'd take em to another place. That's the way that worked. Hugh Andree, they wanted to put the railroad in so they could log their logs to Potlatch. Well they logged. They at had that mill Palouse to start with No, you know, Bovill didn't live there, up there for nothing. He had that - that's a place if anyto body come you know, that wanted to be located work and like them other fellows going out there and issue land. They had to have some place to live. Of course, they put up the hay on the meadows and filled tree barns there.
SS: So they would stay at the Bovill Hotel?
AH: Yeah. No, I don't think A built that hotel* There was a hotelthere but I don't believe it's the same one that he lived in. I wish my sister would have been alive, why she could have told you. for Bovill. She worked there for seven years straight Waiting tables and doing up beds there and help with the cooking* You know, she knew every son of agun that come up there.
SS: What did she think of the place?
AH: Oh, it was real nice. All that tall, big timber standing UDaround the that meadow was just that stood up this Just up in here. White and know where that at Hog there, you know, That's where he was an old wrestle
SS: Donner- that sounds right.
AH: Yeah, Donner, Iknew him well. worked in the woods two as far as that had, thatgoes. The Donner's Meadow, you know he some up-thrashed, he farmed know-how many has The rest was hay. But has had it after that.
SS: Well most of tnose wasn't taken out. Well, it was nice here too if you wantedto call it nice when the timber was all standing. like tnat nice yellow pines. Thirty inches and two feet and bigger on the stump. 0h, member when there was logging mostly on that slope. Nigger Joe was logging alot of ground up there I can't think of the name of the ouv that une guy that logged in here. He was abig, big logger, had a camp in here and everything, but I can't think of his name.
SS: Did Joe do alot of logging?
Oh yeah, he logged here and there wherever he could get acontractWell, he had to do something to make aliving. He didn't farm too quick up there.
SS: Where his place was?
AH: Well, all of thatall last summer as far as that goes, it's alot of different from fly and it wouldn't freee down. Up here, you know, that anyway, when it was down
SS: How much longer, would yvoouu sqaayv, you get for growing up there?Another two weeks maybe, or more?
AH: Down on the ridge?
SS: Yeah It was longer than that sometimes* Right from our housethat's where it took way late in the fall before it froze down. Cucumbers and tomatoes and all that stuff that freezes easily. It was down there quite a spell Oh, I raised ripe tomatoes here, as far aslthat goes. I had two plants last year, and the year before I had a dozen big plants* They just about got ripe enough to start picking and a bunch of deer came in and cleaned them out. Must have been seven deers that jumped over the bank, and what they didn't eat off, why they knocked off. They come back after wards and cleaned them up anyway, what was left. She give her, Jim's mother lived in that house, she give her four plants to plant between the buildings there She was gone and she come home and I told her Sunday evening, "You better pick them ripest ones and they'll ripen*" She said, "I'll do that tomorrow." Tomorrow come, why, she had four big ripe tomatoes hanging, deer come and cleaned them up. They are crazy for stuff like that.
SS: Well, didn't you have deer out on the ridge too?
AH: Yeah, worse than here. But they never come up much to my garden,but they was in the orchard all the time* I had a big orchard out there* It wasn't so big because I kept a cutting it down, cutting it down, but it must have been 25-30 trees when I left, or more. That's trees I never for two acres there, at one time. Apple trees, prune trees, pear trees. Sold a lot of fruit to people, company bought - a lot of fruit, a lot of stuff.
SS: How good were the crops from the orchards? Were they dependable -I mean, could you count on a good fruit yield?
AH: Oh yeah. When the trees were young, they was awful nice fruit.Yeah, dad sold 250 boxes of apples to Potlatch Lumber Co. in the sold fall and then think they about 250 boxes later than that in the winter. Prunes - they come out there, oh, what's the name of the guy before Nogle?
AH: Jones. He come out to the farm, looked over everything - he saidhe'd take everything that was there* But, didn't take all of them anyway - but packed them in boxes and everything and come up there, took the boxes, and went and dumped them in an open truck and then drove to all the camps Twenty-three hundred pounds of prunes. That's alot of prunes* No, it's quite a difference than here. Oh, the prunes here are all right. Had prunes on that tree there, both of them trees, and I got one standing there up under the house there, but you know, they're not taken care of the way they should be. Out there on the farm, why, you worked that ground every year just like an ordinary garden, harrowed every year you it and got moisture in it so they didn't - for what it is it's a lot of work if you're going to raise it. My pears stand out in the - well, there's one tree there that's our worked around, because it's where, flower garden and her garden come up against a field and I knocked the bank down that, worked up the ground, and I worked the ground ever since. Nice prunes on it this year and last year too, as far as that goes.
SS: I wanted to ask you a little more about Joe Wells.
AH: Joe Wells?
AH: Well, Joe Wells, when Frank and Grom\ WeHs.they homesteaded onthat side of the road where the roads fork, and out that way, they homesteaded and they come from somewhere back East. I don't know exactly where. Father to Frank and GromWells had slaves and Joe Wells' father was working for Frank Wells' father and that - Joe went up here and he took his homestead up here, see. That's how he happened to come here. He was a married man and those other two guys, neither one married. They moved down there to Moscow, out of Moscow a little wheres - a couple of miles about a strip between the road and the railroad, they had a house in there and lived there for years. Frank died and Grom he was left alone, he lived quite a few years after that. No, they had a blacksmith shop there. Everybody, and Frank Wells was the horse doctor. If you had a sick horse, go to Frank Wells, Before they came here, you know, Frank was telling me one time when Dad was up there one time doing some blacksmith work for us, he said he had a race horse and him and Joe Wells they slept with the horse all night, but he says, "We was drinking", and the next day when the horse got out - they put $1700 - the horse had gained $1700, it was offered that for the horse* The horse got out and he wasn't able to do a darned thing. Somebody doped the horseo They was broke.
SS: This was Frank and Joe?
AH: Yeah, they were both together at that time, see, and Crorn* AndI guess they had the horse and the dad I guess had owned it, but they said, "we lost the horse*" So, they broke even then, they came out here . But Frank was no fool on horses, see, he had a stud colt or anything, why, you get Frank Wells to castrate him - they all went up there. If you had asick horse, why, he would give them some remedy of something. Anyway, he tried. They they wasn't much for medicine, anyway. He was nobody's fool. Dad bought ahorse that had awhite eye - dad says he's blind in it, 'says "no, he's not blind." He had some stuff there, he blowed, like dust, and he blowed it in his eye and imagine that eye cleared up and got good. Iasked dad what it was, and he said, "Oh, Idon't know, didn't ask him." He said, "It looked like blue stone or sharp, but he got something to blow into his eye a few times and the eye cleared up." Otherwise, it was just plumb white.
You said it looked like blue stone?
Yeah, he taught me what it was - dad didn't know. Blue Stone -that's what they used to treat grain with years and years ago. To treat what with? Wheat. So it wouldn't smut. Oh, oh.
Dilute it in water, so much water, in a barrel and dip the sackinto it. That was the only thing they had for years, treating grain, but after that Idon't know how many things they had. Form aldehyde and sarasan. : Did Frank and Grom Wells and Joe, did they pal around a lot to gether while they was out here? : Well, they went up there and was awfully good friends anyway* They went back together, Frank and Joe would get drunk, but Idon't know, Frank and Crom, I don't know if they even drank. No, that was .. Joe had married and had three kids, a girl and two boys, Mary and Chuck, and Roy, and I knew them well. You know Roy always used to say to Chuck, he'd tell him what he could do, but he said, "Remember, you're a nigger" They had the school here the same as the whites, I don't know.
Why was Roy telling Chuck that - Chuck must have known what hiscolor was?
Yeah, but he'd do things, you know, that Roy figured wasn't goingto be right, it wouldn't work with the white people that way. Roy knew his faults.
Well, did people care though* I mean, did they give them - didthey have to watch themselves more than the white people? No, I don't think they had any trouble with the white people. Well, I mean, did they have to be more careful about, you know - I had a feeling they sort of fooled around quite a bit themselves, just like anybody else did
Oh yeah. There was people that would insult them, all right,if they had their chance. No, Joe, wasn't a bad fellow. Oscar, my older brother,said,worked for him for years, Robert and Oscar. Gus worked for him in the woods, baling hay, too; as far as that went - he had an old team baler where you go out in the country and ba le hay for people.
Did they - was he a pretty good man to work for?He wasn't a bad guy to work for. Dad - his son and him would argue quite a bit but he'd never argue with the other men. No, as far as that goes, the Wells always got along. I heard that Lou used to chew tobacco? Is that true?
AH: Not tobacco. She used Copenhagen. And she didn't care whooven knew it neither. She had one heating up above the stove, why, she had the snooa© can standing up there. Well, I guess all them women, I think they came from South Carolina or some place, used it. Cause I could name a few younger women, like them Coles and Youngs - they all used it They had a different kind - it wasn't exactly the kind of Copenhagen, you know; some used the nicer stuff and that later on, but oh, Lou, she had one then.
SS: You stuck a stick in...
AH: The only thing I ever seen was one woman using it, it looked likea little brush, you stuck that in their mouth. But, a woman up here, old Lou, she had a can that high of six, five some boxes in there. If you bought - that come in a big can and was just as much as six boxes of little ones, you got that for 250. The price on small boxes, it would be 300.
SS: Arthur told me that she used to be able to spit throughthe knotholes in the cabin.
AH: Oh, I think he wound that up* No, I don't...there's so many storiesout on her that I could tell, but they ain't fit to put in writing.
SS: I've heard she was a very good cook. She really knew how to...
AH: Well, she was the boss, of course* When she said something,old Joe would "all right, all right, all right." So, she had the say. Joe got drunk or anything, why he didn't argue with her.
SS: Well I had heard that him and Chuck were pretty tough, too, thatthey were pretty strong people.
AH: Well, I don't know. Robert and Oscar never kicked on him that
SS: Well, I don't mean mean, I just mean strong. I mean, it...
AH: No. I don't know. They just about average men I guess. Hewas tough though. He jumped in that old hay bale with his foot down with every big slug he get. I didn't know he was jumping in the hay bale and shoved down 12 ton of hay in a half a day, why, that was putting a lot of hay with a team baler So, he wasn't noted for to give in, anyway. He just plugged us in there till that big horse is going around with the bale, sometimes he just had to pull like heck to get it.
SS: Oh, is that how they done it - they had a sweep?
AH: They had a sweep and it trips twice on the round, see* Then,when it's trippedjwhy then, then it was opened, you see, then you put on another wad Jumped down with your leg and stomp it down in there. Then when that goes in, why, got another half ways around, why, it snapped again, why then that plunged back with a big heavy ring, see. That's the way that worked.
SS: Did he do a lot of baling around in this country?
AH: Well, he done a lot - quite a bit out on the ridge, but he mostlydid the baling up along in here. On these meadows and stuff,he always put up a lot, got a meadow to put up and then he baled for others up there. Old Lawrence, father to Don and Jerry, or grandfather, I should say to them, they - him and old Joe used to be together quite a bit. Logged together and then they got done, why, they started scuffling and they was going to tear the old clothes off of each other and they tore the pants off of old Joe. sat there in his underwear, his old pants were all tore and throwed away and he says to Lawrence, "You go down and get me a pair of overalls." Lawrence said, "Go yourself." Lawrence's wife had a store and they all pulled out, he sat there a long time but he finally took and went down to the store and got a pair of overalls and Lawrence just got up and lefto (Laughter) Well, it happened to him too, I guess. He would have got somebody to go, but they wanted to con the nigger, anyway.
SS: They wanted to what the nigger?.
AH: Well, old Joe, he tore the pants off of him and he had to goand buy another pair.
AH: And they had nobody to go get them, he had to go to the store himself and get them.
SS: Well, I've heard that Joe could make pretty good money if hedidn't drink so bad - spend it all that way.
AH: He made pretty good money on loggingo He logged all that from thehighway and up where that meadow is up in the winter of 1914. When they found a bunch of snow up there that they never seen the likeso- Out on the ranches it lay deeper than the fence posts and then it come a rain on that and it got so hard that they logged on it - took and skidded logs right on top of the snow. He logged that whole side way up there and big nice yellow pines, and took it down to the spur - railroad spur down at Pine Creek. It was for a while there you couldn't turn the horses out - there was no fences - they didn't see a fence* Cows you can walk on it. The cows wasn't bad. If they had the snow tramped down, they had to go to water down by the pond, why, they went and drank and they followed that trail, but, the horses, if they got out after they went down I could see the wire fence out there and the one that run out - run on that snow and rolled on it and kicked up the heels and they don't make a mark in the darn stuff. Well I - at that time I was a pretty good size kid anyway, I got my brother when he came home on Sunday and Saturday to go with me out there on the strip of ground that dad had broke out and trees a standing, just like the big ones. Big Tamaracks and make flaree cords and I would dig out all the snow and throw it away and then we'd saw them right down to the ground. As close to the ground as we could and get down four trees, three or four trees, I figured I'd had enough there for another week. We worked so nice, they laid right up on that snow and I was bucking and I would shove that blade down there and work it till I got it. It would keep the balance in there, see. The saw wouldn't wobble, I could just shoot'em off. A day I saw me two or three cords, bucking and splitting it on that snow and that wasn't all. When I was done, why, I had, if I remember right, I had 39 cords, a little better* I dug a hole in the snow that I could start to pile on the bare ground and I banked it all out in one pile, and I had the snow that deep I had to start in piling here so - to get in piles started, and after it got up I could put it up nine feet and stand on the sled driving there and drew it right along side with the horses, along that bank and it wouldn't cave. See, you know it was some snow.
How much would you be hauling in one load, do you think?
AH: Into town?
AH: That would lay over summer you see, then I'd haul it next winter,I generally hauled two cords to the load over them hills - that was plenty of a load. But you know how a kid is, he never got enough - never got enough on them anyway. (Chuckles)
SS: Well, who was buying the wood then?
AH: Buying the wood? Up along the warehouse here, that side all alongthat spur was wood piles, piled up eight feet high* Some double shipped ...piled because they didn't have room, and they . that out and they got, you know, a big price - $4.00, I guess they got a little bettero To start with there, why, I don't think they got over four and a half time.
SS: A cord?
AH: A cord But, I think dad got on the last wood that I made there,why, I think he got $7.00 a cord. But, you know, we just wasn't nothing.
SS: What were your brothers making when they was working for Joe?Did they make much money?
AH: They got two - about two dollars a day.
SS: Did they stay with him and Lou?
AH: They had the bunk house and they boarded up, from the log downthere, why they had a cookhouse and there they cooked in there, where Frank and Crom Wells used to live, they moved out. Mary they cooked there, the daughter, and had the bunk house out there built up for the men to sleep in.
SS: Well, how many guys was working for him, anyway? He had a realcrew there, huh?
AH: Well they nearly had two gang of. - that would be four men. Thenhe had a swamper, anyway, for each team.
SS: Six, then.
AH: Then he had two men a-decking and jacking them up sky high, alongthe spur. I wish I had some of them old pictures I'd show you just what the skid would look like one time down where Lynn was logging, that was measured twenty-two feet up the top, on the end of it They took it on the side deal and the spur was up above. Why, they filled this old darn hole, down in here and then they rolled over the two - decking, you know, they took them logs and rolled them on skids laid in on top, just take them up and after they got up so high, why, they didn't care to go anymore, why then they took - then they had the blocks, see, they pulled them up with ; the horses on skids and pulled them as high as the ceiling here, anyway.
SS: Big decks.
AH: Big decks. But Troy Lumber Co. at that time had three or foursaw mills. They had one at Dry Creek, and one over on Bear Ridge and I don't know, I think they had four mills a going.
SS: Was this mostly before Potlatch come in, or afterwards too?
AH: It was before Potlatch come in and afterwards too* I stood andlooked at a picture here that was taken out on Bear Ridge. Here's the picture - it shows on the-that's at the cookhouse and that's where most of the men worked on the saw millo
SS: Well, whose crew was this?
AH: Troy Lumber Company's. I used to know them all, but I had somepictures of them and then I had the camp back spotted in here - I worked up there and they come up and they took pictures of the camp crew by the cookhouse. But I was inside the cookhouse and I stuck my head out the window.. Now, that's a good picture for being that old.
SS: When Joe Wells was like doing this gypo logging, did he do itfor many years? Did he have crews for over a long number of years, or was it just for a short time?
AH: Yes, some come and went, of course. You know it was differentthen, when the Potlatch first come in here, you know, if a man come to camp and the old boy is in there work for him, why, go in and eat-4here was never no charge - going and eating and stay, go to the bunk house and sleep* Even if they didn't get work, you know, there was lots of people coming in and going out. Sometimes there was people coming from Spokane I remember, up at Camp 11 there was a big, tall guy., he come up there and wanted to go arsawing* They sent another guy just as tall out there and they sawed logs, and I guess :he never seen much in the timber, but the guy that he sawed with was all right - I guess he told him what to do and they got along pretty well for two or three weeks0 And this other guy quit and they gave him another man to work with, well that other guy that they sent out there, he didn't even know where in the heck to stand when he fell a treeo He stood behind the saw with the hand... (Chuckles) Can you imagine, he never said a word to him - this guy come from Spokane. He didn't correct him.
SS: Well, did he keep working with him?
AH: They worked there a few days and I guess they didn't make nothingso that guy pulled out again. (Chuckles)
SS: Some of them lumberjacks - they didn't say much did they? I mean,some of them guys, I've heard that them older lumberjacks like some of those guys, were pretty surly, or they weren't very friendly, I heard.
AH: Well, they was in their own way Iguess. The whole bunch. Oh,some of them was all right. Now, Johnny O'Neil, he was a stump boss, he come out and look over and see that they cut clean when they was sawing, see that they didn't take the highest stump. He was always talking to it^and a dog or two with him, and he was talking to the dog* He didn't - he talked to himself all the time and he come up to me and my brother, Gus, and he kept a talkin' and Gus, "Huh?", "Oh," he said, "I was just talking to the dog." (Chuckles) Oh Tom Malloryand Jack Mallory* Tom and Jack they wasn't the oldest kind* I worked for Jack, I liked to work for Jack - he was pretty good guy. Les Mallory^, he worked but I just don't know what he would do, I never worked around him. But Jack, he was always cheerful and I sawed logs for him too. I sawed for Helmer— way out they go, But them old guys, I don't know how many there was there.
SS: Would you rather work gypo then for wage?
AH: Well, you made better moneyo You got 850 a thousand, or 75-85cents. If you could knock down 16., 17 thousand a day, why, you made good money, compared with a couple of dollars, a dollar, dollar and a half, two and a half.
SS: Could you knock down 16 thousand a day?
AH: Well, we sawed out there, me and my brother and we figured weshould have 20,000 a day. We got a dollar a thousand. All around 115, 120 thousand a week. That is, timber scale. They come out and scale them in the woods.
SS: That sounds like good money.
AH: Well it was, but that was after the war, see, first World War,when we sawed for him* So, that was long ago. But that was nice timber. Couldn't be beat. We had a tree there that we thousand fell that was over 12 feet in the first log. We had a few of them. So, you know the timber was nice.
SS: Real nice. Alben, I'm going to go soon, but before I go Iwanted to ask you a little bit about you was growing up on the farm. I was wondering about when you started to work around the farm? How old was you when you started to work?
AH: I was thirteen years old when I went hisstep-dad, but he came over and wanted me to go over and take a foot burner and three horses and go plowing, too. They just cleared enough of that ground under the divide going down to wherever that big barn is at. I guess we put in a 150-160 acres there. Two foot burners and that's when I was 13 years old.
MRS. HALEN: Maybe he doesn't understand what foot burners are?
SS: Well, I've heard of foot burners before, yeah.It's a good time ago.
HALEN: A thirteen year old boy, you know.Well, what was that like. Tell me what that was like, working with a foot burner? I mean, I've never even seen one, I've heard
AH: of them, but...steering, Well, it's a plow, you get am°ld board on it and yougot two handles out there and the lines around your back and three horses on there - one on the far and two on the outside.
MRS. HALEN: You walk all day long.
AH: Walking plow is what they call it. Sure walk you, too*
SS: Were you breaking the ground?
AH: No, it was broke up, but you got to plow it every year for everycrop, see. Well, I worked that many years, but you know that's good money for a kid. I went out there in March, started on them hills and well, I worked for ninety days straight there. I got - I don't remember, but two dollars or $1.75 a day. I don't remember which now - and a half a day on Sunday.
SS: How long a day do you think you'd been putting in?
AH: Well, we started at 7:00 with the horses and worked till 12:00and give them an hour at noon, and then went back out there till 1:00 to 6:00 in the afternoon. Oh, it's great life. I got so I liked it.
SS: Must have had a lot of time to think, you walking around there.
AH: Well, you had all that plowing you know* If you hit a stump, youdon't know why - you had to stand there and jerk them back up and get over the stump and after that you find a root that you didn't go through, it wasn't broke deep enough, I was working the cleared ground there too, for him, but went up - crawled up in a tree with a decking chain—-. 150 foot decking chain, and as far as I could hoist it up and then we dug a hole around and bull pines and got off as many roots as we could and then four of the horses abreast on the doubletree and pulled them and if it was too strong it'd take those horses and throw them right back We cut as much as we could but you know them bull pines had a root that big. You had to sharpen a crowbar and we couldn't get down with the ax, why we'd use the crowbar on it* Oh, that was...
SS: How did you get the chain up the tree?
AH: Crawled up into it. Tore the rope, why, you got up so far, thehigher you could get up, the better it was. No, I remember the first year I worked there and then I went to - and when harvest come I thought I'm going to get me a job,, so I went over and thrashing asked Milt Johnson for a job - he had a machine going down on Bear Ridge to thrash. I'll never forget the words he said, he said, "You're too God dang little." Well, I said, "If I can't make it you can always make it out." Well, he says, "I'll see." But then when he went out then he come and told me, "I'm moving out tomorrow." Then there was moving andthrashing out of shocks, pitching it on a wagon, they were taking it in right out of the field and into the machine. Moved every so often, I had to move the truck wagon team and drive that for Frank Davis and, oh, I got along pretty good.
SS: Well was that the main job - what was the main work you did inthat thrashing that year? Was that mostly what you were doing?
AH: Well, we was pitching bundles.
SS: You was a bundle pitcher.
AH: Yeah, in the field, see. But then after we got farther up thisway we got into stacks that stood up twenty feet high, some highero Get to crawl up them stacks and then you pitch them into the feeder right into the machine that stacked them up. Oh, I didn't— not that he went out. Had that new machine - he had two big wide feeder side wings, short and these other wings came out fourteen feet they could hoist them and lower them with their crank. Frank Davis, he was running need to see that it got too far away or too high up or too wide, why he went down there and turned it down, otherwise the boss was supposed to do that but that wasn't always done. No, I got along good with that two pitchers and any one that. Well the stackers drove the machine in and then there was four stacks and then they'd put the feeder right in between two and two, see, and the machine would come into that stub feeder why, they come on these long ones and they went in like that, just went into the stub feeder and into the machine* No, that was a lot of, well, 1500 sacks in a day. That's a lot of grain, you know - some of them sacks weighed, well, wheat weighed from 140 pound to 145-50 pounds* Oats, long sacks, would weigh around 120 pounds; short sack, 100 pounds. No, that's quite a life. Well I took in, I don't know, I liked harvest* I took in harvest, I guess, ten seasons anyway.
SS: What was good about it to you? I mean, what made it so good?
AH: Well, pitching bundles out in the field was a nice job, as far asthey that goes. Sack seweis, got sometimes three sacks and somethey times two. That's all could do on 3500 sacks you sew in a day.
SS: Did you sew sacks too?
AH: No, I did, but I didn't care about it.
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38:00 - Deary and Bovill were Potlatch set-ups; Joe Wells' logging; dear eating gardens and orchards
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Segment Synopsis: Frank Wells was a good blacksmith and horse doctor; he cured Alben's father's horse. Frank and Joe lost their racehorse when it was doped. Roy told Chuck to remember he was a "nigger". Some would insult the black Wells if they had a chance. Alben's brother worked for Joe and thought he was all right. Lou Wells used Copenhagen.
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67:00 - Cutting and hauling lumber in the winter; cordwood in Deary; Troy Lumber Company sawmills; cutting timber
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Segment Synopsis: Cutting and hauling lumber in the winter of 1914 on the heavy snow cover. Low prices for cordwood in Deary. Size and set-up of Joe Wells' crew. Huge log decks. Troy Lumber Company sawmills. Alumberjack who wouldn't help his partner learn to saw. Lumberjacks were friendly in their own way. Gyppos made more money than salary men. Cutting timber.
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