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This conversation with HELMER RINGSAGE took place at his home in Moscow, Idahoon February 12, 1976. The interviewer is SAM SCHRAGER.
HELMER RINGSAGE: I was the oldest, and I'll tell you the words my mother toldme on her dying bed. I was just old enough to realize it, that she was dying, you know. And them days, they claimed, I don't know why they did, but they kind of had the idea that the older one had to look after the younger ones. Well, all the rest of 'em was the youngest. I was the oldest. And just before she took her last breath, she says, "Helmer," she says, "you're the oldest. You look after the children." And then she died, just that way. Boy, I never forgot it neither. And so I did, I tried, you know, to help 'em out. Well, here's what happened. After Mother died— Well, that Simon, the one that died with cancer that I was telling you about— he was only a kid seven years old- Now, wait now, let's see- no, he wasn't that old then— but I mean when he was cooking he was seven— no, he was only about four when she died.
SS: But he was cooking when he was seven?
HR: Well, later on— let's see when he was seven, that'd be about— he wasborn in, just a minute, he's seven years younger than I am, that'd be '95 when he was born. Now, we'll figure it out. He was seven, that'd '95— she died in 1901— now wait a minute, so he was six years old when she died. Well, I guess Dad learned him that year, so when he was seven, the year after that— he became the kind of a kitchen guy, to look after things, 'cause we boys, the older boys, and I, when it come harvest time, I mean, we had to go out and do the shock ing of them bundles.
SS: Could he handle that at seven? Could he take care of the kitchen?
HR: Well, he was a faithful guy. Dad depended on him, he could directhim, and he was a wonderful kid. But that youngest one then, - no that wasn't the youngest— that was Julius, he was a mischievous lit tle devil. He was our rpdio in the home, and he, one time, that was be fore - yeah, that was before Dad got that house built—and the kitchen part is over there. We had a log house and this kitchen part on the back of that, and that's where Mother died in. I had a cousin down here- she lives here in Moscow, her and her brother and his wife and her husband come up here one day to visit- that was my cousin, seeand I happened to mention that my mother died when she was not quite thirty-one- or- thirty-two; just past thirty-one, so she was just a young woman. Then she foolishly asked, made me mad right away, "Why didn't she live any longer?" — Come here and I'll show you what I showed her— See, that little— Dad used that for a chickenhouseone board thickness of a bedroom and a wood stove to heat it with. Now, I said, "I'd like to see you live in something like that, and raise a family." That last baby she had was born in that place. And her jumping onto me like that! Her brother settin' here, and I didn't give a damn, for her talking like that, you know.
SS: Was it a long sickness?
HR: Well, about a year. She had TB for about a whole year. And, oh, boy,she'd cough sometimes, you know, choke, you'd think she was going to pass out most any time. She pjtnear did. She'd choke and set there and wheeze a long time before she'd get her breath, you know. Oh, she really suffered. Then to top it all, by golly, my wife got sugar dia betes. But she was tough, she raised a family of four— here's my fam ily—. This is my wife. And, I'd worked in the woods— this was taken in 1936, before any of 'em was married. This is my youngest daughter she's the one married and she's got three daughters now; but there she was eleven, and she was sixteen— wait now— yeah, she was sixteen, no, she was eighteen, and he was twenty. He was born in '16. And she was born in '18, and she was born in '20, and she wasn't born until 1925, she's five years younger than that one, see. And Grandma, my missus was forty-four and I was thirty-six. I took a good picture there. Well, we all did, we got a hell of a good picture.
SS: A good one.
HR: Anyway, I had worked—
SS: You were saying you had worked in the woods.
HR: That year I had been up in the woods, sawing wh-t a crosscut, see.And I had three pardners. I tell you, that's what's kept me agoing. I've had good health, strength, and I guess the Good Lord's been on my side all the time. I've had close calls; pretty near git killed. My brother, Simon, the one that died with cancer, that's the first year I worked in the woods, 1912. And I was twenty-four years old. And so he had— we had rode together, I guess he was on the farm with Dad, you know, but he was seventeen. I was seven years older, he was seventeen, I was twenty-four, but he was a big man then, already. Good husky man, and we always did get along good. So, he wanted to get work too, off the farm in the winter, along in the fall it was after field work was done. So, I said, "Ok, come up." And the first job we got was sawing out in the woods, falling timber. Well, we was both greenhorns, the first year, you see, we never knew a damn thing about it. Well, 'course, in them days, they had what they called an under cutter to chop the undercut to fall your tree. And so, by golly,— I got a book, I'll show you the camp I worked at. The kids they bought it for me, I guess they located it somewhere— Bovill, close to—
SS: What camp was that?
HR: Well, that was Camp 8.
SS: Oh, I know about that one. That was right near Collins, there, right?
HR: Well, it was about— I don't remember— it was kind of south east ofBovill.
SS: So OK, so you had to cut this tree down?
HR: I was going to tell you about that. I was- be and Simon andI was falling this timber. This undercutter couldn't keep us agoin' 'cause we was cutting— you cut them forty foot logs and them Swedes they used to file them saws good, and there was white pine to say, and God, we just about walked the tailbone off of that poor guy. All he had to do was undercutting and mark the logs. We didn't have to mark, we just went along and cut 'em off, see. We shouldn't adone it, we got two and a half a day; six bits for food a day. But, dammit, we was interested, enjoyed it, and we was getting good feed in camp, you know. Potlatch Lumber Company fed good, so we was full of piss and vinegar, as you call
SS: Did you put in a ten hour day, then?
HR: Ten hours, boy, for two and a half. Two bits an hour. And, so anyway,here's the deal— I applied for a job at the landing, I didn't want to stay out in the woods all winter. Goddam snows, get pretty bad! So I figured it'd be a little nicer down there and I told my brother, Simon, he's a young kid, only seventeen. I says, "Simon," I says,., "you better get a job in the kitchen, you know, waiting on the tables for the lumberjacks." And he wouldn't get so much a day, but he got so much a month; forty dollars. I says, "That'll be better for you." "Yeah, Ok." He agreed. And that's the way we worked it. We went down there to where this donkey— I'll show you that pretty soon— And i was loading— no, I wasn't loading— they had a toploader stand ing on the car placing these logs, and us two guys— them days— now they got one big grapple fork— tongs they call 'em to load. Them days it was just a crotch chain with a hook, two men, one at each end of the log. Well, this first hoistman that we had at Camp 8, he was darn good; he drank like a fish, but he was sober enough to do his work good. So, then, by golly, it went on and on and on, and getting along fine and dandy, but Simon, my brother, was in the kitchen doing good.
SS: So what was you doing?
HR: Well, I was one of them that was doing the hookin'. 'Nother guy, notSi, my brother, he got into the kitchen, see. So there— that was fine, we got along fine with that guy, see. And pretty soon, Gil Piokon was our foreman, one-eyed, old, big, Irishman, I guess, he weighed about two hundred and fifty. And, by God, he wanted to move us down to an other setting, and that was just a young kid, sixteen years old, doing the hoisting. That son of a bitch, he'd get reckless, he'd bring that log up a ways and then he'd jerk it, and crotch chains's fly, rings'd fly every which way. And, by God, we all three just decided we'd quit. Toploader and I and the other hooker, if we didn't get back to our orig inal hoister.
SS: That'd be dangerous.
HR: Why, it was. Goldam, they just prtnear got us. So, we got back tocamp. "Well," he didn't want to fire that kid, he says, his dad is a good cook." Well, he had it sounds like a good reason. "Alright, we said, "we're goin' a quit." By God, we did quit. We didn't fool. We quit. And I went to Elk River. Now, that's the story I'm going to get you— I'm goin' to tell you. I got to Elk River. My brother still stayed in the kitchen. I told him, "You better stay there, you're inside. That's a good, fine place for you. But I'm going to Elk River, trying to get a job in the mill." See, they was running a mill there at Elk River. And, sure 'nough, I got a job alright. But I didn't get what I want. I wanted to be a fireman. You know, them days, they had— they didn't have electricity in Elk River. They had to use dynamos, and them dnyamos was fed with this sawdust from these— them big boilers was fed with this sawdust, see, to keep— weekends. Weekends they had to fire them. And I got the job.
SS: You wanted a job.
HR: I wanted that job, see. They said, "Well, wait til somebody gets drunk."And them days there was a lot of guys getting drunk. They had good whiskey, you know. And he said, "Well, I'll tell you, if you'll take the job sweeping the floor down here with the Jap 'til we get a drunk guy, then, by golly, we'll put you on." And sure enough, in about a week, I guess that I had to sweep that floor down there, and then I got this other job. And, I said, "Well, what am-I .going to do during the week?" "Oh," he says, "tend pump." And say, that's the time I had to work twelve hours, nightshift, twelve hours; six to six. And, by golly, I couldn't afford— I only got, let's see, how much? Yeah, that's only two bits an hour, three dollars, for that twelve hours.
SS: How many days a week did you work?
HR: Well, I had to work every day.
SS: Seven days a week?
HR: Well, you see, because— not all day, no. I was firing them boilers.Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night; three nights. The rest of the time I had to tend pump. I didn't have no weekends off. But I wasn't caring, I was satisfied; I was young, I was only twenty-four. Just a kid. Well, then, pretty soon my brother wrote me. He said the cooks was gettin' drunk. Says, "I'll tell you, by God, I don't like to stay here with—" he wrote and told me. Well, I felt sorry for him. I knew he wanted to work, and I thought, by golly, I'll try and get a job out in the camp thei So, I did. I got a job at what they called Camp C, out of Elk River. And that was what they called bull cook. You're cutting logs and split up wood for the cook car and for the loggers. And, by golly, they give us wet wood, wet, old, white pine. We worked our heads off. We was up at two o'clock of a morning try ing to get all-them fires agoin'. We had to get— the heart of the wood that was any good at all for cook wood, they burnt that in the cook stove, and you had to keep the cooks goin' whether you got the bunk fires goin' or not. And we used coal oil to start 'em, but, God, you know what wet do.
HR: Well, by God, we stayed— I don't remember— about a week or two, thenwe got fed up. I told the boss, I says, "For God sake," I says, "get somebody else." And I told Simon, "You better go on home, back to the I said.
SS: So, he'd come out with you to work?
HR: Yeah. He come. Yeah, he come over there, you see, and got on thisjob, too. He was already on the job with me when we quit. And, I said-
SS: The two of you worked together?
HR: Yeah. We did. We had to saw that wood together, you see, just likewe did when we was falling trees.
SS: What was the pay on that job?
HR: The same. Two bits an hour. Well, it wasn't that, because we worked—I think it was two and a half a day. We had to work half of the night, or sometimes damn near all night to keep the fires agoin'. That's what got us disgusted.
SS: Did you have no chance to sleep, or anything?
HR: Oh, we'd sleep maybe from ten til two or three o'clook in the morning.Three, four or five hours, something like that.
HR: Oh, it was rough.
SS: So, you told him to go back?
HR: He finally did. We both quit! You see, we stayed, as I said, I don'tremember now, but maybe a couple of weeks. You had to give 'em time to get somebody else, if you could. Because, if you wanted the respect of the company, you had to kinda give 'em a little time ahead. So you could come back and get a job the next year. That's what I realized. I had worked, I didn't tell you that, I had worked for the Black Vet. So, I told my brother, "Now," I said, "we quit here, and you go home." ner in Potlatch Vetner and old Doc Palmer previous, in the fall when I first come there, see, before I got into the woods at all. And, so I come back there, I knew him and my aunt is Ed Swenson's brother's wife. See, he got killed by a tree, one time. ATld he was sawing down by Deary, Idaho.
SS: Ed Swenson's brother?
HR: Yeah. Isaac, was his name. And she was living theretaking in washingfor these lumberjacks. And I felt sorry for her, and I said, "Well,if I can board with you, I'll pay you board the best I can." And she was just glad to get somebody and make a few dollars. She had a lot of little kids. She had this cousin living at Troy, now, Carl Swenson— I don't know whether you've met him.
SS: Yes, sure.
HR: Well, there was him and then there was Ernest, and 'Dolph and I guess,well, Oscar, that was her oldest son, he was working in the camp, he was oldest enough to have a job in camp. But these other-- see, there was Carl, and 'Dolph and Ernest, three boys, and a girl named Ida. About four, she had fourat home that she was supporting.
SS: Did you know how it happened that he was killed?
HR: Oh, yes, that got me alert. When I went to the woods, boy, I becomepretty catty about watching trees falling. And, goldam, I didn't tell— I'll tell you that accident— when I and Simon was sawing after that-
SS: Okay, when Isaac died- was he right in Deary, when that happened?
HR: Oh, yeah. They had a little forty acre place there in Deary then.
SS: Was he working for the Potlatch, or for himself?
HR: Yeah, it was Potlatch Company, yeah. And, anyway, God, it was coldthat winter— All the job I got when I come back to Doc Palmer, was hauling hay, and when I got through with that he says, "Well," he says, "all I got now is snow shoveling, for the sleigh hei?se." See, they hauled the logs on great, big,— pretty near like a truck. They'd have one team on it and they'd sand the roads so they wouldn't go too fast going down these mountains, see, — And I had asked for a job for teaming, but I was glad I didn't get it. Well, they told me I couldn't hand le it, and I knew I couldn't.
SS: A job for what?
HR: To drive a team on that sleigh haul. But he give me this job a snowshoveling, see. And I stayed right through, clear to spring.
SS: Now where was this at?
HR: Bovill, right in Bovill. And, so, anyway, I stayed there— and like Isaid, it was so cold, it was twenty-two below zero and seven foot of snow. Oh, I didn't tell you how lucky my brother and I was that we moved out of Elk River— the snow snowed til it blocked— there was no rail road traffic, no nothin1 in Elk River. It snowed thirteen or fourteen feet, they said, clear up over to the upstairs windows. That's Adolph Swenson, that picture of him, I still got it, shows a picture of that snow. We just got out I think it was a day or so, not over two days after we got out of there til that happened.
SS: So what happened? Was all the people stuck there?
HR: Oh, God, they were really sunk— no snowplows lirek they got now. Nodoggone tractors. Nothin'. They just had to wait til it just— well, I don't know how they did to get supplies in, but they had to maneuver some way— the railroad couldn't get in yet. Well, probably the rail road did have snowplows on front that they could get out eventually. But, it took quite a while, you know, that thirteen feet of snow drop ping down! Whew! God! It was about four or five feet when we left camp up there,— no it was more than that because, hell, it was seven feet in Bovill when I got there. And it stayed and just kept snowing, kept snowing all winter. I tell you, that year, the snow didn't leave til in May. In Park, God knows when it left in the woods!! (Chuckles)
SS: You were working shoveling snow— the snow shoveling you did in Bovill,that was for the sleigh hauling?
HR: That was for the sleigh hauling. That would be 1913, see.
SS: Can you tell me how your aunt made-do without her husband? Would shehave any—?
HR: No, she had to take in washing. She got so much a shirt and ironed 'emand mended 'em. She was a working hpo Say, that woman lived to be ninety-seven years old, right down here at the home in Lewiston. She was a husky. But the poor thing; she married again and was married fifty years with the second husband, fellow name of Carl Carlson— Charlie Carlson, they called him. I guess his name was Carl, but they had to change it to Charlie because this boy of hers was named Carl too. I think that's the way it was. But, anyway, —
SS: So she did remarry? That probably made it a lot easier.
HR: Yeah, well, he had a little farm on Texas Ridge. So they— And he wasa carpenter; hell of a good carpenter. So he was making a pretty good living for 'em. That was a relief to her, but, the kids were growed up too, by that time. And this Carl, that's down here to Lewiston, I'll say that much for him, he's the only one of them boys that really hon ored his mother. He seen to it that she had money, after he got big enough, I mean, to work out. He'd always bring her stuff to eat be fore she married this other man. And, not only that, when they fin ally sold their farm up there and moved to Lewiston, Charlie, he was a carpenter, of course, he built a house— I don't know if he— no, I guess they bought that house, but he remodeled it. Made it handy for her, see. But here's was the deal— the way she got hurt— she was tak ing a bath and she set down on the edge of the tub and slid off and fell and hurt her side, and they had to put her in the home. And there she stayed and stayed until she finally got so she couldn't realize things. She d talk but she didn't seem to realizej\what she was saying. Poor girl. And I went down there and visited her several times. And Carl always, when she could understand, why, he was there and treating her. And always on her birthday bring her a birthday cake or a treat. And so did I. I give her cards and stuff. Well, she had cooked, let me tell you that— after Mother died, when her and uncle first moved out from back East, Dad always— My dad was a sympathetic guy, he alfelt for his brother. He always helped all his brothers, more or less, and so he felt for 'em, and he hired her to cook, one spring over there on the farm. And I guess he had a little work for her hus band, too, on the farm. And then, to top it all, later on, he got the both of 'em a job at a mill on Russel Ridge ( Ramey's sawmill.
Wasn't big money, but, I think it was sixty or sixty-five dollars amonth, but they got board; the two of 'em. And that's how they come to get a little money to buy this forty acre tract out by Deary. They only give four hundred dollars for it. Had a little log cabin on it. And that's where they were living when my uncle got killed. Him and Uncle Gilbert was out in the woods sawing— and I'm going to tell you how that happened. It was in the deep snow, see, and they'd sawed this tree, but they hadn't sidecut it. Now there's a trick that you gotta know something about when you're falling timber— if a tree's aleanin' you'd better side that cut, if it's leanin' heavy, especial. I got so I was pretty good at it. I cut wood up at Orofino— made a living cut ting wood after I was married, singlehanded. I'll show you now, there was a great, big— I wouldn'ta had to fell it, but I just kinda got curious- The boss said, "Well, you don't have to take that yellow pine, but if you want to, why, you can." Well, this tree, I knew damn well I could fall it, 'cause the son of a bitch was just prtnear down, anyway, leanin', see. Well, that's where I knew better than to try to cut behind. I cut both sides, I just kept acuttin' both sides, see, way in, clear over to my under cut. I didn't have to have much under cut. Then I sawed in over here. And you know what damn tree broke? About that much on the stump. Broke it!! Because it was leaning so heavy, see. Here's what I want to illustrate to you— if I'd a done like my uncle and them— they didn't sidecut, and that tree split up— see what I mean?— jumped up in the air, because it was still fastened to the stump. She split off, and then she fell over side ways. And my uncle was out here running away from it, and it caught him in the side of the head and mashed his head. Killed him deadern a mackerel!! See. That's why he died.
SS: So what happened, it fell sideways?
HR: And he happened to be right in the way, you see.
SS: Did it split in two, or just fall side ways?
HR: No, here's the idea— let's see now— I'll just illustrate with thisflashlight— We'll say that this is the stump, and your tree, if you haven't got it sidecutted, this part of it still stayed on— well, about, I don't know how much it was— but it was enough to hold the tree up to here, we'll say, twelve to fifteen feet, and it accidentally then happened to plop over to the side where my uncle was, and he was right square in the way and caught him in the head. Mashed him down. Well, just killed him dead, right now. One thing about it, he didn't suffer. Just knocked him out.
SS: Did he have any— did he get any kind of insurance?
HR: Nah. I don't think the company even— Naw, you see, them days, —the Potlatch pretty smart that way, they had 'em gyping— you get so much a thousand for cutting. See, when they took strips— that's what I did. When I was up in the woods there in '36— I was going to tell you that— I had three pardners— way it come about— first, my cousin, Ervin Swenson, he come over, and I was needin' work dang bad, and he come over and said, "Helmer,"— we had sawed together and he knew I was good on the saw— he says, "I lost my pardner, I'd like to have you til he gets over it." come over and help me out,' And that was another cousin of mine, Helrud . But he got poisoned from using that saw oil on his saw and got it scattered around his belly.
SS: Using what on the saw?
HR: What they call— well, it would be, them days, I guess they used coaloil or diesel, which ever was the cheaper. I think they did use diesel quite a bit—
SS: He got infected?
HR: No, that's what give him the poison— they thought that, anyway—might have been poison oak, I don't know. But, anyway, he had to quit. Well, so I went over there and went to work with Ervin. Well, as soon as he got— no, he didn't get him— he got another fella by the name of Herb for a pardner— well, then, I got toughened in, I'd worked I think it was about two weeks then with Ervin, so I was pretty well toughened in. They were short handed, 1936. And, the boss come around to me and asked me if I'd be— If I wanted to go swamping. I knew how to swamp, just cutting the brush for teamsters to go in the woods. Yeah, you bet, I said I would. Two seventy-five a day. About three dollars a day for board C) So, then, anyway, I worked thatfor quite a while, I guess a couple of weeks. And I'd swamped for several dif ferent guys, and I could buck a log. Now, you take, if a log is laying on her beam, we'll say up high, you start cuttin' that thing on top it'll pinch your saw. Well, you could saw down maybe a half a saw depth to keep it from splitting — ruining your log, then you gotta start cutting underneath. Well, I was wise to that. I just chopped the axe, doublebitted axe, into the log I was sawing and I put the back of my saw in that and go at it this way. And I was stout then. I was just prime,you know, I was only thirty-six— wait a minute—no, hell, I was forty-eight! But I was husky. I'd worked hard all my life and I'd toughened in then, you see on this other work I'd done before I got there, so I could take it. And they fed good. I was cutting away and pretty soon the saw boss come around and he seen I was good on the saw, figured I'd be pretty good to let a strip to. You know, they'd have a saw gang— they'd lay out a strip for each saw gang, see what I mean? Maybe forty acres. They'd blaze it out and that's your stripand your pardner's strip.
SS: You gyppoed on it?
HR: Yeah. Gyppo, sure. That's why I say the company don't have to insurewhen you gyppo.
SS: So he come around and—?
HR: So this saw boss, big, old, tall fella— said, "How would you like tohave a pardner and a strip? "Well," I said, "that'd be fine if I get a good pardner." If you don't get a good pardner it's hell, you know. 'Cause if they ride the saw, why, you just can't make nothin''. "Yeah," he said, "I think I got a good one from Bovill." Young fellow, he was only twenty-five and I was forty-eight, see. "Well," I said, "bring him out. I'll try." And, by God, he was good. We neither one said a word. We sawed together I guess for a couple of trees, and pretty soon, I don't remember which one said it first, "¥ou're just right up my alley." We just got along fine. We sawed a week together and he give out— that is, his back gave out. He come and apologized that he couldn't take it anymore, said he'd got his back hurt a year or so before that. And he said that come back on him and he just couldn't hack it. "Well," I said, "I'm sorry, I woulda liked to have you." Well, then we got into some dry -rot stuff. And, I told the saw boss, "God, we'll never make it in that." I says. You know that punk, it rots up quite a ways and you gotta cut that off, and that isn't counted. So there's some sawing there that you lose. He said, "That's alright, you guys go ahead, it's gotta be cut," he says, "we'll make it right." I says, "Fine." Took his word, you know. Well, then he give out, and then there was— three ofcker guys sawing in the woods and they couldn't fall— never been in the woods, didn't know sic 'em; nobody'd told 'em nothing. Wonder they didn't get hurt. They'd hang their trees up. You know, you get in there where theress a thick bunch of timber, you gotta start trying to figure out where the hell to start and keep falling. And they didn't do that. I seen 'em one day and they worked a half a day, all three of 'em, they didn't get the tree down. I don't remember what they done in the long run. We was too busy, we just left. Too busy cuttin'.
So, anyway, though, this one, name was Bob Hughes (Huse?) he'd foundout that I'd lost my pardner and he wanted to get on with somebody knew how to handle the timbers. So, he come over to me— no— the boss did first. Says, I've got a pardner, and I says, "Who is he?" And he told me. Goddang, I didn't hardly believe it, you know. But, he says, "I'll send him in." And I said, "Okay." Well, he was good enough. He was a likeable guy. He was a Southerner, but he had a way about him that I couldn't help but kinda like him. So, I said, "Well, I'll try you out." "But", I said, "now, you and your pardners has sure had a hell of a time. You'll have to listen to me, now," I says. "I want the whole say„about it, how to fall a tree." "Sure," he said, "that's what I want. He said, "I don't know a daan thing." So I though, By God, that's alright then. Well, we're sawing away, and he's a little bit slow to start with. Of course, I realized he wasn't,)Jand I just gave him time to get used to it. Trying to get along with him. And finally, I wanted to work. It was hard times, and by God, I had all them kids to feed. So— no, I guess, the boy, let's see— 1936- No, by God, I think he was home yet- anyway, I went— we was sawing away and there was one tree that was hung up— we never felled it. I guess it was kind of a wind fall, hanging in the other trees, and we had to cut that stuff. And I 6' "Bob, when we fall this tree, if I have luck, I'm gonna hit that tree so it'll come out of there and gotta hit it twelve or fifteen feet from the other tree so it'll— I think that'll just about— something like that anyway, o loosen it out of there. "But," I says, "when we do, if we have luck, and that tree gets loose, it's gonna come down here just like a bullet," 'Cause there was steep lountains fcHere. And I said, "Bob," I says, "you go over there behind that greetree and I'll take care of the saw. I'll go over this way. if I got time." I says, "If I ain't, I don't care." And, by God, it happened to be a little sap ling, six or eight inch cedar sapling setting pretty close to where he stood, you know. The damn fool run behind that and when this tree come as luck would have it, it didn't happen to hit him, but it hit this lit tle tree; uprooted it, and that stump, when it broke up, see, stopped the damn tree. But he was down at the other end of this sapling; it was coming down and it caught him right on top of the head and mashed him between his legs and all I seen was the whites of the eyes. God, I thought.maybe it'd half stunned him, you know, and I didn't say a word til he got up and shook his head. And, I said, "Are you hurt, Bob?" "No, by God," he says, "but next time when you tell me where to go, I'm going there!" (Chuckles) "Boy," I said, "Bob if you're that tough I wouldn't get in a fight with you. I couldn't knock you out." I had to joke with him, see.
SS: Well, that tree come down?
HR: This was that little tree.
SS: The little one hit him?
HR: Yeah, but it was only the top of it, and it would give, don't you see,what I mean. But it was just enough, and him turning— he happened to turn around. He stood there. The tree got him fouled. See, he had his back down the hill, and the tree just happened to hold him enough that he didn't fall over, just pushed him down; gradual. It didn't hurt him. No, he wasn't hurt a bit. He was just far enough to the end of that doggone thing that it give enough, that it didn't knock him out! But it sure put life into him. Jesus Christ, he become a good partner after that! And, boy, it speeded him up.
SS: It did? (Chuckles)
HR: He was just right up on his toes. God Damn, he found out that it wasn'tall just bull shit, by God, you had to move. See, we was only getting a dollar thirty-five a thousand, you see. And you had to average ten thousand to get your bonus.
SS: Ten thousand a day?
HR: Ten thousand a day. You had to saw that much every day in order to—you gotta average that.
SS: Then the bonus was at the end?
HR: Yeah, that was added then, then you get that. But, by golly—
SS: How big a bonus was that, by the way?
HR: Well, dollar a thousand. No, no, it wasn't that much. No, no. That'stoo much. A dollar thirty-five a thousand to begin with, and I forget what the hell the bonus was, now. But it was a certain amount.
SS: Okay. We'll forget that.
HR: I can't remember that. Been so long ago, see. Anyway, we got out—Well, I did, I mean. I went through with that— As I say, here then comes my brother, j-us-t s-taiked in Park. I was working for Axel Ander son, the foreman, Steiner was working for his brother MA-U" Anderson. And Steiner come crying over to me that he didn't like that filer over there. He says, "I know that you've got good filers over there," and. he said, "I'd just like to come and saw with you." Well, we had sawed together, you see, when we was cutting that wood on the ridge there on the homestead, so I knew that he could saw, alright. And, so, "God," I says, "Steiner I hate to turn this guy down, I just got him broke in. And it's too bad," I says, "I hate to do that kind of a trick." But, we was riding together back and forth to tfffe Park and it was his car, too, I was riding in. So I had to kinda cater to him, see, a little bit. So, I told Bob, I said, "God dammit, I hate it, but my brother's up against it, I guess." I said, "Them filers over there's not much good." He give in and he thanked me for learning him how, you know. So, he got on again at some other work, I forget, probably an other saw place. But, he worked in the camp. didn't fire him because of that. Well, I think I told the saw boss that I'd learned him. I says, "He's a pretty good guy." I said, "Keep him on, put him any place, he's learnt a hell of a lot from me. And they did, they kept him on.
SS: Did you finish that piece out with him?
HR: Oh, yes. My brother and I, we finally— but, I was gonna tell you—my brother one day he took a notion he wanted to be the head faller. And, by God, it was crazy of him. He'd take them kind of streaks, you know. And, the tree was leaning downhill too much, you're supposed to fall uphill as much as you could to save the timber, made it better for the loggers to hook onto the butt end of the log to drag, too. But you didn't have to do that all the time. If a tree was leaning to hell and gone, and you had to work too hard to get it, they didn't ex pect you to. And I told him so. Well, he just got bullheaded, and he was gonna have that tree falling the way it should. I let him wedge, wedge, wedge, and in about three quarters of an hour he was about all in. I said, "Steiner, how about that," I says, "want me to spell you off?" "Get the hell outta here." "Alright," I says. I thought, you son of a bitch, you're my brother, but you tough it out now. I let him go to it. He toughed it out, and boy, he give in then. I said, "Now, Steiner, the next tree I'm gonna fall it downhill regardless of where it leans.. I'm gonna show you, to prove to you just how little it'll do." He was afraid you'd break it all to hell, see. So, the next one I did. I felled it downhill.
Then we got two trees growed together inthe bottom. Now, that's a kind of a Goddam puzzle, see. Which one to fall first. So, I asked my brother, "Now," I said, "which one would you fall?" "Oh," he said, "dammit, you're falling", he said. "Well," I said,"let's fall the upper hill one first." So, we cut under there til we get our saws in enough to get the falling wedges in to hold it, then I said, "We'll keep coming, then let it go." After we got in a ways and got the wedges in so as to get it off of the saw, you got to do that or the son of a bitch, you can't saw with those crosscut saws; or any saw as far as that goes. So, by God, yeah, that'd be alright. "Well," I said, "you see if it don't work." By God, it did. That tree fell as pretty as could be, see. Well, the down one, there was nothing to it. All we had to do was undercut and let her go. So, then from then on, a we got along pretty good. And I told him, that time we was arguing. I told him, "By God, we gotta cut out this arguing," I says, "we gotta just keep working." And he got pretty stubborn. I said, "If you don't shut up, I'm gonna let you go to hell, and I'm gonna get a good pardner, or get another pardner. Now, I don't want another Goddam word out of you." Just like that, see. By God, he shut up. And we made it. We got our bonus. I told him that, I said, "By God, if we don't shut up— we don't get that bonus. That saw boss is watching us all the time, I'll betcha. He's out here in the woods somewheres. He can see what's going on. Don't think for a minute he ain't got his eyes on us, whether we're fighting or working." And, by God, that fall, why, hell yeah, we got a gtrod bonus. Everything went alright then. But that s the kind of a deal I've had in my lifetime. Oh, I didn't tell you about that accident I come pretty near having with my brother that died with can cer. When we were sawing, hurrying along, and after this undercut cut ter went away, you know, well here come this walking boss. He says, "I'll undercut for you young roosters." I guess he thought I ain't cutting it— he was out there cutting away, but he was pretty cute, he understood the game, and he was smart enough to put us young greenhorns away from the main gang, see, up above us.
So they put us downhillon a little bench-like, and he cut in a circle on this bunch, see, to get ahead of us. He was fast, he played the game right. Get in there and ct out several trees instead of running along with one tree at a time. And so while he was down here marking this tree we were sawing on, we was reaching up high like this, and then there was a bunch of logs laying over there that we had felled, that was laying crossways of each other— well, this wind come up and I heard the guys above us, holler, "Timber down the hill, look, down the hill." I looked up and there this damn tree looked like it was half way down, right at us!! See, the wind come up and blowed one down. This feller had cut the good side and left the rotten side so the wind could flop it. That tree come just between our saw handles. But I was just that quick, I says, "Simon get under them logs." And I beat him over there. I jumped over that log before that tree hit that. And it could have caught me. But I had to do it, it was the only place I had to go. It's coming to wards you; which way you gonna go? You gotta get someplace, trying to get under it, and these logs was up high, we both got under there and when it landed between the saw, and this walki' boss was down at the other end of this tree we were cutting on. See, he was down there mark ing and trimming—no, they don't trim, he was just marking. And that hit him, the end of that hit him just like this other tree this other guy. And, it made him mad, see, he turned around and he started cus sing, and I started cussing him back. I said, "My God, you've been up there falling them trees or cutting the good part," I said, "it was one of them that fell." He thought we was up there falling trees.
SS: Almost killed you!
HR: No, it didn't kill him, but—
SS: No, you, you!
HR: Yeah, it could have. So, I told him, I says, — Well, he got mad,too. He says, "You guys can do your own undercutting." From then on, we did, see. What little time we did finish the job, up til we got— Simon — my brother, Simon, got into the cookhouse and I got down there hooking at the landing. And I transferred around. And I've had all them kind of accidents. And, hell, when I was ahauling grain from that farm, when I was a kid, seventeen years old, for Dad and had a balky animal, that balked three times— that was the different hills we had to go to get to the grade to go down to Peck, and I had beat it with a chain— them days, we had what they call a stay chain, we didn't have butt chain harness— just a stay chain, and I'd get down on thek- of the wagon and beat it, see, and I could make it pull. I did make it pull I had awful good leaders, that helped. And they just clawed for dear life any time I let 'em have the lines, you know. So, I said to myself, "Boy, you're gonna work, by golly, if I know myself." So I got 'em up all those hills til we got to Peck and across the ferry boat and then there was another hill, just before you get to- wJA, on the north side of the Clearwater River, and if that son of a bee didn't start balking back, right down off the grade toward the Clear water River! Man, I'll bet you I wasn't thirty feet from the north side of that river, and it was God knows deep, and I was down on the of that wagon abeatin' that son of a gun. My leaders were throw ing rocks all over, trying to hold it, see. They did hold. Well, they was back down over a rock about a foot high, but after I got this other bastard a pulling, they lifted it right up and I just kept beatin' her clear on til I got to the warehouse. And the warehousemen they hol lered, and they said, "My God, kid, you come pretty near going into the Clearwater, didn't you?" I said, "I sure did, but, by God, I was going to stay with it as long as I could." And then from that on that animal would pull for me alright!
SS: How high above the river was it?
SS: How high above the river were you?
HR: Oh, about thirty feet. That's all there was left, til I'd abeen downover the bank, horses and all. Just to show you what kind of a deal that river was— there was a ferryboat you had to cross on, see— you know what a ferryboat is? And that's not powered by steam, it was pow ered by the stream. They got a cable across here that holds it, see, and they angle it so the stream pushes it. That's the way it goes across,
SS: Huh, I didn't know that.
HR: Yeah, that's another little trick that I never forgot. Well, then, onetime there happened to be what they called a jerkline skinner that hauled grain from our ridges, and different ridges. He'd beiian old freighter. He had a big Brownie, he called him horse, that was his jerkline leader. Then he had a fast horse along side of him with a jockey stick that when he guided, throwed the line on this side to this Brownie, it was trained in, see, that horse'd have to go— it was a fast horse that had a hold back, only get so far ahead, but he had to stay so far away from Brownie. Well, everything went fine til one day he was ahauling— Oh, God, he had big wagons. The trail (jQ wagon itself— they called it four inchnow, three inch is a small wagon, but four inch that's a heavy— that was bigger than any one wagon we ever had— But he'd been a big freigh ter, see, in rough country. And he said, "If you got a big wagon," he said, "no matter how much load you put on it, it'll pull easier than a little wagon." We didn't know that, but that's what he claimed. But, here when he come on this ferryboat one day, and he had a big team in the wheel, they weighed about, I guess, a ton a piece, then a swing team. He had six on, see and hauling a hundred sacks or better to a load. And, the minute he got on this here with all his outfit; big wagons and all that load, the God damned boat had sprung a leak, and down she went!! And the horses went head-on into the river. But he was quick enough that he got his swingteam and leaders,backed the wheel ers—see, by that time the wheelers was shoved in headfirst. He lost the wheelteam. I don't know whether he ever got any money out of it or not. I don't think so.
SS: Now, what did you have to do to break 'em off there?
HR: Well, you see—They have— I don't know how he has rigged— but generally the way I had it was, you'd have a chain— either chain or rod— we used to have a rod back instead of a chain with maybe a hook to the leadhorse, and he'd jerk that hook out of there and then they'd be free, to come back, you see. He was lucky, he probably wouldn't a done that if he hadn't a had his horse trained— that leader. That Brownie, you see, he was trained good. He didn't have to do much to him, he could just throw that line which way, "Come on, Brownie!" And boy, that horse was right around. He knew there was danger. He was a good, sensible horse; he'd trained him good. And so, he saved his swingteam and Brownie.
SS: Went down that fast! Just put 'em on the boat, and it just went downthat fast?
HR: Yeah, when the boat started sinking, see, whish- it was gone! So that'sthe way it's been going. And then, after I got through farming on Cen tral Ridge— I'd made pretty good with them hogs. I'd raised hogs for two years. First year I didn't do so good; I just done enough with one sow, and she had nine pigs. And so, I had her in the lot, about, I think it was a quarter or half an acre that I'd seeded down to oats, green oats and peas, combination for pasture, because we had no alfalfa at that time. Then I had s feeder there that I fed her barley— rolled barley— and, by golly, in five months them little devils growed to be around two hundred pounds a piece. And, that's what started me getting into hogs. And I took them to Orofino— there was no market in Peck. I had to haul clear to Orofino, but I got seventeen cents a pound, and that made me thirty-four dollars a hog, see. Well, I got to figuring on that. I says, "Gee whizz, that's more money than I can get off a raising wheat." So, the next year, that's when I called on Dad to move that house for a hog house. Every four hundred feet we had to keep dig ging down three feet in hardpan to anchor— to pull that house, see. I just had a cayuse team pulling this stump puller. And every four hun dred feet you had to dig that. And that field I showed you up there— 'Cause I wanted to get up on top of that hill, I didn't want to go in the sidehill or might slide off my skids.
SS: You put it on skids?
HR: I made them skids out of bull pine logs. Peeled 'em, so they'd beslick. And I and a neighbor jacked the house up and slid them under and then reinforced it here in front to hook to, to pull by, see. And drug that three quarters of a mile through that field and just as we got it into the hog lot where I was going to put it, or pretty near where I was going to put it, it was on some orchard grass, the storm broke— it was along in November, I was worried about the weather, I thought, "By God, if I'd get stuck in the field with that plowed ground, it'd be pretty messy." But I happened to make it. I got in on that sod, orchard grass sod, just when it started bad weather. And I finally moved it over. I told my neighbor, "I can finish now, I'll move that over there myself." So I didn't have him no more, but I moved it over close to this pond. That's a pond laying there, close to them trees there. I moved it over there and I set it up on foundation high enough that— three or four feet high, leveled it up, see. And had it high enough so that my stock hogs could go underneath. And I had— that was big enough house that I could have— I had seven sows on one side of the feed gangway, and seven on the other. Fourteen brood sows. And I took good care of 'em. I learnt how to take care of a brood sow. See, my brother and I we took up— we went to the university here and got some agriculture training; two years.
SS: Was that the short courses?
HR: Yeah, it was a short course. Six months course, but it done us a lotof good. We didn't get through eighth grade til we got to go to Spokane College that Dad had took a share in, see, and they didn't charge any one that bought a share in— wouldn't have to pay a tuition. All we had to pay was our board and room. And that was only four dollars— well, there was two rooms; eight dollars a month. And then there was only two ninety a week for board.
SS: That's in Spokane?
HR: At Spokane College.
SS: I'll have to ask you about that later. Now tell me about them pigs.
HR: Yeah. Well, anyway, I had awful good luck. That first year especially.I mean, that second year. So, I fed 'em carrots and alfalfa leaves and boy, them little devils they grew like everything. They was them Duroc jerseys. That's a red hog. They're a hardy hog, and prolific. Like I said, I had them fourteen sows and they brought me a hundred and nine pigs! And I saved a hundred and five, out of that bunch.
SS: No kidding!!
HR: But I had to borrow money to buy feed, because I hadn't threshed nothingfor myself yet. I went to the bank; I said, "Dode"— the bank had been broke, too, and the farmers had organized a bank and they had took it over for, well, you might say, they had to reorganize and run it. The Peck bank. And Dode Hoags was the president of it at that time. He was just a farmer like ourselves up there on Central Ridge. And, so I tried to go see him to borrow this money.
SS: About what year would this have been?
HS: Well, that was in 19— let's see— about 1919.
HS: No, wait a minute—
SS: Maybe a little later?
HR: Yeah, later. It was 1923. The second year, because the last year Iquit, '24.
SS: OK. So it was '23.
HR: It was '23, 1923. And, by golly, I told Dode, you know, — "By God, Ican't let you have it. I've got to call up the directors and find out. Them directors has got more say really than I have." "Well," I said, "Dode, I'll tell you one thing, I don't want you to take my_ word. You come up and see my hogs, so you know what you can tell 'em. Not tell 'em what I said." And so, he did. He come up the next morning. And the little devils— it happened to be a nice sunshiny day. And I had a ramp, see, and them little devils was out here in the sun, sunning themselves, and they play around— they was feeling pretty good, see. Pretty near weaning time and those little roly-poly devils jWft fat A a roll of butter. And so when they could smell a stranger they'd get scared, see—whu-u-u-u (little pig noises). They just filled that whole Goddamn ramp, and the sun shining on 'em, they just looked like gold nuggets, flying up there see. "My God," Dode says, "Whooo,"he says, that beats everything." "Well," he said, "you didn't tell no lie. Al right, Helmer, I'll call the bankers,"— we had a phone them days— he says, "I'll call you if it's OK. It'll take probably a day or so to find out from the directors." The next morning, or a couple of days after, he called me and said, "Come down and get your money."
Well,I finished them hogs up with that borrowed money. I told Dode, I says, "I'm going to make a bin"— Dad had this barn there, you see, and it was fifty foot wide, where that driveway is, and I made a bin all along Oft that side and it held fourteen hundred bushels. So that fall I just— I put the grain in the bin. I didn't sell a darn kernel. It was lucky I did because, the wheat that I had on the fall wheat got smutty. And I wouldn't a got four bits a bushel for the wheat. Besides, the sacks and the hauling and all, see. All that extra trouble. 'Course, it's trouble a feeding the hogs, but— there was another little sticker, Dad first he didn't want to consent to sharing like he did with the grain— that was a third— he wanted half. Half of the hogs. I said, "No, Dad, you get a third of the grain, I get two thirds, but I got to stand all the expenses." "Yeah," he said, "but you don't have as much of the ex penses." I said, "No, but I'll have more work." "Well," he said, "but you ain't got the sack bill, you ain't got the hauling bill." "Don't make any difference," I says, "if we both make money, and I do all this extra work; that's the only way I'll take it." He finally consented. "That way," I said, "we don't have to keep track of the wheat. Pour it in the bin and feed it. Divide the hogs." And he finally consented. This was after I'd been there— '23— yeah, I still had a lease, you see— Wait a minute,— let's see, '23, '24— no, my lease was out. I had got it for five years, and he's the one that coaxed me to stay two more years. I told him I was going to quit. I didn't have to then, my lease was out. "No," he says, "you better stay." Well, I'd given him good rent nosiey before that, see. Even off of the grain, 'cause he got a third clear. Yeah, I didn't tell you that before. I'd raised a crop of beans on that particular spot where that flax is raised. That was one crop I had that done pretty good. I got4hir teen hundred pounds to the acre and Dad could have got a third as much money as what I did. I sold mine for twenty-one hundred dollars; my two thirds share, off of that crop of beans. And then the next year, it was, that I got— I was lucky on the wheat.. We didn't fertilize like they do nowdays. And I was a greenhorn at starting to farming. I didn't know how to do like I learnt afterwards. And this ground of Dad's had been in clover and it was loose. Instead of letting it stay loose, I should have packed it. And I only got— well that Marcus wheat— it was a poor year. Six teen bushel.
SS: What year?
HR: Well, that was about 1900— no, no. Maybe '21, something like that. Ican't remember too good about that. Let's see, now, wait a minute— 1917, '18— that's when I had the beans,—1918.
SS: Beans was '18, so this should have been '19.
HR: It was either '19 or '20.
HR: I was hauling that wheat to market, see. I was hauling that to thisone, see, I didn't cross the river— that was after they got two ware houses, one on each side of the river. And I didn't want to fool around and go across. Sometimes them other guys'd get ahead of you, and you had to set there and wait, see. And they paid practically as much; not quite as much as the other side, but you didn't have to cross that damn ferryboat. So I sold to Crawford on this side.
SS: So you got only a poor deal.
HR: Well, I did, what I was going to say— I got a big price, see— I hadkept the ground clean because I had plowed my ground in the fall, then I would disc it in the spring and harrow it— first I harrowed it to get the stuff growing.
SS: What stuff growing?
HR: Wild oats and pigweeds and stuff like that. So when I got through withthat that way, it made a nice clean wheat. And this Marcus was good flour wheat. Made good flour, see. And Crawford was interested, he said, "How much of that you got?" "Well," I said, "I got, counting my dad's share, I got a thousand and nineteen sacks." Or ninety— I forg ot which it was, now. And he says, "Well," he said, "what'11 you take for it?" Well wheat had been going two twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eight een and back down to two ten, twelve,— jumping around like that."How would you like two twenty?" He says. "By God," I says, "that's alright, I'll take that or you can give me more, if you want to." "Well," he says, "that's top price, when you get it all down," he says, "you haul it all down and we'll settle for that." I says, "OK." So the next day I come down there. "Say," he says, "how would you like two twentyfive ? I understand the other warehouses are paying more than I offered you." He says, "I want to be as good as they are." "Why, hell," I says "you can make it two and a half, if you want to." So, I got two and a quarter. That crop yielded pretty good.
HR: In money. Five thousand one hundred dollars. Dad got seventeen hundred dollars cash, besides I had to pay him three hundred dollars for seed wheat and the hay that I had to feed my outfit for the next year. So that's why he was doing pretty good, don't you see.
SS: What about that ?
HR: That was that farm here.A Central Ridge.
SS: I'm thinking about the pigs. You didn't really finish telling me whathappened with them pigs.
HR: Well, that fall— yeah. That fall, when I sold them, by golly, I didn'tget a big price for the hogs. Now that first fall I only got six and a half cents. Two hundred pounds, only thirteen dollars for two hundred pound hogs. Wasn't more'n half what I got at Orofino that time. We shipped 'em to Spokane, see.
SS: WE11 did you sell the whole—
HR: Yeah, yeah, I sold 'em for that. And that only made me, oh, well, let'ssee now. I got thirteen dollars— and I made enough so I had a little money left to pay my expenses and live on. And I paid the bank up the five hundred dollars. I had to pay the bank up five hundred dollars. And so, the next year— what I was going to say— the next year I had all kinds of experience— . Talk about a tough time. My wife got sick abed. She brought birth to a dead baby boy, weighed over around ten pounds. See, she went overtime. She had what they called at that time Bright's Disease. I don't know, maybe she had diabetes then. And this doctor that come and took the baby away from her— she passed out And there I was left with them three little kids. There was three older ones. Two girls and a boy. And they was only— see, what year did I say that was? That was 1924. And the boy would be six, and the other girl would be four— oh, now wait a minute— The boy was eight, and the other girl was six and four. The youngest girl was four. But they was just kids. But she finally come to— God, I was relieved. I sure held my breath for a while til she come to.
SS: How long was she out?
HR: She was down, God, that's what I say— that spring I had to tend tothem kids, do my own cooking; tend to my horses and some cattle I had and the hogs; sows. I had to get up at three o'clock in the morning. I had to get up that early to get my work done, get out in the field to do a day's work. Go to bed, nine, ten, eleven o'clock at night. That's all the sleep I got. And, by God, that fall I was just a skeleton. And not only that, I had two mares a foaling and I had this ground that was west of the barn there, towards my uncle's place, I had that into summer fallow, that year and had it into corn and peas,AI wanted to fatten these hogs on, see. I did that other summer fallow, too— I didn't tell you that, I had corn on it. I found that was the slickest way, have half in grain or corn and half in peas, and they would eat the peas first and then by that time, the corn'd be ready and they'd go right into the corn, see. And Dad had his place fenced hog tight. And I was the instig ator that talked him into the notion to fence that place hog tight. And he never raised a hog, I mean, to make any money, til I got on it. That's why he wanted to keep me there. Jesus Christ, I was really going to town, you know. And after '24 then, why,when the price come up, I was in debt forty-four hundred dollars.
SS: The year that your wife was sick?
HR: Yah. I God, I was in debt forty-four hundred dollars and I told her, Isaid— well, I was having trouble with the neighbor. His kids was pick ing on my boy and I wanted to get the hell out of there. And I said to Dad, I said, "I want to quit. I'll sell out everything to you for what I owe you." I allowed him two thousand dollars for his outfit at first, and that was what I went in debt for was to allow him two thou sand, see. And then the equipment— that was for everything. I went in debt to him and then I still owed him eleven hundred and sixty dol lars. And I wanted to wipe the slate clean if he'd take my outfit, in cluding two colts — it was two colts and the five horses I bought of him— see, I had seven. I was farming with seven head. Five head that I bought of him and a binder— not a new binder, but an eight foot bin der and another drill, and a chop mill cost a hundred dollars— And, naw, he couldn't see it. I knew I'd have a problem dealing with him. "Well," I said, "Dad, I'll tell you what I'll do." He wanted me to sell out— But first he said, Why don't you stay?" "No," I said, "Dad I'm going. I got the hunch to go, and I want to go. I've worked like a damn slave all summer and I ain't going to take it no more." Said, "By God, I'm going to get out of here. I'm in deep debt, but by selling my hogs now-- That's what I didn't tell you— The hogs went up— you see you had to sell half of 'em before you did the other half, 'cause that's the way they fattened out. And I got eight and a half cents for them, and the others ten and a half. And the wheat jumped up to a dollar fortyfive or fifty. I said, "By selling now, I'll clean you and the bank. And I'll have a little to live on. And I'll have a team."
Oh, yes,there's another thing I forgot to tell you— The bank, Goddam, that's what raised hell with me. It got us interested in some of these Guern sey cows. We bought Guernsey in there, and I had four head to move a (with— that is, two heifer calves and two cows, to move to Park with. And I figured I could go over there where there is plenty of pasture and go into cattle and raise a little hay, see. And take it more easy and go out to work, in between. Which I did. But, what I was gonna say, the old man he'd resent it.. Finally, I said, "Listen, you mark down everything you've paid for so-and-so horse," and, I says, "I'll mark it—" I wanted to put it on two sheets, so there wouldn't be no misunderstanding; he'd try to jew me out of it, see,which we did. And he shook his head. Hell,it come to fourteen hundred dollars; I was ahead of him! He had put his own price on them. I told him el even hundred and sixty, what I owed him. I wanted to square with him. Well, when we got through figuring up, it come to fourteen hundred dollars. His own price that he set. And he didn't allow me near what the horse— I said, "God, you ain't paying more than about half what those horses cost me." "Yeah, but there older." "Alright," I said.
SS: You made up your sheet.
HR: I made mine the same, we both marked what he agreed to pay. And whenhe sold out, so help me, he had kids to help him farm, see, and he had a damn kid cousin and some other kids a hoeing beans, I guess, and Goddam, they was isleeping up in that barn and burnt the Goddam barn down, burnt his hay and harness and every Goddam thing.
SS: How did they do that?
HR: Well, the kids was up there sleeping and they'd struck a match to tryto find some candy, mind ya, the damn little brats. So that broke his heart right. So he wanted to quit himself, then.
SS: That was after?
HR: Oh, that was after I moved out. Yeah. You see, we squared up.
SS: Did he take your outfit then?
HR: Oh, yeah, he took—
SS: He knew he was getting a good deal then?
There. But when he sold out— I was going to tell you that— when hesold out— I told him, I says, "Dad, you can always sell for better money than I can." Because he had been an insurance agent in that coun try clear up around Nez Perce. "You got a lot of old-timers that'll come and bid good on your sale. Being that you've had this hard luck." Which they did. By God, people come from all over. Up around where he'd been canvassing selling this— he started this Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company, and they all flocked in there and gobbled up his stuff like nothin'. They paid big prices, he got double what I got for it.
Did he go around and tell 'em he was going to have the sale?
No, they could phone around then, them days. Or they had a newspaper.I don't know how they did it.
Did they all come because he was wellknown?
Because he had old friends there everywhere, see.
They felt bad about the fire?
Yeah. They felt bad for him for that fire. Well, I did~ just to showyou— he had a little, old, Model T car, toruing, 1912, '15, something like that. I bought that for fifty-five dollars. The only thing I bought of him. 'Course, I had to pay him later— maybe he took it out of what I had coming. You see, I had some coming. How many years after you'd sold to him, did this happen? Was this many years later?
Oh, yeah, it wasn't too many. I guess, that'd be about— wait now,'26, '27— I'm getting a little far ahead— a year or two years, '24 '25, I worked out in the farming country, hauling grain. I made a downpayment on a model T truck— ton truck— so I went out and picked up sacks after a combine, see, made a little money that way. But, I lost it, because I couldn't make the payments and I just let 'em take it. So, after that, I just went out sewing sacks in the harvest time.
SS: What I want to know is before we get ahead in there— I want to knowabout the year you sold out to your father.
HR: Well, that was '24.
SS: That was '24.
HR: Yeah, and I think that '26 and '27 was the wet years. See, I'd a gotsunk. He lost grain, that's what made him quit. He didn't only lose his barn, but he lost grain. The wet years rotted the snocks. I worked on combines down here at Pullman, by God, when it was so damn wet, work twenty-one days and then it started raining— got so muddy, see, and the wheat got so soft. And, anyway, he finally quit then and he sold- gave his place away. He sold that place for ten thousand. The guy that bought it had pretty good backing. He had a quarter section of land before that, but he was in the clear, and he had some folks, his mother, had a little money, and they had enough to start buying it.
SS: Well, in '24, when you quit did you get out of debt entirely when yousold?
HR: No. That's what I want to tell you, how hard up I got. I come overhere to Park, and Dad he resented me enough— he owned that Grandad place, but he wouldn't let me rent - I mean live there. But, I played smart, I had cash money, so I went and rented from a fellow the name of Corti for a hundred dollars a year, the whole place, that's all I paid him. And I moved my cattle in there. They had a good barn there, a good log barn, good house, just as good as Dad's.
SS: Wait now, before you tell me this— now you're saying the cattle-You had said
HR: Well, I got these cattle-
SS: Did them cattle put you in debt?
HR: They sure did. I kept staying there— I was going to tell you that—I kept staying there, see, too long; I come there in '24, and I stayed on this Conn place til '28. And I got sick and tired of paying that hundred dollars a month— or a year, because it was— well, here- the cream prices went down so low. You know that it got so that I could only get a dollar and a half for a five gallon can of cream. And, gee, I couldn't raise enough hay on that little shirttail farm to feed 'em. So, there was a doctor in there had ninety acres of good land; pretty level land, that I rented for to cut, what they called bull pine trees for the rent. So I'd get the whole crop myself. The only thing, it didn't have cattle water there only a certain time of the year, and when it got dry summer, I had to either haul water or drive 'em three miles to a pond. I got so I had to haul with a tank for our wash water. There was drinking water down in the draw there. Now this other place had a good spring on it, see, and it really was a place but itfcdidn't have ground enough.
SS: It was a hundred dollars a year? Was that it?
HR: Yeah, a hundred dollars a year, for the whole place, what I could raiseon it.
SS: So, you were getting worse and worse off as time went on, then?
HR: Yes. I stayed there— You see in Park, on this doctor's place from'28 to '32. And I had a hell of a bunch of cattle. Well, one year I bought some state land, before I rented over there, and Dad didn't think I did the right thing, which I didn't. But I didn't know it. I wanted some land. And there was eighty acres laying up and down, along side of one of these places that I rented and it was state land, and I bought that for, let's see, it was ten percent down; fourteen hundred dollars for the two forty, and I had to pay down four hundred dollars cash, see. Borrowed that from my brother, Simon. I paid him back though when I was farming over there. He was paid back when I was farming on the big place. But, anyway, I stayed there on that place, and I tried to log that place. And, could a got it logged if it — if the snow hadn't a melted. I bought a team, heavy team, and went in debt on that and I bought a wagon— team and a wagon— and a bobsled and heavier harness. And I had to borrow a thousand dollars in the Deary bank to do this. So then
SS: The snow— the snow melted.
HR: The snow left and I couldn't— I got a saw man to help me saw the bigtrees. Bit nice trees on the doctor's place. He had consented to me a loggin' it. And he woulda got his share out of that— just paid me for loggin' it, see. And I would log my own, that is, that state land. I had a few thousand on it. That's what I'd figured on. No snow, this winter. No snow next winter. No snow, no snow. I just give it up. Well, then I stayed there from '28 to '32 and the price of wheat and oats and everything went down, down, down. And cattle, you couldn't give that bunch ofstuff away. I really went broke that time. If I hadn't had them goddam things I could a been working out and done a lot better. And I told the missus, "For God sake, let's quite," I says, " I hate to quit, but a. loaned me that money, I still owe the thousand dollars, but they got the mortgage on the cattle, I'll just let 'em take 'em. Now, if there'd been prices like I give— I give a hundred twenty-five dollars for one of them cows when I bought, And then I couldnt' sell 'em at all. That's how bad the times
Now, some of these kids around think by God, they're having a toughtime now. By God, they ought to had what I had! And they'd think different. Well, I gotta tell you a little incident about a— a lit tle accident, I should say. This uncle Ed, Swenson, was with me, he'd been into Park there, he used to come there, he lived at Deary then, and he used to come in there and do a little hunting, him and his bro ther, Adolph, and I. And so I Has taking these cream cans out to Deary on a bobsled and I also had a buggy in there, because when I got to the highway you had to take that buggy out and drive on the highway four miles. And I had this cayuse team; couple of brown geldings, on there, and we got up the hill going, and we had two cans of cream in there, like I said, and they wasn't much, I didn't get much out of 'em. Well, that time, I think they were about three dollars a can, maybe, five gallon cans. Well, Goldam, this one wild Montana cayuse that I had, he got the bit out of his mouth and he got scared when he could see back, you know, and he started galloping runaway. And I got scared, he got me shpj- up my neck and I jumped out the back of that sled— it was a hayrack on it. I said, "Ed," I said, "get out of there, let 'em go, you'll get hurt."A Hecicould get hurt, you know, stumps on the side of the road. Crazy horses running away, "Let 'em go," I said, "for God's sake." No, he stayed and held 'em. Goddam, he stayed Eight with 'em. And just as luck would have it, there was some woodcutters in the road, and by that time the horses had just about through running, they was all winded, see. And they come out in the road, they seen it was a runaway and they stopped 'em. And I had to walk about a mile or a mile and a half to catch up. They'd spilt the cream, didn't have it wired on, fell down, and maybe enough for a little coffee or something. (Chuckles)
See, Ed was busy holding the horses and the cream run outwhile he was having trouble. Well, we got to Deary, to Helmer then, and loaded the buggy out, and I guess we musta took it on in. Well, Ed had to go home, I think that's the way it was, I took him in, you see, he wanted to get home. And then, another time, when— I want to tell you that story, too—It's all true stories. So then, that's when I was living on this doctor's place, selling this cream. In the summertime; we had a neighbor that we always exchanged work with- Rists- and they had a pickup and I didn't and I was— like I said— I was working out in the harvest fields lot of times, and we made the agreement thatAshe would haul— she was the one that drove it— she would haul my cream in the summer, I would haul their cream in the win ter. So, she would take that pickup, see, and haul our cream when I was out to work,to market. Well, then, by golly, one winter there it snowed up three, four feet. And, boy, one team couldn't go through that with any kind of a load at all. I was lucky enough, I had a friend— this poor guy, now he just died here last week— Charlie elaburg— he had a team and Earl Austin had a team and I had fourput eight horses on that- and I made a double— I mean a collapsible snowplow out of planks. I just got that idea and figured that way we could— snowplow we got to the bottom of Potlatch and then when we get there we just come out and there'd just be the empty planks for the horses to pull back, because they'd be tired. By God, the boys, they agreed. But hell, the other side wasn't plowed or nothin'! Next morn ing I had to take that seventeen cans of cream out to Deary with that cayuse team and it had snowed a foot or two that night, I had to break that road down to Potlatch that hrsutK:, and then I had to go out and break my own roadto the highway with that one cayuse team. I'd take the doubletrees off, see— I learnt that when I was workin' for Doc Palmer at Potlatch, in that deep snow just break road with the team and the doubletree— that was out to the haystack off the main road.
SS: You mean you broke the road just by using a doubletree?
HR: Well, some, so the horses could get through, during that snow season.Yeah, I remember that.
SS: Now, when you did that— will you explain to me again how you did that?You used a doubletree and the horses, just enough to—
HR: Yeah, I went up the hill, see, two or three times you had to go withthat deep snow, don't you see? Pack it down. Then I'd pull my loadfourteen cans of cream as far as they could go, and puff 'em, and go a little ways and puff 'em, and then wheni'd get as far as I had broke the road, then I'd have to unhook again and go on. But what I was going to say, it took me from six o'clock in the morning to get to Helmer; I had to stay at Helmer all night. You know where Helmer is. And old Carl Lancaster, his dad-in-law, Wilkins, they had a log barn and I asked 'em if I could stay all night. I said, "I'll pay for it." That's alright, they said. And they had a store there, too. And he said— they had hay— I had my own grain. And next morning, you know, I wanted to pay and they wouldn't even take a cent. There's a good friend of mine, that Carl Lancaster. We meet each other and have good old-time talks once in a while.
SS: I know him. I like him a lot. And when you say "puff 'em", what doyou mean? "Puff 'em"?
HR: Well, that means restin' 'em.
SS: Rest 'em.
HR: Yeah. Did that go in there? My talking?
SS: Oh, yeah, yeah, don't let it stop you from talking! Just the same aswe were talking before.
HR: Well, that's the way it went. And let's see— Oh, it's like I said,It took me twelve hours. Six o'clock til six o'clock.
SS: What about getting back? Was that Okay then?
HR: No, I finally— The next day then, Uncle Ed lived in Deary then, andso I made it a point to go there the next day with my team and buggy: I had the buggy then already there, and so, you see, I parked it there at Wilkinses from the time before. And, so then I stayed all day the next day with my uncle, to rest my horses. By God, they'd had a hard day of it the day before, see, and I wasn't about to kill 'em entirely. They done awful good to plow that road, that was about two miles that I broke all by myself. Uphill business, pertnearly. Well, not quite, but a lot of it anyway. That grade, you know, along— Well, that wasn't this grade, that was the old grade, and it was worse than this one. Yeah, that was the old grade.
SS: That was before—
HR: That was before the Potlatch got the road in there. And, anyway, Igot through it. Dahl, was one neighbor that never used to haul or ex change hauling cream. And he called up Ed Swenson to see how I made it. And, of course, I, like a monkey, I told him "Fine," I said, "It's good now."Just to get him to come out. He come out the next day and it took him til two o'clock to get to Deary. And, I met him on the street. "l thought you said it was a good road." "Well," I said, "I figured it was a lot better'n when I went up, I had to break it all by myself." I said, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, being an oldtimer in there, and you wouldn't even as much as offer to haul my_ cream can, let alone any other combination." And, I said, "By golly, Rist always did. There was a real neighbor." We neighbored back and forth like neighbors should. "Well,", he said, "it sure took a long time to get through there." "Well," I said, "that's good for you."
When you say two o'clock— do you mean two in the morning?
Well, he was lucky to get there. He had a good, fresh team, of course,And my horses and the sled had broke the road, it hadn't snowed any more. He could get through it pretty good. He might have to puff his horses, rest his horses, a little bit going up the grade, but other than that he could plug along. He couldn't go fast, but he could—
Yeah, yeah, so he got in there at two in the afternoon?
What time did you get in there if things were just smooth?
If things were smooth, what time would you get in there?
Oh, I could make that in about, well, general rule, let's see, I'dsay, not over two hours.
Whoooop' Well, tell me, just how important was that neighboring?
How important was that neighboring when you were in Park? Did peopleneighbor really close?
Well, the thing was, us folks that had cream to sell, especially whenI went out to work in the harvest fields, then it was very important for me to see that my cream got out. My wife couldn't drive. She had little kids to take care of and the garden. But Mrs. Rist, she was a nice neighbor lady there. She lived close by there, and she'd always drive in and pick up our cans, take 'em out. Well, then, here's some more, if you want to hear the rest of it. I sure do.
Well, in '32, as I said, I made the agreement with the bank that theywas to take my outfit for the mortgage, and I was gonna have a clean slate. Well, my dad and my Uncle Adolph was helping me to move out. I had what little I could haul out on this car— it was a Ford truckthat 's right. Ton truck. And I'd made an arrangement with out here southeast of Moscow to live on his place for the rent— do his chores for the rent, softcould get my kids to school. And, so then, of course, when we got down to Troy with my load coming in to get over to this place, this Ankley had put— I'd already unloaded one load. I didn't tell you that, I'd brought one load first. Some fruit and stuff. And I come in here he had another family in there. Man! was I mad. And Dad says, "Oh, you'd better turn back." "No, Dad," I says, "I'm going— I'll make that devil cough up." And I was awful mad because of that. And, anyway, I told him, I said, to my uncle, "Let's go into Moscow and see if we can find him." And we found out he was in the Pastime in Moscow there. "Well," I says, "Adolph call him out. I can't go in there. I'd fight him right in there. Bet ter call him out." Alright he called him out, and he come out there and I said, "You done me one dirty trick." I said, "You promised me that place to do the chores and you moved in another family in, after I had possession." If I'd a been smart, I could have sued him, you know. But I wasn't smart enough to do it. Dad didn't think of it. But I didn't want to be in that kind of a pickle. Don't you see? I had a family there, moving. I had to get some place. So, I says, "It's gonna cost you a plenty, Buddy, we're going to stay right here til you fix up something." Well, he was pretty slick. He found this neigh bor; a friend of his, I should say, Mix, Doug Mix. Says, "I'll call him up. He's got a house back there, in the back field." He said, "He might let you have, and get some work from him." "Fine,"I said. And he had offered me twenty-five dollars for damages.
But afterwardswhen he got me that, I was bighearted and give it back to him. And I found I wouldn't a got that cashed anyway, his credit was no good. His checks. So, I moved the family out there at Mix's place, about three miles out in the country on a dirt road. And my kids, that was these older girls, they were— '32, wait a minute— the youngest one, she was seven, you see, she was born in '25, and '18— the oldest one was fourteen, I guess. And the other one'd be twelve. Twelve, four teen and five. And the boy he would be sixteen. Anyway, they had to walk to school all that distance, on that dirt road. Stormy, oh, man! And I had to get up and milk cows for that bugger at five o'clock in j, the morning and then fix fence during the day. Dollar a day! Board myself and my family on that dollar. Well, he wasn't going to charge me no rent to start with til I got— them days, that was the year that old Roosevelt had the WPAJ And there was a rock crusher— Moscow wasn't all rock streets. Down there on Lewis Street they had to have four horses on a wagon with just a little bunch of rock in the bed of the wagon, would sink down half way— it happened to be a wet year, '34, that year that I got that job. And it was running down— I mean the wagon would sink down half way on the spokes. And I was out there pounding with a sixteen pound maul; what they called these nigger heads to get 'em through the rock crusher. And, forty dollars a month, that's all you got. You wasn't a starving on it, you could get by, and I got this house rented after I quit that son of a gun. See I got a house on Polk Street for ten dollars a month. And it had a big fireplace and a basement.
SS: You said he didn't charge you at first.
HR: Yeah, yeah, then when I quit, I had money coming from him, but he heldthat out for rent. Charged me seven dollars and a half rent. So it was absorbed, all I had coming. Oh, he was a slicker. So I got stung. But I made it. I got moved into— This— his pal was a McLain. He was a bookkeeper there in this place, see. So he wouldn't put me on right away, but one day after I got moved— He said, "You're farm ing out there, you're on a farm." I said, "I'm not farming, I'm just living there, working for Mix." He couldn't put me on he said on that account. They were cronies, see. But old Harvey Smith, he was a civil engineer, and he was the boss of the whole works. And I come in there one day and was telling him about this house that I had rented right here in town. I had moved in town and I wanted to get on; no excuse I couldn't after I got in town. 'Cause out there we had to haul water even. The well that was there, there was dead rabbits in it, couldn't use it even for wash water til I cleaned it out.
SS: Where did you haul the water from?
HR: The city. Had to haul it from the city.
SS: You made a buck a day working for him, but you still managed to get byon that.
HR: Well, I had a little, you see, Roosevelt made a stipulation that anycrop you raised when you had a family on fifty-five acres, you couldregardless of mortgage— that's how I had a little money to move on— I took that bunch of oats that I sold, see, I pocketed every load, in my pocket and the banker never said a word.
SS: You could grow a crop on that guy's place?
HR: Oh, yes, that is— now I'm getting probably too far ahead here— thiswas in Park, you see, on the doctor's place, that I made that. But I'm trying to tell you that I was allowed that much money, see. I mean that much crop.
SS: So, you had some money to live on.
HR: Oh, God, yeah, you bet. I wouldn't a moved, you know. And so then Igot this other job.
SS: You said you told Harvey Smith that you wanted on.
HR: Yeah, Harvey Smith— he told this fellow Mc Lain—he says, "Ringsage,you got children going to school?" I said, "Yes sir." "Well," he says, Mc Lain," he says, "put Ringsage on. He's got children going to school he's got a right to have a job." So I got on, by golly. And I stayed on that winter. The next summer I got a job down at, oh, wait a minute and I'll tell you— Laird Park, you know that's down toward Potlatch, I and a guy in Moscow applied for work through the WPA, see,— no, that was for the forest rangers— Forest Service— and got down there, and we was to clean that park up, see. And, so then, nobody seemed to be able to file a saw, crosscut saw. Well, I had an outfit to set a saw and gauge it, you know, and I also had practiced enough to learn to file 'em good. Make 'em cut; So they wanted to know if anybody could do this kind of work. And I stuck my neck out, told 'em I could. They said, "That's your job. You're gonna file these saws." So that's what I did down there that summer. Then, when I got through with that, along in the fall, I had this old Model T I was telling you about. I drove clear to Wenatchee to pick apples for three cents a box. You know where Wenatchee is? I went down there and picked apples for three cents a box— started to—and I knew I couldn't make much that way. I was in the Pastime and +He had a sign up on the blackboard,"Teamster Wanted" skidding logs. Gee, I knew all about that. I'd already learnt that up in the woods. And it was five dollars a day and board! Boy, that was more than I could make pickin' apples. I found out where this guy was and he come in there and I got the job. And, it was a heck of a place. It was a mountain; there was shale rock and great big yellow pine trees and boy, you had to know your stuff to try to figure out how to get them logs out of there without too much work. So. had an other pardner along with me, another team, and he says, "How in the world you gonna get them logs out of that sidehill withoutArolling down hill?" I says, "Listen, Buddy, hook your team, your tongs on the back end of that log, and I'll have mine in front here." And I said, "You be sure to have 'em socked in good and tightened up, so when I go we both go and don't give up, keep comin' til we get out to the main trail downhill." He says, "Why?" I says, "By golly, if you don't," I says, "that'll go down the hill. It'll roll down the hill." Well, it worked.
SS: Was he braking, or was he just following you?
HR: He just followed, you see. It was a pretty big log, the two couldn'thardly pulled it anyway. And went right along like that. And got out and so I got by, I got the five dollars a day. That didn't last too long.
SS: Where was this place at?
HR: When I was picking apples. And so,—
SS: Well, tell me one thing here — what was it like there in the applepicking in Wenatchee? Were there lots of people there picking?
HR: Oh, yeah, they come from all over. All kinds of people. Yeah. Youbet. Then later years, after that, then I had learnt a little how to pick, and this cousin of mine, Ervin Swenson, he wanted to go with me. That was 1928, the year that I got through up here— no, wait a minute- No, that's when I lived in Park, we done that—We got down there; we got a little more then than we got, see— I think it was about five cents a box, we got. So we made a little better. But you had to board yourself. They had cabins, see that you boarded yourself. You paid ten cents a day — they had a cookstove and slabwood, you had to do your own cooking.
SS: Did you get your own cabin, or did you share it?
HR: They rented— the orchard had cabins all over, see, for the pickers.
SS: How many people would live in one cabin?
HR: Oh, different orchards had different sized bunch to pick, see. Nowthey're doing different. They got— instead of the little handboxes they got these great big— you better shut that thing off—
SS: Well, I was thinking I should be going and come back another time.
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