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This conversation with William (Michigan Bill) Stowell took place in his home inLewiston, Idaho on Sept. 28, 1976. The interviewer is Sam Schrager.
SS: Place to place, job to job.
WS: Why sure.
SS: That's the way you get there.
WS: Sure. I've done it for years. Yeah. I used to hate to pay my fares. I don'tknow why but i did. Yeah, that was the custom then, you know, when we, everybody did it, lumberjacks. It's oh, rn the supnertime but it got kind of cold in the winter.
SS: Where would you usually wind up riding on the train?
SS: Yeah, when you hopped in them days?
WS: Well you riding the frsights, you get inside if you could, in anempty boxcar. Otherwise you're outside. And passenger train, you either went underneath or the blinds. Go underneath, right on the You had to have a little board, about 18 inches long.
SS: You took it with you?
WS: Yeah, sure. Sometimes you'd find one in there, but not always. You could siton it, you know. Kind of humped up. You never did that. No.
SS: Lot of my friends have done it. Go from Portland to San Francisco.
SS: I've hitchhiked a lot, but never rode the freight.
WS: Deez, I used to never hitchhike. I always had a packsack, you know andpeople don't like to pick you up, packsack and a lot of things. I never triec that hitchhiking, I tried that a couple of times, but not very sucessfully. If I wanted to go aways, I'd just jump on a freight and away I went.
SS: Did you have to watch out for the dicks?
WS: On some, the UP was bad but in this country you take like the, well the NP,the Great Northern, any of them, they were all good. But the UP was always pretty hostile. I don't know why, but they, they had a school where they educated them Cheyenne it was. They was always ridin' them freights there. I mas there. Any direction. And they were pretty rough. It was for ayeaus on the yellow road, you could ride for a dollar a division, you know. Like from Spokane to know where Kootnai, Out of Sandpoint three or four miles. That was a division then. That was, Kootnai to Paradise, that was another Paradise to Missoula was another division. Change crews, you see. That's when they had the old steamers, you know.
SS: But if you were riding the freight you didn't pay nothing.
WS: Yeah, pay a dollar.
SS: Oh you did pay a dollar.
WS: Often times, yeah. That's what I say they had. A dollar a division. Otherwisethey'd throw you off. But they cut that out. Then you could ride for nothing.
SS: I've heard that the brakeys sometimes would nal- guys up
WS: Oh yeah, sure. Sure they would. They used to hold up them firefighters quiteoften. Be a whole bunch of em all, Christ, maybe a hundred of 'em you know, come off of a fire. They wouldn't have much. They'd be going this way, that way, east, west, someway and they'd ride a freight, you know. Spokane was kind of a jumping off place then, it was kind of central like, you know, for, well for all those guys, they nad to go in there to get new start, I guess. But, what was I going to say now?
SS: You were saying they nailed firefighters.
WS: Oh yeah, yeah, they'd rob 'em there, you know. They, if you had anything they'dtake it, and leave you ride. But if you bad it hit out and they'd find it some place, they'd throw you off. It was the rule.
SS: Did you hide your money?
WS: Oh yeah, hide it in your shoe or your sock or your hatband or someplace. Yeah,everybody tried to hide it someplace but, them guys knew all the hiding places. So I've been robbed a hundred times. What's that, a lawnmower going?
SS: Sounds like it.
WS: That guy died over there.
WS: That big guy that lived there next door. He was buried about a month ago, Ithink. His wife, oh she's a nice woman. Pretty little thing. She's about 40 I guess.
SS: Talking about booze, where would you get it during the depression?
WS: Anyplace. Anplace atall. Christ, it was easy to find. If you knew, if you weren'ta spender. I remember when they sold it a Pierce, five dollars a gallon. That was'30, '31, during the depression, you know. Good stuff. Pretty fair stuff, some of it. Some of it wasn't worth a goddamned, some, oh I guess, pretty good stuff that I got at the same place most of the time. Five dollars. But then it went up and it kept going up, I don't know what the hell it was when they legalized this whiskey,'bout twenty dollars, I guess, when they, see when was whiskey legal? »32. '33 I think. Yeah. '33 I think.
SS: Roosevelt got in there.
SS: How often would you guys go drinking?
SS: Mostly weekends?
WS: Oh no, oh no, not them days. Oh no, they'd stay three or four months.
SS: In a camp?
WS: Yeah. Average.
SS: They wouldn't drink in the camp?
WS: Oh no. No
SS: Why not.
WS: Well, they just didn't want to, I guess. If they did get drunk they'd leave.Quit. No, they didn't drink much in camp. Very, very little. They do now though. They all got bottles. Most of 'em have. They don't get drunk thoucft you know. They take a couple a drinks, maybe a day, that's it. Chose that drink And the old timers, thpy'te all gone, of course. Christ, they ain't none of them.
SS: I look for 'em. Can't find *em.
WS: No, no, there ain't none. Have you seen Bowles lately? Wallace Bowles?
SS: I've seen his sister, his younger sister.
WS: Yeah, where's she live? Bovill.
SS: Her husband died a couple of years ago, now she lives in Lewiston.
WS: Well, he come to Bovill when he was about eight years old, Wallace did. He wasborn...
SS: Yeah, that's right.
WS: But he left when he was a kid. I haven't seen him for a couple of years.
SS: He's around.
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: Someone told me that the IWW's sent out a flying squad, like if the guys onthe trains were getting held up. Did you ever remember anything like that?
WS: Oh yes. Sure. They used to be highjackers on the trains, you know. Fellas madea business of it. You know. Them firefighters, they followed sspecially. They have guns you know and you wouldn't know who they were til the train got going. They'd be usually two of'em, you know. They'd frisk 'em and HM over the other end of the car, so that they'd frisk and kept the others over there til they called 'em out, you know. There'd be two of 'em, you know. They'd have guns and they'd shoot ya. They shot quite a few guys. Throw 'em off.
SS: If you put up too much of a fight?
WS: Oh yeah.SS: That's pretty rough.
WS: Yeah, but they never looked for nobody, you know, they didn't care much, youknow. The authorities, they'd find the body and put a little note in the paper about it and that's all there was ever to it. They never, unless they happened to, unless some guys held up someone in town or a bank or something, then they'd catch 'em.
SS: Not the working stiff.
WS: Oh no. They didn't give a goddamn.
SS: When you were held up, did you ever put up a fight?
WS: Oh no, I got stuck up right in front of this shack. Twenty six dollars I had.I always turn the porch light on when I go over town, you know. But I didn't this night, and I was coming home and uoy was on the porch. And he bMV ef and started talking to me and I didn't think nothing of it, you know. Until he asked me if I had any money. I didn't answer him then. Then it was two other guys that come from over here. I see the three of them then, they ^ust said then,"Give us your money." So I give 'em the billfold. I said, "Give me back my billfold." So they did. They took the money. That's all they was to it. I never even mentioned it for two weeks afterwards, I happened to tell somebody about it, but there's no use. I uouldn't know if I see them right there. It was dark and they had whiskers.
SS: On the trains, I'd think the men would try to get together for self defense.
WS: Well there wasn't much chance. They were mostly all individuals, you know, theysee that gun and then think of themselves.
SS: In the old days, it was so colorful.
WS: You say it looks that way now.
SS: Didn't it look that way then?
WS: Not to me. It was just another day's work. I didn't think it was too colorful.Oh I used to like horses. I always had a good team of horses. Took good care of 'em. But these old cats, I don't care much for them, I guess, you know, piece of machinery.
SS: They make a lot of noise.
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: I was wondering about jungling up on the trains. What were the facilities likefor that?
WS: Well, some of 'em like these lumberjack towns, they all had pretty good jungles,you know. Frying pans and tin cans and dishes and everything. They were kept in shape,they were always washed. Hanging up, everything was, you krsw. 3ungle was a pretty likely spot, right by a nice spring or something. But, see, get out on the main line, of course, everybody jungled up then pretty much, you know. Every body. Stiffs of all kinds. But it got so you had to carry your own riggin', you know. Fryin* pan. You could always find a coffee can, but you had to have plates and a fring pan. You know, tin plate and a frying pan. That's all you needed. Chuck. Yah, you jungled up every place you went. Well as a rule, you traveling on goddamn short money. And you had to make it last til you got where you were going. You were traveling through strange country, you know, where you werBn't acquainted or didn't know anybody. Get out of this lumberjack area, you know, and picked up going. 'Long as you were 'round these lumberjacks, there was nothing to it, you know. Always get something. But you get out in these, get away from this area, you know, pretty binding sometimes, you had to get right out and rustle.
SS: How's you rustle?
WS: Well, any way you could get it.
SS: Like stealing chickens?
WS: Oh yes. That got to be a pretty serious offense. Stealing chickens? Oh yeah,I don't know what, I think it's five years in this state now, yeah.
SS: That's pretty high.
WS: Yeah, I stold lots of 'em, but I never got caught. But I know some that did.Oh yeah, raidin' the chicken coop was serious. We used to catch 'em on a fishhook. If they come around the jungles, you know, where we was junglin* up they would sometimes an old hen wander around there. Slcse to a farm or something. Put a worm on a hook and they'll bite her you know, You can hook 'em. Lead 'em right to you. They won't pull much. Yeah, I've got 'em that way.
SS: What about bumming grub. Could you go into stores and ask for some?
WS: Oh yeah. The butcheri shops were always good. I don't know why they'd be, theywouldn't be now, you know, because you can't see the butcher. You know, the butcher always worked out at the block, you know, cuttin' meat, and you go in bummin' he always give you something. Might not be the best, but he'd give you something, you know. Yeah, of bacon or something like that. But I don't know how in the hell you'd go at it now. Everything is...
SS: Food stamps is the way to do it now.
WS: That's right, I never thought of that.
SS: That's the way it is now.
WS: Well, I don't get nothin' like that. I just get my pention is all. I never triedto get anything like that. I...
SS: Well, you've got enough to get by on, that's the main thing.
WS: Yeah, but them sjaiwy^ that's quite a racket, ain't it?
SS: Maybe for some people. Get these college kids on it.
WS: They are?
SS: Some have been. There's always a certain amount of that thing. But then thereare people who need them.
WS: Oh yes, sure. I see some in the store here. Only time I seen em. They're anawful handicap, they bother, hey screw the checkout girl, everybody up, don't they? Givin' 'em change. And some will get I see you can't get cigaretts with em.
SS: Sure, that ain't food. Can't eat 'em.
WS: I see a woman with a carton of a cigaretts and they made her, the checkout girltook 'em. Yeah.
SS: But if you were getting grub like that, would one guy get it for a whole bunch?Or would everybody go rustle for himself?
WS: Oh^ you stake out, one guy go after one article, and guy go after another. Andso on, you know. Coffee was the hardest to get. You had to buy that. But you could get a meal, stew meat and all like that, you know. I couldn't live very long on it, but, Oh, I know guys that come into towns like Sandpoint two weeks sometimes. bumming.
SS: Bumming cff the lumberjacks?
WS: Anybody. On the street or any goddamn place. And get drunk too.Yeah sure. Oh,a lumberjack, he was always good for whatever he bad. That your car out there?
WS: Same one you had?
SS: Oh yeah. Was there different guys there? You said it wasn't just lumberjacksbut there were guys that were full time hobos on the rails too?
WS: Oh yeah, sure. It's all the did was move from town to town. And you always bada racket, lot of 'em had a racket or something, they were sellin something or some goddamn, yeah. Somethin' just to get the conversation started with a person so they could bum him or something, you know. Yeah, sure, there was all kinds of things. They pick up that was loose too, but they didn't have guts enough to hold anybody up, you know, they just had to get by that way. And they could go to work, some of 'em worked once in awhile, you know. Take on labor. But I don't know, That I haven't, the last freight train I rode was just before the war. was in '41, I I just made a short trip. And I don't know who's riding them now or if there's anybody riding 'em. I don't know that, by god. I hear these guys, these construction workers talk about Pasco. Pasco used to be an awful place, for bums going through, you know. Dust goA both ways, you know.
SS: Lots of guys.
WS: Oh, Jesus Christ. Hundred, two hundred on the train. But, well, it's long time,40 years, I guess. I don't know what the hell is going on there now.
SS: Did you meet many guys you knew on them trains?
WS: Oh yeah. Guys like myself you know, yeah.
SS: In the woods.
SS: Could you trust the guys on the trains?
WS: Oh yeah. Sure.
SS: I've heard that you just about had to have a Wobbly card to ride.
WS: Yeah, you did. Yeah, if you didn't have, they'd dump ya.
SS: You'd either have one or you'd get off the train?
WS: Yeah. Jump,
SS: Did they ask to see your cards?
WS: Oh yeah. You see it was, lot of guys didn't want to show it because it was ayear FDR carrying a Wobbly card.
SS: No kidding.
WS: Yeah, in California, Oregon, Idaho. One year. You see, that was a revolutionaryorganization. They believed in the overthrow of the government.By force. I lost my card, oh, it was a long time ago. '36 I think.
SS: I've heard more good about that union. That's all I hear about them from theworking man.
WS: It was good. There wasn't no centralized authority like there is in these bigunions, you know,like, well, you can't, well, If you working in a camp here now and you belonged to the CIO, the IWA, it's the same, you can't just hold a meeting in a camp and take a strike can, but it don't mean nothin'. You can't strike, it'd be illegal. You've got to, well, it's got to go to the executive committee finally before it'd be sanctioned, you know. And that might be- oh christ- But the had enouoh for a you could hold a meeting and call a strike and it was legal, you know with the organization, it was illegal with the government and everything but the organization, and you could go out and get uhat you wanted. Or get nothing. It depends on how much power you had.
SS: Did you guys sing the Wobbly songs?
WS: Oh yes. Yeah. I used to have a book. Oh, I have several of 'em but I used toknow some of them songs but I don't know 'em any more.
SS: Like "Pie in the Sky," "Halleluja I'm a Bum
WS: "Commonwealth of Toil", oh they was lots of 'em. "joe Hill". Yeah, I used toknow some of em but I've forgotten them now. Oh we used to sing 'em. Shit.
SS: Guys in the jungles, would they sing them?
WS: Sure, anyplace. Camp, anyplace.
SS: The guys on the trains, some of them weren't lumberjacks but they were Wobbliestoo,
WS: Oh yeah. They, the Wobblias covered different industries, you know. Same asthese organizations do now. They, well, the construction workers and the lumberjacks, sheet metal workers and the like of that. They covered a lot of different indus tries, you know, they were pretty strong at one time, ^he headquarters was in Chicago.
SS: i heard Spokane was the western headquarters.
WS: It was. Yeah. I don't know if, there's nothin* there now.
SS: I wish there was.
WS: Yeah, you could get a lot of dope if you could meet some of them old fellas.Yeah.
SS: What did they believe about sabotage? I heard that there was a lot of thingspinned on 'em that they never done.
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: Didn't they believe in sabotage at times when it was necessary?
WS: Well, it was never sanctioned in print you know, but it was a part of the game.If it was necessary, yeah. They used to do things like, well if they got thrown off of a freight train or something. The next thing they'd do throw sand in the box of another train, you see. Called it the hotbox, you know. Had to be set out and, otherwise it would catch the whole boxcar on fire which would happen too.
SS: You mean you'd throw it in the journal box?
WS: Dust a handful of sand. Yeah. Well,I never knew of any Wobblies doing it butI've known of other guys doing it that got thrown off, you know. The next chance they got, went the sand. Wouldn't be that train probably but it'd be another one.
SS: What about in the woods? Iknow in the lumber camps there'd be aspike in alog.
WS: I've heard of it being done. I never did it, of course, myself. I never didcommit no act of sabotage. I didn't believe in it. But, well the company usually did it themselves.
SS: Connany did it and blamed it on the Wobblies?
WS: Yeah. You bet they did.
SS: You were telling me about that 36 strike at Pierce where they killed a coupleof guys. Was that Fromalt's camp?
WS: It was Fromalt's crew. See Fromalt, that company had forced him to start operationyou see. They was trying to break the strike, you know. They, he had a contract with 'em. There was nothing in it about labor trouble of anything. Dust a written contract, you know. And they made him start up. That's where the whole trouble started. And then some of his crew, why his real loyal hands, why they undertook to do a little shootin' there.
SS: Did you guys try to stop them from working?
WS: Yeah. We had a picket line.
SS: Did any of his guys get beaten?
WS: Yeah, they got beat up, but, more or less individually, you know. Not that nightthey didn't, no, but they got it afterwards in town and...
SS: Oh, they didn't get beat up before the shooting started?
WS: That's how that happened. And then we, of course they shot through the windshieldtoo, you know. And had stuck truck and we all bailed off somewhere's you know. Got off and got the hell, anyplace you could, we didn't have a thing, you know. Not even apeavy stuck. I got down behind the
SS: I think this guy was a strikebreaker in Fromalt's camp that told me that thataction started after the guys on the picket line beat up two guys in the camp.
WS: No. Well, they might have been some mixups, you know, before that in town. Therewas always two or three fights in town everyday, you know. Pierce. But, maybe more but I, oh I know, all them fights, but I don't, can't conect them, anything with this shooting.
SS: And they killed a couple guys.
WS: Oh yeah. Oh sure. There were nine rifles in that group.
SS: You told me how you got away and how they put you in jail. Were you mad aboutthat whole thing? That year in jail?
WS: Well, it could've been more. Yeah the, well, the country was hostile too, youknow. The courts and the law and everything you know. It was pretty harr to it. If you got pinched it was pretty hard to beat any kind of a rap at all. In front of the judges, you know. We had an old lawyer from Spokane, I never met him, but he defended the rest of this bunch that I was with. He didn't defend me, I had another one, but, his name was I might as well get up and talk with him.
SS: Seems like they should have tried to get a decent lawyer.
WS: Well, they didn't have the money. We had never had a strike fund, you know.The IWW's never had a strike fund. Not like these now, Christ Almighty, a milion dollars in that strike fund. I don't know, the automobile workers, they're out yet, aren't they?
SS: Yeah, sure.
WS: Jesus Christ, I don't know how much of a strike fund they've got.
SS: They've been saving it up for a long time.
WS: Oh yes, and they*recashed every month. Yeah.
SS: How come you got your own lawyer? id you think he was better or what?
WS: Well, yes, I thought I could do better.
SS: Did you or did they all get the same thing that you did?
WS: Oh, there was five got a year and the rest got just minor sentences you know,3D days and something like that, fhere was about nine of us all together in that deal. But they picked some and made, oh, I don't know, ringleaders I guess they called. I was no ringleader. I was just ordinary stiff, you know, working stiff. But I happened to get caught in them circumstances and that's how that happened.
SS: So they made you a ringleader.
WS: Well, I...
SS: They called you one.
WS: Yeah. Dust, a striker was all I was, you know. I was on strike committees andthe like of that you know, I took an active part in the organization but never nothing violent you know. I didn't go overboard over it.
SS: What was it like in jail for a year?
SS: Was it pretty good?
WS: Sure. Dent was sherrif. Harry Dent was his name. Yeah, we had three newspaperseveryday, Spokane, Oregon paper and this paper over here. And they could bring anything in they wanted to, you know. And I had a lot of friends. I had, Christ enough tobbacco and money and everything. I wasn't hurtin' any, but...
SS: Could you drink in there?
WS: 0nce in awhile. If you could get it in, that was the problem, you know. Theyused to frisk any visitors, you know. If they came in contact, like you and me sittin' here, you know, if you got anyway close to'em, why they'd have 'em frisked you see. N they didn't go for, oh, I brought a couple bottles up the back way with a rope or string, you know. But, well, it was a big bunch in there and pass it around and its all gone. You couldn't, there was no chance to get a "loon or nothing, you know.
SS: How many guys in one cell?
WS: Well, they was four. Yeah, they brought a bunch of prisoners from Leavenworth,they were federal prisoners, you know. And they was working on a road job at Kooskia. They all one year men, they got mostly white slavery charges. They was from all over the United States.
SS: What's white slavery?
WS: Well, transportin' a woman from one state to another for prostitution, yeah.White slavery. That's a year mimimum, see, well, that's what these guys were doin'. One year, most of em. And they had nothin' you know. They were from, well, they weren't like me, right from here, you , they were from all over, you know. And of course, they had better connections than I did, but they weren't where they could get to 'em or anything, you know and they had nothing. We kept 'em in tobbacco and razor blades and the like of that.
SS: Were they being worked during the day?
WS: Yeah, fhey was in there for about a week and then they took 'em to Kooskia andI don't know where in hell they kept ' there.
SS: But you didn't have to work, you just sat there and waited. Did you get out onparole?
WS: served 11 months. A little over. Yeah.
SS: It got me about the blackballing afterwards.
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: How did you make a living when every place you went they kicked you out?
SS: Did you change your name?
WS: No. I was going to once, you see that, social security come out about that time,you know, think that fall. I was working in California, you know, Morrison-Knudson. But you got that name and number and everything, you know, I didn't want to change, I said the hell with it, I'll keep my own name. So when I went to work in the loggin' camp, then I was maybe getting ten days, then they'd come and tell me, you know, that I had go
SS: This went on for so long. How did you make a living?
WS: Well, just work when you could, and when you couldn't, well, you didn't. Dustmake it some other way. Go to work for a farmer. Anybody.
SS: You'd work for farmers?
WS: I worked for a couple of 'em. Couple of 'em, yeah. UM-hm. Yeah, I worked overhere at Yakima one time, Toppinish I think it was, tte t Yakima valley. Ten cents an hour. Ten hours a day. Pitchin' alfalfa. Dcsus Christ, hard work.I think it was stone boats, or, I called 'em stone boats, you know, you've seen 'em.
SS: Buck a day, that's nothing compared to what you were making as a lumberjack.
WS: Ten hours. Oh no, but you had to: live, you know, and I don't like bumming Idon't know. I would if I had to, I did, but it didn't appeal to me. Soliciting alms.
SS: Could you go to the unions for money?
WS: eah, they offered me money, but I wouldn't take it. I told them, they hell withya! I make my own way. Yeah, they offered me money. They offered me money when I got out of jail. And they offered me money in jail, 'hey come up to see me and they, representatives, some guys I didn't know at all come up. There was someone there every day. But I never took no money or nothin' from 'em. They had an office, or a hall, in Spokane then, you kncn, on Bernard Street. Between Trent and Main. That was their headquarters. When Igot out of jail, I was going through Spokane and I met a guy and he said,"Come-down tothe hall." I had money then. I got money when I got out, Pierce. I went to Pierce and got a couple hundred dollars and so I went down to the hall and they wanted to give me money there but I didn't take it, hell with it. They didn't have much any way.
SS: That money from Pierce, you borrowed?
WS: Yeah, individual.
WS: Yeah. Businessman.
SS: Pretty good that guy gave you that money.
WS: Yeah, he probably figured on never seeing me again, you know. He says,"Whereare you goin'?" Isaid,"I don't know. I'm goin' to get out of here.'I sent it to him.
SS: Was it really hot for you around here after you got out of jail?
WS: Oh no.
SS: Around Pierce?
SS: But they wouldn't hire you.
WS: No, I never tried there, you see, I never tried to go to work there. BecauseI knew they wouldn't put me to work. And they opened an office in Bovill, you know. Over there, you see.
SS: The union did?
WS: N0,no, the company.
SS: The company did.
WS: And Iheard guys say they couldn't go to work here. Inever was inthis place up here then, you know, in Orofino, they just opened that. I never went in there at all. I went in there 1941, the first time, but I never went in there after the strike and I heard guys say they'd been in there and they wouldn't hire 'em and said they were all filled up, "Well, I'm going over to Bovill." "I'll try that place." "I'll get out of there." Ithought you*!? pay hell gettin out of there, too.There was about a hundred of us, I guess, all together, you know.
SS: Guys that couldn't get work 'cause they were Wobblies?US: Yeah. I seen the list. Guy showed it to me in Oregon.
SS: Were they mostly from around here?
WS: All from around here. Well, that is, they were, they worked around here. Theywas like myself, they was from wherevir they were, why that's where they belonged. You know, at the time. But Iwent down to Oregon and l went to work for aguy I used to work for on Marble Creek here. And his name was Ed Gaffney. Used to be superintendent on Marble, walking boss. Went down there he was working for the Sprague River Lumber Company. Yen, I went right to work, soon as he seen me he put me to work. I worked about ten days. Clerk come in one night and he said, "Mr. Gaffney wants to see you over in his house." He lived in a house, you know, he had his own house. Married of course he was. He and his wife. I knew what it was, I packed my sack right away and I didn't go over. I was going to leave in the morning. See, I knew what it was. Bufc, the clerk come again, he said he wanted to see me, so I went over then, you know. About an hour later he told me, showed me the list. I was fourth or fifth from the top. He said,"You've got to go Bill." So I did and I come into Klamath Falls and I met a couple guys there that I knew real well, you know. And they were from around, they used to^around here. They were blackballed too, you see. But they knew it, they were smart enough to know it, you know, I told 'em, I said,"I just worked for Gaffney up here at Sprague River for, I got in ten days," I said,"you might get ten days too, if you want to try' that's where they were headed for, see. So they did, they went up and he give 'em ten days work. I give'em a little money, I give 'em, I had forty, fifty of work.
SS: Did you go around mostly by yourself in them days?
WS: Oh, it depends. If I met up with a guy I like, you know, I, and he was goingmy way, why, we'd go together. Otherwise I went alone.
SS: Did that sour you on the union?
WS: No. I don't know, I was expecting all that, you know. I knew the union was outlawedyou know. I mean, I knew it was illegal under the present set up, you know, I knew that, of course. I was expecting that, you know. If we were winners, you see, it would be different. But we didn't come out winners. And they wouldn't allow us to win, you know, they wanted to kill the organization, you see, which they did. That was the last feeble attempt they ever made. The IWW.
SS: Did you figure at the time the chances were pretty bleak for you to work? In'36?
WS: You mean, to win the strike? Oh, yeah, I kinda thought we might win. At first.Yeah, we come out a hundred per cent.
SS: You mean, everything shut down.
WS: Oh, bang, even run! .logs at the mill there. The mill didn't go out with us,you know, they was different, you know. The mill never did go with the woods and the IWW strike. They stayed away from that mill, you know.
SS: How come?
WS: Well, the mill was all married men. and they had homes and they had commitmentsthey had to make and all this and that. So the Wobblies, they were all single men, didn't give a goddamn for nothing. They always steered away from the mill, you know. But the mill wasn't in with us this time but and this last IWW strike, but they run out of timber out here, you see.
SS: They had to shut down.
WS: And they had to shut down, but that's when the pressure come on us, you see.They started that shootin' match up there, then they declared marshall law and brought the national guard in for Orofino and Pierce and that was on the way out, then.
SS: You figured it was the right thing for the men to try to do.
SS: So you really had to do it.
WS: I thought it was right, yeah. I knew they were going to try to prove us wrong,but the camps themselves, you know, was in awful shape, you know. Lousy, dirty and when you went to work in the spring, you could have stayed there all summer, you had the same blanket on bed when you left in the fall. And no change of sheets or nothing, you know.
SS: I thought that was what the '17 strike was about?
WS: Well, it was, it was on the coast. But...
SS: They just got back to work after the depression. They were just starting upagain.
WS: You mean, this around here.
SS: Well, '36 was just after the...
WS: Yeah, right, they was just gettin' motion. Old Rose had been inone term and...
SS: They really didn't do a thing before for conditions.
WS: Oh, no. But during the strike they Awor|^iadquarters, the govenor come, youknow, Ben Ross was govenor, he come and I went as far as Headquarters with him. And I wanted to go a little further, you know, but he wouldn't. Well there was some camps there, they had no floor in the bunkhouse.
SS: Were you with him?
SS: Showing him the camp?
SS: What did he say?
WS: Well, the only place he went was Headquarters. And then they'd donB some workthere, they'd sealed it up, you know, off, you see. And painted 'em inside during that first month we were on strike. And that's the only place that Bradbury would go, or anybody. I said,"Come on down the line, govenor," I said,"I'11 show you some camps." Well he said,"I ain't got time now, and I think this looks very, very good here." And that's what he said, and back to Pierce we went. That was the end of it.
SS: Were there a lot of people with him?
WS: Oh,no he had an aide, a military man he was.
SS: Were you the union representative?
SS: You're the quy they e^nt.
WS: Yes. There was three of us.
SS: Three union guys. The company had some guys there too?
WS: Oh yes. And then . two or three with the govenor. There was one guy inuniform, I remember him. His name was Abendof. He was a captain or a colonel. I think he was a captain. National guard man. An aide he was. But the govenor had his own car, you know what I mean, driver.
SS: Do you think he came up knowing what he wanted to see?
WS: No, I don't think he had an open mind. He was prejudiced the IWW same asall them people were. They couldn't afford to let thef organization win, you know. Christ, they would get stronger and spread and holy Jesus, they'd have an awful time. So they had to squash it, you know. At the earliest possible moment. Get it out.
SS: Was it pretty strong between the '17 strike and the '36 strike, a pretty strongpresence through that time?
WS: Oh no. They was, if you take from '23, 1923 on, well that's when the Wobbliesstarted to die. On the coast, they were stronger on the coast, you know, then they ed were here. That's wheh they started to die. '23. I don't know what the hell happen it just failed. 'Cept some old diehards, they never would, die. They kept agoin. Oh, they couldn't let that outfit go on, you know.
SS: Were most of your friends among the nine that got it, work on the Clearwaterfor a long time?
WS: Oh yeah. Some of 'em were straight old Fromalt hands, you know. They worked,all the time for him. But, well, I knew *em, you know. Worked with some of them, they used to, but I don't know how they^plcKed that particular bunch.
SS: I meant them guys on the kcibblies side. Your friends.
WS: What about 'em?
SS: Were they guys that had been working in here for a long time?
WS: Oh yes.
SS: They were all local men?
WS: Well, yeah, they'd been here for a while.
SS: Did, how many guys did you say were the Wobbly leaders that they, shut the camps
WS: You mean the leaders? Well, I don't know, just how many they was...
SS: Must have been quite a few to shut down the camps.
WS: Oh yeu mean men? Oh, there was three thousand.
SS: I figure the men that were kind of taking the lead.
WS: Oh, yeah, they was probably, oh, real leaders, there was probably a dozen. Youknow. That is, the real active members and the guys that could get up and talk you know at a meeting, or talk to anybody, you know. They were probably a dozen of them. They were really good men. sut they were sincere you know. Yeah. They thoughl they, they didn't care, you know about them own: selves if they could win. Gain a point.
SS: Was it their idea for the strike or did that come out of Spokane?
WS: Well, I don't know, there was a lot of strangers come in here and went to work.Wobblies. They were really the start. You know, they kicked about everything and got everybody else all up and kicking. Finally, the lid flew off. Yeah, that! the way
SS: Do you think those guys were sent out from Spokane?
WS: Oh no. They weren't sent out, they were just...
SS: Doin' it on their own.
SS: What about the CCC at that time. Did you have anything to do with those youngkids that they sent out from the east?
WS: No, I worked in a CC camp, I was working for the Panhandle lumber company downthe Monterey River. And I stayed in a CC camp about a month one time. We were building bridges for 'em. Two hundred of 'em in that camp, all young lads, you know. Chicago and I don't know where the hell they were all from. But oh, they were an awful bunch of bastards. I think they got a dollar a day, somethin' like that. We wasn't gettin' a hell of a lot more than that, we were gettin'about three dollars and forty cents, I think, working for the Panhandle.
SS: Were they tough?
WS: Some of 'em was goddamn tough.
SS: City. They probably had to steal to make a living.
WS: Oh yeah. Well I seen some of them that fall, again, and I wouldn't know'em. They'd put on weight, and fchrist, they were all cleaned up and goddamn good looking boys, but when the first come out here they were humped backed weasly little cracky, things. Long hair, you wouldn't know 'em, you knew. No. I don't think these CC's hurt a goddamned bit. No, I don't.
SS: I think a lot of their families were having a hell of a time with 'em in thecities. They were probably starving.
WS: Sure. Sure.
SS: What did the lumberjacks do when places like Elk River lumber company startedto go under?
WS: Well, some of them stuck around these towns and they created this WPA and allthat shit. But I didn* t stay around here, I pulled out.
SS: Where'd you go?
WS: I went to California. Bummed. Any goddamned thing. Work Once in awhile. Anythingatall, but I got the hell out of here, I didn't want none of that WPA. No. It was all useless work any of 'em were doing.
SS: I heard California was more hostile towards the IWW then any of 'em.
WS: They were. But they got an awful lot of bums there in California. Jesus Christ!Holy Jesus! You'd be surprised. I see a guy, I come up the coast, I hike up the coast from Arcadia, that's just out of Eureka to Coquille, Oregon, that's 300 miles. I hiked all that. I wanted to get away from them bums, you know. And I think I see two or three on my trip, you know. And that's the only hitchhikin I ever done. And then I didn't get no rides. I got, oh I got a ride, maybe 30 miles all together with a preacher. I hiked it all. But I didn't care.
SS: Right on the coast road there.
WS: Yeah, 110 was it? What road is that?
SS: Well now its 101.
WS: 101 is right, yeah. 101. Well, that's the route I took. And I had a packsackand bedroll and blankets is all I had. I'd flop anyplace. Chunk and a batch of turpent ine. Yeah. That was the first trip I went to Oregon, Port Orford. Tte t time they, the town burnt the fall before. Burnt right to the ocean. It's right on the ocean.
SS: I didn't know that...
WS: I went to work there. In a little sawmill, tusnedcanJ§y hand, you fcrrow.
SS: Did what?
WS: Turned cants. Turned down. Idon«~ quite a bit of that in when I went towork. I don't know what the wages were. Pretty fair, they were. For the times, you know. And I had to go back and forth to Coquille. To stay, you know. And this guy give me an old pickup, an old beat up sonofabitch and I could go back and forth, forty miles I think it was. I worked there goddamn near all summer. Right there. I said,I'11 never go on the bum again!
SS: This is right in the middle of the depression?
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: Did you know there was work there?
SS: Dust happened.
WS: Yeah, a guy hollered at me. The town was all burnt and there was nothin'.
SS: They had to build it up again.
SS: That's what they was doing.
WS: Right. Cuttin' lumber to build. You see, that's, they ships there, you know.Lumber. Lumber all together, you know.
SS: And that Port Orford cedar is beautiful.
WS: Yeh.Fine stuff. I loaded that on some Dap ships. Goin' to Dapan.
SS: That Port Orford cedar sure is dying.
SS: It's got a disease. Getting like the white pine.
WS: Well this was all peeled and odd lengths. 11 foot to 21 feet. And we loadedon rack you know. In these ships. They put fifteen million feet in that ship. Besides the deck load. And we went to, we didn't load it at Port Orford, we loaded at Portland. They Named it up there. Them big cigar, you know.
SS: They loaded it up there, you loaded it down there.
WS: That was good work, nice work. But that was long shore, you know, it was underthe jurisdiction of the longshoremen then. I think Harry Bridges was the bigshot then.
WS: Lost more than one.(talking about a noise outside)
SS: You lost more than you won?
WS: More fights? Oh yes. I always picked on the tough ones. Too tough. Yeah. I neverdid won a fight with a guy I knew I could whip, I always wanted to try somebody else.
SS: Were many of them guys bullies?.
WS: Oh,years ago they was, yeah. Yeah, they'd hear of a tough guy you know, who,working in some camp and they'd go there, look him over. Yeah. But they were dirty fighters, them guys were. You know, they'd get you down and you never got up. Put the boots to ya.
SS: The cork boots?
WS: Yeah. That's a year in this state.
SS: Kicking with cork boots?
WS: Yeh. One year. I never heard of any one getting it but in Canada they do, theydid it in Canada I know. I know different guys that got stuck. A year. That was assault with a deadly weapon.
SS: That'd probably rip a~guy up pretty bad.
WS: Jesus Christ! Holy Jesus? Heavy, they were heavy, you know,too. Break your jaw.Christ! There ain't no more of that.
SS: What would make you fight a guy? Usually when you were both drinking?
WS: No,not always, not necessarily, but mostly that way. Yeah. Somebody say somethin'and away you'd go. But you never made no real enemies out of it you know. You'd be up drinking again^the next day. Oh, I ain't been in a fight in a long time. I got the jig kicked out of me the last time. So I thought I'd quit. Yeah.
SS: Was, I didn't think most of the lumberjacks were that mean tempered.
WS: Well, they'd figured this way you know, that is years ago when they got in afight they went in to win, you know. That was the othen guys intention and you had to have the same. If you were going to come ?out of it. That's the reason for not lettin up.
SS: Was the fight a lot more likely to bei in town than in camp?
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: No fighting in camp?
WS: No. I see a couple guys in Montana get in a fight one time and the clerk separated'em with a gun. He had to take a gun to separate em. Oh, they were going at her and big men too, they were, and could fight, you know. But the clerk come with a gun, he split 'em up. Both too. But that Pierce, that was the goddamndest place to fight I ever seen! Jesus Christ!
SS: It's got a reputation.
WS: Yeah, well you could drive down the street there, come into town, you know,and you'd have to see two or three goin' on right out in the street! Drive around 'em if you could. Nobody pay any attention.Deez, that was an awful place, Holy Christ.
SS: Why was Pierce such a hot one?
WS: Well, by god, men there, for one thing. During that strike, therewas over a thousand men there for two months. We had a soup kitchen, you know. Goin'. Had cooks, camp cooks, like in the camp, you know. They had good chuck.A For a time, you know. We were down, I don't know, that road that goes out towards and that way. We had a big house there, kind of a headquarters like, you know, tents for the cooks. Tents to cook in, eat outside, eat anyplace. And sleep in it. Christ, I had a room at the hotel. All the while I was there.
SS: During the strike?
SS: What about money for food and that kind of thing? The men pay themselves?
WS: Well, if you could, you could. I paid mine. Otherwise...
SS: The union had some?
WS: Yeah, the union had a, oh, I don't know, they didn't have much but they strectchedit out and, Pierce was solid with the strikers, you know. You didn't have to go hungry. See, Pierce was always kind of anti-*Potlatch, you know. For some reason, I don't know. But they were with the strikers. 0 f course, the strikers were the ones that kept the town agoin' you know. And naturally they'd have to stay with 'em. Oh they did, too.
SS: That must have been quite a scene in that town.
WS: Oh, the last month it got kind of ragged, I guess. Everybody was getting kindof, tension was high, you know. They all that goddamn fightin' and shootin' and all that shit goin' on. I was gone then, you know.
SS: Yeah, this was after the shooting.
SS: You heard it was pretty bad then.
WS: Well, I used to hear everyday, you know. And the papers, you know. You couldread the papers.
SS: Somebody would tell you what was going on?
WS: Yeah. Come in everyday, yeah.
SS: Did you have a lot of whores come into town then?
WS: No, there was some there, they didn't any more ccms. They were in Orofino andPierce both. Oh, there were probably eight or ten at Pierce. Besides the local talent.
SS: Must have been pretty with all those men.
WS: Yeh, but they all went broke eventually, you know. After the first month, youknow, there was only a few that had any money left. Yeah.
SS: What kind of people were those girls?
WS: Them whores?
WS: They were alright, good fellas, some of 'em. Most of 'em were.
SS: You mean, they weren't just hardened by their lives?
WS: No, and they weren't young, either. Any time one of 'em get to Pierce, you know,she was beyond the bloom, you know what I mean. No, they weren't young tender stuff, by any means.
WS: Seasoned, yeah, you bet. But they was good people, I always get along good withem.They had niggers there once. Three or four.
WS: Yeah. Whores. Only two dollars a crack, I guess. Two dollars, yeah, that's whatit
SS: Did they stay for long?
WS: Well, just as long as it took ya to do the business.
SS: No, I meant the black women?
WS: Oh, yeah, they was here for a couple months. Maybe longer. Yeah, they was nicelittle things, they were younger than the white girls. They were in the same house as the white girls were.
SS: I've heard the whores would give the guys money if they needed it.
WS: Oh yes, Christ. Yeah. I guess they cut »em out of Orofino a long time ago. Iknow they used to go in the Rex Rooes, you know, across the bridge, you know.
WS: The Rex. But I guess they run 'em out of there. And they run 'em out of up thereat Maggie's Bend too, you know.
SS: I heard about that, that wasn't too long ago.
WS: No. Year, something like that.
SS: Did they try to shut the town of Pierce down?After the shootin'? After
WS: Well, you couldn't bunch up, you know, over three, at a time. I mean theee togetheron the street. Otherways they'd come and break it up, you see. Had to cut the picket crew down. We used to have 25-30 on a picket line. Cut it down to 5, I think it was. And they was five of them on one side of the road and five pickets on the other side. Five of them national guardsmen and one side, with rifles I guess, I seen one guy shoot a tire out one time.
SS: Did they start with the national guaro after the blowout when the guys werekilled?
WS: Yeah. Next day. From then on, she went downhill.
SS: Do you think those girls ever fell in love with the men?
WS: Yeah, they all had a lover. Them whores? Sure. They all had a, I never seenany of 'em around Pierce, they wouldn't allow em around there, someone kill the cocksuckers, them pimps, you know. But
SS: There was a man where there was a woman there, huh? I mean, she had some fella...
WS: Well, I don't know. I never seen any of 'em around there, but, they've got onesomeplace. All them in the big cities, they've all got, maybe a pimp's got four or five girls workin'. I don't know what in hell a woman sees in a guy like that but they do. He's the
SS: Do you think they had to do that to get by?
WS: You mean them women?
SS: Yeah. Or do you think they did it 'cause they liked it?
WS: Well some of 'era, yes. Some of 'em just liked to screw, that's why they*rein it and others were driven to it, you know. Well, like in a big city, young girl go there, you know, she hasn't got work, she runs out of money, gets talkin' to some wiseguy, you know, some pimp, you know, he'll put her on the line, sure. But some of 'em really like it you know. They do it for pastime. Sure.
SS: I was thinking that for bachelors, it could get pretty lonely sometimes.
WS: Like for me?
SS: Yeah. That need for female companionship is pretty universal.
WS: Well, I don't know how it would be with other guys but, there's an old gal comeshere every once in awhile to see me. Oh she's not too old, she's not as old as I am anyway. I don't know how old she is, fifty, something like that. But she comes here every week or so. Stays overnight. She don't charge me nothin' or I don't pay her nothin'. She just comes I guess, to get screwed, I guess. I don't know. I buy a little beer, whiskey, something like that.
SS: I mean back when you was a young man, you know, in your 20's, 30*s. In theearly days. It seems it would be rough with just a few girls around.
WS: Well, yes, it was. But you had to live with it. Course, up Pierce, course noteverybody, but I always had a girl there, you know. You know what I mean. Not just some of that mtjft there- Like that, but they didn't all have that, you know, I always happened to fuck around and get somebody.
SS: Some local girl?
WS: Sure. Yeah.
SS: Would they want to get married?
WS: Some of 'em. Then you'd have to quit. Yeah.
SS: Was the situation any better in Spokane? For guys that were going in to havea good time?
WS: Same thing. Yeah, you, well you could get out then right away after your wentbroke,you know you could always go out and go to work. Most anyplace. Before vou were there vou went and aot a full of all the whorehouses, you know. All them hotels had whores in 'em. Way out on East Sprague on the rock piles out there you get it for four bits. Maybe two bits, I dortft know. Oh, nigger wenches and white women. Everything. Them old shacks out there, worse this cocksucker. I used to go to the yard, to catch freight trains goin' someplace and I'd always stop and get a fuck or two them old bastards and I'd be goin' out. Yeah.
SS: Did many guys get the clap?
WS: Oh Christl Jesus Christ! I worked in Marble Creek one summer and the flunkies,girl flunkies, they were all ex-whores from Spokane, come out there to make a stake, you know. Bunch of greeks workin' there. They had donkeys in there then. Khy them Qreeks, they spent everything they had with them girls. They was a matress behind every stump in the woods. And guns. They all had the clap, some cocksuckin' thing, t was shootin' night and day around there. Jesus Christ! Everybody makin' good money then. That is, ten dollars a day, that is, big money. That was enormous amount! Five dollars was about the goin' wages. Four forty, five dollars. But if you were gyppoin* you could get ten. Sometimes for a month or so you know. 'er up a little bit.
SS: That must have been rough to get rid of in those days.
WS: Well, I had it. Four, five times. Cost me sixteen hundred dollars once to getrid of it. Right in Spokane. I went right there and stayed there for three months. Oh, sonofabitch. But it's never bothered me since, not a goddamn bit. I've treated myself, you know, a lot. But this one I couldn't get rid of.
SS: How did they treat it?
WS: Shots. Mercury.
SS: I've heard of mercury.
WS: Yeh. Jesus. They don't do that know. Christ, I guess they can give you one shotnow and clear it up. What they claim, yes. I don't know what they would do but...
SS: How would a guy treat himself in them days?
WS: Well, you'd go to the drugstore and get some medicine. Some prescriptionyou know, or some guy, you meet some guy and tell him you had a dose, and,"Yeah, I got just the cure." And he write you out a prescription, you go the drugstore and get yourself a gun and go at her.
SS: A gun?
WS: A syringe.
SS: You shoot yourself up with that.
WS: It's not a hypo, you know, right in the end of your penis. Yeah. I went intoWallace one time, I was, I drove on the Cour d'Alene River that spring. I blowed in at Wallace.And I had a dose of clap. And I got this prescription from the doctor and I went in the drugstore, to get it filled, you know. And a nice lookin' young girl in there. I give it to 'er. She says,"Come back at one o'clock or sooner. she says, like that, you know. I went back for it at one. I figured she might be gone, but she was there yet and she gave it to me, and I was goin' out the door, she said,"Have you got a gun?"(laughs) She hollered at me, asking me if I had a gun. I said, yes, I got a gun
SS: You mean she gave it to you for free?
WS: Oh no. I paid for it. But she just asked me if I had a gun you know, syringe.I said yes, I got one.
SS: Three months, that must have been rough.
WS: Well, I think he took me. But he cured it. But I think he coulda done it before.I waited right there, stayed right with him and kept him paid up and everything. I had money.
SS: You stayed in a hotel?
WS: Yeah. Yeah. Didn't drink nothing.
SS: You're not supposed to drink.
WS: Oh no, no. But I don't know as there's any clap around this town or not. I supposethere is. Some of them younger girls.
SS: Young kids. It's still a problem, but not like it used to be.
WS: Oh Christ!
SS: Cause of the way they treat it now.
WS: I don't know how they go at it now, I ain't had a dose for, oh Christ, 40 years.
SS: I wouldn't be surprised if there was as much of it now as there used to be,only it's easier to clear up.
WS: Yeah. But, well, these kids are afraid to go to a doctor, you know. Speciallythese young girls. They don't like to go to a doctor. Deez, if I had that, I wouldn't hesitate a bit! I don't know of a doctor around here that treats that now. Oh I guess any of em do. Huh?
SS: For women, they might have to go to gynecologists.
WS: I suppose. Yeah.
SS: But I imagine for men it could be any doctor. When you were in Spokane lookingfor work, I heard some of those employment agencies were sharks. Is that true, you'd go out for a job and never get it when you got there?
WS: Yeah. I never patronized one of them in my life. I knew several of 'em. Oh,they used to be, jesus! I don't know how many around Spokane, Seattle. Well the skid rows was just covered with them boards, you know. All kinds of jobs. I used to look em over once in a while, but I never paid for one.
SS: Did you know not to trust them?
WS: Well, I didn't like,the organization was strictly against them, you know. Ohyeah. And that's where I got my idea. I just formed a hatred for 'em too. And I'd go out and get a job. You could go into them camps you know, them days, you wouldn't even have to ask for a job or nothing, just sit on the deacon seat. The pusher'd come in and tell ya, "I need a teamster, and I need two teamsters or I need swampers or, come on all you guys and sign up." Or maybe he might say,"All filled up this morning, boys. Come around again." But you could always go back and stay ovir night, eat supper and stay over night, breakfast. Bum the cook for a chunk of bacon and away you go.
SS: Was it that way after the depression too?
WS: I never tried it after that.
SS: This was just before the depression. Sounds like there was a lot of work inthe camps.
WS: There was. Oh after you got acquainted with, acquainted all around thisinland empire around here. There was no trouble to go to work if you were acquainted, you know. And even if you weren't, if you were a likely looking man you know, they'd put you on. Asked you what you did and that's all there is to it. Yeah.
WS: Yeah, they made it off the lumberjacks. A lot of people, a lot of them guyswould buy tickets, and you might hike into a camp with a guy that had a ticket right in his pocket and he'd say he didn't have. If when he got to camp, why he'd sneak in the office and turn it in. They wouldn't want you to know it, you know
SS: It was kind of not so good to do that.
WS: Yeh, yeah, that's right.
SS: 'Cause the union was against it.
WS: Well the union, course they were against it, they were against them sharks,but I didn't really pay so much attention to that. I just didn't believe in them.
SS: If you didn't need it, why do it?
WS: Yeah. That's right. Shit, some of them cooks and blacksmiths, the like of that,they'd pay em fifty dollars for a job. Yeah. Course, like me, it'd be two or five or ten or something like that, but I never give 'em anything. Hell with 'em. And I was always working then, always. Yeah. Hell, you could quit one camp after breakfast in the morning and be working in another one the next morning, or maybe before, you know. Get, hike over the hill to another camp over.
SS: It seems that from what I've heard, most guys that'd blow in, they'd spend alltheir money. A guy wouldn't try to save more than 25 bucks.
WS: No. Most of 'em, I never tried to save nothin'. I always borrowed when I lefttown. I'd go to my landlord or landlady or somebody and I'd borrow. 'Nough to get out. Or maybe jump on a freight and go. That was...
SS: So you weren't worried about making more money, you knew it was there to bemade.
WS: Yes, sure, sure. There were winter camp£ around here too, you know. Youcould always go to Priest River"to9work, always. Christ there was 25 camps there at Priest River. With 150 men in each one, probably, you see. Well, they sleigh hauled, you know, they hauled 'em on sleigh Dump 'em in the river, ^rive »em in the spring, that's the way the got'em to the mill.
SS: So there was work full time?
WS: Oh no, no.
SS: Stop in the spring?
WS: Yeah, they'd stop in the break up, you know, when it broke up in the spring,there might be a short layoff before the drive, of course, it didn't take that many men for the drive, you know, but...
SS: How many months would you have to figure on not working?
WS: Well, if you stayed right there, you summer.'Cause theydidn't do much in the summer. They do a little improvement work, you know, lifting loads or something like that, but I didn't want on something like that, I'd get the hell out of there. I might drive and then go. Come in and blow in you see, when the camp shut down. Then stick around the re til the drive started and go out and maybe if you wanted to go and drive someplace else, you'd only work a few days on that drive. Punch her and go to wherever you wanted to go. I used to like Marble. All tramps you know,there and guys you hadn't seen for a year. Same as the Cour d'Alene River, same thing. Yeah. This drive here hasn't started yet, you know. They weren't drivin' here then. They was railroading. The mill was built, but they weren't drivin' no logs. They didn't drive here til First drive.
SS: When the drives were done, then what would you do? Blow in?
SS: Then what?
WS: Go someplace else.
SS: For the fall?
WS: For the summer.
SS: This would be the summer.
WS: Maybe the fourth, it might be.
SS: Where could you goVto work in the summer?
WS: Oh, anyplace. Oh yes, we all worked in the summer, then. Excepting sleigh haulcamps like around Priest River. They didn't. But if you take these other camps, all had flumes, sluice and flumes, you know. They'd run all summer, them camps. Run- it til fall, you know. Freeze up Bnd then they'd get the hell out of there. You couldn't flume in snow too much. Well, it's like that Cour d'Alene country jesus'Christ, the snow got, whooo. Marble Creek, Holy Jesus! They worked there all winter quite a few times. Sleigh yeah.
SS: Would you work on the sleigh haul in the winter too?
SS: So the main layoff would be in the spring.
SS: Where would you spend the spring usually when you weren't working, Spokane?
WS: Well, yeah, Spokane, or wherever you happened to be.
SS: When you were blowing in, how long would that last?
WS: (laughs) It would depend on how much money I had and how fast I spent it. Itnever took me long.
SS: A few days?
SS: You'd really tie on a good one?
WS: Yeah. But then you'd probably stick around for two or three weeks anyway afterthat, you know. In the same town.
SS: Doing what?
WS: Doing just what you were doing. There was always someone else coming in. Yeah.And you knew 'em all, you know.
SS: Would you stand drinks for everybody that was in the bar?
WS: Oh sure. Yeah. That was cuotomary. Eicept for the townspeople, they didn't doit but...
SS: Is that what it was, did you say timber?
SS: Did anyone ever try to roll you when you were getting drunk?
WS: Oh,Christ yes. Sure. I've been rolled a hundred times, a thousand times.
SS: Who would those people be, they wouldn't be lumberjacks.
WS: Some of 'em, yeah.
SS: Some would.
WS: Sure. Christ, yes. Some of 'em, that's the way they lived. By cribbin', cobbin'and diggin- around that way. Some of 'em never left town, you know. The sharpies, they there supposed to be sharp only then they could rob some old gunk. No I never dinged around that way. I been robbed a few times, but I never, did rob anybody else. Well, I don't believe I'll go over to tonight. I should go see if that pickup is there.
SS: I'm sure the fight will be on the neus anyway.
WS: Yeah, but I go to bed pretty early. I go to bed, seven.
SS: No kidding?
SS: What time do you get up?
WS: Around four. Four o'clock. Sure.
SS: What time is it now?
WS: Twenty five after five. Are you going home tonight?
SS: Yeah, I'll go home pretty soon.
WS: You got to drive to Troy.
SS: Yeah. Did you know that packsack, Dick Ferrell?
WS: Farrell, Dick Ferrell, the preacher.Yeah
SS: What did you think of him?
WS: I thought he was alright. Yeah, he was a pretty good guy. Did you ever hearof him?
SS: Well, I'd say there are probably 20 guys that I've talked to that knew him,maybe 18 of them liked him. One or two thought he had too much hot air.
WS: Well, I don't know, I never seen him do anything wrong to anybody. He up tome on the trail different times and he'd grab my packsack, he'd say,"Give me that, I'll carry it awhile." Yeah. And he always walked fast, you know. And he'd take it and when he got tired of packin it, he'd take it off and set 'er down. Keep on agoin'. He'd always, I don't know whether he made a livin' at what he took up. He always passed the hat in the camp, you know. But,...
SS: I heard the men gave generously.
WS: Oh yes. Sure. If they had any money. That is, cash, you see. Sometimes theydidn't have any cash, but you take a camp with a big poker game or two goin', that's where he'd make her, you know, they'd throw in tens and twenties in the hat, you know. That's all that was to that. But he always wanted you to the meeting, you know, he'd have a meeting, you know, in the bunkhouses. He'd get up and scream and roar and holler, you know, 'bout Jesus. But he died. I wonder what happened to him. Was heboid?
SS: I heard that he went to Spokane and I think he had a church up there and heretired to that church there and I think he was up there a number of years after he stopped going around camps.
WS: I knew he had a church there. I never was to it.
SS: Was it hellfire and brimstone?
WS: Same as he preached in the camps, you know. I never paid no attention to whathe was talkin' about. I always give him^money, but I never paid no attention to him.
SS: I never thought that the bachelor lumberjacks were too religious.
WS: Oh no, oh Crist no.
SS: So it was mostly the married men that were religious?
SS: Somebody was listening to him.
WS: Oh yes, but there was some thaVWst went out of curtesy sake. They'd like himand they'd just go and sit there and listen and get up and leave. It was never too long, never over twenty minutes, a half an hour, you know. But he happened to hold it in the bunkhouse I was in I'd go along with him, but I would never go to another bunkhouse to listen to him. Because, oh, I didn't know what the hell he was talkin' about, the Lord I guess, but I wasn't too much interested. I was usually playing poker, if there was a poker game goin'. So I didn't. But if he happened to hold it in the bunhouse ^I was in, I'd listen to him. I kinda liked him, he didn't harm nobody, you know. He was an ex-pug, that guy.
SS: That's what I heard.
WS: I seen him with the gloves on at Pierce.
SS: He was fighting another guy?
WS: He just put 'em on, you know. They had a ring in Pierce, you know. Outdoor ring.Right between the Clearwater Hotel and Mickey McQuire's aid dump there. It was a regulation sized ring, you know. It was sixteen feet square. It was a good ring, set up nice and in good shape. But they'd take it down every fall, you know. When them CC's come out here, that's when the ring went. Everyiiignt, Jesus Christ!
SS: The CC's were fighting each other ?
WS: Yen, yeah, they'd fight, Jesus Christ! Some of 'em were pretty fair. Once ina while you'd run into one that could fight, you know.
SS: Would the lumberjacks get in and fight in the ring?
WS: Nan. They'd fight in the street.
SS: Put on the gloves.
WS: Nah, they wouldn't put on the gloves. Oh, once in awhile, one of em was a boxenhe'd get in there and with them CC kids, fool around with 'em for a while. But there was one guy, his name was Northcott, you might've heard of him. He was a middleweight, this Dackson trained him. He fought Tiger Fox.
SS: I've heard of him.
WS: Fox was but this guy was only amiddleweight. Fox tramped theJesus out of him, but he was a pretty fair middleweight, but Dackson died, that's when they threw him in with Fox. He got mismanaged e£put way ahead of his class, you know. He was just a kid. He come: out here with the CC's. But he done a little fightin' back east, I guess. He was pretty fair. He whip around this country, you know.
SS: Middleweight, he shouldn't be in there with a light heavy.
WS: No. No, Fox carry him along for ten rounds and then he hammered the piss outof him, the last of the tenth, you know, oh he just made a mess out of him. Fox was a good man. He was a mean, dirty cocksucker, you know. Did you ever see him?
SS: No, but I've heard about him.
WS: He was the homeliest sonofabitch of a nigger I ever seen in my life. Jesus Christ!He'd scare you to look at him. I seen him fight, oh, I seen him fight in Spokane. I see him fight Gonzaga stadium, and he fought Dohn Henry Lewis. And Lewis was champion then. A light heavyweight champion. Lewis knocked him out in the second round. But it was, well, I think it was five dollars to see it. But, that's before the Coliseum was built. But they used to fight at Gonzaga Stadium and at the fairgrounds, then. But now they got that Coliseum, Jesus Christ, that's a big one, ain't it?
WS: Never been in it.
SS: I haven't either, but I've seen it.
WS: Goddamn, it's a block square, I think.
SS: The one in Pullman is big too.
WS: It's a; new one, ain't it?SS; Have you seen it?
WS: No, no.
SS: It's big. After you come out here, did you ever go back and visit your folks?WS; Oh Christ, no. No, I live way east, you know.
SS: Weren't you, from Canada?
WS: Yeah. Yeah, Eastern Candada. I never went back there since 1923. 1920.1 was17, Yeah. That's when I left there. I never been back since.
SS: Were you glad to get away?
WS: No, I just took a notion to go. I never, oh, I threatened to go back a hundredtimes but my mother died after I left and I, to hell with it, you know. My dad was dead. He got killed. A log rolled over him. But I never, after my mother died I never, but I was always thinking about going back. You know, I made a half a dozen stakes, you know, to go back, you see. I made a stake out here one summer. About sixteen hundred dollars, I guess. I got as far as Duluth or someplace and met some guy that I knew, back in the boxcar again. Right in the middle of the winter.
SS: That's really different than the way it is now.
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: Everybody tries to put money in the bank to save for something.
WS: Those that haven't got any money or won't work are on welfare. Aren'tthey?
SS: A lot of 'em are, but then, I don't think there are all that many jobs around,either.
WS: Oh no.
SS: There's so much automation, you know, they don't need man any more. The corporationwould rather have a machine.
WS: See where you invented a goddamn machine
SS: Doesn't surprise me.
WS: Couple of days ago in the paper. Says it'll pick as many as fifteen people.One machine. Cost him five thousand dollars to build it. It's not patented or nothing.
SS: There's fifteen guys out of work.
WS: Yeah. Got hands on it you know. Dust one guy operates it. Spit 'em in any directioem Dust gather up and dump That must be pretty intricate now, eh?
SS: They've been doing that. They've got machines that shake trees for fruit picking.
WS: They have?
SS: That's what I understand.
WS: I never worked in the fruit. But there's guys I know from here, they used tobe them apple pickers, you know, they'd go down there and make forty, fifty dollars a day, just for like last year, you know.
SS: That's pretty good money.
WS: Pickin' apples. But they're professionals. Jesus Christ! The kind they can,well I know Carson, he died. He could pick a carload in a day! I don't know about that, but...you got to twist 'em.
SS: Were there any lumberjacks that you knew that were incredibly strong, like superhuman strength?
WS: Oh yeah, there were one or two of them around, but the average lumberjack waspretty husky anyway. You know. When he was workin'. Yeah, they^ere pretty husky breed. Oh a lot of'em got killed or died young.
SS: In the woods?
WS: Yeah, Christ, in that coast they'd, I don't know how many men they killed. Iworked over there, they'd brag if a man got killed they wouldn't take him in or anything, they'd throw him behind a stump and leave him til night He might not be dead, you know. That's after the Wobblies, oh they were gettin' pretty weak then. And before any other organization came in there, you know. They were just open shbo then. Oh God. It was desperate. H^gh league, high ball men.
SS: It was dangerous?
WS: Ooooh. Christ. Them riggin' men, them choker setters, Jesus Christ! Yeah, itwas rough.
SS: They really didn't give a damn about a guy if he got hurt?
WS: Nope. Nobody'd do anything about it. There was no organization, you know. Wobblieswas done and there was no other outfit come in there ever, you know. I don't think they thought it worthwhile to organize the lumberjack because they were too migratory, you know what I mean. They weren't located in one place. They'd be there ten days and gone again. Wouldn't be back again for a year or two. That's the way it was. Noboiy cared much for 'em. They were kind of, more or less, individualists, you know. That's the way they, this cooperative stuff, they didn't go for that.
SS: When the Wobblies were in the woods, a lot of guys I've talked to that workedin the woods, they don't seem to know much abotrir 'em. I have a feeling that a lot of guys didn't think about it. Didn't pay any attention to it. They didn't look out for their own interest as a group. Maybe because they were so individual, like you said. They didn't see where the Wobblies was trying to help 'em. Would you say that was true?
WS: They got so goddamn, they made it so tough for the Wobblies, you know, thatit was, if you were a Wobbly, you couldn't advertise it. You get a year for packin' a card. And they just drove 'em right out of the business, right to the wall, you know. They kept losing gradually and gradually and finally they were done. And this little up here in '36, that was the last dyin' gasp, then they folded up entirely.
SS: Did you know many lumberjacks who were really against them?
WS: Oh no.
SS: Everybody was for 'em or they didn't care?
WS: Everybody, at that time, everybody was pretty much a Wobbly themselves, youknow. Yeah. They, it got eetthat, I don't know, they kept droppin' out and dyin' out and then what few was left, you come into town and you get run out of town. You go to camp and get run out of the camp.
SS: Dust 'cause they knew you were a Wobbly.
WS: Yeah. They just simple drove 'em^out of existence.
SS: Would this be the foremen that were doing it, or who? Would they get the mento do it too?
WS: Oh no.
SS: Dust be the bosses.
WS: Yes, or the law.
SS: I heard the Aberdeen and Hoquiam were tough towns.WS; Oh Jesus Christ! I guoss they were. I was around there, I worked at Aberdeen for at Rainier , but that was after the real Wobbly days was over, you know, around there. But they was rough then, too. In town I mean. Jesus Christ! They'd knock you in the head in them saloons and then rob ya, throw you out in the alley and every other goddamn thing.
WS: ... stayed there for years up on, right across from the NP depot, yeah. I don'tknow what street that is. I knew them people that run it pretty well. But I mostly, around Mam.
SS: Where, places that are still there?
WS: No, well Dirkin's, I used to drink in Dirkin's late years there and...
SS: That's quite a gamblin' place there too.
WS: Yeah, I never gambled there. There was a big pool game in the basement there.Runnin' 24 hours a day. I never went down there, even! But...
SS: You didn't gamble when you was drinkin'?
WS: Oh no. Christ.
SS: That would be a mistake, I suppose.
WS: Well, sure it was, but I was busy drinkin, I didn't want to, I just gambledan played pool in camp you know, and I, I was always lucky and, your chances is just as good as the next guy's, there was no sharpies in there you know, they were all the same. See, some of them high rollin games, Jesus Christ, cost hundred dollars a second card you know, stud poker. And you could make money if you just watch them cards, you know. Have some kind of an idea what sequence they were coming in you know and you'd hit more than you'd miss.
SS: Hundred buchs for a second card, you must have had to have a lot of dollarssaved up, this must have been like afew months wages going into abig game like that.
WS: Yes, it'd be three, four hundred dollars to sit in that kind of agame. Butotherwise, why you'd have to play showdown first hand if you didn't have. I worked eight months camp C, yeah, Camp C, I was on the river, I never warmed that chair, I was makin' about two hundred dollars a month then. I'd go broke every, first first check I'd get, I'd sit down and it'd be gone in twenty minutes. And I finall hit her one Sunday, Saturday night and all day Sunday. I made my wages back, couple thousand dollars. And I got the hell out of there. But we was drinkin' a little bit then, it was moonshine, right there, big Arland. He didn't say much about Mohammed, did he?
SS: No, hardly a thing. When you run into them guys in Duluth, were they fellasthat you knew from out here?
WS: No, knew 'em from back there and they were here too, but mostly back there.They were all pretty well along in years, you know.
SS: So you just blew in with them right there?
SS: Old friends?
WS: Yes. They were still working, most of *em, but,well they just happened to bein town, some of 'em, you know and some of 'em was out workin' but I met those that were in town. They didn't pay no money there then you know. Shit! Two bits an hour, somethin' like that.
SS: Back in Duluth, around there?
WS: Yeah. Minnesota.
SS: Low wages?
WS: Christ! In the woods? Nothin'. No. I come right back here that winter. I didn'tstay there atall. I beat it back, too.
SS: Beat it?
WS: Sure. Boxcar. Cold? Jesus! I made herf I-stopped off at Miles City in Missoula.That's all. I stopped over night. I got a good room and a good bath and went to bed and slept for as long as I could, you know. 12,14 hours I guess and got a good feed and I went again. I got to Spokane, I was alright. I went to work then. Priest River. I went to Michigan that winter. But I don't know why, but I didn't stay, I went to a couple of little towns and they wanted to hire me. But Jesus, I couldn't think of workin' for that money. Camps were dirty. No, back over the' Rockie I go. What kind of a car is that you drive?
SS: Little Datsun. One of the older ones.
SS: ...used to do?
WS: Sure, same thing, same thing.
SS: Build up twelve, fourteen hundred bucks and spend, it all. That must be onehell of a drunk.
WS: Oh, I'd buy for everybody so it don't take long. But I didn't the last time.I kinda slowed up on that, buyin' for everybody. Cost too much money. And whiskey went up, you know. Jesus, it's 90 cents I think now for a shot.
SS: I was going to ask you, when guys were blowin' in and drinkin', would it bewhiskey?
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: Wouldn't drink beer?
WS: Not many of 'em, oh no.You see, Pierce and Orofino, whenever they opened thedoor you know, they'd sell whiskey, bootleg it you know. Sell it right over the bar. The police force was always good you know, in Orofino and Pierce, oh Pierce, they didn't give a fuck what you did in there. But now, it's different. Last bootleg bottle I got there, in the Clearwater hotel. I had to go see the push himself, I knew him pretty well, he used to be a butcher and I asked him for a bottle Sunday morning, you know. And he didn't say anything, he just turned and walked away, I thought,what the hell? And he come back in five minutes and he told me where he put it. So I went there and got it. Put it in my pocket. But he wouldn't give it you himself. I don't know, they were scared or some fuckin' thing.
SS: Was that a long time ago?
WS: No, no. Before I retired, you know, before I quit. Maybe ten years. He's deadnow too
SS: Were there many lumberjacks that wound up drinking so bad that they couldn'twork any more? And uouno up being bums?
WS: Oh yeah. Sure. That is, when they got older, you know. You see, there was noage limit here until just about the time I quit workin'.
SS: You could work as long as you wanted. As long as you coulo.
WS: Long as you couldi, yeah. And then if you happened to know the old push or somethinwhy he'd keep you staggerin' around there, but everything was gyppo and they couldn't carry nobody. Before that they, shit, they'd carry fifteen, twenty men. But it got so you couldn't. And the older pushers were good that way, but the younger ones ain't so good, they don't carry nobody. If a man quits or a man short that's all there is to it, but they don't quit no mora. No, they stay right there.
SS: They stay because they're afraid there won't be another job?
WS: I don't know. They're married. And seniority. You see, and unemployed insurance,all of that stuff keeps a man on the job. You know it? You quit you can't get unemployment, if you quit, you lose your seniority. That's the way it works. Shit, there's guys up there that got in 25, 30 years you know. You don't have to retire at 65.
SS: I heard that when they started gyppoing they had prices up for a while and theyguys worked real hard and then they cut the prices down, is that true?
WS: Yeah, that's truth. Yeah. They didn't know, didn't know what themguys could do, the guys themselves didn't know, you know, really. And when they went all out at it, you see, why, Jesus Christ, they started really^making money. Well then, they couldn't cut that spirit, you see, you signed a contract when you took that split, but the next month, you took another one, look out! Dust a matter of a year or so, you know and they had 'em all Yeah. Sawyers, they'd saw 'em by the day until the was skidded. The had to be skidded. Then they got their bonus. Shit, some of 'em be in California and Oregon and Minnesota and they never got no bonus. What the hell is that now?
SS: Did many of the guys read in the camps?
WS: Well, years ago you couldn't read, there was no light, you had no lanterns.But oh yes, now they get the daily paper, they got books to read But shit, years ago there was just an old lantern, couple of old lanterns hanging there. You couldn't read, oh Jesus! Back in them corners, corner bunks, Christ all mighty blacker than ink, you know. They never was no nowspapers or magazines any way,
SS: ...stories about Paul Bunyan when you were in the woods?
WS: No, it's a myth, you know, he was a mythical giant you know that,he's supposedto chave lagged off the Dakotas and, or I mean, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, he's supposed to adone all that then he dug the Mississippi River on his way west.
SS: You think that it was somethng the advertising people made up or was it somethingthe lumberjacks used to tell in the old days?
WS: Well, the, I don't...
SS: I got the idea that it was just an advertising...
WS: It's just a myth. Yeah. You see pictures of him sometimes on posters, greatbig sonofabitch, you know. Got an axe in his'hand or somethin'great big cocksucker, somethin' about Paul Bunyan will say on there.He was a, used to be songs about him, too. Deez the days are gettin' short, aren't they?
SS: It's almost gettin' dark already. I should get home.
WS: Oh yeah, I thought about him. But I was always so goddamn far away and I eitherhad no money or had someone who was drunk or somethin' like that. That's the way it was and then time just went on and on and on, you know. Well, it got so that I just kept gettin' further away all the time, you know. Finally I got out here on the coast and then I forgot about it. Yeah. I'll never go back there. I was gonna go back here, course, I wouldn't know anybody.
SS: It's hardly worth it then.
WS: Well, way over 50 years now. And that town, when they built that St. LawrenceSeaway since I was there, you know. And that made a difference. It's all farmin' country there now, you know. I suppose some of it's industrialized you know, or somethin', I don't know. That's just, there's no power connected with that, is there, it's just a seaway for ocean goin' vessels, yeah.
SS: That's what it is.
WS: Yeah, well it wouldn't change that country a hell of a lot then.
SS: Do you remember your mother very well?
WS: Do I remember her? My mother? Oh Crist, Jesus, yes. I'd know her if she stoodright there. Oh yeah, she was a pretty fine lady. She used to make us kids tow the mark, there was seven of us! Three boys and four girls.
SS: Did she spend all her time taking care of the family?
WS: Well it was a dairy farm, we lived on a dairy farm. We had about thirty fivemilk cows. Oh Jesus, some of the finest land that ever laid outdoors, you know. Boy that was good country, just as well up for miles and miles. Well, Christ, she worked^oh my god, my god, that woman worked. Washed all them clothes by hand you know. Them beds was changed every week.AMilk cows, you milkod ten cows hero3lf Jesus Christ! Go to church, Catholic you know. Oh god. Me an altar boy. I was an altar boy. Yeah. I got, when I was an altar boy til I got long pants, my first pair of, long pants. Then I told my mother,"I'm gonna quit now!" (laughs) and she said, "Alright."
SS: Were the kids in the family very close?
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: I think a lot of families were in those days.
WS: Oh Christ, close knit, yeah. Well that house, that fuckin* house is as big asthat building. A brick house, there was rooms there I never was in! That's a fact! Heated with a furnace, you know. Burnt wood. Why that firebox in that furnace, big as this room. Jesus Christ.^Brick house you know is hard to heat. And it was cold there, Jesus Christ. Forty below sometimes for six weeks.
SS: Didn't your father have a little sawmill? Was that on the same place as thefarm?
WS: Yeah. I used to cut lumber for the Old water powered sonofabitch.A sawmill and a shingle mill, he had. He never done no sawin', he always hired sawyer, I don't know whether he could saw or not. Maybe-he couldn't, I don't know. But he always used to hire a sawyer.
SS: Were froth your parents real strict with'the kids?
WS: Strict? Oh yes. Yeah.
SS: Were they French Canadians?
WS: No. English and Irish. Mother's name was Finnigan.
SS: That's another thing, that-s ohanged, when you were growing up, parents werestriot.
WS: Oh Christ yes.
SS: They expected you kids to work quite a bit around the house?
WS: Work, Holy Jesus Christ, that's all I knewl One of them cows you know, therewas never outdoors one day you know after, well, November. Indoors all the rest, til May. Turn 'em out once a day.
WS: Christ, you know.
SS: Feed 'em.
SS: Did your sisters do that work too?
WS: Dust the boys. Ply sisters never come near the barn. They worked to help mymother. No, they never done a thing around the barn. They all teachin' school.
SS: That's what they did?
WS: Yeah. When I left there.
SS: You was one of the youngest?
WS: There was three. Yeah.
SS: When you left home, did your father mind you leaving?
WS: I didn't have no trouble with them, I just thought I'd take off, me and anotheryoung fella, you know. Away we went. He went back though, shit, he was back home a month I guess, but I never went back. I just kept on agoing.
SS: When you were growing up, did you used to fight with your father?
WS: No. No, we got along good, there was no fights atall.
SS: When did you first find out about the IWW?
WS: When I come west.
SS: Not until you got out here?
WS: No. That is, I never joined 'em til, I knew about 'em. I never joined 'em tilI got out here.
SS: Did one you all about 'em?
WS: Oh no, I got into a camp and delegate come up to me. And he said,"We'd liketo have you in the organization." I said,"Oh, alright you've got me." That's all there is to it. So in I went, head first. Give me my little book and he said, "Hide that now." I carried it in my packsack, oh Deez, I've been frisked a thousand times for that. I had, I don't know what I done with that last one. I think I lost my packsack and everything I think that's where it went. I think so I can't remember. I wished I'd akept it.
SS: The songbook?
WS: No, no, my dues book. Big red stamp IWW. Solidarity Forever.(laughs)It'll never come back.
SS: Did you ever seriously consider getting married, when you were young?
WS: Oh yes. Yeah, I thought about it. I had several nice girls, but, oh I'd wanderoff, forget to write her anything. Last girl I had in Missoula, Deez, she was a nice cook, going to the University. Montana. I was workin' at Bonner unloadin* logs. She knew what I wfts doin', but I had good clothes then. I used to dress up. I'd go to Missoula is ten miles, I'd go over there twice a week.
SS: Take her out?
WS: Oh sure. She had nice people too. She. lived home. At home, I met her, I wasat her house and everything. Oh yeah, they were nice people. He was a conductor on the NP. The old lady didn't do nothin', oh she wasn't very old, Jesus, forty maybe. The girl was about 22 I think. God, she was a nice girl.
SS: In those days, where could you take her on a date?
WS: Oh, I used to take her out to eat, take her to a show. She always wanted togo to them cocksuckin' football games. I'd take her there. Rodeo, she wanted to go. I always used to take her, I went with her a couple of years, I guess. But I drifted away from there. I don't know, somethin' happened right quick I guess. I never thought about 'em after that, you know. Maybe think about it for a month or so but you forget about it, get another one, go without, or some I never screwed her. I tried it, you know, but never.
SS: She wanted to get married?
WS: Oh yes. But not right away. figure on doing something like that before youget married, don'tcha? No. She wouldn't answer much. Pass it off and start talkin' That's the way she did it. about something else. I thought, I ain.'t gonna get near her, might as well quit this I went to the whorehouse. There was a whore house there in Missoula. And the nigger wenches was all fuckin , they lived on Front Street, down near the Milwaukee depot. That was only two dollars, dollar^ some fuckin' thing.
SS: Were the young girls usually higher priced? Did it make any difference?
WS: The house usually had a price, same for all, but you could go to different houses,different places. Like Hurley, Wisconsin, Jesus Christ, there was enough, good Christ, I don't know how many whorehouses was there, I don't know, really how many. That Sylve Street was lined with 'em. Good lookers. Young. For the mining town you know, and lumberjacks, but for a lumberjack town, I never seen such nice lookin' young girls. Fuckin', you know, as there was there. But they're usually old you know. Like, well even Spokane they were pretty well along in years for.. They're all out of circulation there now, you know. You, I don't, when I was there there was still a couple places there. Upstairs, hotels, you know. But I hear they're all cut out now too. This town here used to have whores in every hotel. They're all gone.
SS: Some towns, I heard, during Prohibition, were really wide open like Butte, ahot town, they never shut down. How was Spokane that way?
WS: I was there long before whiskey was legalized. It was better then, I believe,than it tis now. Whoree and whiskey you know. Fifteen, twenty cents a drink for that moonshine. It was not for the best, but, good enough. And whores, Jesus Chri3t, all kinds of 'em. Here now, if you want a girl here and you don't know anybody you got to pick up some old blister in a barroom, you know. You're drunk and you take her home with you and you slobber around and drunk, and Jesus Christ, I don't like that. Goddamn old bastards go to sleep and snore. Drunk,Oh.
SS: I heard that Lewiston was a pretty good town back then for whiskey.
WS: Yeah, all them joints, that Frye Hotel, you know where that is, right next tothe Silver Dollar, that was a first class whorehouse.
(Pause in tape, subject matter changes)
SS: One of the creeks or something?
WS: No. No, just high water, 1948. It's simply high water. Big chinook up above,Montana, at the headwaters, you know. And rain down here. Three days There were only about eight of us on there. Yeah.
SS: Light guys took care of that whole drive?
WS: It was only about five men in the river that spring. The rear was wedidn't have no raft or nothin'. Stayed in town, Orofino. Well, we stayed wherever we wanted to stay. I had a shack like this and they come over and hired me. I said "Where you gonna stay?" tay right here." And I said all right. Had a truck you know, haul 'em in. Most of 'em had their own cars but I rode with the push. We eat in a resturant in Orofino.
SS: I bet it was hard to keep up with the thing, it going that fast.
WS: Yeah, you couldn't. If there wasn't a rear, you couldn't have landed on it,I mean it centered like that, there was cows, bull snakes, every goddamn thing, shit houses, everything coming down that main river. Lumber piles all strapped together, you know. Hit them bridge, splinter up, Jesus.
SS: Lumber piles weee strapped together?
WS: Yeah. Whole pile, you know. Metal straps on 'em. Take'em right off the goddamnuhatever they were.
SS: Off the landings?
WS: Yes, they picked 'em ap there was white pine and inthe hell is that?
SS: She's talking to the lady next door. That must have been quite a drive.
WS: I put in 104 days there one time. I don't know tuhen that was. Before they hadany motors or anything, it was all handpower, I mean, there was no bulldozers or Nothing. Bulldozers make quite a, they put two of 'em on a raft, two of em settin, layin' on all them bars them big old dried bars with the timber shoved away up on 'em. Christ, you'd do more work in two hours than you'd do in five days with a crew of men.
SS: 105 days...
WS: 104 days.
SS: 104 days must have been a tedious, long...
WS: Oh god. Jesus Christ. Everybody all in town here and rollin on them old drybars, whoooo. There was a big jam that spring. And they put long logs in the river. And we went down in- that jam, they started the rear, a rear on on that. I think we worked for about four days. And the every day, comin' up, you know. Finally 'way she went. And it throwed the rear, you know, that jam was, oh, up the North Fork around, above the Little North Fork anyway. That's quite a ways up. And it throwed rear, you know, both sides, clear to Lewiston here.
SS: What does that mean, throwed rear?
WS: Logs unloadin'^on the banks, you know.
SS: Dust after it broke?
WS: Yeah. It was too much timber, you know, the river couldn't carry it, you see.But the forcir'was so great it couldn't plug no more, it had to go, but it just kept unloadin' all the way down. Oh man. Long timber. 40 foot, 32's, up to 40's you know, nothin' but peavies. Jesus Christ, that wasn't very interesting. A lot of men on that year, they, that is, for that drive they had a bunch in Orofino stayed in Orofino besides those on the raft you know, probably 60,70 men. And they kept quittin everyday, you know. Three or four, five, six everyday, new ones comin on. But I stayed with her. I don't know why, but I did. I guess I was broke.
SS: Was the pay good at that time?
WS: I don't know, just remember now',.maybe it was eight dolllars a day, seven oreight dollars. Can't just remember.
SS: About when was it?
WS: That's '41. I think it was '41. See, they didn't drive there during the war.They, had timber in the river for a year and they couldn't get it, you see, and they wanted timber right now. At the mill. So they moved right in railroad camps and filled 'em up and never put a stick in the river for four years, I think.
SS: That's because the demand for timber was so great they couldn't wait?
WS: Yep. They wanted it right now. And that's the way they got it. Then they hadto go back and put a year in doing improvement work in them camps, them flumes all went to hell, you know.
SS: Cause they didn't use 'em?
WS: Yeah. Trees acroost 'em. We put in all one summer in that Camp T flume. About,I don't know how many men-was on it. Thirty. Worked all summer. I was on the foundation crew. Five or six of us. We were the head of the rest of the lumber and all that stuff, you know, come behind us. But we done a pretty fair job. They use it for five years after that, then. Yeah. God there was some big timber in that camp, whoooo. Great big old ghost pine. Yeah.
SS: Did the CIO get to be very strong at that time?
WS: Oh yeah. Yeah, it was compulsory that you join, you know. Everybody belonged.
SS: Were you there when they beat out the
SS: Were you working at all for the CIO?
WS: No, I was just workin'. I voted, of course, I tfoted for the CIO.
SS: Was that much of a fracas between those two unions?
WS: No. Dust a vote was all there was to it. They both campaining in there you know,for members, but the CIO just sfout 'em out,you know* They didn't amount to much anyway, the AF of L. There was company.
SS: When the CIO got in, did work much among men?
WS: Yeah, they were more active. They had, well the company perked up a little too,you know. And then of course, it led to a strike. We struck in '47. We were out a couple months. But didn't win nothin'.
SS: Do you remember the Four L's in the '20's?
SS: That union was a real joke.
WS: Company. The company organized that, well, on account of the Wobblies, theywanted to buck them out, you know. What did they call that? The Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen. Yeah. They had what they called the Spruce DivisionAon the coast. That was straight Four L. Oh that Four L,that wasn't as strong here as it twas on the coast. They made that compulsory too. You see, there's been a lot of labor legislation been enacted late years, you know. Through the CIO, they's the ones that got all that, company unions outlawed now, you know. It won't work. It's outlawed. Like the Four L's, they was company straight. Then they had the I£U here. You know. They cabled it the Industrial Employees Union. IEU. That was it. That was the same thing, you know. I never, I wasn't workin' here then, I, that was during my probationary period, I was off fcvr five, six years out of here, I couldn't work here. I didn't try, but I knew I couldn't anyway. So I didn't bother.
SS: Did most of the other guys come back here after they were blackballed and workhere?
WS: Yeah, they kept gettin' 'em back and then the, well the.CIQ got this labor lawenacted which, unfair, labor practices, something like that, where outlawing an individual or a union ios it's unlawful, you know, to do that. You can't do that. So they kept comin' back, you know. And I know a lot of 'em that come back and went to work, you know. And that guy, Charlie Clark, he lived over in your country, around Troy someplace. You ever hear of him?
SS: I don't know if I have or not.
WS: And he was gyppoin' up here. Ceasar. And he hired me in Spokane. To come overand skid here. I just come from the Diamond Match and I had money yet, but I went anyhow. I went with him and we got to Palouse, he lived in Palouse, this Clark did, his wife lived there. Well, I went and got a room and I got drunk first. And the next day I missed him. So I jumped on a freight. Come to Orofino. And that office was running then, this Potlatch employment office, you know. They had it been runnin' there since the strike. In '47 or '36, by Jesus. That Adrian Nelson was in it. And I knew him when he worked in Headquarters, you know, oh hell years ago. He run the post office there. Well, I was in Butler's Bar and he come in. I was the only sonofabitch there, it was along in August. Everybody's workin. I was about the only lumberjack in town, I guess, and he come in, spoke to me, come ovar and talked Where you been?" I told him. And he went outside and he tapped on the window. And he motioned for me to come out. And I didn't go out and the bartender said,"He's calling to you out there." I said,"If he wants to talk to me, let him come in here." So he came in. He said,"Come over to the office and I'll talk to ya. I want to talk to ya." I said,"I'll be over tommerow." Like that you know, I didn't want to go right away. He wanted me to go right away with him see. I didn't go. I went the next day, I met him on the street and he asked me if I wanted to go to work and I says, no, he said, what the hell did he say?
SS: This is Adrian Nelson?
WS: Yeah. He was hiring for the Potlatch. He said,"Come over to the office,"he said.I said,"What the hell good will that do me? Go over to ycur office." He said, "I'll send you out to work." I knew he wanted me to go to work. I said,"What doin'7 He said,"Hookin* tongs for Wallace Bowles." He was hoister. Well, that was better then goin' for Clark, you know. He had a little old shittin' gyppo camp you know, and, you know what them gyppos are, Jesus Christ.
SS: It wasn't very good then?
SS: No better than they'd been since?
WS: Well, they had no camps, you know, just an old tent and eat when ever you couldon the fly and everything else, so I figured I'd go with the company. I said, "Alright, when do you want me to go up?" He said,"Be there in the morning, if you can." I said," I'll be there the day after tommorow." So I did, I went up and Jesus Christ, they were all glad to see me, around Headquarters there, shakin' hands and Bradbury even come out. I was gettin* on the spear, him and Boots? come out and they shook hands with me, they were both big shots.
SS: Was Bradbury the superintendent then?
WS: He died you know. Orofino. He was a good man, good guy.
SS: Who was Boots?
WS: Boots, he was assistant under Bradbury at the time. Assistant superintendent.He married Bradbury's sister. She lived here in Lewiston. Paula, Paula. They got a big stone house up here on the hill some. I been there, but I don't know...
SS: So the guys were glad to see you?
WS: Oh 3esus Christ.
SS: Bradbury came out and said,"Good to have you back?"
WS: Yeah. Shook hands. "Glad to see you. Where you going? What camn you goin' to?"I said,"I'm going to hook tongs for that fuckin' old Bowles, where's he at?" He said Camp 11 so I went to 11.
SS: During the depression, you could probably not get any work at all, couli you?Outside of what you had...
WS: ...went to work in one of 'em. Worked with Christmas, I stayed in camp Christmas.Took care of the horses. Help to the, four or five of us stayed.
SS: This is right after the CC's started?
WS: Yeah. They started that summer. This was that fall, Christmas. And it rainedand rained and rained and rained and the water come up and it washed out fourteen bridges on that Orofino-Headquarters branch, you know, on the railroad. Fourteen of them high bridges, some of 'em. Well, that shut all the camps down, that is, the two camps, that shut 'em down. Well, into Spokane and I went tip and went to work for the Diamond Match. One camp in the state of Idaho. I worked three weeko and I quit. I heard they were going to start driving on the Cour d'Alene. There wasn't much snow that winter. And they were afraid they wouldn't have enough water. So I went up on the Cour d'Alene and went driving the fifth day of February jam about two weeks or three. Then went back on the rear and I worked until, well, we put her in the boom, I don't know, about fifty days, I guess I got in. That was four dollars a day.
SS: That was right in the depression, that wasn't too bad.
WS: No, you could buy a lot with that four dollars.
SS: When you were in California, that was before that?
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: Bumming around.
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: You say there was a lot of guys down there in the same boat?
WS: Jesus Christ! Every town you went to was, the jungles was just bound packedfull of 'em. All descriptions, all kinds of people. God, they was, well, business men you know, that went on the bum and went broke. Deez, they'd never been in that kind of predicament before. Christ, I listened to 'em talkin' you know. I could talk some of 'em once in a while but, young guys and old guys.
SS: Did you tell the business men they ought to join up with the IWW?
WS: No, I didn't tell *em anything. You can!t change their mind, they were old enoughto, no I just took it in stride, you know, the way she come, the hell with it.
SS: With all those guys together, how were they getting food?
WS: Well, they always, you can feed them guys, you go in those jungles in Californiayou see they're all eatin somethin'. I don't know where they get it or how they get it, but they give away more in California than they do anyplace else. Like you can get oatmeal and rice and all that crap. Prunes and all that kind of shit you know, and you keep fuckin* around and you get the rest of it too. Keeps you busy I guess, but I had a few nickles. And I'd bum some too, you know. If I though it was sure shot. Shit, you could byy for two bits, holy Christ. Oh, I use to bum them butchers and fuck around that Didn't take much, you know. Jesus Christ, you start cookin' bacon and eggs in them jungles in the morning and you see them guys sniffin' for an hour and a half, smell that bacon, Jesus Christ, (laughs)
SS: Were those guys stealing a lot then?
WS: I suppose, yeah, I don't know. I suppose they were. Whatever was loose, youknow. A lot of 'em were junkers too, you know, they'd pick up junk, you know, copper wire and all that shit. You see *em burnin' that insulation off in the jungle and they'd be blacker than that stove, you know.
SS: Why were they burning it?
WS: To get that insulation off, you know, copper wire. Sell it then, you know. Itwas worth quite a bit, I guess. Big bales of it they had. I suppose they stole some of it and picked it up. Freight trains loaded, Jesus Christ! God! Women! Women in them boxcars.
SS: By themselves or with their husbands and families?
WS: No, they had some guy with 'em, I don't know who. I never fucked around with'em. I had one crawl into a one of them ice bunkers, you know, refrigerator car? With me. Down in, that was in California. On the Northwestern and Pacific. I think at Santa Rosa, from Eureka to Santa Rosa, she rode in there with me. In that, you know, them bunkers, they hold about, I don't know how much ice they hold. I iced 'em up enough. I think they hold about eleven thousand pounds. They're 'bout as wide as from here to there. And they're the width of the car, you know, eight feet. And then they're, oh, head high or so. But her and I was in there.And, oh she told me all her troubles. Some troubles and some weren't troubles. And she wanted to stay with me. I said, well, how far you going? She said Eugene or Spokane or some cocksuckin' place. I said, I'm going to Spokane. So she stayed with me to Spokane. Now, I said, we're goin to part here. She says, okay, thank you. She was a pretty nice person. Oh, I screwed her all the time. All the way up, but she didn't object. It just come that way, you know. She didn*t say nothin' about it. So I guess it's, well you can't lay in a goddamn old place like that with a woman, you know, without doin' something. But if she objected, why I wouldn't've never molested her at all. But she was willing, so I was willing But she was clean, she'd keep clean, you know. Wash up good every time we'd stop and take a bath and wash her clothes, take a bath in an old tub, you know. Find some place, you know, where she could get behind some brush or something. In the jungles. All kinds of men around. That's why she wanted me with her, you know. Because there was, she qouldn't very well be alone. If there's someone with her you know, the won't bother a woman if someone's with her, you know. Some of them big jigs sizing her up pretty close.
SS: Big jigs?
WS: Niggers. But they never molested her. Well, I don't think I would Wave stoodfor it anyway, but they be much*I could do, you know, if you were outgunned you'd have to take a thumpin'. Maybe they'd kill you, you know, if it was at night. But we stayed clear of 'em too, we didn't mix with 'em or nothin'. She was a good cook. I'd do the cookin' most of...She always had to wash whenever we'd stop. I'd wash too, but I'd cook too. We'd stay over a couple of days sometimes, nice day, you know, we'd stay over. I left her in Spokane. She had relatives there. She said that's the only way she could travel, she had no money. I said, didn't you think about it twice 'fore you started out alone? Well, she said,"I thought about it right after I got started." All them men, you know, eyem' her up. Wouldn't be very safe for her, I suppose.
SS: It sounds pretty dangerous to me for a woman alone.
WS: Oh sure. Oh Christ. Unless you had a gun. And then she'd have to use it. Becausesomeone would try to get it awqy from her. Oh I wouldn't, oh Jesus, I wculdn't think of havin' a woman travel alone on a freight train, Jesus Christ, there's some awful characters on them freight trains. Jesus Christ!
SS: But you saw it, with a lot of women traveling in the depression in California.
WS: Oh yeah. Yeah.
SS: Sounds like pretty rough times. Did you ever go hungry during that time?
WS: No, I'd been making a long trip sometimes, you know. And I'd have a couple sandwiches made up. But sometimes they wouldn't be enough, I'd get hungry then. But I was. never completely out of chuck, I always had somethin' I could cook, you know, if I could stop long enough to cook it.
SS: What would you carry in your pack?
WS: For chuck?
SS: To carry, like in gear?
WS: Oh, well, we'd have a change of underwear and a shaving outfit.
SS: Would you take another pair of pants?
WS: You might have an extra pair of pants, yeah.
SS: Would you take a couple of shirts?
WS: Oh yeah. That's all.
SS: What kind of shirts?
WS: Anything. Wintertimesyou were traveling, you'd need woolen shirt, but woolenunderwear, but I always had it. But I always had a change of underwear and a shaving outfit and couple clean shirts,^extra pair of pants. Two or three pair of socks, somethin' like that, you know, and I'd always keep em clean.
SS: Would you be able to wash right in the jungle there?
WS: Oh yeah. Sure.
SS: Sleeping out there, ould you have to worry about where you'd sleep?
WS: Oh yeah, that was the big problem with me, because I only had one blanket ortwo at the most. And used to get kind of chilly some nights. I didn't want to sleep around them fires, there was always somebody around there you know. I used to get in the boxcar and go to sleep. Get pretty cold but you could make her.
SS: That's better than slpeping on the ground.
WS: Oh yeah.
SS: The ground would be real cold.
WS: Yeah. Oh yeah.
SS: So you'd usually have just a couple of blankets and that would be it. To sleepwith.
WS: That's all. I used to have to carry 'em outside my packsack, I rolled 'em upand put 'em on top. But, oh they used to get dirty, Jesus Christ. Throw 'em away.
SS: I heard the guys would come in from California, Wobblies,and burn their blankets.
WS: Yeah. Well they took 'em all out of them hotels one time in Spokane.They hadtheir, Spokane was a center for lumberjacks, you know. When they was on strike for the blankets, I wasn't here then. But there was probably a thousand lumberjacl in Spokane, or maybe two thousand. They took all their bedrolls right down and burnt 'em right on the street. Burnt 'em up. Then they had to have r8 in the camps then see,"or they wouldn't go to work at all, you see. So they put the beddin' in the camps. But this Clearwater, this Potlatch outfit, they never did, they put the beddin' in when they started 'er up, you know. The bedding was all over other places anyhow then, you see. That was, quit carrying the bedrolls.
SS: But it still went to hell by 36?
WS: Yeah, they went to hell.
SS: Dust went downhill as the years went on.
WS: Yeah, they needed a shakin* up then. Why yes, there was one camp, Camp I I thinkit was, on Beaver Creek, there was no floor in the bunkhouses,it was tents, you know. Double bunks, top and bottom. And there was no floor and them buhks would sink right down to the bottom strings, you know, in that muck. I wanted the old govenor to go down and look at that camp, but he wouldn*t. Shit, he thought that one there looked pretty fair, he was lookin' at the ceilin' they put in.
SS: No point in seeing too much.
WS: No no.
0:00 - Riding the rails and carrying a board to sit on; men trying to hide their money; neighbor dying from booze
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16:00 - Logging towns were well provided for but also needed your own kitchen gear; stealing chickens; Pasco being a big center for men
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Segment Synopsis: Jungles in logging towns were well provided, but on the main line you needed your own kitchen gear. Out of lumberjack country you had to hustle. Stealing chickens with a fishhook. Bumming food. Bumming for an extended stay in a town. Hoboes often had rackets and picked up what was laying around. Pasco was a big center for men.
24:00 - IWW cards were required to ride trains; IWW songs were sung everywhere; Fromalt's men being beaten
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30:00 - The 1936 strike in Pierce; his jail sentence and getting blackballed; working as a farm laborer
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Segment Synopsis: The strike of '36 at Pierce. His one year jail sentence. Serving time in Lewiston. Helping other prisoners. Getting blackballed - working as a farm laborer. The union offered him money which he refused. Borrowing money at Pierce; leaving the area. Fired after ten days; his friends had the same experience.
46:00 - Didn't feel resentment towards against the union; terrible conditions in the camps; Officials fearing IWW success
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Segment Synopsis: No resentment against union. Everything was set against them. He thought they had a chance to win. The sawmill never went on strike. Terrible conditions in the camps. Governor Ross looked at the fixed camp at Headquarters, and didn't let Bill show him any others. Official fear of IWW success.
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64:00 - Lost fights because he picked tougher battles; fights in the woods were dirty; fighting in Pierce was common
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78:00 - Always had a local girl and would quit when they got serious; prostitutes in Spokane; dealing with sexually transmitted diseases
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115:00 - Drinking in Spokane; gambling in the camps; buying moonshine in Pierce; prices where cut men men worked hard
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Segment Synopsis: Drinking in Spokane. Gambling in the camps - making back your losses. Back from Duluth because of bad pay. Stopping in Rapid City and Missoula. Blowing in today. Buying moonshine at Pierce recently. Foremen used to carry old lumberjacks, but now with contract work they don't. Why men don't quit. Gyppo prices were cut when men worked hard and made good money.
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149:00 - CIO being the union in the woods; how he began work on the Clearwater; advantages of working for a company
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