WOMEN AND TIMBER
The Pacific Northwest Logging Community, 1920 - 1998
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| Women and Timber
Oral History narrator: Diane Heersink
Date of interview: Jan. 24, 1998
Indexed/partial transcription by D. Sutphen, 2-15-99
Notes: Interviewer Debra Sutphen. Indicated quotes are not precisely quoted here. This interview consists of two 90-minute tapes. Total running time for the interview is less than the total 180 minutes.
015--Diane's husband Brian is a logger--he's been a logger since he was 18 and he is now 45 and continues to log. He began fishing at 12 in Alaska; his dad a dairy farmer. "He vowed from the first day that we met that he wanted to get out of the woods" but about 15 years ago she faced the fact that she had to look at what he does, and not listen to what he says. Her father has tried numerous times to get him other jobs--nothing works. He's real good at it, and he gets a lot of self-worth, self-esteem, praise, etc. from it. He should have moved on to other positions less directly involved in the woods, but he stays with it. She met him in 1976--she'd gone to WSU for 1 1/2 years, then quit and went to vocational school and was working as a medical assistant, working in a dairy store, manager of the dairy store got her into an interview with a doctor in Eatonville, she took the job and helped the doctor build his clinic in Eatonville. Brian was often gone, but he returned to Eatonville, they went out once, got engaged within a week. They wanted to elope, but got married. She was 20. She's from an old-fashioned Italian community so decided not to elope. He came home from work and "took a big draw" on his pay--wanted to go to ID and get married (he was 24-25)--she wanted to wait so they had a huge Italian wedding. They were married in Dec., got pregnant right away, and had three babies in three years--two boys and a girl. Have been together 21 years. Diane told a story about a girlfriend who knew Brian and was shocked to discover that Diane was interested in him. "But you've been to college, and he's just a logger," she said. Diane countered by saying that he had a good heart, and that was really what mattered.
064--Diane had lived not far from Eatonville, and had seen the logging trucks, but didn't pay attention to it or to the trucks. One day, on an errand for work, she saw the "crummies" parked along the road in front of the bank and "all these mangy looking guys, literally, standing out in front of the bank and they had the typical logging clothes on that I'd never seen before--striped Hickory shirts (she explained--denim with little white and Navy stripes), suspenders, pants that were cut up to mid-calf, and they were pretty mangy looking--pretty dirty--and they were laughing and whooping it up, and I thought, 'is this a work release thing?' because they were all dressed the same but they were drinking beer so I knew probably not work release, so I walked back . . . "(and asked the doctor about them and he told her they were loggers. They hadn't treated any of them yet, but the doctor assured her that they would. That was her first introduction them. "So a little bit after that I was washin' those dirty clothes. It was pretty weird."
087--They stayed in Eatonville for about two years, and then moved to Mossy Rock, where he worked. She quit work for a while to have her kids and then went back to work at the hospital in Morton, WA. after she had her second child. Then she got pregnant with her third child, and Brian went to Alaska for the first time, and "started this journey of ours . . . when things started to go bad. He went to Alaska before he married me, so he was familiar with Alaska, and he just wasn't making any money, and it's always the Alaska dream that after a couple seasons we'll be able to do this and able to that because of all the big money. And that kind of started, and then he came home because he missed us a lot, and we went back to Eatonville, but . . . the wages were bad, the spotted owl thing, and lots of shutdowns, and a lot of unemployment, and we just weren't making it, and times were really hard. So he went back to Alaska again, and he was there a year when we went with him, the next season the kids and I went up there and lived with him in that community, and when my oldest was ready to start school we'd watched how things were up there and decided to put him in public school, so I came down to WA and bought a house and got my oldest one into school, and did that for a while, and ever since then it's just been a series of come to Washington, work as long as we can 'till we went broke, and then he'd go back to Alaska. And it's been really hard. We made a vow, and we bought a house, and things were going good again and then it all fell apart and we had to travel with him, and I put the kids in home school, we were travelling with him and living in little dumps, and . . . finally one day were were living over on Hood Canal, and I said this has to stop, and I came back to college, that was in 1989, I came here to WSU with the kids and he went back to Alaska and I did three years in two really quick, and got done, and then we were all going to live back together again, but there was just no work in Washington for a long time, but now he's been back home for four years, and he hasn't gone back to Alaska, and I don't think he ever will--that part of it's over."
121--When you first got married he was making enough money that you didn't have to work? Yes, he was making $12-13 per hour, and that was in 1976, and we had friends living on $5 per hour-working for Bell, and GTE--but they went up and we stayed the same, and eventually it started to drop a little, and eventually everybody surpassed us. Right now I think he's only making $17 (an hour) and that's really good for working in the woods and he's got benefits." He switched companies a lot--working for gyppos--and consequently union rules kept gyppo wages equal to those of regular non-contracted employees. Then Weyerhaeuser broke the union (in the early 1980s) and other big companies followed suit, so gyppo outfits didn't have to provide scale wages or benefits any longer. That's when he went to Alaska, because they needed medical and other benefits. "It's a hard life, because they have a whole different kind of code. A lot of them aren't immoral, but it's just a rougher, tougher kind of life." "It was a shock (when she discovered this)--I was kind of straight and gaggy (cheerleader in high school etc)--my first year at WSU I got kind of wild, smoked my first dope, drank, grew pot in our closet, but then I got married and I didn't know him that long. It seems that before we got married we were always doing everything together, groups of us. Then I started noticing more and more that the guys were coming home later, and it started really bothering me. The girls who grew up in it, like his best friend's wife, Diane (her family had been in logging all their lives) said, 'what're you getting so mad about? Guys don't come home on Friday nights.' They just never came home from work, and he'd come home at one or two in the morning. At first he didn't, but he was getting a lot of static at work--the guy was ready to demote him because before he'd always drink with this guy . . . and stay out 'till all hours of the night because Brian didn't have a wife or girlfriend, but once he and I got together it wasn't just on Friday nights, then it was Thursday nights. And it got to be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday nights these guys weren't coming home. And the bosses wife would call us and say 'Larry called and . . . they won't be home,' and it just blew me away because I'd never been a part of this, I didn't know about this, but I had no one who would empathize with me because the rest of Brian's peer's wives . . . that just was a given, and they couldn't understand why I was getting so upset about it. So that's one of the reasons we moved the first time because I said--these were all his high school football buddies, this group he'd been with a long time. I said either we move out of here or we're not going to make it because I can't do this--but you move to a different town and it was just the same thing over again. They stop and drink at night, and it was hard to get through that. And he didn't really want to be that but he didn't really know what was so bad about it. He wanted to be home but he wanted to be with the guys . . . it's a weird culture. They're kind of a hard living group of people. I'm not saying they're bad people--a lot of them go to church, and it wasn't that they were immoral, it's just a hard livin' kind of deal." Was that true with all the towns you lived in? There was always a group of them."
184--Diane clears up the difference between logging camps and logging communities/towns. She said there are no more camps in WA--only in Alaska. E.G. they lived on an island in trailers provided by the company. This camp was segregated into bosses, families, single men, etc.
She describes the logging camp culture in Alaska, the division of women's groups into the drinkers, the women with kids who ate, crocheted, and cross-stitched and raised their kids, and the bitter women who sat and smoked dope all day and didn't care. Diane describes the Alaska experience as really hard. There was no tv, nothing to do, wild animals, no telephones in the trailers, lots of time no mail because of the weather, scared to death for the children, etc. Medical facilities primitive.
236--"It's a real rough culture. I always found someone I could be friends with, somebody that I felt a soulmate with. But there were all sorts of levels of people, I just couldn't . . . I just didn't get it. Lots of divorcing and sleeping around--I guess that's typical of any set of people, but it's just really intense, especially up in Alaska--drinking and drugs and suicides, and it's just a really tough life." She said that up in Alaska there were transients as well as families. She talked about the shock of first seeing where they were living in Alaska, the isolation, etc. She said that all the people that don't fit in "down south," back in the lower forty, fit in up there. "Everybody fits in up there, and everybody can be anybody--it's just that kind of Alaska frontier mentality--it kind of goes along with the kind of guy that's a logger. He kind of likes that sort of thing--independent . . . .a lot of people running from the law in those kinds of camps . . . that's why we decided not to raise our kids up there. We wanted them to be able to play sports and do the regular stuff."
276--What's the logging community like? "It's better . . . if you live in Washington in a timber community it's better. It's just a regular slice of life, but they all have kind of the same . . . heritage or something . . .its more normal, people follow the rules a little bit better . . . .there's more people going to church, it's more a regular section of life with just this occupation that shadows everything else, that kid of controls everything else." Do the same levels--groups--of women still exist? "I think so." She describes how very few people now want to be loggers for life. "Everybody else is going to get out, is going to college, is getting out. No one thinks of this as a vocation for the rest of their lives. Whereas before, when Brian was young, everybody was going to do it. There was nothing else to do, my dad did it--it was kind of a heritage." Did the women accept that? "They did, they used to like it because everybody had a pretty good lifestyle. Everybody did ok. But nowadays there's no way you could stay at home and be a homemaker and have your husband work in the woods. I would challenge anyone to that. Just like the guys that work with Brian now--all their wives and girlfriends are going to school. And it's like the wives strive so hard for stability. So many of them have become teachers--what's more stable, more secure? You get benefits and a paycheck every month. This was like unheard for us when I started teaching--it was like getting Christmas bonus every month, and it was something we could count on. It was always going to be there. With Brian, feast or famine. You never knew--the weather, you could be off ten weeks because of the weather--if it snowed too much or rained too much. Or the market--he got shut down last year for eleven weeks just because the timber market was so bad they couldn't sell any logs. And back when I first married Brian, the group that we lived with--I learned so much about being thrifty, because I never had to be thrifty. But these people had to learn. They knew how to pinch a penny--they knew how to can, they knew how to do all the stuff you had to because you knew the winter was going to be rough. I had to learn all that. I didn't know about unemployment. I remember when Brian (was laid off for the first time that they had been together) came by and a bunch of them came by honking and waving beers at me through the window in the middle of the day and (I wondered), 'what's this?' and he came in the clinic and said, 'I'm on rocking chair," and (she asked" what's this?' and (he replied) 'unemployment.'" He was shut down for the winter, and assured her that she shouldn't panic, but she did, and he assured her that it was normal--this happened every winter. "I almost lost my mind--and my mom and dad thought the world was going to come to an end--he's not working--and Brian was, like, "all right! I'm going to drink beer and have fun." She said that they'd go cut wood for people and do odd jobs to bring in cash, so it wasn't much different. "But it took me a long time to get over this unemployment check wasn't welfare--it was a real stigma for me. It was really hard."
336--Do you remember the first unemployment check that he got? "Yeah. I remember because they had a big party. They got shut down and "we're going to go to town and sign up for unemployment. Whoo-hoo! They went to town and it was all day and they came back all drunk and two weeks later this check shows up. And then every two weeks we got a check. And he had to send his cards in . . . (it was about 1/3 of his regular pay). It was so ingrained in them--it's a given--they almost see it as a paid vacation. So you're off all winter and you struggle and struggle and struggle and then you go back to work and you just get back on your feet and then the hot weather comes and you get shut down. It's just . . . I couldn't cope with it. And I remember struggling and struggling with it. And I remember saying to him a job that pays half as much but you work 52 weeks a year would be better than this. And he couldn't understand this." She described how some of his friends had taken jobs for $5 per hour and he just couldn't fathom that. He told her that they couldn't live on $8 per hour. She would argue that they could if they got that kind of money all year around. "That was always really hard for me, really a struggle for me to deal with that, the money." Diane said he would be out of work 2-3 times every year for anywhere from two to three months in the winter, and then in the summer hit and miss six days. She talked about hoot owling--working from dawn until the humidity became too low and the sun too hot and drying to work. In the winter you'd just get back to work and then the state would shut down the roads because it would thaw and the roads would be too soft for the trucks to haul. "There was always something." "But at least there was always the market, you always knew that if it wasn't the weather or something you could always work. But now, ever since the spotted owl, it's kind of like the bosses and the Forest Service make you feel like you're privileged just to get to work. And so then you're at the mercy of the market. And you never really know whether that's true or not. Some day's he'll just come home and say, 'we're done. They don't want any more logs in the yard.' And that's it. That's what made me nuts. I just couldn't handle it. And I looked around at other families that were logging that were making it and the wives had a good stable income. Not just working at the bar, or working at the handy mart. The ones that were living the lifestyle that I wanted for us, the wives were school teachers or medical assistants. They had a good salaried job."
390--So for you it was always this yearning for stability? "Oh my God, yes. It drove us crazy, the moving around all the time. It was REALLY hard. It was just really hard for me. My husband is just one of these really, really non-materialistic as-long-as-we're-all-together-and-we're-warm-we're happy it doesn't matter kind of guy. When I first got engaged to him, he's a baby, and he's got brothers and sisters older than my parents, so all his sisters got together and took me out to lunch on the waterfront in Tacoma, and they said, 'we love our brother but we voted to love you too and we wanted to tell you what your life is going to be like if you marry him. And did they not describe it to a T. And I remember coming home with the one sister and crying, 'you guys are wrong, you're wrong, Brian's not like that,' and everything they said came true. They said he doesn't care about a home, that's not important to him. Material things aren't important to him--everything he has he gives away. He travels, he doesn't like to be tied down, he's got this rambling, gypsy thing in him, he'll never be stable, he'll never stay in one place . . . . The man I fell in love with and talked to told me all these other things--what he wanted--and I believe in his heart he did, but he just couldn't give up who he was to get them. So we did a lot of travelling and I was always the one wanting stability. We're gonna stay here, we're gonna do that. And when things didn't work out I had us into mortgages and different lifestyles where he had to go to Alaska to make bigger money to keep this stability thing going that I wanted. Yet it would always fall apart, and we'd end up having to move to a small logging town, or do something. I couldn't take it any more. It was just like, I can't do this. The kids were in home school, and his company was paying for us to live in these little cabins on the water--they were wonderful rustic places, and Brian could have stayed there forever, but I couldn't do it. I wanted my kids in soccer, in dance lessons, in interscholastic sports, I wanted my life that I'd had that I pictured for them, I wanted that. And he never argued, but he was more like we could live in a tent and we'd be ok. Right now his dream home is a yurt. I mean this is where I'm going--I'm going to live in a yurt. And I'm ok with that at this point . . . ." Then she sat him down and told him that she was going back to WSU and become a school teacher. She felt Pullman would be a good place to raise her kids, and she did it. He loved coming back to Pullman. "I just had to have that stability. I just had to have that paycheck all the time."
454--Were you unusual in wanting that stability? "I don't want to sound like a snob. But the white trash or trailer park types that didn't care, that went to the bar and fought . . . and I liked those people, I didn't mind them--the tough women, you know, that didn't really care. I guess they made it somehow, they worked as barmaids or something like that. It was all part of the chase for them, I think, the no money, or they'd been raised like that and it didn't phase them, but the people I started gravitating to . . . the wives had jobs, because they were people that had the same goals I did. I think I had different goals than Brian. I could see that I had to get a stable job, and I wanted something where I could be home with my kids." "In order for you to succeed and be a normal family the wife has to have a good job, she just does. She has to know that she can get medical benefits, she has to have a steady paycheck. You have to be able to live on what she makes, and his stuff is the bonus, 'cause you can't count on it." She talked about the small time operators-independents--and said that their wives had to work too. Some made a lot of money, but a lot of money went out too.
511--"It was so hard, because my mom and dad couldn't understand, because we'd have to go to them for loans when I wasn't working. She'd say, 'I don't understand why you're broke all the time,' and I'd say, 'Mom, dad gets 52 paychecks a year plus bonuses, profit shares, etc., I get thirty. Think about it. And that's a good year. They just didn't understand that. For a lot of people that was ok . . . .but if you just wanted to be average, to be normal, the wife had to have a good job."
532--She talked about how logging "got into their skin." Her son offered that logging was all Brian had done and so he was comfortable with it. He didn't know anything else. "A lot of wives go along with it. I don't want to sand snobbish, but ( a big part of it was) 'I'll stand by my man.' (Diane took on a western twang here.) This is kind of backwards, don't know much different. A big night out is to go to K-Mart in Chehalis. But yet they're hard-drinking, hard partying people. The wives can just stay in those small towns and not do anything. But I see that changing too, because it seems like every year in all the crews Brian's on, I ask about the wives, I always ask about the wives . . . and a lot of 'em are going to school--people that are our peers, like from twenty years ago, we've met up with them and seven of us have become teachers . . . . " She tells a story of a woman who couldn't chew gum and walk and she ended up with a Master's degree and is teaching. "What could be more stable? If you've lived in this chaos for so long and you have a chance what looks like the most stability for you? And it was the teaching."
574--She talked about how a lot of the young guys who work with Brian have girlfriends and wives who are in school, working toward degrees to get good jobs. She talked about how the good jobs and pay are all gone. "One thing I'll say for Brian--he would never ever, ever let our kids log. Even in the summer . . . . We made a pact, before they were born, they would never, ever . . .
598--" it'd be too easy to stay, and for a single kid it was big money quick . . . .and he never wanted that for his kids. And he has preached, and preached school (to the kids). Education is everything--it's the only way out." But yet he loves it. "He won't leave it. He's had opportunities . . . (she describes these, various offers of retraining) . . .he just can't (get retrained). Every once in a while he tries, and his body is falling apart . . ."they're really down on themselves, but they still don't quit . . . They dream about getting out of it . . . about working in a hardware store, and working in a feed store . . . but I don't think he'll ever quit it."
637--Do families grow part when the wife goes back to school and the man remains in logging? "I think it enriches the relationship because it takes a lot of pressure off them." Diane talked about how demoralizing logging is because loggers, who work so hard physically, don't make a lot of money or get benefits and see people who are doing less physical work getting paid more. They don't feel good about themselves. So once the wife goes to work the pressure of supporting the family on inadequate wages is off. They can continue to do what they like to do and their families can make it. She talks about the clash of cultures between the loggers and their schoolteacher wives (the mangy logger and the prim school teacher). The cultural difference was accentuated in Alaska.
690--Diane talked about her feminine as the "feminine side" of their family while she is the more masculine "disciplinarian." "He is the furthest thing from macho in the whole wide world." Diane suggested that many loggers' wives are going back to work to keep their husbands in logging. "The only way you can survive it (logging) is for the wife to get a good job." Diane's son, Josh, who sat in on part of this interview, confirmed his mother's observations about the instability of his father's occupation. "You get home from school and see his car there and you know it's going to be bad for a while." Diane said that "the group I started out with, those girls in Eatonville, whose dads were loggers, no problem. They could handle it. You just have tuna casserole. You just don't run the washing machine so much. You don't go to the high school basketball games, you save your pennies until you can go to the best one of the season. See I'd never lived like this, I never had this concept. We always went to the National Bank of Greco--my parents--(laughed) when things got bad, but most of those gals didn't. But most of those gals moved on and aren't in relationships with loggers any more, because there's not that many of them left any more. A lot of those marriages of our peer group, probably none of them are still married." Josh talked about how the sons of loggers that were part of his peer group are all going to college and none of them are going into logging.
739--Diane talked about her older son, an "academically challenged" young man for who school was a real struggle. He tried many different things, she said, and one day came to her in resignation and said that there was nothing else that he could do but logging. "I'm a loser," he said to her. He thought that the lowest he could get was to be a logger. Diane said that the further you get up into the mountains the more young men you find that continue to go into logging. "Nobody that's been a little bit exposed to life does it." "The women that are like in their fifties now, they were logger's wives in the glory days when they made a lot of money and they were the middle class of rural towns. They were able to send their kids to college if they wanted to and if they didn't want to they could go to college. They were middle class and they had a good life and it was ok. They still had that hard living, hard partying culture--that was imbedded into the culture." Diane told stories about when Brian and his fellow loggers would get drinking and do things all kinds of rowdy things.
801--"In the very beginning, Brian really wanted to be with me. He was really happy to have this girlfriend and wife. He'd call me and say, 'hon, I'm in Enumclaw and they're all drinking, and AI can't come home, I don't want you driving up here on the icy roads, I'll be there when I get there. And then the pressure was so hard on him by the other guys because if he came home he made them all look bad. There was a lot of pressure, he was really torn. At one time, the boss docked his pay, mad at him because he wouldn't go drinking with him, it was really weird. And that's when we moved away, and things were better, but it was still embedded in the culture . . . it would never fail, you'd make a good dinner, you'd make him his favorite dinner, and he'd never show up, he'd never show up." "There were times when Brian would come home and he'd get crap the next day. It was embedded in the culture. If they weren't driving around drinking, they were in a bar . . . .and they all belonged to the Moose, or the Eagles . . . .I didn't like that lifestyle, sitting in the lounges, but the women who grew up in it they just went along with it, they were just like that and went along with them . . . . ." She said that women of her generation (married to loggers) all worked and the ones that didn't were married to "macho jerks" who didn't want their wives out of the house, women who "had lots of eye makeup, big hair, skin tight pants, and they lived in a mobile home. What can I say?" "Their kids don't want soccer cleats and designer clothes, their kids don't want designer clothes. What I thought was important, material things and good schools and extracurricular activities was important to me, if I didn't think that was important, if I would have dressed them in Sears Toughskins levis and track shoes from K-Mart, and monster truck t-shirts, I wouldn't have had to work, I guess, we could have lived in a little shack in Eatonville, like our first house, we could still live there, and it would be paid off, and I could be drinking coffee, and whatever, and my kids would have had nothing, we could have done that. But nobody in my generation did that."
858--Josh said that when he was younger they had the best Nintendo on the block and wanted for nothing but as they got older and his father's wages diminished they had less and less. Diane said that where at one point he was making $23-25 per hour in Alaska, things were great, but then he lost the contract up in Alaska and he had to come back to Washington and things got really bad and they lost their house. "Just one more season, just one more season, hon, it'll be ok, and then we can afford for me to come back down there and work," Brian would assure Diane. But things never got better. Even after Diane went back to work, even after she got her degree and was teaching, he had to go back to Alaska and work because they couldn't afford to make it with him working in Washington. "That was really hard on him, that was really hard on our marriage. That was the toughest time we ever had, because we'd built so much up to when I started teaching, everything was going to be wonderful, and it wasn't. Things just didn't go very far, I was a first year teacher and brought home about $1300 per month." Diane was left with the kids, who were beginning to run wild, and she couldn't take care of them alone, so Brian came back from Alaska, and he had a really hard time with it. They lost their house to debt, and were in just as bad of shape as if he had never gone to Alaska. "He was at his all time low. It was about three years of 'I'm a loser and we're white trash' --he was so down on himself because he'd beat himself down working sometimes 80 hours a week (in Alaska) and he was working his head off and I was working my head off and we had nothing to show for it. It was so bad when he first came down here that to get a decent job with enough hours I was having to drive him 65 miles on Sunday night or Monday morning and he was living in a camp trailer with a friend, working all week, I'd have to go pick him up on Friday, because we only had one car, and he was getting behind and we were fighting, and it was just awful. Finally he got to working for this one day and things started coming around and Brian got to feeling better." "It's amazing how hard it is--there's fewer and fewer wives of loggers because there's fewer and fewer loggers."
931--Brian is a "riggin' slinger." She describes logging, and what Brian does. She also talked about logging as almost totally a woman's domain. Women drive truck, but almost never, if ever, work in the brush.
974--What about the danger? Was that always in the back of your head? "Yeah, that's one of our conflicts about him not coming home at night. I'd say 'just call me and say you're alive." I was always afraid that somebody had gotten drunk and driven into a ditch or somebody had gotten killed. I'd worked in the medical part of it off and on and friends of ours were always getting killed, especially in Alaska. Every year two or three people we'd know would get killed in Alaska." Diane told stories about different people they knew getting hurt and killed. She remembered Brian crying when friends were killed, and saw different loggers hurt. "That's a way out for a lot of guys--they get hurt and they just don't go back. They get a little settlement and they get retrained." Has Brian been hurt? Never seriously--his hand was smashed once, and he broke his leg once. He'd come home and tell Diane when he had close calls, and she'd say, 'Oh, that's too bad. Be careful."
1017--Diane talked about Brian, his big heart, how nice he is. "But he's just addicted. He's a terminal logger." She said he's had lots of opportunities, but never taken them. She talked about Brian getting a job driving one of her father's trucks, and how hard it was for him. He just hated it. He couldn't do it. "And it's hard. Yet he values education so much." She talked about changes in "the culture" of logging--now people value education whereas when she and Brian were first married people felt that anyone who went to college thought they were better. Now those same guys "are killing themselves" to make sure their kids go to school.
1068--Diane talked more about the insecurity of the logging business. She talked about how women now in their fifties could weather the downturns in the industry because oftentimes they had means, such as small gardens, to get them through the hard times. But there was never security--logging depended on the weather, the market, the season. "Every night we'd watch the news . . . .and the money was running out and the groceries were running out" and they'd watch television and see a high pressure area sitting over Washington that maintained a hot spell that kept Brian from work. She talked about depending on her parents to get them through the tough times--her folks would offer Brian odd jobs when he was off work, they could go eat at her folks and live there if need be. "It was hard."
1146--"But the women, I think it was hardest on them. The guys could always fall back on the fact that they worked so damn hard and they were doing their best but they can't work because there's no work and by God just figure it out. You figure it out, and they did." But, she said, her generation couldn't and didn't figure it out, and went to work.
1165--Diane said that there wasn't a lot of wife abuse. She said that she never saw that. She said that she didn't know if the women who went to the bars and the Eagles and the Moose did so because they wanted to, but they did it, it was a lifestyle to adopted, and it worked. Logging marriages that stayed together were pretty happy marriages.
1177--What about schooling their children? Diane said that she homeschooled her kids because they were travelling. She said that she used traditional curriculum. But she said that many of the people that homeschooled did so because they had some agenda--Christian or survivalist. She said that you do find a lot of "cultish" people in those timber communities.
END OF TAPE 1, side B
TAPE 2, side A
001--Diane talked about how Brian would bring home some pretty shady characters, and claim that they were good guys. "He's non-discriminating, he can't find anything bad in anybody." "If they could log, they'd be accepted in the community like that (snapped her fingers). She said that if she looked at loggers politically, the owners were mostly Republican, and the workers would pretend that they were Democrats, but they weren't, they were very independent, and tended toward survivalist. But she said that she never could figure the workers out politically. They weren't real trusting of the government.
023--Diane talked about the spotted owl issue. "They're very proud people . . . they see that so much blame is put on the logger when it's such a generic term, when they're just doing what they're told, they're not doing anything illegal because the Forest Service tells them where they can log--nobody goes in and clearcuts something against the law . . . they have to follow all these rules . . . they're just doing what they're told . . . .it's just their job." She said that they're really distrustful of the government and they want to distance themselves from the environmentalists. She said that Brian is an environmentalist. He feels that the old growth should be saved. He feels that there should be balance. She talked about the people who are involved militantly in the spotted owl issues. She talked a bit about "Women in Timber," and how they're "fighting for their life." She said that the Women in Timber were mostly owner's wives. Regular workers' wives were, for the most part, working, and didn't have time for involvement in Women in Timber.
079--Diane said that she teaches about the timber industry--she "tries to teach with balance." She teaches fifth grade. She considers herself an environmentalist. She said, "you have to treat trees like wheat . . . .it's another crop like wheat" . . . .she believes in sustained yield. "We're still really dependent on wood." She feels that what's happening with the timber industry is sad--that the small timber towns were great places to raise kids, and they're shutting down. She said that logging was a culture in towns like Eatonville when Brian was a logger growing up. "They had a culture and community and a closeness that we never had. They had tradition."
She talked about the homecoming traditions of towns like Eatonville, where homecoming queens would be escorted onto the football fields in logging trucks, and where team band uniforms were the logger's attire. She said that logging was imbedded in the traditions of these towns, and it was a fast fading tradition in most now. "It's sad to see it go, just like the family farm." She talked about having name accounts in various stores throughout Eatonville--"that was all part of it." People would pay the doctor in eggs, or dead chickens, or services like chimney sweeping. "it was all part of it--it was understood."
165--Diane talks now about how few loggers live in the old logging towns now because they've become tourist towns. She told a story about how Brian's mother hand-made logs, and how that practice has been taken over by a "hippy" woman who makes lots of money selling home-made rugs to tourists. She talked about the various towns, once logging towns, that have now converted to tourism.
241--Did the generation before you move around much? No, because of sustained yield. Diane explained sustained yield--how it worked. She said that this allowed families to remain comfortably in one place, but then "things got crazy," and they cut too much. She said that loggers had to drive much farther to get work because they had to go where the bids were. The people that stuck with logging had to do this because there wasn't enough work around where they were that paid enough. "You had to go where the logging was. It got all crooked."
275--It was kind of like being a migrant worker. "Exactly." "Most of the time families didn't go with their husbands, they didn't have to . . .but we'd made a commitment to stay together."
310--Diane said that Brian wants to live in a tent, or a yurt. That's his dream.
325--"When we first got married, his logging pants were $5 per pair. He's making like $3 more an hour than he did when we got married. Riggin' pants are $29. They've gone up $24 . . . . Cork boots--I remember we scraped and scraped together for $125. Now I'm having Leo (a shoemaker in Pullman) make Brian a handmade pair--he's giving me a deal--for $325--he's giving me a deal. They would be like $400. And wages have gone up $4. And that's because Brian has a union job, and they're going to break this union, and wages will go down again. It's crazy, it's crazy, because this union is going to get broke because that's the only way this man can stay in business." "You look at that--hickory shirts were like $3, and now they're $25--so, it's really hard. It was a sacrifice back then, to scrape the money up to do it." She talked about how often Brian needs new boots, gloves, pants. When it's wet he needs rubber cork boots, and when dry he needs leather ones. "And he's careful. Brian's always greasing them and waxing them (the boots). And that's another part of the culture--my friends would come up and here's this dirty looking gray long underwear hanging behind the stove and the boots behind the stove, just the clothes he wears was so foreign to them." She said that Brian never wore logging clothes when he wasn't working. She said that a lot of their friends would put on his good logging clothes to go to town, but Brian never did that.
379--Diane said that some of those "macho" logger's wives/girlfriends looked like country western singers. She also said that the Alaska culture was even more foreign. "Those Alaska people are people who couldn't cut it down here and went up there for more than just the timber and the logging--it's for a whole lifestyle. You have two teenagers in a 24-foot camp trailer and a husband and wife for nine months . . . and they'd wonder why the kid would break into the quick shack and steal . . . that's not like the traditional Pacific Northwest culture." Diane suggested that I read The Lady and the Lumberjack.
431--Diane talked about living in Alaska--how difficult that was. "Our husbands had to bribe us to hold us there. My mom would almost slap me--she'd pick me up at the airport in Seattle, and I'd say let's go to South Center, and I'd have almost $6000 spent . . . . you'd sit there and fantasize about shopping, and fantasize about going out to lunch, and fantasize about not eating salmon all month, you know, because at the beginning of the month you'd eat maybe hamburger or something good out of the freezer but the rest of the month you'd eat salmon, or poached deer, or something like that, and potatoes. No fresh fruit, you craved salad. When we came home all of us were anemic. I remember spending $6000 in nothing flat and my mom was like, 'stop the madness,' you know. This is crazy. And I was like, 'whooo hoooo!' And I was like buying all this stuff for the kids, and I'd have to buy all these new suitcases to go back to Alaska. We moved up there in our suburban, and I had to have a van come down on a barge when we came back. It was crazy, it was just crazy. That was another cultural thing, too. Shopping for a year, rationing it out. But the highlight was that Brian was so excited to have us living with him." She talked about going to the bar in Alaska in their suburban, driving a load of loggers to the bar while they smoked dope, being in the middle of a bar fight, then going to church. She said that the grocery store there was like a handy mart but the liquor store was huge. They had suicides there, and the guy next door had a heart attack and so they had to call the Coast Guard to get him to a hospital. "It was scary--I did that two years."
517--Diane talked about a girlfriend of hers from Cedro-Wooley who lived there. "Her husband was kind of more macho than Brian, and didn't let her go home a lot. I went home twice a year. They lived in a camp trailer. He said, 'ok Kathy, I'll make you a deal. If you stay for Christmas I'll let you buy new furniture when you go home. (She had a beautiful home in Cedro-Wooley, but was living in this old rotten camp trailer.) So she said 'ok, fine.' Between Seattle and Cedro-Wooley, she spent over $20,000. But she didn't get home. She got off the ferry. Her mom met her. She didn't just go to United Buy and Sell. She went to Ethan Allen and got all new living room and dining room, got all new beds for the kids. She went berserk. I remember when I went home for Christmas, and I left with her parents. Her parents were going south and her husband wouldn't let her go. She was going to spend Christmas in camp. And I left, and I got in the truck with her parents. She had gotten to the point where she wasn't getting dressed. And I waved at her goodbye, and she waved at me. And I went into Ketchikan and waited a couple of days and then caught my plane and flew home with the kids so I could be home for Christmas and Brian was coming later. And she didn't get to come home for Christmas, and that was her favorite holiday. And when I was in town she called me at the hotel and she said, 'would you send me out some Christmas lights on the plane, I'm going to try and decorate the tree." She wasn't getting dressed and she was really depressed." So when she got home she bought a whole household of furniture. "I said, 'you go girl!' " "Like I said, it was a whole different culture."