WOMEN AND TIMBER
The Pacific Northwest Logging Community, 1920 - 1998
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| Women and Timber
Oral History narrator: Mystee Vanderpool
Date of interview: October 15, 1998
Indexed/partial transcription by D. Sutphen, 12-4-98
Notes: Interviewer Debra Sutphen. Interviewer's questions are bolded. Indicated quotes are not always precisely quoted here.
003--She is married to a logger, his dad a logger, and his dad a logger. Her brother is also a logger. She grew up in the logging industry, but her dad injured when she was four, and hasn't really worked since then. She grew up in Packwood, lived there to 14, then moved to Glenoma, then married and moved to Randall (where she's live--and been married--for ten.5 years).
013--"Dad was a wild child and ended up getting in a lot of car wrecks--being a logger put so much stress on those injuries"--he broke his back and knees and has degenerative arthritis so very hard on him.
020--Her granddad (husband's dad) John just recently passed away last Feb--he had his own logging outfit after he got back from WWII--a Seabee--worked road construction in Navy and then went into log road construction business in Packwood. Quite large company, but she thinks it went bankrupt.
029--By the time she was four her dad couldn't work anymore in hard labor.
032--She grew up around loggers--did she think she'd marry one? "I never gave it much thought, but I know now when I see men in suits and things like that--and I know its not right and its prejudiced in a way--but I think they're not very manly--[laughs] I've been used to being around men that have done physical labor . . . I shouldn't think that way but I do."
039--Her husband's always been in logging--"his mom and dad had a logging business from the time he was a really small kid--he was kind of a rambunctious child so his mother made his father take him to work all the time. So he was going to work on a regular basis from the time he was nine or ten, so by the time he was seventeen, which was illegal, he wasn't supposed to be doing it, he worked out there and he graduated from high school a semester early, so it was like six months before he turned 18 he started tending hook." He's sort of the hook tender/side rod--been that for a long time--since he started it so young he's done it for a while.
051--So she's been around logging from the time she was born. " That's basically what the communities in the area survive on-- the mills and the logs that come to them. They're to the point now that they don't know if the mills are going to survive--if the mills go down . . . .there won't be much left." "After George's family's business went down he went to Alaska--our oldest son Lance just seven months old--he worked there for quite some time but that was HARD--and I only had one kid then, I have four now, and I don't want him to leave again and raise the kids by myself 'cause it's too hard." He was gone for four months--all at one stretch, and "Lance was the fussiest baby in the entire world--he was my first baby, and it was terribly hard." He's nine now--"it was awful."
069--"It is awful (husband working in Alaska) it was nice at the time because the wages in Alaska were so much more than they were here, so we really got caught up on all of our bills and we were able to buy a house, but now what he's making here he'd be making the same as what he'd make there, plus all the expenses he have staying there unless he stayed in a camp, so . . . that's hard."
074--We talked about the logging industry's ups and downs. "It seems to have been on a steady downward slope" (since they've been married). Is he unemployed a lot because of that? No--when they're company went down he went through a lot of outfits trying to find a place he lied, and then 6 months after he got on with L&L Enterprises (Willard Lattimore owns) and has been there ever since. Willard pays him really well and he's pretty happy there. They only have a couple of years work left, and Willard is almost 80 (he looks good for his age) and then after that he's going to probably call it quits and she doesn't know what he's going to do. But she's heard that PLS has a lot of work--her brother worked there and she's heard that people who worked that had the phone ringing off the hook because no one can find anyone to crew because no one wants to get into the logging business because it's so uncertain. So if you are there you can probably get a good wage but you'll have to drive at least three hours a day and work ten hours a day. Right now her husband's work is in the national forests, and drives anywhere from 1 1/2 hour to 2 1/2 hours one way to work. Lots of driving--very tiring.
101--What's a normal day like for you? "A normal day--I don't get up and make him breakfast anymore because he really doesn't like to eat breakfast, not when he gets up that early. He was getting up this summer about 2am, but now he's not getting up until about 5--that's just unreal--it's been so long since he's been able to get up that late. He gets up--I should probably get up with him but I don't, I sleep that extra hour until the kids get up. (laughs) I get the kids ready for school, and ship them out--I pretty much do the house--I don't work anymore--last year, for four years I drove a school bus, and it was uggh, that's the job from hell, but anyway, so I decided I really didn;t need that job anymore. So now i stay home and take care of my kids, and George gets home anywhere from 4:30 to 5pm, and we make dinner after the kids get home, and enjoy dinner together and that's pretty much it, and various school activities and things."
Are you in PTA, that sort of thing? No, she's not that involved, "maybe that makes me a bad mother," she thinks they're a bunch of busybodies.
124--Taking care of the house because husband works such long hours--did you get that way? "Pretty much--I remember when we firs got married and we lived in a trailer court--(she joked about being white trash people, but obviously proud of it because that was their first home and the smartest investment they ever made) but the landlord lady . . . I remember watching her do all these things around the house, and I thought to myself I will NEVER have to do that (mock indignation by her)--he'll always do that stuff for me--but then when we moved into a house, and he started working and got promoted to siderod, he was a workaholic at this time--he didn't know how to do anything but work and when he wasn't working he hunted, and he had a really hard time just laying around doing nothing. So he was gone all the time so I learned how to do A LOT of stuff. He made the comment a while back to my brother, he said, 'I wouldn't be surprised if I came home one day and she had the whole house jacked up" (laughs). What do you do? She goes with him and helps him get the wood--they have the wood in the basement so she has to go down and chop the wood, and he starts the fire in the morning (they seem to heat with wood) but then we have to keep it going all day long. "I'm actually getting pretty good--I can hit the same place on the wood" (Laughs). "There's been a lot of times when I've had to fix fence--the horses have gotten out when he's gone--(they have two mules and two horses)--just crazy things I would have never thought I would have had to done--I built the little fence right out there in front (decorative)--whatever needs to be done if I can do it I do it." "I have not tackled plumbing--has George's grandpa come, but sometimes I think I should try to tackle that myself." "I learned how to tile the countertops myself, if something strikes me to do it, it might be ten o'clock at night but I'm going to do that."
160--She keeps the bills and records for them. "I basically do that--he'll look over them once in a while, but not really very danged often. He'll say, 'do we have money? Say yes or no.' That's about it."
164--"He's logged here in the Gifford Pinchot national forest, he's been to Alaska, he went with his friends to Oregon at one time, in the Capitol forest a lot, and in the Toutle. She's stayed there in that house while he's done that. He did, a long time ago, work Nesel(?) and stayed there during the week. They have four kids--that wasn't too bad, because he came home pretty early on Fridays, and then didn't leave until Monday--so that wasn't too bad, but it wasn't ideal either."
182--Do you have a network of friends here--women friends? "To some degree. My best friend, her husband is a cutter--she's the one that Mystee watches her little girl for--she works in the lumber office in Randall--when I first got married most of my friends were wives of people that he worked with. It was nice because when we first got married it was really stressful because I would hear them talking about what they did at work and who almost got killed and what almost happened there--you never knew if they didn't come home if someone broke down or if somebody was dead or something was broken--yeah, that was kind of scary. Still, if they come home early for some reason and I see George and my brother works with him and the first thought that goes through my mind is 'oh my God, maybe something's happened to my brother' . . . that took a lot of getting used to, but now I try to put it in the back of . . . I mean it's always there, if you see an ambulance drive by that way, or anything like that . . . it's always there."
She therefore worries about both her brother and her husband--she and her brother are very close.
"It's . . . I don't know . . it's a challenge sometimes, but I'm proud of him . . . I think he puts in an honest day's work and he works hard at what he does . . . and he enjoys doing it . . so, I figure if he's happy doing it then that's really what matters."
207--She said that it really helped having women friends who were related to loggers because they would sit around and talk about different things like that. "I remember my friend Julie, was all the time on her husband Paul to quit logging because it's too dangerous, and she'd always tell him that he needed to find a job, I don't know, blowing up balloons or something like that--she'd always tell him--I don't know--their whole lifestyle is, is DANGEROUS--that's the only word for it I guess."
217--Do you feel that you're part of a unique , traditional occupation in the Northwest? "Yeah, I think so, in a way, because it's become such a dying thing because it's not politically what you're supposed to do, it's 'just not right,' and I don't think people have heard both sides of the story--they hear just one side of the story, and with a lot of political issues you get these people that's all they do from daylight to dark, they're paid to say 'it's bad, it's bad, it's bad,' and it's not as bad as they say. And you know, in a lot of ways it's good--I can equate it with farming, because a tree is the same thing as a piece of corn, it just takes longer to ripen, and if you don't harvest your corn, what's it do--it rots, and it's no good to anybody. So I don't know--we've gone from seeing in just the last ten years or so we have an entire herd of forty elk in our field--that was unheard of a few years ago. In Packwood, yeah, but not in Randall--they didn't hang out down here. But there's less clear cuts--there's less food for them so it's like a supermarket in these fields and not have to worry about scrounging up for some food--that's a side that people don't see--there's no fires anymore --they put the fires out as soon as they start, so there's no food left for the animals to eat so they come down here. There's still places, but it's getting scarcer and scarcer." "But yeah, I think it's a . . . not really a noble profession, but I think it's a . . . it's something to be proud of. It's old--its very old profession--as he (George) says it's one of the oldest professions in the book, because in the Bible . . . somebody hired someone else--there were loggers in the Bible."
252--Do you have friends or people you associate with that aren't in logging? "Yeah, as a matter of fact we have neighbors that just moved here from Boston, and when they first got here they'd really bought into the 'logging is bad,' and when you first come up here you drive through some (heavily logged areas--logged by private companies) and it doesn't look the best, but it's starting to grow back, but that's what people think our national forests look like and that's what the state of WA looks like and that's not true. So we went driving around when they first got here and some of the lines that they had been fed they were laughable, and they didn't know, that's what they've been told and it's not their fault--it was kind of funny. But I think she's--at first we went horse riding one day--we went up through a pretty big patch of what people would call old growth but it's what George refers to as 'bastard growth,'--not true old growth--I mean, they're big trees--but we went through there and they were beautiful, and she said, 'can George go through here without wanting to cut them down?' I mean it's like that's all he thinks about all day long--is just killing trees--he enjoys the beauty of nature as much as anybody else does. I mean they've picked up bird's nests and put 'em back in trees, and things like that--they're not just going out to kill and rape and maim, like everybody thinks they do. Yeah, she's really come around because my other friend--has cut for years--they had some home video of cutting down trees that big and they actually had to use a tree jack on them and she was just totally amazed but her whole way of thinking has just come around 100% after living around here and seeing how much there is--it's kind of funny. You hear about something on tv --across the whole nation--and you believe it--it's supposed to be true--it's such a crock."
289--So do you all feel caught in the middle of the environmental issues, forest service, management of the forests, timber industry? "I do--I think everybody in this community is caught in the middle, and a lot of communities in the Northwest--it's all political too-if people would just step back and use some common sense everybody could be happy, but you know you get . . I use the term 'environmentalist WACKO' because I consider myself an environmentalist--I don't litter, I don't intentionally go out and dump batteries in the river or anything like that, I want to take care of the earth, but I still think that you can harvest timber and still sustain a healthy forest and the needs of the people.
305--Do you feel a connection with the woods and nature? "I do, I do. I really--when I was younger my dad had three girls before we had my brother and I was a little tomboy--I went hunting with him, I went fishing with him, we went horseriding, still--I enjoy to go horse riding in the woods. And if there's just stumps everywhere nobody's going to want to go horse riding in the woods and nobody's going to be able to hunt, but in the same token, when you go up to a clearcut we'd go up and pick blackberries when I was a littlekid but there aren't any blackberries any more because they don't clearcut and they don't burn them and that's where you get blackberries and it's getting harder to find huckleberries. I mean there are just a lot of things that are missing out there that I used to enjoy--it was a good family day to take a picnic and go pick berries or do whatever, and I can remember those were fun times, you know. I don't know--where we live most all of our activities are centered around something to do with the woods, pretty much. 'Cause I mean George hunts, Lance fishes and hunts with George, and the girls and I ride . . . so that's the basis of what we do--it's wonderful, I don't see why people don't do more of it."
332--Do you ever go out in the woods with George and watch him work? No, not during the week when the whole crew is working, but on the weekends, or a lot of times she'll "run parts" for him--he'll call her and need her to pick up a part and take it up to him. "Or if he's just mechanicing sometimes and doesn't want to go by himself they'll go with him and just goof around . . . it's kind of interesting . . . we go up and he'll let the kids run the equipment--it gives the kids an idea of what their dad does--you tell them that their dad works in the woods and they wonder if he just walks around in the trees all day long . . . laughing which ones he can kill . . .(heavy sarcasm here)." "A lot of people that live in the city just consider us illiterate hicks--we don't know what we're talking about . . . " Do you get that often? "All the time . . . .do you have newspapers? Do you have electricity? Yes, we have all these things--we even have a satellite dish. We're not stupid . . .in movies and things like that hunters and anybody that lives in a small community is considered illiterate, they're hicks, they're stupid, they're prejudiced, and that's not true. It's a nice community-it's a nice place to raise your kid, you know pretty much everybody there, and what's going on at school, whose kids is saying cusswords at school . . . it's nice to live in a community like that, and it's not for everybody, but it's all I've ever known. When we were in high school, a lot of my friends (said) 'I'm not living her my whole life, it's just a dump, and I'm leaving, I hate it--most of those people came back after a short time. Some of them--especially the girls who didn't get married wanted more professional jobs, and they're really trapped--they miss it up here but they can't make a living up here."
375--Has your husband or brother ever been hurt in the woods? "Not seriously, but, oh yeah. He goes to work--he dropped a hundred pound block on his foot one time--he went to work with his foot all busted up, fingers broken, ribs that are broken, he's got to this day--and you can feel it in the back of his head--an indent where one of the lines hit him one day in the back of his head. He was younger--he said--he wouldn't do it--he was going to be real catty and jump in when the lines were down and fall this tree and jump back out really quick. Well, something happened in the meantime and the line come up and whacked him in the back of the head, knocked him out--and when he woke up the tree was falling and he was laying underneath of it--so he narrowly missed being squashed that time. So there's just countless times where he'll come home . . .and they laugh about it--that's what gets me! But I guess that's the only way to deal with that kind of stuff, because he says if you're worried about it, about getting hurt or killed all the time--you probably will get hurt or killed. He said that you gotta laugh at it--that's how you get through--that happens. It's really dangerous--I guess that's just one of the bad points of it. And I try not to think of it too, because it would probably drive you crazy if you thought about all the bad things that could happen in a day, especially if you sit around and you hear all the older people talk, and they talk about 'yeah, so and so was killed here,' and my mom's dad worked in the woods, set chokers, and didn't really like that so he ended up driving truck and driving low boys for Cosmos timber, and some of the stories that he tells about . . . and I remember this from the time I was about 4--I have this image in my mind of this man that they dropped . . . the whole load of logs just came off on top of him, and his head was smashed in between these two logs, and I get this image of this man with no head, and I know it bothered him for years after that. Some of the things you hear--people have been cut in half--just horrible things . . . (nervous laugh)."--419
429--It sounds like the danger of logging is in your mind but it's in the back of your mind. "To carry on normal you have to push it to the back of your mind, I think. . . . My granddad, John, he got hurt really bad when I was . . . three or four . .. he went out in the winter when it was really snowy, and he was going to walk a cat down the road--I thought 'that has good traction on it,' but it doesn't, because when it turns sideways it acts just like a sled. And he ended up going down off the hill and being crushed. It broke his pelvis, it broke a bunch of stuff. He ended up with a lot of neurological damage after that . . . he became a real estate agent after that. I can barely remember going and seeing him, but he had a lot of problems after that . . . he developed Parkinson's because of that--led to his failing health and then he was bedridden, and then just gave up. He had a brand new wool coat on that day, and my grandma was very mad because they'd cut it off, so she was very upset about that. My brother wore it for a long time after he got bigger and started working in the woods. It was sewed all away around because it was a brand new coat except for that."
463--Do you think that there's a logging community--are you part of an occupational community? "Oh, definitely. Especially since it's becoming such a small thing--you know where it used to be huge and you couldn't possibly know all of the people involved it's become smaller and smaller, and I know my George, because he started doing what he did at such a young age and they started specializing in cable thinning, and they were one of the first companies that started doing that, and people know him from all around--you can't go anywhere without him knowing somebody . . . that you would never guess, and as soon as they say 'where you working, who yu working for, who's that--if they don;t know them personally they know the name, they know who they're working for, what kind of business they have, George can probably tell you what kind of machines . . what kind of a yarder, what kind of a shovel, pretty much. I don't know if that's just from him working or if it's because they had a business, and they made those connections long before that, but there's definitely some sort of community of some sort." Do you feel more connected as the timber industry comes more and more under siege? "I think so because then you have somebody to talk to and share your concerns with and different things like that--it's nice to have somebody who understands. Because somebody else would say, 'well, just go get another job." Well, what other job around here are you gonna get? I personally don't want to move--I like where I'm living, I like the way life was, they're the one's who have the problem with it and it's not fair, in my opinion, that they--and I don't think they're doing it maliciously--they're doing it because they're misguided, and they've been told these things, and they don't realize the people that they're hurting and the people that have already moved away from here because things have gotten so tight and they just don't want to deal with it anymore. A lot of people are really big into retraining now--they send them to school--my sister-in-law is going to school because she worked in the mill. Yeah, you can send some of these people to school, but where you used to have one person working you're going to have to have two people working to make the same amount of money. That's not good for anybody, that's not good for anybody's kids, I don't know . . . ."
519--Have you had to work over the years? "I haven't had to, I worked because I kind of wanted to get out, and I really enjoyed bus driving, and I'm getting my CDL (commercial driver's license) so you can drive commercial trucks, which--you know you asked me if I'd ever worked with George, and I did--I went to work with him when they were rockin' a road and I drove dump truck . . . it was fun, I'd been buggin' him to do it for a long time. But no, I've not really had to work, I worked because I wanted to, or because we wanted extra money. But no, we don't really want for anything . . .there's nothing that we're really missing in our lives that we can't do without--we have plenty of food, we have nice cars, a nice house. It kind of worries me that things might get tougher, especially the way the economy is--they've cut log prices--and kind of sounds like he may have the whole winter off." How's that? "When we first got married, he was off here and there and it was nice because we could go horse riding, or do whatever, but now it's scary because we have more kids and more mouths to feed and more bills, but we always find some way to manage, always, things always work out--it doesn't do any good to worry. But it's kind of nice --last year he was off for about a month, and I was working then, so it was kind of a nice break for me because all I had to do was get up and go to work and he got the kids off to school, and when I came home the house was picked up and there was usually some breakfast--it was really nice--he gets paid even when he doesn't work--Willard pays him even when he doesn't work-he gives him forty hours, so that's really nice--it's really unusual--Willard's been good to George. Yeah, before we had to make it on unemployment, and that's not fun. We always --before Willard starting paying him for that--I never felt comfortable unless we had at least $5000.oo in savings to pay the bills with and then you don't have to worry about not having bills and Christmas and things like that because in the summertime they work a lot of hours and a lot of overtime so you save that for when they don't work a lot of hours and they don't work, so it all equals out."
580--What's the best part of being married to a logger and being part of that life all your life? "I would say just the best part is having him--because of the logging that's who he is--it's kind of fun when we go out because, especially when he was younger--he was much more vocal about this--when all the guys got together they would argue logging--such and such did this and such and such did that, but when they would start talking, and he would kind of step back for a long time and not say anything, and the one guy especially would brag about how he could do this and that, and pretty soon when he would have enough and he couldn't take it anymore he (George) would just say, 'you know, I can do this and I can do that, and you never do that' and (the other guy would be intimidated and) he'd pretty much go, 'uh huh,' and he'd be quiet because George is one of the only people around who--he's a high climber and he tops trees, and not many people do that. There's days when he'd top three or four trees and rig 'em too. Anyway, we have a video of him topping a tree--I can't imagine going that high up in a tree number one, and then, number two, actually sawing the top out of it and holding on . . . that to me is too scary, and so many things can happen, and he tells me just to keep the crew working and they don't have to shut down that he tops trees when it's too windy and it's just--I just tell him, 'don't tell me this . . .just don't tell me this,' you're home--that's all that matters . . . . He prides himself on production and that's how he gets it."
624--What's the worst thing about being married to a logger--being connected to the logging community? "Just having the reputation that you're just--that he's out being a madman, just cutting down as many trees as he can--that he's a bad person, it's a bad industry, 'cause it's not. I think it's very reputable, it should be, if its not portrayed that way. I think that's the worst part--people think that you're just some illiterate--and a lot of loggers are portrayed as illiterate people who can't do anything else and that's why they do it, and that's really not true. He's a really smart individual with something he's interested in. His whole family--they're really smart people--his uncle (Rufe) worked in the family business in the summer times putting himself through college--he works in--he's the CEO for someone--Microsoft was all the time wanting him to come for work with them . . . . if George was interested in computers he'd be right up there with Rufe. "
642--What would you all do if there was no more logging--ten years down the road? "I don't know--we'd starve to death . . . . (laughs) . . . no." I brought up the subject of loggers being perceived as big drinkers, live in shacks--if they're not logging they and their wives sit around and drink. "To a certain extent--drinking does fall into that--I'm not a real big drinker, but when George and I first met--he drank a lot--that is one of the things that they do do, not on a regular basis, but when they all get together, but think that in a way they need to, because of the physical demand on them, and knowing that, you know, you could be dead tomorrow--and I think that's a way of them blowing off steam and releasing it. That's what they do--they drink and sometimes they fight--and they'll argue logging or whatever and they'll wrestle around on the ground for a while and they're best friends--that's their lifestyle. Lot of people probably see that as hickish . . . but they're normal people--George can carry on a normal conversation with somebody. Granted, there are a few people that are like that but there's people like that in all walks of life . . . depends on your personality."
661--Did you ever have to deal with George going out with his buddies and drinking? "When we first got together he was so used to doing that that it took a long time and I pretty much just accepted it and I told him, 'if you're going to do it call me so I know where you're at so I'm not worried, and he was always really good to call . . . there's only one time he ever stayed out all night and that's because he passed out and ended up sleeping in somebody's car. He's never gone out on me, he's never been physically abusive to me--I can't complain. If that's the way he wants to go out and blow off steam I can't say anything about it . . .I mean I can . . .I'm not saying that it's never caused problems, but if I was faced with that every day knowing that I could be killed at any minute I'd probably do the same thing--I don't know. But now that he's older, instead of drinking he duck hunts or does whatever. Which is good . . . it's another way of ????? (she's being tongue in cheek here but her word is not intelligible)--shoot things (laughs) . . . ."
675--How old are you? She is 28 1/2. George is 31.
688--How did you and George meet? The first time she saw him she was thirteen. His mom and her mom went to school together. She was with, at the time, his girlfriend--they were both cheerleaders at the time. She saw him in Glenoma. She could even tell him what he had on that day. But she got to know him in high school--she dated a friend who was her friend--then they broke up and they started dating. They always knew who the other was.
702--Do you feel like the logging industry has shaped your personal identity? "To some degree--because of the lifestyle that we live . . .yeah, I'm sure that it probably has--probably stuff that I'm not aware of--like I told you that I think men in suits are sissy-like--things like that. I'm sure that has shaped it. Other than that probably mostly in ways I'm probably not even aware of." Do you feel more independent? "Yeah, I do, I do. I know when our neighbors first moved here from Boston they wanted to buy horses and we were going to go riding so I loaded the horse trailer up and did all this stuff and never thought twice about it and she said, (in amazement)'you did all that by yourself?' and I said, 'yeah, it's not really that hard,' I was on George all the time to teach me how to drive it, teach me how to drive it, and then I just got in and drove it one day. That's just the way things go around here--and I told her, 'if you're going to have horses you're going to have to learn how to do the same thing, and she's doing the same thing." "I don't think twice about--I mean I do, but I don't worry about going up in the mountains--you make sure you have matches and food and whatever else you need and you get up and go early so you can make sure you get home before dark. You learn to live with nature--I think it makes you more independent when you can do things like that because it makes you more confident about your abilities . . . I think in life it makes you more confident because you can rely on yourself without having to rely on other people to do everything for you."
732--Would you want your son to be a logger? "If that's what he wanted to do, I would have no problem with him wanting to be one. But I would like to see him use his brain--I see George, he's got aches and pains and he's an old man and he's not really an old man . . . .31--he's got things that should be wrong with a fifty year old man, not somebody his age. That's the only thing that worries me about my kids and I know he tells Lance, 'you know, Lance, go to school. If you want to do it after that, that's fine.' We have a year-and-a-half year old boy, too--if it's around then I wouldn't have any problems with them doing that." Would you want your daughters to marry a logger? "That would be fine as long as they treat them good--as long as they're nice people." --747
761--What do you want people to know that you think is important for people to know about being part of this occupational community--the logging community? She had a hard time answering, so I reminded her of the threat of danger to her husband and brother that she has to deal with daily, and also the independence of her life. "I guess that would be pretty important--to know that you have to be pretty self-sufficient. Because it's not that they don't want to do it for you but when they get home they're tired . . . I think it's kind of satisfying being independent in that way because you don't HAVE to rely on a man to do all that stuff for you. That's kind of nice."
787--"You know, some of the things that you start doing too, I can remember thinking seeing him come home from work, being in the rain all day long--I started doing little things like that--bringing in the wood, chopping wood. Just doing little things like that--I mean a lot of home improvement projects they don't really have time to do so you just, trial and error, you just start out . . . last year he was working and I went and got his tools out and started working on the lawnmower, and he said just look at it, and you'll probably figure it out--so I did, and started taking things off, and settin' them out there, and gosh darn if I didn't get them fixed, and I was kind of proud of myself then . . . and changing tires on the lawnmowers and different things like that--it sounds kind of petty, but you know it kind of makes you feel pretty good that 'I did that, and I didn't need anybody to help me do that." How about the winters? "They're going to be working most all the time--in the wintertime . . . preparing for the floods and things like that. He went to work when she was pregnant with Jake (1 1/2 years ago) and it was raining just all day long, and it was 50 some degrees here and you knew it had to be raining all the way up to the pass, so I got up early that morning and went down and checked on the water, and just kept an eye on it until pretty soon I knew it was getting ready to come over, and so I had to call him and told him that he'd better come home pretty soon. There's not much I can do now being pregnant but I went down and I really don't like handling the horses when I'm pregnant because you never know when one of them will do something and smash you or something like that but usually when it floods I'll load up all the horses and take em to the place where we keep them and load up all the hay. One year he had the boat in the back of the pickup so I had to unload the boat and then load all the hay and then get the horses . . . and then take 'em up there . . but to me, I'd rather be doing that then sitting in the house baking--that drives me crazy. On a day like today (rainy) I love to bake but if it's nice I'd rather be outside then being stuck in the house doing laundry." (Note--bale of hay are about 60 lbs--she is tiny--maybe 5'4" and 110 lbs) George kids her about he ability to do anything-she describes how she loads the hay in shifts--says you work a lot harder doing it but she gets it done. Tells more stories about loading hay.
856--I tell her that she defies the concept that lots of people have of logging women as rough and ugly--she is far from either of those things. She was a cheerleader, and says that people still make fun of her about that, but was also a "really bad tomboy when I was a little kid. The only way you could tell I was a girl was that i had really long hair--my best friends were boys. I enjoyed doing that kind of stuff--I don't care if I get dirty, getting dirty doesn't bother me, but I do like to get cleaned up and I do like to go out and I do like to look pretty and wear dresses now and again but, I guess I'm just diverse."
868--Anything you want people to understand about you and about you being part of the logging community? "Everybody's not illiterate hicks--we're normal people--we want the same things as everybody else--we want to have nice houses and nice cars and nice families and dogs and we just want to live the American dream--pursuit of happiness--that's basically all we want--we're not these drunken people that go around shooting little baby animals and sawing down as many trees as we can. Basically we're just normal people--we live in a smaller community--that's the only difference--our life is set around outdoor activities--like people go camping we go shopping." (Usually Chehalis, South Hill, Olympia--as far as Seattle). People make fun of them "going to town" because it takes the whole day. They end up spending four or five hundred dollars because they end up needing these things that they've gone a month or two going without.
902--Do you think what you've done is different from others? "I don't really have anything in common with women who live in town because all they do in their free time is go to the mall--they don't really have anything that they're connected with or associated with other than that. A lot of the things that we do are connected around the woods--I'm president of our riders club--it's two totally different styles of life. People ask 'how do you do that?'--people clean their house and then complain about their husband's being pigs, and I ask 'how can you complain about that? Your husband comes home from work and he's clean, number one, you don't have these greasy, grimy clothes and when they unbutton their pants sawdust flies everywhere, and the bathroom is always a mess--how can you complain about that? I have to work so much harder at just little things--the dirt is JUST UNBELIEVEABLE--I should show you a pair of his pants, it's JUST UNBELIEVEABLE. It's a thing called tacky-lube--a lot of times if he's been mechanicing--it's like grease to the hundredth power--if you get a spot of it anywhere and try and wipe it off it just gets bigger and messier. And he came home a while back--all three of them--my brother and George and another kid they work with--Tim--they had no sleeves on--they'd cut their sleeves off, they'd washed their hair and hands in gas because they had so much of it on them--they threw their hats away--and then rolled in the dirt to try and get it absorbed off their pants. Chenie (her sister-in-law)--everybody makes fun of her husband now because she tried to bleach it out." "Their boots are outrageous and a lot of the companies have stopped making them--$400 for a pair of corks--if you can make it a year (in one pair) you're doing really good. And that's just summer corks--we're not talking about rubber corks, or they have some things called muck-a-lucks (describes) that they wear when it snows. And raingear and gloves--he goes through a pair of gloves about every other day and that's about $5 a pop--they're just awful. A lot of times he can make them last a lot longer--but I wouldn't want to put on soggy clothes every day. The laundry itself is just . . . a lot of times he can get away with wearing the same pants all week long, and in the winter he wears tin pants, which are the canvas pants covered in waxy oil stuff and they're waterproof, and you never wash those. Those things are terrible . . .stuff falls off them everywhere. But then there's days though when he's been working in Noble fir and he comes home and smells like a Christmas tree, and it's a really nice smell. I think I associate it with my dad, because I can remember my dad coming home from work and he'd smell like that, that and a little bit of gas--I love the smell of gas--to me it's a comforting smell--it's a nice smell, kind of reminds you of your childhood." "The kids asked him, 'oh you smell good.' And he said, 'do I smell like Christmas trees?' And the kids said, 'yeah, Christmas trees.' And he said, (jokingly vicious) 'yeah and I've been CUTTING THEM DOWN ALL DAY LONG--NO CHRISTMAS TREES!!' (laughs).
998--Logging has been part of your life all your life--"yeah, that's just what men did." "I know my sister-in-law really has a hard time with it--her dad worked on and off in the woods, but he's one of those guys who's really terrified of getting hurt and killed, and it really bothers him, so he goes back and forth, and she's just totally adamant about it, 'I don't like it, it's stupid, I wish he would work somewhere else, but he likes it so that's what he does."
"I don't mind it--that's what he likes--I would hope, and he does--what I like he respects--I think that goes with being married, you should respect what the other person's likes are--if that makes them happy. Learn to deal with it in some way."
1016--end of tape.