It was hot in the Summer and Cold in the Winter up at that old sawmill. The Old Man instituted break time twice a day. This generally coincided with the Sawyers need to file his saw. Dull saws don't cut good lumber and when your economic base depends on selling your lumber, you try to cut it properly. In the Summer the women would bring us kettles of ice water and iced tea. In the Winter it would be hot coffee or hot chocolate, or both. Our buyer would go to the day old bakery goods place and buy those little cakes for cheap and that was our snack. Of course, the day old snacks were their least popular snacks so you had to get used to that. And we did. We even made up a song or two about break time and snacks. Songs became a bulletin board for people to express their feelings. And we were loaded with feelings. One thing I can say about us, if there were a 125 people, you got 125 opinions. I used to laugh my ass off at the politically correct pundits of the day who said that communal living created cookie stamp people. The truth of the matter is just the opposite. Modern society creates the cookie stamp folks and communal living creates the thinking individuals. That's just the way I saw it happen.
We men developed quite a reputation around the surrounding area. We cleaned out a lot of taverns. The local guys seemed to see us as a threat and treated us accordingly. We treated them with total contempt. Any time and any place, we would get with it. If they wanted their teeth knocked out we would oblige post haste. If they wanted to try guns and knives we were right there with 'em. We just did not care for the locals and their ways. They called us hippies and dopers and all that crap and we held it against them. Of course it turns out that they were the big dopers. They must have figured we had the stuff and were just to nasty to share. And I ain't saying that no one down in the valley never toked on a joint but I am saying we didn't traffic in the stuff and still don't. I remember one night when a bunch of the fellas happened to be in a local saloon and the talk around the area became sorta hard and mean. One of the valley men, who went on to become a successful M.D. jumped up on a table and called all the men in the tavern a bunch of women and asked if any wanted to do anything about it. He got no takers that night. The rough looking men with the logging boots and the long hair and beards were not opposed that night. There would have been hell to pay for sure.
I gotta tell you another story about violence that never quite go off. We had a neighbor up the road who did not like us in any way, shape, fashion, or form. His name was Butler and we just called him Old Butt. We have a road coming in to our valley and that is the only one there is. You pull off the country road and start down a long hill. And that hill is a pisser. It does not have a good base to it and would rut out with any hard rain. Well, we had some good rain and the ground was soft as a woman's ass and Old Butt decided to take his tractor and rut out the ditch on the side of the road. He made the ditch to empty onto the road instead of down the side of the road. And then he took a box of roofing nails and poured them onto the remaining road surface. Those old time roofing nails with the big heads on 'em. They like to land on the ground with the head down and the point sticking up. Makes for a helluva mess of tire changing.
Well, we got wind of what was going on and it looked like WW III was about to break out. Three or four car loads of state police and county deputies, along with a county prosecutor, came driving right up into our front yard, big as you please. Tough guys, don't you know. Well, the Old Man and 40 of his spiritual sons were immediately surrounding the law enforcement and we were packing guns all the way from snub nosed pistols to 30-06 hunting rifles. A few of the younger boys were armed with bow and arrow. The cops marched up to the Old Man and we suddenly had a large group in the front yard. And then Wild Bill, one of our loggers who was working on a skidder fired up his machine and drove it over to the bridge you had to cross to get to the front yard. The bridge was narrow and the way was thus blocked. The cops got a little nervous about this time. The prosecutor decided to really strut his stuff about this time and started telling the Old Man just what the hell was gonna happen. And when he got done the Old Man told the prosecutor what was REALLY going to happen. I mean the Old Man really lit into that dumbass prosecutor. That road was our life blood and we had to have it open to run our business and it was a legal county road and blah, blah, blah and up yours, Mr. prosecutor. We were going up on that hill and clear the ditch and pick up all the nails and if anyone interfered there would probably be blood running down the hill before the sun went down. And, Mr. prosecutor, since you don't have a warrant just get the hell off of our property. WHOOooooo EEEEeeeee. The game was on! The cops immediately moved their cars out of the front yard , after Wild Bill so sweetly moved his skidder, and we jump into our vehicles and headed the three miles to the hill. All 40 of us. We set 3 men on the top of the hill to watch for possible interference and the rest went to clearing the ditch and picking up the nails. I was one of those who was at the top of the hill keeping an eye out for any trouble headed our way. I packed a 30-06 Ruger M-77 topped off with 4 power Redfield scope. Perfect.
And in 30 or 40 minutes we had the road open again and ready for business. And not a cop was in sight. The valley men had another triumph to talk about and the surrounding folks had something to talk about too.
These kind of events bind a people together. The men who are still here were all in on that little drama. We KNOW we can take a stand and come out of it okay. And we WILL AGAIN if necessary. You don't want to come foolin' around down here. We are a friendly and hospitable folk but we do not intend to be runover by a bunch of idiots. Life is just that way when you are joined with a people, a clan, a tribe. You threaten one of them, you threaten all of them.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
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