Sunday, December 19, 2010


So he mentions hitchhiking in this letter. I think he does a bit of this in Iowa as well later. I suspect he told me about it before I went off hitchhiking in the 1970's. One day when I was much older I asked my mother why they had let me hitchhike across the country when I was 21 and she said 'let you!' let you!' what do you mean let you?' and I got the idea that at that age there was not a lot of listening on my part. I hitchhiked off to Friends World College in New york in the summer of 1972. My friend Barbara and I hitched up to Iowa to my grandparents and then to Illinois visiting friends and relatives along the way. We got stuck in Kentucky on the way to see my sister Bonnie who lived on 'The Farm' in Tennessee. We were not getting any rides and then finally a car stopped and we got in, the guy seemed a little sleezy to me. I was in back and Barbara in front. He pulled off on a country road and then into the woods. then he pulled over in a secluded spot and suggested that one of us shack up with him. By then I was getting my pack on and getting out of the car, talking while we did it. I still remember the words, 'no we don't do that' 'we're religious' we can walk out of here, no problem we're from Colorado'. We were out of the car and walking down the road and he drove off. Barbara had asthma and we took our time walking back to the interstate where there was a gas station. We were kind of terrified. It was at the gas station that the scariest thing happened. We went inside and found out where we could get a bus. Remember there are no cell phones back then, so we called my sister from the gas station and said we were giving up and taking the bus into NY. We just could not make it across Kentucky. To get to the bus station we thought maybe someone would give us a ride. I went out when a family drove up for gas, as I approached the car, the lady in the front told her kids to roll up the car windows and they did, this is July in Kentucky, no air conditioning. They all rolled up the windows and would not talk to us. This for me was the scariest part, having other people afraid of us. Finally a policeman came along and he took us into the next town to the bus station. Now that I have done some nonviolent training I can see how well we acted in the situation we were in in the woods. We never said a bad word about the man, we didn't even look at him. We just affirmed ourselves as strong religious people and kept on moving. I think that dad had much better experiences hitchhiking in the 1940's.

October 26, 1943

Oct. 26, 1943

Dear family,
I don’t have anything to say this time and I’ve been awfully busy the last few days and I suspect I’ll be busy for some time. They have nominated me for work committee chairman and they had another guy too but he withdrew and so I reckon that they will have to elect me. I’m not a bit anxious about having the job. It takes a lot of time but I will get Saturdays off. Oh well I guess it is about my turn to do some of the committee work.
I let a fellow talk me into doing some carpenter work for some nice people in Eugene. I had worked overtime and had a couple of days coming so I went up on a week-end leave. That’s not the same as furlough. I went up 2 weeks ago last week-end and again last Sat. and Sun. I’m not done yet. There was another guy went along last time and we both worked on it. We get 75 cents an hour but I hate to take their money so we did 12 hours and only charged for 10. I need some shirts and sox so I can use a little money. I suppose I’ll go to more shows too. Thanks for the last dollar Dad. Talking about money made me think of it.
These people that I was working for, their name is Etter. He is a research lawyer and works in connection with the University of Oregon that is in Eugene. They built their house about three years ago and it is quite a house. It is finished inside with Hemlock in a sort of a barn style. Real pretty. They have a big room upstairs that they built for FOR meetings and now they have a baby boy about a year and a half old and they don’t have any good place for him to sleep so they want one end of that room partisioned off with three doors and they will put Jonny’s bed in there. That’s what I was doing. It is quite a job I got the pieces all cut and the supply truck is going to bring them down here and I’ll smooth them up on the power sander here then they will take them back next week. The planning was taking a long time and I was out of overtime too. Those people are really swell they have been down to visit the camp several times Orvil (that’s his name) is the FOR secretary for the northwest I think so he is more than interested in us.
The camp here is going to have an open house program here this Fri. and there are several things that they want to get done before then so I’ll be working up some more overtime. I do kind of like to get out into civilization once in a while and that’s a pretty good way to do it. I hitchhiked up and came back on the bus. That was kind of fun we rode with a couple of truck drivers they have big diesel trucks with big trailers out here and it was one of them that I rode in. They sure make a lot of noise we could hardly talk. They aren’t supposed to take hitchhikers at all so I had to sort of duck when we met a car where they could see me.
Well this turned out to be quite a letter after all. Don’t you guys work too hard. It is raining very well here now, it doesn’t have to try at all. It has been doing that for about three weeks now. I’m real proud of myself for not writing about it before. I reckon that the boys are all picking by now just about anyway.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nuts and guns

I think it is interesting that many people think that pacifists would not own guns. In this letter Dad talks about someone killing a deer near the camp. I should say shooting a deer. I believe most people in rural areas farms or ranches in the US will own and use guns including Quakers. I do not recall stories of Dad and his brother's going deer hunting but I do believe they had rifles and may have killed some wild animals. There is a clear difference in the early to middle part of the 20th century between killing for food or to protect livestock and the killing of other human beings. I think as we became less connected with the food chain there has been more of an anti-gun movement and all guns are seen as potential weapons against other people. There is the story told in our family of the Osborne relative who had his gun confiscated during the revolutionary war, when it was returned to him after the war by the local militia, he destroyed the weapon and buried it, saying that he did not want to hunt with a weapon which had been used to kill men.
On the theme of nuts, there is mention of collecting fillburts in this letter. Here in southern New Mexico we are entering Pecan and Pistachio harvest time. Further north there will be pinons as well. We get a bit nutty here.

October 14, 1943


Dear folks,
Its hard to realize that it is the middle of October out here. Back there you are getting all hepped up cornpicking now and here they are picking nuts. There have been several of the camp boys out working on farms picking “Filbert” nuts. This is on project time and the Gov’t gets the money. The boys say that nut picking is pretty slow work. These are cultivated nuts not wild ones.
Thanks for the Buck, Dad. I always appreciate one of those things.
I don’t know about that shoe stamp, does that mean that we have only one pair of shoes for the whole year? Or are they going to give us another stamp too and not have a deadline about buying them? However I don’t think that I’ll need another pair of shoes. I have plenty of work shoes now and so I’ll just let you keep the stamp and whoever needs it first can use it.
I’m working in the wood-shop now and likeing it. I do little things like building some drawers for the kitchen and an ironing board for the laundry. There are lots of thing to do. They are figuring on about 150 bu. of potatoes out of the garden and I have to fix some sort of a ventelated bin for them. We have six hogs that are about ready to butcher and I’m afraid that I’ll get mixed up in that as someone found out that I might know how. It seems nobody ever helped butcher before.
The deer hunting season is on now and one of the fellows shot one. We havn’t had any yet, it seems that they have to let it age a few days to get the best flavor. It was a 5 year old buck and they had about 150# of dressed meat. That guys was really proud. He killed it with a 22 rifle and was about 2 miles from one of the spike camps and had to have some of the other fellows help him carry it in.
Its good to know that you are going to get the beans combined before Christmas isn’t it. I hope you have good weather and get the corn out in good time. The boys must have a little hole in it already don’t they?
I finally made up my mind and canceled my Coast and Geodetic application. So I recon that I’ll be around here for a while.
I’m sending you a copy of the Reporter, it has some good statistics about the Cos that are working in Mental Hospitals.
We had a speaker last night that was a CO from England. It was very interesting. He told us about what they were doing with them over there. It seems that they have, roughly, about three classes of cos. Noncombatant, which serve with the army like ours do. Then those with conditioned consciences, they let them do one of several conditions that the Tribunal says they may and they usually are something connected with farming or some war job and they can have all the money they make. Then there are those with complete exemption that in many cases have organized to help with the evacuation in air raids and things like that. I think their setup is more reasonable than ours. The country gets more work out of them and they get less publicity.
Guess I’ll quit
[Enclosed: The Reporter, October 1, 1943. Volume II, No. 7]

Sunday, December 5, 2010

creative thinking

The line that struck me in this weeks letter is the following: "the human mind being made to do creative thinking and work and if we get into some thinking or work that we don’t think is creative we aren’t living normaly." As the semester ends we all talk at the college about creative and critical thinking and how we want students to do it. I've been taking a couple of classes on online teaching and learning and boy do I love the creative part of it. Learning and thinking about things seems to run in our family. I also sure agree with the statement about wanting to make progress, I think that is what is so difficult right now with the economy being so sluggish and in education we are at a point where the money does not want to come our way but the students do. It is probably time for a paradigm shift. I feel I have made some good choices, we are not getting raises so I thought what can I get and decided to apply for this program to get a Masters Certificate in online teaching and learning. In this way I feel I am making progress and getting something for my efforts, plus planning for the future. I am finding that the online teaching lends itself to creative and critical thinking. I've been challenged but am also having a good time.

October 7, 1943


Dear Folks,
Got your letter today. I have been going out to the “Big Creek” spike camp this week to set up a foreman’s quarters. We got done tonight. We rode out in a truck every day it takes about an hour each way. I didn’t like it very well. We made the building here in camp, it was the prefabricated kind.
I think I am going to get to work in the wood shop for a while at least till I get it fixed up again. I don’t know whether I want to stay here this winter or not yet. I should make up my mind and cancel my application to the Coast and Geodetic if I stay. I like the shop work better than anything else but if they keep me fooling around on buildings I’d just as soon be surveying. The surveying looks good cause I’d get to see some other parts of the country. Right now I think I’m in favor of staying here more than going.
Twenty men just left on a fire before I got in from work tonight. I was a little disappointed not to get in on it. But I have been on three so I guess I shouldn’t be a hog. Maybe they will need some more then I’d get to go. Its kind of nice having a bunch gone, I had three cups of milk tonight. But the fire eats are much better quality.
I’m inclosing my shoe stamp. I don’t need it and I’ll bet some one of you can use it. The ration board has all of our books and they issue us a special shoe stamp when we want to get shoes so all I did was fill out the blank to get a pair of shoes and I got the stamp and I guess its nobody’s business if I send it home. I’m sure that you can get rid of it.
Say but the country is really filling up with new babies around there. I’ll bet Bob is strutting around like every thing now.
Well, I guess I’m about out of anything to say.
“Abundant Living” is good stuff. I suspect that skipping around is a pretty good system for you Dad. Some of the stuff at the first got a little monotonous. I just passed page 100 a day or so ago and there is some good stuff there. I read today or yesterday about the human mind being made to do creative thinking and work and if we get into some thinking or work that we don’t think is creative we aren’t living normaly. I could think of people and times when I had seen that happen but didn’t know what was happening. It seems that a person has to be making progress or he just isn’t happy.
I reckon that I’ll have to start telling Dad not to work too hard again now that bean season is on. Just don’t get into a mental sweat, life is too short,
With love and stuff,
P.S. I almost forgot the cookies. Thanks a lot Mom. They are just as good as ever after that long trip. The fellows like them too. They got here Monday

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back in the shop, Samaritans and Bahai

In this letter Dad is back in the shop at Elkton. He has some interesting visitors, there is a guy who relates the story of the good Samaritan saying "what's mine is mine and I'm going to share it" Dad says that's pretty sound religion to him. Then when a woman of the Bahai faith visits, he says he's not for it because the person who started it felt he had the 'one pipeline to God' and Dad is for everyone having their own pipeline. These two ideas are very basic to Quakers sharing the wealth and resources and everyone having God within or direct access to God.
Here in 2010 we just finished with Thanksgiving and got to skype with Jenny and Chris for almost an hour. Definitely and interesting way to communicate. We are also near the end of the semester so I have been grading today. Tomorrow Mary Burton Risely will be here on her way back from Iran, she was traveling with FOR and it will be interesting to hear her stories.

October 3, 1943

Sun 10/3/43

Dear home folks,
Got your letter Fri. afternoon. I had begun to suspect that you were waiting for one from me. I was interested to hear all the farm news and the baby news. Warren usually hears that stuff right away but he hadn’t mentioned any of those babies yet.
We havn’t had a fire for a week. I was sort of glad to say in camp that long. I have been working on another of those prefabricated buildings. They had the roof and floor already built and a couple of the other guys and I made some sides for a small building for the foreman at one of the sidecamps to live in. I have been working on that most of the week. I suspect that I will have to engineer putting it up this week. I think after that I’ll be in the woodshop here. There is plenty of work to do around the camp and the shop hasn’t had anyone in it for some time and all the tools are dull and it is a mess in general. I hope they can manage to let me stay in that sot of work all winter.
Quite a while ago I put in an application for a job on the Coast and Geodetic Survey. We hear that they will be asking for those men soon. So if I don’t have a good job here where I think I can do some good for the camp I’m going to be surveying. I don’t know what will happen yet, but I usually find out when the time comes. The Coast & geodetic work will be detached but I like gaget making and fixing too. And I think I might do more good for CPS if I can stay in it.
There is a remarkable little man visiting camp the last few days. He is the father of one of the fellows. He lives in Portland and is a wholesale florist. He just appeared one morning for breakfast and since then a lot of the fellows have gotten aquainted with him and some of them already new him as we are all welcome in their home if we are in Portland.
Well he and several of us got to talking after the Silent worship meeting this morning. We really had a great little session. He told us a lot about the Japenese relocation situation. The Gov’t is pushing all of them out in about a month expect the ones that they think they can’t trust and they will have hearings. He says that the American Legion in Minn. And Wisconson have been very helpful and a lot of them are going there. While the American Legion on the coast has been one of the big agitatirs against them. He knows about them because in his flower business he met a lot of Japenese growers. He says he has signed a lot of affidavits for Japenese he has known so they can get relocated.
Then we got to talking about the average person being afraid of anything labeled religion. He told of some business mens convention they had in Portland that was on for acouple of afternoons and in the closing up speech a real bigshot finished his talkby saying “Remember the story of the ‘good Samaritan’. The thief came along and said, “What’s yours is mine and I’m going to take it.” The priest came along and said, “What’s mine is mine and I’m going to keep it.” The Samariatian came along and said “What’s mine is mine and I’m going to share it.” Well, for my money that’s pretty solid religion. We may be in a war now but I can’t help but think the work may be getting a little better.
We have had another quite interesting visitor in camp this past week. She is a member of a new religion. I’d say that her religion claims to be the successor to Christianity and every other religion in the world. Buddahism, Mohamahism and all the others. I didn’t go for it but I think it has a lot of good points. The story of it is this: Some where around 1850 ( don’t remember the exact date) There was a remarkable guy born in Pursia. I don’t remember all the particulars but some way this guy was very wise at an early age and never had to go to school. I guess they sent him but the teachers sent back and said they didn’t know enough to teach him anything. Well he wrote a volume of books interperiting all the different religion’s Bibles. He claimed to be the one prophet sent from God and to be the second coming of Christ and any other religion’s prophet that promised to come back. This guy’s name was Bah’al’U’lah. And the religion is called the Bahia Faith. This guy was in prison till he was 75 years old then he died. He wrote his book in prison and his three kids were in prison too for a long time. The oldest boy got out fianaly and came to the US in 1912 and spread the doctrine here. The unique part is that this son translated the book into a lot of different languages and it is not published to the public at all but kept by what they call their Guardian who is supposed to know a lot of stuff that is going to happen and he sends a cable-gram every 19 days to people over here telling a little of what is in the book. They get a little prophesy too out of it. They are for world peace and all the draft age boys are I-ACs. They base their belief on don’t do any one any harm. That’s pretty sound. It has a lot of thing about it that people will like better than they like Christianity. I wouldn’t be supprised if they will get quite a following in the future. The thing that I can’t swallow is that this guy that wrote the book is supposed to have the only pipeline to God. I think I can get along without that sort of guy, I want my one pipeline and I think God is willing to let all of us have one. There may be some that understand things a lot better than I do but I don’t say I have the only truth and I don’t think they should either. Well, that’s enough about that. It was very interesting, but I don’t know of anybody that really took it seriously except the fellow that got this woman to come down her from Seattle. I don’t know how much he thinks of it, I think he’s just interested. Most of the fellows around here are too deep thinkers to go for that sort of thing.
This is about as long a letter as I have written to you for a long time I guess.
Here’s a good quotation that I heard. “ Its not what the other fellow thinks of you but what you think of the other fellow that makes you happy or unhappy.”


Sunday, November 14, 2010

More Fires and the election of 2010

So we are still alive after the 2010 midterm election. I had said I would write an article about being hopeful and instead I've been sick this weekend. I am hopeful for many reasons, women give me hope - we now no longer question women running for office and here we had the choice of two women for governor. I also get hope from this, the internet. I do not think that we realize the powerful effect it is having in the world and in our lives. The Tea Party also gives me reason to hope, I have long belonged to third parties and they have had to struggle on the sidelines. I do not like the platform of the Tea Party but they have managed to back people and have them in office, even if they do not have a separate party. Now more people are talking about third parties in a positive way. I also am now aware that people are talking about cutting the defense budget, there is no way to do cuts without cutting down on defense and examining our use of the military. Which takes me back to Dad in 1943 in the mountains of Oregon fighting forest fires instead of wars. He writes about that and how he likes them and the different shades of blue of Kalamath Lake. Oregon is amazing, we went through there by train a few years ago, so many trees, I bought a tree book so we could identify them on the way back. We kept having to wait for freight trains.

September 27, 1943


Dear folks,

Can you beat that. I just finished writing that little letter to youn’s last Thur. and fiddled around a while and then we got another fire call. I like fires pretty well, good food and new country and excitement. I got to see the oacen on this last fire. It wasn’t so much. On the way home we saw some sand dunes. Small mountains of sand as high as a 2 story house. I’m sending you a copy of a sort of fire report. I made it today to include in my letters to save time. I have been getting a little behind going to fires.

I’m sort of behind in my letters to you folks. You have written a lot of news in the last couple of letters. I get the idea that things are running pretty smoothly. That is good I recon that Dad’s only worry is the corn now. But life would be dul if there were no problems wouldn’t it.

So Mom is a writer now. I’ll bet there in no holding her down now. I hope she hasn’t forgotten how to cook. I think I’d know what to do with some of those good old cookies now that I’m back in Elkton. This summer we had Jam and plenty of sugar so I didn’t particularly get hungery for that sort of thing. We have pretty good food here now but it is limited by rationing and money. We have a little different setup now in the kitchen. The fellow that used to be the head cook and dietition now only does the buying and sends food to the spike camps and doesn’t have much to do with the actual cooking. And there is another guy that is a much better cook that is the head cook now. So that helps our eats out some.

Say could you’ns use my shoe ration stamp? I don’t need it. I’ll try and get ahold of it and send it to you. The ration board in Drain has all of our books so it may take a little red tape work. I don’t know when the dead line is, but it can’t be far off.

I did get a few chuckles out of Mom’s poem.

I’m glad to hear that some of you are reading “Abundant Living”. I found it to be better as I got farther into it. Where I’m reading now it is working on fear. I didn’t realize what all we did because of fear. Most of it isn’t good either. Well you will get to it soon. I hope Dad can manage to read it. I know that he isn’t used to that sort of stuff but It seems to me to be pretty easy to read and the older I get the more I realize that he has done some thinking along those lines some time.

I reckon I’d better sign off.
With love

[Attached: a carbon copy of a fire report reading:]

If you can stand a carbon copy letter here’s another one. The purpose of this one is to tell you about the interesting experiences that I have had in the last three weeks fighting forest fires. I have been on three fires in the last three weeks. They have all been south of here, the furthest on south was about 240 miles.

The fire that was 240 miles away was about 14 miles north of Klamath Falls Oregon. I think it was the most interesting of the three. It was the longest, it lasted a ful week from the time we left till we got back in camp. We got the call about 4:30 in the afternoon and got down there the next morning about daylight after a 10 hour ride in the truck. We fooled around getting up a camp and waiting for the forestry men to figure out where we were going to work. There were 40 men from Elkton that is two truck loads that went down when I did. Then they called for another load the next day so that made 60 cps men on the fire. They also had a few highschool kids and some men they had picked up in town. There were a dozen or so forestry men and some local woodsmen that were our formen. Most of the formen were swell guys but there was one that insisted on giving demands and none of the fellows like him.

The Klamath fire covered about 2000 acres. The land there wasn’t much good tho. It had been pretty good timber once but had been logged about 15 years ago. The elevation was about 5000 ft. at the highest point we were on. Then it droped about 1100 or 1200 feet to a nice flat valley. The fire was about 6 or 7 miles long and ½ mile wide along this mountain side. One of our lines was along the top of the mountain and the other was along the bottom. They made those with the “cat” (tractor and bulldozer) Then we had to make a hand trail up the steep sides of the mountain where the cat couldn’t go. Then after we had the fire completely surrounded by trail we had to patrol it till the fire had burned itself out. The country around there was of volcanic rock and fine red soil that really makes nice dust. The dust got 6 inches deep on those fire trails before we got done. I was on night patrol for the last 4 nights of the fire and it got sort of tiresome towards the last. The first couple of nights it was great fun. Moonlight and stars, you know. But it get cold towards morning and we had to sleep in the daytime and the flys and ants crawl around over us. I could sleep pretty well till noon but it would get pretty warm and the ants would get warmed up and pester me in the afternoons.

The scenery around there was certainly grand. We could look over the Klamath Lake, 35 miles long, to two snowcapped peaks, Mt. Shasta and Mt. Pit. I really did enjoy the scenery there. That lake was beautiful. I was in a position one day to watch from early morning till sundown and you’d never guess how many different shades of blue it went though.

Now for the third fire. It wasn’t so long or so big. It was down along the coast by a town named Charleston. I got to see the oacen on the way down and while we were on the fire we could see it from some of the highest spots. The fire was only about 1 or 2 miles from it. I still like fire fighting.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween, Sanity and elections

So Dad is figuring out how to create a system for canning prunes and salmon and we are in fear this halloween of the upcoming elections on Tuesday. We keep hoping here in New Mexico that some sanity will come to voters to elect the qualified person, not the one who wants to return the death penalty and keep immigrants from having drivers licences. It's a strange country. We are stuck in patterns of disfunction in our government and in many institutions. I believe change will be coming, hopefully in a positive way, but first we may go further right or into confusion.
Jenny and Chris went to Jon Stewart's Rally to restore Sanity this weekend in washington D.C. just the idea of people being humorous has restored some of my sanity.

September 22, 1943

C. P. S. #59
Elkton, Oregon
Sept. 22, 1943

Dear folks,

I reckon that you have wondering what happened to me. Well, I just got back from another fire last night, (Wed.).

I won’t tell you much about it this time as I don’t have much time. I am going to write up a little report on it and make some carbon coppies of it to simplify letterwriting. We got the call last Wed. about 4:30. I guess we traveled about 240 miles and arrived there in the morning. This time the fire was even farther away but we went over some of the same road. This one was at Klamath Falls, Ore. If you want to look it up on the map. The fire was out north of Klamath Falls about 14 miles.

I found one letter waiting for me when I got back last night and then another from you today. So you will only get one for two.

Thanks for the “buck” Dad. And the Air Mail stickers. I got a few airmail envelopes but I’ll use them sometime.

The rest of the guys got today off to make up for the Sunday we worked on the fire, I guess. But I got sucked in on a hurry up job of helping rig up a thing to can prunes. Or they will still be plumbs I guess. They have a steam laundery here now with a big boiler that supplies the steam and runs a little steam engine that does the mechanical work. Well they are taking an old dump truck box and pluging up the cracks around the tail gate, it’s a steel box. They have piped from the steam boiler to the box so the water will be heated by steam and I am helping make some racks to put jars in so that they can lift them out. They want to start canning this afternoon. I don’t know how many prnuse to start canning this afternoon. I don’t know how many prunes they have but they are dickering for a ton of salmon from Portland and they figure canning that that way too.

Well, I’ll give you more details about this last fire by carbon copy.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Forest Fire

This days post is about the first forest fire detail that Dad goes on. He gets to wear a cool head light and also misses his caulked boots, which I am not familiar with. What are or were caulked boots. Here in 2010 the news is full of the coming election. We are hoping for the best and yet trying to figure out how to make the best of whatever happens. It is nice that we have early voting and can vote this week and not worry about the Tuesday and timing. I am trying to think about forest fires, growing up in Colorado I know we would hear about the really large ones, but I don't think I remember seeing areas hit by fire until I moved to New Mexico. Here the large fires are often in May and June, with rains coming in July and August. there seems to fire seasons which are not all at the same time in every state. A young friend of ours just got finished working on the hot shot fire crew here, it's a good job April to September with enough money for a young person to survive during the time off. A roommate I had in Colorado had done this work, her name was Lee. She had been on a crew out of St. John's college in Santa Fe and said they would work a lot and then discuss Shakespeare on their time off. I think Dad's experience was similar in CPS hard physical labor and lots of intellectual discussions as well. One big news item this last week was the rescue of the miners in Chile, it was exciting to see them come up after 70 days. I had heard that they had a designated poet. We need art and literature in order to survive.

September 12, 1943


Dear folks,

Now I have something new to write. Last Wed. we went to a fire. We left here about 5:00 P. M. rode 115 miles south. The fire was close to a town and we ate supper about 8:30 there and went out to see if there was anything to do that night. There was a forest service man with us that sort of guided us and we went out in the brush to see if we could do anything that night. They passed out keen little head lights, a little flash light that fastened on your head and the batteries went in your pocket or on your belt. I was an axman. I was used to that kind of work so it didn’t seem much different than surveying. We didn’t do anything that night except climb up on the hillside and then come back, it took us an hour and a half I guess. Then we went to bed on the ground. We took our blankets from here. Our boss woke us at 6 the next day and we went out before breakfast and stood around a while till the forestry man figured out where we were going to work. We worked for about a half hour before breakfast making firetrail. The ax men go first and cut a path about 3 ft. wide through the brush. Then the rest come along with what they call hazel-hoss and dig a path about a foot or so wide. They dig deep enough so that they get through the leaves and trash, also on a steep hillside they dig the trail out sort of like a hog trough so that anything that might roll down would stop in it.

After breakfast, which we got in town, we made trail around a fire that was about 40 acres in size. We got that done about 1:00 and went back and ate lunch that was sent out from the restrant, just sandwitches. Six of us stayed and patrolled the trail we had made while the rest of us went over to another place that was burning. There were 4 separate fires altogether. I was in the bunch that patrolled. The next day we all went over to the big fire and made trail till about 2:00 then we patrolled till about 4 and our guide came along and told us the fire had jumped the trail and for us to come and maybe we could get around it. There were only about 10 of us on this job and we worked like everything and got around it. There was two bunches of 25 men from here and about 20 highschool kids on the fire. The kids had been out all summer fighting fire and building trail and cutting wood for the ranger stations. They get over a hundred a month. Well that was Fri. and it rained that night. Where we were camping was an old deserted town, Shacks. We slept in them that night so we didn’t get wet. I had a great time, good food and we didn’t work any harder than we did surveying. Fire fighting is done very safely and sanely and there didn’t seem to and danger at all.

That pretty well covers the fire. I sure missed the caulked boots I had been wearing surveying. I think I’ll get caulks put in my heavy shoes. They will have to have a half sole too if I do and it will take a couple of bucks but it will be worth it. I suspect that I’ll spend some more timeout here unless the quit the war soon. They are going to insist on a lot of western men going east on detached service after the fire season is over, but I’m not in the mood. I like the western camp pretty well.

It’s time to go to bed now.

With love,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Prunes and elections

Dad is still figuring out how to make money from picking prunes in 1943 and we are getting ready for an election in a few weeks. I keep being hopeful that the people with some sense will go to the polls. We had a young man stop by checking up on the worker who claimed they had come by our door. The ability of people in this country to choose against their own interests is amazing. I am glad that our congressman still has a chance, even though I do not agree with a lot of his views he has worked hard for the district, the first democrat to hold it in 28 years.
It is interesting in his letters to see Dad refer to himself as lazy. As an older person I never heard him say such a thing. I think once we have kids it just becomes impossible to be lazy. I think our family tends toward enjoying work but not having it run our lives.

September 2, 1943



Dear Folks,

Well, what do you know! I got a letter from youn’s today. Got to keep up so I’ll answer it right away. Say, I figured out how we can keep our corrospondence on schedual. If you write on Sun. or Mon. and send it air mail then I’ll get it on the thur or Fri. and I can answer it on the same day and mail it the next day by ordinary mail and you will get it early enough in the week to have plenty of time to answer it Sunday again. It seems to me that we used to get by with ordinary mail on both ends but once in a while we’d slide by a day or two and it would be more than a week between letters. Oh well, I guess we get along pretty well. One a week is pretty good for me. There is one guy our here from Indiana that writes to his mother every day. But most of that daily stuff is reserved for sweethearts and wives.

I have gotten moved in better and straightened out by now and feel like I am at home again after a vacation. I am still working on the dam that I told you about in Monday’s letter. I think we will have most of it done by Sat. night. I have sort of enjoyed it. Something that I can use my head on, you know. We used some new lumber on it about 450 board feet which we carried up about ¾ or a mile of trail. Its going to be quite a nice little dam when we get through.

I have found out more about the prune picking. I suspect that I’ll get in on some of it too. It seems that it isn’t just one farm but several and they are going to use from one to six or seven on a farm. The farmer comes and gets us and takes us back on his time which is an 8 ½ hour day. Now here’s what the fellows like about it. The farmers got together with the local man-power representitativ and decided to give us (and all free labor too) 2 cents a box bonus if we stayed with the farmer all through the season. Also we can work overtime if we want to and collect the money ourselves, we can keep the bonus money too. Well some one figured out that a fellow that worked all the overtime he could and made the bonus too could pile up about 50 dollars in a season which seems to be from 3 to 5 weeks. I’m kind of lazy and don’t care whether I work overtime or not but I recon that the temptation will get me and I will. The reason that I think that I will get in on it is that the work chairman figured that every one in camp here at Elkton would be needed to make the 25 men except the cooks and the drafting crew. So I come in that. Oh well it will be a new experience.

I am sending you a swell little book of devotional readings by E. Stanley Jones. I have had one all summer and it is great. So I got one for you. I hope you can find time to read it. You might read it in the morning with the SS lesson stuff. It wouldn’t take long and gives a different slant on devotions than the usual thing. The first week I didn’t like ti so well but then it got better so I ordered one for you. I don’t know what you will think of it but I wish you’d give it a trial. One of the fellows here orders books for us from a guy in Portland that gets them with a big reduction. I guess this guy is a pacifist and wants to help us out. I got about $5 worth and have read one of them and used this devotional book all summer. I’m sending this book tomorrow (I hope I get it done) so you will probably get it soon after this letter.

Well I have been telling all about myself. I might mention that I did get that 8 bucks and the two gas stamps. I though I did thank you for them in another letter but if I didn’t I will do it now, I’m sorry I didn’t mention if before.

I had a couple of chuckles about the John K. deal. I figured out one thing, Its good to have few people like that in the world so that we really appreciate the good people. Not that John isn’t good. Remember what Bob Judd said about him “For and old S__t John isn’t a bad guy.” You know about how those blanks were filled in. I hope you got the mess straightened out with out making him too mad.

Guess this enough for tonight.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Harvest time, bossing and a bigger God

Dad is back in the camp at Elkton in this letter. It is interesting to read about harvest time and the need for farm labor as everyone in our time frame of 2010 is discussing farm labor and immigration. Some of the men from the camp are hired to go and pick prunes and to be paid after the war, so that is 3 years later. It would be interesting to know if they did get paid. Then he talks about trying to not be too bossy when he is put in charge of projects. I think he worked on this throughout his life time, with some success. I once pointed out to my sister Bonnie that she and I grew up with three people who were the oldest child. Both of our parents and of course our older sister, Carol. All lovable but also ready to take charge. The last item which is of interest to me is that he speaks here of meeting 'good atheists' and then mentions that he still believes in God but that he "seems to be a much bigger God than he use to be". One of my interests in these letters is following the spiritual changes from the evangelical to the unprogrammed Quaker and this letter seems to share part of that process. I kind of like the idea that as his view of God changes the old God becomes bigger and perhaps has more aspects than he did at first.

August 30, 1943

C. P. S. #59 Elkton, Oregon
Aug. 30 1943

Dear Fambily,

I reckon that you can guess that I’m back in Elkton now. I can still type about as well as ever which ain’t so good. I got your letter today and thought I’d better answer it right away. I suppose youn’s are sort of relaxing a bit now that the threshing is done, the straw baled and the tonsils out. I suppose that the younger children will be going back to school now. Eileen is probably starting now and I reckon that Penn won’t get underway for a couple of weeks yet. Well you can tell me about that in the next letter.

I supposed that you are sort of wondering what I’m working at here. We got in Sat. night about 11:30 via Eugene and some shows. One show I’d recmment in “The More The Merrier” with Jean Arthur. We saw a pretty good Shirly Temple show too. “Kathleen”, I think the name was. She isn’t a little girl any more but I thought she was about as good in this kind of part.

Now that I have told you that I’m in camp, here’s what I’m doing. Do you remember my writing about working on the water supply pipe line last spring? Well we have needed a good dam up at the source of our water supply for a long time. Our Project Supt. (Bob Warnak) has finally gotten around to doing something about it. We are going to build a pretty good dam now and I guess that 4 of the fellows that have been surveying with me and I are going to do it. They (Bob and the assistant director, Kit Carson) said I was going to be foreman but you know how I liked to be bossed so I remembered that and try to do as little bossing as possible. We got quit a bit done today but we figure on taking a week to get it finished. After that I understand there will be a couple more portable buildings to be made and I suspect I’ll be bossing that. That is sort of a headache cause we have to make them out of old lumber and they are supposed to fit together when we get ready to put them up.

There is a farm labor shortage here in this county at harvest time like there is any place else and the farmers around here, some of them have some pretty large orchards. One guy that has a lot of prunes to pick has gone through the war man power board of this county (I guess) and arranged fro some of the camp boys to pick prunes on project time. The way I hear it the Gov’t holds the money they should receive if they weren’t in the draft and it will be sent someday after the war is over. The same arrangement that the farm detached Service is on. Well there are 25 men to go to pick prunes next Wed. I’m not so keen about the pay arrangement but I suspect I’ll be doing carpenter work any way. Warren has done some work on farms like helping make hay and such He didn’t seem to mind.

I hate to hear of John Mc leaving. I suppose it sound a little funny cause I wanted him to leave a couple of years ago. I don’t know how things are there now tho, I reckon they are a little dead. I really don’t have a lot of hope for much improvement. I guess I have some of my faith in church. Maybe I have been associating with too many good atheists. Don’t worry about my religion tho I’m just as serious as ever and still believe in God and he seems to be a much bigger God then he used to be.

Well, I have a lot of thing to do. I havn’t unpacked much of my junk yet and really began to live again since being back. Yesterday I went with some of our survey bunch out to our side camp about 22 miles for a visit. I hadn’t been out there since last Jan. when I was helping build the shacks they lived in. I got to see some of my old friends I hadn’t seen all summer. That’s the reason I havn’t got straightened around yet.

Sign’ng off with lots of Love and stuff.


Monday, September 20, 2010

International day of peace and corn

Dad is still in the wilderness in his letter and thinking about the folks at home threshing and the yield. He's writing in August and we are in september. Tim sang yesterday in the international day of peace interfaith chorus celebration. It was a nice gathering. Lots of variety of music and some discussions before hand. I went to one on 'what is peace?" It was interesting. At one point someone said how we had this culture of war and militarism in our country and I wanted to counter that there is a long history of peaceful people as well such as my ancestors and others who came here looking to lead peaceful lives and they did. They do not get a lot of press. Few people know about CPS camps or the people who have worked for peace and opposed war for years. I got a letter today from the IRS, they are not happy when I withhold money because it goes to pay for war. As my grandmother Edwards said, "Peace is a lifetime job".
We enjoyed a dinner of local corn and locally grown chicken tonight. I feel very rich.

August 24, 1943

Vida, Oregon

Dear Folks,
Well we are out on the civilized end of the trail. We finished our work back in the hills today and moved back here too. A big day. I’m tired and not in a letter writing mood. There are 4 days left this week and we have one day’s work on surveying and a day breaking camp and getting back to Elton. We have gotten on the good side of our boss and he is going to let us leave here Fri. noon with the truck and stop over in Eugene Fri. nite and get back to Elkton Sat. evening. Not bad? He’s been pretty good to us since we got to know each other. We have tomorrow off cause we worked on Sunday while we were up in the mountains. Maybe I’ll feel like adding something tomorrow before they take the mail into Vida. We are about 3 miles from Vida, it’s a 1 store and post office town.
That’s quite a thing to find out I have relations out here. But I won’t have any chance to see if I can find them. You see the first time we came up and found our road closed it was from the Sweet Home side but this time we came up from the south side by trail. Our camp up in the hills here was about 30 miles from Sweet Home. (south east of it) We don’t go near Sweet Home on the way back, cause there is a row of mountains between Sweet Home and our camp and road. We go back through Eugene and that is the only way to get thro from here, through Eugene. So as I say I’ll probably never see Sweet Home again. I suspect that if I had had a chance I would have tried to look up those folks. Well, I’m going to bed.
Good night
Love Bernard.

Now it’s Wed. morning! It’s a bright sunshiny morning and I’m not so sleepy as I was last night.
Al and I and the cook (Jim Ricks) are the only ones left in the camp today. We get (Al and I) today off. While the rest work then we will work tomorrow while the others lay off. All we have to do is set some corners and that is only a 2 or 3 man job and they only have 2 compasses and 3 crews of 2 or 3 each so Al and I wait till tomorrow to do ours.
We three are going in to town (Vida) this morning to get a few groceries and the mail. One doesn’t appreciate daily mail till you are out of reach of it.
I don’t know what I’ll be doing at Elkton yet. Probably carpenter work. I have a sort of carpenter reputation now and I like it pretty well. I really like the shop work best but I don’t think there is much of that anymore.
I get the idea from you letters that threshing has been sort of a long drawn out job this year. Maybe that has kept you from working too hard at it. I also get the idea that the yield isn’t so hot this year. And the corn getting blown over isn’t good. I hope it stands up good enough so you can get a picker through some of it.
Well, we’re going to town pretty soon [I] guess. I’ll sign off
Yours Bernard

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wilderness and Women's retreats

In Dad's letter he is off in the wilderness. I just spent the weekend at Claire Leonard's near Reserve at a New Mexico Women's retreat weekend. Reserve is on the northwest side of the Gila Mountains in Catron county. Claire's place included a yurt and her house and some beautiful land. We had women sleeping in the yurt and on the deck and in cars and in tents.
We did a wonderful hike up a mesa on Saturday, did some worship sharing and other sharing on both days. It was an enjoyable time, without mules or mosquitoes. We've been doing the retreats for 32 or 33 years, twice a year. It's a wonderful format, we pick a theme at the end of one retreat and a date and who will be in charge for the next one. We keep the cost as low as possible and alternate between the inexpensive places and the more expensive places which helps. There is a wonderful feeling of gathering at the retreats, sometimes I do not notice the change and the renewing aspect of it until I return and realize that I have relaxed and centered myself.

August 15, 1943 - The Wilderness

The Wilderness

Dear Folks,

Well here we are, only 6 miles by trail from civilization. But what a 6 miles. Our boss said it was the worst trail he had ever packed over. It is terribly steep. We are about 3,000 ft. here and I imagine we climbed about 2,000 of that in the middle 2 miles of our trip and that is a lot to climb with pack mules. We are going to work on Sundays to get out of here as quick as possible so we worked today. This was our first day’s work here. We went down 1300 feet in the first 1/8 mile and up 11,00 in the last half of our mile today. It was kind of bushy too. Then we had to walk an hour before we were back at camp. It has been pretty hot up here and the mosquitoes are small but many. We sleep with our head covered and eat with towels over our heads. I’m going to take a picture of the gang eating sometime. We started up here yesterday morning (Sat.) and arrived at our spring at 3:00. We lost a couple of hours when one of the mules got sick and decided to lay down on the trail, pack and all. This happened in a narrow place close to a small steam. We got the pack off and then he tried to roll and slid off the trail and down next to a big log and then he couldn’t get up. We really had a time. We finally got some ropes on his feet and turned him over and got him up. We left him there and went on. You see the boss was going back after another load, which he brought today. The mules are just fresh off the pasture and they are pretty soft and fat so it was rather hard on them. We have a camp at the civilized end of the trail and the truck driver is staying there and he will ride a saddle horse in every day or two and bring us the mail and fresh bread and stuff.
This page is tomorrow from the other page or that page is yesterday from this. It will be a long time before you get this cause the fellow with the horse isn’t coming up till Wed. I may add some more if anything if anything of note happens (This sure is lousy paper I hope you can I hope you can read it.)
Thanks a lot for the “slug” of “bucks” Dad. I can’t do much with money out here in the tall timbers, but I’ll get out before long. Thanks for the gas stamps. The too will be put to good use.
I had heard that Ab was going to Conn. to the farm project but didn’t know about Opal’s going. That will be great. They will be happier that way.
You can keep the CPS magazine. As they have ones at Elkton.
Well, So Long for a while.
Tue—Nothing has happened in particular to-day. It is a little cooler and the mosquitoes a little fewer and less ambition.
Love Bernard.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dentists and end of summer

I sure got busy since I was able to post last. As school starts up I have less time. I am taking a couple of courses on online teaching, which are interesting. In this post, Dad goes to the dentist for $4. I went this week for a crown which will cost me $300. Our family does not have great teeth. Both our parents lost or had all their teeth pulled at some point. It was then that Mom said she felt really old. I enjoyed the idealism of the guys in the camp with Dad and wonder, what happened to the guys with the boat and if they were able to use it to help people out.

August 5, 1943


Dear family,

That was a nice amount of news you had in this week’s letter. Every time I write I think you will be threshed by the time you get it. Maybe this time you will be done with it by now.
So Evelyn is causing a lot of competition! I’ll bet things were kind of interesting around there when Hunter and Lathane (?) were both there. I had a good chuckle over that. Everett can’t be very patriotic to use so much gas running clear over from where he lives. I’ll bet he’s a C.O.
I don’t know whether this letter is going to be worth reading or not. I can’t think of much to write. We are still in the same old camp. Last Sunday we all (but 3) spent in Eugene. The boss wanted someone to go up to Sweet Home to find out about the road so we worked in a Eugene trip too. We found out that our [missing word?] isn’t ever going to do us any good. The logging company isn’t going to do any more than make a ford and they get cars stuck and have to pull them through with a “Cat.” Also the road isn’t long enough to get in where we want to go. So we are going to go up from the other side and use the pack mules. We will have to pack about 4 miles that isn’t bad.
Another thing we got a notice that the Public Survey appropriation of money was almost gone and we would probably have to quit the last of August. Our plans now are to stay in this camp till about the 15th and then go to the Sweet Home place and end our summer surveying there.
I might mention we saw a couple of good shows in Eugene. “My Friend Flika” and “It comes Up Love.” The last one has Gloria Jean in it, you’d all like them.
I went to the dentist Tuesday. Only had 2 cavities and they weren’t very deep. My bill is $4.00. If Dad will send me $5 I’ll check it off my book. Speaking of money, thanks a lot for the “buck” in this week’s letter.
Here are a few things about Al Howe, the Buick driver. He’s 6 ft 2 or 3 in. tall with red kinky hair. Wears glasses and a mustache. He smokes a pipe. Is from Massachusetts more than any other place, tho he has lived in Ohio and just before the draft caught him he was in Calif. where is invalid mother now lives. She is partly paralyzed. His father has been dead for 3 or 4 years, but was a college proff. when he was living. Al is a college graduate majoring in Math. He owns a 4th interest in a 120 foot fishing boat in which he and the 3 other partners plan to cross the ocean after the war and do freighting along the coast of Europe. They hope to help out some of the starving Europeans if they can in this way. The other three owners of the boat are his younger brother (Al is 25) and a sailor friend who has dependants and is now hiring out the boat to keep it in shape to a fellow who is navigating the Pan-American in the Navy. Maybe this will give you something of an idea of the sort of person Al is. He doesn’t belong to any church, is somewhat disgusted with organized religion. He knows quite a lot about the Bible and religion and says he just doesn’t know. You might call him an Atheist, but I wouldn’t. An agnostic is a better name for his position. Al is a hard worker and a top-notch fellow.
This seems to be about the end of this letter. This has been a swell summer so far and has gone very fast. God is still being very good to me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thinking and school starting up

Dad has this way of talking about people. In this one he talks about the youngest guy on the survey crew and mentions that 'he hasn’t done very much thinking'. As the college classes start up, faculty stand around and talk. Thinking is one of the things that many of us feel has changed over time. How much thinking do young people do? I know that Dad was a thinker and I spent a lot of time thinking (in school accused of daydreaming). Are people thinking as well as texting today. Are they thinking in different ways than we did in the 60's and 70's or than folks did in the 30's and 40's? I believe that as the environment and economy have been impacting our lives people are becoming more philosophical and asking new questions about how they are living and how we are structuring our lives.

July 29, 1943


Dear Folks,

I drew you a map of our township and the surrounding town. I thought it might give you an idea of what I was doing. I marked with heavier lines when we have been but that doesn’t mean we are done in that part. You see, we are supposed to locate the old corners and on lots of the lines we couldn’t find anything at all. So all we can do is keep going till we do find an old corner and then make new corners where the come in relation to the old ones we find. That isn’t very clear but maybe you will get the idea. It is called proportioning the corners in.
I might tell you some about the boys here in camp with me. I’ll take La Verne Kiethly this time. He is from Los Angeles Calif. and the youngest member of the party 20 a couple weeks ago. He doesn’t belong to any church and doesn’t take churches very seriously. He says he went to Sunday School a little when he was small.
He just didn’t see any sense in fighting and made up his mind that he wouldn’t. Says he didn’t know anything about CPS all he knew was he wasn’t going to fight. His father is a plumber. Everybody likes him very well, he is one of the three that don’t smoke. Verne is about 6 feet tall and quite slender. I don’t suppose he weighs as much as I do. He will work hard and is one of the easiest fellows in the bunch to get along with. You can tell that he is younger then the rest of us by various things one can’t put his finger on. One thing I notice is that he hasn’t done very much thinking.
We don’t know anything more about our Sweet Home trip yet.
I hope you aren’t working too hard at threshing. I still seem to enjoy the farm news and the courting and romance news from Mom.
Love Bernard.

Attached: a map of township with note:

After returning from the nest Sweet Home trip we expect to make our camp at the end of the Brush Creek Road [arrow pointing to map]. Which will let us into the west half of the township. As there are no roads in the west half we will have to use pack mules and go out from the main camp a week at a time to get to the south west part. There are trails all over the country here. They follow the ridges and some of them aren’t bad walking. The Forestry service keeps them open this time of year in case of fire. The trails I put in my map are the ones we have --- over or surveyed across. Sections 14, 22, 23, 26, and 35 caused us a lot of walking. Those trails are much crookeder then I could show them. One day we walked 3 ½ miles to work in the morning and 2 ½ miles back at night. That is a lot of walking besides surveying a mile besides. We always do a mile a day and when it is done we come in. Sometimes it is early like today we were in at 4:00 then once in a while it is 5:30 or 6:00. A few times it has been convenient to do a mile and a half one day to quit closer to the road then we’d only do a ½ mile next day and get off shortly after noon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August heat and harvests

Dad's post mentions thrashing oats. I wasn't aware that they had grown oats on the farm in Iowa. We are dealing with heat here, still in the high 90's or l00. We have grown squash this summer, patty pan and crook neck and a small patch of corn in the front yard. We took out the lawn but have not replaced it with much besides dirt and the weeds. Two summers ago we had a good crop of beans in the front, then last year we put in a solar closet. Really Tim put it in, so during the construction we didn't plant anything. Now we are begining to think in longer terms of what we want where in the yard. I think we are not avid gardeners, but are learning it bit by bit and book by book.
Dad also mentions Kingsly in this letter. Kingsly is his cousin and was in the army I think in North Africa and Italy. When he says "the fighting is over there" I think given the date he means that the fighting was happening then.
The college is about to start up this week and I will meet students, as usual I will have some veterans from the current US wars and also spouses and children of those in the military. I hope for them the fighting is over.

July 25, 1943


Dear Folkses,

Right off the bat I want to thank Dad for the gas stamps and the Buck. It will come in handy. I spend more money since we go to shows every once in a while. Sometimes I feel very extravagant about it but “you can’t take it with you,” you know. So as long as I have a little money and the opportunity for a little diversion I suspect I’ll continue to spend it. The whole camp was glad so see the gas coupons. They will get us to several shows.
We just found out today that when we leave this camp to go to Sweet Home to finish up that job (do you remember? I told you about it a couple of weeks ago) that we will pull up stakes here till next fall sometime. So my address will be Sweet Home for a while then I don’t know what. But we will continue to get mail cause the boss has a wife in Portland and they have only been married 2 or 3 years so he will want to get mail once in a while. Also there are official letters going and coming so it will be gotten some way. We have a forwarding address when we move so don’t worry about that.
I got a letter from Kingsley. I imagine Grandma A. has told you about him. The fighting is over there. He is a sergeant now from his address.
I’m glad to hear that you are going to get the old threshing machine out. I’d bet Harry wasn’t tho while he was shocking oats. I hope you’ns don’t work to hard tho. You will probably be well underway with the thrashing by the time you get this.
I’ve fooled around trying to write this and it is time to go to bed now. We have had too many discussions this evening for me to write a good letter. I’ll try to do better next time.
We have a new cook now and tho he hasn’t much experience he is clean and will work so we get along fine.
I am going to the dentist some of these days, I told the office (C.P.S.) to make an appointment for me and the boss said I could take one of the trucks so that is it. I’ll find out what the bill will be and have you send me a check.
So Long,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Logging and Movies

Dad has an interesting time not getting anywhere in this story. We went to see a new movie called Inception about dreams within dreams. I got to thinking how reading Dad's letters, writing about growing up in the 50's and 60's while currently living in 2010 reminded me of the layers in the movie Inception. Each of our stories has roots or a basis in another story before it. My mother did a video tape of her spiritual journey and in it she says 'the bags were packed by those who came before', meaning that she came from a family without a lot of problems. She recognized that she had a good start on life. In Inception at one part in a dream a van goes off a bridge which impacts the people who are in it dreaming at the next level they are floating around they do not have solid ground, no gravity. I think that what my mother was saying was that her basis was strong was solid because of her family and I think that some people who come from an unstable life or background are like the people in the movie, floating around unable to find ground to stabilize themselves. It also made me aware that there is always a part that history plays in any situation, we do not operate on an empty stage. Reading these letters for me was like reading the act that took place before I came on stage.
That's my musing on the movie. It has stuck with me, so I thought I would try to share my thoughts by writing them here. It might not make sense unless you have seen the movie.

July 16, 1943

Fri. nite, 7/16/43

Dear Folks,

Well, I’m still in the same place I was last week when I wrote youns. It’s quite a story about our trip up beyond Eugene to the place that we were to finish surveying. We went up Sat. nite after work and spent the week-end in Eugene. That is: 4 of us did. One of the fellows went on to Salem to see a girl and 3 stayed here at camp, two of them to bring the trucks loaded with our equipment and the 3rd to stay here and watch what was left of this camp. Do you follow me? I was in the bunch that went to Eugene. Sat. night we slept in a hay field outside of town it was warm and clear and it was swell sleeping out. We slept till about 10:00. Al drove the Buick that is how we go there. Then when we got in motion Sunday we went back to Eugene to a fellow’s apartment that we all know. He is a CO that is working with a timber causier (?) in Eugene. He and his wife have an apartment. We ate breakfast with them about 11:00. They had already eaten tho. We went to a show in the afternoon. It was a good one too. “Random Harvest.” It didn’t looked so good Sunday night so 2 of us slept at the fellow’s apartment and another guy and I went to a couple’s home that had been down to Elkton to visit and invited anyone to come anytime. The camp boys drop in there all the time so they didn’t mind.
That is just the first half of the story. Mon. morning we started for Sweet Home which is where we were supposed to meet the boys with the supplies and equipment that stayed in camp. Al figured his gas up and thought we had enough to get up there and back to Eugene again. But the gauge was regulating wrong and we didn’t know it. Well, we got about half way there and ran out of gas. There we were out of gas and out of coupons too. We were sort of stumped for a while but decided to walk up the road and see what we could stir up. We walked about ½ mile and came to a sawmill. There was a log truck driver working on his truck there and we asked him if knew any way we could get gas. All we told him was that our gas gauge had gone bad and fooled us and we didn’t have enough to get where we were going. He thought a while then asked if we had a can. We didn’t have any so he walked over and picked up one and went back behind the mill and filled it up, 5 gal. and told us it was loan and if we ever came by again we could bring him some he wouldn’t sell it. Boy! did that stuff smell good!
Well, we got to Sweet Home. The place we were to camp was about 30 miles from there we got 10 of it and found a bridge out. It had been out since last winter. We were pretty well stopped till our boss was talking to the foreman of a big logging camp and he told him that the forest service had been after them to open the road we wanted to go up. The logging foreman said that they would send out a bulldozer and make a place for us [to] ford the river the next morning. They did that and we loaded up our camp the next morning and (tues) started out across the river. The ford they had made was soft and we got the first truck stuck in the middle of the river. The water was about 20” deep there. Well, the bulldozer was up the road a way cleaning out a place where a landslide had blocked the road. So the boss walked up to see when he would be done so he could pull us out of the river. While he was gone we all went swimming in the river, good too. He came back and told us that the bulldozer had broken down and we were really stuck. We got ahold of a cable and pulled the truck out with the other truck and came back to this township till they get that road fixed right. We got back to camp here around 7:30 tue night. Boy! did we have a trip! The engineer at the logging camp will write to us when the road is ready and we’ll go back there and finish that township. When we do our address will be: Gov’t. Survey Party, Sweet Home. I will tell you when to change. They will forward anything sent here anyway.
Oh yes, Al’s car is parked up at the logging camp 10 miles from Sweet Home. Since we will be back there we can get it when we do. I reckon that that gas stamp will be welcome that you mentioned sending.
I was glad to hear all about what is going on at home on the farm. It sound like Dad is working pretty hard tho, watch him. Life is too short, you know.
I hope you get a good preacher. I sort of hate to see John go but it will probably be better for him and the church too. Vergie (?) getting married was a surprise. I didn’t think we was that crazy about that guy. I think it was sort of a dumb thing to do tho and I’ll bet her folks do too. But it’s alright if it is love and if might be for all we know.
Well, it’s bed time.
P.S. Thanks for the Drivers License.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pickle juice in the gravy and Camping in the 1950

Dad tells the story of the guy who put pickle juice in the gravy in this letter. I am writing in July and reading about Dad's walking and sleeping and roughing it in the Oregon mtns helps me to understand his ease with camping in the Rockies in the 1950s. He was use to just being out there, no fancy blow up mattresses or tents. When we were kids we would go on these camping trips all over Colorado. Dad would work one saturday and then take off the next and also take off a Monday, so we could stay two nights. A lot of the places we stayed were primitive. We were car camping but there were no paved roads or out houses. The water we drank came from the streams and it tasted so cold and so good. If we went hiking we would take canteens and we could stop and fill them up with water, water which was not polluted then. We had the Desoto and Dad made a box to put a lot of stuff up on top. but the tent poles were too long and were tied on the roof separately. We had a huge old canvas army tent with a hinged pole along the ridge and two supporting wooden poles at the ends. It took all five of us to get the tent up, then we had a snap in floor and sleeping bags made out gunny sacks that mom had sewn together. I liked being at the far end of the tent. In the morning I would unsnap the floor and roll out and go sit on a rock by a stream (there was always a stream), early meditation experience. We were awfully lucky to have seen the country we did before the developers and tourists came in droves.

July 8, 1943

Thus. Night. July 8

Dear Folks,

Your letter came today so I will dash off an answer right away before I forget what you’ns wrote and have to read it again.
Yes Dad, the Buick driver would be glad to use another coupon. He has used a couple of coupons from our boss and some from a preacher in Portland already. You see, this guy, his name is Al Howe, and some of the fellows went to Portland on weekend. One of the guys has a girl up there and she arranged a couple of other dates so Al drove up. Well our boss has a wife and 11 month old boy there, so he was eager [to] go too. So we worked a little harder and got off from work at noon Sat. and the boys went to Portland. That is how Al came to use some of the bosses coupons and while there a friends preacher that they were talking to asked Al if he had to use coupons to get gas All said he sure did. Well, the preacher said he hadn’t been using all his and so he gave Al a couple. So send us a coupon and we will see that it is put to a good use. We have averaged about one show a week by some method or another. A couple of time we managed to have an excuse to take one of the Gov’t trucks. The boss went along once and we went to Elkton to see “Air Force.” I didn’t particularly like it but it was a good picture. That trip was on the Gov’t. But we have to have a good excuse or we can’t egt by with using the Gov’t cars.
Today it started to rain along in the middle of the forenoon and so we came in. We were close to camp so we only got damp. The boss had to have his picture taken soon for an identification card that certain Gov’t men seem to have to have so that called for a trip to Eugene. Since we couldn’t work we all went along and went to a show. It was a double feature. “ The Ox Bow Incident” and “Corregidor.” The Ox Bow show was really good. A good moral, about a mob in the west that hung 3 innocent men for a murder that didn’t even happen. Very good and thought provoking. Mom probably wouldn’t like it. The Corregedor one was a typical war show. Not so hot.
Keep on with the farm news Dad. I haven’t made much of a reply to it but I’m still interested. Seems I[‘m] just a farmer at heart yet. I hope your thumb is better by now.
Next Monday we will leave this camp and got to another township northwest of Eugene to finish up 8 miles that are left there then back to this one again. We figure on that taking about 2 weeks. I’ll write from there. I don’t know but I suspect we will have some of our mail forwarded as the cook will stay here to watch the stuff. I might mention about the cook. We don’t like him too well now. He turned out to not to like to spend enough time on his work. He has some dumb ideas too that don’t work so good. Tonight we came home late and the gravy had gotten terribly thick like it will so what did he do but try to thin it with sweet pickle juice. Don’t ever try that mom. It’s terrible.
We are trying to get a better cook from the main camp but haven’t yet.
I’ll tell you about Dick Henly this time. He is a Quaker too from Colorado Denver meeting. A very fine guy. One of the nicest fellows I have know. He is 23 yrs old about 160 lbs. slightly taller then I. Brown hair and eyes. (for Mom) He has two slightly visible scars on he forehead from going through a car windshield once. He doesn’t smoke or have any bad habits. (Buck Guthrie smokes) and he and I agree on a lot of things. Dick and I will probably get to be pretty good friends. Most all the fellows I work with are good fellows but Dick seems to stand out. His father was a C.O. doing non-combatant work in the other war. He farms in Kansas now. Before the draft, Dick was working for “Kanteen” company. Those candy selling machines, he refilled them with candy. As for Buck Guthrie’s smoking, I suspect it can be charged to a “preacher kid complex.”
Say Mom, I read that Christian’s Herald too. Did you read in the one before last “God’s Life-Line”? It is about Kingsley’s Preacher from Des Moines.
P.S. Do you know anything about Dale W.? Who did he marry? I’m getting so I write on the top of the page too Mom. (cut off) couple of months (?) or more. Darn him.

Fri. Morning
The sun isn’t shining very bright cause it is a little cloudy this morning so we havn’t gone to work yet. I’ll see if I can’t get a little more written I was sort of sloppy last night.
No I don’t get to church. We are 9 miles from Drain and I don’t know whether I would go if we were closer or not. I get a lot out of reading and thinking on Sunday. Not that I don’t like church but when a person can’t take root and work in a church it isn’t so interesting and I feel that it isn’t too good for us COs to do too much in the local churches because someone is bound to take offense and accuse us of running things.
We got word a few days ago that the China Unit is all off and any other foreign service for COs. The last War appropriation bill stated that none of the money should be used to train 4-E men or send them abroad. So I guess that will keep us from doing anything of importance in that line.
How is Harry after his 4th of July trip? Walking on air or is he sloppy and deflated? I got a letter from Norma a few days ago. She’s a peach. If Harry doesn’t hang on to her he ought to be kicked. I’ll bet she was disappointed that the rest of the kids didn’t go too. Of course she and Harry will enjoy being alone together if they can get away from her family.
I might mention I’m enjoying the work here and here comes the sun.
So Long,

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I haven't checked all my headings to see if I'm repeating myself. There's the mention of Grandma's jam at the beginning of his letter, so I got into jam recollections. Both mom and dad were great gardeners. Dad did fruit, berries, grapes, some trees - apples, cherries, they also had ruhbarab and gooseberries. Mom did the vegetables and then did alot of the processing of the food. Dad would make grape juice but I think mom did all the rest. We would have apple sauce, crab apple sauce, pickles and jams and jellies. I really didn't know that people bought jam in stores until I stayed over at a friends house and they had some store bought jam, that did not have the flavor of what we ate at home. I really came to appreciate it once I moved away. Then when we would go to visit we would leave with a box of home canned food and a small freezer full of frozen berries and apple sauce. One of my favorites was a raspberry apple sauce, Mom would freeze it and then to use it she would put the container out on the counter to thaw out. We would sneak into the kitchen and scrape some off the frozen lump, it was iced and yummy. We always had bowls of fruit to eat if we were hungry.

July 2, 1943

R 1 Box 100
Youncalla, Oregon
July 2, 1943

Dear family,

Again I say how time flies. I say that every once in a while when I realize that time is sliding by pretty swiftly. When you get this you will have celebrated the 4th and the corn will be layed by. I hope that you were able to get the cultivator fixed. I reckon that mom has a lot of jam canned by now too.
It just started to rain here but it may not be raining to-morrow. It can rain all night and clear up in the morning here or like it was today be clear as a bell all day and then rain at night. By the amount of rain you are getting you will probably have another good corn crop in spite of the late start it got. Some of you asked a few questions that I haven’t answered yet. I don’t think that the weather in general is as hot here as it is in Iowa. When we are working we usually sweat pretty good but cool off as soon as we stop. It feels hot in the sun and cool in the shade. We don’t have much wind here but there is usually a breeze on top of the ridges. So far we have been bothered very little by bugs and mosquitoes but there are lots of them down in the bottom of the canyons when there is a small creek there. They seem to be a small variety of mosquitoes and they hum around a lot but we don’t get many bits. The worst thing we have ran into so far was when the line ran through a swarm of bees. A couple of fellows got stung but I missed them. Then about 200 feet further we ran into a tree with a hornets’ nest in it one guy got stung by them. Then yesterday I was ahead of the rest and I stepped a few inches from a hornets’ nest that had fallen from a tree. I didn’t see it and felt something stick me in the left thigh. I though it was a rose bush and looked down at the hornets coming out like they do in the funny papers. But they didn’t chase me tho and my sting didn’t hurt bad only lasted a half hour or so but there is still a bump there. They sure must have long stingers to go clear through my overalls! About the rose bushes tho. We sometimes come to a pasture when it has been cleared and it will be quite well covered with large rose bushes almost as big as our old lilac bush used to be. They are something to chop through. We run into a black berry or raspberry patch once in a while. Sometimes they are ripe too.
They never have any bad snakes here. We see garter snakes and lots of lizards and snails.
Yea, Mom, sometimes we chop into the wrong tree but we can usually tell by the scar on the bark if it has been marked. It is kind of hard on them to chop into them but if they are a healthy tree they will grow over it again and if not we mark a new one. We have had a lot of trouble finding the old corners they are way off from where they should be. We are sure thet the first guy that surveyed it never ran all the lines or even set all the corners. He gets the corners in the wrong places sometimes he says that there in a creek running down the middle of a ridge so we know he never saw the place. Besides the records show he did this township in 16 days and that is impossible. They used to contract their surveying so that explains it and why it needs to be done over. Well, it is time for me to go to bed on my scented bed of fir boughs. Yes, I have to renew them about every 3 weeks the needles fall off by that time. I just carry in some more.

P.S. Will you send (cutoff) drivers license (cut off)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rain and West Branch Iowa and One side of the story

This letter mentions rain, which we are grateful for today in southern New Mexico, a fellow from West Branch Iowa and some things about Grandma that I can't figure out since we only have one side of the story here.
Rain. It rains a lot in Oregon but very little here. Today it rained. This isn't the first summer rain, which came in June and was full of the smell of the Creosote bush. I always forget that smell until it rains. The rains from now to September we call the monsoon season. I don't know if they really are monsoons or just a lot of rain. It's enough to start filling up the rain barrels and tanks that Tim has set up to catch the rain off of our roof and to keep the cats indoors. I picked up a friend at her trailer park to give her a ride today and she remarked at the people standing outside on their porches and I said, yeah we do that when it rains we come out. The breeze feels good and we can turn off the swamp cooler and just enjoy the cool air this evening.
West Branch Iowa. Dad was working with someone from West Branch. I first heard of West Branch when my friends in Colorado went off to the Quaker boarding school there. Scattergood School. There were only two or three of us teenagers who attended Meeting and both Esther Hinshaw and Eric Michner went off to Scattergood. At that time in the 60's there was a waiting list to get into the high school and the idea had never occured to my parents or I that I might be interested. By the time we had figured it out, it was too late to try and get in. Later Leonore Goodenow who was the head of the school in the 1960's moved to Denver as our Meeting House resident. She then began to do prison work and invited me along in the early 1970's to worship with prisoners and other Friends at the maximum security prison in Cañon City, Colorado. In 2004 I returned there to do my Basic AVP (Alternatives to Violence) training.
It has also been interesting to me that two young people from Las Cruces Friends Meeting have gone to Scattergood. Many circles and intertwinings in life.

June 25, 1943

R 1 Box 100
Yoncalla, Oregon
June 25, 1943

Dear Folks,

Your letter came on Thursday. Not bad. Today is Friday. We went to the show in Drain. It was a “Tarzan” picture Boy! Oh Boy! We all sort of got a kick out of it. I guess I told you that one of the fellows has a big Buick out here and when his gas is lasting alright we go to a show once in a while. We haven’t seen a good one yet but it gives us something to do a little relaxation.
We have been having too much rain this week to get much done. It rained Sunday and didn’t clear up till yesterday (Thurs.) then the sun went under a big bank of clouds in the afternoon and we had to quit. Then it rained this morning and we didn’t get out till afternoon. So we haven’t done much.
From you letters it seems that things have been happening pretty fast back there. Stella and Grandpa and Grandma coming up and with the weeds and corn growing so fast that you had to plow night and day. I recon that you have sort of caught up with it by now if it hasn’t been raining there and getting you behind again. Say, it would have been nice if you had the little tractor plowing too but I guess that to quote someone “A certain amount of fleas is good for a dog, it keeps him from worrying about being a dog.”
Perhaps you’d be interested in something about the fellows that I live and work with. Maybe I can give a character sketch of one of them in each letter. Sort of a serial. I’ll start with “Buck” Guthrie. His name is Wayne. He’s 22 years old and from West Branch, Iowa. Buck is shorter than I am and a little wider he weighs about 160, slightly chubby. He makes me think of Harry sometimes especially his love affairs. His father is a Friends preacher. He has 9 brothers and sisters one of his brothers was out at Elkton but was transferred back to the Ames unit. Buck hasn’t heard much from him but he don’t like it extra well there we don’t know why. Buck is a pretty good singer and he is always singing something he knows all the latest songs and a lot of old cowboy and hillbilly songs too. Well that’s about enough about him. If this sort of thing is interesting to you I’ll keep it up. It is different thing living with a small group like this and working with them too. We really have a good time, a good bunch I’d say.
How’s the Endeavor Mom? It sounds to me like you may be getting on the right track at least for a while.
I kind of hate to see John Me. leave but I don’t pretend to know what is best. The way you wrote I got the idea that Phinny was the one that you seemed to want. I don’t know anything about him I do have a faint recollection of hearing him once at P.R. and there is a fellow at Elkton that knows them very well I think he is engaged to their daughter. She is (the daughter) quite pretty. I saw her picture. This guys name is Clifford Wolfe.
I might mention that my watch is still going and I guess it is keeping pretty good time tho I haven’t checked it accurately. It sure does have a pretty dial. It is about twice as big as a $1.50 watch like I’m used to. But I am used to it now.
Time to go to bed,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Breakfast and surveying

There is a lot about surveying in this one and a long list of what was eaten for breakfast. I know when Dad gets to Chicago in '45 he talks about eating something other than meat and eggs for breakfast and becoming citified. As a child I observed him eating Wheaties every morning, then I went off to College and when I came back in '74 he was eating granola. I was in more shock than I was when Nixon resigned, I now knew our world had changed. I also recall that we didn't know he knew how to cook until Mom was in the hospital and he admitted that he could hold and crack two eggs in one hand, which he had learned at Elkton. This letter leaves me wondering what is a WC (in terms of harvesting) and what was 'win-the-war time'?

June 20, 1943

R #1 Box 100
Yoncalla, Oregon
June 20, 1943

Dear home folks,

I got your letter yesterday that was mailed Monday. I guess we have poor connections on both ends. It will probably be a good thing to continue using Airmail.
To give you a better idea of what I am doing I’ll try to sort of give you a travelogue on a day’s work.
The usual beginning, we get up at about a quarter till 6:00 but we go by sun time not “win-the-war-time.” So it would be 7:00 by other people’s time. The reason we use old time is that the instrument we use called the solar compass, takes a bearing from the sun round from about 11:30 to 1:00 the sun is too straight overhead to east a shadow. We used “war time” for a few days and it was quite confusing, it kept us busy figuring out what time it actually was so we changed. I think I told you some of that in the other letter. Well, the cook wakes us up and we eat breakfast. We have things like ham and eggs, oatmeal, cornflakes, cornbread, bacon and eggs, pancakes, fried bread, eggs and toast, oranges and this morning it was omelet. (All that was for mom’s benefit.) Immediately after breakfast we put up our own lunches so we will have what we want. We take rather light lunches as we have to tie them on our belts and carry them that way till noon. We leave camp at 7:00 (old time) on the dot in light truck. The last few days we have been riding a long way before we got to where we were working. Roads aren’t very plentiful here and so far we haven’t had to walk more that 2 miles to get to or from a road. Most roads end up in someone’s barnyard. Take last Fri. we drove about 18 miles to get to a place that was only 1 mile east and 4 ½ miles south of our camp. When we got there we still had to walk about ¼ mile over a couple of gullies. We started out Fri. at what we call a quarter corner. Dad will know what that is. We were running south along the east line of our township. We had a half mile to get to the corner of the township. We made pretty good time and got to the corner at 10:00. That is we got to the place where we thought the corner should be. We had measured and it was the right direction from the last corner. When we get to where a corner should be we look for a fence corner if there is a fence around, many time there isn’t then we look for the old bearing trees, or witness trees as the ranchers call them. They are trees that were blazed the first time this was surveyed and the township number and range and section number carved in them. It has been 90 years since this particular corner had been marked and we failed to find even one bearing tree. We could see that there had been a fir though there and so our notes read BTs destroyed by fire. We did find a four way fence corner which assured us that we were where the ranchers figured their corner was and that’s what we want. To mark the corner that is being used and tell in our notes just how far off it is. Well, after our boss was satisfied that we had the right spot we set up our true corner post. With the proper marks on it to tell what corner it was. We also took four new bearing trees and wrote on them stuff like this. ( illustration, marked 724S R5W S6 BT) This is what the township corner markers had on the top of it. (illustration) here’s what it means: S6 → section 6,
R 5W → Range 5 west, T24 → Township 24.
Maybe that will give you a hazy idea of what we do. We mark the trees a special carving tool that will draw a circle and carve it out at the same time. All letters are in circles and straight lines so there you are. We usually go a mile or a little over each day so that means one section corners and one quarter corner a day. The ax men mark the trees and by now I know what goes on any of them.
Sometimes between 3:00 and 4:00 we start for the truck. If we are getting close to another road then we are to the one we left in the morning they truck driver, who cuts brush when he isn’t driving, goes back and brings the truck around as close as he can get it. He managed to get pretty close Fri night but the boss tells us that the Southwest corner of the township doesn’t have any roads at all so we will have to use a pack outfit and mules to move our camp closer to our work. We haven’t got that far yet and won’t for a while. Don’t worry about this being dangerous. I don’t think it is any worse then anything else. I guess I told you I was an ax man. I don’t know as that is any worse job than some of the others. The chain men have to do book work at night which seems to me to be a disadvantage though they may not put out quite the physical energy on the job. When we find one of our old bearing trees and have to chop with (?) it to make sure (you see after 80 or 90 years the marks are grown over about 8 or 10 inches) the chainman help chop too. I think that all in all one job is as good as another. I wouldn’t mind learning a new one some time later when things lose their novelty but that is up to the boss. We are getting along with him pretty well now that we are learning the job better. His name is Otis Gould and we had been calling him Mr. Gould or Boss and the other day he said he wished we would call him Oat. So he’s Oat now, a step in the right direction.
I hope you can get some sense out of this. I hate to write all about myself but I guess that is what you want to hear. I’ll bet that the old W.C. has plowed out a lot of weeds by now. I hope you can get ahead of them and stay there.
Do I like the watch? You bet. It isn’t the most modern design but it keeps time and probably will fro years and years. Just the thing for me. I’ll bet it cost Dad more than the last 5 watches I’ve had.
What about my drivers license? Will it be sent to me here? Or does it work that way?
Here are those two extra pictures I intended to send last week. I have my photograph album pretty well caught up and got a white pencil to write in it with so will have it really done up.
Guess that’s about all for now
I certainly hope that the Endeavor Society will do better this summer. I wrote to Evelyn and gave her a lot of advice which she probably won’t need.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Washing clothes

I got away from the blog this month. the June heat comes and we run off to Yearly Meeting and then back and had a wonderful house concert with Patricia Morrison. So now I can get back into the routine.
Dad is off surveying and washes clothes by hand which reminds me of washing clothes. When Tim, Jenny and I lived in Hillsboro and off grid and newly married trying to figure everything out, somehow clothes washing became a big deal. Jenny and I came with our washing machine, I had felt proud do buy it when she was almost 1, I figured that the machine cost as much as a diaper service. We bought diapers and the washing machine. When we got married the machine was about 7 years old and still good. Being off grid we had no electricity to run it, it sat on our front porch for a few weeks, then one day at the General Store Cafe Ben and Doreen mentioned they were in need of a washing machine. They were the new owners of the cafe and new to town. In a flash Tim had made a deal to trade our washing machine for meals at the cafe. I was in a bit of shock at the speed of the deal, but we had not had any other bright ideas of what to do with it. I think it took us about three months to use up the credit we had gotten from the machine.
Tim had a washing machine which ran on gasoline, it was a challenge to me. It started the way a lawn mower does by pulling a cord, this worked well for Tim (who is 6 ft tall) but for me it seemed to need to be pulled about two inches beyond my 5ft ability to pull it. It was also noisy and smelly. So I bought a James washer. This is a hand washer, a small tub with a side handle you move back and forth. I still miss this machine, we have given away both of these since moving into Las Cruces and bought another electric - low use machine. The handwasher worked well for me and the kids in the neighborhood and those close to 5ft tall, others had to bend over to use it. The best washing was when we had enough rainwater in the barrel to wash the clothes in the fresh rain water.
A long story about washing clothes.

June 14, 1943

R#1 Box 100
Yoncolla, Oregon
June 14, 1943

Dear folks

Today I got Dad’s card from Jeff saying that you were send my ring, glass case and watch. I’ll sure appreciate a watch. I have sort of gotten used to not having one but it will be easy to get use to having one again. I still reach for my watch pocket occasionally. There are 2 watches beside the boss’s in the crew. So another may be sort of handy sometimes. Sometimes we are a little way apart which we are cutting brush along the “line.”
Yesterday (Sunday) I went into Camp Elkton. I printed a few pictures for some mysteries (?) that I brought back with me. I sent a couple of extra prints. If I don’t forget like I did with the sugar stamp. I trust you found that in the next letter. I guessed you hadn’t got my letter telling my new address before you sent the package. It will be forwarded tho.
It is getting a little late and I’m sort of sleepy. I did my washing tonight too. I used to hear about bending over a washboard but now I know about it. I’d rather send my clothes to a laundry. But we are living the simple life.
We surveyed a mile today and that’s pretty good. The Boss said that was all the expected of us. I’m not so tired I guess I’m getting broken in now but it really pooed me the first week.
I recon that you men folk are plowing corn like the dickens. I hope you have the new cultivator by now or at leas see it coming.
I’ll tell you about the guys I work with sometimes. --- with an interesting bunch. Good variety of personalities and background. All pretty good guys.
Time to sign off.
A quarter of a century old

P.S. Mom’s birthday card came a day late due to forwarding but it was just as good. Thanks Mom.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Corn and Surveying

There is a lot of info in this letter about surveying, I suspect it has changed a lot in the last 67 years. I remember helping Tim set up and mark off spots for building on our property in Hillsboro. We didn't have any chains but I held a stick where he told me to and he would look through his device at another point.
Thinking about planting corn reminded me of the blue corn Tim has planted in the front yard, a very small patch. Two years ago we grew beans, quite a few of them in the front yard. I got very fond of blue corn the year that I lived at the Zen Center in Jemez Springs. We planted corn, a lot of it and harvested the blue corn, then dried it. My favorite was when we would grind it fresh in the morning and make atole for breakfast, yum.
Another memory of corn was visiting Grandma Aldrich (who lived to be 96) at the nursing home. If we came in the summer or early fall, she would look at us with longing and say 'I bet you'll have some roasting ears at Charles'. It was very good. Nice to think about summer treats as the heat here is into the 100's.

June 6, 1943

Box 100 R#1
Yoncolla, Oregon
June 6, 1943

Dear folks,

I suppose you are still wondering what I am doing and what it is all about. That address is a farmer’s down the road about ½ mile. They call them ranches out here tho. One of the fellows was talking to him and he said it would be alright if we used his mailbox. So we are. So far there has been a trip to town every morning but if it gets so we can work all day we probably won’t get in to town more than once a week. So that mail box will be handy.
I’m not sure what I told you but I don’t think it was much. I didn’t know much about the project then. I still don’t know everything but I know a lot more than I did.
The purpose of our surveying seems to be to make an accurate map and find out the true location of the present (?) section corner. This area was surveyed in 1855 and they did a very sloppy job so the thing to do is find out how far they are off. We are surveying public land that is in alternating sections so by surveying the public land lines we also find the lines of the private land too. We don’t change any of the corners no matter how far off they are we just record the error.
The instrument we use is called a solar compass and takes its bearings from the sun. That is they set it in the sun and by reading it and applying certain deviation corrections they can tell where true north is. Is that clear? (as mud)
I guess I told you there were 8 of us C.P.S.ers on the crew and a Gov’t Engineer. Out of the 8 men there is one instrument man, one truck driver, one corner man, two chain men and 3 ax men. I’m an ax man. We have light double bitted shorthandled axes that work pretty good in the brush.
We ax men carve a good enough trail out of the wilderness for the chain men to follow. That isn’t a very clear path either we just cut of the waist of it. The chain that I speak of is a steel tape 330 feet long (5 chains) it is divided into 500 parts called links (66 feet to a chain, 100 links). We slide down and climb up slopes that run from 20°-40° slant. It is pretty hard work but interesting and not monotonous. I like it pretty well. We see some pretty big trees once in a while but most of them aren’t as big only 2 or 3 feet.
Did I tell you about our beds. One day when it was raining we started to make beds. Some of the fellows made theirs out of some old canvas we had but I made one out of a couple of poles with small sticks across and fir boughs over them almost as soft as a mattress. It isn’t bad at all. I sleep very well. I have taken two bathes in our creek. It is pretty cold but it gets you clean. I have washed some of my clothes too. We are away from the luxury of washing machines.
Well, I’ve writing 2 ½ pages about myself. I was glad to hear that you got the corn and beans in before it rained. I suppose by the time you get this you will be plowing corn. I hope you get that little cultivator.
I’m getting a little sleepy guess I’ll have to quit. We have a pretty good cook he’s from N.Y. City and is a nature lover. Knows the names of plants and bugs and stuff. He just goes wild about this country. We have very good food and rationing don’t bother us much. The boss got a special batch of points for us cause we have to go deeper into the wilderness on pack-mules. That will really be something. Oh boy!
There are some loggers working about 1 ½ miles up the road we saw them work one day that was something new too.
The other night we drove into Drain to see a show. One of the guys has a ’40 Buick. I think I’ll have a very good summer.
God is good. Better than I deserve.
P.S. Enclosing Drivers License. See what you can do. Thanks.
P.S.S. I found that sugar stamp I told you about in my other letter I guess I forgot to put it in.
I signed the application on my Drivers license but didn’t know which box to put an X in you find out which on and X it will you