R #1 Box 100
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.