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.