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No Porta Potty in the Woods or The Bears Do it.

Story ID:10713
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
Year:1951
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OurEcho Preface This post deals with a mature theme or contains explicit language. While the post is not extremely violent or pornographic, it does contain language or explore a subject matter that may offend some readers. If you do not wish to view posts that deal with mature themes, please exit this post.
No Porta Potty in the Woods or The Bears Do it.
By Chuck Dishno
October 1, 2015

Warning: This story may be a bit graphic…

Another long story about of my youth and the making of the man. I hope you enjoy it.

My first hourly salary: Talk about a minimum wage, this is what I got and was ecstatic to receive it.

In the spring of 1951 my Dad offered me a job on his timber falling crew for the summer until school started up again in September. I had been working as a projectionist in Bly for about two years making about 12 to 15 dollars a week. That may not sound like much in today’s world where McDonald employees are asking for a $15.00 per hour minimum wage but it was all I needed. My needs were not too much. My mode of transportation was a 1928 Model A Ford sedan that I bought from Windy Winfield for $20.00. Even though it took lots more gas than my Cushman scooter, gas was only .18 cents a gallon and I could fill it up and drive it for a week or more for less than $2.00. It burned lots of oil but I could get all the used drain oil from Ed Patzke’s Shell station. A couple of bullet holes in the radiator didn’t help either but I had lots of stop leak and always carried a 5 gallon container of water.

I had a girlfriend, Mary Ann, but she was going to spend the summer with her mother in Klamath Falls. I had trained Doyle Miller to run the projectors when I wanted a night off and he agreed to take over for the months I would be gone so I was free to go.

I had another reason for wanting to go work with my Pop. My grandmother, Etta, had come to live with us about a year before and agreed to stay and take care of me during the summer while my Mom went to live with Pop.

Mom left by Greyhound Bus as soon as school was out and I had to make the decision of going to work with Pop or a summer of Etta’s cooking. I didn’t want t leave Etta alone but that was soon solved when Mom called and said she was sending money for Etta, my dog Wags and me to take the Southern Pacific train from Klamath Falls to Fresno as soon as possible. This was a no-brainer and I made reservations on the train for the next Saturday. The only problem was with Wags. He would have to ride in the baggage car and be on a double harness with a muzzle over his nose and mouth. It would be about a 10 hour trip but I would check on him when we changed trains to the Shasta Daylight in Redding, CA.

Etta, Wags and I got an early ride to Klamath Falls on Saturday to board the 7am train to Redding. All went well with me seeing that Wags got a large drink of water then I joined Etta in the chair car. About 4 hours later we arrived in Redding and I took off down the platform just in time to see a baggage truck coming toward me with Wags riding high on the pile of bags. He didn’t see me and he looked OK so I just watched as they loaded him into the baggage car on the Daylight. About 30 minutes later we were off to Fresno where Mom and Pop would be waiting. The trip thru the mountains was beautiful, especially around Mt. Shasta. This was the steam train era and when we made those long steep grades with their switch back curves one could see the two steam locomotives straining with all their might. After a stop in Sacramento, we arrived in Fresno about 6pm.

As soon as the train stopped, I headed down the platform to find my dog. I got there just as the baggage man was picking him up and putting him on the baggage cart. As soon as Wags saw me he began to whine and wag from head to tail. The baggage man handed him down to me and I took him to a faucet to give him a cool drink and a couple of dog biscuits. About that time Pop, Mom and Etta appeared and once again we were one happy family.

As soon as we were outside the station I spotted our old 1947 Pontiac. Pop then tossed the keys to me, saying, “Drive us home, Chum.” I was only too happy to comply.

Pop and Mom had rented a small two bedroom cabin in Wilsonia, a small village just inside Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park. It was small but there would be plenty of room for the 4 of us and Wags. He said not to expect too much since the only inside water was a pump by the wood burning stove. There was a large hand pump in the yard that put out much more water. I didn’t care and said I would pump all the water we needed as long as I got to eat Mom’s good cooking. Not to be putting Etta’s cooking down but I think Wags even nodded in agreement.

We all piled into the Pontiac and after a short stop for a bite to eat on our way out of Fresno, we headed for our summer home. It was about a 75 mile drive and by the time we got there and settled in, we were all ready for bed. It had been a long day and Mom promised me a good breakfast the next morning.

I woke up early the next morning to the smell of bacon frying and hot coffee. Pop was just sitting down to eat and Wags was waiting patiently for his handout of pancake. Etta was still sleeping. After we had filled our bellies Pop told me to sit in the living room while he went out to the car. When he came back in he had a large box that he said was for me. I opened it up and inside I found a brand-new pair of logger boots complete with caulks and hobnail soles to aid in walking logs. There was also a pair of high cuff leather gloves and most important to me a hard shiny tin-hat with “Charlie” printed on the front. Being Sunday, I took the rest of the day breaking in my new boots and anticipating great dinner that was being prepared by my Mom.

About 5 the next morning, Mom called me for breakfast that consisted of a huge pile of hotcakes, bacon and eggs. She said she wanted to make sure Pop and I wouldn’t starve before lunch When we were getting ready to go out the door, Mom handed us our loaf of bread style lunch pails. My pail seemed extra heavy and the thermos was outside. I couldn’t resist taking a peep inside to see what Mom made for me. In there were four baloney sandwiches, two cans of Vienna sausages an apple and a couple of Milky Way candy bars. The thermos was full of milk and there was no room for it in the pail. Also, neatly tucked under the wire bail, was about 3 feet of neatly folded toilet paper. Mom sure knew how to take care of her boys, from one end to the other.

Pop and I drove to the logging site where the guys left off on Friday. It was located about 8000 feet up in the Sequoia National Forrest. When we arrived the rest of the falling crew were there. The only one I knew was Herb, my Dad’s partner. When the whistle blew over at the landing, it was our time to go to work. We were falling huge sugar pine that measured 6 to 10 feet in diameter. My first job was to help put in the undercut at Pops direction to aid the tree in falling where Pop indicated. This was no easy task but under Pop’s expertise we started in. Herb would start the undercut by cutting straight in to the proper depth and because those old Mall chainsaws had to be run only on the level, Pop and I would chop the notch down to the cut. This was my first test. I could only chop right handed but Pop could chop either left or right handed so we faced each other and in a few minutes the job was done. After the cut was done, Herb picked up his saw with the 6 ft bar and weighing about 80 lbs. then begin the main cut. These were really big saws with a tremendous kick if they hung up on a knot or were pinched. They were too big for me to handle so I was relegated to the stinger end. Another job I was given was to pound in 15 inch ash wedges to keep the tree from pinching down on the saw and to give it direction. Once this 300ft tall behemoth began to groan and creak gravity took over and it fell in the intended direction. After the tree was down, the rest of the crew got to work, limbing and bucking into lengths determined by my Pop to get as much out of the tree as possible.

My next job was to jump onto the logs and with my axe and logger boots start chopping off the limbs flush with the log. I was just a skinny guy weighing about 115 lbs and I had to prove my ability to work with these seasoned loggers. I think I did the job fairly well and never fell off once. All this time, Pop and Herb were selecting the next tree to bring down. I was getting really tired and hungry and soon I heard the whistle from the landing blow and I knew it we time for lunch. I was ready.

We had 45 minutes for lunch and I immediately downed 3 of my sandwiches and a can of Vienna sausages, saving the rest for an afternoon break. I was full and had about 20 minutes to take a much needed nap in the shade. When I stretched out I could hear the guys talking. One of them said he thought the kid was doing OK and keeping up with the work. I then heard Pop say he was proud of me the way I handled an axe. I was smiling to myself when one of the guys said, “Yea, Charlie chops just like lightning.” That really made me feel good until he continued, “He never strikes twice in the same place.” They all laughed. I wasn’t disappointed and at least they called me Charlie, rather than “the kid”.

On the way home, Pop wondered why I had never asked how much my salary would be. I told him that I was happy with anything as long as I could work with him. He then said that he and Herb decided to start me out at $1.67˝ per hour. I was delighted at that, thinking ahead to how much I could save by the time I headed back to school in September.

The next two weeks went good for me and I was happy to be a member of this crew. At the end of the second week, Pop told me that he and Herb decided that I was doing such a good job they were raising my salary to $1.80 per hour. Wow,

I should point out, in those days there were no portable toilets in the woods and when the urge came, one walked out into the timber, dug a small hole, squatted and did his duty. If there was an old log handy to squat over it was more comfortable.

One day during my third week, I took advantage of the yard or more of toilet paper that Mom had put into my lunch pail everyday and trudged out to a log I had spied earlier. As I was squatting there thinking about my increased salary, when it dawned on me that at $1.80 per hour, I was making three cents a minute. My brain calculated that I could sit there for five minutes and make 15 cents while taking a poop. Is this a good country, or what!