Dad supported his family by working in Oregon’s timber industry.
My memories include Dad taking me for a ride in his log truck when I was small and rolling down the window so that I could hear the roar of the diesel engine. No seat belts back in the day, but what a thrill to be viewing the world from such a height!
Later, he took a job at the plywood mill in Willamina, Oregon. Tucked into the foot hills of the Coast Range, Willamina is a small town with what was at the time, the largest mill in the state. It was also one of the wettest regions of Oregon, but that’s another story.
I recall Mom driving into town to deliver a forgotten lunch bucket, which I carried into him — in complete awe at the noise and the processes going on around me.
Dad was in charge of pulling large, thin strips of veneer off the green chain — hard and dangerous work. I would often sit with him on the front porch steps on a summer evening as he removed splinters from his huge strong hands.
I have memories of Dad coming home sad and upset because a coworker had been injured, or worse, that day. Safety practices have improved since then, but it is still dangerous work, and likely no less hard. Because of this, I have an ongoing fascination with logging, loggers, and its history.
Every time I visit a local lumber supply store, I give an internal nod to the timber and lumber workers who provide building materials for us. Where would we be without our beloved trees and the workers to harvest and process them? I am always impressed by, and grateful for, the regenerative power of our forests.
Cutting, thinning, and forest fires, though painful to see, are vital for maintaining forest health. I remember the family driving over the Van Duzer Corridor to the coast and seeing the effects of Tillamook Burn, which was always a visceral shock. Every year that passed produced more green and taught me a lesson about wounds, healing, and growth.
Additional gifts from Dad: he taught me how to shoot a .22, play catch, and hold and swing a bat. I always enjoyed watching him sharpen Mom’s knives on his electric lathe. I was fascinated by watching and feeling the sparks as they shot off the metal as he cut a sharp new edge.
For all of your cantankerous ways, you did the hard work required to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. Your love of the country and farming became mine.
From my perspective, the best decision Dad and Mom ever made was to move us from Minnesota to Oregon when they were young and adventurous (and sick of Minnesota heat and blizzards) and when we were small.
Thanks, Dad. Thanks, Mom.