A STORY OF PILGRIMS 28


There were no longer enough children in the district to meet the requirements for operating a school and no prospects of any increase so the district was consolidated with the town district, #8. The Newlan Creek School was abandoned. The school property, including buildings, was all sold. Daddy bought the woodshed and the teacherage. Since he was going to move them on skids, the moving had to be postponed until winter when there was some snow on the ground so they would slide over the ground more easily. Conditions turned quite favorable in December with enough snow to make sliding good but not enough to be a hindrance. He moved the woodshed easily enough with his own tractor but he had to enlist the aid of Turner Hanson to skid the teacherage the mile from where it sat to our house. The two of them raised the log building with jacks and got a couple of logs under it for skids. I happened to be there one day when they were discussing whether or not their  two tractors would be enough power to pull the building. I had learned some basic physics in school by this time and was inclined to do a lot of thinking about such things. After thinking this situation over I concluded that there would be a certain amount that they could pull and, if the building weighed even a pound more than that, they wouldn’t be able to move it. When I mentioned this bit of wisdom, they were both amused and, Turner especially, had a good laugh over it. The next day, while I was in school, Turner brought his big Case tractor with cross-mounted engine and, by the time I arrived home, the two tractors were there with the teacherage in tow. Turner told me that they hadn’t been able to move it at first so they knocked off a piece of mortar that covered the cracks between the logs. He said that, after doing that, they drove right off with it. I knew, of course, that he was making fun of my theory but I wasn’t ready to admit to having any doubts about it, even though I was actually beginning to see that such things were probably not so clear-cut and exact as I had perceived them to be.

Daddy soon had it ready to use and the Spring Creek Schoolhouse had now become a bunkhouse for Bill and me. We moved into it early in 1944 and our bedroom in the house became Esther’s.

Teacherage being moved

Moving teacherage to Frank Fuller home 1943

Bill didn’t get much use of our bunkhouse because he was approaching his 20th birthday by that time and not spending much time at home. He was drafted into the army in 1944. He had been deferred from military service up to that time because he had been doing ranch work which was considered essential, especially by some of the ranchers on the draft board. In 1944, he turned from ranching to logging which drew the disapproval of a ranch-owning member of the draft board.
For me, the high point of 1944 was getting my first automobile. Uncle John Short had gotten a new truck and it was decided that I could buy his old 1923 Star. Star was made by Durant Motor Company which also produced Durant and Rugby cars as well as several others. Like everything John owned, this car had been well cared for and was in very good condition in spite of its age. Daddy and I went up to Uncle John’s to get it in February which was quite remarkable because, usually, one couldn’t be sure of getting in and out of his ranch in February with a team of horses. Before we left with the Star, I promised Aunt Ida that I would come back some day and give her a ride in the old car. I am sure she was not serious about it but, even so, I fully intended to do so and always felt a little guilty for not having done it before she died the following year. I have called it a car although it was actually in the style of a pickup with a wooden box and cloth top similar to early Model T Fords. It was quite fast for its time, being capable of 50 miles and hour on gravel roads and 55 on pavement. And those were the speeds at which I usually drove it!

Fuller, Jim  with first car 1944

Jim Fuller as proud owner of 1923 Star

Billy and a fellow by the name of Casper Harstad were logging for Forest Chapman on upper Newlan Creek and, shortly after school was out, I went up there to work for them a few weeks. Their logging operation was on a small scale, simple and tiring. Each of us took a double bit axe  into the woods with us. Casper  and Bill did the falling and bucking so they also took a two-man crosscut saw and a couple of wedges, a hammer, a file and bottle of kerosene. The bottle was a whiskey bottle with pine needles stuffed into the neck. This kept the kerosene from splashing out but also provided very nicely for sprinkling kerosene on the saw from time to time to lubricate it and clean the pitch from it. The reason a whiskey bottle was used was because, at that time, nearly all whiskey bottles were in a flattened shape for carrying in a pocket or saddle bag. While they were falling and bucking, my job was to cut the limbs off the trees they had fallen. When we had a supply of logs ready, Casper  would bring the team of horses and skid the logs down to the skidway by the road where Bill would load them onto the truck and haul them down to the mill. During the skidding operation my job was to move brush and sticks out of the way to provide a clear, safe path for the horses. The truck was the only motorized equipment involved in this logging operation.
One Saturday evening we were going to town and I was ready to go a few minutes before Bill but he said he would catch me before I got down to the sawmill. The road from our camp down to the mill was mostly only one vehicle wide and all dirt. Definitely, it was not a high speed road but we were both too young to recognize that. So, I took off in my Star at the fastest pace I could handle and Bill was soon trying to catch me in his 1934 Chevrolet. I got to the mill without him catching me all right and had opened the gate there when the Spady family came from the other direction in their big old Dodge sedan. After we had each gone through the gate, they proceeded on up the road and had just reached the top of the hill beyond the mill when Bill came charging at them at full throttle. When they appeared at the top of the hill, there was no chance for Bill to get stopped and no room on the road to get by them. So, he plunged the car off the lower side of the road and, with a death grip on the steering wheel and his right foot clamped onto the brake pedal, went bounding down the slope toward the creek. He managed to keep everything right side up and the only damage was a bent tie rod and a broken spring. And some shattered nerves!

Excerpted from “WOOL TROMPERS” by J. L. Fuller

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About authorjim

I grew up in the country near a small Montana town, I have spent a lot of time in the outdoors, working, fishing, hunting and camping but have always been interested in mechanical and electrical things. Most of my life has been spent in the use, care and repair of things mechanical, electrical an electronic. After being retired for several years, I began writing and published my first novel at the age of 79. Now, at the age of 82, I have recently published my fourth noveland it is available from me or from the pulisher or book distributor.
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2 Responses to A STORY OF PILGRIMS 28

  1. Another good one, Jim. Great photos. Interesting how our fathers took care of cars. My dad would walk three extra blocks to where he was going in order to park in the shade.

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    • authorjim says:

      Bruce, I think it was because an automobile was a major investment in those times besides the fact that they probably had never owned a vehicle before. I also have memories of how people drove. Such as, when meeting another car on the road, slowing to 20 or 25 miles and hour. Also, slowing greatly and leaning into a turn. It seems silly today but I witnessed it many times.

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