Blade

That Lumber Camp

Fred Jenderny. "That Lumber Camp."
The Stars and Stripes [Paris, France] 13 June 1919: 4.

Winter of the Blue Snow

That Lumber Camp

To the Editor of The Stars And Stripes:

I read with great interest the letter about the lumber camp which appeared in the May 23 issue. Now I must take off my hat to the guy for having a smooth line. As I am an old timber-beast myself, and was well acquainted with Paul Bunyan, I know he was not the original. He was only an acting private to the old gent.

Now to describe the real Old Man Bunyan. He was very tall, to be exact, six axe handles from the ground, free from limbs. I might add that it took five 100-pound sacks of smoking tobacco and three rolls of tar paper to make a cigarette for the old gentleman.

I remember one day the cook was late in blowing the dinner horn. Old Paul comes dashing madly into the cook-shack, jerks the horn from its resting place, sticks the small end of it out of the window, and peals forth one long blast. Just outside of the camp stood as fine an 80 acres of white pine as ever grew. The concussion of the blast was so strong that it uprooted every single tree on the 80 and laid it flat. I am satisfied that if Paul hadn't blown into the wrong end of the horn, the whole winter cut would have been blown to the saw mills 300 miles distant.

The handy man possessed a very inventive mind. One of the tasks assigned to him was to grease the hot cake griddle. This was a very large one. He got five men, equipped them with roller skates, tied a ham to each of their ankles and made them skate around over the surface of the griddle. Result! A nice, greasy griddle for the rest of the winter.

As it has been so long ago since we logged on the Little Onion, I can't remember what the color of the snow was. I do remember, however, that it was so cold that winter on the Little Onion that your 400 below weather would have looked like the climate of the tropics beside it. It was so cold that words froze right in the air. All winter long the weather remained that way. If one said "Hello" he could see it hanging in the air. If a teamster swore at his team, the sound of his voice would freeze also. That spring when the thaw came you could see all of those oaths thaw out the same day. Never in all history since the beginning of man was a more terrible profane barrage thrown over than there was that spring on the Little Onion.

I hauled black pepper there that winter. It kept 14 four-horse teams, making four trips per day to supply the camp with pepper. I mentioned this just so the size of our ration transportation job can be imagined.

All this happened in the State of Wisconsin, the winter before the winter of the blue snow, in the year of the big zero, with a small zero in the center, on the Round and Little Onion Rivers. I might add here that Round River was round. Its course ran in a circle. In other words it had no mouth nor outlet. All good, swift, white, foaming water, too.

Fred Jenderny
Sgt., Co. B, 1st Fld. Sig. Bn.

Query and Comment to MightyBUNYAN at gmail.com