An Evening with Doc
by Lars Sanders
For ten of the twenty-two years that I fell timber for S.C. Linebaugh Logging, I was president of the local Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union, I only missed one meeting in those ten years, and that was to go to my brother, Morton’s, funeral up at Mt. Shasta.
During that time I had many meetings with Doc, after supper, up at his house. He had an office off the entry hall at the back step and I don’t remember ever being in the rest of the house, except once when I brought a jar of wild honey that I recovered out near Cottage Springs when we logged there.
We had a grievance committee in the union, but it was just like pulling teeth to get anyone to go with me to see Doc when we had something to discuss, like wages, working conditions, etc., so it was up to me to go and see him; it wasn’t always a friendly visit and to this day I feel bad that we had some hot words once in a while.
Most of the time our evenings were pleasant though, and after our business was finished we talked logging and old times and sometimes about modern problems in this world of ours.
One evening, especially, I will never forget. We went away back in memory and talked about horse-logging. I told him that I earned my first pay-check in the woods when I was eighteen, driving a big team of Black Percheron draft horses skidding logs for the Federal Government, as they logged pine, birch, and cedar on the Red Lake Indian Reservation about eight or ten miles from my home in Minnesota. I stayed in a logging camp and I never ate so much and such good food in my life, up to that time. Days were short in the winter in Northern Minnesota and we left the barn before day-light and returned long after sunset. If it was more than 45 degrees below zero we did not take the horses out, because it could frost their lungs when they worked hard.
Doc said that he started in the woods skidding logs with horses also, and he was about sixteen or seventeen too. His dad wanted him to stay in school and learn to be a doctor, but he liked woods work, especially the horses, and so stayed in the woods all his life. It seems to me that he told me that the young guys he worked with nick-named him “Doc” because of his dad’s wishes, he didn’t like his first name anyway, it was Silas.
He was living up around Doris in Northern California and Klamath Falls in Oregon. In about 1926 he moved lock, stock, and barrel down to Calpine to log a timber claim there. He loaded everything on a big wagon (or wagons) and I don’t remember whether he said he had four or six horses, but he headed south. He drove from daylight until dark, except for a full hour or more at lunch to feed and rest his horses. For three days of steady traveling he could look up at Mt. Shasta and see it if the weather was clear. Then he said “In this day and age, if you travel the same route, if you don’t stop for lunch you cant see Mt. Shasta for three hours.”
It’s super to have good memories, and I have many of them. Those of us that worked for Doc didn’t realize it at the time how good we had it. We made fairly good money and at no time were we more than forty-five minutes away from home, except one summer Doc contracted to log a unit of timber for Pickering up by Griswold and Skull-Creek.