The story he told me, if I remember correctly, was on the way to Idaho a man told him that he could get him a job in the kitchen. I would be easier than some of the other jobs and of course in the kitchen would be warmer in the cold weather. Anyway Phil figured why not, he would give it a try.
One day he was out back of the kitchen splitting wood and he heard a truck coming and then stop on the road above him. Pretty soon the guy in the truck came up to him and wondered where he "learned to swing an ax like that". Phil told him that back home he had been swinging an ax to cut and split wood since he was strong enough to pick one up and swing it. Well the guy, who was the boss, told him that he wasn't going to work in the kitchen anymore. He said he was going to teach some others how to swing an ax. I can't remember how many men he was put in charge of but it was quite a few.
He said a lot of them "were from the city" and had never chopped wood before. They were hitting themselves with the ax as much as they were hitting the wood. I imagine some got hurt pretty bad.
Well, Phil told the boss he wanted the ax handles made longer. The boss asked him why and Phil said if the handles were longer, when they missed the wood they would just hit the ground in front of them instead of there foot or shins. According to Phil, it wasn't long and the axes had longer handles. I can't remember how much longer but maybe he will comment on this post to tell us how much longer and any other things he can add to the story.
The story I got was in 1910 there was a forest fire that burnt thousands of acres of forest. So twenty some years later under FDR's Civilian Conservation Corp, the burnt remains were cut and new trees planted. From information from Phil and searching the internet, Phil was in Company 229 and went to Emida, Idaho for his part in the reforestation program. He made $25 a month and all but $5 of that was sent home to help out his family. He eventually came back to Northern New York and worked on several projects in that area. One I remember was putting rip-rap around the shore of a lake up by Paul Smiths, NY. Also if I remember correctly that is where he learned to drive truck. Later he used his truck driving skills to work delivering fuel and eventually being a partner in the Gulf Oil Company in De Kalb Jct., NY.
OK, that is how I remember the story and I can't tell it like Phil. Actually I can't wait to hear him tell me again when we get back home and go see him. One thing I do remember is asking him over the years when he would tell his stories. I would say " How in hell did you do that?" His answer was ALWAYS " Times were tough and a man had to do what a man had to do, to get by".
So according to Jeannie and Joe that we met in St. Maries, ID we got pictures of some trees that might have been planted by Company 229. It is nice to think that maybe the pictures are of trees planted by Phil himself.
According to Julie and Karen that have a studio and help to refurbish the depot in Potlatch. The depot they are in must be the one that Phil came into because there isn't and wasn't any other depot that would get him to Emida.
Hopefully Phil will shed some more light on this story. I told the best I could and Susie and I talked with several people about Emida and the CCC camps. We only found 4 people that could give us any insight as to where the trees were planted and where Phil got off the train after arriving in Idaho. Thanks to Jeannie and Joe, also to Julie and Karen and by the way the depot looks fantastic and thanks for taking the time to show us around. I hope another "train boy" comes through soon. LOL!
Everyone take care,
Susie and Albert
PSBy the way Phil will be 90 years old on August 30th so that would make the trees 73 years old. Phil wondered if Susie would be able to put her arms around one and you can tell by the pictures that she couldn't. There is a lot of logging going on in the area but there are still a lot of big trees left.
Here is a link to the girls website. http://www.karenrohn.com/
I am adding the comment left by Dad here so when I have this printed off into a book his comment will be added:
I was in charge of 30 men at a time but there was more then 300 men. I was trying them in cutting with an ax, and a cross saw. They were getting hurt by the axes. I had them make the handle 8 inches longer so they wouldn't take off a foot and would hit the ground instead when they missed the wood.
I could only train two or three at a time because of safety. I would take them out for two or three days and I would watch them to make sure they did it right. If they were all doing it at once they would fall trees on each other. There were men there doing the same thing I was and they were almost 50 years old.
I think I might have planted that tree Susie.
There were no buildings at the time I was there they were just building the buildings while I was there.
All they had there when I was there, store, tavern, beer garden. They built the beer garden for the lumberjacks to get their money. They would come out every weekend or time off and spend the money at the beer garden.
The government would send 20 dollars of my pay home and give me 5. I would buy a few cigs and what ever else a young man needed. (I asked him if he ever visited the beer garden and he laughed and said not very often, because he didn't have much money.)He does remember the name of the depot as potlatch.
Yes Walt Stowell did go with me and was with me all the time. He is also from Hermon.
(He really loved this and there was no way that I could put everything down that he was saying) I can say he loved it and loves to tell the story to everyone.
This was taken after we had gotten back from our trip. It was August 29th the day
before his 90th birthday on August 30th. :)