Big ups. My grandpa and great grandpa were both in the Forest Service. I did a summer stint myself, but I felt outta place, because all the pros had smokejumper boots and I just had regular redwing 875s. I guess its good I never got caught in a burn.
Anyway, this post really gets me, and it reminds me of the Story about my Great Grandpa, who was a forest ranger in Bend Oregon during the Depression. He was overseeing a logging camp, and was attacked by a bear while eating lunch in his car. He killed the bear with a Winchester .22, and used the the skin to keep his truck from freezing in the winter. I inherited that rifle, and it always reminds me of how much less bad-ass I am than my ancestors.
Have you ever read Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean? (He also wrote A River Runs Through It.) It’s riveting – all about WWII vets working as smoke jumpers in Montana, tackling what became a legendary fire.
Thanks for posting this Michael. Like Youngster, I have a family history of men serving the forest service as well. My grandpa, great grandpa, and great great grandpa all served in the US Forest Service. Here’s a bio of my grandpa and his tenure: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/about/history/sw-rfs/hurst.shtml Notice the awesome glasses. Classic. Style.
About 15 years ago my grandpa wrote his memoirs because he thought he was gong to die soon. He’s now 94 and going strong. Anyways, the stories are amazing. He talks about how he’d be alone for weeks at a time out in the woods with nothing but a horse and a gun. I read about how he hit on my grandma when we came into town. She worked at the switchboards and whenever he came to pick up mail, he’d chat with her between calls. There’s also some cool stories about him working with the CCC boys.
I need to see if I can scrummage up some cool pics of my grandpa during his forest service days.
While non of my people worked for the official US Forest Service, we have five generations of loggers on family land (my brother doing it part time). Those pictures remind me of the ones of my family. Cutting down some big ole cypress tees in the swamp. Great post as always. Makes me wish I didn’t sit at a desk in the basement all day.
Nice! Great pics, thanks for posting Michael. Love the uniforms these guys wore back in the day especially the vest/aluminum hard hat combo. Too bad you can’t wear a lot of that stuff on fires anymore. Or drink beer.
Actually, as the story goes, the loggers called in saying that a bear was harrasing them, and it kept getting harder to scare of. He said that he would deal with it after lunch. Well, he was sitting in his truck (a big old ton o’steel ford) eating his lunch and the bear came up on the passenger side and tried to get him (probably his lunch too) by sticking its head through the window. The bear was all roarin’ and chompin’ so he jumped out driver side door with his rifle, stuck the barrel in its mouth and shot it. He never liked hunting, but he got a real good trophy out of it.
shot a bear w/ a .22? co..bullshit..ugh. I know you cherish this story, but putting the gun in the bear’s mouth…really. you don’t just go up to a bear, and a bear certainly does not let you put a gun in its mouth, especially a fucking rifle. Think about it, a bear, a black bear if this “story” occured in C. Oregon, would be at about your grandfather’s waist…standing up it would be just below his shoulders, did he shoot the rifle from his hip, hollywood-style? I guess the bear could have been docile enough to allow this if he was really full on porridge. And lastly, bears don’t typically become aggressive until before they go into hibernation or if there was a cub involved.
I do cherish the story, so please do not be rude. While there may be an exaggeration or two, there is nothing incredible about it. And mind you, in the early 1930′s bears were far less familiar with humans invading their habitats. I enjoy sharing family stories, so please grant me that joy. Keep your skepticism to yourself, and don’t be a troll.
what strikes me most curious about this blog is whether or not michael williams is an actual historian of the material he presents or if he is simply like many of todays bloggers who merely skim the surface of various people, places and things; therefore appearing to be much more educated on topics than they actually are. anyone can post photos of the us forest service and insinuate, by merely posting the photos, that they have an understanding of the lives and history of these men. for example their clothing, boots, packs etc… are all chosen for functional purposes relative to their jobs. as cool or as trendy as work wear, americana and vintage may be to date, their is reasoning behind their chosen fashions. as an avid reader of this blog i challenge ACL to dig a little deeper.
If you ever go to silver falls state park in Oregon, check out the pictures that are hung in the lodge of all the forest service members who used to work there. Five points for finding Clark Gable in the group shot.
“Jim Halpert: Question. What kind of bear is best?
Dwight Schrute: That’s a ridiculous question.
Jim Halpert: False. Black bear.
Dwight Schrute: Well, that’s debatable. There are basically two schools of thought…
Jim Halpert: Bears eat beets. Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica.
Dwight Schrute: Bears do not… what is going on? What are you doing?”