Growing up I spent many a fall Saturday delivering firewood for one of my father’s businesses. It was one of the best jobs I have ever had – my Dad still talks about how much I loved the work. Firewood season was in September, October, November, so I would only really work on the weekends because I was still in school. Most of the firewood would end up at homes on Cleveland’s affluent East side. Places like Pepper Pike, Beachwood, Shaker Heights, Waite Hill, Chagrin Falls, Orange and Russell Township. It was in these places that I mastered the art of stacking firewood and it was on those roads in which I cut my teeth driving a dump truck. I can still maneuver a truck in reverse down a curvy 200 yard driveway, loaded to the gills with firewood. Surprising that that doesn’t become more handy living in Manhattan.
People would inevitably want us to stack the wood as far away from the truck as possible. So we would hand carry a cord (about 10 pieces at a time and around 400 pieces of wood total, which would make a 4 x 4 x 8 foot stack) or two across decks and yards and through garages. Past their Saabs and Range Rovers and Porsches, it was awesome.
All of the wood would have to be counted, twice. We would load the truck and count every piece, planning for however many deliveries we had. Many times we would have to come back to the yard and reload several times on a busy Saturday. Then, when back at the delivery spot we would have to count each piece again as we unloaded. This made it difficult to bullshit with your coworker, because you would lose count and that was a major pain in the ass. But the work was good and you were your own boss. Once the wood was all delivered you were done and it was easy to see the progress and gain a sense of accomplishment. That is the real beauty of manual labor – you have a job to do for the day and when it is done, so are you. Every fall I remember those firewood delivery days fondly.