To start this little story out, I wish to apologize to Waterville and all Canadians.  I think it was back in about ’83 that I worked with a woodcutter from Waterville. I honestly cannot remember his name.  I feel if I used names such as Johnathon, Robert, or even maybe Thomas or Richard, then I would be insulting them. I knew people by those names, and I do not wish to insult them.  So, lets just call this fella The Waterville Canadian.

It was a very wet spring and the roads had been posted so we were all laid off until things got better. As things began to come together to start work again, I was asked if I would partner up with this Frenchman.  The gentleman had his own skidder, but he could not find a helper for the summer. That should have been a clue to me to be wary of how things would go. But, because the boss had described him as a Canadian worker, I was anxious to work with him.  All of the cutters I knew that came down from Canada were most excellent workers. They would arrive Monday morning and work until late Friday afternoon and go back home. Little did I know this was going to be another learning experience.

When we started work, I met with the Waterville Canadian and right from the git go, I began a dislike and a distrust for this fella.  He had that type of hehehe laugh that just made ya want to pick up a stick and recalibrate him a bit. But, being open minded that I think I am, I am going to give this a try.

We were assigned a piece to cut in by Burnt Mountain.  First, we had to cut the road then cut our yard area. After that was all cut and cleared, we then began to cut our piece.  It was his skidder, so automatically, I was the chopper. I didn’t mind that as long as we made money. When it came time to cut the yard that first day, I saw that this was indeed going to be a teach and learn situation.  You see, the Waterville Canadian, just wanted to ride back and forth on his skidder. He expected me to do all of the chainsaw work. No, No, this is not going to work this way. He was pretending to do stuff to the skidder and instructed me to cut the yard.  Hold on buddy. I picked up a stick about one inch in diameter and three feet long and approached him to let him know we need a conference. He was to get his fat body over to the lunch site. He was to sit down, and we are going to have a discussion. There goes that hehe laugh again.

Now, I must explain to you finer folks.  While working in the woods, ya tend to use colorful language. Previous to this job, I was a construction foreman and I used certain words to enunciate messages I was trying to get across to the workers.  I was indeed using those words now. I explained how a two-man crew was supposed to work. We are to share cutting the yard. He was not to plunk his fat body parts in that seat and that was his only job as part of this crew.  There goes that hehe laugh again. I still hung onto my stick and the urge to recalibrate was getting stronger. He was to set the yard up with two sections of soft wood. At lunch time, I would come out and cut one yard and he was to cut the other yard. And that was the way it was going to go or I would recalibrate.  He did not hehe at that point but tried to explain that all the others he worked with did all of the chainsaw work. Nope, nope, not this time. You will cut one yard and I will cut the other. I now knew why he could not find a helper. But I was determined to make this a real two-man crew.

Things went well for about a week. The Waterville Canadian was indeed cutting his yard and I was cutting mine.  Even though I saw my section always seemed to have more wood then his. At least, he was not sitting on the skidder all day.  One day we were sitting for lunch and ole Bart came in to talk to us. I could see on his face he was not a happy camper. He explained to us the mill had complained about our pulp wood not being 48 inches in length.  Some of the pulp was cut as short as 38 inches and we had better do better than that. This was great timing on his part even though he didn’t realize that. I pointed to the two yards and let Bart know we just cut the yard.  That yard over there I cut, the other yard the Waterville Canadian cut.

Now while cutting a yard, you carried a 48-inch stick to use for measuring.  If you could make a log out of the stem, it was either twelve feet or sixteen feet long.  Simple math means three times with the stick or four times with the stick and you have a log.  If the stem was crooked or nasty, one time with the stick it was a 48-inch stick of pulp.

Bart then goes to the yards and begins to measure the pulp.  He came back to the lunch site and informed me that almost every one of mine were exactly 48 inches in length.  He then turns to the Waterville Canadian and begins to climb up one side and down the other. As a Frenchman who has worked in the woods for so long, he should know better and this will not happen again.  Oh oh, there goes that hehe. I get up and step out of the way just in case. I knew the feeling.

Things started going good again and we began to make money for a change. Until one day, the Waterville Canadian tells me that no American cutter can cut wood fast enough to get ahead of him. I took this as a challenge. He was not the type of Frenchman that I expected, and he just dished an American cutter, an old farm boy.  That afternoon at the end of the day, I would show him just what I could do. I knew he would not start cutting his yard until I got out of the woods to do my yard. I filled my tree cutting saw up and began to slay the trees down. I must explain here that I always used two chainsaws. One to cut the yard, a heavier saw and one to cut down trees and do the limbing, the lighter saw.  The wind was a soft gentle wind and the piece was a nice long piece so today was indeed the day. When the saw finally ran out of gas, I looked back and I had over 75 trees laying on the ground. I then went out to cut up my section of the yard. I just pretended I took so long because I needed to clean and sharpen my tree cutting saw. Of course, he had not started his yard yet.

He would always take his time driving into the cutting area in the morning and when he got there, I had the majority of the stems all cleaned and ready to haul out. He stopped the skidder and asked me “How You do that?”.  My comment was “Well Mr. Frenchman, You try and catch this American cutter now.” I knew he could only take sixteen or eighteen stems at a time and I continually cut more then he took. I even helped him hook up when he came back for more. I finally slowed down on cutting trees because the wind changed directions and I wanted to start the piece just slightly different to take advantage of the wind. On one time as he was hauling a twitch out, I saw him stop the skidder to cut down some trees.  Very quickly, I was right next to him and using those colorful words again, I wondered what he was doing. He was going to take some time to cut some trees down. No, that is not going to happen, you get your fat body parts back on that skidder and keep that machine going back and forth. When you finally catch up and have to wait, then and only then can you get off that skidder to cut down trees. There goes that hehe, but I did not have a stick in my hand, so I let it go.

On one hitch, the Waterville Canadian, started hauling the twitch in a manner that the tops snapped and threw me off my feet.  OK, that’s it. There goes that hehe and I did have a stick. I proceed to beat his skidder just as close to his body as I could.  Letting him know just how I felt. And I was using a lot of those words describing just what I though of him. No hehe could I hear.

Again, things started going well again.  Until one day after we cut the yard during the afternoon break.  I went back into the woods, but no skidder came.

Now, I gotta stop here a moment and contemplate just a bit.  On my way to Farmington the other day, I started pondering using the name Waterville Canadian for this heya fella. I know some most fine people who live in Waterville and I got to thinking this may be an insult to them.  I also know some very hard workers from Canada. I went through a huge list of names, and I found none that I would use. I did, however, remember the fella’s real name. I can’t use his real name, that just would not be nice. So, I guess, from heya on, we will just call him WC.

I waited a bit for WC to come in for a twitch of wood after lunch and he just did not show up.  Well, having just a tiny bit of sympathy left in my bottle of feelings, I decided to walk back out and see just what was going on.  We made money only when the stems were actually out on the yard and cut into logs or pulp. I thought maybe the skidder broke down, or maybe he fell and did not feel good. So, I ventured back out to the yard to see just what WC was up to.  When I got out to the yard, there sat the skidder. Silent as a bug on a still night in August. Now what? I noticed WC’s truck was gone. So, I got into my pickup and went to the Canadian’s compound to make sure he was all right. I was still using up my little remaining sympathy.

I went to the trailer where his truck sat outside.  I gently knocked on the door and was invited in by a couple other choppers.  I kindly asked them where WC was, and they pointed to him laying on his bed. What is this, it is two in the afternoon and you are laying in your bed? It was such a nice day out.  Not too hot, a gentle wind blowing just right for really slaying the wood. Just right for getting ahead because it does indeed rain here once in a while. Ole WC giggles that hehe of his and states no…  we have enough wood out today and it was ok to stop for the day.

Now folks, I have a wife and children home, and they just would not understand my coming home at two in the afternoon just because we did enough for the day.  I sure did want to explode, but, didn’t because I was in some one else’s home. Temporary home it might have been. It was home to the hard-working Canadians. I sure did want to use a lot of words and inform WC what I thought of that but, thought it best to just let the smoke come out of my ears and leave for the day. I already had over 35 trees cut and awaiting the skidder. There was indeed another day coming and I would have my chance when WC showed up to skid the tree stems out.  I did use a couple of words to let WC know what I thought and gently exited the area. Of course, the next day it rained. It took a while to travel into Burnt Mountain. You had to go there to see if it was raining there. There were times it was raining in Rangeley but not Burnt Mountain area. So, you had to travel to work just to see what the weather was. I made sure I went to the Canadian’s camp and tried to shame ole WC to go to work. We just had to get the wood out if we wanted to get paid.  You stayed in your bed on a good day, come on, lets get to work. Even though, I did not want to work in the rain, I wanted the money. It was a nice gentle warm summer rain. I wanted to stress the point to WC, we work on the nice days and then we can take it easy on the nasty rainy days. When the rain finally stopped three days later, WC went back to work. But you know folks, every time I picked up a stick and started walking his way, he jumped on the skidder and went back for another hitch. He did not hehe at all the next two days. I had thoroughly expressed my opinion about any man that lays in his bed at two in the afternoon if the sun is shining. Thus, began my journey as a COB.  I have had plenty of time to perfect this attitude. We stayed together as a crew for the rest of the summer. WC did everything he could to find another partner. I guess he wasn’t used to working my style of work. He he he he he he.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.