Monday, August 2, 2010

Logging in Washington 60 Years Ago

You are looking at a photo taken over 60 years ago, in June of 1950. This is a group of loggers taking a break from the timber, near Acme, in Whatcom County, a short distance from Highway 9.

Third from the right is Vertis. Vertis and his wife, Melva and two kids, Verde and Velvyn, had arrived in Western Washington, eventually, after escaping from Kansas during the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression.

Vertis built a makeshift camper on a truck you started with a crank, very much like the Grapes of Wrath.

Vertis and family ended up in Yuma, Arizona, where one day of cotton picking was enough for Vertis. They then headed north, stopping in Ely, Nevada for a time, with Vertis working in a mine and Melva helping run a boarding house.

The family got a letter from old friends who had been neighbors in Kansas. The neighbors told Vertis and Melva about what they'd found in Western Washington. Work in the woods and cheap land.

And so, Vertis loaded up the family again and headed north.

Having driven myself on modern paved roads the routes traveled by Vertis and family, it greatly impresses me that Vertis did this.

Arriving in Washington, work and land was found, about 50 acres near Alger in Skagit County. The camper was pulled from the pickup truck and became the first part of the house Vertis built.

Life was finally good again. Two more kids were born. David and Lydia. And then, 6 months after the above picture was taken, Vertis was badly injured while logging.

Less than 3 years later twins were born, Big Ed and Wally.

Many years after that I met Vertis and Melva. Vertis was a character with a real bad hitch in his get-a-long, due to the logging injury. Melva was also a character. She was like a living history book, telling tales of the Roaring 20s and life in Kansas. And the struggles along the way of making it to Washington.

Vertis passed away 25 years ago. I'm thinking he'd likely be pleased that a picture of him, in logging mode, had been made viewable all over the world. Vertis would not understood how this was possible, but that would not have stopped him from giving me advice as to what type of computer I should buy.

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