During this time in my life my father had made arrangements with the owners of a small trucking line for me to start working for them part time. The family that owned the trucking line was friends with my family. They made sure that I would not be put in a position of work that I could not do. I was young, the work was hard and the sun was hot. I started with them by loading green cross ties. After I was grown I found out it was against the law for me at thirteen years old to be doing work of that sort. They took care of me. Later I loaded and unloaded other things for them; slag, lime, drilling mud, etc.
The saw mills, or at least the tie mills, were different in this area from what they are today. Compared with my youth the mills are large and the raw materials are trucked long distances. When I was young, the tie mills were small and the wood was trucked short distances until there was no longer wood close enough and then the mill would be taken down and moved. There were no fork lifts at these small mills, so when the trucks to haul away the cross ties came to pick up a load we were with them to do the loading. The ties had to be thrown up and onto the beds of the trailers. The weight of the ties depended on the size they were cut and the type of wood they were made from. The lightest ties took two people to throw onto the trailers and the heaviest took four people. No matter what size, there were two people on the trailer stacking the ties. Of course it was dangerous, but no one got hurt except for a mashed finger or two when caught between the ties while stacking them.
Of course, I did this work mainly in the summers because I was in school the rest of the year and boy, was it was hot when we worked. At one mill the trailer had to be placed close to a pile of tailings that were being burned. Besides the heat of summer we had the heat from the fire to work in. When we pulled out from the mill the tail light covers on the trailer were melted. After work that hard for an hour or so with the temperatures that high, there is nothing as good as a cool drink of water. We have all types of fancy drinks now, but when I am that hot; cool, cool water is the best. When we were older the boss would buy us a beer if the work day was over. We thought the beer was as good as the water, but we were just young men trying to be “grown up”. Water is the best.
I hope I don’t have to work that hard again, but we had fun then. It was just a group of friends out making a little spending money having a good time. Most the time was spent traveling to and from the mills. Sometimes we would ride on the trailers. Going they would be empty. Headed home they would be loaded. We had a lot of fun. Oh, by the way, we each were paid $2 a load.
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