Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Logger

This one hits even closer to home. I need to give you a little background to make it clearer.

In 1924, my great grandfather, Harry Day, traded his spread in Washington for another in Lapine. He brought his family with him taking five days to make the journey in a car, truck, and a wagon pulled by a team of horses. He and my grandmother, Ruby, had five children and she was pregnant with a sixth. They also had three children from their deceased oldest child (my grandmother, Margaret) of which one was my father, Ronald Hicks.

My grandfather built his ranch (which still stands) from the timbers of the abandoned electric substation of Pringle Falls.

His eldest son, Jim, met and married a daughter of another local rancher, Opal Swayze. Jim was originally a logger until he and Opal took over their parents old ranch which is located past the end of Day road after the road takes it's ninety degree turn. Jim and Opal Day had four daughters and a son. Two of their daughters Esther and Hazel married two brothers, Bill and Bob Newton. Bill Newton was the logger.

As a child, my father called him Willy. I remember him to be a strong tough man. I was kind of afraid of him. I remember that they had a house off the first part of Boyd Acres Road and I remember visiting the family there and playing out back with Bill Jr and Dorthy. If I remember right, they had some of those wooden irrigation sloughs bringing the water to needed parts of their spread.

Bill was a logger for Brooks Scanlon and he was a good one. He was well respected by his fellow workers. One of them, Baldy Franklin, remembers nick naming him "Fig". I talked with Baldy just this morning and he informed me that he got to have lunch with old Fig a while back. He was glad to have had that time especially after he read about it in the paper.

Bill was one of those unfortunate ones who lost his job when the mill closed down and was later on in his working life and found it hard to find work that could sustain him and his family. But he never complained about it.

Now, Bill was a tough guy but underneath that toughness was one of the biggest and tenderest hearts that I have ever known. A sad story or some ones trial would easily bring tears to his eyes. I recall the first time I noticed it. I was shocked and probably stared too long. From that day on, I had a different perspective of him.

Bill and Esther would often come in t0 the diner and had for many years. I would see them many times on Saturday mornings.

When we moved, Bill was one of the guys who brought his truck and trailer and helped us with that daunting task. As a matter of fact, that was the kind of thing that Bill did the best, help. I remember him bringing in wood for widows and helping out with various projects in our church. Bill was always the one who just worked never needing to be up front or acknowledged. I grew to really appreciate him for that. I wonder now if I ever told him so.

One time, I needed a couple of trees fell behind my house. I was afraid to fall them as I figured I would end up sending them the wrong direction. Now, Bill could make just about any tree fall what ever way he wanted it to. He looked around and told me that he was going to fall it towards the house. "Is there enough room?", I asked. "Yup" was all he said. Judy was sitting out back behind the house with our three kids. She looked up and saw the tree coming her way and quickly yelled at the kids to come inside. She thought it was coming down on top of the house. The top of the tree ended up three to four feet from my storage shed. "Ya see", he said, "Plenty of room.".

After we made our move over to the new location, Bill and Esther ate out even more often. I knew that part of that was to help support us and I was so grateful.

When I first found out that his cancer was unstoppable they met with their family in the back room. I did not know what to say or how to act. I remember being out in my office and my daughter coming back to get me. "What do I say?", I asked her. "Just say Hi", she said.

As the cancer took him fast, I would see the marked difference every time he came in. But he always smiled or attempted to. I remember Esther saying that she was so thankful to have her daughters help. "He took care of me for so many years.", she said, "Now, I have to learn to take care of myself.".

The service was very good. They showed a video of pictures of his life. There was a music bed behind the pictures and I did real well until the song playing was "God be with you". God be with you till we meet again......till we meet at Jesus's feet......God be with you till we meet again. I held my own daughters hand as the sadness rose inside my chest. On the other side of me were my parents. Across the isle sat Tom Day. His son, Tom Jr and I crossed paths as we went to great the others father. Tom Day and Ronald Hicks, the last two remaining members of the original Harry Day family.

I will miss you, Bill and am so thankful to have had your presence in my life.

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