Fourth of July on Homestead Logging Roads

Fourth of July in a sawmill town.

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One glorious Fourth of July early in this century will always remain in my memory. We lived in a sawmill town where the log trains brought the big pine logs from the forest to be sawed into lumber, which was stacked to dry, planed, then loaded into boxcars for shipping. This was a company-owned town.

Early in the morning of July 4, the log engine was hooked to a string of boxcars and pulled to a place where company employees had gathered with their families.

When all were loaded in the boxcars, we started for the log camp, to us the greatest picnic spot in the world. Logging roads were never level or straight; it seemed we were going upgrade, downgrade or around a curve all the time.

At the camp, in the shade of four giant trees, was a pine board platform, where men with a fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and two guitars waited for the dance to start. There was a stand with big jars of lemonade. A man labored over the crank of an ice-cream freezer, growling because the cream wouldn't freeze. There was an old-fashioned doll rack, and to me, the greatest attraction of all, a circle swing pulled by a mule.

I was one of seven children being fed and clothed by a father who graded lumber for $1.45 a day. That morning I left home with four nickels tied in the corner of my hanky. Before noon I spent one nickel to ride the swing. Later I spent another for a wad of cotton candy on a stick, and before starting home I bought a package of popcorn with a small folding fan attached with a rubber band.

I arrived home with one nickel still in my hanky and knew the pleasure of having money of my own for several weeks.

Mrs. Mary F. Brown
Aurora, Missouri

 


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.