The Forest Around Us



Bill Moore

Through the looking glass…?
....Recent events and newspaper stories have shown women at work in the forest industry of B.C. With tongue in teeth, and just for fun—let’s suppose that women ran, controlled and operated—the forest around us—it’s just a fable!
....As the boardroom of “Lovely Forest Co. Ltd.” filled with executives for the usual Monday morning “Intuition Rally,” Hortense Bagley, chairwoman of the board surveyed her management group. She was proud of them, had brought them all up through the ranks, and could count on each one of them to give her all for the company. And of course they protected her from any nasty rumors around “Lovelies” pulp mills, saw mills, and logging camps.
....“Ladies, will you take your places and let’s get down to business —Gertrude—would you lead off with the weekly lumber report—and by the way Gert, would you see me after the meeting about that new gardenia scented two by four order for China?”
....The reports were given—Martha, Adelaide and Freda all outlined the weeks’ activities. Hortense Bagley summed them all up with “Fine job girls, now what’s this I hear about men wanting jobs in our camps? We’re under a great deal of pressure from the Mens’ Liberation Movement and I don’t want to see us making fools of ourselves. Gertrude, what do you know about it?”
....“Well H.B., you know we’ve been running short handed at most of our logging camps, and it was Personnel Departments’ view that we should hire a few men to fill some of the easier jobs in the woods, like painting and marking logs or even setting chokers. With this in mind we hired a young man to do this type of work-as an experiment, but we ran into problems just yesterday. You see, H.B., he was fired then for coming to work unshaven
and worse yet he winked at one of our log-truck drivers. Now, this morning, first thing, he walked around the camp with a picket sign and none of the girls in camp will go to the woods until the union representative comes to camp. It’s simply awful, H.B. I don’t know what we can do!”
....“All right, Gert, Stop crying—will someone give Gert a hanky—and let’s get to the bottom of this.”
....Union chief Mildred Frack was angry. All day the phone had been ringing with pros and cons on the one day strike by some young male at Lovely Logging Camp No. 2, “Mercy me, what’s so wrong with a young man trying to get along in this world and wanting to work in a logging camp? The boys can’t all stay home doing dishes and sewing. Why some of these young men have muscles and they’d love to get out in the woods with our girls.”
....But the pressure was on. Talk shows were full of male voices crying “Female Chauvinists” and the Inter-national Sisterhood in the States was on the phone to Mildred all day. Being a union boss wasn’t what it used to be in the old days of the rough and tumble Wildcat Womens’ Workers’ Union. “Ah, the good old W.W.W.—now that was something to remember!” Mildred Frack was deep in thought.
....“I won’t have it, Sarah, I simply won’t have it. If we’re going to hire young men to work in the woods, they are going to have to shave, comb their hair—and not make passes at our truck drivers.” Big Bertha spoke the words, and was mad as she stood in front of the office of Lovely Logging Co. No. 2, talking to the union delegation. “Why, if I didn’t put my high heel down, there’d be no telling what would happen. I was talked into this by Personnel—and I was against it. You girls know perfectly well that
we’ll never make loggers out of men.”
....“O.K., Big B.—you may be the forewoman, but our committee feels you were a bit too tough on that little soft eyed man. He said he loaned his razor to the high rigger to shave her legs—and as for his winking—he was just not used to the perfume of driver Floorboard Flo. He said it made him blink, not wink.
....“Well girls, it’s tea time—let’s go and get a nice hot cup of tea and see if we can work this out.” Big Bertha knew her back was to the wall—but what could she do?
....Arnold Fossilwether sat in his bunkhouse room looking about him. It was a real she-woman type of room with Playgirl Magazine pin ups of handsome young men pasted on the wall. There was also a picture of Hortense Bagley looking right at him. Under the Chairwoman of the Boards’ picture was a safety slogan—“Be Careful—Be Charming—and Keep Your Curls Dry.” It was inspiring. Arnold wished he had not got talked into taking this job at Lovely Logging Co.—it was just too much for him. He didn’t mind the work—why he was sure lots of young men could do it—it was just the way all the loggers looked at him and fluttered their eye lashes. He was sure that log truck driver Floorboard Flo was trying to date him—or maybe even worse—and all he wanted to do was to prove that men could be just as good loggers as women. Arnold got up and started to pack. He’d get out of camp and go back waiting on tables—at least there the women tipped a guy.
British Columbia Lumberman, April, 1973

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.... “Yes, this is Personnel—Mable Much speaking—you say a television team from C.B.S. is on its way to Logging Camp No. 2 to get a national story on our one man strike—Now look here—Wanda Cronkite—we don’t want any fuss over this silly matter—you—what’s that you say?—“Hortense Bagley and Mildred Franck are on the plane with your crew—oh—that’s different Miss Cronkite. But, oh dear, I do hope H.B. wore her primrose slack suit—it goes so well against a dark green cedar forest. Now you let me know if Personnel can be of any further help, Wanda. Bye dear.”
....Meanwhile, back at Lovely Logging camp No. 2, the C.B.S. television crew had landed and were setting up their cameras. Hortense Bagley and Mildred Franck were being posed with Arnold Fossilwether—against a backdrop of dark cedar forest—H.B. had on a stunning primrose slack suit. Arnold was proud, Mildred Franck was proud—it was a mighty day for management—labor relations. Even the C.B.S. camera woman was proud.
“O.K. H.B.—you and Mildred Franck stand alongside Mr. Fossil-wether and smile and discuss how this labor problem was over-come.”
....Grasping Arnold by the arm, Hortense Bagley spoke. “On this momentous day at Lovely Logging Camp No. 2—we, the women of this company—with forty-two subsidiaries around the world, welcome you —Arnold Fossilwether to the sorority of loggers. You are one of us and we are proud. You have proven to us that men can be loggers as well as women, and I am sure others will follow in your footsteps.”
....Mildred Franck smiled, “Ah,” she thought, “the dues—the dues.”
....Arnold was proud—but he also felt something else. He could have sworn that Hortense Bagley was stroking his arm. He wondered—and just out of the corner of his eye as he smiled for C.B.S. he could see Floorboard Flo fluttering her eyelashes at him.
....But he was a logger—he hoped!
....This of course is only a fable and as such is to be treated as one. Isn’t it a good thing that such impossible things as this never happen in the forest around us when men are running the show?
....Keep out of the bight,