are machines and there are
people in the forest around us, and with apologies to that bastion of
iron , the Great Yellow Traktor Co., et al., I prefer the people.
....Coastal logging camps were, and in
a very few cases still are, a bit different living style than your average
west end of Vancouver high rise pad. When one talks about camps of the
late ‘30s, the ‘40s or early ‘50s, one is generally
des-cribing an isolated area that nearly always presented difficulties
for the per-son wanting to get in or out.
....There were float camps up isolated
inlets and there were land camps that may or may not have had a road
leading in. If no road, then access was by boat or after 1950 by plane.
The stories are legend of the trips in and out of so many coastal camps
and of the people that traveled those routes. And it was not always
loggers who traveled to the camps. There were Steam Boiler Inspectors
for the great steam donkies, tra-veling salesmen from the food wholesale
warehouses and machinery companies of the lower mainland of B.C. There
were union organizers of the I.W.A. who never had it very easy. There
were preachers in small gas boats out to save the souls of our loggers.
And they generally drew a pretty fair gathering in camp. What else was
there to do?
....There was always a scattering of other
types of visitors, depending on accessibility of the camp. I recall
a fellow who arrived one day selling “everlasting light bulbs.”
They were pretty good, they lasted as long as the short lived ones.
....My favourites though were clothing
and jewelry salesmen – Oh yes, and a saleslady – but that
....In the early fifties Doug Oxford would
charter a SeaBee aircraft at Campbell River and load it with large blue
metal suitcases. With a proper
announcement he would arrive in camp
to sell his wares. Doug would hire the cookhouse staff to work for
him after supper was over.
....I can still see our old cookhouse on
such an evening. It was a “big show” and the boys in camp
loved it. Our cookhouse then was part of our float camp and the building
itself was a long, twenty foot wide affair with dining room at the front
and kitchen in the back. The long tables with their green oilcloth covering
ran the length of the dining room, with access up the middle. The tables
would hold about fifty loggers.
....Doug would fill these two tables with
pocket watches, wrist watches, bino-culars, cuff links, tie pins, alarm
clocks, ladies jewelry and rings and things. It was always quite an
array. The expensive things were kept at one end of the table where
he could personally oversee, and the rest would be left for the kitchen
staff to look after.
....At seven p.m. the cookhouse bell would
ring and the loggers would wander in to have a look see at the sparkling
array of glitter. And it would sell, for Doug was a good salesman. His
only problem was thievery. I can’t recall him being robbed at
our camp, but occasionally stories would come to us of Doug Oxford being
had at one camp or another. He was a true traveling salesman, and didn’t
mind the obstacles of getting in and out of isolated camps.
....Another super salesman was a fellow
I’ll call Blue Serge Jim. Jim’s specialty was men’s
suits and top coats – made to measure. However one thing was lacking
in the make-up of this gentleman – sometimes old devil rum would
get in the way of the “made to measure” part of his trade.
The result was often quite humorless to those who received their suit
or coat in the mail a month later, only to find the rest of the crew
in the bunkhouse hollering “Sam, you made the pants too long”
or “nice threads, Mike, who was it made for?”
....These kinds of comments were too
often heard about Jim’s traveling haberdashery business, so
I told him one day to miss our camp on his next rounds. He objected
to this infringe-ment of his rights until I told him that big Jack Martin
didn’t think it was funny that his recent heavy black overcoat
actually dragged on the ground when he wore it. Blue Serge Jim agreed
it would be in his best interest and ours if he by-passed us next time,
....I have had many friends who were salesmen.
When a chap is good at that trade, I mean really good, he is quite a
delight to watch in action. I know of no other trade where motivation
and boundless enthusiasm combine to bring out an urge like the selling
urge. We could all use it.
....Such a salesman was my friend Ted Goldbloom,
a man of short stature, with a Puckish grin and a quick wit. Ask “Goldie”
what time it was, and brother, you owned a watch ten minutes later.
And it really didn’t matter what you wanted to buy – Ted
would get it for you. A new style washing machine with a Briggs &
Stratton gas engine on it! A new kerosene refrigerator – a violin
– Ted would get it. A super, super salesman who loved his trade.
....Ted would let us know when he would
make his twice yearly trip into camp. In his prime he covered a large
number of camps and small towns, but as his ulcer got worse and his
feet got a bit sore, he eased off and only came out to a few camps.
I’m glad we were one of the last.
....He sold anything, but he specialized
in men’s suits and jewelry. He was not like Oxford in that he
did not bring huge displays of things into camp. Possibly one suitcase
with some sample cloth, a few watches and the odd trinket or two.
....He knew everyone by first name and
I can still see him when he first arrived atcamp – eager and ready