My life has been spent with loggers. As a child I listened to their stories in the bunkhouse as they played cribbage or darned their socks or just shot the breeze.
Those were the days of isolated camps, slow transportation and hard to find jobs, and the logger with his sense of life and humour handled well his times and surroundings.
My thanks, again, for the platform for these bits of poetry, to the Hilton folks of the Hotel Vancouver. Their annual Timber Club banquet each February is the Gourmet highlight of the logging year in B.C.
A word about "gypo". It's meaning is wrapped up in the exciting history of our logging heritage. The gypo logger had a free spirit - a bit different than the average logger. He wanted "to do his own thing" in a day when that expression was not common vogue. Our multi-thousand mile inleted coastline of B.C. was at one time dotted with small gypo camps. Synonymous with their life style were the phrases - " in the hole" - "going broke" - "haywire" - "hanging on" - and on other occassions "making it".
Tough men who could "make do" and "patch things together" worked these camps. Little wonder the city lights could dazzle them after a six month stint of all work, no play.
Like all loggers their talk was of the life they led -the near misses with death, the haywire equipment they somehow kept running, the plans they had for the stake they were making - and at all times their very human thoughts on ladies, whom they were separated from for long periods of time. The gypo is near extinct, but I hope his memory lingers on for he performed a service to this industry. Tough men, who had a sense of humour about life around them were the two qualities I remember best of the gypos I have known.
Song of the Gypo
You are looking my friends at a broken down logger,
But I've seen much better days.
I've made me a bundle a hundred times
And I've blown it a hundred ways.
I started out as a jerk-wire punk
assigned to a high-ball crew.
They screamed and yelled and scattered for life
At the boners I made when I blew.
Oh, it's a haywire camp
And a haywire crew
And if I stay here
I'll be haywire too! I've worked the big camps to make me a stake But I like it best on my own. It's a gamble - you make it, Then they take it -
The government, some doll or an old bank loan.
When cedar was high I struck out alone
And bought me an old steam pot,
But I learned of despair, and got grey in my hair
When they told me - "the market was shot".
Oh, it's a haywire camp
And a haywire crew
And if I stay here
I'll be haywire too! I've hit the big city that has no pity For a logger with a bundle to spend. I'd meet my old pals down at Mamies or Sals And wind up no smarter, my friend.
I took me a partner - we logged day and night, Our bank account grew and grew. Then I learned about life - he ran off with my wife, The bullcook and half the damn crew.
Oh, it's a haywire camp And a haywire crew And if I stay here I'll be haywire too!
But the life of the gypo is what I love And I'd have it no other way. I'll make it yet - you bet - so rich I'll be set With gold memories of my gypo loggin' days
THAT CHAP THE LOGGER
Noel Coward once wrote - with an elegant haute
Of the social elite of old blighty.
Without missing a beat
He could tastefully treat
The lows of the high and the mighty.
Now if Noel with his words could have wrote of the herds Of loggers instead of society, Our boys of the trees Would be welcomed at teas For gossip about their sobriety.
So let's toast our fine woodsmen
And say that they're goodsmen
And let's gossip about them - in taste.
For all men are known
By the foibles they've shown
Be they modest, sex starved or chaste.
There's a rumour about - of a dispicable clout
Who has given the camp a bad name.
The Bosses's wife he assaulted
And the home brew adulted,
For the latter he won't take the blame.
Dear boom man Bailey just loved to swim daily
Round the pilings just under the wharf.
But the boom foreman - damn 'im
Caught Bailey and salmon
In the act of spawning the north.
A frightful old chap - is high rigger McNap
Has a habit that's simply appalling.
When this cad tops' a tree
He stands up - takes a pee,
To the lads on the ground it's most galling
When the full moon is bright, superintendent McKnight
Simply loves to dress up like the girls.
In full bodice and bustle
And an arm full of muscle
He's so cute in his caulk boots and curls
There's a nasty report - of old rigger Short
He was found in an act quite amortis.
With his rump on a stump
And foreman's wife in a lump,
Now the dear chap enjoys rigor mortis.
Tis said round the camp - that the men get a cramp
From a stew cooked by head chef Sam Beeter.
With an old sock for flavouring
It is something worth savouring,
This mulligan, called vichyssoise du salt peter.
Ah, the foibles of man - be he logger or Ali Khan
Would gain status with a Noel Coward verse.
But how Frightful 'twould be
For our loggers you see
Might wind up being knighted - or worse.
So let's drink to our woodsmen
And I repeat they are goodsmen,
And let's toast them for all the good years.
They're a very fine lot
Those chaps that we've got,
To the loggers - God bless 'em - and cheers!
HOW TO SELL A FOREST INDUSTRY
High Riggers all
There's a heap of talk these days
Of our problems and the ways
To solve our rather awkward situation.
Pulp's a glut - and plywood's down
And chips are piled all over town.
Nearly all the mills are hurtin' cross the nation.
Competition's running high
And the world might pass us by
If we fail to find a really good solution.
So as to set your heart at ease
I've a plan that's bound to please,
You might call it a media revolution.
We've gotta lift our sights much higher,
We've gotta hypnotize the buyer
With a razz ma tzz the likes there's never been.
We've gotta glamourize the tree Like they do on the T.V.
And take some lessons from the silver screen.
Why there's just no tell in* what we could sell If we used the movies more.
We've got to inundate them
And saturate them
If our sales pitch is really going to score.
How did Warners sell Al Jolson?
How did Crosby sell Bob Hope?
How did Zanuck sell dear Marilyn?
How did Lux present its soap?
They did it all with style and class,
And chaps that's what we've got to do.
We have to package it with glitter
We have to make them want it too.
We've got to figure we're the best - because we are.
In other words - high riggers
We've got to make the tree our star!
What did Fred Astaire tap on - wood,
What was the bounty made of - wood,
What grew in brooklyn - a tree,
Who was Charlie McCarthys daddy - a tree,
Where did "Roots" come from - a tree.
I suggest to you
If you want to see this through
That you buy out CBS and NBC.
Then amalgamate with Fox
Buy up all the Warners stocks
And present our star - the ever lovin' tree.
As James Durante would say -
"Folks, it's gonna be fantabulous" Can't you see it!
20th Century Forest Industry proudly presents "King Tree"
With a cast of thousands, starring -
Natalie Wood, Woody Allen, Woody Herman, Donald Woods,
Helen Twelvetrees, Joanne Woodward, Forest Tucker,
Martin Balsam, Olive Branch and Twiggy.
Also starring -John Hemingson as "Bomba" - prince of the jungle,
Music & lyrics by Howard Cosell and Arthur Cameron,
Choreography by Donald Lanskail, Special effects by Cal Knudson,
Produced and directed by Cecil B. DeWaterland.
But that's not all we've got to do Prime time's the thing To show off our king.
Commercials are the thing today
It's the only way to make it pay.
Selling wood - or selling girdles
You can eliminate the hurdles
If you blast their ears - and nauseate them
You don't win customers • you create 'em.
Does this industry try to sell lumber to ladies? I say No,
But this is the way we ought to go; Girls - Have you tried our new cross-your-heart two by fours?
What a lift you'll get when you do. Remember girls -
If you're looking for a stud
Just call our super salesman Bud,
Are you worried about chips? Can 'em - I say - can 'em! Add a little Chef Boy-Ardee Sauce
And sell it as Cat Chow Chow Chow Every little pussy will love it.
Or is pulp your hangup? Try this -
Get rid of bad breath,
Gulp some pulp.
If you are strong on halitosis
And your friends all turn away,
Get rid of mouth wash
Gulp some pulp today.
Pulp comes in fifty different flavours Including strawberry, raspberry and gin & tonic.
Don't forget -
Switch to pulp and say I'm having a pulp safe day.
Maybe plywood's not moving like it should,
Have you tried everything?
The tiny tots - and their piggy banks?
Hi Gang - this is yer old buddy Chip Woods
Telling you to tear off the top from your
daddys station wagon (or a reasonable facsimile)
and forty-five dollars and we'll send you,
by return mail, your brand new, super giant,
six foot round plywood beanie button.
Remember kids - this offer expires when you reach 97.
Then there's the real nauseating approach -Have you got "ring around the house?"
Do passers-by make you feel like a louse? Do they point and stare
Cause you let the paint go bare?
Then smarten up, turkey,
Buy a home from Jerky Lumber Co.
We stand by our slogan -"If there's a house needs building Let a jerk do it".
Or this -
Are you run down?
Does frost bite really bother you?
Then make the change to "shakes"
Four out of five family doctors say -
"Get rid of those shingles
you'll feel better with the shakes".
So chaps - that is my solution
and I've come to this conclusion,
we've got to draw attention to our star - the tree.
Oh, there's just one more thing too
it's a must we've got to do.
We've got to work like hell - you and me.
"keep out of the bight"