Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Growing up in the Bighorns - Part 2

In 1946 I was 4 years old and Jennie was 2 1/2. Our dad had just returned from serving in World War 2. He took a job driving a Caterpillar (or "cat" as he called it) with a logging company at a lumber camp. We were at the logging camp for a year. That, of course, included the winter. Powder River Pass is 9,666 feet above sea level, we were a mile from that and I think the elevation was at least 8,000 feet. This is my mom and dad. It was a rough winter all the way around. Being 4 I have childish memories but they're very vivid.

The logs were cut and pulled by horses, which was called skidding, down through the trees. Below is a picture of some of the horses, I don't know who the man is in the picture but you'll notice that his hands are in mittens or wrapped up to keep them warm.

The first picture is me and the second one is Jennie. We always seemed to attach ourselves to animals.

When we drove down to town we drove through huge snowbanks which had been cut through by snowplows so vehicles could pass through, they were way taller than the car.
I can remember learning my ABC's there and how the water bucket was frozen in our cabin by the stove in the morning when we woke up.
It was a very hard winter for all of us but it fed us and got us through to a little bit easier life.
I wish I could find out more about it. Leonard and I went there a few years ago and there wasn't even a trace of the humanity, the hard working horses, the smell of food coming from the cook house or the blood, sweat, and tears that went into that place. Diane


Betsy from Tennessee said...

Diane, I am so glad that you are getting some of your childhood memories written down. That looked like a hard job for your parents at the logging camp. But--they obviously worked hard and did what they need to do to provide for you sweet little girls.

Great story... I truly enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks!!!

Laurie said...

Fascinating Diane, I hope you have more to tell, I'm hooked on your story, and would love to read more. Really really interesting, and the picture of you so reminds me of me. I know there is a similar picture somewhere!

Pondside said...

That picture of your parents is very touching - so young to have been through war and to have two young children to feed and clothe. What a hard year that must have been.
More stories/memories, please!

mudderbear said...

I love your story. We have so much in common. I remember harsh Wyoming winters when I was little. Sometimes there was frost covering the inside of our windows. But I was never cold. My dad got up before everyone else and made the fire in the old cold stove so it would warm the house for us. Did you ever take hot irons wrapped in rags to bed? Sometimes Mama would make those to warm us up and they would scorch through the fabric. Still I don't think I ever was cold. I'll have to post some pictures on my blog for you to look at. I think it's fun that our lives were so parallel. I really enjoy 'talking' to you. You do such a good job here.

Jayne said...

What vivid memories you have Diane. That must have been a hard life for them.

Denise said...

I wish that I had such vivid memories.. Truth is I do not remember anything past my Junior year in high school.. My brother finds that very interesting and tells me all the time how he remember back to the first grade.. He is a hoot..

Your pictures are wonderful and your story telling paints pictures.. That is a gift!

June said...

Hi Diane,
I love the pictures of your family and life on the mountain. I can imagine it, a little, because my dad was a cat and grader operator as well and we followed him on the jobs a lot. that kittie in the picture with you is almost as big as you? So cute.
i read your apple blossoms post. i really love that song by the Andrew Sisters. Do you remember the one Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me? i love that one too and find myself humming it whenever I see an appletree in bloom.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

These are precious memories,although it must have been very hard for your parents.Childhood is such a carefree place to be.

Anonymous said...

My great-grandmother had a cabin on the Big Thompson river, and I remember so much from being there when I was little. Life wasn't as easy as in town, but it was better! :)
Loved seeing your pics!