A couple of years earlier, one neighbor had been shooting bears all summer and I asked him if he would let us have one for sausage. He said he would. One morning, he woke us up, he had a dead bear in the back of his pickup, and did we still want one? We said” Sure” and he dumped it by the cabin.
My daughter and I dressed and were just started skinning when the neighbor was back. Do you want another bear? We said “Why not?” When he was walking back down to his cabin, another bear ran around the corner and almost ran into him. He shot it.
We skinned out both bears, her first time skinning anything, and quartered them. We spread clean sheets on the backseat of my old crewcab and loaded the meat, salted the hides, rolled them and put them in the back of the truck and headed for town.
Charlie was working at Pump Station 7 at that time, setting up the power house. In camp, the men had a habit of starting rumors in the morning and see if they could recognize their own rumors that evening. That very morning, Charlie told the group at his table that I had woke up in the night to see a bear in the cabin by the stove and shot it from bed, then as I started to get up another one came through the back door and I jumped up on the bed and shot it as it ran by. No one questioned how he knew all of this, as there were no phones or radio between our areas. They just laughed and said “Sure, Charlie”, as they knew I did mine on out the road another 80 or so miles.
Before noon, I pulled up at the gate where the security guard was stationed to have him let Charlie know I would be at home that night. He looked down into my pickup from his perch and spotted the hides in back and the fresh meat in the backseat. His eyes got a little bugged out and he asked what I had. I told him, “A couple of bears”.
That man didn’t even wait to let someone take his seat in the guard shack, he took off running down the hill into camp, yelling, “It’s true, it’s true.”
By the time Charlie came home that evening, I had all the meat ground up and in three piles on the counter and was working different spices into each pile. I made summer sausage, pepperoni and salami. Charlie eyed the meat but didn’t say anything.
The next morning, I took him out to work and as I was coming home, the rest of the crew were honking and waving at me out their car windows as we passed. Very friendly bunch.
By that evening when I drove out to pick him up, even the large trucks were honking at me as they met me on the road. Hmmm, they are always friendly, but not quite this much.
By the time I was done making sausage and went back out to mine, almost every rig on the road was flashing lights and waving at me. I sent some of the sausage to work with Charlie to share at camp.
Just before Christmas, one of the men that had worked at the camp that summer stopped by our house in town. He asked if we had any of that sausage he could send to his elderly father for Christmas as his Dad had always wanted to try bear meat.
Charlie went down in the basement to check in the freezer for some and while he was gone, the man told me, “You know, when Charlie first told us that story, we all thought it was just another rumor getting started even though it was better than most.”
For once, I didn’t spoil Charlie’s stories and kept my mouth shut and just smiled. I didn’t have a clue.
After the man left, Charlie looked at me and said he probably should explain what the man meant? Then he told me what he had done. We laughed a little and I started getting dinner. He looked at me a minute or two, then, “Just where did you get those bears?”
A couple of years after I started spending summers at the mine, a fellow started a kennel for racing about a quarter mile down the hill from the cabin. By road, it was about a half mile. He kept pretty much to himself and worked very hard to establish his kennel and support his dogs. More dog mushers moved into the area and for the most part, were fairly compatible with gold mining. We used our roads and trails in the summer and they used them in the winter. They got a little testy when we moved one of our roads and started mining the area and what had been a trail became part of our dam.
We managed to keep things on an even keel and when the fellow below us married and started a family, his wife started doing a community pot luck once a month. It was very nice and we enjoyed it. She was an excellent cook and it was nice for both groups to get together socially. Most drank a bit and some smoked now and then. Since I did neither, I usually went home fairly early in the evening.
One night, everyone imbibed a bit freely and when one of the old time Miners and a lady musher fell asleep on the huge couch, the rest decided to pull a small prank on them. They moved both people until they were side by side, then using a large needle and heavy thread, they sewed their clothes together. From neck along the shoulder and down the arms, then on down the sides up the inseams and so on, both sets of clothing were firmly sewn in place. Everyone sat around waiting, but the two victims slept on. Finally everyone wandered off, either to their own homes or to bed and asleep.
Later, the lady woke up and attempted to brush her long hair away from her face, only to find her arm was very heavy and another hand smacked herself as she tried to rub. She got her eye open and found as she moved her arm, another arm moved with her.
She got both eyes open and discovered a sleeping face inches from her own. She tried picking threads loose, finally giving up and wriggling out of her clothes and then picking threads loose, glad that the elderly Miner was a sound sleeper. She redressed and went home.
A couple of years later, she was trying to attract sponsors and the old Miner happened to be at her place when the representative arrived. She was nervous and the old Miner jumped in to ease the tension by telling the guy about their getting sewn together as by that time he had heard the story many times. She wanted to punch him. She was trying to impress the man as being a good family oriented icon to represent their products. They did go ahead and sponsor her, in spite of the story.
I’ll never forget Dum-Dum and eggs. He used to grab any egg he found and run with it to eat when he knew we couldn’t get it first. He preferred them boiled, but raw was fine, also.
I found a dozen eggs pushed back in a cabinet at the cabin that had been there many months so set the carton out to carefully dispose of when he saw it. He sneaked the lid up and carefully picked up one egg and ran with it. He was gone a long time, then came back and carefully picked up another egg, went just out of the cabin and started digging a huge hole, dropped the egg into it and did the same with each of the remaining eggs. He never touched another egg.
“Did Not” “Did To”
Every year at deer hunting season, we got to take time off from school and go hunting. Deer hunting was taken seriously by my parents. I was 2 weeks old the first time Mom took me hunting with her and we didn’t miss any in the years after.
One year on our way home, my Dad finally had enough of my brother and I arguing, “Did not.” “Did too” for about 500 miles and at the 499th mile, Dad broke. “If I hear another peep out of either one of you, you are going to walk home.” It was late, heavy overcast, no such thing as street lights on a small dirt road, but did that stop me? No. After all, Daddy would never hear me. He was half deaf. One teeny tiny little “Peep.”
On slammed the brakes, the door flew open, Daddy grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and out I went.
I was scared half to death and evidently little brother couldn’t stop snickering as up ahead, the brake lights again blazed on and out tumbled my brother.
We were making pretty good time considering I couldn’t run with my ruined knee and managed to keep the tail lights in sight up the twisty road. It had just stopped raining and as we neared home, the clouds started to part and a bit of moonlight shown down onto the wet road.
About a quarter mile from our driveway, was a sunken grave of one of the early day Homesteaders. As we passed the grave, the moon lit up the large dark mass slowly rising from the sunken grave, groaning “MooOOooo.”
At that point, ruined knee or not, Brother and I made it to the gate in time to open it for Daddy to drive on through going up to the house.
Our old black cow had been laying in the sunken grave and we startled her into slowly standing up, as we came rather loudly by, scaring each other with ghost stories about that grave. The moonlight on her wet hide gave her a shiny glow.
When I was guiding down river, one of the Assistants managed to slash his thigh with chainsaw kickback. It looked like a bear slashed his leg with 4 ragged slashes.
The boat was not due back to check on us for another week. We washed out the cuts as best we could with boiled water, then I handed him the bottle of betadine and made him pour it over his leg.
After he quit jumping, cussing and swinging his fists around camp, we super glued his leg back together and butterfly bandaged with some duct tape strips. I checked his leg every evening and swabbed it a bit more with betadine, then covered with bag balm and he recovered very well with no infection.
We were lucky.