When Gordon Gates wrote his book, he wrote several stories about his working in sawmills. The story below is the first of several I will reprint here. The title of his book is: “The Life and Times of Gordon O. Gates.” The photo on the cover of his book is the photo you see with this story.
Ted Spaulding told me Chester Wood Products was located where the Chester Town Garage is today. The Skinner place was located on the Popple Dungeon end of Dodge Road.
When the New World was first settled, all of New England was forested. Settlers built log cabins but soon lumber was needed for building wood-frame houses. A “Sawyer” was so important, that they were free to travel all of New England. Sawmills are as important today as they were then.
“I decided I wanted to go into the trucking buisiness so I bought the International from G. B. Hart who ran a garage over on Depot Hill where the landry-mat is now.
The truck was one with a pickup boady on it but the body was realy reaked. I took it off and built a nice rack boady for it out of oak. It realy looked like a nice little truck when I got thrue. It come with 8 ply tires on it and real heavy springs. It had a lot of power and would handell a big load for a small rig.
I got a job hauling a lot of wood with it that fall. The Eddeys were cuting wood up by the Skiner place and I haled it all. They piled it up right beside the road in ½ and 1 cord piles. I think I drew about 50 cords that winter + fall. A half cord to the load. That was all I could register for.
There was one state cop Mr. Rovetti that weided me up several times but I made it just under each time. I fooled him once though. I had laid out a lot of basswood that no one wanted. The Eddys said take it up to theyr house they would burn it for sugar wood.
Well I went up and loaded a load of all I could get on. It looked like a load of hay. About a cord I guess. Well you know what hapened, I met Mr. Rovetty down in the street and he pulled me over.
I wasent so shure but maybe I had over done it this time. When he got thrue waying me up all he said was; get the hell out of here I guess my scales are busted.
After I got out of school I worked for Godard’s Backery Co about a year. Delivering backery good. I finely got scarlet feaver. My folks had never had it. Patty got the feavor to. Pattys mother had had the feavor so the folks decided that I should go up to Simonsville and stay with Patty + her mother while we were shut in.
While I was quariteen in with the feavor I lost Gramp. He fell down on the ice + hit his head and it killed him.
After scarlet feavor I went to work at the mill where Dad worked (Chester Wood Products) I worked in the lath room a while. Then they wanted me to learn how to saw. (Run the board saw) They wanted me to take Dads place so he would have more time to run the plainer + do repairs. Dad came up in the lath room and told me what was up. Of course I said O.H. We went down in the mill and all the mill help dident know what was up. All Dad told me was just be carefull + dont hurrey. That big saw will be right there, it wont move and it will cut any thing that touches it. You are going to start out sawing white birch and we can use almost any thickness it comes out. Try to start sawin 1” and try to figure out how to make the last one left on the carage come out 1” It wont for a while but you will soon get it.
I had watched Dad saw a lot + and I had run the carage back + forth on the track a few times so it wasent all new to me. The only thing was I dident know any thing about the set works + how to get diferent thicknesses. Dad said your going to learn that on your own, the same way I did.”
This week I offer one of my mother’s superstitions. “It is bad luck to kill a spider walking toward you.”