As I Remember, Chapter 13

This entry is part 13 of 39 in the series Ted Bio

CHAPTER 13

      In the spring of 1937, we moved to Oregon. The apple drier had run all winter. Some people by the name of Green, had worked there for the last several winters. They had told me, “Why don’t you come up there and spend the summer? I am sure that you can get a job at the same place that we work.” They painted a beautiful picture of the country up there. We talked it over and decided to go take a look. If we couldn’t find anything there, we could always come back.

      We sold our cows and chickens. I made a deal with Mel Vickory to look after the crops. We locked up the house and took off. I had a 1936 Ford sedan. Also a small trailer. In a couple of days, we reached our destination, Banks, Oregon. This little town was about thirty miles beyond the city of Portland. It was a pretty little place and the surrounding hills were literally covered with strawberry plants. Hundreds of acres of them. Most of them owned by Japanese. We moved into a small cabin owned by one of the growers and the next day, I went to work. It was quite a come down, from foreman in a big apple drier, to a hoe handle. But I didn’t mind and the country was beautiful.

      I worked at several different places that spring. Finally, we ended up near the town of Hillsboro. More and more we fell in love with this country. We thought we would like to spend the rest of our lives here. Then one day, I got a letter from Mel Vickory. Floyd Whitely had just got married. He wanted to buy our farm. His dad had the cash and would pay for it in full. We had been looking around, found a place and fell in love with it. It was just a few miles north of North Plains. Almost on top of Pumpkin Ridge. There was twenty one acres. Ten which was cleared and ten in old growth fir timber. And there was also a big two story house. And what a fantastic view!

      We didn’t hesitate. We sold out in Idaho, bought the place and moved in. Then the strawberry season was over with. I would have to find some other kind of job. And it didn’t take me long. North Plains was a town of about a thousand people. It had a nice store, a couple of beer joints, a garage and a small saw mill. I decided I would go there and look for work. It was on a Saturday afternoon that I will never forget.

      I was alone when I arrived in town. Everything and everyone seemed to be at a place called Jack’s Tavern. Yes, they were all there. Harold Anderson, Herb Johnson, Gunner Bergrand, Charley Hess, Jonnie Meeks and all the rest. Of course I didn’t know any of them at the time but certainly would later. It looked like a good place to inquire about any work that might be going on. Besides, a good, cold beer would taste mighty fine. I stepped inside and looked around. The place was packed. I stepped up to the bar and ordered a bottle of Bud. Sitting at one of the tables was a couple of big guys Indian wrestling, turning arms. They were really grunting away. Part of the crowd yelling for one, the other half for the other guy. I stood there and watched.. I guess most everyone in there had given it a try. Then, someone spotted me. It was Jonnie Meeks. He yelled, “Hey, we got a new one here. Look at what just come in.” The big guy at the table looked up. (Gunner Larson). He said, “Want to try me?” I grinned and shook my head. “No thank you. You are too strong for me.” I learned later that most all of these guys were loggers. Just having a little fun on their day off. After a little bit, a new face appeared, (Charlie Hess) the local blacksmith. In his hands were several horse shoes. Then become a real show of strength. Twisting those heavy steel shoes with their bare hands. This and other feats of strength went on for quite awhile. I just stood there and watched.

      Separated only by an archway, was a barber shop. A barber was cutting someone’s hair. I was badly in need of one myself. I would go in when my turn come. Then there was the big blacksmith again. Tearing up a Portland telephone book. He pushed it toward me. His voice was loud and nasty. “Here, see what you can do with that.” Someone snickered. All eyes were on me and none of them looked very friendly. I shook my head. “No thank you. That is not my line.” Charlie laughed and turned to the crowd. “This feller,” he said, “just stands around and looks on. Don’t take no part in anything.” He turned and glared at me. “Is there anything you can do young man!” I made a quick decision. If I was going to live around this town, I must stand up for my rights. Even God hates a coward. I stepped close to the guy. He was a big man, probably in his late forties. Strong as an ox and probably just as fast. I answered. “Yes, there is something that I can do. One more insult out of you and I will knock you flat on your ass!” For a few seconds, you could of heard a pin drop. Then as I knew he would, he threw the wild haymaker with his right. I was ready. I let it go over my head and smashed him in the mouth with my right. I could see blood spurt from his lips. He grunted as I buried my left fist in his stomach. He dropped his guard and his face was right out in the open. I hit him several times more before his knees buckled and he sank to the floor. Out cold as a wet Herring. I stepped back and looked the crowd over. “Anyone else want to try?” I asked. No one answered. A couple of them were stooped over the big blacksmith. It was hard to believe what a couple of bare fists can accomplish in a few seconds. They drug Charlie into the other room and propped him up on the barber chair. Several of them went to work on him. I took my time about leaving. When I was ready to go, I gave them a big smile. “Good day, gentlemen.” One guy followed me out the door, Jonnie Meeks, he said. “I am the bull buck for Johnson Logging Co. You just wouldn’t happen to be looking for a job would you?” I grinned. “I sure am.” And that was my first day in the town of North Plains.

Series NavigationAs I Remember, Chapter 12As I Remember, Chapter 14

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