The Pacific Northwest Forum
Volume IV, Number 4, Pages 2-5
This is the eleventh in a series of legendary recollections of the Northwest written in 1961 by Lynn A. Hull, who had been a lumberjack for many years. The stories, written in the form of letters to his son, take place in the 1920's and 1930's.
The Owner's Death
A good man has left us and we will miss him very much I know. The other morning a knock was heard at our door and a young fellow handed me a message to meet the owner's wife at her home at once. When I got there, Ormsby (old horse face, the butler) led me to the drawing room and there the owner's wife was waiting for me. Without any preparation of softening the blow to me, she said "Joe, the owner, [that was the first time I'd heard him called by his given name -] has died." "I am now in charge of all operations - as soon as the funeral is over, you and those two bums get back and start up the camp. Joe left me a terrible mess to clean up and Thank God, my daughter and I have been training her husband to take charge of some of the business and at present he will be superintendent of the logging company and as he learns, so shall he step up the ladder. Joe has shown no consideration to me at all in dying like this, he could of at least had his affairs arranged so that I wouldn't have such a headache. Now you get out there and do what you are paid for. Don't bother me anymore, unless it's urgent. Show him the tradesman's entrance, Ormsby, and you [to me] in the future, use it, not the door where my friends enter. Oh, one other thing, the funeral is tomorrow 10 A. M." And with that Ormsby led me out.
I broke the news to Windy Jack and Silent Bill and all they asked was "When is the funeral, what time and where?" I called on the funeral parlor to find out the particulars of the owner's death and he had passed away alone in his office while sitting at his desk the same morning the owner's wife had called me in to notify me. I asked the undertaker if he had some disease that was so contagious that to prevent a plague he had to be buried so quick after death.
"Joe has shown no consideration to me at all in dying lke this."
"Oh no - he died very quietly, along in his office, a heart attack. The reason he is being interred tomorrow - well it is sudden and we don't very often do that - but his wife told us very emphatically to 'Get this over with as quick as you can, I've got more important things to consider.' The services will be held in the morning at 10 o'clock and burial will be in the Evergreen Cemetery." With all that information I left, wishing something dire and disasterous would happen to that big busted domineering widow who seems to have a heart of stone. The next morning the three of us attended the services at the funeral home and paid our respects to the departed. Our friend and companion was gone forever but he had left us with many happy memories.
Out at the cemetery the son-in-law of the owner (he had married that replica of the widow - same size, same overbearing, greedy nature came over to us and said "The will he left is to be read and as your names are in it, the lawyer wants you there - it will be read immediately after returning to town." When we arrived I remembered my last visit there, so I led the other two to the back door (tradesman's entrance to the higher class) and poked a button and finally Ormsby opened it, saw who it was, and with a small grin led us in to the group in the parlor. The widow, her daughter, the fat son-in-law, and the lawyer were there. Well, anyway the owner had left Windy Jack and Silent Bill a good sum of money and a monthly check from the logging company as long as it was in existence, the house where we stayed in town to be rent free to the three of us (that's where my name came in) as long as we lived, all maintenance, utilities and improvements to be paid for out of the company's assets, the title of said property to remain in the company's name. All the rest of the estate was left to his wife and daughter.
"Ormsby led us into the group in the parlor."
With that over the lawyer was shown to the door by Ormsby and sent on his way. The widow sat there glaring and sniffing and finally said, "Well, you heard that! What he left you bums anything for, I don't know, but if I can possibly change it I will and you can bet your life that somebody will surely be shut off."
Now was the time to leave but she shouted: "Ormsby, get in here and bring my pen to me. Ormsby, you better get a wiggle on or I'll let you go and I won't give you a recommendation to anyone!"
Ormsby came in, picked up her pen and handed it to her with "Yes, Madam," and backed out. We didn't back out of her presence but we did go out the back door as she yelled, "You bums catch that boat and get out to camp, you hear me?"
Well, we left town the next day after notifying some of the men who were in town to come back to work and leaving word for all the others of our old crew to come as soon as possible. The camp had to be opened for work; it meant a lot of work for me - to have supplies and material that was necessary before the main crew got in - and so I didn't see Windy Jack or Silent Bill, but I knew they were around as Silent Bill had renewed his business with the moonshiner and brought word for me from Kate: "That I was welcome and forgiven for the past and to come up for dinner someday."
Good. Our camp looked as if it again would be a happy camp and in time Windy Jack (who was very quiet - I don't believe he had said a dozen words since hearing of the owner's death) would get over his mourning and be his little old fat, lying, talking and happy self.
"He looked like something a person threw away and hoped never to see again."
Then I began to realize what that female baboon (the widow) had said among her many sayings - "at present he will be superintendent of the logging company," and the image of that son-in-law appeared to me. Fat, a whiny voice - always snooping and his eyes, well he wore extra heavy lenses to see by, and to me he looked like something that a person threw away and hoped to never see again. Of course this is another of my snap decisions - I may be wrong.