The Pacific Northwest Forum
Volume V, Number 1, Pages 28-31
Winter, 1980

Lumberjack Legends

Lynn A. Hull

This is twelfth twelth 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.

Salvation (?) Army

Dear Son:

Before leaving town for the camp the winter I spent with Windy Jack and Silent Bill one thing happened that I'll always remember forever - that was the time religion entered into their lives - it was only for a short duration - three days - but a lot happened in that time. The first of any change in daily routine was when Windy Jack failed to meet the train and Silent Bill was coming home without Windy Jack's strong supporting arms helping him stand erect. So the next night I pulled a big sneak and followed them down to the middle of town - in fact, right in the heart of it. There every evening the soap box orators and the Salvation Army held forth nightly - one faction just talking to hear their selves talk - the other in saving souls. So I knew Windy Jack must be making speeches on something or other - but anyway I'd see what he was doing. Imagine my surprise when Windy Jack and Silent Bill went into the Salvation Army headquarters and came back out in uniform coats and caps signifying the Salvation Army. Silent Bill was strapped to the big drum and Windy Jack was carrying a hymn book. The band of men and women all 10 or 12 of them formed into a marching unit and Silent Bill began the beat and away they went - flags unfurled and music in the air - for about two blocks where they had their own private comer delegated to them by the city dads. First one man said a prayer and all bowed their heads - then a woman described the evils she had before being called to Lord's banner - and as she finished we had another lively tune from the band - then a big silence and this was held for a minute or two - must have been a silent prayer for the next speaker - and lo and behold that speaker who now walked to the center of the ring and took his cap off - was my old friend Windy Jack. I was proud to be known as his friend that night as he made one of the finest sermons I had ever heard, to the few who were listening - he went on and on until I had finally lost interest and was about to move on when I heard Windy Jack make some remark about Billy Sunday - so I listened to hear this, and that's where Windy made his sermon - (which had been good - and if he had quit then it would have still been a masterpiece) - another one of his rambling talks. Of how he had held Billy on his lap and taught him restraint in his temper and his language and tone of voice and the words of our Lord - and afterwards of counseling him in the art of holding crowds spellbound by voice alone, how to save his voice and the best of all how to save souls. This went on and on and as he was still talking the band began to form in line for the march back to headquarters (it was getting real late) and as they moved away from me I could see one of the Lassies pulling Windy Jack along even if he was still talking. One other thing I noticed was the part besides playing the big drum by Silent Bill was the fact that he also picked up all the contributions donated by the people he put the money in his pocket for safe keeping and I knew that all money would be accounted for when they all got back to their headquarters. Little did I know what was going on behind the scenes - but I was to soon find out.

"He made one of the finest sermons I've ever heard."

I didn't question either as to how and why both were adopting a religion - I just thought it couldn't hurt either and both could absorb quite a bit of it - so I let destiny take its course. Two days later I was walking down the main street and here came the town's chief boot-legger, Louie the Greek, carrying a big drum that was marked very plainly - The Salvation Army, and as he was glaring glassy eyed right through me or over me and didn't even act as if he saw me at all I looked back to see what he was staring at and there came Silent Bill, Windy Jack and half of the Salvation Army surrounding them. The two parties met right near me so I listened to what it was all about. At first it didn't make sense - too much and too many all talking at once, then in a clear voice Louie, the Greek, said "Hokay - you got drum back, I got nutting - everybody now Hokay - but me and Silent Bill, we got dirty bizness to clean - you be my place ten minutes or I come find you Hokay Beel?" Then Windy got the floor and started one of his pleading beseeching talks on behalf of his pardner who now knew he had done wrong and he would pray to be taken back into the flock and he (Windy Jack) would pray with him and would any sister or brother there deny this fallen creature the right to pray to be saved, and would anyone there not only pray for him too, but would help him (Windy Jack) to keep his pardner on the straight and narrow path forever and ever "Amen," Some still looked a little dubious but all agreed to pray for him as they left taking their big drum with them and leaving Windy Jack, Silent Bill and myself all alone. Nothing was said and no one moved for a long two or three minutes until Silent Bill "We go home," and we three did and for once all were silent. Then as we got inside the house (I couldn't stand another minute without knowing what was going on), I said like the Greek - "Hokay - damn you two what have you done now?" Windy Jack took the floor and said, "Well, right after Xmas we were broke - not even a nickel between Bill and I - and by grannies we're too proud to beg and anyway I don't think even now three days before payday that you'd loan us money, you cheap skate. Now would you?" (I fooled him I did, I handed him a five,...without stopping Windy Jack's talk) and so we figured to get the necessities of life the only way we could without begging, was to join the Army. So Bill picked up the money that was donated and I made some very long and fine talks and we just held out a little money for old Bill had run plum out of whisky and you and that other dirty rat of an owner drank most of his Xmas presents up the first day he got them. So we got money anyway we could - and we did real well and nothing like this would of happened but Bill got up this morning and there was only a few swallows left in his jug and not one red cent between us. So we had a conference and the decision was made and passed that we would go to the Salvation Army Headquarters and see if anything could be done - we were there quite awhile and not a soul was there. We waited and waited but finally after awhile Bill took real nervous and I could see he was suffering very much.

Drummer: Louie, the Greek.

I took Bill and the big drum down to the Greek's and sent him in to see if he could make a deal - in a few minutes Bill came out with a happy smile on his face and a jug of corn likker in his hand. Well, that jug was only half gone when we were captured and of course we surrendered as they were too many of them and now you know all - "but one thing more" says Windy Jack" I wonder who told the Captain where his drum was and how did he get wise." Well, so do I but I'm not going to dig to find out. It's getting too close to going back to camp. Halelula! Peace on earth and good will to men.