Monday, August 06, 2012

Salmon River Trip, Day 5

On the 5th day, a lot of things happened. We stopped at two sets of pictographs, one with a kokopele.
We went by the confluence of the Main and the South fork of the Salmon River. We stopped at a pack bridge so Mike could jump off. We stopped at Five Mile Bar, former home of Buckskin Bill. There's a little museum there with all of the guns and utensils that he made. There is a glass bottle with a note in it that he sent down the river in hopes that someone downriver would get it. It read "Ran out of Whiskey, please send more."There was also a little store that sold supplies and goodies. Chips or a root beer float for 5 dollars. 12 pack of beer for 24 dollars.

Buckskin Bill build a stone turret with shotgun slots in order to protect himself from the feds who claimed that he was squatting on forest service land. It turns out that he was actually squatting on someone else's private property though.
Here is an account of his life, written by himself:
"Indian Territory in 1906 was definitely pioneer times. Houses were cedar log or sod. I was born in a dugout May 10, 1906.
The first animals that impressed me were fat toads. I really liked these insect-getters, and when I went to a place that had no toads, I wondered if the people there were clean.
I had a small creek to play in, with cut banks some 15 feet deep. A twine string, a bent pin, and a piece of salt pork got me many crawfish. I cooked and ate their tails. Mourning doves don't nest very high, and I collected fat squabs about ready to leave the nest. My first hunting was with my bare hands. I got catfish in Eagle Chief Creek in the manner of a varmint. A catfish digs a hole into the bank. You put your arm and there is likely to be a catfish with sawtooth horns, a snapping turtle, or a water moccasin! I got three or four pounds of catfish.
Smokeless powder helped me to get game and to deal with my enemies. In those days hawks ate chickens, so I killed a hawk, roasted it and fed it to my chickens. Early day blackbirds destroyed whole fields of grain. The answer seemed to be to make blackbird pie. Great Uncle Ambrose, about 1912, picked 28 blackbirds for a pie. I put eleven yellow-headed blackbirds in a pie.
Ducks were a big help in preparing a meal. I killed ducks, picked and cleaned them and cooked them for my parents. I laid in the peanut patch in 106 degree heat, watching gophers pushing out dirt, but I didn't fire till I saw their whiskers.
Canada geese were a little too much for a kid, but adults used whiskey-soaked corn and gas lights to take them. People thought nothing of running down young rabbits. The last few swaths of wheat field held quite a few cottontails and jackrabbits and you and your dog could easily get.
The first of the big disasters there was communicable disease. Influenza made even me so weak I had to stop and rest. It settled in some part of your body. in my case, it weakened my hearing.
I had a very good grade school teacher, Jack Wilcox. His strong point was English and he taught you to diagram sentences. High school and college repeat what you should have learned in grade school. In a one room schoolhouse you could learn all grades at once. In high school if your grades were good you need not take the monthly examination .On those days, I went squirrel hunting or field butchering with my father. You can't have good meat unless you know how to prepare it.
In college it is best to take the most difficult courses offered. When I had to translate English to Greek, I got up at four o'clock. At one time or another I have studied Greek, Latin, German, French, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili and Norwegian. Actually, it is words that interest me and I still get up occasionally at four to study Greek words.
Most students fear hard work, which you certainly got in the Texas oil fields. There was danger, crime, bad air, and poor housing. The fumes make you dizzy and you have to know when to go out and get some air. A gas well can burn you in seconds but you have to work on it. You can read a newspaper at midnight five miles from a burning well. I had a year in Petroleum Engineering as a graduate student, which was interesting and difficult.
My reaction to the Depression was to find a place with natural resources and defeat it. I could have found no better place than Salmon River. I spent some $50 a year then for what little I needed to buy. I always had a garden. It was easy to get fruit and I made moccasins and clothing out of animal skins. There were copper plates lying around that I made into cooking utensils. A little later, I made complete guns. I made many prospecting trips in the hills for minerals. The longest walk I made was a hundred miles to Grangeville.
When war came, I left and became a toolmaker at Boeing's factory in Wichita Kansas. The F.B.I. was looking for me, and they found me in a combat area in the Aleutians. In '42 the Japs were a bit discouraged with Kiska and when they pulled out we came back to the U.S.
The Norden Bombsight was the most secret and difficult course you could get in the Air Force. Toolmaking was easy for me since it wasn't as difficult as when I'd been doing at home. I was up all night studying bombsights, near Denver. I rigged myself a machine shop in a hallway at Peyote, Texas and I cam up with a new invention or idea every month for caring for bombsights or autopilots. Your inventions belonged to the Air Force and ratings were frozen for 18 months. Eventually I became a buck sergent.
Back in the hills, I took up where I left off. I became a summer lookout for the Forest Service on Quartzite and Oregon Butte. In 1960 I skinned elk for Mackay Bar during hunting season. I also hunted when they used helicopters there.
A trip to Iceland and a trip to North Europe helped me a great deal. I took in the Moscow circus.
When you spend 50 years among the wild animals you get to know them, not as a the book says, but as they really are. It's been 20 years since a biologist dared mention an eagle carrying off a baby mountain goat. By going to a mountain where lions kill each day, you know how much they eat in a week. The best animals are otters, and other animals clean up their fish scraps.
Finally, does any man's life accomplish anything? In my case, soldiers in desperate straits thought that I could have survived so they were inspired to do so. If you can make a gun, you don't worry about breaking it. Strange food doesn't bother you because you have already tried it. Fear is a formidable enemy; if you don't have it you can concentrate on what you should do. On a trip in the hills, memorize each trail, hill, bush, tree, rock, watercourse, and mountain range. The next time you see them, you meet an old friend."

The Mike's and I were in charge of dinner. Mike had premade and frozen shrimp and broccoli curry and I had premade and frozen brownies with brandy soaked cherries. It was yummy. We camped at Upper James Bar.

1 comment:

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