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George and Lois Best Oral History Interview, March 28, 2008

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GEORGE BEST: My name is George Stanley Best. I was born in Burtrum, Minnesota, in 1923, in March. Then we moved out here in 1928 to where my grandad, John William, had built a Sawmill on Westwood Creek. So, my earliest things that I did, really, was at the age of 5 and 6, I was up at the mill almost all the time. I was either up there cranking the forge for my dad when he was doing blacksmith work or being with John William out there. At that time, he was pretty old and I would help be out there with him, helping him get the wood and 00:01:00all that kind of stuff. I have a lot of memories of this area. Well, my line of ancestors and stuff like that is, on my mother's side, they came from Sweden. On my dad's side, on the Best side, they all came from Ireland, northern Ireland. They went way back on the Irish side. They came back, some of them fought in the Revolutionary War. It had been right on down the line. I had, now, let's see, I had my sisters were Ella and Dorothy. No, Ella and Gwen and Dorothy, and then there was me and Bob, Robert Best. We all came out together. In fact, when John 00:02:00Williams, they had been running the sawmill for a while. He was getting up in age to where he could no longer do it, the sawing, so he wrote a letter back to my dad and wanted him to come out. We came out on the train the first time in '27 and stayed the summer and looked at it, and then we came back out in '28. The whole family, we had an Apperson Jack Rabbit, 7-passenger job. It was all aluminum body, aluminum V8 engine. It was an ex-gunner, not gun runner, booze-running thing that my dad had got because he had, back there he had a 00:03:00garage business back there with another guy and when it got being chased-they put it in the river, he got it out and restored it. That's what we drove out here in. The whole family got out in that thing, and we drove out from Burtrum, Minnesota, up to Fargo, off down through Yellowstone and got down in Mountain Home, Idaho, and then back around, come back up and down the Columbia, and finally down here. That's the way we all got here.

My dad was a railroad telegrapher for the northern railroad up there. So, most of our heavy stuff was shipped out here. In fact, when we came out the first time to see you in '27, we came out on the train and it came into Corvallis at 00:04:00the old train station there. But, no, we came out here in that Apperson Jack Rabbit. That was quite a trip. It was a lot of fun. Of course, the roads coming out where dirt roads, mainly. It was very interesting. There was only one place on the trip, and that was at Mountain Home, Idaho, that we did get a cabin. But the rest of the time, we'd just camp out wherever you could. It was a great trip, but it was great to get here [laughs]. We had, of course where we had to camp all the time, my dad had made a big box kind of a thing that went on the back end of the car so that you opened it up and then you had all your stuff in 00:05:00there. All of our camping stuff that we had to have was in there. It was with us. I'm sure we had probably lots of food and stuff like that that stored other places, but because this was a big 7-passenger job, it had the regular backseat and the front seat, so you'd have 3 in the front, 3 in the back. It had 2 jump seats that unfolded from out back of the front seat. I've got an awful lot of that kind of stuff. I've saved almost everything that we had on that trip.

LOIS BEST: I'm Lois Wooster Best. I was born on Halloween in 1928. I was born at home. My mother never had a doctor for any of her children. She just would have 00:06:00her sister come over and act as the midwife. I have 3 brothers. I had 3 brothers and I had 3 sisters. I'm the last one remaining of all the siblings. My parents was John and Pearl Wooster. I was born in Fountain, Michigan, which is a very, very small place. My family were farmers back there. Back in 1928, I had a pair of grandparents that came out to this area in Oregon and my grandfather went back to Michigan and said, this is God's country out here. Well, that made my dad want to come out. He was tired of farming, anyway. He had 120 acres to take 00:07:00care of. So, in 1940, he decided he'd lease the farm and we would travel up to Oregon. He had made a homemade trailer, which wasn't very long. It was probably about 18', if it was that. There was, I had 2 brothers and a sister that started and left Michigan to come out. We stopped in Chicago because my oldest, older sister had a boyfriend there. She was going to tell him that she was coming to Oregon. To make a long story short, she decided to stay there and go to college there. There was my 2 brothers and I and my parents that made this trek out to Oregon. We never stayed in a campground. We would be driving along and my folks 00:08:00would stop and go into a house that was along the road and say, can we park in your yard? Most people, in fact I don't recall ever being turned down. We'd park in their yard, go on the next day. We'd work along the way. When we went up through Washington, we picked berries. It was in the summer. We'd earn money to go a little further. We finally made it down to Philomath. Because this is where my grandparents had been and they knew a family by the name of Gilson who lived out here on the Alsea Highway. So, we looked them up and they offered a place that we could park our trailer. Then later we parked at Goodrich's Place. He 00:09:00lived right at the foot of the Alsea Mountain. I think they called it Cedar Creek. During that time, I went to Westwood School for 1 year. My mother, having left a daughter and a son back in Michigan, always wanted to go back. So, we went back after spending 1 year in Oregon, but my dad loved it in Oregon. So, we stayed back there until '46. Then my dad says, I'm selling the farm. No coming back next time to live. He sold the farm and we came back and we located in Philomath, and I graduated from Philomath High School.

I'd like to tell a little bit about the grade school I went to in Michigan. It 00:10:00was a one-room schoolhouse and the teacher taught all 8 grades. In my grade there was 3. This schoolhouse had 2 front doors, no backdoor. Girls only could go in one door and boys only could go in the other door. Yet, we were all in the same building [laughs]. That was the only time I ever knew of a school having separate doors that only boys and only girls could go into. After I graduated from Philomath High School, I had met George on a blind date. He had gotten a job over at the coast falling timber, and naturally we decided we'd get married, 00:11:00much to my mother's upset, because she felt with Oregon State being so close to Philomath that surely I would go to college. But, no, we got married. I went to high school two years in Michigan and then we came out in '46, and I finished up at Philomath. However, I had enough credits that I only went a year and a half in Philomath. I actually completed high school in 3 ½ years. I would guess you could say I was eager to get married [laughs]. Anyway, we were married at the Philomath EUV church, which now, of course, the Methodists have. Well, now the building is the museum in Philomath and we've been married 61 years. Then, we 00:12:00naturally started a family right away. We have 2 boys and we have 2 daughters, which have been a nice family. We have 9 grandchildren and we have 8 great grandchildren. When we were first married, naturally we didn't have much money. We finally moved to a little house over at Chitwood. This was just really a shack.

GB: It was more like a corn crib. You could look out through-you could look at the stars and you could look at everything. I remember the first night that we were there, she started crying, I want to go home to momma [laughs].


LB: It was bad. No electricity.

GB: We made a nice place out of it.

LB: No electricity, and, well, while were still living there, we had child number 2. Of course, back in those days there was no such thing as disposable diapers. Even if they had them, we couldn't have afforded them. I did all my washing on a scrub board. I remember it was probably about the 2nd year we lived there, we managed to get electricity. My parents had gone to Michigan on a visit, and I wrote a letter to my mother, which she saved for years, telling about getting electricity. We got a washing machine the first thing. I wrote a letter and I said, mom, this must be what heaven is like, because I got a washing machine [laughs].


GB: It wasn't very long you got a refrigerator.

LB: A washing machine was the first thing I got, though, before the refrigerator.

GB: Well, while we're talking about old washing machines, I have to tell about an unfortunate thing that happened to my second grandmother. It was John Williams's wife, second wife, so she was my grandmother, but out here. She had one of those old washing machines that you had put the clothes in and wash them and then when you got them washed, well, you had to crank the ringers in order to get the clothes rung out. Well, when she bent over to crank those clothes 00:15:00through that ringer, one of her breasts got caught in it. Of course, she was cranking at a good speed and it ate quite a bit of that. She had to back it up. It kind of a horrible thing to think about, but there's expressions like that.

LB: My mother was English, 100%. She was born in Iowa, but her parents had come from England. My dad was Scotch, Dutch, and Irish and he was born in Indiana. I can remember the first, we did not have electricity at our house at all growing up. My parents never, ever had a telephone their entire life. When they had a need for one, such as when my brother had a ruptured appendix, and they had to 00:16:00call a doctor, we went about a mile and a half down the road. One of us kids would have to go to have the neighbor lady call for a doctor. Another thing my mother, even though she lived 64 years, never ate in a restaurant her entire life. This would have been too much of an extravagance for them. Another thing that my mother never went to town, not even to the grocery store in Philomath, without wearing a hat. It was, a woman was not supposed to be seen unless they had their head covered. I never carried on with any of those traditions. Back to when they got their first washing machine, I was going to grade school and the 00:17:00day that they got a washing machine it was not electric, of course, because we didn't have electricity. My dad came to the grade school to pick up my brother and I because he was so excited to tell me that they had a washing machine. This was one that had a motor on it. This was quite a luxury for us to have that.

When I was growing up, of course being on a farm we had about 22 cows and 4 horses and of course we had pigs and chickens because we raised everything that we ate. My mother would go to town twice a year, and it was for her to get flour and sugar and some spices and other than that, and she'd also, of course I'm sure buy, she'd have scotch tape, not scotch tape but adhesive tape for to fix 00:18:00bandages for us kids. We never was taken to the doctor like people do now. My one brother had ruptured appendix and was really, really bad. He wound up in a hospital. Luckily, he lived. One other brother I had got sick and it was in the wintertime. Finally we called a doctor and the doctor came out but could only come about, he couldn't come the last 3 miles to our house because the road wasn't plowed. My dad took a sleigh and the horses out to meet this doctor and brought him to the house. My brother was unconscious. He was probably about 7 years old at the time. The doctor said he has something very serious. He says, 00:19:00he's going to have to go to the hospital. So, they took him back up with the sleigh out to the doctor's car, which was about 3 miles away. The doctor took him to the hospital. It turned out, he had spinal meningitis, which is very serious and especially back then. They had to have some special serum flown into Ludington to inject in his spinal cord. Luckily, he made it, but it was, those were the only 2 times that I ever had a sibling have doctors [laughs], and they were serious. My mother was never in the hospital until she was just about a year prior to her death. Then she had some serious problems and she was in the 00:20:00hospital or the nursing home. They just didn't doctor [shrugs].

GB: I went to, when we came out here I was 5. When we settled here, I was put in 1st grade down here at the Westwood Schoolhouse. The teacher we had then was Mrs. Star, I think it was. She was, the kids used to be real mean. It was a 1-room schoolhouse, like all of them were. All the grades all in the one building. No matter what grade you were in, you heard the classes for all the grades. Anyway, after, I think it was about 2 years, my oldest sister had 00:21:00graduated from the teacher's college and she came out. She taught there. So, I had my oldest sister as my teacher, which also meant that I was the janitor. I cut the wood. I kept the fire going in an old potbelly stove. I did all that kind of stuff. Of course, it was so close to where we lived that I used to have to come at noon, I'd have to come up to the house because my mother would make a hot meal for her and I'd take that back down to her. All that kind of stuff. Looking back on it, you'd think kids didn't have any fun. Well, we didn't have fun other than what we could make. We had wheels off of wagons and all that kind of stuff was a precious item, because there's all kinds of things we could make 00:22:00with it. But we didn't have, kids today would think they were abused, because we had work to do. My job was take care of the garden, take care of the cow, do the milking, get the wood in, and all that kind of stuff. It seemed like it was a never-ending chore, but kids then, you know, the thing that we liked the most was when we got old enough to actually do what we'd call men's work. So, we just kept doing that. It was great. I completed grade school down here in the Westwood school. Then I went to the Philomath High School and went there for the 4 years. I almost didn't get to go because I was pulled out of, I had gone to 00:23:00high school for about a week and then I had to go out and plunk whistle. My mother raised such a stink that they let me go back and finish high school. I finished high school there and as soon as I got out of high school it was back to the woods again. That's pretty much been my life, is the woods. I think I've done work at every job that there is involving timber, both in the milling and logging, building logging roads, anything you can think of that's connected with timber I've done it.

LB: When we traveled out in 1939, the first trip to Oregon, we were here for 00:24:00almost a year and then we circled down into California where my father had some relatives around Corona, California. As we were going through Los Angeles, we had this car and pulling this trailer behind us and, of course, even then, they had like 3 or 4-lane highway and stuff and it was unusual for us from Michigan, where we had just narrow roads to be on a road that had 4 or 5 lanes going one way. We were on one of the inner lanes and we blew a tire. There was no way of getting off. You have to stop right there with that. My mother was sure that my dad and brother would get killed because the cars were zooming by and I think 00:25:00that was a record time for them to ever change a wheel on that car. My one daughter wrote in a storybook form our trip, both trips out to Oregon, because my mother kept detailed reports of how much they paid for gas every day, how much she paid for groceries, and I think it's' recorded that that one day we were traveling, we had 6 flat tires in one day. You didn't buy new tires when you were traveling. You carried a repair kit. You had to patch them. You know, if they paid $2 for a used tire someplace that was quite a bit of money. We traveled cheap.

GB: Well, after Pearl Harbor, then of course we were living at Newport at the 00:26:00time and I remember when we heard that Pearl Harbor was hit everybody grabbed their hunting guns and went out because they thought there was going to be an invasion, you know. Well, it didn't happen, but anyhow I decided that I would go ahead and enlist, because Oregon weather then that winter was ice and everything. It was horrible out there. Well, what the heck, going to get in it one way or another. Anyway, at that time you could get into the cadets and learn to be a pilot. You had to pass a, you had to have a 2-year college education or pass the test. Well, of course, I hadn't had the chance to go to college so I went and took the test and I passed the test, so they took me. Well, I wasn't 00:27:00quite, I was just 17, so they went ahead and swore me in. The funny part of it is, they put me in a calvary outfit for a while until they were waiting for me to turn 18 and an opening to go to cadet school to learn to fly and all that. Just as an aside, I think I was the only Air Force guy that had a split-tailored raincoat. Everybody wondered, where'd you get that raincoat? Well, I was in the calvary [laughs]. Anyway, finally, they had an opening for me and so I went back to Alabama, Montgomery, Alabama. At that time there wasn't anything like they have for the Air Force academy now. It was at Montgomery, Alabama. It was the 00:28:00same system and everything, and so anyway, I went ahead and went through primary and learned to fly in an old Stearman. Then up through, where was it? In Georgia. That was the next aircraft.

The Stearman was only an 220-horse and the next one was the old Vultee Vibrator, they called it, on land we had 440 horse there, flaps. Of course, running gear still didn't come up but it was a good airplane. I liked it, but our class that came up from primary was too big. There were 6 students to each instructor. 00:29:00Well, they only wanted 4. So, they went down the roster and just checked off 2 off each one. Well, I guess my name fell in the wrong slot, because then they said, well, they couldn't find anything wrong with my flying. I had to take test flights with all the different officers, all the way up to the commander of the base. When my major said, he says, you don't want to put the colonial through this, do you? Of course, being a cadet you are very well indoctrinated there. But he said, we'll do it this way. If you sign a waiver, we'll go ahead, when you get back all you have to do is come back and you can pick up and finish your 00:30:00pilot training. Of course, that didn't happen. But, anyway, I never really regretted it because the cadets, they made all the cadets thing the officers were gods. Enlisted men were just plunkies. I found out that that was really not true. I was glad that I didn't make it to that point. Anyway, of course they told me there were different places I could go and all that kind of stuff, but that didn't turn out either. They needed gunners. They sent me up to Denver, Colorado, and I went through the school up there for an armored gunner. That meant that I had to be able to operate any of the guns. I had to be able to 00:31:00repair anything in flight that could be done in flight and the bombs in the bomb bay were my responsibility. When we would take off, as soon as we got out far enough that they figured we was going to continue, it was my job to go down in the bomb bay, pull all the cotter keys out of the nose and tail fuses. Put them in my pocket. I had to save them. I'd count them to make sure because sometimes I had to go back in and put the pins back in, because we were going to land with them if we couldn't make it. Sometimes we'd just jettison them. I can't remember. As an aside, I remember one time we went up to southern France. We had two 1,000-pound bombs on and one 2,000 pounder. Well, we got up there to the 00:32:00coast of France and we was getting into bad trouble and had to turn around. The pilot wanted me to go back in and put the fuses, wire the fuses again. Well, we were out over the ocean there, the gulf there. I couldn't see why we'd do that. He was afraid we were too low to the water that the blast would maybe cause a problem. Well, I made the 2,000 pounder safe and I made one of the 1,000 pound safe, but I couldn't let them all go without seeing what it would do. So, I wired the nose fuse and left the tail fuse hot, so when we dropped it, it went down deep in the water and then when it blew, boy it did make the pretties flue 00:33:00you ever saw [laughs]. Of course, well, the fighters: well, what's going on. Must be a faulty fuse, you know.

Anyway, we went ahead and I finished flying. That was the 461st bomb squadron down there back in Italy. We flew all over all the countries. We went up into almost eastern countries up there, went up into Munich, Germany. Went to southern France and all those, anything we could reach flying 9 hours or so. I competed my tour, and during my tour on the next to the last flight we came 00:34:00back. Well, we got hit by enemy aircraft. Top gunner shot down one and I shot down one from the tail. When we were coming back along the alps there, we had electric flying suits, kind of like electric underwear. Well, mine started, I was chilling, shaking, you know. I turned it up and turned it up and the backs of my hands were burned from it. The wire shorted and all that stuff. Got back to the base, I found out I was coming down with malaria and that's what was causing it. I had what they call falciparum malaria. They just thought I was, my temperature got up to 112. It's the kind of, that's in your head. Your head 00:35:00just, it's just like being in the ocean. You head just swells out and breaks and when it breaks it collapses and you feel good. Then it goes up and it-I wasn't supposed to make it but I had a real good nurse. Of course, I've had lots of good nurses. Anyhow, I finished that up and then when I got back to the States, I had, what was it? A week or something like that off. Then they said, well, you're ready to go back and go back in B-29s. Well, I trained for that and I was assigned a crew and I was supposed to go meet them and then they wanted me to sign away my points. They had a point system for getting out, being discharged. 00:36:00I said, I'll go but I'm not going to sign away nothing. Then they decided, well, they'd release me. That's how I got out of the service. The funny part about this malaria part is that we had to sleep under netting all the time in order to, because a mosquito, if you got bit, well, you're going to get malaria, that's all it was. It's common back there. One of my, the ball turret gunner was a real good friend of mine. We were real buddies, and he laid in the cot next to me. He never, ever used his netting. I slept under the netting all the time. He never got it, but I got it.

When VE Day came I was in Denver, Colorado, going to school to train to go to 00:37:00the pacific on the B-29. I remember that that was on VE Day, you see these old pictures of the sailor hugging the girls and all that kind of stuff? That was real. That was a good time. Boy, that almost makes me forget. But, anyway, then the Hiroshima bomb, that came just before I got, I think I had just been assigned to the crew that I was supposed to go over. Then they dropped that. Then when they dropped that bomb, then Japanese surrendered. Then there was no more use for us. They tried to get us to reenlist of course, but then we knew 00:38:00that wasn't a good deal. So, came back and went to work logging [laughs]. When I got home, I was sitting, I hadn't been home out here for more than about a week. I was sitting on the steps in the old house and Rex Clemmons comes by. He says, well, he says you've been home long enough. It's time for you to go to work. He said, Cliff G. is starting a logging site, a high lead site. He says, I want you to go over there and be his, what do they call them? The chief running outfit. I told him, I've been out of it quite a few years now. I don't-he says, who was it? There was two of the guys.


LB: Louis Holder?

GB: Louis Holder and what was the other guy? They were logging up here on Dinner Creek. He says, you go up and spend 2 weeks with them, and he said, they'll get you back in the swing of it. I went up there and worked for those 2 weeks and I never touched a chocker. Those two guys, at the time I left, you just took the bingos. You didn't take 2nd growth. I'd go to the next old growth. They'd stop and send in some second growth. It was a learning experience. Then I finally got over there to where Cliff was working and that was on the rocky knob right over there at Salmonberry. If you look across from the highway you see that steep rock cliff, I logged all that for Cliff by myself down there. I'd have to-he didn't have a regular whistle pump, signalman to transfer the signals. You just 00:40:00hollered your lungs out and this guy's supposed to hear you and push the clicker or whatever to make the horn blow. That kind of stuff. I did almost all of that. Then when we moved out of that setting, he moved to another one. Power saws had come in then, so I got to work on Davis and Scio and I and Russell White, we were cutting up there for quite a while.

LB: When I was about 17 was the first that I met George. Like I said earlier, we met on a blind date. We double dated with another couple. I had left a boyfriend in Michigan when I moved out. He had been jilted by a girlfriend when he was in the service, so I guess we had something in common. Little did I realize that it 00:41:00would wind up in us getting married, but about a year later, why we got married and apparently it was okay because we've stuck together for 61 years. I would like to say how, when we got married weddings didn't cost anything like it did even when our daughters got married. The wedding cake was made by a friend and you didn't have all this expensive stuff that they have nowadays. I had a bridal shower and the gifts that I got then, I thought were just very elaborate, nice gifts, but it's nothing like what our daughters got or our sons when they got married. They were well fixed.

GB: Hey, I didn't get a bachelor's party.


LB: No, George didn't get a bachelor's party like they do now. We didn't go on the honeymoon like most couples do. George had this job over at Newport and our first place that we lived over there was at a motel and it was #13. I just thought it was wonderful. We'd go down to the ocean almost every day and I'd go down during the day when he was at work. We lived there for maybe about 3 or 4 months and then we got a basement apartment over in Newport. We lived there and then came back here when his brother was taken in the service and he came back to finish up a logging job out here. Of course, Philomath was our home for both 00:43:00of us. We never have moved very many times. Presently, we've been in our house 31 years and the house before this I think we were in it for over 20-some years. We're not like a lot of couples that moved around a lot. Consequently we have stuff that has belonged to his parents and my parents and-

GB: Great grandparents.

LB: We're not very good at throwing away stuff [laughs]. We have 4 children. We had a boy, then a girl, then a boy, and then a girl. I guess George didn't want anymore because he thought that we'd have to have 2 more then to keep it even [laughs]. We only had the 4 and the children were not too far apart. When we had 00:44:00the last child, she was only about a year and a half old, and I went to work full time and I went to work at the bank in Philomath. It was called Benton County Bank. Anyway, I had it very lucky, because George had the sawmill out here on his parents' place. His mother was very kind and offered to take care of the children. So, when he'd go to work in the morning he'd take the ones that wasn't in school out here and Grandma would take care of them. When he'd come home from work, he'd bring them. When I first started to work, the bank was open, well, their banking hours was like 10:00 to 2:30, so I was home from work about 3:00 every afternoon. It made it nice because it gave me a good day. All 4 00:45:00of our children went to the Philomath schools, grade school and then graduated from high school there. Their first grade teacher, every one of the 4 had Minnie McMurtry. I'm sure Minnie McMurtry there was no secrets in our family by the time the last one got there because they probably had been told many times to those. We lived in a house that was, we rented from my father because my mother was an invalid. I felt like I needed to live next door and help take care of her as much as I could. Of course, my father, he would watch the children, too. The school age children, he would take care of and George took care of the little 00:46:00ones by bringing them out to Grandma's. We lived in that house until after my father passed away, at which time I bought it from my dad's estate until we built out here.

Our youngest boy, John, when he was about 7 years old, we went on a church picnic and that was one of the disasters that he had growing up. We were out on Rock Creek and we'd come for a picnic and it was the church in Philomath and there was quite a big group of us. The young boys were running down the hill there at Rock Creek. John comes running down this hill and he tripped and it forced him to fall forward and he landed on a jagged stump and it pierced his 00:47:00head. He really was injured pretty bad. One of the gentleman that was there at the picnic from the church drove John and I into the hospital at Corvallis. It was a Sunday, naturally, because it was right after Sunday school that we'd gone. The doctor said, well, I'll sew it up and I think he'll be okay. I said, well, he should have it x-rayed. Well, he says, there's no x-ray technician here on Sunday, he said. I said, well, I don't want to take him home unless he's x-rayed. So, they called the x-ray technician and in the meantime, the man who had taken me in there brought me back out so I could come out and tell George what had happened because he was working doing some repair work down on the mill 00:48:00for the next day. When I got back to the hospital they were broadcasting my name over the mic. I got there, and they said, the x-ray technician said your little boy has got to go either to Portland or to Eugene to have brain surgery. So, I said, well, Eugene's closer than Portland, so let's take him there. That was my first trip I ever had in an ambulance, and it could be my last as far as I was concerned that day because they just flew. Make a long story short, he had crushed the top of his head down and it had tore the lining on his brain. Normally, they used to put plates in a person's head. They didn't do that. They 00:49:00just pieced it together and it was like an eggshell with cracks. He was there for 10 days. His prognosis was not that great, but he had a lot of prayer and I'm thankful he's never had any problem. The doctor said he would and they put him on medicine. He never had one problem and he now is a successful contractor. Our oldest boy became an ADP, which is Automatic Data Processing. He has worked for the same company now, I believe, for over 30 years.

GB: He came out of the Air Force.

LB: He came out of the Air Force with this education, and he has done very well in Portland and probably will soon retire. Our oldest daughter was married to an 00:50:00Air Force man and she now lives in Florida. She had two children. Our youngest daughter lives in Portland. She worked for a number of years as a financial person working on grants for OSHU and OGI. We've been very, very fortunate with our children. We're very blessed. We have 9 grandchildren and they all have done well. They all have very nice children. I'm proud of my great grandchildren also. We have 8 of them. Our oldest child was a boy. Naturally, I thought since my husband had been named after his dad that our oldest would have to be named after his dad, so he was named George Steven Best. Their middle names are 00:51:00different. So, he really wasn't a junior, but he and all through school, we always called him Steve. However, when he went into the Air Force he had to go by George. It's taken me quite a few years but I've finally gotten to where I will refer to him as George instead of Steve. Our oldest daughter is Judy and I have to say when she was born I had a different name picked out for her. My mother-in-law when she heard the name I had picked out for her, she says, oh, no. Not that name. So, George comes back to the hospital and he says Mom doesn't want that name for her. So, I contacted the nurse and I said, if you haven't 00:52:00sent it in I want to change the name to Judy. That didn't really please his mother too well, because she said it should have been Judith. Sometimes daughters-in-law can't win [laughs]. But, she was named Judy and that's what she goes by. John was named primarily, my father was John and I thought my dad was the best man there ever was, but George's grandfather was John William Best. So, we named him John William Best and some of the Best relatives thought, oh, he was named after him and never gave my dad credit. But, actually, the John was partly, mainly because of my dad. I had a brother John. Then our last one was 00:53:00Cindy. Her name really is Cynthia, but we always went by Cindy. By then, my mother-in-law didn't say anything about calling her Cindy [laughs].

GB: Well, some of the things that I've done is I've built a lot of log bridges. I've got 3 of them up on the watershed and there's a couple down over by Yachats and different places like that. Donkey sleds, I've made a bunch of those. I learned from a guy that first sled we ever built was for my dad's yarder. This guy was a real craftsman. He lived up on the coast. I worked with him. I was 00:54:00chasing the tree at that time, and we built that sled for our yarder because we had to have one. I worked with him and learned how to do it. After that, I don't know, I can't remember how many small sleds I built for loading pots, but I did make a sled down here. I wasn't doing anything down here, and there was a guy that was logging up on Wrangell Island. It's up by Alaska. He wanted a sled. So, I built-I wasn't running the mill then, so in the mill yard I got some logs and I had an advantage, I guess, because of the bridges I'd done on the watershed. 00:55:00The people that were running that, when I had to do something like that I could go up there and pick out any of the old growth I wanted. All the stuff I made was peter-grade logs made out of [inaudible]. Anyway, I built that and then when I got it built we got it, I think I still have my lift truck here. We got it on a truck. They took it to Seattle and put it on a barge and towed it up to Wrangell. The guy was so pleased with it, he told me, he says, I've got a cabin. I've got a boat up there. He said, you just come up there and you can just fish, play around, do whatever you want. It was a good offer, but it wasn't what I could accept because I couldn't leave. I kind of invented something. When we 00:56:00were building road up on Watershed it was 100% cleanup. The banks, shoulders, and all that stuff had to be ready to plant the grass. We had to burn all the refuse and everything. I had this 977 that I was using to do the clearing and all that kind of preparation. Then Bob would come along with the D8. I'd actually do the heavy work.

Anyhow, I got to thinking about what I wanted to do to this thing. It got where time was, we had to quit work because it was too wet, I think is what it probably was. I had figured, well, now while we can't work I'm going to go ahead 00:57:00in my shop down there and I'll build one of those. It so happened, that Bob needed a stump splitter for the D8, so I had to make that. We contacted, oh, who was it? This outfit up in Portland or Seattle. I can't think of the name right now. Anyhow, they said that they would go ahead and build it for us at cost, whatever the materials cost. So, they had their head guy up there. He called me up and I told him on the phone what I wanted and the points that I had to have, 00:58:00how I wanted it to work. They drew up a blueprint and sent it down to me. Of course, tooth spacing and all that kind of stuff I thought was real important, you know, and so their engineer up there, he thought maybe it ought to be this spacing or that spacing. I said, no. I've already thought about all this. This is exactly what I got to have. He sent me the blueprints and I looked at them and he had done a real good job. So, I told him go ahead and build it. Well, they went ahead and built it. After a certain length of time, I don't remember how long it was, they put it on a truck and brought it down to the landing where I was working. I put it on that, it was late afternoon, I put it on the Cat. I 00:59:00had, oh, maybe 15, 20 minutes or something like that to play with it. Well, the next morning when it came work time here was a whole group from this outfit that built it. They had, I don't know how many, just steel cameras and they had 2 or 3 movie cameras. There must have been about 8 or 9 guys there, all the big shots, engineers and everything. They said, okay what does it do? I demonstrated what all the things I could do with it. I don't know how much film or stuff they used, but it was a lot. A lot more than what we're doing.


Anyway, when they got ready to leave, the guy, of course, I just wanted it. I didn't want to fool with patents. My dad had tried that before. That's impossible. I just wanted the thing. Anyhow, he said, well, he said the next time you get a bright idea be sure you let us know. Well, it was 2 months after that that those things were standard in almost all sanitation dumps and all that kind of stuff. It just went over like crazy, and you can still buy that thing on today's stuff. It really made a big difference. So, I did get to do a little bit of inventing. My oldest son, Steve, he decided that he wanted to have some 01:01:00tractors, and he bought an old tractor and drove it down in the parade at Philomath, rode it clear in there and clear back. That got him started. First thing you knew here he started coming up with all kinds of old tractors: Rumelies, the old oil-pull Rumley. All those real old time ones. Well, we built a pole barn down here. It's about 60'x30', and that thing was packed tight with all those, all the different makes that you can think of as the real old ones, the oil-pulls, the Hubers, and all those things. Well, with them being here and him being up there in Beaverton at that time, who do you suppose had to do the work? I've got a D4 Cat that I'm restoring, ready to get rid of. I've got a John 01:02:00Deere A that is one of the Warrior As, a good stout one. I've got it complete. I've got plenty of stuff to keep me busy [laughs].

LB: When the kids were growing up, naturally I was quite active in all their school things and their sport things. When I went to work for the bank, that was in 1956. My idea of when I went to work was, you know, try to do the best you can so that you can advance as far as possible. Well, I started as a bookkeeper, because that was I guess you could say the entry job back then. But they offered classes and it was through the American Institute of Banking. These were night 01:03:00classes, and I felt like education didn't hurt anyone and so I would take a night class almost every time they'd offer one in the fall and in the winter term and spring term. I took several. In fact, I got a certificate as a graduate of having taken required courses for so many years. Some of these were taken at LBCC, so I did actually have enough credits that I graduated from LBCC by going to night school. Out of the 7 children that my parents had, I was the only one that ever got a college degree. Of course, by the time I got it my mother was already gone but my dad was very proud to think that I had gotten a college 01:04:00degree. When I was working at the bank, naturally I went to different things that would be taking place. One of the things was Pioneer telephone had an annual membership meeting every year. Of course, I went to it because we had a telephone and I wanted to hear what the reports were. I'd go, and her sat these 9 men up on the platform. By that time I was a woman officer for the bank, which was a little bit rare back when I was made an officer. I kept thinking, why don't they have a woman on the Pioneer telephone board? I think some women are just as capable as these 9 men sitting up there. I always thought that I would like to be on the board. But, I found out that the board members are picked 01:05:00according to the area in which they live, and the man that I would have to run against was a good customer of the bank. So, I felt that as long as I was with the bank, I could not run against him because they could say conflict of interest.

After I retired, then this gentleman that I would replace who happened to be Carl Bennett, his health had gotten quite bad. One day when I was bowling, his wife said, well Carl's term is coming up and he's not going to run again. Hey, the light went on and I said, well, then I'm going to see about running out for the board. By that time, they had already gotten another lady on the board, 01:06:00Carol Stevie, which I was thrilled when I found out that Carol was going to be on the board because hey, finally they're recognizing women. I knew Carol was a very good one for that position, too. I went to the phone company, and I said, I understand that Carol's not going to run so I would like to be able to run. They told me, well, you must petition or you either have to petition or you have to be nominated by the nominating committee. To petition you had to get, I believe, they said 1% of the membership. Anyway, they gave me the forms and I had mentioned it to different people and I was shocked at how many people said, hey, give me one of your petitions and I'll get signers for you. In no time at all, I 01:07:00had 200 people signed up that they wanted my name on it. I got on. I'm now just finished up about 10 years on there. I have enjoyed it very much. It's like any other job. There's more to it than what you think when you get on it. It's not just a monthly business meeting. There are conferences to attend. There's a lot of reading material to attend, but they are nice people on there. I have enjoyed it. So, during my retirement years I guess you would say that's what I do. I also was a hospice volunteer, and currently I'm not because I feel like George is enough that I don't need to have another patient. But, over the course of 01:08:00time I had 20 different hospice patients that I cared for. Some would only be a short period of time, but I had one lady that had heart problems and I had her for 4 years before she passed away. I enjoyed helping older people when I could. My mother having been an invalid, I realized what it meant to her to have somebody that came and just visited and cared for her. I have tried to do that. I've also been quite involved with the Westwood church down here. When we moved out here, George got interested in doing a lot of restoration down there of the building. He and Ray Huff put a new foundation under. They built the front rooms 01:09:00on. Later, they added a unit in the back that became Sunday school rooms. They also built a building down by the creek that every July we hold a sing service and have ice cream. We have been quite involved with Westwood Church since we have moved out here.

GB: About Westwood Church, see I first went to church there when we came out in '27. The people here bought it in '28. I used to, I was down at, that church was one of my old homes. Well, then when I got back from the service and it had been down for a while, the neighbors had been keeping goats in there for a while. The 01:10:00community tried to make it a community center and all that kind of stuff. It kind of went against my grain, or something, I guess. In the meantime, Ray Huff used to preach over at Alsea, and he used to stop by here anytime he'd see me down around my buildings down there, shop buildings. He'd stop and he was always talking to me about problems he was having with the church and this that and the other. So, I'd tell him what I thought and all that kind of stuff. We knew each other pretty well, but anyway, it got to the point where the building was in bad shape, but it hadn't been used. We made up our mind we were going to start a Sunday school. With about, oh probably, 6 or 7 people besides us, we started a 01:11:00Sunday school. Wasn't too long that Ray noticed that we were having some stuff going on down there and so then he decided well, maybe he'd like to come out and preach out here. So, then when Ray come out, we started-if we're going to do something we've got to fix the building, because it was just, floors were all this way and that way and the foundation was, they just built it on some stuff over some big rocks. Anyway, we went ahead, I told Ray if we're going to work on it we've got to start at the foundation. That's what we did. We put a new foundation under it and then we started repairing it and for about 3 years, 01:12:00well, maybe I should say that before I start talking about this I had just finished a house. I was suffering angina something terrible. So, I could work down there at the church all day long, never have a twinge. Come back and try to work on the house and here it'd come again. I took that as a signal. Wouldn't you?

Anyhow, for the next 3 years we were down there 7 days a week. We worked on it all the time that there wasn't service. Ray did the preaching. I had the adult Sunday school class and I also the Wednesday evening Bible study. To my knowledge, I think I was the only one that was ever made a deacon down there. I 01:13:00didn't know of anybody that'd been a deacon down there before, but we got it going and we really-then Ray decided that he wanted that outside thing down there so we could have some services down there. Well, he built a little thing down, temporary platform down there and that first year he had 200 people attend it. That's all the churches around, because Ray was a good guy to get things organized. He had all the preachers and all the churches around us that were, they were holding weekly meetings and all that kind of stuff. It was real tight-knit. So, he got things done. The first year there was 200. Then, we 01:14:00decided, okay, we're going to, we built that little thing down there. I split all the shakes. He had a bunch of-by the way, it didn't cost the church a cent for all the work we did, because when I built the house all the stuff that I had extra went down there. Ray used his Social Security money to buy what I didn't have. Ray had gotten a whole bunch of cedar stuff that would make shakes. After we got the building framed all that. I did all that log work down there with that. That was part of my expertise was how to do all that. Everybody always asks, how did you get that pole bent there, you know, and that stuff. But, anyway, we got it all together. The second year we had 500 people down there 01:15:00attending that.

LB: I might say this was an outdoor service the last Sunday of July. All the churches in the Philomath area were invited, and it was a night of music. So, each church was asked to have a special number. It might be their choir that would come out and sing. It might be some musical instruments that people would play and because of so many of the churches being invited, naturally it made the group quite large. We always had ice cream and then we'd have cake and cookies to go with it.

GB: When she was talking about the instruments and stuff, at that time in order 01:16:00to get ready for that, that was a full day's work for Ray and I. I built a special cart so we could take the piano from the church down there. Then, I took my big organ down because we had Susie and Marva. Marva played piano and Susie, she'd play the organ. Those two girls, they're real special to me because I always sat in the back of the church, of course, because we had a sound system put in and so I had to run that besides be there to hand, meet the people and all that kind of stuff, you know. Those two girls, one of the songs we used to have them play quite a lot is "I've got a mansion on top of a hilltop." Well, those girls, they got used to keeping one eye on me and when I wanted them to 01:17:00pick up the beat and get moving, I'd sit there and they'd look. Immediately, they'd do it. We almost became Pentecostal at times, but everybody-it's non-denominational and you can't teach individual lines that way. You've got to just stick strictly to the broad picture, right straight from the Bible. That's what we did. We really had a good time there. Of course, I've got a lot of pastors and people like that in my background. So, I think I always had a high respect for pastors and people that did that kind of work. Then, after things 01:18:00are kind of changed, Ray had a breakdown and couldn't preach. I had to get in different pastors. Sometimes they even tried to get me to preach, and I said I'm not called to preach. I'm going to teach, because that's what I was doing. Then, it got to the point where we started getting a little bit of different people coming in who tried to force different ways. It kind of was tending to split the church some, which was wrong, but anyhow. After having to work with so many preachers that way, it didn't take me long to find out the ones that were truly believers and which were in it for some other reason. I could name some names, 01:19:00but I wouldn't do that because you have to forgive. It's been a great life and I really liked the little church. Unfortunately, I can't attend all the time now.

LB: George has always been a very busy man. He always felt like making sure providing for his family was upmost, and the first real vacation that George and I ever took was when our first grandchild was born back in San Antonio, Texas. We went and flew back to see this new grandchild, and I think we spent at least 01:20:00a week back there at the time. That was our first airplane trip together and vacation. We had had like a weekend trip to go to eastern Oregon where I had a brother living, but to actually take time off work, which he did then, was when Doug was, our first grandson was born. Later, our other daughter was living in Washington, D.C., when she had her first child. I went back when the child was born, but shortly after I think it was around Christmastime, George took 2 weeks off, and we had a trip to Washington, D.C. for 2 weeks. But, primarily he has always had something to do either for the mill or he had to get a project done 01:21:00for somebody or a road built to where he has not really traveled very much and of course now his health has been such that he has not been able to go on any of the conference trips that I go on for the phone company. He doesn't resent the idea that I go by myself when I go on these trips.

GB: Well, I've been around the world. When I went overseas, we picked up our airplane and we flew it down to Brazil and then across to Dakar and then up to Marrakesh. So, I don't have any urge to-and most of the places that way that you would go, those people weren't very friendly at that time.

LB: Another thing that George has taken time to enjoy but just an afternoon at a time, is he got interested in gold panning [laughs].


GB: Gold prospecting.

LB: He joined the Gold Prospectors and he was always going to find me a nugget. Well, needless to say, you'd have to have a high-powered magnifying glass to make a nugget out of what he found [laughs]. One of the years that we was down at this tractor and engine show, you're down there where there is kind of some gold country and there was some miners there. The one guy had a display and he was selling gold nuggets. He had one made into a necklace, and George, I guess, decided after several years of not finding one he better just buy one for me.

GB: Yeah, but tell me what kind of investment that was.


LB: Yeah, at the time he bought it gold was down I think around $200 an ounce, and of course, in the last couple weeks it actually hit $1,000. He keeps reminding me of how valuable my necklace is now that he gave me [laughs].

GB: Yeah, that $200 necklace is now about $1,000 necklace.

LB: Well, you paid $241 for it.

GB: Is that what it was?

LB: Yes.

GB: Gee, I didn't know I spent that much on you [laughs].

LB: [Laughs].

GB: But it is nice.

LB: I really like it.

GB: You know, that's another thing that this area here has that's pertinent maybe to this that you're doing is that there's a gold mine up on Marys Peak. Every one of these creeks here has gold stories. In fact, if you really want to get interested I can show you a prospect hole on Starker's property up here.


LB: Well, wasn't it that there was a man that lived up there that made his living that way?

GB: Yeah. He made-Wally and I, that's my brother-in-law, we used to hunt back there an awful lot. We were coming down through the vine maple and almost fell into that hole. That's all it is, is prospect hole. There's boards in the bottom of it. It's about 12' deep. Some of the kids and I, we went up there and was going to see if we could find out what was down there but decided it wasn't safe to do it. I think all these creeks around this area, you know, Shotpouch has a lot of it. This country has a history for gold, and gold is not as rare as you 01:25:00think. You can find gold anywhere almost. Not big, but not enough to make it worthwhile, but it's fun to see if you can find it, not getting it. That's all I do. If I can find it, then the kids can dig it, if they want to dig. I've got a whole collection there. I can show you later.

LB: [Laughs] Yeah, one of the things that he likes to do in the last few years was to go over to Brogan, Oregon, and Brogan is just a very small place. I think 53 people live there.

GB: It used to be real large.

LB: We would go out to some of these old mining places. Of course, they were out way in the tulies, and I remember one day going out and it's not uncommon to see rattlesnakes.


GB: They don't hurt you.

LB: Man, one time I saw on that stretched clear across in front of the pickup.

GB: Yeah-oh! Kill it! Run over it! I wouldn't do that.

LB: I wanted him to kill it, but he wouldn't.

GB: Well, the guy that owned the place there, Jack, he used to log with Brandis and those up here. When we went over there and he found out that I knew Brandis and a bunch of those guys, then we were cousins. Then the place was ours. He took us out to his old claims and all that kind of stuff. You know, it's great. The friendships that you make and that, there's a lot of good people in that.

[Change in recording setting to outdoors]

Okay, we're out in the Westwood Creek area. This is a piece of land that my grandfather used to own and now Starker Forests have it. That's why we're out 01:27:00here looking at this to see the difference. My granddad had a sawmill down, way down there. He built that in the '20s and he had a steam sawmill down there that was cutting this old-growth timber up here. Of course, now there's a lot of reprod up here, but at that time it was just all old growth. They built a railroad grade that came from down there and it came back up to where we're standing and then it went on past clear back up to over the top of Franklin Ridge, which is back here quite a ways. There was 3 ½ miles of track, so it covered quite a lot of territory. Well, I was talking about the locomotive they have and now don't think of this as locomotive like what you see in the railroads, this was a converted Forson tractor that had large steel flanged 01:28:00wheels, hard rubber tires on it. It was built to run on wooden rails rather than on an iron rail. They had to build that and it came up here. Well, it had to be on the railroad grade and so of course seeing the country, here you can see it was quite a challenge. But what they did was they put up a squirrel tree down there, which they rigged a tree with a block up in it and a cable that went down so that every time it had to go up or down the grade, why the cable was hooked to the, I believe it was the trailer that had it. It would pick it up going up 01:29:00and down and automatically hook up and on hook as they passed that point.

That log, it was kind of like a counter balance. It took the place of the brakes, which it didn't have hardly anything but a hand brake and of course that wasn't much good for anything, but anyway, that was the method they used to get it up and down until it got up here on the top of the ridge and then from there on it was all pretty easy going. They went clear across up over the top of Franklin Ridge into what is now the watershed and they went over there probably, oh, I can't remember but it was probably, it was, yeah I can't recall for sure, 01:30:00but I know it was far enough that they could reach down another 40 acres. All the settings that when you're logging, you're logging a setting that basically about 1,250' from your landing to the tail blocks. So, they went over the top of Franklin Ridge into what is now the watershed by at least a quarter of a mile. Of course that now has reverted to watershed, but it's up almost to that point is still now owned by Starkers. We've got a big old growth tree back here. That's where the railroad went past it. You'll notice that there had to be lots of little trestles going across these gullies in order to maintain a railroad 01:31:00grade. But that big old fir there was right alongside of the track. It was very distinctive because it had such enormous limbs coming out that we're like big horns.

Alright, this picture that we're looking at now is part of the foundation for the Dutch oven that was at the steam mill. We're looking at the end that would should have a big metal covering across the face. It has the doors and that kind of stuff. Then this picture is the other side of that foundation. You'll notice down there on the bottom of it, it has an opening down there. That was to clean out the ashes from the fire that you had in there, kind of like a clean out door 01:32:00on a Spanish stove. This piece of pipe, galvanized pipe here, this is a piece of the pipe that carried the sawdust from the planer out to the sawdust pile. They had a big pile out there. They blew it out there and then they would periodically set it on fire. It wasn't used for anything. The sawdust from the saws was used to feed the boiler. Now, this picture shows that same area. You see, oh, gosh, back in there at the bottom of those two trees there's a place where something was sitting. There's a white stake there. I don't recall right 01:33:00offhand what that was, but to the right over there you can see where the road was going off down towards where the shop was. Back there a little farther I think that part of that foundation. Okay, now here we're looking at a piece of metal that's leaning against that foundation.

Now, this was part of the front door. There was some other stuff there, too, and I don't know exactly what piece this is. I suspect that it looks like it has a lever on it. It probably had something to do with the doors that went across that. Okay, this is a Fordson tractor locomotive that we have been talking 01:34:00about. This is the big steel flanged wheels that it runs on. It's got the hard rubber tires. The track that it ran on is just like these ties down here, same thing. One reason they weren't all that great a success is because running this iron wheel against the inside of a wooden piece, it tended to grab the wood and then it'd derail itself. It was a thrilling experience for the engineer. When my dad came back out here the first thing that he did to help this was he built a big platform on the back so the operator could stand up. Of course, you needed 01:35:00it-you can see the big handle here behind me, that's the brake. It's only on 2 wheels, and you have to pull that by hand, which is pretty hard to stop.

Anyway, he put that big platform back there so that if you derailed you had a chance to jump, try to save yourself because this thing, it went back to the woods in a forward gear. You can notice that the hitch for the trailer was on the front there, so the trailer was out here with the logs on. When you were going back to the mill, you went back in reverse, you pulled the load in reverse because there's no turning it around. But to go back empty, then you had the 01:36:00advantage of using your transmission for the higher gears, which helped speed it up a little bit. But it was not a fast operation anyway. It was, of course, in those days it was better than walking. Now, this locomotive, of course, it just was the same thing as the modern day log trucks. It transported the logs from the landing, and of course all the logs were logged with the high lead system at that time, just the same. It wasn't, it used to be they were all steam donkeys that did the logging, but now, at this period of time it was all-I imagine it was a gas engine. I can't remember which one it was, but I do have pictures of it. It was a regular high lead, and like I said before, you figured on dragging logs about 1,250' from the edge of the woods up to the landing. That was kind of 01:37:00a standard thing for almost all yarders. I probably should say that this was a 4-wheel trailer. It would be an equivalent to what the short loggers run. So, the logs on it, I think probably most of it was 28' and not over 36' long for their log lanes.

[Demonstration section of recording begins; GB is using an axe to chop a tree]


A lot of guys would want it that high, but that's what it ought to-most of them would have it up about like that, because that gives you a down...you see, 01:39:00there's no way it's going to come out of there. Okay, this flange is what holds it in there. This is tapered on the back so it's a sharp edge leaning this way. When you get it in there and start putting weight down on it, well, all the weight is here pulling on it. Of course, between here and the heel, that holds that rigid. You get all the swing that you want.

When we get this one completed and all fixed up, then when we put it in there we 01:40:00can bounce on it. It's called a springboard because that's what it does. It's a board that springs. When it stays in there, why then it gives you a nice place to balance, improves your swing and a lot of things that I ain't got no more [laughs]. This is actually not a true fallers axe because the blades are not quite long enough and they flare. Now, if this part of the blade was straight out and much longer then for chopping these deep holes it gives you much more blade to work with. It helps to have it sharp, which this one isn't.