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Off For The Woods

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Probably at a thousand towns there are men now waiting for transportation to the camps, or hanging around looking for jobs. They are not burdened witli Saratoga trunks, and few of them have even white shirts. Their days are merry ones when they are sojourning in places of civilization, and after they have all departed the saloon keeper will detect a material decrease in his receipts. It would be strange if at some places special policemen have not been appointed to hold in check the strangers who are stopping among them. lt would be somewhat out oi the natural order of events if some of these strangers have not slept in the calaboose over night, and perhaps occasionally some one of them has asked of a citizen for a little money to enable him to pay his board bilí a day or two longer or until he can strike a job. These favors, however, are never asked as a gift, but are accompanied by a promise that the money will be returned immediately after the firat pay ciay, and ic might be possible to liad better dressed, and more polished men who would not remernber their clebts as well. We do not infei by this descriDtion that these loggers are really bad "men. Many a good man has worn a woolen shirt, and been enabled to carry his entire wardrobe in a big handkerchief. JToble-Learted fellows, many of theni are, who would share their last dollar with a companion disabled by a falling tree, or prostratecl by sickness in camp, and the nat that is passed among them for a suffering comrade would often make the contribution píate, that crcles around among many an elegant church for the cause of charity, look mighty fick. The men in the wooris will swear at one another, flght of ten, and are always ready to beat a fellow workman out of his last cent at poker, but when it comes to helping the unf ortunate their hearts are in the right place. The majority of the men who go into the pineries do aot leave behind them pleasant homes. In f act, many of them are homeless, and, virtually, wanderers - in the milis in summer, on the drives in the spring, and in tho woods in the winter. They float from Maine to Canada and from Canada to the JSTorthwest, ready at any season to travel in any direction where inclinations or a promise of increased pay may lead them, They can wield an ax, "yank" a saw, flourish an ox-gad, or hold a pair of reins, and feel that these qualifications will earn thern a liviug anywhere in the lumber regions. Their stock in trade is easily carried, and they tramp, tramp, but always with an object in view. The dangers of a camp are many. The giants of the forests will crush many a man the coming winter under their heavy bodies and spreading limbs, as they go down before the ax that year ai'ter year is cutting them away. The treacherous binder will sweep scores of drivers frorn their loads into eternity, and often, wlien loading and unloading, a log will roll over the man or men in its way, breaking limbs, or destroying life. The ax will go amiss, and instead of being imbedded in the wood, will strike some poor fellow standing in its course. The men are subjected to these dangers, and others as well. The wages they obtain would be little inducement for others than habitual woodsmen to chance the risk, but they go into the woods in a mood that tells little of a thought that befor tlie season shall end some of them maimed, will, with blankets thrown over them, be carried to the nearest hospital, and the bodies of others drawn on ox sleds to the nearest settlement and thence forwarded to their friends or buried in graves that will never be weptover, or even sought. They probably think little of this phase of the life they are entering upon afresh, and it is just as well they do not. These men possess an enviable virtue - the virtue of good health. No weakchested consumptive, no one debilitated by any disease, can be included in this great army. Every member of it must have nruscle and endurauce adequate to the work that must be performed. If lie does not, nothing is surer than that the law regulating the survival of the flttest will force him to abandon his position to be filled by some one else. They must be men who can eat pork and beans and molasses, who can get along without butter and the delicacies of the table, and who can work in the snow, sleet and cold, from daylight until dark, for six days in the week month after month. The business in which a logger is engaged calis for more endurance than that pf a soldier, for in addition to exposure, the logger is called upon to do severe manual labor. During the civil war many of the most enduring men in the army, and as brave men as ever faced a gun, carne from the pineries of the three great lumbering states. It need not be supposed that, because of the hard work in the woods, and a lack of so many of those privileges which are commonly supposed to make up civilized life, the loggers go dreadingly to their tasks. They gravitate to their forests as naturally as a smallfooted belle seks the ball-room. It is ' their life. They are used to work and do not expeot to live without it. Thev feel at home under the great trees, and in the camps, wliere of an evening tliey teil their stories through clouds of smoke. The fashions and ambitions that agítate the outside world, if known to them, cause them no unrest. In a eertain sense they are happy, icsomuch that they eat heartily and sleep soundly. They are doing a more important work than they are aware of. They are iilling a great niche in the world that is necessary to be filled, and which, if it were not filled, would be disastrous to trade and progress. Tlie blow of the axe, and the click of the saw are the forerunners of many of the blessings that we enjoy, and which the ones who do so much to produce them are forbidden to enjoy, even if they had a deire to. We feel sure that no one who has a perception of the importance of the v, ork that will be done the coming wirer by the army of 50,000 rough loggers who are now marching into the woods will hesitate to breathe a "P,nH v.w


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat