Emil Getschmann Recalls Good Ol' Days in Woods

Logging these days is a Sunday-school picnic compared to the days when Emil Getschmann

worked in the woods. Getschmann began his career amid

the Northwest's towering cedar, fir and spruce when

he was 8 years old; he retired 11 years ago and is

now 77.

Beginning his career as a "bull-cook flunkie"

in a horse-team operation on the Stilaguamish

River, he worked his way up to "whistle punk" on a

steam-donkey crew. Bull-cook funkies made $10 a month.

"Been in the woods since I was knee high to

a cross cut saw," says Getschmann, who has

since worked every job in the woods at least once.

He recalls the days of logging competitions usually held on holidays or sometimes just for

show, and he gained renown in the early 1920s when

he won the Disston Saw log-bucking competition.

The tree was a 40-inch in diameter second log, "harder than a bone," and Getschmann made the

cut in 5 minutes. "I could have done it in four

minutes flat if the tree had been green," he said.

Governor Hartley gave him a cup and $50. That was the start of his competition career, which

lasted until he decided it wasn't worth the strain on

his muscles and lungs — about six contests later. He

is listed among the first official logbucking champs

in the state.

"Even for a person in good shape, it takes

more out of you than you can get back in a

month," Getschmann says _ and that's if you don't smoke

or drink. He recalls Eldred Loop who sawed a

54-inch log which won him a $75 prize. "They took him

to the doctor that afternoon and it took him six

months to recover," said Getschmann.

Falling a tree is a two-man job but log bucking

is not. "You get that seven-foot saw all to yourself,"

he says, adding that there is also a knack to getting

a good cut.

Getschmann recalls the days he worked from 8 to 10 hours when a common tree was eight feet in


The biggest he remembers was 15 feet, 7 inches. Five feet is big now, he says. Chokers in those

days were 1 1/4 inches in diameter; they are 7/8

inches now.

The men in the business were made for the trees they toppled. "Then a man was nothing more than

an animal," Getschmann says. He recalls the old

bosses such as "Few Clothes Swanson" and "Baloney

Bill Ironguard" — the euphemisms of course weren't

really so delicate.

"Few Clothes would buy a pair of overalls in

the spring, and by fall they'd be falling off

him," Getschmann says.

Even though the business has been mechanized, Getschmann says the most important advances

have been made in the area of safety. "In those days, if

a man happened to get in the way and get killed,

someone would drag him off to the side until

quitting time, and then take him into town."

Logging was a temporary job in one place. "If

a guy liked the job, sometimes he'd stay as long as

two months, but two or three week was common,"

says Getschmann.

Usually when a man would leave a job, he'd go

to town, let off steam and go back out on another

job. Getschmann recalls some dances in town where

the festivities were disrupted by an average of two

or three fights.

Getschmann came to the Valley in 1927 to cut timber on contract for Preston Mill.

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