What Grandpa Said
My grandpa was actually my great uncle who raised my dad after his dad died. He was a hard living, hard drinking, cussin' old fart that loved the woods as much as he loved his wife. He was a meat cutter for twenty years in small towns all over the Sierras. He wound up being a foreman for the Pickering Lumber Company in the mountains above Sonora, CA. I remember visiting him at his cabin on Skull Creek when I was a little boy in the '50's. He and my dad would take me out fishing on the creek and show me the wildlife that proliferated the area at that time.
He was also full of stories like the one about the bear that broke into the cabin while he and Grandma were gone to town. When they returned, the cabin was trashed and the bear was running around outside with a gallon mayonnaise jar stuck to its snout. He always laughed when he told about how Grandma broke the jar off the bear's nose by chasing it around with a tree limb and whacking it whenever she got a good shot at it. One thing he told me was that I should take a good look around, because when I got to be his age, the place he was living, so remote from human habitation, would be changed considerably and much of the trees and wildlife would not be there.
I went up there to camp when I was a teenager in the '60's and even then you could see deer, bear and at night late in the summer you could hear the elk calling to each other. I have a series of pictures of my kids in front of the old steam engine they used to haul logs up onto the trucks for transport to the lumber mill. The pictures catalog the growth of my children from infants to preteen and they also catalog the deterioration of the old steam engine. Even then the place was difficult to get into and you had to know it was there to find it. Now the cabin is nothing but rotted wood in a pile and the roads are paved. The place is on a tourist map! I wonder what it will be like when my newborn grandchild and I go there for a visit.
Grandpa only lasted 10 years with the lumber company. His disgust for clearcutting the forest to harvest lumber and his age finally caught up with him. It hurt him until the day he died at age 83 in 1980 that he had taken part in destroying the forest.
I know people need homes and all the products we have gotten used to having, but we need to realize that there are already too many of us putting too much pressure on Mother Nature. We need to control our population and at the same time preserve natural habitats so that our grandchildren have some of these priceless treasures for their own enjoyment.