Traveling Tuesday: They Came, They Sawed, They Left
New England forests were decimated with more than 2.7 billion board feet falling which created an extreme fire hazard. In addition, without being salvaged the timber would rot and become worthless. Called upon to handle the destruction, the US Forest Service created the Northeastern Timber Salvage Administration. The Administration secured a loan from the Disaster Loan Corporation in the amount of $16,269,300.
Doing no logging itself, the NETSA paid owners after they delivered salvaged material. In an effort to prevent problems in the timber market, the Forest Service established log grades and prices, purchased and stored logs, sawed or contracted for sawing, and channeled the lumber into the market. Employees of the Civilian Conservations Corps and the Works Projects Administration took care of the hazard reduction work.
In the outskirts of Concord, New Hampshire, the Turkey Pond Sawmill was run by the Durant Family.
And work they did. According to one Forest Service manager, “Snow, rain, or sub-zero weather never slowed them up.” NETSA director John Campbell reported in 1942, “The female mill at Turkey Pond is going along nicely. It’s most surprising and gratifying to see the way those gals take hold of the job. In addition to the jobs we anticipated women could handle, we have found them capable of rolling logs on the deck, running the edger and for ‘show purposes’ even running the head saw.”
The mill operated for two years with a starting wage of $4.00 a day (significant when a waitress made about $1.40 a day and retail clerks earned about $1.80). Also, significant is that the wage was the equivalent of men’s wages.
Florence Drouin Blake was 15 years old when she went to work at Turkey Pond. “For me, it was about being all grown up and working with a bunch of women that were older than I was. They were all good gals. They helped me, and I helped them.” Despite being one of the youngest girls in the group, she had experience. She’d been cutting wood since age thirteen when her father gave her an ax for Christmas.
On November 23, 1943, the last logs were sawed, five years after being delivered.
Think you could have done the work?
Estelle Johnson promised to wait for Aubry DeLuca, but then she receives word of his debilitating injuries. Does she have the strength to stand by him in his hour of need?
Aubry DeLuca storms the beaches at Normandy, then wakes up in the hospital, his eyes bandaged. Will he regain his sight? Will the only woman he’s ever loved welcome him home or is he destined to go through life blind and alone?
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