Sawdust in My Gotches




Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 7/25/2001

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 320
ISBN : 9781552127698

About the Book


PART ONE: the story of meeting my husband, Charlie during the Second World War and my introduction to sawmilling. It covers the first couple of years of our life working together at the cedar Claim, a small timber sale with dead trees left from the fire that had raged through the district years before. It also takes in the small businesses that Charlie had, plowing gardens, etc. with a Ford farm tractor.

PART TWO: This chapter is mostly about CharlieÕs work in his excavating business. It tells of our trials and frustrations trying to keep the business going. It briefly takes into account the joys and trials of raising five children, my ten-year experience of dealing with Multiple Sclerosis, and our camping, houseboating and other hobbies.

PART THREE: This is the story of our experiences operating a salvage sawmill on Haslam Lake, in the Powell River district, from 1969 to 1977. It tells of our partnership with our brother-in-law, our operating thte mill together after his illness, and the sale of the mill. The logs for the mill came from Ôdead and downÕ timber sales, driftwood on the lake and dead timber on the edge of the lake. We did not make much of a dint in the log supply that had been left there from past logging operations. Many of our customers were American ÔhippiesÕ doing their thing in Canada. Charlie and I worked together to run the mill with occasional help from student groups who were assigned to get hands-on experience. We also had manpower recipients and probation boys and girls.

PART FOUR: The time between the sale of the mill and our going overseas to Papua New guinea as volunteers for CUSO.

PART FIVE: This is the story of the biggest experience of our lives: working and living with people of another culture. Charlie and I went to Papua New Guinea (PNG) on a two-year assignment with CUSO, a volunteer development organization. Our job was to develop a sawmill for the native people and train workers to run it. Many of the men had never had a paying job before. While there, we had three separate jobs before coming back to Powell River for a break. After our break, we went back to PNG for a few months. During that time, we tried to renovate a badly neglected sawmill and other equipment on Buka Island, PNG.
Much of this story tells of the way the people lived, worked and played. It is the story of our many experiences with the people, with our work and with the people we worked for. It tells things the way they were. It was a lifetime experience. We learned much about the culture and ways of the national people, the attitudes of other people in their relationships with the national people, and the beauty of the country of Papua New Guinea.
We were successful in developing a village sawmill in the Southern highlands and training the people to run it.
During the last five months of our assignment, we assessed several jobs for the CUSO_PNG office ad built a prototype sawmill at the Technical University in Lae, Marobe Province, with the help of the national students who were taking a machinist course at the university.
This part of the book was started while we were in PNG and was to be called "Tupela Goes Lon PNG" (Pidgin for ÔTwo People Go To Papua New GuineaÕ). It could still be a separate book, as it is the largest part of our story and has many pictures.

PART SIX: I have ended this book with our return to Powell River after our second assignment with CUSO in Papua New Guinea. It is a brief account of the development of ÔBasic Sawmill TrainingÕ and our attempts to share our knowledge and experience with young people and others. It also tells of our participation in fairs, exhibitions, etc., and our involvement with the Native People of BC, Junior Forest Wardens and other organizations.

I have reserved the last twenty or so years of our lives for another book.

About the Author

Gerri Parsons was born and raised in the big city of Buffallo, New York. She met a Canadian soldier in May of 1943 and after not seeing him for four and a half years married him in 1948. At that time Charlie owned a small sawmill so Gerri's life of working in a sawmill began two days after they were married.
They have raised five children, have 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Gerri and Charlie have lived all their married life in Powell River, BC.
Together they were involved in many community groups and joined CUSO after selling their mill. The CUSO experince in Papua, New Guinea was one of the highlights of her life.

Longtime friend and associate, Barry Miller says of Gerri Parsons:

"In the spring of 1973, while working for Powell River's Forest Ranger, Stan Hollinshead, I was in the process of checking logging ad milling operations for necessary fire-fighting equipment and operating procedures. It was during one of these inspection trips that I met the ParsonsÊ-ÊCharlie and Gerri. When I drove onto the premises of the Haslm Lake Sawmill, my attention was drawn immediately to a woman with lovely, long, red hair, wasing through a sea of sawdust that was well above her knees as she pulled boards off the greenchain - this first image of Gerri will always be with me.
Gerri signalled to her husband, Charlie that company had arrived. Charlie shut down the mill and the three of us had a lovely visit (the first of many over the years) as we carried out our fire prevention inspection.
I was soon to learn that Gerri and Charlie were not only a couple in marriage and at work in their Haslam Lake Sawmill, but they were, and are a couple in all aspects of their lives - true icons, to be cherished.