ASHS Column for 11 10 05
Jerry Simmons

As is my wont from time to
time, here is another story
from the archives of the
Alger-Sullivan Historical
Society. It tells a common
story of how people put up
with a "bummer" at the work-
place. This story first
appeared in "A Sawmill
Scrapbook, Volume Two,"
published in 1992. The story
is by Luman Mayo:


It seems that most of the old-timers, particularly those operating the planing machines, had to have tools to keep the machines in good operating condition. They kept these tools in a box nailed or bolted to the building supporting post near their work station. This box would have a hasp so that it could be locked.

Smoking was not allowed in a lumber mill, so many of the men would either chew tobacco or dip snuff. Some of the men would leave their snuff in their tool box because the tin can in which the snuff was received would tend to wear a hole in one's clothes.

As it is with every group of people there is always some one who is a "Deadbeat." We had one of them. This one man, I won't call any names, even though I remember him very well, during the day would from time to time go by one box or another and help himself to a dip of snuff. Many of the men started locking their boxes. This made things very difficult, since the machines ran the men - not the other way around.

Most of the time when a person wanted a dip of snuff or he had to have his tools to adjust the machines, he did not always have time to dig out his key, unlock the box, and take a dip of snuff or get his tools. He had to keep the machine running. If he let that machine stop for one minute that would mean everyone down the line would have a minute of down time. Since there was a lumber grader and five or six other workers down the line, this meant the Company would lose six or seven minutes of production time. Now the Company did not like that at all. Just as sure as one let it happen, Mr. Simmons or Mr. Hauss would come by. And heaven forbid should they both come by.

The man who ran the #7 machine, the one I helped the first day that I worked (since I do not remember his name, I will call him John), came in one morning with two cans of snuff. He held up one can and said, "This one is for ‘Nameless,’" and he put it in his tool box. "This one is mine," and he put it in the pocket of the bib of his overalls. It was not long before "Nameless" came by for his dip of snuff. He barely got the snuff into his mouth before he headed for the water bucket. John had mixed about 25% snuff and about 75% red pepper. Needless to say, "Nameless" never got into John's snuff again.

P.S. Water buckets were located throughout the mill. When it was very hot the men drank lots of water. There were not any drinking fountains or running water, so to fill the water buckets one must go down to the flowing well down near the boiler room. It got to be a joke because we could tell who had gone for the water. We had this one man (I will call him Jack) who was a big man. He probably weighed nearly 300 pounds. The difference was that when most of us would go for water the sweat would drip off our hands into the drinking water. But with Jack the sweat did not drip but came off in a stream. Everyone knew when Jack went for water because it was said that Jack's sweat had a sweet taste.



I just don’t think I would like that at all.

Next Tuesday is the regular meeting of the ASHS and we’d love to have you come visit. The speakers this week are Michael Cullen and Christy Hurt. They are the UWF students who’ll present their ideas and suggestions for storage and preservation of the Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company papers recently retrieved from the old office building. Thanks to Linda McCurry for helping us gain access to the papers.

A correction is necessary for my last column. My memory failed me when noting Bobby and Betty Henderson’s wedding. It was at the Canoe Methodist Church, not the Assembly of God Church.

Y’all come.

This page last modified on Thursday, November 24, 2005