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Doodling Sawdust…..An Extinct Profession

Posted by Pete | Posted in News | Posted on 31-08-2015


Where have the “good old days” gone. One of my first jobs, along with my cousin Cecil, was doodling sawdust. Uncle Dee, Cecil’s dad, had a portable sawmill….He would move the mill around from timber tract to timber tract. There was a drag chain that would take the sawdust out from under the saw and carriage area and deposit the dust at a location several feet away from the mill. The end of the chain was attached to a tall pole and as the dust pile grew the chain was located higher. After the chain reached a certain height, doodlers would be hired to throw the dust back away from the pole and hopefully far enough away to allow the base of the pile to grow. Now, in the case of Uncle Dee’s mill, when school was in session, some of his regular workers would take their turn in doodling. When school was out, we were hired and we were paid handsomely for this task. Two dollars a week…Now that was a lot of money, and, get this, as an additional perk, when we got the dust far enough away from the chain…we could roll down the sawdust pile or play….until the dust got close to the pulley and then we better have our little butts up there shoveling dust or we were in trouble…but we usually kept up….Uncle Dee was a good boss, and a fair boss…He never showed favoritism for Cecil over me..It may have been there, but if it was he never showed it. With my mom and dad both working, I had lots of time. Uncle Dee and Aunt Vera included me in lots of their activities. I never felt like an outsider. Doodling sawdust, stacking lumber, chopping cotton, poisoning cotton, picking figs or other fruit, weighing field hands cotton sacks, Cecil and I did it together and shared praise and pain equally….I think my favorite job was doodling sawdust…A doodler is just not needed anymore….(as far as I know) …..Pete Hester

Comments (6)

Those were, indeed, the “good ole days”, although I am not quite sure that I would want to go back. There is nothing like the smell of freshly cut, aromatic, moist sawdust and feeling the heat rising up surrounding and soothing one’s body. I’ve gone to sleep many times under such circumstances, waking up and seeing my Uncle Shorty frantically waving and pointing at the full pile of sawdust about to choke to death the chain and the pulley. These are the reasons that doodling sawdust was my favorite job because it involved about 10% actual work and 90% rest and sleep smelling the aroma. It is great to have grown up at an ideal moment in time with know real wars, pestilences, or hard times to worry about. In the early 21st century, with no part of the tree wasted, a young person can only look forward to “keeping that face book thing going for us” for some old codger or enterprise who is computer illiterate.

Cecil and I did a lot of things on those sawdust piles, but I don’t think sleeping was ever one of them. It was fun….

This story about doodling sawdust is a good story and I enjoyed reading it. Since my professional background was using computer, the story reminded me of the computer equivalent of doodling, i.e., the “Bit Bucket” or “Byte Bucket”. The story told to green employees was that every time a file was deleted, the bytes that made up the file fell from the computer into the “Bucket”. Eventually bytes would overflow from a filled bucket and spread across the computer room floor and as they were very slippery one could slip and fall. New or green employees were to look under the computer and find and empty the bucket before it overflowed. I never fell for that old trick.

I don’t think I would have fallen for that explanation, but you never know….I guess it would have depended on who was telling me about the byte bucket…It’s kind of like the recycle bin, er, where is it recycled too?

When one deletes anything in a computer, it goes to the recycle bin. If for some strange reason, it was deleted by mistake (people not computers make mistakes) or circumstances arise later where the file might be needed again, one can go into the recycle bin, click on it, and it goes back to exactly where it was before it was deleted. It may be possible to change where it goes, but I’m afraid it may take a programmer or someone with some computer knowledge to do it.

Pete: You mean you and Cecil never slept on a sawdust pile. That was my favorite place to sleep while listening to the sound of the saw zipping through a log and feeling the warmth of the moist, aromatic, freshly cut sawdust. You all were closer to the greatest generation, who never slept. I was closer to the sorriest who preferred sleep to work.

My reference was to the dumping of the recycle bin and where it is recycled to…not that it matters….No, sleeping was never thought about to my knowledge…Playing was far more important for us…

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