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Mason County Memories

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Luman Goodenough's Ludington Part 3 History Column Dave Petersen Today is the third excerpt from Luman Goodenough's history titled "Lath Lumber and Shingles published in 1954 as a gift to his children. When you stop to think about what Luman saw here as he was growing up, and the first hand accounts that he was able to give of the inner working of the sawmills and lumbering era it's hard not to get caught up in the memories and imagine the sounds, smells, and sights of a period of our history that is long since gone. Dock Wallopper's hill, is long since carted off to fill in the other swampy areas around the city, maybe where the creek runs under the city streets over by the VFW Hall. Would we know of it if he and others not written about it? Probably not, it would be lost to us. Instead we can imagine small groups of men looking for work, and it was hard work, loading and unloading the ships at the docks, the cry when a ship was sighted, the speculation as to what ship it was, where I was going, the rivalry for the work that would bring supper to the table that night. What might you bring to the table of local history? Did you work in the Carrom Factory? Or have memories of the different shopkeepers who did business downtown, did you trade at the "Wifesaving Station? Were you a crew member on one of the carferries when we had a harbor full of the ships? There are a lot of stories to be told, and your stories are important and should be recorded either for your own personal genealogy or to share. Luman Goodenough would probably tell you that he would not have thought his stories would be interesting to anyone outside of his immediate family, but they are. Take some time this summer, have a barbeque, sit down with your family and record some of your stories, your grandchildren will be glad you did. Now we quote from "Lath Lumber and Shingles" "From the main floor of the mill were constructed platforms of even height leading into the yards, wide enough for two lumber carts to pass. These carts consisted of two wheels about the size of small wagon wheels, each fastened to the opposite ends of an axle. "A skeleton rack or platform eight or ten feet in length by four or five feet wide was centered on the axle. On this the boards were loaded as they came off the rollers from the saws. When the capacity of the cart and the ability of the worker was reached, it was pushed from the mill out on these elevated platforms to be placed on the ground in towering uniform piles for drying. "Square timbers formed the base to keep the boards from decaying on the ground. The carter wheeled his load of boards out to the place of piling near the docks. Protected by his large leather apron he slid the boards over the edge of the platform to another worker on the ground, who received and piled them neatly in parallel lines, leaving space between each board to facilitate air passage for seasoning. "When the first layer of boards was completed three narrower boards or strips were put crosswise on top of these, one at each end the other in the middle, for a new layer of boards to be placed, and so on until the pile reached twenty or thirty feet in height. After the drying process was completed the boards were taken from the piles and loaded on boats for shipment to the markets. "The process of loading the ships was simple, piling board by board into the vessel's hold and upon the deck until the hull was heavily freighted, almost to the gunwale. The men who loaded the boats, now called stevedores, were "dockwallopers" then. Their employment began with the arrival of the boat and ceased when it was ready to sail. They did not restrict themselves to any definite time or confine their labor within the scope of fixed hours measured on the dial of a clock. "In early morning they could be found, with leather aprons tucked under their arms, standing or seated on top of a high sand dune, known as Dockwallopers Hill, overlooking the harbor to catch sight of an approaching schooner. When sighted they would wait until the boat was recognized and its destination to mill and dock determined. Enough of them would hurry off on foot (there were no automobiles to take them to their tasks, though parking space would have been ample and free in the sawdust yards) to the place of loading, leaving the others behind to await their turn at the next ships arrival." If you have any stories or photos you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 or davep@blackcreekpress.com, mail should be sent in care of the Ludington Daily News PO box 340 Ludington Mi 49431.

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