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· Veepstake Styles: Family Resemblances from the Rigging Shack ·

Last night I took in the vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards. I heard it first on radio — then TV. Frankly, there wasn't much difference. It was like Darth Vader going up against Luke Skywalker, though depending on your party, roles can, of course, reverse. I thought family resemblances mattered more at last.

Consider Gwen Ifel's asking Cheney how the men differed. Jabbering on about similarities, Cheney said, "My grandfather never finished high school," while John Edwards added, "And I'm the son of a millworker." Well, as Buffon says, if style is the man himself, why this macho ID shifting?

The reason is simple: the substantively educated (politicians, especially) know they haven't much low-life style. Take me: though I'm "Styles the Logger," I admit (on my About page here) that I'm not "The Real Thing." So, what is? I'd suggest Finley Hays.

Here's his "Foreward" to Finley's Rigging Shack (1996) — a set of short columns from Loggers World from 1966 to 1979 — catching better than I can the "low-life point" of last night's debate. Running commentary is but "high-life delineation."

 · Finley Hays, High Climber, by Eldon Olin · When we started our 'word processor' was a manual desk model Olympic typewriter. The cost was about $140.00 for this machine. We graduated from there to IBM electric models and from there to a Macintosh Computer that cost over three grand. Same man, same words but more expense. I write about logging and loggers. That is what I know the most about and that ain't much. I don't know as much as I think I do because things change rapidly and what you knew last year may be, and often is, obsolete this year . . . and therefore worthless.

"The fact of the matter is," chimes in old Darth Vader.

I have found a way around this by declaring myself a "Logging Historian". This is an enviable position. Many of the men I've worked with have gone to that Heaven specially prepared for Loggers. Thus when I write about those 'miserable old days' there are not too many who can dispute my memory or writings. This allows a freedom to writers in their eighties. I am often asked to give speeches about Logging and how it used to be.

"We have a plan," notes young Luke Skywalker.

The more I learn about the old days the more I distrust Historians generally. They are always talking about a slice of time that is incorrectly remembered, falsely documented and wrongly guessed at. If you take this to mean I'm not to be trusted you made a shrewd guess. But then I'm the best you've got. Me and men like me. Our memories are true although they are often in conflict with each other. We tend to get the names wrong, to remember ourselves as heroes and mighty men of the woods. The truth often is that we couldn't find a good job and had to go to the woods. There are some of us who selected logging as a career. Most of us got there because that's where we got our first job. During the following years many of us were always looking for a safer and more comfortable occupation. Some of us became machine operators, saw filers, mechanics and such so we could get out of the blistering sun and the freezing wet weather to protect our bones and our attitudes. Most loggers of long duration did try other work from time to time.

"I'll drink to that," winks old Yoda.

Many of us had our careers interrupted for several years by one of the several wars we've lived through. Finley Hays, Finley's Rigging Shack, Bend, OR: Maverick Publications, Inc., 1996,

"And which one," smiles Styles Stylechoice, "has the last word here?"*

*You might note the low imprint — Maverick Publications — of Finley Hays's book.


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