Archive for June, 2022

Monday, June 20th, 2022


Thursday, June 16th, 2022


It started with my father’s generosity. He worked at a Ford dealer ship in Mountain View California. When a really good trade in vehicle came in, he brought it home for my sister Kathleen and I to look at. One year he brought a sweet little 55 Ford home. It had been owned by a local teacher, had around 40,000 miles and was very “clean”. In the parlance of car people, this was a good deal. I bought the car for about 50 bucks then took it up to Humboldt. The car ran great. For some reason, about a year later as the Viet Nam War started to heat up, Tom Spencer (a fellow Canadian) and I decided to head for Vancouver. We only got a few miles north when we hit a patch of oily road. I have neglected to mention that the car was not quite perfect: the tires were pretty well bald. Who cares in California we thought until we hit an oily spot where logging trucks were coming on to the highway, it was on a downhill grade. We went into a spin, clipped an oncoming car than flipped on to the roof. We crawled out the windshield, then stood numb beside the road. Before long, a single traveller arrived and gave us a lift to Crescent City, the nearest town. The man (Tom and I figured he was gay) owned a Redwood Mill north of town and offered us jobs. We did not want to crawl home with our tails between our legs so we took the jobs.

The mill was in a very small Village known as Smith River not far from the Oregon border. We rented a room in an old hotel and carried on to work. The work was hard and tedious. We pulled lumber off the green chain and stacked it for loaders to pick up. You couldn’t let up for a second or the chain would jam and a big tangle of boards would pile up at your site. It was mostly old fellows on the chain and you wondered how they would drag their banged up bodies to the job day after day. Spencer lasted about a week. Not even Viet Nam could be this bad. It rained hard every day and once it even snowed. A couple of inches of slush just enough for snowballs but remember this was California and no one knew how to make proper snowballs. That’s when I met Stanley. He roared out of the mill and started scooping hand full’s of slush and throwing them at every one. Most of his missiles just fell apart before they reached anyone but it got me going. I packed about three solid snowballs and launched them at Stanley. He was laughing in triumph when one of my snowballs smacked him right in his big, green teeth. That was the end of it and people just skulked back to the job. I had a feeling that this incident might continue in one form or another. Sure enough, about two weeks later Stanley wondered if I would go fishing with him

I said I would even though I knew I might pay a price. Stanley said I would catch fish I had never seen before and was very optimistic. We motered north to the rocky Oregon Coast and set up our “rods” – a couple of stout pole you could land a Great White Shark with.

We tumbled down to the foaming coast and wedged the poles in between boulders. I could not imagine we would catch anything but we did. On nearly every Poke we caught eel like creatures called blennies. We gleefully hauled them out of their hidey holes by the dozen. We didn’t keep any but it was grand fun+

As we drove back south, Stanley got his revenge by driving hiss giant old barely hung together Buick or Oldsmobile junker sled like a wild man. Screeching the ties and almost flying off high cliffs while screaming with glee. I was scared alright but I had seen the good in Stanley and knew I would be OK…

I Stayed at the mill for another month or so then said goodbye and went back to school. Never saw Stanley again.


Poke Pole fishing country – West Coast of Vancouver Island.

Ted Burns

February 2022