UNION CITY, INDIANA.
The whine of the big saw-blade, the bark of the vibrating stack, the pungency of coal smoke and fresh-sawn hickory slabs what finer haunt to ferret out ye Iron Man of the Month, his spouse and his progeny, than where resides these 'sawyers-three'.
The faithful old 16-horse Advance fairly shook itself to pieces in utter defiance of the long, flopping belt coaxing the big 56-inch saw blade the full length of those 18-foot hickory logs while the youthful hand of a fourteen year old lad steadied the throttle.
It was time out for young engineer, Jim Gibboney, to run up and help Papa Norman, and Mama Ruth to strong-arm the heavy eighteen foot four-by-twelve hickory slab onto a waiting truck, mired deep in the soggy spring mud of Darke County, western Ohio. Thence back to the engine to stoke the waning fires of the sputtering Advance just in time for head sawyer, Norman, to wave his lumberman's paw and edge the big log into the saw blade once again. All sights and sounds and smells of yesteryear being re-enacted once again oblivious of this modem age which would have us believe that sawmilling belongs only to 'big business'.
It was the first lovely day of spring that I sauntered out northeast of the village limits and down Horatio-Harris Creek Roadto catch my first whiff of fresh sawdust for the season. And glory what a reward it was to see this family three some Dad, Mom and sonny boyall busy as beavers running their own steam-operated sawmill and building it too!
Now, in case any reader is caught up in the eternal quandary of just how much sawmillin' can a sawmiller saw before the sawmill's builtor like the egg and the chicken, which comes first, the sawmill or the sawmill building just as some may argue that the egg comes before the chicken, but before the egg there must likewise be a chickenso some sawmillers get their sawmill first and from thence proceed to saw out their sawmill building, whilst other sawmillers get their sawmill building first then set their sawmill in it. But, unlike the chicken-egg arguers who contend the chicken always comes first before the egg, never figuring the chicken could well end up in a pot before the egg is laidwell we'll let head-sawyer Norman Gibboney answer it, before I wind up in a pot myself trying to figure it all out.
'Yes, we've already got our own sawmill, and now we're building it,' yelled Iron Man, Norman Gibboney, over the whine of the blade biting out a fresh slableaving me with the kind of answer that settled nothing.
'If you've already got a sawmill, why build another?' queried I.
'Well you see this is my second sawmill. The old one I built in '59 and then I ripped it out and set up this new one last year in '67,' elucidated Iron Man Gibboney. 'Now that I've got the new sawmill, I'm building a sawmill with iter that is, the sawmill building over the sawmill. See?'
Of course I 'saw' it, but was just jockeying around to see if ye Iron Man was as ignorant as I which he wasn't.