saw of many colors

June of ’85 had some great memories for me; back then, I was a logger, cutting pulp which we sold to the local pulp and paper mill. The industry and the mill are long gone, but the memories will remain forever. For that, I am thankful.

It was a great day for my dad and I. We had made enough money throughout the summer to invest in a new chainsaw. While this may not sound like a big deal, chainsaws were a large part of our livelihood, as much of a big deal as a new boat for a fisherman; so we were pretty excited to visit the local hardware store and pick up our new saw.

The Jonsered 630 was the newest model on the line, and dad had visited the store on several occasions to check this baby out. The saw had the power of a large saw, packed in a smaller, well-balanced frame, and it even featured a chain brake, a new option for 1985, and a very needed one indeed. Whenever the chain would hook, the brake would come on, preventing the chain from breaking. The brake was also located in such a place that if the saw kicked back, rather than cutting your head, the brake would stop the chain from turning. Many a logger sustained life threatening injuries from the old saws, this one would be much safer.

The saw cost $850, which, in ’85 was a lot of money, but since the saw we were using was over 15 years old, and heavy as hell, it was certainly time for a new one. The saw came with a bar protector, something dad would throw away before even leaving the store, as it was bulky and he said it would only get in the way. I still remember him carrying the new saw across his shoulder, as proud as if he had just bought a new car. Coming from a long line of loggers, my dad, his dad before him and now me, logging was a way of life in my family.

The first day with the new saw was amazing. Dad used to cut the wood and I would pile it into ‘cords’ which were piles of pulpwood that measured eight foot wide by eight foot long by four feet high. We got $35 per cord, so we managed a good days pay with four cords per day; but the work was hard, especially in the hot weather of summer.

After we cut two cords, dad put the saw down and got lunch. He put it next to a tall tree, hoping the tree would provide shade, thus preventing the gasoline to heat up. This would give us twice as much work trying to get the saw started up again. Just as my dad walked away from the saw, the large tree fell to the ground, flattening the new saw that we spent so much money on just the day before. The two of us just stood there in disbelief, as our primary means of employment lay smashed on the forest floor.

When the other loggers heard the crash, they all came running, only to find my dad on his knees, attempting to salvage anything that remained from the saw. With only a few pieces of metal in his hands, and the chain from the saw, he was in tears. With that, the other loggers assured him that he had nothing to worry about, as together they all had enough spare parts to make a new chainsaw.

The next morning, the loggers all visited my dad’s house. With them they carried the new saw. Since Jonsered chainsaws are manufactured by the same company that makes Husqvarna Chainsaws, most of the parts are interchangeable, and if you didn’t mind red and orange parts, you could actually make them fit. The saw featured an orange body with a few of the red parts from our smashed saw, along with the blue handle from an old Homelite saw, a chainbreak off an old Sthil saw, which was white in color, and the handle from a Poulan saw, which was yellow. The new saw worked fantastic, and I think I seen a tear or two in my dad’s eyes as he pulled the cord and listened to the motor purr.

We used that saw from 1985 until I left the woods in 1997, and through all those years, we never once had a problem with the saw. It is funny how stories like this stayed with me all those years. I loved my days as a logger. The work was hard, but healthy.

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