Thursday, September 8, 2011

Paul Bunyan

Scholars Say He is the Only American Myth.

Paul Bunyan came to Westwood, California, in 1913 at the suggestion of some of the most prominent loggers and lumbermen in the country. When the Red River Lumber Company announced their plans for opening up their forests of Sugar Pine and California White Pine, friendly advisors shook their heads and said,
"Better send for Paul Bunyan."

The year of the Two Winters they had winter all summer and then in the fall it turned colder. One day Big Joe set the boiling coffeepot on the stove and it froze so quick that the ice was hot. That was right after Paul had built the Great Lakes and that winter they froze clear to the bottom. They never would have thawed out if Paul had not chopped out the ice and hauled it out on shore for the sun to melt. He finally got all the ice thawed but he had to put in all new fish.

As a hunter, Paul would make old Nimrod himself look like a city dude lost from his guide. He was also a good fisherman. Old-timers tell of seeing Paul as a small boy, fishing off the Atlantic Coast. He would sail out early in the morning in his three-mast schooner and wade back before breakfast with his boat full of fish on his shoulder.

What is camp without a dog? Paul Bunyan loved dogs as well as the next man but never would have one around that could not earn its keep. Paul's dogs had to work, hunt or catch rats. It took a good dog to kill the rats and mice in Paul's camp for the rodents picked up scraps of the buffalo milk pancakes and grew to be as big as two year old bears.

Big Ole was the Blacksmith at Paul's headquarters camp on the Big Onion. Ole had a cranky disposition but he was a skilled workman. No job in iron or steel was too big or too difficult for him. One of the cooks used to make doughnuts and have Ole punch the holes. He made the griddle on which Big Joe cast his pancakes and the dinner horn that blew down ten acres of pine. Ole was the only man who could shoe Babe or Benny. Every time he made a set of shoes for Babe they had to open up another Minnesota iron mine. Ole once carried a pair of these shoes a mile and sunk knee deep into solid rock at every step. Babe cast a shoe while making a hard pull one day, and it was hurled for a mile and tore down forty acres of pine and injured eight Swedes that were swamping out skidways. 

Paul Bunyan started traveling before the steam cars were invented. He developed his own means of transportation and the railroads have never been able to catch up. Time is so valuable to Paul he has no time to fool around at sixty miles an hour.

No one but Paul Bunyan would ever tackle a job like that. To drive logs upstream is impossible, but if you think a little thing like an impossibility could stop him, you don't know Paul Bunyan. He simply fed Babe a good big salt ration and drove him to the upper Mississippi to drink. Babe drank the river dry and sucked all the water upstream. The logs came up river faster than they went down.

After all others had failed at Big Onion camp, Paul hired his cousin Big Joe who came from three weeks below Quebec. This boy sure put a mean scald on the chuck. He was the only man who could make pancakes fast enough to feed the crew. He had Big Ole, the blacksmith, make him a griddle that was so big you couldn't see across it when the steam was thick. The batter, stirred in drums like concrete mixers was poured on with cranes and spouts. The griddle was greased by colored boys who skated over the surface with hams tied to their feet. They had to have colored boys to stand the heat.

Johnny Inkslinger was Paul's headquarters clerk. He invented bookkeeping about the time Paul invented logging. He was something of a genius and perfected his own office appliances to increase efficiency. His fountain pen was made by running a hose from a barrel of ink and with it he could "daub out a walk" quicker than the recipient of the pay-off could tie the knot in his tussick rope. One winter Johnny left off crossing the "t's" and dotting the "i's" and saved nine barrels of ink.

Paul determined to conquer the mosquitoes before another season arrived. He thought of the big Bumble Bees back home and sent for several yoke of them. These, he hoped would destroy the mosquitoes. Sourdough Sam brought out two pair of bees, overland on foot. There was no other way to travel for the flight of the beasts could not be controlled. Their wings were strapped with surcingles, they checked their stingers with Sam and walking shoes were provided for them. Sam brought them through without losing a bee.
The cure was worse than the original trouble. The Mosquitoes and the Bees made a hit with each other. They soon intermarried and their off-spring, as often happens, were worse than their parents. They had stingers fore-and-aft and could get you coming or going.
Their bee blood caused their downfall in the long run. Their craving for sweets could only be satisfied by sugar and molasses in large quantities, for what is a flower to an insect with a ten-gallon stomach? One day the whole tribe flew across Lake Superior to attack a fleet of ships bringing sugar to Paul's camps. They destroyed the ships but ate so much sugar they could not fly and all were drowned.
One pair of the original bees were kept at headquarters camp and provided honey for the pancakes for many years.

The shaggy dog that spent most of his time pretending to sleep in front of Johnny Inkslinger's counter in the camp office was Fido, the watch dog. Fido was the bug-bear (not bearer, just bear) of the greenhorns. They were told that Paul starved Fido all winter and then, just before payday, fed him all the swampers, barn boys, and student bullcooks. The very marrow was frozen in their heads at the thought of being turned into dog food. Their fears were groundless for Paul would never let a dog go hungry or mistreat a human being. Fido was fed all the watch peddlers, tailors' agents, and camp inspectors and thus served a very useful purpose.

About this time he got his shot gun that required four dishpans full of powder and a keg of spikes to load each barrel. With this gun he could shoot geese so high in the air they would spoil before reaching the ground.

Tracking was Paul's favorite sport and no trail was too old or too dim for him to follow. He once came across the skeleton of a moose that had died of old age and, just for curiosity, picked up the tracks of the animal and spent the whole afternoon following its trail back to the place where it was born.

  • 1960s vintage woven plaid minidress, worn without matching coat; found at Salvation Army.
  • Rocky Horror-esque sock gift from boyfriend.
  • Plaid sock from Target, aeons ago.
  • Mary-janes from Ross. They are dying and are nowhere near as good as my last ones, which were Kenneth Cole Reaction, simple in design, and the most comfortable things ever. But, these do for now.
  • Silver Bracelet from Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Koi, Horse, and Flower rings from Forever 21.
  • Paste ruby and diamonds ring, vintage.
  • Nail polish Unicorn by Sinful Colors topped with Gems by Milani.
  • Just Bitten lipstain in Gothic by Revlon.
  • Coonskin cap, this particular one a souvenir from the Alamo. I love this thing.
  • Feather earrings from... (I hate to admit it) the Baylor bookstore.

All the best,

P.S.-The text is from Paul Bunyan on the Gutenberg Project, copyright free. It was originally published in 1922, although the earliest stories come from pamphlets released by the Red River Lumber Co. in 1914 and 1916... so I apologize if some of this is a bit politically incorrect. I hope you enjoyed it anyway. :)
P.P.S.-Even though is is filed under photoshoots as well as everyday outfits, I took all the photos. Most posts filed under photoshoots include photos taken of me by other photographers, who are credited respectively. 
P.P.P.S.-Paul Bunyan did not inspire this outfit, but I thought about him all day because of the outfit... reverse inspiration, maybe?