Friday, July 24, 2009

Coming from Spartan stock

The 24th of July is a time for remembering. Remembering our heritage, who we are and where we came from. Myself, I come from Spartan stock.
My father is cut from the old school mold. In fact, watch John Wayne’s The Cowboys, and you’ll see my dad in Will Andersen, Wayne’s leathery character — a tough as nails, no-nonsense ‘burning daylight’ kind of guy. Realize, my kids don’t refer to him as Grandpa — they call him Grumpy. And that’s since he’s decided he needs to be nice to get into heaven.
My mom, while certainly more impish and good-humored than my dad, is no less tough. Huck Finn. That’s who she is. A bare-footed, rough and tumble tomboy who used to spit in my wounds to clean them and called me names if I kept crying.
So where does that leave me? As I've noted before, I must be adopted. I am a comfort-loving, ice cream eating, hard work avoiding kind of guy. I used to work harder getting out of work than had I actually done the chore. I’m not talking about simply hiding in the bathroom like my brother Craig used to do. No, I went to great lengths, including personal injury to get out of doing chores. Although, truth be told, I got very little sympathy and no actual reprieve from my folks. I just managed to postpone the onerous.
One of the few chores that I looked forward to…no, the only chore I looked forward to was woodcutting. We started out in the boonies at some woodpile, where my dad would cut the trees into lengths with the chainsaw, and we’d load up old Bessie, our brown Ford. Honestly, the best part of the daylong event was the home-packed lunch. Sandwich, cookies, fruit, a cold can of Coke and a Snickers. And sometimes, my dad would let me drive the truck along the washboarded dirt road up to the woodpile.
I remember one time my brother Brad chopped open his thigh with the chainsaw while bucking branches. Both he and my dad sort of looked at it, picked out some wood chips and shrugged. Do you think we ought to take you in? my dad says. Guess so, says Brad. Well, lets finish up with these last few and then take you in. Okay, Brad says.
No question. I’m adopted.
So to prove I’m a Hardman, and to earn money for my mission, I took a job as a logger in Alaska just before my mission. Let’s just say that I did make good money, but I didn’t win any toughman competitions while up north. I did manage to stay alive in an industry that, next to commercial fishing, had the most job-related deaths than any other occupation. And I saw some remarkable and sometimes frightening wildlife, including my co-workers, and I learned to appreciate the skills of a lumberjack.
Yes, I can swing an axe and believe it or not, have won several competitions including standing block chop and one-man bucking (crosscut) during my academic stint at USU. The result of lessons learned a long time ago. Maybe I’m not the milkman’s boy after all.


  1. I knew you worked in Alaska for a while, but I didn't know it was logging! I imagined you were being paid for just _going to_ Alaska. I'm obviously not lumberjack stock, since I wouldn't take the latter job either.

  2. I love your blog, Steve! And I agree, I'm impressed you even _went_ to Alaska, let alone worked in logging! Anyway, eating ice cream is a very important contribution to society too. That's where I find I can do my part best. (And that brownie cheesecake Christy made us the other night. Mmmm.)