Sawmill Life from a Woman’s Point of View
Editor’s note: Although I never worked in the lumber industry, I was teaching the children of many of them, and had relatives who were working in the timber industry. Ralph and Stan Loomis were among the men I most often heard spoken about with great respect.
By Velma Loomis
Arriving in Calpine (Sierra County) in 1926, my husband, Ralph, and I began sawmill life with our family. Ralph was never bored on the job because he was a “jack of all trades” and could work in most any man’s place.
Although there were tragic incidents, the happy memories far outweighed the rest. Ice-skating on the mill pond, sliding down the snowy hills in a home made toboggan, playing bridge, dancing till dawn to the strains of an accordion. Then there were the Italian families (Susanettos, Catuzzos, Marzin, Spatarotos, and Bertolinis) who would get their grapes in the Fall, and then make their wine which they generously shared throughout the town. Not even the deep winter snows stopped our fun.
Frank Blagen was the owner and manager of the sawmill. His son, Frank Blagen Jr., was a real prankster when he was only 7 or 8 years old. By the time “Frankie” was 11, he had come to own and drive a “bug” (originally a Model T Ford). Our son, Stan, who was younger than Frankie, often rode in the bug with him. To get back at this prankster, one Halloween a group got together and managed to get the bug perched up on top of the cookhouse, much to young Frank’s dismay the next morning.
During the many years Ralph and I lived in Calpine, White Pines, and Wilseyville, he helped dismantle all 3 of the sawmills in those towns. We’re very grateful for the happy times we and our four children enjoyed over the years.