This is the last in a series on logging – The Norman Family, Part 3
Local logger Rob Norman has spent his working life in the same industry, as did his father Al and grandfather Henry before him. It was over a century ago that the elder Norman began logging in the swamps of Louisiana. He could never have known then, that 66 years later, 1974 to be exact, his grandson Rob would start in the same industry; the low-level job of setting chokers (Rob adds, carrying coils of strawline some 1,200 feet up a steep slope in 80 degrees upchucking along the way.
Over a century later, Rob still works at the same location (five name changes later, presently as a logging truck driver.)
Life in the little logging community of Camp Six/ Caycuse, where the Norman men were employed (Rob still is), was a good place to raise families. Rob recalls “good memories of growing up in Caycuse, which was a close knit community consisting of people who not only worked together but developed close friendships and everlasting memories.” As far as Rob is concerned “some of the finest people around come out of this camp.”
Recalling his first job, delivering groceries as a teenager for Wally Carlson who owned the Caycuse store for many years, “At the time, my pay was $1 per hour and even though math was my weakest (subject) in school, I could figure out that at the end of an eight-hour shift on Saturday, my pay was $8.”
Rob notes that his good friend Wally, who still lives at Caycuse, turned 90 years old, May 4, 2011.
Being a camp kid, Rob says he was pretty well guaranteed a job so it seemed natural to go from high school to employment the woods. Plans to work a year then go off to university changed once he started bringing in “the good money.”
Rob, like all young guys who worked in the bush learned from the older more experienced men who he says were from “the old school.” Being from the old school meant they were very strict with their “direction and guidance.” It was a given that if you listened to them you would learn your job well.
One of those old timers, who as Rob fondly recalls, was a “guy named Armas Matson who operated a View Spar – a big yarding machine with a 120-foot tower and a Skagit winch” – [you older loggers will likely understand this lingo] and also trained Rob to operate it. Says Rob, “He was an excellent operator and my only beef against him was that he smoked Buckingham cigarettes at a rate that no one else could match. (I think he created more smoke that a steam locomotive). At the end of a shift of being in the cab with him, I think I had turned green!”
With many more tales to tell, many old timers to credit and many good and some not so good times in the bush, Rob continues to work in the forest industry, as did his dad and grandfather before him. The Normans moved from Caycuse to Duncan about 1979, where Rob and his wife Kelly still live. With their kids now grown and off on their own, it seems that the Norman stronghold on Caycuse will end when Rob retires. That may be, but with Rob’s deep roots and strong affection to Camp Six/Caycuse, you can bet that it will forever remain in his heart.
A special thank you to Rob Norman for allowing me full access to his extensive Camp Six/Caycuse photograph and research collection.