Forks Lost Another Pioneer

Editor’s note – I am making way this week for this letter sent in by Doug Larson.

Douglas MacArthur Blankenship owned and ran Blankenship Shake, South of Forks on the other side of the Bogachiel River. I first met Doug in the summer of 1978 he came out to Snyder where I lived with my Grandparents and he worked a night shift as a sawyer in the Shake Mill my Grandfather sold to Ed Justus.

That night Doug sawed 300 bundles which only a few men could do. My cousin and I split the shift and packed 150 bundles each, we were 16 years old at the time. Then in the summer of 1979, I packed shakes for Hollywood Shake Co. owned by Ernie Blankenship.

I worked through the summer and two weeks into my Senior year did not intend to go back but shortly after changed my mind so Doug Blankenship ran his mill nights only so I could finish High School.

Doug paid to move my trailer house from Hollywood Shake to the trailer court by the Forks Airport. He also paid six months’ space rent. Doug cut cedar logs during the day into blocks and loaded them onto pallets for cedar to run the mill at night which he was the sawyer. I raced out every day right after school and packed shakes. We worked until about midnight.

What a sacrifice Doug made for me. I packed shakes for a lot of sawyers and Doug by far cut the best and perfect shake, Doug could saw from corner to corner in a straight line in any kind of cedar good or rough wood. Doug’s bundles were top quality.

Then in 1982 the US was in a bad recession there was barely any work in Forks so to keep his mill running and me working Doug bought some really bad flat saw wood from Fair Shake Co. owned by Jack Banner. We did not get very many bundles in a shift but it was work, we also were able to go out to Nolan Creek and cut Shake bolts on a salvage sale I think was also Jacks, and take them to Doug’s mill and that kept us working, it was just Doug and me. Jack was good to Doug and respected him as so many others in the Shake business did.

At the mill we would both split the blocks into boards, I split and packed and Doug would split and then saw, we rotated. I have had the great privilege in my career to work with some of the toughest hardest workers in Forks like Bruce Allen, Pete and John Dahlgren, Jimmy Leppell, and especially Doug Blankenship.

When we cut shake bolts that winter it was pouring rain, thunder and lightning, snow and hail I was frozen but Doug kept us digging logs out of the ground he would saw one round then have to file the saw as I busted the round into blocks Doug worked me ten to twelve hours a day on the way home I would quit … when he would drop me off at my trailer house Doug would ask if I was going to work in the morning … I would reply yes and go out the next day.

Years later when I worked for Dahlgren Logging as a Hook Tender on one of their Mark Six Berger Towers, when the weather was blowing snow and rain sideways, the crew would sometimes beg me to let them go home even though I was wet and cold also, I would say no and work our nine hours because I would think of Doug and wanted to be like him.

Another memory about Doug is in 1983 I wrecked Doug’s beloved 1979 short box 4×4 so while it was being repaired I let Doug borrow my first truck a 1969 Ford F1OO when Doug’s truck was fixed he gave my truck back, it had a new battery and brand new tires that is the kind of Man he was. Doug served his Country in Vietnam, had a great sense of humor was a wonderful husband, Dad, and Grandfather and in the 44 years I knew Doug, I never saw him get mad about anything.

Doug was taken from us a few weeks ago I wished I could have told him how much he impacted my life and made me a better Man.

Doug Larson, Forks