Jack Merrick was born in Priest River, Idaho, in 1927. His parents were farmers and he grew up with one brother, Donald, who was three years younger. The Merrick family later moved to Ione, where Jack went to school all 12 grades.
In 1945, Jack joined the Army and he admits it was due to his smart mouth that he ended up in the Aleutian Islands. “I was called to battalion headquarters and asked if I would like to work in my home state for the Forest Service.
I asked if it was civilian pay or army pay, and was told it was army pay.” Jack made a disparaging remark regarding the army pay and the next thing you know he was in Alaska “testing cold weather gear.” Jack said he never saw any Japanese and no shots were fired. He left the Army in 1947 and returned to Ione.
He worked as a hard rock miner, mining for lead and zinc, and then he got an opportunity to come to Forks to work.
But first he met his wife Lee.
Jack and some friends decided to head to the coast and ended up in Salem, Ore. It was VJ Day and Jack and his buddies could not find a room. “We walked up and down the beach and ended up in a roller skating rink. There we met six gals. We knew where they were staying, so they happened to leave their car unlocked and we slept in their car. The next day they fed us breakfast.” One of those gals was Lee.
Jack said Lee has a different story about that meeting …
In 1952, Jack and Lee got an opportunity to come to Forks and they have been here ever since.
Jack’s first job was cutting standing timber on the south fork of the Hoh River. It was hard to find housing in Forks in 1952 and Jack said he and Lee set up housekeeping in some former wartime housing called the “sheep sheds.” They were located near Maple Avenue and they were awful, according to Jack.
“What a dump, they had a flat roof; we lived there for a year and then bought our house on Bogachiel Way.”
Jack said he worked for every contractor in town as a busheler and spent 30 years at it. “I like busheling, nobody looking down your neck, it was a different challenge everyday.”
Jack’s career was mostly accident free. His only injury was when one day he was walking down a log and the bark slipped, “I grabbed a small tree as I fell and the next thing I knew it felt like worms on my arm, my tendon had torn away from the bone and was up by my shoulder.”
“Doc Leibold sent me to Port Angeles, no ambulance we just drove, and Dr. Schuler and Doc Duncan fixed me up.”
It was in 1958 that Jack heard his freezer make a clicking noise. He called the local repairman at the time who fixed it and “I got charged an arm and a leg,” Jack said.
So for two years Jack did home study to become an appliance repairman. That became his second career.
He worked for Russ Vedder and many local restaurants and grocery stores on their refrigeration needs, as well as all appliances both residential and businesses.
In 1980-1981 things got slow for work in Forks so Jack headed to Mount St. Helens, where he busheled windfalls.
He eventually retired from busheling and was well known as the local appliance repairman for many years.
Today Jack and Lee still live in their home on Bogachiel Way in Forks.
Congratulations Jack, Pioneer Logger 2015!