Interviewer: Maria Schleidt
Interview Date: January 19, 2002
Transcribed by: Mim Eisenberg/WordCraft; June 2013
Listen: Read Transcript
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
U.S. FOREST SERVICE, REGION 8
Interview with: Clyde T. Powell
Interviewed by: Melissa Twaroski
Date: January 19, 2002
Transcribed by: Mim Eisenberg/WordCraft; June 2013
MELISSA TWAROSKI: This is Friday, January 19, 2002. We’re at Clyde T. Powell’s house, who was a former dispatcher at the Chickasawhay [Ranger District]. Never mind the tape recording. When did you start working for the Forest Service?
CLYDE T. POWELL: I’m not sure the date, but I started in the CCs [Civilian Conservation Corps] in 1933, I think it was. I’m not sure.
TWAROSKI: And was that here?
POWELL: In fact, almost when they were first established, you know, when it was. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: Nineteen thirty-three.
TWAROSKI: That’s when [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt started the CCCs.
POWELL: Yeah. But anyway, I was a local, experienced CC enrollee in Camp 8. That’s where I was at. And then come down to Stony [Tower]. They sent me to Stony. I wanted to work in the lookout tower down close to home, and they sent me down there, and, of course, [Camp] F-24 hadn’t been built yet, but they built it after I went to Stony. And then my enrollment was transferred to F-24 because, you know, when you’re working out, like, in the CCs, they got to feed you. I couldn’t come in and eat, so they fed us. Fed me. In fact, that was one of the good things about it. They gave me enough for feed to take care of a family [unintelligible; 1:31]. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: So you started working here under the CCCs at Camp 8 in the 1930s.
POWELL: Yeah, thirties, yeah.
TWAROSKI: And you worked on the lookout tower.
POWELL: That’s right.
TWAROSKI: Now, how long did you stay there?
POWELL: That’s about six years.
TWAROSKI: Six years on the lookout.
POWELL: Mm-hm. Somewhere in that neighborhood of about six years. And then I went to—well, what I did, my brother lived in Oregon, and I went out there. I left the CCs, stayed one year, and I came back, and a ranger hired me back again, and I went back to work—well, let’s see, [I worked with him? 2:17]—no, I worked in the fire department—I mean, with the truck. I had a truck.
TWAROSKI: The engine?
POWELL: They had the old high-[unintelligible; 2:25] trucks with radio—just it was a telephone which you hooked into the telephone wires, too. And I had a little fire tractor.
TWAROSKI: Where did you work?
POWELL: I worked right around in the Stony Tower area, and I also up towards [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2:45].
TWAROSKI: Was that with the Forest Service?
POWELL: With the Forest Service. That’s right. Wait a minute, now. I was hired by the Forest Service. That’s right.
TWAROSKI: When? After you did six years for the CCCs?
TWAROSKI: And then you went one year—
POWELL: I was still wrong about that because sometime during that six-year period, you know, the CCs were abolished.
TWAROSKI: Nineteen forty-two.
POWELL: Nineteen forty-two? Okay. Well, that’s when the Forest Service hired me.
TWAROSKI: Okay, and you started working at that point.
POWELL: And I started work on that,. GS [government service]-3.
TWAROSKI: A GS-3!
TWAROSKI: A GS-3, 1942. Boy!
POWELL: And then in the CC days and the—
TWAROSKI: Forest Service?
POWELL: —Forest Service. It was about six years. And then I was transferred up to Warsaw [Tower], and I was the dispatcher for two years up there.
TWAROSKI: Two years at Warsaw.
POWELL: Then in was a GS-4. [Laughs.] I was really climbing up, I thought. I was happy in those days. And we had fires then, so many till [unintelligible; 4:07] like to run me crazy, just about. I asked a ranger—I really wasn’t educated enough to keep all the records. A dispatcher has a lot of records to keep in the fire business, and it really made me work mighty hard. And I asked him, “Let me have a fire truck and a crew and go back somewhere, anywhere in the district,” and he let me—he gave me a [unintelligible; 4:33], and I spent the rest of my time with a fire crew in a truck, and a tractor on a truck, communications. And I had a little-one boy, [Nate? 4:47] Brewer, was my tractor driver.
TWAROSKI: What was his name?
POWELL: Nate Brewer. Yeah, I remember him.
TWAROSKI: We have an operator named Marvin Brewer.
POWELL: Well, they might be related. I don’t know. I don’t know what ever happened to Nate. But he was a good tractor driver. He would load us on that truck and take us all [unintelligible; 5:13] [a few minutes and we had? 5:11] found a fire route. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: So this was two years after you worked as the dispatcher at Warsaw?
TWAROSKI: You asked to switch?
TWAROSKI: And when did you leave the Chick?
POWELL: Well, now, let’s see. In 19-and-49 I went back to Oregon, to [Leo? 5:35]. I moved out there. I resigned. I resigned.
TWAROSKI: Oh, you left the Forest Service.
POWELL: I left the Forest Service. I resigned. I was trying to think of that ranger. He was a big, heavyset man I thought so much of.
TWAROSKI: Did you work with Mr. Dexter?
POWELL: [No audible response.]
TWAROSKI: Mr. Thurmond?
POWELL: Yeah, I remember Mr. Thurmond. But Mr. Dexter, I don’t.
TWAROSKI: No? Dexter was there from ’34 to ’35.
TWAROSKI: Mr. Carl Benson?
POWELL: Yeah, I remember Mr. Carl Benson was there whenever I caught the fire bug one time. Me and [lookout] Mr. [Nate] Pitts was [unintelligible; 6:20] fire bug. And what do you call them? Incend-, incens- —
TWAROSKI: Were they arsonists?
POWELL: Yeah, they willfully set the woods afire, you know.
POWELL: I don’t know. [unintelligible; 6:31] just mean.
TWAROSKI: They were just mean. Did you have a problem with the grazing, with farmers, ranchers?
POWELL: Yeah. That’s where all our fires came from. I could tell you a reason. Back in the early days, before the Forest Service got this land—see, they’ve had it—the people who lived here did like they wanted to, so if this man over here burned a little green patch around his home, his cattle stayed home, but everybody else’s cattle would go over there, so everybody had to have an area burned close to their home, and that’s the reason they burned, to keep their stock from wandering off. That meant that every person, just about, was involved in having a fire, a small area burned around his home, where his cattle could go to because this was open land. It didn’t have the timber then. And it’s grasses. It was grass everywhere, and you burned it off, it come back nice and green.
TWAROSKI: Tender shoots.
TWAROSKI: Tender shoots for the cattle.
That’s my wife.
TWAROSKI: Good morning.
So you left the Chick in 1949, resigned.
TWAROSKI: Went off to Oregon.
TWAROSKI: What did you do?
POWELL: Well, at first I worked with my brother. He had a sawmill and logging, and I logged some, myself, out there for a couple of years. And then things got kind of bad, and so I went down to the headquarters in Roseburg, Oregon, Forest Service. And do you know, their chief man—we call his superintendent—at Umpqua National Forest—
TWAROSKI: Which forest?
POWELL: Umpqua, U-m-p-q-u-a. And they hired me, and I worked there for sixteen and a half years, and that’s where I retired. See, I’m not a professional forester. I’m a forest technician, and I did a lot of timber cruising and lots of log scaling. We had one sale—at that particular time was the largest timber sale the Forest Service had ever made, a hundred-and-something—over a hundred million board feet in one sale. [Laughs.]
POWELL: That was up in the Cascade Mountains.
TWAROSKI: We’re hoping to do twenty!
POWELL: [Laughs.] Yeah.
TWAROSKI: If we’re lucky, next year. Otherwise, it’ll be half of that. So we’ve scaled down a lot.
POWELL: That’s all your sales put together.
POWELL: Anyway, I enjoyed it. You could only work about three months out of the year. It was covered with snow the other part of the time. But when I left, the last five years I worked—I was their timber sale administrator. I looked after the Forest Service contracts. I’d go to every sale and see that they did what the contract called for.
TWAROSKI: So you retired after sixteen years in Oregon? When did you get back to Mississippi?
POWELL: Well, I retired—I was out in Oregon for twenty-six years.
TWAROSKI: Oh, okay.
POWELL: That’s right. I’d forgotten. Now, it was sixteen years, and so I’ve got about another ten—and I did other things. I worked with my brother. He had a large ranch out there and cattle and stuff, and timber. I worked with him for a long time. And then I worked for my own self for a long time. But the timber business got slack, and that’s when I went to the Forest Service. [unintelligible; 10:30]. Couldn’t hardly sell [another? 10:32] log.
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm. Definitely.
So a lot of the fires, when you were here, were caused because of problems with the grazing, the changes in the rules?
POWELL: I figured that was all, because that’s all they [unintelligible; 10:46]. You got [unintelligible; 10:48], you got to burn.
TWAROSKI: But when you came here, it was clear-cut?
POWELL: It was all clear-cut.
TWAROSKI: Everything clear-cut. Was there any old growth anywhere on the Chick that you recall?
TWAROSKI: They must have left something standing.
POWELL: See, this was all—a huge bunch of this land was—they called it Blodgett [Land Company? 11:10] land, Blodgett.
TWAROSKI: Yes, I’ve heard that name.
POWELL: And Blodgett sold it all to the Virgin Pine Lumber Company. That’s when I was a teenager. And a Piave sawmill over there cut the timber. They built a big city over there, and it’s lasted for about fifteen years or so, maybe twenty.
TWAROSKI: So they were in operation when you were working here with the CCs?
POWELL: Nn-nn. No, that was in the early days, before the CCs come in.
TWAROSKI: Oh, okay.
POWELL: But that’s the reason the land was all bare, you know. I think they cut all the timber, and they didn’t reforest it. And the Forest Service, whenever they got a hold of it, they started reforesting and planting. We had a large planting crew. That’s what the CC boys did. They planted I don’t know how many acres, several thousand acres over there. Well, let’s see, how big is the Chickasawhay, 55,000?
TWAROSKI: A hundred and fifty thousand.
POWELL: Yeah, well. They must have planted 100,000 acres. I don’t know. That’s the way it all got started.
TWAROSKI: So there were no areas on the district where they left hardwoods?
POWELL: No, they didn’t do that in those days. They should have, but—of course, the Forest Service, even when they had a sale, I think in the early days—but sometimes you could get down to the [unintelligible; 12:38] branch where the hardwood grows, mostly, and then you could—a sale [was off? 12:45], and certain areas was flagged out in there, and they couldn’t cut.
TWAROSKI: They couldn’t?
POWELL: They couldn’t cut the hardwood. But I don’t know how [cross-talk; unintelligible; 12:54].
TWAROSKI: You don’t remember old longleaf stands?
POWELL: Not pure stands. I do remember lots of them before when I was born. We’d go down over—close to where Stony Tower is down there on Mason Creek. When I was a kid, it was virgin timber everywhere. I mean, that virgin timber—except on private land.
TWAROSKI: Except on private.
POWELL: We chipped it and run turpentine. That’s one way we had a living when I was five or ten years old. [unintelligible; 13:28] seventy acres of land we had that had timber on it. My folks and other people—my daddy died. I can’t remember seeing my daddy. But anyway, we didn’t have anybody to—the chipping. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know. Not right then. I wasn’t big enough. But I remember the money it brought us. [Laughs.]
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm. Okay.
Do you remember any CCC enrollees? Are you still friends with any of those folks?
POWELL: Well, I remember all my lookouts.
TWAROSKI: Oh, lookouts.
POWELL: I remember—see, we used to have one old boy over at Camp 24. We called him Ham. He was a funny guy, a clown.
TWAROSKI: He was a clown?
POWELL: I mean, he was a guy we—
TWAROSKI: Was he a lookout?
POWELL: No, he was just an enrollee.
POWELL: He planted trees—no, he worked in the kitchen.
TWAROSKI: Kitchen. Kitchen patrol?
POWELL: He had a kitchen. They had a large place, fed about 200 guys, you know? I think that’s a pretty good—
WOMAN: Takes a lot of work.
TWAROSKI: A lot of work.
Do you remember when you signed on with the Forest Service in 1942—do you remember any of the dispatchers? Because there used to be six towers.
POWELL: Mm-hm. Well, now,—
TWAROSKI: Big Creek [Tower], Stony—
POWELL: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 15:00]
TWAROSKI: Point Laurel [Tower].
POWELL: I remember Amos Strickland. You saw the book about him. He was one of our leading dispatchers. He was the first one I ever worked for.
TWAROSKI: Do you know which tower he worked out of?
POWELL: Yeah, Warsaw. The Central Tower, we called it.
TWAROSKI: Oh, it was called the Central Tower.
POWELL: Yeah. It was called the Central Tower.
TWAROSKI: All right.
POWELL: And Amos was the man. And I remember then—[unintelligible; 15:34]. I remember the boy that took the job as dispatcher. I can’t think of his name now. I went back to the fire crews. I don’t know why I [can’t remember? 15:48]. He was a great guy.
Well, other dispatchers. We had Point Laurel Tower. That was up close to Laurel, and—
TWAROSKI: Big Creek.
POWELL: And Mr. Pitts, Nate Pitts was a lookout there. And Southwest Tower.
TWAROSKI: Southwest. Would that be Tiger Creek?
POWELL: Yeah, Tiger Creek. Yeah, that’s right. I forgot that. [Looks through documents.] Let me get the—some of that—I made some notes here, quite a few of them. I didn’t know just what to expect. Let’s see, that’s Tiger Creek. Alfred [Easterling? 16:43] was the lookout.
POWELL: And Mr. Pitts, Mr. Nate Pitts. And then the Piney Woods Tower, back up north from Stony here. Al [Dakally? 16:55]—
TWAROSKI: I know that name.
POWELL: Then we also had another tower—I mean, a tree tower, manned in emergencies.
TWAROSKI: A tree tower.
TWAROSKI: Where was that located?
POWELL: It was located up close to Chicora, up from Clara.
TWAROSKI: Okay. You had Chicora, near Clara.
POWELL: Yeah. We called it the Eagle’s Nest [Tower].
TWAROSKI: The Eagle’s Nest.
POWELL: [Boo Hutto? 17:21] was the guy who’d go down there and work on real high fire danger days.
TWAROSKI: What was his name?
POWELL: Boo Hutto.
POWELL: Yeah. I don’t know. I guess, B-u-. We called him Boo, Byu. I’d say, “Boo.” That’s what we called him.
TWAROSKI: And his last name?
POWELL: He should have had a name. I mean, his last name was Hutto.
TWAROSKI: Hutto. Okay. Eagle’s Nest.
POWELL: But, now, you was talking about other towers. I don’t remember any more. Let’s see, I’ve got one, two, three, four, and the tree tower.
TWAROSKI: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 17:58].
POWELL: I don’t remember—for sure it [cross-talk; unintelligible; 1:01].
TWAROSKI: Big Creek.
POWELL: But it was up close to Chicora and Clara. Because we kept a daily—
TWAROSKI: Is Point Laurel around here?
POWELL: Let’s see, now. [Looks at a document.] There’s a map. [unintelligible; 18:22]. Let’s see, now. You go up—where’s Warsaw at?
TWAROSKI: There used to be Big Creek here, Big Creek Tower?
TWAROSKI: Point Laurel, Warsaw—
POWELL: And Tiger Creek.
TWAROSKI: Tiger Creek. Piney Woods?
POWELL: Piney Woods, yeah. I give you—that [was there? 18:44].
TWAROSKI: Yeah. And then you were Stony Tower.
POWELL: Stony Tower.
TWAROSKI: So that, plus the Eagle’s Nest.
POWELL: I figure that was–[unintelligible; 18:59]?
TWAROSKI: This is—
POWELL: I’ve got [cross-talk; unintelligible; 19:02].
TWAROSKI: Sixty-three. [unintelligible; 19:07] Dunham Road?
POWELL: Uh-huh. Yeah, [unintelligible; 19:13]. I’m looking for Chicora.
TWAROSKI: Oh, Smithtown, Chicora.
POWELL: And this is—
TWAROSKI: Chicora Road.
POWELL: —Chicora Road. Yeah.
TWAROSKI: And it goes to the old Patrick’s Bridge?
POWELL: Yeah. But back up in here somewhere is where that tree tower was.
TWAROSKI: Around here?
POWELL: Yeah, I’d say in that [area], not far from Chicora. It look like [unintelligible; 19:40] would have Piney Woods right—
TWAROSKI: Piney Woods is—
POWELL: Let’s see, we had Piney Woods—
TWAROSKI: Piney Woods. That’s the creek.
POWELL: There’s Piney Woods Creek.
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm. I think there was a recreation area here. There was two recreation areas? Piney Wood [sic; Woods], and there used to be one up here called Thompson Creek?
POWELL: Yeah. That was up close to Warsaw, Thompson Creek.
TWAROSKI: And there’s Warsaw, so it must be somewhere there.
POWELL: I used to go down there fishing.
TWAROSKI: Oh, really?
POWELL: Near Warsaw.
TWAROSKI: You used to go to Thompson Creek.
POWELL: Is that area still being open now?
TWAROSKI: No, the only recreation area we have is the Turkey Fork. That’s about it.
POWELL: Yeah, I go down there now sometime.
POWELL: That’s a lot of people from—that’s a good area.
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm. It really is.
POWELL: I remember some exciting times in the fire—after these guys that willfully set the fire. We caught one of them, me and Mr. Pitts. We didn’t really catch them. We seen them, and then the ranger—and the FBI was in on this, too. I mean, kind of guiding us because we were assigned—I was—to two fire seasons. Like, February and March was our worst time, in the early spring. I was [unintelligible; 21:14] all my—the suspect. We knew about who was doing it. You go where you want to and go to work when you want to when the danger is up. And maybe you will be able to see this guy. And that’s what happened. [unintelligible; 21:34]. I seen him going up to Wolf Bend. We call it the Wolf Bend Hill. A lot of truckers throw out matches [unintelligible; 21:43]. I couldn’t see the matches, but I could see the little forest [unintelligible; 21:47]. Yeah.
The ranger—I got in contact with him. I don’t know. I guess I had a [unintelligible; 22:00] radio or telephone. But anyway, he were out there, I know. And in just a little bit, the ranger kind of—we had a man back in those days was a lawyer, I guess, or the man who [brought? fought? 22:15] the cases. And they got—I told him where he went, and I got in the truck with them, and we overtaking the truck right close to [unintelligible; 22:27]. Of course, they got the [law? 22:29] and everything after him.
TWAROSKI: And you caught him?
POWELL: Yeah. They arrested him, had him arrested. When he went to jail, I went up to Meridian. I was the only witness, eye witness. And I thought that I was going to—I didn’t know what to expect because I never been in such a position. But anyway, we got up there to the federal building in Meridian, and this boy pleaded guilty, so I didn’t have to—
TWAROSKI: You didn’t have to testify?
POWELL: It was a Judge [unintelligible last name; 23:09].
POWELL: The judge.
TWAROSKI: Oh, the judge.
POWELL: Yeah, the judge, [unintelligible last name; 23:19]. I think it was about he spent three months in the jail. I’m not sure how long. He had to pay cash. He had to sell some of his farm equipment to do that. And I heard later that—he sent me word that if he ever got a chance, I was one guy he was going to kill. [Laughs.]
Did you ever visit Camp 24?
POWELL: Oh, yeah. Yeah, that’s right where my home is, [unintelligible; 23:48].
TWAROSKI: I’m somewhat confused. I keep reading about other Forest Service buildings?
TWAROSKI: Did they build on the opposite side of Camp 24, buildings for the Forest Service to use?
POWELL: Yes. Well, you know where it’s at. You’ve been down there.
TWAROSKI: I know where Mr. Red Smith lives, and across from his house is the entrance to Camp 24, which we had rebuilt.
POWELL: You mean across from—not Red Smith. Red [unintelligible; 24:24] in there, but this is another Smith, down by the old camp, because that’s where my home was, right through the old camp in the back. I sold it to my nephew, [Verle? 24:34] Smith. And he [unintelligible; 24:44]—let’s see, three months ago he died. Verle is dead now.
TWAROSKI: Who is he?
POWELL: Yeah, but Red Smith is still living.
POWELL: So that old camp has got all the—it’s got the cornerstones. Have you ever been—the Forest Service has already held some meetings there, you know. I been to them. And they got some stuff out there, and Red keeps a flag up all the time.
TWAROSKI: Red keeps—but I thought most of the land on which the camps were located is on private land, and the Forest Service—
TWAROSKI: —owns the front end of the camp.
POWELL: It was on government land, the 24 was, because mine joined—my own land joined up with them in the back, back there. I had forty—
TWAROSKI: Forty acres? On the other side?
POWELL: South of the camp.
TWAROSKI: South of the camp. So one side was the CCC camp, and one side was the Forest Service?
POWELL: Well, no. See, the road—this road—it’s a Forest Service road that goes clear down to Stony Tower. I guess it was—what number? Do you have a 205 now?
TWAROSKI: [No audible response.]
POWELL: Let’s see. You have Stony Tower.
TWAROSKI: Stony Tower. Right there.
TWAROSKI: And this is the new Highway 42.
POWELL: Well, this road goes to Stony Tower from—see, where we’re at now is—there’s West Salem [Road]. This road here goes down—I’m talking about the West Salem Road. That’s their church. It’s been there all these years.
TWAROSKI: There’s the church, right there.
POWELL: Mm-hm. That’s the church where I was saved. Are you a Christian?
TWAROSKI: Yes, sir.
POWELL: Well, praise the Lord. Anyway, this is the road that goes out by West Salem, and right in here—that [unintelligible; 26:56] land back there was where I lived, and this area is where the CC camp was. Wait a minute now. [noise; unintelligible; 27:22].
POWELL: [unintelligible; 27:30]. [unintelligible; 27:36] just about a mile from West Salem Church, on that same road, going east.
TWAROSKI: Going east.
POWELL: To the entrance.
TWAROSKI: To the entrance of the camp?
POWELL: Entrance of the camp. And the CC camp with all the barracks, where they kept the boys and fed them. On the right side. And the Forest Service offices all were on the left side there. And all the equipment they had.
POWELL: They had to have quite a bit of equipment, you know, to plant trees and everything else.
TWAROSKI: So there were two sets of buildings for the Forest Service: the work center and then these buildings at Camp 24?
TWAROSKI: Do you know when they demolished those buildings?
POWELL: No. I was in Oregon at that time.
TWAROSKI: At the time.
POWELL: That’s the reason I don’t know.
TWAROSKI: That was after you left.
TWAROSKI: And who lived there? Did anybody live here?
TWAROSKI: Did anyone live there at the Forest Service buildings?
POWELL: Yeah. Well, not after the CCs were abolished, I don’t reckon.
POWELL: I think they probably sold them. I don’t know. Maybe they sold all that stuff. Somebody tore it down. There’s lots of good [lumber? 28:58] and stuff in those buildings.
POWELL: Camp 24 had a nice swimming pool, too.
TWAROSKI: Did it really?
POWELL: A swimming pool.
TWAROSKI: But the ranger was at Warsaw?
POWELL: Yeah, the ranger was—well, his headquarters was in Laurel, where you’re at. But he came out on the district every day because we had fires every day. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: So we had an office in Laurel?
POWELL: Yeah, he had an office—
POWELL: Yeah, always.
TWAROSKI: And then we had the work center?
TWAROSKI: Is that where the engines were parked?
POWELL: Where the what?
TWAROSKI: The trucks, the engines, the fire trucks.
POWELL: Yeah, the fire trucks. See, had to have lots of those trucks. Looked like they had the big tarpaulin on it. It could haul twenty to twenty-five men in one truck.
TWAROSKI: Oh, the trucks with the tarps?
TWAROSKI: We have a picture of that.
TWAROSKI: It said, “DeSoto National Forest” on the side of the truck.
POWELL: Yeah, that’s right.
TWAROSKI: We have one picture.
POWELL: I know when I was at Camp 8—I stayed over there about—I think it was three or four months before I went to the tower, and I was a truck driver and would go to Williamsburg for recreation, and I’d take my truck. I carried about twenty-five guys to town. I think we went once a week. It seems like it was on Friday night that we always went. I’m not sure. Maybe Saturday night.
TWAROSKI: So, then, the offices, the Forest Service buildings at Camp F-4 also had fire trucks and equipment?
POWELL: Yeah, they had their pickups. The officers mostly had a pickup with the communication in them, you know?
TWAROSKI: So did those men work on this side of the district mostly?
POWELL: Well, F-24 had an area—I don’t know if they all worked together from every camp, if a bad fire got started. I know when I was dispatcher—you could dispatch—we did all the dispatching from the towers, whichever tower called it in and we got it located with respect to whoever was closest to the fire.
TWAROSKI: Okay. Okay. That’s what I was wondering.
TWAROSKI: Okay. Let’s see. Do you know how Warsaw Work Center got its name?
TWAROSKI: Because Warsaw is a Polish name.
TWAROSKI: But where did it come from?
POWELL: I rally don’t.
TWAROSKI: You don’t know? Would it have anything to do with the Warsaw sawmill?
POWELL: I couldn’t say.
TWAROSKI: You couldn’t say?
POWELL: I know absolutely—
TWAROSKI: Was it always called Warsaw?
POWELL: As far as I know. The first thing I ever heard of was Warsaw.
POWELL: A Polish must have started something up there one day. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: I don’t know. We’re all wondering, “Where did it get the name?” We don’t know.
When you worked as a dispatcher at Warsaw—this is the layout. This is the shop building?
POWELL: Mm-hm. Yeah.
TWAROSKI: There’s this little shed? I think it’s called the lubrication shed?
TWAROSKI: There’s a grease rack right here?
TWAROSKI: This is what used to be the bunkhouse?
TWAROSKI: And this is the tower.
POWELL: Also a dwelling in there, [cross-talk; unintelligible; 32:19].
TWAROSKI: Now, there used to be—right here.
POWELL: They got rid of that, that building, but I could have lived in it, but me and my wife never did move up there.
TWAROSKI: That’s Warsaw Lookout Tower.
TWAROSKI: That’s the old ranger’s residence.
POWELL: Yeah. The lookout—the ranger never lived out there, you know.
TWAROSKI: Oh, he didn’t?
POWELL: Nn-nn. No, the lookout—I mean, the dispatcher lived there.
TWAROSKI: Oh, the dispatcher.
POWELL: Yeah. But the ranger—for some reason, he never did live out there. We called it the ranger’s home. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: Was that during Mr. Benson?
POWELL: Mr. Benson, but, no.
TWAROSKI: He didn’t live there.
POWELL: Uh-huh. He didn’t live there.
TWAROSKI: Were you here when Mr. Murphy, Thomas Murphy—
POWELL: I remember that name, but it don’t register like Mr. Benson.
POWELL: And Mr. Benson was there whenever we caught the guy—
TWAROSKI: The arsonist?
POWELL: The arsonist.
TWAROSKI: Setting the fires.
POWELL: That’s the word I was trying to think of [cross-talk; unintelligible; 33:19].
TWAROSKI: Okay. So when you were here, the ranger never lived there.
TWAROSKI: It was the dispatcher.
POWELL: The dispatcher.
TWAROSKI: So did you live here?
POWELL: I stayed in there and [matched myself? 33:29]. I never did get to move up there. My wife—well, the way the situation was, see, we had cattle and stuff down at home, and I didn’t know if I was going to stay there too long, and I didn’t. Two years. A little less than two years, I think it was.
TWAROSKI: Okay. So who lived in this building? Because people keep telling me it’s called the bunkhouse.
TWAROSKI: It used to have a very small bathroom.
TWAROSKI: And they told me that two brothers used to live there?
POWELL: I don’t remember anybody that was in there.
POWELL: I remember this—
TWAROSKI: The shop.
TWAROSKI: There’s the shop building right there.
POWELL: —shop building real well.
TWAROSKI: The tower?
POWELL: Fire tower, of course. Where was the little office? That’s where I was at m most of the time when I [was there? 34:19]. I lived in a small building. It might have been this.
TWAROSKI: You mean this one?
TWAROSKI: Because it’s also called the office.
TWAROSKI: Other people keep telling me it was the bunkhouse.
POWELL: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 34:31] in the office.
TWAROSKI: Okay. Maybe later on it changed.
TWAROSKI: Okay. All right. Do you remember the grease rack being here?
POWELL: Yeah, I remember that. Is all that still there?
TWAROSKI: The grease rack, I have been told, was—the bottom portion, the pilings are original to the CCCs because I understand the CCCs built this.
POWELL: Yeah, I imagine—
TWAROSKI: The folks who were at Camp F-4. I’ve got pictures.
POWELL: Mm-hm. Boy, you got a lot of pictures.
TWAROSKI: This is the shop building being built—
TWAROSKI: —I believe in 1933. And you can see the tower, Warsaw.
POWELL: Mm-hm. I was somewhere—see, I didn’t go to work the first day of the CCs, but, I mean, I was hired as they were hiring the local men, you know? It was every—I don’t know how many there was. Each camp would have so many, two or three they called them local men. And they were hired just the same as an enrollee, but they were from that area.
TWAROSKI: And you stayed longer than the six months.
POWELL: I think so.
This is another photo of Warsaw, and there’s no trees. [Chuckles.]
POWELL: Yeah, that look like down around Stony. When I went to work down there, you could see the bare ground everywhere. You could see the fire, the blazes.
TWAROSKI: Most of these photos—that’s a big one. I found this photo, and I blew it up. It’s the old sign to Thompson Creek.
TWAROSKI: The car dates to about 1936. It’s a Forest Service truck, or car.
POWELL: That’s a Forest Service truck?
TWAROSKI: Yes, it is. You can’t see it, but there’s the decal?
TWAROSKI: And on the tags it says, “USDA.”
POWELL: I remember this sign well. In fact, I’ve been to that Thompson Creek Rec Area when it was very active.
TWAROSKI: Very active.
POWELL: Lots of people went down there. They kept it cleaned up nice around there. I believe you could go swimming there. I’m not sure. But it was good fishing, anyway.
TWAROSKI: Good fishing. Excellent. Yeah.
This tower, we think, is Tiger Creek. And the reason why we think is because it’s surrounded by loblolly [pines].
POWELL: I believe that’s it.
TWAROSKI: That’s it. It looks like the 1950s.
POWELL: Mm-hm. I think that’s where he worked at. I mean, [unintelligible; 37:29]. It was a full [unintelligible; 37:28] tower, like Stony and the rest of them. I used to go up and down one of those things in a—
TWAROSKI: In a split second.
TWAROSKI: That’s Warsaw in the eighties or nineties.
POWELL: Somebody took that from a plane or something.
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm. Yep.
POWELL: Yeah. And, now, `this—
TWAROSKI: That was built in the sixties, I think, or the fifties. That’s the paint house?
TWAROSKI: Which is now the fire cache.
POWELL: This is the shop.
TWAROSKI: And that’s the shop.
POWELL: Mm-hm. This must have been the offices when I was out there. We had all the instruments you needed to check a fire, you know, because I got the bearings from other lookouts and did the location, locating of the fires.
TWAROSKI: That little house? This one? Is over here.
TWAROSKI: Right here. You can’t see it.
POWELL: It wasn’t built then.
TWAROSKI: I’m sorry, this is the old house, the oil house, where they used to—
POWELL: Oh, the oil house.
TWAROSKI: They used to—
POWELL: Yes, mm-hm.
TWAROSKI: That was built in the—[turns pages]—seventies.
TWAROSKI: So that was after your time.
POWELL: Yeah, that was. That was after my time, yeah.
TWAROSKI: Now, all these photos are a private collection of a former camp F-4 enrollee, a Mr. Louis Bailey from Company 231. He happened to be on vacation here back, I think, [in] ’95, 1996, and he let us make copies of his photos. So he shows us—he said that his company built the work center, and these are the barracks from Camp 4.
POWELL: Mm-hm. It looks like barracks.
POWELL: Camp 8.
TWAROSKI: I think they all looked alike.
POWELL: Did I tell you about Camp 8?
TWAROSKI: Yes, sir. You worked there?
POWELL: That’s where I was at, yeah.
TWAROSKI: Now, that would be—was that their formal—
POWELL: These boys were—CC boys were Yankee boys.
TWAROSKI: Yes, sir. They were from New York and New Jersey.
POWELL: I don’t seem to know any of those guys [unintelligible; 40:01].
POWELL: No, [unintelligible; 40:16]. I [unintelligible; 40:17] to know somebody, but it might have been a time I wasn’t here. That’s the inside of—
TWAROSKI: Of the barrack.
POWELL: Yeah, where they slept. What camp is this?
TWAROSKI: Camp 4.
POWELL: Camp 4. Yeah, that’s the one I didn’t call of, wasn’t it? Where is it located at?
TWAROSKI: Off of Road 205, 205 South. Do you know where the old Fish and Wildlife shed is located?
POWELL: On 205?
TWAROSKI: Yeah, on 205.
POWELL: Yeah, I think so.
TWAROSKI: Okay. Right there is—
POWELL: That’s between Warsaw and Laurel.
TWAROSKI: Yes, sir. That’s where it was located. They’ve abandoned that shed. They’ve built a new one.
POWELL: I remember it now, Camp 4. But it wasn’t there all the time.
TWAROSKI: Did they have two sets of uniform: a dress-up and then a field outfit?
POWELL: [unintelligible; 41:15].
TWAROSKI: And look at the Forest Service pickup truck.
POWELL: [unintelligible; 41:22].
TWAROSKI: And this is—they’re getting their chow.
POWELL: Yeah. This is [unintelligible; 41:29].
POWELL: It’s been lots of years ago.
TWAROSKI: This is the gentleman I guess in the barrack.
TWAROSKI: Standing at attention.
POWELL: I remember in Camp 8 we had to get up and—well, I guess in 24, too, but I never did stay in a camp, so—every morning—[unintelligible; 41:54] early in the morning.
POWELL: And then after that, breakfast.
TWAROSKI: Okay. I think that’s the mess hall. It’s not a very good photo. I can see, like, a table or something. These are tables.
POWELL: Yeah, that’s what that was.
TWAROSKI: The mess hall.
TWAROSKI: Okay. This is some sort of tower. Let me turn it around for you. I don’t know where that tower is.
POWELL: You don’t know the name of it?
TWAROSKI: I don’t know—
POWELL: That might have been that tree tower.
WOMAN: Warsaw? Was it Warsaw?
TWAROSKI: It’s all wood. It’s a wooden one. And then apparently Jack Dempsey and his wife [Selma] showed up to the camp, and they took a picture of them.
POWELL: I never seen this here.
TWAROSKI: Yeah. Maybe it’s just in Camp 4.
POWELL: It might have been one that started off as a tree tower.
POWELL: I’ll bet that [unintelligible; 43:00] is what it is, because that tree tower was kind of a dangerous thing.
POWELL: Well, it had a nest on top, built up there, like kids would climb up trees and build a playhouse, you know? You’ve seen that. I remember seeing that. And I remember Hutto, and that’s fifty years ago. [Laughs.]
What tower is this?
TWAROSKI: That’s Warsaw again. That’s with the house.
POWELL: Yeah, that’s the ranger’s house.
Now, I have a large picture—
POWELL: [unintelligible; 43:37.
TWAROSKI: This one. This one’s the same one, right here. Do you recognize this tower? Nobody knows which tower it is. We’re starting to wonder maybe it’s on another forest.
POWELL: See, when I went to Stony they had a little building. This makes me think of it. Only one room.
TWAROSKI: One room.
POWELL: There was no light, no electricity.
TWAROSKI: No light and no electricity in those buildings?
POWELL: Outdoors toilets.
TWAROSKI: Outdoor toilets.
POWELL: Yeah, outdoor toilets. They had a little wood shed, and in this little house you had two cots.
TWAROSKI: Two cots.
POWELL: And we had a cook stove that we cooked on. I stayed there. One of the most interesting things—not interesting, either, but it was—lightning struck it. I had a wire from a radio coming down—
[End Part 1. Begin Part 2.]
POWELL: [unintelligible; 0:02], and woke me up, for sure.
TWAROSKI: Oh, I’m sure it did.
POWELL: It scared me to death but didn’t hurt nothing.
TWAROSKI: So when you worked at Stony Tower, you’re saying that this one-room building with no electricity is what you slept in?
TWAROSKI: Where did your wife live?
POWELL: Well, Selma is my second wife.
TWAROSKI: Oh, your second wife.
POWELL: But she lived in a home down at 24, Camp 24, back—you know, I said I owned the land back there?
TWAROSKI: Uh-huh, the forty acres.
WOMAN: [unintelligible; 2-0:32] in our neighborhood.
POWELL: But I can come home.
TWAROSKI: Oh! So your wife never lived in this house.
TWAROSKI: Oh, because—
POWELL: I [back served? 2-0:40]. I had another guy helping me, [Burleigh Fawkes? 2-0:44]. He hardly ever stayed overnight, but most of the time.
TWAROSKI: Okay. All right. Because I have pictures that you sent us.
POWELL: This house also had lights—we had a big leaden lamp. It was a really nice lamp.
TWAROSKI: A lead?
POWELL: A lead lamp. It burned—had a globe on it.
TWAROSKI: These are your photos.
POWELL: That’s Stony, now. Here’s Stony. That’s me there.
TWAROSKI: Yes. Quite handsome.
POWELL: There’s the Burleigh boy helping me there, and Mr. Pitts, and there’s Alfred—what do you call him? And this is me again.
TWAROSKI: This is you?
POWELL: Yeah. I was dressed up there in a uniform.
TWAROSKI: That’s the Forest Service uniform?
TWAROSKI: And who’s this?
POWELL: That’s Mr. Pitts. Let’s see, Nate Pitts, out from Laurel. And this is Amos Strickland. [unintelligible; 2-2:00]. This guy there looks sort of like him, but this is Amos.
TWAROSKI: That’s Amos? The tall—
POWELL: Mm-hm. And this here, Mr. Strange? Do you remember that name. This guy here was assistant ranger. This boy right here took over my job when I left. I can’t think of his name now. That’s Burleigh Fawkes. He worked with me.
TWAROSKI: Do you still have these photos?
TWAROSKI: Do you still have these photos?
POWELL: Did I give these photos to the Forest Service?
TWAROSKI: I don’t have them. All I have is this.
POWELL: But this is the little cabin that I stayed in.
TWAROSKI: Because if you still have them, I’d like to borrow them and make negatives off of them, and then enlarge these photos, if that’s okay with you.
POWELL: It’s okay. If I can find them, I’ll send them to you.
TWAROSKI: Okay, good. Okay. And I’ll just take them to the photo place.
POWELL: I’ve got a whole bunch of picture albums since we moved, and I never—haven’t still gotten the old [unintelligible; 2-3:09]. We hadn’t been up here—see, we’ve spent twenty-eight years down in the Vancleave area, close to the coast, and we’ve been up here about two years now.
POWELL: See how bare those woods are out there?
POWELL: You can see every stump.
TWAROSKI: Did every tower on the district—besides Warsaw, did all of the—
POWELL: This is not—it’s not Stony,—
TWAROSKI: No, it’s a different—
POWELL: —I don’t think.
TWAROSKI: But did all the towers have a little house like that, at the foot of the tower?
POWELL: Yeah, I think so. I know Piney Woods did. Piney Woods had one. [Eldon Kelly? 2-3:55] stayed in it. And I’m not sure about—
TWAROSKI: Point Laurel?
POWELL: —Point Laurel. Yeah, Mr. Pitts. He had one, too.
TWAROSKI: He had one, too?
POWELL: Yeah, he had one, too. All of these towers—
TWAROSKI: But none of them were electrified. No electric.
POWELL: Not in the early days.
TWAROSKI: Not in the early days.
POWELL: We had outdoor toilet, and we had a pump, a pump to draw water with, and we didn’t even have a kitchen.
TWAROSKI: Did you have a wood stove?
POWELL: Yeah, we had a wood stove. Well, a kitchen—I mean, the stove was our heat in there. I mean, the cooking stove.
TWAROSKI: Did you learn how to cook?
POWELL: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-4:37] just about run you out—well, I satisfied myself, I guess, over the years. I didn’t learn much, but I found out some of the things I liked, and I ate too much of it. I didn’t change my diet. If I found something I liked, that’s what I eat. [Chuckles.] I reckon [unintelligible; 2-4:52] still living at ninety-two years old, but I don’t think I got many more years.
TWAROSKI: So that’s not Stony. Do you think—
POWELL: No, I don’t believe it’s—now, compare this. That building—
TWAROSKI: That’s different.
POWELL: —was turned around. See, it’s got a front porch.
POWELL: And if we could see the tower out here—
TWAROSKI: Okay. They were just saying that there were so many hardwoods in that picture—
POWELL: I believe that is Stony.
TWAROSKI: That’s Stony, but I’m not sure what this is.
POWELL: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-5:26] face the tower. The tower would be right out here.
TWAROSKI: Uh-huh. So it’s different.
POWELL: That was old oak trees around Stony.
TWAROSKI: Yes, they’re hardwoods.
POWELL: And here is a power line. See, whenever I was there, we didn’t even have any power in—at 24 is what [come us? 2-5:43] out in the country. We got power because that camp came there and they brought electricity when they come. The electric people built the [route? 2-5:52].
TWAROSKI: So the camps all had electricity.
POWELL: The camps. Yeah, they had electricity. So we got electricity because we lived right there at them, and we got them before anybody in the whole community had any.
TWAROSKI: The towers, the lookout towers—who built them?
POWELL: I don’t know.
TWAROSKI: You don’t know?
TWAROSKI: Okay. Did they have wooden towers first and then replaced them with the steel ones?
TWAROSKI: No? They built—okay.
POWELL: Steel tower to start with.
TWAROSKI: Your Stony Tower was destroyed.
POWELL: Yeah, I know it. I was down by that area. They got a gate locked there now.
TWAROSKI: Well, it’s going to be the new Fish and Wildlife warden’s shed, new offices for the Fish and Wildlife, for Green County, because we used to be under one management area, the Chickasawhay, and they divide us into the Chickasawhay Wildlife Management Area for Wayne and Jones County, and Green County has created its own management area, so they need a new headquarters, and they’re going to be building on Stony Tower.
TWAROSKI: So I have to go and survey, to look for the old foundations.
POWELL: Now, what happened—this little cabin I was telling you about was moved—the [patch? 2-7:16] I lived, they built a home there. [Boots Bradley? 2-7:19] spent thirty years, I guess, in that tower, but he’s dead. He died here not long ago. I tell you, a woman, his wife, still lives.
TWAROSKI: So they built a second house.
POWELL: She could tell you a lot.
TWAROSKI: Oh, I’m sure she could.
POWELL: Yeah, they built a home. They had a two-bedroom home. It was a nice home.
TWAROSKI: Who built it, the Forest Service?
POWELL: Forest Service [unintelligible; 2-7:42], probably.
POWELL: And this little house here was destroyed. I mean, moved.
TWAROSKI: Was moved?
TWAROSKI: You think it was moved?
POWELL: It was moved. They did something with it or—they didn’t need it because this other house was built right along in here somewhere.
TWAROSKI: Okay, so it was a two-story house?
TWAROSKI: Two-bedroom house.
POWELL: It was a two- —may have been a three-bedroom—I’d say [unintelligible; 2-8:08]. It had a garage, too, for a car.
TWAROSKI: Gosh! Some people lived nicely!
POWELL: Yeah, it was a nice little house.
TWAROSKI: Now, I was told that Boots had a brother.
POWELL: How’s that?
TWAROSKI: Did Boots have a brother?
TWAROSKI: I was told that they were—
POWELL: He had lots of brothers.
TWAROSKI: —that they used to live here. This is what someone’s told me, that the two boys used to live in this little house with the small bathroom.
POWELL: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-8:39] call the office, huh?
TWAROSKI: Which they call the office. And that they used to take care of the tower, Warsaw Tower.
TWAROSKI: That’s what they told me. I think this is from [Thomas] “Skin” Henderson. Mr. Henderson told me. [Transcriber’s note: Mr. Henderson mentioned what sounded like Boots Brannon (not Bradley) and his brother, Abner Brannon. The last name needs to be verified.]
POWELL: Skin Henderson.
TWAROSKI: Skin Henderson. But, see, that’s what I was trying to find out, if this was the use, if this is what they were using this building for. But you’re saying in your days—
POWELL: I was there, and whenever Strickland was there, Amos, we had a little office. It doesn’t seem like it was that big.
TWAROSKI: It wasn’t. It’s not very big. It’s a very small building.
POWELL: But you had to have it big enough to—it had a restroom built in it, I know. It was big enough—see, we had to have the stuff to check the fires with in there.
TWAROSKI: So that’s what was in here, all the equipment for the fires?
TWAROSKI: That’s what it is.
POWELL: It’s the same thing you have up in the lookout only better and more bigger, because that’s where all the reports come in, to this office. And you did your locating the fires.
TWAROSKI: So what did you do in the shop building?
TWAROSKI: This was just for?
POWELL: This was—
TWAROSKI: Did they park the engines?
POWELL: [Worked? 10:01] the trucks, kept those things up. You know, they had lots of trucks and pickups to keep us, and so Elijah Farmer was one of—he’s dead, too.
TWAROSKI: Elijah Farmer?
POWELL: Elijah Farmer. [unintelligible; 2-10:14] L-i-d-g-e. There’s a lot of Farmers around, [unintelligible; 2-10:21] a lot of their descendants, more than ever. But anyway, he was a head mechanic there. I know in the wintertime, when there was no fire danger most of the time, I’d take a truck, go out and put up signs, and Boots was with me one time, or lots of times because he was my lookout, worked up in the tower. In fact,—
TWAROSKI: Which tower?
TWAROSKI: He worked at Warsaw.
POWELL: Yeah, and I stayed down in the office because we didn’t have the—the dispatcher didn’t have time to look for fires. He had his hands full. All these other tower guys called [them in? 2-11:03]. And sometime we had to man the tower twenty-four hours a day.
TWAROSKI: So you had the radio in here? You had a radio?
POWELL: Yeah. Radio—
TWAROSKI: Did you have a radio here?
POWELL: Now, let’s see, what’s that, now? The shop?
TWAROSKI: That’s the shop building.
POWELL: Probably was.
TWAROSKI: Probably was.
POWELL: Those guys—there were telephones everywhere. We used—the radios were used—I don’t know. Every lookout had one, but didn’t have it in the early days. That come in several years after I started. We only had telephones to start with.
TWAROSKI: You had telephones up here.
TWAROSKI: Okay. All right.
POWELL: We had the telephones to start with, but the radios were—well, I was I-13 down at Stony Tower. That was my call number, I-13.
TWAROSKI: I-13 was your call number.
POWELL: Yeah, it’s a—
TWAROSKI: So what do you remember of Mr. Benson?
POWELL: Well, he was—
TWAROSKI: Was he easy to get along with?
POWELL: —a tall, slender person, and he was all business. No foolishness about him. But the man that I worked for as dispatcher, you haven’t called his name. That’s the one I liked better than any of them.
TWAROSKI: And who was that?
POWELL: Have you got any other—he was a big, heavy—well, he wasn’t—he was big. What I say: I guess he was just a fat man. Mr. Benson was tall—he was there in the latter—
TWAROSKI: I have him—
POWELL: —the latter part of my work up here.
TWAROSKI: I have Mr. Benson at the work center—well, at the Chick—from 1936 to 1942.
TWAROSKI: And the following year, Mr. Thomas Murphy came, 1942 to ’43. And then a Maurice Christiansen, Maurice Christiansen?
TWAROSKI: From 1943 to 1945?
POWELL: Go ahead.
TWAROSKI: And then Fred Ames?
TWAROSKI: Fred Ames, from 1945 to 1950.
POWELL: Fred Ames is the one that [wanted? ordered? 2-13:28] me up there as dispatcher. Me and him are real good friends.
TWAROSKI: I understand that he used to have a cot in the shop building?
TWAROSKI: Someone told me there’s this little room back here, behind where the tools were kept, and he used to have a little cot in there, and that’s where he would stay on fire—
POWELL: I wouldn’t doubt it. He was real active in the fires. Of course, Mr. Benson was—I don’t know. Their personality was different.
POWELL: Very much. But Mr. Benson was a sharp man, too. But Mr. Fred Ames was my type of fellow. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: Was he really? Was he a forester?
POWELL: Yeah, he was a professional.
TWAROSKI: A professional forester.
POWELL: He was a ranger.
TWAROSKI: He was the ranger.
POWELL: I heard later that he was transferred in his last days I think to Tennessee or somewhere, and he got to be a supervisor of the whole area. Just like I was telling you about this foreman down in Roseburg, Oregon. He was supervisor of the Umpqua National Forest and a lot of other national forests around there. Oregon is full of them. And half of it belongs to the federal government and the Forest Service. He was—now, in his last days, he was [cross-talk; unintelligible; 14:55] supervisor.
TWAROSKI: A supervisor. In Tennessee?
POWELL: I believe it was Tennessee.
TWAROSKI: Okay. Did he live in the residence, or did he live off the—
POWELL: No, he come from Laurel.
TWAROSKI: Oh, he lived in Laurel, Mr. Ames.
POWELL: Yeah. Now, he’d come out—he’d spend the night. I remember him spending the night out there some of the times.
TWAROSKI: In the house?
POWELL: No, not in the house. Well, I had a bed in the house. That’s where I slept [unintelligible; 2-15:22], but I never did move up there. He was always asking, “You ought to move up here.” I said, “Well, it just me and my wife can’t get it worked out. We’re going to someday, maybe, but…”
TWAROSKI: So did Mr. Ames sleep in the same house with you sometimes?
POWELL: No, he [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-15:38]—
TWAROSKI: He stayed in the shop building.
POWELL: I think he stayed in that little [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-15:40].
TWAROSKI: Okay, okay. Good. All right.
POWELL: That’s where he stayed.
POWELL: I fought fire—I been out all day on the fires. We didn’t have—lots of times, we wouldn’t have a fire under control maybe till early the next morning. Many fires travel awful fast, you know, as the wind’s blowing in the spring. And if you didn’t get he fire lane around it, that was when the time that you could do it, but right in the quietness of the early morning, before daylight.
TWAROSKI: Now, did the CCCs help you with the fire? Did those young men—
POWELL: Oh, yeah. That’s [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-16:13].
TWAROSKI: They operated the equipment?
POWELL: They fought—they’s the one that fought it.
TWAROSKI: Okay. Along with you and other members of the Forest Service?
POWELL: Of course, after the CCs were abolished, I was here then, too, you know. We had regular fire crews. That was local then. I had the Brewers down here, the Brewer fire crew. But we had our own fire crews, too, that were hired permanently. I don’t know the [unintelligible; 2-16:42] setup they had. Anyway, we had them stationed around in places. They had foremans [sic], and they all worked out from Warsaw. Wilson Dunham—I remember him very well. He had the most ambitious fire crew. You send him and his men to a fire, they got it out.
Of course, I think on the Chickasawhay Ranger District I had about—we had one that stayed down in the Stony Tower area, one up at Warsaw—
TWAROSKI: What’s this, a crew?
POWELL: Yeah, it was equipment.
TWAROSKI: Oh, the equipment.
POWELL: Yeah, the equipment, but you needed to have communication with the radio [unintelligible; 2-17:28], and they could call up their crew and [unintelligible; 2-17:32]. It’s like a fire station in a city, almost. All these boys—
TWAROSKI: So when you worked at Stony, did you have an engine, a fire truck—
TWAROSKI: —parked down there?
POWELL: Well, I didn’t have—that’s what I say. I went back. When I went back to work after I been dispatcher on a fire crew, I was stationed at Stony. That was one of the—but they allowed me to come over to Camp 24, since I lived right there. I had my truck out in front of the house, parked.
TWAROSKI: Oh, okay, so you had the car [sic] parked in front of your house.
POWELL: And if one come at night, which one started early one morning, and I just [unintelligible; 2-18;11] about two miles from my house, so I jumped in the truck, and I called up my boys this time. I go and get it, and I backed my tractor off and turned it over. It’s a wonder it didn’t kill me. It turned over, and I crawled out from under as it turned on over on its side. [Chuckles.] And then Wilson Dunham come right after that. He helped me set it back up. We set it back up and started putting the fire out. [Laughs.] And he had a crew of men with him. We put the fire out. It burned about three acres, I think. It wasn’t very big.
TWAROSKI: So when I go back to the office, I’ll be able to find your paperwork, your fire reports.
POWELL: Yeah. What about the old diaries? They’ve got everything.
TWAROSKI: Old diaries?
POWELL: Yeah, we kept a daily log and diary of everything, from the weather to—we had a weather station there. The weather. And the flag. We had to put the flag up every morning.
TWAROSKI: You did?
POWELL: Take it down.
TWAROSKI: Yes, we still have the—the pole is still there. We just repainted it.
TWAROSKI: I know about the fire reports. We have them filed by year.
TWAROSKI: But I have the land surveyor’s little green books.
TWAROSKI: When they were starting to buy the land.
POWELL: Excuse me, I’m just [unintelligible; 2-19:31].
POWELL: [Apparently moves chair.]
TWAROSKI: And I don’t have the diaries. I haven’t seen the diaries. I’ll have to really search.
POWELL: If they’re around, they’ve got everything. The daily diaries. It’s the [bearing? 2-19:46] of the fire and who you reported to. I called Amos because I got [unintelligible; 2-19:57] 294. And it looks like it’s three miles away, five miles or ten. And [unintelligible; 2-20:05] cross check on it. Maybe [unintelligible; 2-20:09] or Warsaw, itself, would give another shot from their place on the same smoke. And then we had some strings. We’d come out across there with that [unintelligible; 2-20:23].
TWAROSKI: I have it in my office. We have one.
POWELL: Yeah. What did we call it? [unintelligible; 2-20:33], something like that. Any way you could locate that smoke just in a jiffy. In fact, I could do it at Stony if I talked to him. A lot of times, I’d find out what the other guy’s cross-check was or [the number? 2-20:47]. Of course, anytime there’s a conversation going on, everybody was listening, like that, see?
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm. Well, my understanding is we only have two lookout towers left on the national forests in Mississippi. One is Warsaw, and the other one is the Moore Tower up in the Bienville [National Forest]. Now, that one’s different. That one’s much bigger and has the catwalk on the outside, and the steps are on the outside of the frame. But that one’s in trouble. It’s starting to twist. But Warsaw seems to be in pretty good shape, and I think we’re going to try our best to keep it. I think next year Warsaw will be seventy years old.
POWELL: Do you ever use it now as a lookout?
TWAROSKI: Well, I’m trying to get the wooden steps replaced because they’re starting to crack. Sometimes the crew does go up there. They’ll go up to the top and check it. But we’re trying to make sure that it’s structurally sound. And no one’s allowed—I mean, the public is not allowed to climb up, but some of the fire crew do climb up.
POWELL: I worked in fire control in Oregon, too. That was one of my main jobs, fire control out at the ranger station I lived in. They had a nice home. It was up in the Cascades. Beautiful place. Most beautiful place I ever lived. I fought fire, but when the ranger found out I was fifty years old—[unintelligible; 2-22:38] was about fifty-five then. He said, “Uh-uh. [unintelligible; 2-22:41].” He said, “I can’t let you fight no more fires right on the fire line.” He said, “It’s against the rules, your age.” [Laughs.]
TWAROSKI: Oh, so you had to stop.
POWELL: That’s when I started working as a timber sales—
TWAROSKI: Sale administrator. Oh, okay.
POWELL: But I had lots of things—I was an old logger, and I knew how to run a power saw real good. That was our fires out there, mostly: lightning fires way up in some high point, and something you couldn’t get to only by hiking or riding horses. We had a horse—
TWAROSKI: Oh, you had horses in Oregon?
POWELL: Horses. To get up to them. We had trails, horse trails, and I’d go up to those [unintelligible; 2-23:30]. On that trail, I’d take [unintelligible; 2-23:33] had a crew of five men with me, four or five. We put the fire out, maybe be an old snag a’burning, and we’d put everything out. We didn’t have no water up there except what we have to carry in. And we’d have to stay there at least twenty-four hours, watching it to say if it didn’t [surround? 2-23:55] up nowhere where we put it out. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: Oh, what a job!
POWELL: But some of them are big, bad fires, too. I had some—
TWAROSKI: I understand you used to have dynamite at the Warsaw.
TWAROSKI: Yes. When the CCs were here. This is an old letter from Mr. Carl Benson.
POWELL: Yeah, I remember him.
TWAROSKI: And I’m not sure if you can make it out. The letter is starting to fall apart. But there’s those two concrete bunkers?
POWELL: Who was this to?
TWAROSKI: That was for all the employees.
POWELL: Everybody got one of these, huh?
TWAROSKI: In the work center, when you come down, you go down that road, right around here?
TWAROSKI: In the woods? There’s two concrete bunkers.
POWELL: Yeah, I remember those things now, yeah.
TWAROSKI: Inside one of those, we found this letter from Mr. Benson.
POWELL: Mm-hm. Yeah. I don’t know really what they used that for.
TWAROSKI: I don’t know.
POWELL: I don’t remember ever [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-25:05].
TWAROSKI: You never used—
POWELL: I never used any.
TWAROSKI: Any dynamite.
POWELL: I don’t know. And Carl [A.? E? 2-25:16] Benson. I remember him real well. And Mr.—what did we call that guy? I can’t think—I can remember his name, but I can’t remember the one that I thought so much of. Mr. Ames, Fred Ames. And then before Carl,—I guess those were the only two rangers that I was under, [unintelligible; 2-25:44].
TWAROSKI: So you don’t remember a Mr. Murphy or Mr. Christiansen.
POWELL: Uh-uh. No, I don’t.
TWAROSKI: They were here for short periods. Okay. And Mr. Dexter?
POWELL: I don’t remember him, either.
TWAROSKI: And [Mr.] Thurmond.
POWELL: Thurmond? I remember Thurmond.
TWAROSKI: Thurmond! Nineteen thirty-five to 1936.
POWELL: Yeah. He wasn’t here very long.
TWAROSKI: No. One year.
POWELL: Yeah. I remember him, though. I was in Stony Tower. They’d come out, climb up in the tower a lot of time. Most of them—
TWAROSKI: Did they really?
POWELL: They’d come up, look things over and ask a lot of questions, you know.
POWELL: Me and Fawkes was working there, and at t he end of the CCCs, we both wanted to go to work for the Forest Service, and they chose me over [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-26:30].
TWAROSKI: Did they?!
POWELL: Yeah. We both applied for the job.
TWAROSKI: I hope he didn’t get too bad.
POWELL: I thought they done good! [Laughter.]
All right. I [unintelligible; 2-26:44] any more questions, but if I do, can I write to you?
POWELL: Sure, I’d be glad—I’ll try to get those pictures over.
TWAROSKI: All right, yes.
POWELL: If I can find them. I’ve got them in—I’ve got a lot of pictures. That’s one thing I guess I got too many of. Of course, most of them are family pictures.
TWAROSKI: I understand Red Smith has lots of pictures from Camp 24.
POWELL: Red—did you ever—
TWAROSKI: I have to talk to him next.
POWELL: Would you like to talk to him?
TWAROSKI: We spoke a couple of months ago.
POWELL: Oh, you did?
TWAROSKI: But it was about Forest Service problems, but it wasn’t about the CCCs, but I have to go back and interview him someday. And hopefully—one of the technicians went to see him, and he pulled out all of these photos, so he has a collection.
All right. Well, that’s about it, I think. Thank you very much, sir.
POWELL: Well, now, here’s one I had written up.
POWELL: There might be some things here that you could have—I mean, you can go through it. I didn’t know [unintelligible; 2-28:01] that might be all you wanted. [Chuckles.] I mean, I didn’t [look about this? 2-28:11] other—[Goes trough documents.] I don’t know if you can read my writing.
TWAROSKI: I can read it.
POWELL: And spelling—I’m a bad speller. I know that.
POWELL: This is a letter I got from you.
TWAROSKI: Yes. Now, do you have anything written on this one?
POWELL: I have some stuff [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-28:56].
TWAROSKI: Oh, boy!
TWAROSKI: Can I take this?
POWELL: I’ve been trying to bring back my memory, and it’s a good thing I did. I [unintelligible; 2-29:05] the stuff up. It’s just about completely [gone out? 2-29:09].
TWAROSKI: Can I take this and I’ll send it back to you?
POWELL: Sure, you can have that.
TWAROSKI: Oh, I can have it? Okay.
POWELL: I got as far as—see, this is—
TWAROSKI: That’s the first letter.
POWELL: Yeah, that’s the one you sent me.
POWELL: The first. And this one.
TWAROSKI: Oh. Okay. Do you want these?
TWAROSKI: No? Okay.
POWELL: [unintelligible; 2-29:28] give you a place to put your stuff in.
POWELL: Till you get home, anyway. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: I’m going to be busy now. I’m going to write this all down. So I will copy everything down, type everything up and then send it to you and have you read it and see if I’ve gotten the story correct, and you can make any corrections and send it back to me.
POWELL: That would be nice.
TWAROSKI: Okay? And then I’ll keep one on file at the office.
TWAROSKI: All right. Okay.
POWELL: Is this space in the office the same place where it used to be a long time ago?
TWAROSKI: No, we’ve moved. Let me stop this.
[End of interview.]