Interviewer: Melissa Twaroski
Interview Date: June 23; year unknown
Transcribed by: Mim Eisenberg/WordCraft; June 2013
Listen: Read Transcript
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
U.S. FOREST SERVICE, REGION 8
Interview with: William Mauldin
Interviewed by: Melissa Twaroski
Date: June 23; year unknown
Transcribed by: Mim Eisenberg/WordCraft; June 2013
[Transcriber’s note: The recording is hissy/whooshy, and Mr. Mauldin is not positioned close to the microphone. Ms. Twaroski’s voice is perfectly clear (except for the background whoosh).]
WILLIAM MAULDIN: —supervisor in Jacksonville [unintelligible; 0:03] for [unintelligible; 0:06] and then [unintelligible; 0:07] indelible pencil, [unintelligible; 0:08]
MELISSA TWAROSKI: Oh, my!
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 0:013] indelible.
TWAROSKI: Wow. This is Wednesday, June—
TWAROSKI: —twenty-third. We’re at Mr. Maudlin [sic]?
MAULDIN: M-a-u-l-d-i-n, Mauldin.
TWAROSKI: Mauldin’s house, interviewing him. I guess I’ll put this right up here.
MAULDIN: Do you want me to move around in a certain way?
TWAROSKI: No, that’s okay. So I brought you this. This is for you.
MAULDIN: Oh, how about that?
TWAROSKI: How about that? You get your own now.
MAULDIN: Yeah, I’ll have to display that in here somewhere. [Chuckles.].
TWAROSKI: So, Mr. Maudlin [sic], when were you born?
MAULDIN: Nineteen seventeen.
TWAROSKI: Nineteen seventeen. Which month?
MAULDIN: Eighth. Thirteenth.
TWAROSKI: So August the 13th?
MAULDIN: August the 13th.
TWAROSKI: Oh, boy. Your birthday’s coming up soon. [Laughter.]
TWAROSKI: Are you originally from Mississippi?
TWAROSKI: From around here?
MAULDIN: No, north central Mississippi, [unintelligible; 1:13] Choctaw County.
TWAROSKI: Choctaw County. Okay.
MAULDIN: That’s the home of [Gray Mavis? 1:20] and [Cleveland Coleman? 1:21], two [residents? Relatives? 1:22]
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 1:24] the community. It’s not—no, it’s not [unintelligible; 1:28] large except it has a high school, and they won the state championship in football. They won it five times, number on.
TWAROSKI: Oh, my!
MAULDIN: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 1:38].
TWAROSKI: How did you join the CCCs [sic; CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps)]?
MAULDIN: I’ll just start right—in 1936 I finished high school, and there wasn’t much going on. I’d heard about a little CMTC [Citizens’ Military Training Camp] camp. That was a thirty-day camp that they’d take boys and—it’s military training. And so I checked in with that, and they had had their quota, so while I was up there at Tupelo, I heard about the CCC camp. So I applied there and in about two weeks they told me to come back. So I went back, and they accepted me. Swore me in and put us all on a train. About eight of us, I think. Put us on a train in Tupelo [unintelligible; 2:46]. So we came down to Waynesboro. That’s east of Chickasawhay. And I was eighteen years of age.
And so we got off and got in a little Army truck. Took us out to the camp and dumped us out, and they had a roll call and they assigned us to a barracks. And so then the next morning, we had to get up for roll call and go to work—eat our breakfast and go to work. So I was just in a general pool. Worked wherever they sent me that day. And so I worked just generally like that for approximately three or four weeks, and one afternoon when I came in, one of the foremen, [R. L. Neill? 3:41], said, “Bill, go over and get you some clean clothes. I’m gonna take you to Central Tower Friday evening. You gotta work [till 3 p.m.? 3:52] out there.”
So I went out on the—didn’t even know what a tower was. I had never seen one. But anyway, I went out there, and so I worked every weekend for several weeks. And then that got into September. So they went up there, and so they said, “We gonna assign you as a lookout up here.” And so I told them that would be all right with me. They had a nice little cabin. It’s called a ranger’s lookout.
TWAROSKI: The ranger’s residence?
MAULDIN: Well, it was dispatcher, is really what it was.
MAULDIN: And he was a Forest Service employee. [unintelligible; 4:49] I guess [unintelligible; 4:53] the CCC camp. And so they wanted to know if I liked it and all. So I moved all my stuff up there, and once a week I’d go into camp to get food supplies. And we had a oven, had a little generator out there to pump water. On Central Tower then, we had the head mechanic shop, did all our truck repair for three CC camps. Camp Four was up near Fort Laurel, and then Camp 8 was down on [Valor? 5:36] Road, and then—
MAULDIN: —Twenty-four was at Piney Woods, down in—there’s a marker there that shows where the camp was. Have you seen it?
MAULDIN: I went up for the dedication of that and got to see that. So Mr. Neill was the foreman, and he really got me started. And then it was Central Tower, Northwest Tower, and [Mary Pitts? 6:14] was a lookout there and [unintelligible; 6:17]. And Southwest, a Gibbs boy. I can’t remember who the other—[Easterling? 6:24], I believe, [unintelligible; 6:29]. And so then Southeast was Clyde Powell and Curly Lee Fox? 6:34]. And then the Northeast was [Mills? 6:44] and [Al Kelly? 6:47] were the lookouts up there.
MAULDIN: Mills. He was from [unintelligible; 6:48].
MAULDIN: M-i-l-l-s, yes.
TWAROSKI: And the second guy?
MAULDIN: Al [unintelligible; 6:57] Kelly.
MAULDIN: And so then shortly after that, they changed the names. Fort Laurel became—I mean Northwest became Fort Laurel. And then Southwest became—
TWAROSKI: Tiger Creek?
MAULDIN: Tiger Creek.
TWAROSKI: Tiger Creek? Because that’s Easterling, isn’t it, Mr. Easterling?
MAULDIN: Yes, Tiger Creek. And then Stony Tower—that was Southeast.
TWAROSKI: Mr. Powell?
MAULDIN: And Fox.
TWAROSKI: And Fox.
MAULDIN: And then the Northeast became—
TWAROSKI: Is that Big Creek?
MAULDIN: Big Creek, yeah. And then Warsaw. Warsaw got its name from the big timber company that cut out—it was off of Strickland Road coming from Fort Laurel Tower going east, where they were southwest of [unintelligible; 8:09]. You heard of [unintelligible; 8:13].
TWAROSKI: I have.
MAULDIN: Yeah. Okay. And so we operated there. So in 1937—my time was getting about up. So the superintendent, R. J. Trotter, came up there one day, and he said, “What you gonna do?” I said, “I’m gonna have to retire.” “Nah, we’re not gonna do that.” He said, “You want to stay in the camp?” I said, “Yes, sir. I’d like to.” So he said, “I have a room for one person, and I’m gonna bring you into the office. You can’t stay at the tower, but I’ll bring you into the office.”
TWAROSKI: Which office was that?
MAULDIN: CC camp, the Forest Service CC camp, which—we had project superintendent and two foremen, a [unintelligible; 9:18] and an engineer. And you had these big tool houses and trucks and all that.
TWAROSKI: And which camp were you assigned?
MAULDIN: Camp 8.
MAULDIN: Yeah. But then—so when that came over, they transferred me over. In a short time, he had me go back up to the tower. One of the things I remember after going back up there—I [wasn’t about? 9:49] about twenty-one or twenty. And so they put me in kind of a—[Phone rings.]—public relations, doing fire prevention, going to the schools, took a little movie up there and showed them how to prevent forest fires. And so we got through talking, and some of the supervisors said that [Carl Vinson? 10:21] was our ranger, and [unintelligible; 10:29] that long. [Laughs.]
TWAROSKI: I did not know that.
MAULDIN: Yeah. And he was a nice fellow. And then [Ray Conrow? 10:34] was the forest supervisor. I met him. He came by. He was in the station there at Warsaw Tower, and they had a forest fire to occur while he was there, and I just dispatched it [unintelligible; 10:52] kind of [unintelligible; 10:53], dispatched a six-man crew. Called that a hotshot. And so he said, “Do you know where that is?” I said, “Yes, sir.” He said, “Will you take me over there to it?” And I said, “Yes, sir.” So I got him a staff car. [Chuckles.] He had in his glove compartment some kind of recorder. It was old time-y. And we got there, just ahead of the crew. [unintelligible; 11:19] meet the crew. And he was pleased to get out and talk to this—there was a poor old man who couldn’t [unintelligible; 11:32] stump wood. They call it lighter [unintelligible; 11:34]. And so he interviewed him. The man said he was sorry that he let the fire get out. But they were shooting dynamite. He makes a mistake, he couldn’t be—if he charged that cap off? 11:48], he couldn’t go up there and kick it out. [Laughs.] So the wind was blowing enough to fan it and get it started. So that was good.
And so I got to know—and then the fire patrol was sent back north, and he was a forest supervisor, a ranger, all that kind of stuff. He was a—I met some of the most wonderful people working with the Forest Service. They, all of them—you know, they’re gone, but they are still—[I catalog a place? 12:25] that would have some remark to say about it. Then put in charge of that public relations and gave me a pickup and all that kind of stuff. And so I went out to all the schools. I don’t know how many I had. We had little third grade [unintelligible; 12:51].
TWAROSKI: I was just checking.
MAULDIN: —a three-year school, like—going in there at the Thompson Creek Recreation Area was a little school it was called [Saylor?]. One teacher taught three or four kids.
MAULDIN: And so, I mean, she taught one—may not have anything in one, two or three. And what I did was started this little gimmick to prevent forest fires. So we got up about three hundred and twenty-five dollars, and I had to around to the banks and the stores. And Green Lumber Company—old man Charlie Green—was in downtown in his office, the Green Lumber Company. He had a ten-foot chain—not a chain link—he had a grill, bars up and stuff for his office. I was scared to death to go in there.
Anyway, I went in, and I told him what I was trying to do. He says, “Well you go out and get what you can.” Money was scarce back then. That was ’37, ’38. So he says, “You go and get what you can,” and he said, “I’ll give you the rest.” I said, “Mr. Greene, I may not work very hard if you’re gonna do that. I need to contact as many people as I can.” And he said, “Well, I’ll just give you twenty-five dollars.” I told him, “If you just give me a donation”—I didn’t say how much.
But anyway, a couple of the banks in Laurel and in [Eastman Garden? 14:39], a lumber company—I got fifteen. And in Richton I got ten, and I think Waynesboro I only got ten. And the little stores scattered around, I got five. But I got the three twenty-five. And so [unintelligible; 14:56] a hundred dollars for the school district, and we gave them a map showing the district. And they had the least number of fires. Then they get to number one, and the next one was fifty, and the next one was twenty-five. And then every one of them got five dollars whether they placed or not. Or got a little donation. So that was [how I started? 15:24] in public relations.
TWAROSKI: Now, was that schools in Jones, Green and Wayne county, or was it only in one county? Within the district?
MAULDIN: Yes, the Chickasawhay District.
TWAROSKI: Oh, okay.
MAULDIN: Oh, and I had [unintelligible; 15:35] down there in Piave—you know, across Hell Hole Creek?
TWAROSKI: Yes. Now it’s the lake.
MAULDIN: it is?
TWAROSKI: Uh-huh. It’s what’s known as the recreation area.
MAULDIN: Yeah, well, I’ll come back to that—
TWAROSKI: Turkey Fork.
Then I just about finished with the Ccs. So Mr. Trotter recommended me for a foreman in the [unintelligible; 16:08]. So I had some real good friends. I made a lot of contacts. But anyway, he turned me in, and they had a reviewing committee of three, I believe. Came down one day and—unbeknowing to me. And they checked me out. So they said, “He’s just too young, and we can’t hire him.” Mr. Trotter said, “You don’t have to worry about.” He said, “He’s all right,” he’ll take care of that. So they-we had to go through the representatives and congressmen, and Bill [Palmer? 16:56] [unintelligible; 17:05] for [another? 17:04] man in Washington. And so found out he was filled up, not just for Forest Service people, for anything in the government.
So Neil was up—[unintelligible; 17:24]. And [A.L.? E.L.? Ford? 17:26] was our representative up there, and he didn’t have but three on his list, so they wrote a letter or told me to write a letter. “Don’t put any pressure on him. Just give—he wants to get on the [Franks? 17:48] list, I believe, was the name of it.
TWAROSKI: The what was it?
MAULDIN: [Franks, or Moore? 17:51]. It was out of Washington, working in the Department of Agriculture. So they accepted—he did. And nobody knew about that district, you know, that was on the application. And so when that came up, I got on this. And so then I had to make an application to the forest supervisor, but I knew him. I’d met him, you know, so it worked out fine. They accepted.
But then I had to make an application to Jackson for a forest, and so that was, I guess—could be the last week of July. No, June. It was the first of June. I got my [bump? 18:46], and I was in the ranger’s office [with Big Mike Norton? 18:48] and was there, and he was acting ranger. And he had the application. I mean he approved the assignment. He [wouldn’t tell me, though? 19:05]. I worked till 11:30, and I’d go in ands get the mail and do things dispatch them out to the camps where they worked. But anyway, so he told me—he said, “Congratulations, you’ve just been appointed.” He said, “Get in there”—he said, “Type a letter to Jack Hollingsworth, superintendent of Camp 24, and tell him you’ll be there Monday morning.” [Laughs.]
TWAROSKI: Oh, my gosh! What year was that?
MAULDIN: That was 1940.
TWAROSKI: Nineteen forty. So June of 1940.
TWAROSKI: Oh, boy. Did you type it?
MAULDIN: Oh, [unintelligible; 19:46].
MAULDIN: I don’t know how many strike-overs I had.
MAULDIN: But anyway, a timber management assistant was on his way to Jackson. He said, “Mac, when you gonna tell him? When you gonna tell him? I want to hear or see his reaction” or something like that. But anyway, I typed the letter, he signed it, and he said, “Now, you present that to Jack Hollingsworth.” And I knew Jack. [unintelligible; 20:16]. I’d been there three years, around [unintelligible; 20:20]. So then they put me as a foreman in the camp.
TWAROSKI: Camp 24.
MAULDIN: So they [closed down? 20:31] the Hell Hole Creek. I had a road crew. I had thirty-five [employees? Boys? 20:36] on it. Well, some of them were truck drivers, and two were [unintelligible; 20:41, so they wasn’t all working—they was working directly for our little crew. And so we had to go down through there and make ditches. In fact, we took that road from Sand Hill across to Griffin Creek on the east side, which connected to the railroad over the state line. And while I was there, I got my call, second call to the Army draft. I tried to volunteer but was unable to, and I had a leg hurt playing football. So then went over to—Dr. [Barkley? 21:31] was a doctor in Green County. That’s the county we’re in. Sent me to Choctaw County now. So I had a good visit with him, Barkley, and he said, “You’ll never see any service.” And h e says, “With that leg”—so I just went on and reported to Jackson what it was and all. And then—let’s see, I got on July the first and built that road and planted trees, longleaf. I planted one full section off of Piney Woods in the sixteen section. I’ve been wanting to go back up there. [Gavin? 22:16] [unintelligible 22:18], the trees, the survival. And [unintelligible; 22:23] had the timber sale.
TWAROSKI: Was this within the sixteen section or around the sixteen section.
MAULDIN: Around the sixteen section, the location, just to give you a point to where it was. You’re familiar with the Gavin plantation?
MAULDIN: You know a fellow in Wiggins bought that timber sale. I had to go see. They cut fifty-five and sixty-foot of [pylons? pilings 22:46] out of it, and I saw them plant it in 1937. Really something. But anyway, back to planting longleaf, and fought fires that year. Most of the time I have never fought a fire, just dispatched to them or see what was going on. But anyway, it was real interesting to have a report and some pictures of what was down there, but I never did get back up there. Now I can’t drive.
TWAROSKI: Now you can’t drive.
MAULDIN: I did want to take Glen, that’s retired. He was a chief forester at [Lasa? 23:34] Lumber Company, and then he went to work at International Paper, and now he’s chairman of the bank, [unintelligible; 23:41] in Wiggins. But his wife is not doing well, so we had to cancel that trip.
But back to the planting, to follow along, [Mac Norton? MacNorton? 23:56] was still fire control in Jackson, and he kept a tab on me. So after getting through planting trees, he said, “You can have a week’s leave.” And fire season. And I wasn’t married then, and so I [had kids? 24:18] all over the weekends [laughs] and let the guys go home, you know, or town, where their wife lived, and chillin’. But anyway, I went home in April, not a fire April. And I got back, and Mr. Hollingsworth said, “Bill, you gotta pack your things. They’re sending you to Camp 5.”
TWAROSKI: Who was this? Who told you?
MAULDIN: Jack, Hollingsworth.
MAULDIN: Yeah. Superintendent of Camp 24.
TWAROSKI: And this is still 1940?
MAULDIN: No, it’s ’41.
TWAROSKI: This is now ’41, the following year.
MAULDIN: Early ’41.
TWAROSKI: April ’41.
MAULDIN: So he said, “You transferred out.” I said, “What, what? I have—my work wasn’t satis-” “Oh,” he said, “I’ve done everything I can to it. They said you’re [unintelligible; 25:08].
TWAROSKI: And off you went.
MAULDIN: Off I went. So I got down to Camp 5 on a Sunday evening, and I’m supposed to be at work the next morning. So I got there and I couldn’t find a Forest Service personnel, and the Forest Service office was locked and no—they had a little orderly that took care of our maintenance in there, you know, and he made trips to the commissary and things they made trips for. So I just went on in, and in just a minute a young man came in who had just finished LSU in forestry, and he got a job as a junior forester. Junior. And I was a junior foreman. Lester [Schapp? 26:02] was our ranger then on that district. Carl Benson was still—
TWAROSKI: On the “Chick.”
MAULDIN: Yeah. So anyway, he came and said, “I got a letter here to report to work as a junior forester.” And I said, “Well, I’m just like you. I just got here.” [Laughs.] So we went around and look at some of the—the rooms. And so this is early ’41. And so we found this room, a duplex, two—both didn’t have the same room, you know? And he said, “Do you mind?” And I said, “No, I don’t mind.” Big rooms.
And so I worked on this road back down there called Whiskey Creek. I was on the[Lee’s? 27:07] River District then, [unintelligible; 27:12]. Anyway, Andy Bird was camp superintendent for the Forest Service there. So he said, “Mauldin! They’re gonna open a camp down at McHenry.” He says, “They want you to go down there.” So I went down, took the crew. Went down, and we had to—the camp had been closed about two years, and they didn’t have any CC money on [unintelligible; 27:49]. That was a [unintelligible; 27:50] ranger then. So they sent us—we went down there, and we opened up two barracks and a kitchen, supply rooms and all that. And they—[Tom Ken? 28:05], you know, says, “Mauldin, you gonna be side camp superintendent down there.” [Chuckles.] And I said, “Do what?” He says, “You’re gonna have a hundred men.” That’s half of the regular camp! And I didn’t have an Army officer. And [Ran Dedeiaux? 28:23] went with me.
MAULDIN: This [Ran Dedeiaux?], this young foreman that we met the same time at Camp 5, and a couple of other men. So—
TWAROSKI: How do you spell his name?
TWAROSKI: Oh, D-i-d-o?
MAULDIN: No, D-e-d-e-i-a-u-x.
TWAROSKI: Oh, it’s French.
MAULDIN: D-e-d-e-a—You can spell it however—
TWAROSKI: —e-u-x? Okay, I gotcha.
MAULDIN: They wanted to put him in charge, and they gave him six men. He was our cruising [manager? 29:06]. We cruised 2,600 acres.
TWAROSKI: Oh, wow! Twenty-six thousand acres? [Whistles.]
MAULDIN: And—but anytime we had to do other work, too. [unintelligible; 29:20], recreation. Then they took the white folks and [unintelligible; 29:25] all black.
TWAROSKI: An all-black crew? A colored company.
MAULDIN: Yeah. Yep.
MAULDIN: And attached me back to Camp 8, where I had once had been. I knew the superintendent up there.
TWAROSKI: Wait a minute. Where’s the colored company? Back at McHenry?
MAULDIN: No, it’s—
TWAROSKI: At Camp 8.
MAULDIN: Camp 8, off of Richton up there, [unintelligible; 29:43].
TWAROSKI: Okay! There are records. We were wondering about that because there’s—I got copies of the occupancy cards that the Forest Service used to keep?
TWAROSKI: Or the CCCs. And they indicated which company came, when did they leave—
TWAROSKI: —when was the camp evacuated, dismantled. Okay. And then there’s, like, a year missing, and then all of a sudden a junior colored company shows up on the record, and I’m, like, Well, I didn’t know that. Okay, so you’ve just confirmed it for me.
MAULDIN: Yeah, I’d say [unintelligible; 30:13].
TWAROSKI: Okay, so you were sent back to Camp 8 with this company, and what was your job?
MAULDIN: No, I formed this camp down here, but that was my headquarters.
TWAROSKI: But that was your headquarters.
MAULDIN: I had to go up there and get food, send a truck to get food and all kinds of supplies.
TWAROSKI: You had to go to Camp 8 to get supplies?
MAULDIN: Yeah. They didn’t—that was the main camp. That was our base camp.
TWAROSKI: For the Biloxi?
MAULDIN: Yeah, CC.
MAULDIN: Came out really out of Jackson.
TWAROSKI: Yeah. Okay.
TWAROSKI: So you got sent up to get the supplies?
MAULDIN: Well, I had a boy I did send every day. Had to go to Wiggins to get ice. Had big old walk-in refrigerators.
MAULDIN: So that was an experience I’ll never forget. We did a lot of work.
TWAROSKI: How long did you stay at the side camp with the hundred boys? Well, the second company.
MAULDIN: Approximately a year.
TWAROSKI: A year! For a side camp. Oh!
MAULDIN: But I want to tell you. I was—I didn’t know at the time. I was in the process of being transferred into the Forest Service out of the CC camp, and I have to pat myself on the back, but Major Wilson was in charge of the CCC part of the camp, and he delegated the locations of this, approved them and whatever had—so he was over there on a tour, just checking, and the supervisor was down there and the ranger. Ben Hughes was the supervisor, big old Hughes. And, well, they used to aggravate me. [Chuckles.] Every Friday afternoon, he’d come driving up in that staff car from Jackson [chuckles] about 3:30, and five minutes later his wife would drive up, pick him up, and they’d go to the coast. [Laughs.]
MAULDIN: They’d be back out on Monday morning, so I had to have everybody move. [Laughs.]
TWAROSKI: You had to move everybody?
MAULDIN: No. I mean going to work, you know.
MAULDIN: Active in doing something.
TWAROSKI: Oh, okay.
MAULDIN: But anyway, that afternoon we come in [unintelligible; 32:18], where they had [renewal? 32:44], [unintelligible; 32:43] days or something for the CCC, so they’d have enough manpower or materials or whatever they needed. So they told them. They said, “Well, we’re fixin’ to take Mauldin and assign him to the Biloxi District.” And he said, “No, you are not!” He said, “When you do, I’m closin’ this camp.” [Laughs.] And I thought that was really a compliment coming from him.
MAULDIN: But they went [off? 33:22]. They explained everything. And he closed the camp when I went to the Biloxi Ranger District, and [unintelligible; 33:29]. [A.W. Lindenmuth? 33:31], I believe.
TWAROSKI: A.W. Linden?
MAULDIN: -muth. Lindenmuth. Never heard of him.
MAULDIN: L-i-n-d-m-u-t-h or –c-h or something like that.,
TWAROSKI: Uh-huh. Lindenmuth.
MAULDIN: Yeah. He was—I guess that would be a Dutchman, wouldn’t it?
TWAROSKI: Yeah, sounds like it.
MAULDIN: [Laughs.] He was [tosh? 33:49], kind of short.
TWAROSKI: Another tall one!
MAULDIN: No, not too. He was pretty short, but he was a good ranger. He wore heavy-rimmed glasses and thick lenses. But he was a good ranger. When he—
TWAROSKI: So what did you go as? Once again as a junior foreman?
MAULDIN: Uh-huh. I got out of that and got into a fire control aide or something.
TWAROSKI: Oh, now you’re a fire control aide!
MAULDIN: Oh, yeah, back into that thing, you know.
TWAROSKI: At the Forest Service on the Biloxi.
MAULDIN: Yeah. But then the Army called me again.
TWAROSKI: Oh, really?
MAULDIN: So I went up there, and I [unintelligible; 34:36]. You had to strip off your clothes [unintelligible; 34:39]. And they had a place about four feet, three or four people, walled up, so you could see about this much [ahead? of your head? 34:45]. So I went through that. Of course, my heart, my blood pressure and all that kind of stuff was A-1, and everything checked out: sight, vision, you know, go right on through, you know. And so I stayed on there at Camp Shelby about two weeks before I shipped out, and they put me in a place—
TWAROSKI: Was that for training?
MAULDIN: No, that was for assignments.
MAULDIN: For classification and all that kind of stuff, whatever it was. Anyway, I got in that, and I didn’t know all the boys. It was about a hundred in there. And they said all of them shipped out but me. And I thought, What in the world? It pays to know somebody or be nice to them, I guess. Then when I went through classification, the boy that interviewed me said, “Are you J.D. Mauldin?” I said, “No.” He said, “Are you related to him?” He said, “He was my roommate at [State? 35:55].” And I said, “Yeah, he’s my first cousin.” So we talked a little bit, and he said, “What you been doin’?” I told him. He said, “What part of the service you want to go in?” I thought it was going to be engineer or engineering, you know, doing construction work and—
TWAROSKI: Like the Army Corps of Engineers?
TWAROSKI: Army Corps of Engineers?
MAULDIN: So he said, “How would you like the Air Force?” If you recommend it, it’ll be fine with me.” So I stayed there those two week, and finally about midnight came an orderly and got me. “Follow me.” Took me down, gave me to a sergeant, master—yeah, master sergeant, and there’s four other boys there. There’s five of us. WE follow him down. They’re loading the troop train, and all that sad music they’re playing, you know? And we got on a Pullman.
TWAROSKI: You got what?
MAULDIN: On a Pullman [railroad car].
TWAROSKI: A Pullman!
MAULDIN: Yeah. So we [unintelligible; 37:08] there, traveling under blackout orders. Just the sergeant knew where we were going. But we went to Sheppard Field, Texas.
MAULDIN: Keesler Field [in Mississippi] was the only other one, so that was the two—basic training. So anyway, I got over to Sheppard Field, and the medical doctor there was checking. He says, “Young fella,”—he said, “What the hell you doin’ in the Air Force?” I said, “Sir, you’ll have to ask”—[unintelligible; 37:42]. I said, “Sir, [unintelligible; 37:46] that colonel over at Camp Shelby.” “You go to the hospital.” And I said, “I didn’t come here to [ride sick call? 37:53]. [Laughs.] And finally—well they sent me [unintelligible; 37:57]. They had the orders from [unintelligible; 38:01]. Had a little moustache. Kind of a little Jew-like fellow, you know. And so I though, Well, I’m in a mess now. [Laughs.] And I said, I never been in a hospital bed in my life. And I said, “I gotta talk to the doctor, the surgeon.” I didn’t give any inch. I bristled up too, you know, before they cut on me. Anyway, it was a young captain. He’d been up at—not Washington. Anyway, he had done a lot of blood work, and that’s what my leg—[they wanted to cut on it? 38;51]. So anyway, I went through, and it was all successful, and I stayed in there—
TWAROSKI: So they operated on your leg?
MAULDIN: Uh-huh. So I stayed in there about, I don’t know, a month. And then they put me out into kind of a recouping area, and recouped. And so while I was in the hospital up there, they asked me what company I was assigned to. See, they kept on—I was following the group that I hadn’t even seen. And this captain came up there and wanted to talk to me. And he said, “I got the nicest letter from a former boss of yours.” And he said, “If you can do part of the things that he said you could do, I’d like you to join our company’s permanent party.” And I said, “Okay, whatever y’all want me to do.” So anyway, that’s what I did. I accepted it, staying with him, and stayed with them all till, like, the latter part of the war. He came up and told me—he said, “I’m thinkin’ to leave. Do you want to go with me now? I’m going to North Africa [unintelligible; 40:19] air transportation.” I thought, Well, I tried cadets, and I missed that. [Laughs.] I don’t believe I’m flying now.
TWAROSKI: So all this time when you were with the Air Force, with this company.
TWAROSKI: Doing what?
MAULDIN: Anything our sergeant major, our first sergeant, supply sergeant—all that kind of stuff.
TWAROSKI: And you were still stationed at Sheppard Field?
MAULDIN: And I stayed there until February the first.
MAULDIN: Or somewhere right in there, and got out on Valentine’s day or something.
TWAROSKI: What year?
MAULDIN: That was ’46.
TWAROSKI: Forty-six. Okay.
MAULDIN: And so then I came back to Mississippi, and I stayed home about a week, and I went down to Jackson.
TWAROSKI: Where was home then?
MAULDIN: A little town of Weir.
MAULDIN: And I went back to the Jackson office—
TWAROSKI: The Forest Service?
TWAROSKI: Oh, okay.
MAULDIN: And told them I was ready to go back to work, and Raymond Campbell—he was assistant supervisor, and he said, “Bill, I want you to go to [unintelligible; 41:43].” And I said, “No, he told me I could go back where I wanted to.” Well, his desk, offices faced [unintelligible; 41:55], and Frank Albert was his supervisor—I mean—yeah, forest supervisor. He said, “Ray, if he wants to go back to the Biloxi, you gotta [send him? 42:00].”
MAULDIN: So then that’s what I did.
TWAROSKI: You went to work for the Forest Service.
MAULDIN: Back to work for the Forest Service.
TWAROSKI: In 1946.
MAULDIN: Yeah. See, I already worked up to it. Now, when I went in in December, I was—yeah, I left the service with that understanding. The postmaster right over here, Miss [Lula? 42:31] Walker, was a handicapped person, and when I got my call up for the service, she walked out to the pickup. She was crippled, but she hopped along and said, “I got a greetings letter from the President.”
TWAROSKI: [Laughs.] Personal delivery, huh?
MAULDIN: So she handed it to me. But then when I went back, Miss Lula wasn’t in the office. So I walked in on Friday afternoon, and this pretty young girl stepped up to the window and, “May I help you?” And I told her. “Well, listen, I want to get my mail, but just throw it in the basket with the Forest Service [unintelligible; 43:12].” And so this gal—I went back several times to get the mail, you know, and told her [unintelligible; 43:27] been picking it up. I said, “I’ll pick the mail up.” And I kept going over there, you know? Finally one day I asked her to go to the coast and [eat nuts? 43:35], eat dinner down there.
TWAROSKI: Where? To the coast?
MAULDIN: To the coast.
TWAROSKI: You were taking her on a date!
MAULDIN: Oh, yeah.
MAULDIN: And so I guess I courted her about a year, eighteen months, and then we got married.
TWAROSKI: And her name is?
MAULDIN: Dolores McHenry.
TWAROSKI: Dolores McHenry.
MAULDIN: So we’ve been married fifty-seven years.
MAULDIN: We’ll be married fifty-eight in August. Then [unintelligible; 44:10].
TWAROSKI: You got married around your birthday?
MAULDIN: Yeah, it was the 21st of August. My birthday is on the 13th.
TWAROSKI: So a week after.
TWAROSKI: Very nice.
MAULDIN: And she wasn’t on the payroll, but she typed it’s called the 9-2-9s, fire reports.
MAULDIN: Every fire, and you had to make a report with the time and degree and the wind velocity and the acreage [chuckles]—all that kind of stuff.
TWAROSKI: And she typed them up for you?
MAULDIN: Yeah. I was—
TWAROSKI: Oh, isn’t that sweet?
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 44:46].
TWAROSKI: And she typed them.
MAULDIN: But I had to [like that? 44:49], so she felt sorry for me, and we did that. I don’t know what else.
TWAROSKI: So how long did you stay with the Forest Service after you joined back in 1946?
MAULDIN: All right, I stayed there until 1955. And—
TWAROSKI: So how many years altogether did you have with the Forest Service?
MAULDIN: Not counting the CC days, I had forty-one, I believe.
TWAROSKI: Forty-one years with the Forest Service?
MAULDIN: well, in 1955—
TWAROSKI: Because you—okay, 1936 is when you got into the CCCs.
MAULDIN: Yeah. And then I got in ’46—no, ’42.
MAULDIN: But in 1955 the director of the Southern Forest Experiment Station in New Orleans—they wanted me as superintendent of the [unintelligible; 45:52] Experimental Forest. Have to take care of trails, 15 Ph.D.s. Had about eighty men working altogether. I handled that for them Southern Forest [unintelligible; 46:08] twenty-five years.
MAULDIN: Nineteen sixty-three—we had kept up with this public relations work, and so in 19-—well, we started it in ’54, I guess, having this picnic and inviting different people and showing them fire prevention, what you could get by doing this and doing that. So I was—kept on that—
[End File 1. Begin File 2.]
MAULDIN: —the chairman of it. So [unintelligible; 2-0:02] long. And we had some outstanding people that were given that honor. I mean, like, president of the Hancock Bank down here, which is a I don’t know how many billion dollar bank, and they got banks in four or five states, [unintelligible; 2-0:25] one of them. [unintelligible first name; 2-0:27] Cooper was a banker. But they would promote, like, Buy a Tree plan and give it the county agent, and he’d put it out in the community. They’d plant them. He’d be responsible for [unintelligible; 2-0:39], you know, so everybody got a chance that wanted it.
But then, in 1963, you had—on this particular day, I was just running around. I was chairman of the [unintelligible; 2-1:03]. And when I went down, they gave an engraved watch for the Southern Mississippi Forest Field Day outstanding forester then. But anyway, when I went down to pick the watch up, the day before the—
TWAROSKI: Field day?
MAULDIN: —Field day—was presented, and have a barbecue. A few years back, it got so large we had to have two days at the high school. Oh, we’d have the college band down playing, all that kind of stuff.
TWAROSKI: Where was this all being held?
MAULDIN: At the experimental forest.
TWAROSKI: At the experimental forest.
MAULDIN: Yeah, and they would have a nice shady thing, and they had all kinds of exhibits. By being a lab, a [different lab there? 3-1:48]. And I don’t know how many different exhibits we’d have. And so then I was just moping around there, you know, and all of a sudden somebody hollered, “Where’s Mauldin?” Somebody came running in. I was in the lab—uh, conference room, looking out the window. So they said, “Where is Mauldin? Get him out here!” So I went out, and I was selected that year, outstanding forester. I got a letter on the wall in there from Ed[ward T.] Cliff, chief of the Forest Service. He wrote a personal letter to me.
TWAROSKI: Wow! That’s very nice!
TWAROSKI: What was his name again?
MAULDIN: Ed Cliff.
TWAROSKI: Ed Cliff. Okay!
MAULDIN: I met him—
TWAROSKI: You’ve met every supervisory—I mean, chief?
MAULDIN: Chief. Let’s see, I didn’t meet [acting chief Earl H.] Clapp. He was going off. [Lyle F.] Watts. Watts and then [Richard E.] McArdle and then—I’d have to get the list out; it gets harder to remember. But I met them all. Cliff was my favorite.
TWAROSKI: Oh, was he?
MAULDIN: I reckon because he was just nice, you know.
TWAROSKI: Oh, okay.
MAULDIN: But were over at an equipment display in Alabama put on by a railroad company over there, and they had a barbecue, and I went over [unintelligible; 2-3:26] took some stuff to exhibits they had. So I got—right at dinnertime, John [unintelligible; 2-3:39]—John—well, anyway, he sent me back to the car, pickup, to get whatever he wanted for his display. And while I was gone, they started feeding, and Cliff got my lunch for me and brought it over and put it on a log and sat down by it and waited for me to eat it. [Chuckles.]
MAULDIN: Yeah. He was a real nice fellow. But I met some fine people.
TWAROSKI: So you moved over to the Harrison Experimental Station in 1955 and then retired when?
MAULDIN: March 29th, ’79.
TWAROSKI: Seventy-nine! So how many years in all with the Forest Service?
MAULDIN: Well, I really had around forty because I had 3,200-and-something hours sick leave.
TWAROSKI: Oh, very good. [Laughs.]
MAULDIN: And they sold it to me!
MAULDIN: I used it. It came in handy at the end. It gave me another year.
TWAROSKI: Wow! Excellent. Okay.
When you said that you were first sent to Camp F-8 and you were assigned to go to Central Tower, you said you had to bring all your stuff over to the tower, or the work center.
TWAROSKI: Where exactly did you sleep?
MAULDIN: They had this little cottage, cabin. It’s—
TWAROSKI: I’ll look through—
MAULDIN: And it had—excuse me. [unintelligible; 2-5:16].
TWAROSKI: I’m trying to locate some of the pictures at Warsaw [Tower].
MAULDIN: When I first went up there, we had to—
TWAROSKI: Is this the building?
MAULDIN: No, that’s the office building.
TWAROSKI: That was the dispatcher’s office.
MAULDIN: Yeah, that’s the dispatcher’s office.
TWAROSKI: Oh, so you—
MAULDIN: I slept in this little room right here, though. Shut this partition off, and I lived there for quite some time.
TWAROSKI: Because they talk—
MAULDIN: I watched them build this.
TWAROSKI: Okay. This is the one in DeSoto [National Forest? Ranger Station? 2-5:47], but it’s exactly like the one—they were all like this. This is like the one—
MAULDIN: There’s six of them, I believe. They might have put one up in the [unintelligible; 2-5:54].
TWAROSKI: Okay, and—
MAULDIN: And one in [unintelligible; 2-5:59], [unintelligible; 2-6:00].
TWAROSKI: [Aerie? 2-6:02]?
TWAROSKI: Okay. They told me there was a partition in the middle, one room was the dispatcher’s office,—
MAULDIN: Yeah, that was [unintelligible; 2-6:12].
TWAROSKI: —and then the other side was where they had the cots, two cots?
TWAROSKI: What else did you have in that room? For yourself. Just the two cots? Did you have a night stand?
MAULDIN: Oh, we had a little nightstand [unintelligible; 2-6:22] when the generator was running.
TWAROSKI: When the generator was running! Where did you cook?
MAULDIN: Oh, I ate over at the house.
TWAROSKI: Oh, you’d go over to the house. Who was living in the house when you were there?
MAULDIN: Amos Strickland.
TWAROSKI: Amos Strickland. Ahh!
MAULDIN: He’s dead now, but he was the dispatcher. He was a man. He was hired by the Forest Service.
TWAROSKI: Okay. I’ve heard his name. And after him I think came Mr. Landrum?
MAULDIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
TWAROSKI: James Landrum?
MAULDIN: Yeah, after was—way after I was there.
TWAROSKI: Yeah, because I think he got hired on in the late forties, ’48, ’49.
MAULDIN: Oh, yeah, yah. See, I left in ’41—no, ’40.
TWAROSKI: Okay, so you did stay in there when you were in the CCCs.
MAULDIN: Yeah, while I was under Camp 8.
TWAROSKI: Okay, okay. All right.
MAULDIN: And let’s see, I’m trying to think of what the—I lost that thought.
TWAROSKI: Do you know this gentleman? Mr. Troy? Flint?
MAULDIN: Oh, yeah! I kept looking at him.
TWAROSKI: Okay. Well, that’s his wife.
MAULDIN: Oh, she was a pretty gal.
TWAROSKI: Yeah. I interviewed her. Miss Ruby?
MAULDIN: Yeah, he had a little ’35 Chevrolet pickup.
TWAROSKI: That’s up in the Tower.
MAULDIN: That’s Troy up there?
MAULDIN: He had this little pickup. It had all his tools, had a little soldering iron, and he’d make those portable phones, dry batteries. First—what I was going to tell you a minute ago—you was talking about Troy. Instead of being up in the tower all the time, from Central or Warsaw—trees. Wasn’t any trees. You could see, and we used—we [pulled our flag down? 2-8:40].
TWAROSKI: No trees?
MAULDIN: No trees.
TWAROSKI: I think it’s part of that dedication?
TWAROSKI: Well, there’s tree in the back over there, tiny.
MAULDIN: Those were planted.
TWAROSKI: That was that dedication in 1934.
MAULDIN: Well, that’s when the mechanic’s shop was.
TWAROSKI: Yep, that’s the depot, the equipment depot.
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 2-9:05].
MAULDIN: Well, the dispatcher’s office wasn’t built yet.
TWAROSKI: No, it’s over here.
TWAROSKI: Because the tower’s over here.
MAULDIN: Oh, yeah. Well, this is going [unintelligible; 2-9:13].
TWAROSKI: Yeah. That’s the top of the hill right here.
MAULDIN: Yeah. The dispatcher’s office is over here, [unintelligible; 2-9:22] was over here, and then the cottage was here.
MAULDIN: But we lowered the flag. Had a white flag under the flag when we wanted the crew to come out of the woods to go fight a fire.
TWAROSKI: And they could see it?
MAULDIN: Oh, yeah, they could see the flag. It was white.
TWAROSKI: Obviously no trees.
MAULDIN: No. Well, it’s like this.
TWAROSKI: Like that.
MAULDIN: We planted the trees.
MAULDIN: They were planted.
TWAROSKI: So “come in because there’s a fire”?
MAULDIN: Yeah. Lord have mercy, that’s sixty years ago.
TWAROSKI: Yeah, almost seventy. Here’s another shot of it, with all the cars parked in the back.
MAULDIN: Yeah. Well,—
TWAROSKI: And all four doors open.
MAULDIN: This is—
TWAROSKI: That’s called Salem Road?
MAULDIN: I don’t know whether it’s Salem now. I can’t remember. But Strickland Road was right up here a little further. And then Thompson Creek.
MAULDIN: Oh, that was—
TWAROSKI: A nice recreation area, wasn’t it?
MAULDIN: Yeah. I want to tell you—I forgot to tell you: After about two or three weeks in Camp 8, this foreman needed a carpenter [unintelligible; 2-10:37], and he had started—he had three boys working with him, and he wanted another one, and I told him I could use a [unintelligible; 2-10:46]—that’s a sharp instrument that if you chop, and if you know how to handle it, you can just make—what we did, we cut eighty-six-foot pine tree there in Thompson Creek Swamp and anchored it up where I got to straddle it. It was a big one. I finally got up on the log and chopped between my legs [chuckles] and peeled it down to make it smooth where you could walk [unintelligible; 2-11:18] to make some whole bannisters, put stakes on the side of it. That log was cut flat, and I peeled that thing, and then we took an old tractor and dragged it across the creek and leveled it up where you could the creek on a log that had a bannister on it.
MAULDIN: Then we built picnic tables and a little water place there where they had—had under cover.
TWAROSKI: Like a pavilion?
MAULDIN: Yeah. Yes, uh-huh.
MAULDIN: Yeah, it had two or three tables under there and a faucet.
TWAROSKI: And you gentlemen built that?
MAULDIN: Yeah, I helped build it.
MAULDIN: Yeah, that was in 1936. [Laughs.]
TWAROSKI: And, of course, it closed down years later.
TWAROSKI: Wow. So that was the boys from Camp 8.
TWAROSKI: Another shot again: the government cars.
MAULDIN: Yeah. That was interesting, the most interesting thing, to see those forests just cut over, you know? [unintelligible; 2-12:30].
TWAROSKI: And this is the old gas pump. It’s hard to tell.
MAULDIN: Oh, I had to inventory the gas.
TWAROSKI: You had to inventory the gas!
MAULDIN: Oh, I had to be the—there it is.
TWAROSKI: There’s the tower, and there’s the house.
MAULDIN: That’s the east side of it. Yeah, that’s it.
TWAROSKI: That’s looking—yeah, okay, at the front end of the house? And there’s the flagpole.
MAULDIN: [Laughs.] Sure is. [Oh, Lord? 2-13:04].
TWAROSKI: Okay. And another great shot. I don’t know who—I assume that’s him again with somebody.
MAULDIN: That’s Troy.
TWAROSKI: Yeah, with the pipe? He smoked a pipe?
TWAROSKI: I don’t know who the other gentleman is. It’s hard to tell. But he was there, what, ’34, and then he came back in ’36 or ’37?
MAULDIN: Yeah, uh-huh.
TWAROSKI: And there he is again.
MAULDIN: Well, how’d you happen to find Miss Flint?
TWAROSKI: How did I find what?
MAULDIN: Miss Flint.
TWAROSKI: We wrote an article that was put in a local magazine—
MAULDIN: Oh, really?
TWAROSKI: —for—you know, one of those magazines that you give out to visitors?
TWAROSKI: Along the coast?
TWAROSKI: And her daughter picked up a copy somewhere, and she opened it up and started reading it, and one of the articles in there was a little article about—
TWAROSKI: No, it was about Warsaw and the tower. And she called me up, and she asked, “Would Warsaw Tower be the same thing as Central Tower?”
MAULDIN: Yeah, there’s that pipe.
TWAROSKI: Yeah, there’s the pipe. And I said, “Yes, ma’am, that’s what it used to be called.
MAULDIN: Central Tower, she used?
TWAROSKI: She knew it by the name her mother used, which was—
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 2-14:19].
TWAROSKI: That’s Mr. Ira Summerall? [Summerall; 2-14:26] That’s all I know, is his last name is Summerall.
MAULDIN: Well, he got a foreman job same time I did.
TWAROSKI: She didn’t know his first name. She thought—
TWAROSKI: Ira. Okay. So I said, “Yes, ma’am, that would be us. That would be the Chickasawhay.” And she goes, “Oh, my father used to work at your district.” So she came up. She brought me all the photographs, and I scanned all them, made enlargements and then I interviewed her mom.
MAULDIN: And there’s the dispatcher’s [office? 2-14:57]. There’s those switches. They were light switches. If you put your finger sometime on both of those knobs, it would shock the fire out of you.
TWAROSKI: Really! Okay. I guess he’s inside the equipment depot.
TWAROSKI: Mr. Flint.
MAULDIN: That was his room when he became—he did his work.
TWAROSKI: That’s Mrs. Flint with her family visiting, and they’re sitting right in front of the ranger’s residence. I guess it’s her family from Clara.
TWAROSKI: That’s a view of one of the porches. I can’t remember which one.
TWAROSKI: Well, that’d be the east porch.
TWAROSKI: The east porch. There’s his car! That was Mr. Flint’s car.
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 2-15:50] the roughest road to [unintelligible; 2-15:52].
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 2-15:52].
TWAROSKI: The fireplace inside?
MAULDIN: Sure was. Had to cut wood.
MAULDIN: [And so they cut away— ? 2-16:03]. That’s a scrub oak.
TWAROSKI: Yeah. And there’s a side view of Warsaw—the depot, the residence, the tower in the middle.
MAULDIN: Mm-hm. This one down the hill to the—they called it magazine house.
TWAROSKI: Magazine house.
MAULDIN: —where they stored the dynamite.
TWAROSKI: The dynamite bunkers are still there.
MAULDIN: Oh, they are?
TWAROSKI: Oh, yeah. We’ve used them to [hold fire? 2-16:31]. Now, would this have been his truck?
TWAROSKI: Okay. What was he like, and where did you meet him?
MAULDIN: I met him at the tower.
TWAROSKI: So you were at the tower in ’36.
TWAROSKI: So he was there in ’36.
TWAROSKI: What was he doing?
MAULDIN: He was working on those telephones [unintelligible; 2-16:50].
TWAROSKI: Oh, he was putting up the poles and the glass insulators with the CCC boys, wasn’t he?
MAULDIN: Yeah. I had a pickup similar to that when I was going around doing—
TWAROSKI: The fire prevention?
TWAROSKI: Nice. What color were the cars, the trucks? Black?
MAULDIN: No, it was a dirty green.
TWAROSKI: A dirty green? Okay.
MAULDIN: I don’t know how to say it. It wasn’t black or it wasn’t brown; it wasn’t a shiny green.
MAULDIN: Even if you washed it.
TWAROSKI: Did you—I don’t know—[Pause as he looks at a photograph.]
MAULDIN: Don’t recognize any of them.
TWAROSKI: Would that have been a Forest Service uniform?
MAULDIN: Kind of. They wore boots.
TWAROSKI: Did they wear these kind of—
TWAROSKI: Yeah, I wore—
TWAROSKI: What do you call them, jod hoppers [sic; jodhpurs] or—I can’t remember. They’re, like, equestrian—
MAULDIN: Uh-huh. I had mine, were handmade.
TWAROSKI: We’re look at photo twenty-eight. So yours—
MAULDIN: No, I had laced boots like this.
TWAROSKI: You had laced boots?
MAULDIN: Because you really needed them.
TWAROSKI: Did you tuck in your pants like this?
MAULDIN: Well, they were buttoned up the side, not zipped.
TWAROSKI: Oh, okay, okay.
MAULDIN: Buttoned up the side.
TWAROSKI: All right.
MAULDIN: And I had to—I think they called them spuds.
MAULDIN: Yeah. And mine were handmade out of Russell Boot Company out of New York or Wisconsin.
MAULDIN: And I got the Never Leak Imperial. You wouldn’t get your feet wet. It wasn’t about fifteen—
TWAROSKI: Who paid for them?
MAULDIN: I did.
TWAROSKI: Oh, not the government.
MAULDIN: No government.
TWAROSKI: Okay. They still don’t buy us boots.
MAULDIN: Now, they—sometime on some safety equipment they’d pay for it, but you couldn’t take them with you. You had to hang them right by the wall.
TWAROSKI: Uh-huh. Did you wear a hat, too?
MAULDIN: Mm-hm. Straw in the summer and felt in the winter.
TWAROSKI: I take it fishing was good behind the work center, in the creek?
MAULDIN: Yeah. I fished over on Thompson Creek.
TWAROSKI: Oh, you did?
MAULDIN: Uh-huh. Fly fishing.
TWAROSKI: There’s Mrs. Flint.
MAULDIN: Uh-huh. Wow, she—
TWAROSKI: She said they used to go down the hill I guess past the magazines to go fishing down in that creek.
MAULDIN: Yeah. [Pause.]
TWAROSKI: Somewhere on the district.
MAULDIN: I don’t know.
TWAROSKI: It was pretty early, because there’s nothing there.
MAULDIN: Yeah. That’s back at the beginning, in the beginning.
TWAROSKI: Yeah. We assume he went to different schools. She says that her dad showed films at schools and stuff like that.
MAULDIN: Is that Tom Murphy?
TWAROSKI: No, Mr. Flint. That’s what Mrs. Flint said, that sometimes her husband went out to the small communities and showed films.
MAULDIN: Oh, yeah.
TWAROSKI: Well, as I say, Tom Murphy was the other one that [did that? 2-20:30].
TWAROSKI: Oh, Tom Murphy.
MAULDIN: He was [unintelligible; 2-20:34] during World War II , and he got [scared? 2-20:39].
MAULDIN: But Tom’s dead now. Yep, I don’t recognize that school. [unintelligible; 2-20:52].
TWAROSKI: So—these are just—would you recognize that person with a dog and—it looks like a radio?
MAULDIN: That was a ranger, I believe.
TWAROSKI: That’s a ranger?
MAULDIN: I think it was. Lookout.
TWAROSKI: It’s at a tower. I just don’t know who he is.
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 2-21:17] see something. Wait a minute. That might be the bloodhound. They had a bloodhound up that way.
TWAROSKI: Who had a bloodhound?
MAULDIN: The Forest Service.
TWAROSKI: The Forest Service had a dog? Not a pet? He was an actual working dog?
MAULDIN: The Forest Service.
TWAROSKI: What was the dog doing?
MAULDIN: He’d go out there and sniff around where the fires started.
TWAROSKI: Interesting! Okay.
MAULDIN: You didn’t know [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-21:53]?
TWAROSKI: Now, who is this gentleman with his dog, sitting out [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-21:57]?
MAULDIN: That was the bloodhound.
MAULDIN: He had long ears on the side.
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm. Mm-hm. Definitely. So he was sniffing out the fires.
MAULDIN: I’d forgotten about that.
TWAROSKI: Wow! Did you ever see—I heard there was a tower—well, not a tower. It was a pole which you used to climb?
MAULDIN: Oh, Piney Woods. It was a sixty-five-foot pole.
TWAROSKI: Oka. It was at Piney Woods? Well, Mr. Clyde [sic; Clyde T. Powell] told me he thought it was near Clara.
MAULDIN: Well, that’s south. It’s down, right on the tip end of the—do you where the Piney Woods—
TWAROSKI: He called it Eagle’s Nest?
MAULDIN: Yeah. Aw, he was witty-bitty. Windy Smith was the lookout.
TWAROSKI: Windy Smith?
MAULDIN: Windy Smith. Lived right—just east of where Camp 24 was.
MAULDIN: About a mile. He was something else. I wouldn’t have climbed that pole, and I was a daredevil back then. But I wouldn’t have climbed that thing. [Laughs.]
TWAROSKI: Did it have a platform?
MAULDIN: It had a little thing about four or five feet square. It was anchored on top of it. But that wind’s blowing. [He makes a sound simulating what the wind sounded like.] [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: How long do you think we kept that pole?
MAULDIN: Until they built Piney Woods Tower.
TWAROSKI: Okay, that makes sense, replace it with a real tower.
MAULDIN: Yeah, it’s up on Highway 63.
TWAROSKI: On Highway 63.
MAULDIN: Yeah, just about a couple of miles [unintelligible; 2-23:21].
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 2-23:21].
MAULDIN: I watched them build that tower.
TWAROSKI: The Piney Woods?
MAULDIN: Uh-huh. I’d go by going to plant trees. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: So are you going to tell me bout the Hell’s [sic; Hell] Hole fire?
TWAROSKI: Hell’s [sic; Hell] Hole fire.
MAULDIN: Hell Hole Creek?
TWAROSKI: Yeah, Hell Hole Creek, the fire.
MAULDIN: We had—that’s the first time—this one Sunday we were still fighting that thing. It started Saturday. And I got a boy, and I told him—I said, “You go to”—what was the James boy’s name? He was an equipment operator. And I said, “Pull the tractor.” And he drove the tractor and pulled the grader and did grading the roadway. We didn’t have any mechanicals. And I said, “You go to his house, pick him up and take him back to the camp, gas up one of these or whatever it is, that tractor, and tell him to deadhead down here to this fire. Oh, and go by and pick up the fire lane plow.”
TWAROSKI: The what?
MAULDIN: The fire lane plow.
TWAROSKI: The plow. Okay.
MAULDIN: It was just about this wide [demonstrates] and [unintelligible; 2-24:39], so it made about a six-foot—
TWAROSKI: So it was about three feet and it makes a six-feet-wide plow?
MAULDIN: So—“And get him.” I don’t know where the fire boss was. It didn’t matter. Everybody was exhausted. The CC boys got after [Mack Norm? 2-24:56] with [fire flaps? 2-24:57] because he had on a suit when he got down there. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: Who had a suit on?
MAULDIN: Mack Norm. Came from Jackson.
MAULDIN: He was fire control man.
TWAROSKI: And he came down in his suit?
MAULDIN: Oh, yeah, and his uniform on.
TWAROSKI: Okay, uniform.
MAULDIN: Yeah. It was his dress code.
TWAROSKI: Uniform. Oh.
MAULDIN: Sunday, you know. And it took him about three or four hours to deadhead down there, and he started plowing the fire lane. That was my first experience with the fire lane, definitely the first. That fire—what happened: All the timber was the last that was cut in this area, and it had about two inches of sap wood.
MAULDIN: And the rest all under that bark was hard pine.
MAULDIN: I mean—and it had enough of that litter fiber that had decayed that it made just a bed of—
TWAROSKI: Like embers?
MAULDIN: Material. [unintelligible; 2-25:58] kept that fire so hot and set that line down in front. You could spray water on it with a five-gallon backpack pump, and you wouldn’t even make steam come up. [Chuckles.]
MAULDIN: No. Had ice cream served on the fire line.
TWAROSKI: You had ice cream served? And how long did this fire take to put out?
MAULDIN: Three days and about three nights.
TWAROSKI: Three days and three nights. And you had all three CCC camps out there.
MAULDIN: Oh, yeah. Volunteers, anybody who’d help.
TWAROSKI: And what started the fire, an arsonist?
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 2-26:31].
TWAROSKI: Ah. Someone set it on fire.
TWAROSKI: Did they ever catch that person?
MAULDIN: I laid down there one night no far from there, a different time. Jack Hollingsworth just dropped me off [unintelligible; 2-26:48] nobody knew a thing about it. He never even stopped driving. He got in the river slow and I jumped out and just laid on the ground in some sage. I had a little portable radio, but you had to lay the antenna on the ground to talk over it, you know? And that wind would be blowing so hard. Two cards drove up about twenty feet of me, and they was making their decision of what to do. And I knew who they were. But something—after talking a little bit, they said, “Don’t leave the neighbors at night. We [unintelligible; 2-278:27].” It’s like one fellow sat down, and he said—one fellow said, “You know the best time to burn the woods?” And the guy said, “No.” He said, “You burn them when the wind’s blowing.” [Laughs.] [unintelligible; 2-27:45] when the wind’s blowing. [Laughs.]
TWAROSKI: So you knew who were in—
MAULDIN: Oh, yeah.
MAULDIN: But I didn’t see them do it, so I couldn’t—that was just—and they backed off. And then I had to go down the road.
And another experience I had down in that area: It was about two o’clock in the morning, and the Forest Service clerk, a fellow named Posey, drove me down there and let me out. I had a little old two-cell flashlight. Found where this guy—wasn’t much residual pines down in there. But anyway, there was a pretty good little clump down ahead on a branch. Up on on Hell Hole Creek was another one. And they had—we had found where they’d cut about twenty of those trees and cut cross ties out of them. Got about fifteen cents for—the state line, down where they took them and all.
But anyway, I was in there trying—going to see if I could catch them hauling it out, you know? They were doing it in the night. So I got in there about two o’clock, and I had that little two-cell flashlight, and I was walking down the little old logging trail, and I stumbled on some sheep. Said, “Baaaaa!” [Laughs.] It just scared you to death. [Laughs.]
You know, when I went up this man’s house the next day to talk to him about it—it was his brother-in-law [unintelligible; 2-29:14] bought the ties. And he said, “I wasn’t gonna let you talk to me.” But said, “I meant what I’m tellin’ you.” But says, “If you repeat any of this, I’m gonna cut your necktie off right up at your Adam’s apple”—no, “Your goozle.” [Laughs.] He was going to cut my Adam’s apple off. The necktie off [unintelligible; 2-29:42].
MAULDIN: We wore neckties back then.
TWAROSKI: You did? Even when you worked in the field?
MAULDIN: Yeah, our dress code. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: Okay. I didn’t realize that.
MAULDIN: Every did, but it wasn’t mandatory. But you came out better if you did.
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm. Okay.
TWAROSKI: All right.
MAULDIN: Can I fix you a Coke or something?
TWAROSKI: Oh, no, no. I’m going to be leaving you soon. I got to get back to the office.
So is there anything else you have to tell me about your days in the CCCs?
MAULDIN: Oh, when you leave I can think of a lot.
TWAROSKI: Oh, I’m sure you will. Any rangers you liked in particular?
TWAROSKI: Yes. Your favorites?
MAULDIN: I liked all of them, all my rangers. Lyndon [Duthbeck? 2-30:29], them, and Carl Benson.
TWAROSKI: Everybody talks about Carl. He must have left quite an impression on people.
MAULDIN: Well he was a hustler.
TWAROSKI: He was a hustler. He got things done?
MAULDIN: Yeah. He got me one day after fire season was over, and he—he wanted all the insulators replaced on those old wood poles. [Phone rings.] And so we started. [Phone rings.] Port Laurel.
TWAROSKI: Point Laurel.
MAULDIN: [Chuckles.] And so using his pickup—see, he started to skip three poles for him and [unintelligible; 2-31:18] to catch up with him, and [unintelligible; 2-31:20]. We were six poles apart, working. So we got through the area, came back, and he got his little notepad out. He said, “Okay, we climbed so many poles and put on so many insulators.” He said, “Now, tomorrow you can do the same thing. And after so long, we’ll cover this area.” And I said, “Mr. Benson, I got to walk those extra [chuckles] six poles.” I said, “I can go down six poles and I’m just gonna do three and go again before I have to go back and get the pickup.”
MAULDIN: He couldn’t understand that. He just thought it ought to be the same [unintelligible; 2-32:05].
MAULDIN: Well, R.J. Trotter, the superintendent, and [R.L. Hill? 3-32:14]—they were all wonderful people.
TWAROSKI: Were you scared of climbing up to the tower at Warsaw?
MAULDIN: Not really.
TWAROSKI: Not really? Did you work long hours in the tower?
MAULDIN: Oh, yes, depending on—what the guy says, “When the wind blows.” [Laughs.]
MAULDIN: But that was interesting work.
TWAROSKI: Mr. Landrum told me that a lot of the CCC boys did not like working at the towers. They got too lonely.
MAULDIN: I think so.
TWAROSKI: And that after the first week, they all wanted to go back to the camp.
TWAROSKI: I would have thought it would be much interesting than working out in the wood in the hot sun during the summer, but—
TWAROSKI: —to each his own.
MAULDIN: —I didn’t know what—you couldn’t get a scholarship or a grant or anything to college, and there I was. I had to do something.
TWAROSKI: I meant to ask you: Did you ever hear of the Silver Fire Cup?
TWAROSKI: The Silver Fire Cup. Supposedly—I’ve read this in newspapers from the 1930s, 1937. Every quarter—I think it was every quarter, the district with the least number of fires won the Silver Fire Cup.
MAULDIN: Was that in the state of Mississippi?
TWAROSKI: It was the Forest Service that—
MAULDIN: I say, though, but it was all the forests—
TWAROSKI: Right, all the districts in Mississippi.
MAULDIN: In Mississippi.
TWAROSKI: They counted all the number of fires, and every quarter whoever had the least number of fires won the Fire Silver Cup [sic; transcriber’s note: I cannot verify whether it was the Fire Silver Cup or the Silver Fire Cup.]. And I can’t find a copy. No one seems to know what the cup looked like or—supposedly the Chick won it once, and the Bienville [National Forest] got it once, and that’s all I’ve ever been able to find out. But the CCCs, in their annual—you know how they used to have those yearly books for each district? They talk about it.
MAULDIN: Well, ma’am, I can’t remember.
TWAROSKI: No? Okay.
MAULDIN: And you’re going to Alabama.
TWAROSKI: Yes, I’m going to the Conecuh [pronounced cuh-NECK-uh; National Forest] in July. Have you ever been to the Conecuh? I understand it’s very similar to the Chick. Same type of rolling hills.
MAULDIN: I knew it’s down in the southern part there.
TWAROSKI: Yeah, a lot of longleaf.
MAULDIN: Well, we had some experiments over there when I was with the Southern [unintelligible; 2-34:53].
TWAROSKI: You asked about the Gavin plantation. Do you remember when they turned it into the Gavin Auto Tour in the sixties? They had signs? They had something like twelve to fourteen stops?
MAULDIN: For Shoney Trip?
TWAROSKI: Yeah, for Shoney Trip, and they had all these wooden signs, and they talked about forest management and all that. Do you remember that?
MAULDIN: No, I didn’t know about that.
TWAROSKI: No? Okay. Well, we tore them down, and now we’ve started to create partnerships, and we’re hoping to replace all the signs so that you can take this driving tour. But right now we’ve given tours—there’s no signs right now, but we’ve given tours to, like, the rangers, the Mississippi Extension and a couple of forestry schools. We’ve gone out there and given them a tour. But that’s what we plan, is to update all the signs.
MAULDIN: Who’s the ranger on the Chick now?
TWAROSKI: Robert Lee.
MAULDIN: This is [unintelligible; 2-35:59] Lee.
TWAROSKI: This is from—he’s from around the Conecuh.
TWAROSKI: His father was a logger. And it seems to be very popular, that Gavin Auto Tour. Well, now we call it the Gavin Educational Tour.
MAULDIN: [unintelligible; 2-36:18].
TWAROSKI: But a gal in the office is working to start creating the signs.
MAULDIN: Well, you know, after I got over with the experiment station, we had requests from smaller kids—I mean, like, third and fourth grade [unintelligible; 2-36:36] observe and pick up. And we’d have sometime as many as four buses, school buses come out [unintelligible; 2-36:42].
MAULDIN: And, of course, they were all excited being [unintelligible; 2-36:47] in the wood, running the teachers crazy. I said, “Just let ’em go. They can’t do anything but run into a tree. Let ’em go bust their head, and let ’em run five, ten minutes. They come back, and they’ll fall in line.” I said, “You can’t talk to them when they’re hollering and running.” And their teacher said, “Don’t do that” and “Don’t do that.” “Get in line.” “C’mere.” [Chuckles.] But we had some real good time—we had to show them different trees, too, you know?
MAULDIN: Had nicknames. One, like, the black gums was the “toothbrush tree” or something like that, [unintelligible; 2-37:22] the old-timers used to dip their snuff. [Laughs.] [unintelligible; 2-37:27].
TWAROSKI: Well, I think that concludes our conver-—our interview, unless you have something else you wanted to add.
MAULDIN: I can’t right now.
MAULDIN: I appreciate it—
TWAROSKI: You’ll probably think about it tomorrow.
MAULDIN: —you being interested and go back, some of the old times.
TWAROSKI: Y’all got in trouble doing what?
MAULDIN: Keeping the crew out after dark.
TWAROSKI: [Sharp intake of breath.]
MAULDIN: We went out to plant trees, longleaf.
MAULDIN: I told you about, on Piney Woods Creek.
MAULDIN: You had to drive through sixteen—it was on the south side, one way or the other. Anyway, I had a leader that kind of struggled. I mean, he had a couple of assistant leaders, and we put ten men in a row. The line man—he had—he didn’t plant trees; he just kept the line straight, and the others, two steps and plant. And so—it [unintelligible; 2-38:20] about three o’clock. We [usually? 2-38:42] knocked off at four. I asked him—I said, “Radcliffe, how many trees we’ve planted?” “Not very many, three or four hundred.” I said, “Tell them to tighten up. We’re gonna stay out here.” I said, “We’re gonna trade our watch for a lantern. We’re gonna plant some trees before we go in.”
And we had a training day. It was called a training, to show them how to do it and [unintelligible; 2-39:05]. This is [starting to real plant? 2-39:08]. So when dark came, we still hadn’t done much. And finally we left about there about eight o’clock. There come that Army captain is in charge [unintelligible; 2-39:19]. “Where’s Mauldin?” They all knew who had [unintelligible; 2-39:23]. Jack Hollingsworth just about got into me. He found me, and he says, “Mauldin, what are you doin’ out here? You break down?” I said, “No, sir, the boys broke down.” [Chuckles.] I said, “They said we could get six hours work out of them, and I haven’t got mine yet.” [Laughs.] Ooh! He didn’t chew tobacco. He’d take a [raw canned? 2-39:46] cigar and just bite the end off of it, put it in his mouth and kind of hold it. He says, “You can’t do that.” He says, “You only have them eight hours.” I said, “Yes, but he said I could work ’em.” Had to feed them. That was the reason he was—
TWAROSKI: Oh, he’s—
MAULDIN: More concerned because they had to have supper.
MAULDIN: So I had them go straight to the mess hall and eat. [Chuckles.]
MAULDIN: I had a good crew.
TWAROSKI: Oh, okay.
MAULDIN: And then I went to Louisiana, over at the [Derik? 2-40:20] Reed’s Nursery over there instead of [Ash? 2-40:23]. Reed over there. He was a little short fellow. And so he would lift trees for us, longleaf, to bring back over here. I don’t believe Ash was doing longleaf. That’s crossed the Mississippi River on a ferry.
TWAROSKI: Where do we our slash from?
MAULDIN: Grew them most of them. We had some out of Florida.
TWAROSKI: And out of Florida?
TWAROSKI: I’ve seen the planting records, and they show a lot of stuff out of the Osceola [National Forest].
MAULDIN: Yeah, Florida.
MAULDIN: But that was [unintelligible; 2-41:08]. I enjoyed it. But a fun time up on the Chick in the early days. They was talking about being—I guess I was lucky, where I could make delivery and go to the schools, and we had phones at some stores that you could call be, like, [unintelligible; 2-41:26] the fire [unintelligible; 2-41:26] if you needed to. And then the telephone exchange was a private exchange over at the old [unintelligible; 2-41:35].
MAULDIN: And that’s—I had to [unintelligible; 2-41:40] the switchboard. I had the [okay to be responsible for forty-five cent? 2-41:45], but that was half a day’s work. [Chuckles.]
TWAROSKI: To make a phone call.
MAULDIN: Yeah. You go over there and pay your telephone bill and see a few people, because going to those old country stores and listening to those people talk was something else.
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm! I’m sure it was.
[End of interview.]