Now surely y’all don’t think this is a story about me! No, sir, this one is another little quick note about my logging days, but I’m nowhere near the top of anyone’s list compared to the guy it’s about. It’s just a short short story, so take a look if you have time. I’m pretty sure Ol’ “Bing” would like it if ya do.
Many of you seemed to enjoy my story about my days as a logger, and while writing it, other memories of my time in “the woods” came to mind.
One was of one of the oldest logger I worked with—and I ain’t joking this time—who we knew only as Bing. If I remember correctly, his last name was Bingaman, and thus the nickname, “Bing”. I don’t remember how old he was, but I’m fairly certain he was in his mid-seventies. He’d been a logger, working in the woods, his entire life.
I won’t go into the details of what a hook tender’s job was, but suffice it to say it was brutally hard work. To the men that did it—Bing was one of them–it was a hard way to make a living, but it was their life, and most of them could not imagine doing anything else.
I told you about one of my harrowing experiences as a logger, and maybe another time I’ll tell you about some of the other close calls, but I’ll never forget what Bing told us one day as we sat among the fallen trees eating our lunch. Someone had gotten hurt that morning, and went home, delaying us for a bit and leaving us short-handed for the rest of the day; production would go down as a result.
Bing didn’t spend much time with the crew—his job was a solitary one—but as he sat there with us, he suddenly spoke in a low growling voice and said this one sentence: “When I was your age, if somebody got hurt or killed, we laid them off to the side and picked them up on the way down at quittin’ time.” The rest of us exchanged glances—nobody questioned what Bing had said—then finished our lunch in silence.
During the silence that followed, I kept looking over at Bing. We all admired and respected him for what he was able to do at his age, but after what he’d just said, I couldn’t get out of my mind how hard it must’ve been when he was our age. I wondered how many men he’d packed down out of these mountains; how many funerals had he been to; how many men he’d “laid off to the side” had he watched put to rest.
Bing Bingaman sits atop my list of men-among-men I’ve had the privilege to know. He was as tough as they come.