Whistle Punk in Coos Bay Lumber Camp 1953

Here’s the prequel to Patrick’s autobiographical story https://www.patrick-meadows.com/heading-to-coos-bay/ about his brief time as a lumberjack with Lee. I found this in Patrick’s Scattered Notes collection.

I was choker setter. Lee chased the cat.

Before starting college, I looked for a summer job to accumulate funds for my studies. My parents could not afford to send more than a pittance. An acquaintance at Rollins College who usually worked summers in a lumber camp in Oregon happened to break his leg just before the holidays began, and he told me about the money one could make in two months.

The day of graduation from Winter Park High I handed my cap and gown to my mother. She gave me the suitcase I had packed the night before and on highway 17-91 I stuck out my thumb.

Many years before I ever hear of the Beat Generation, or even Jack Kerouac in particular, I am on the road.

In 1953 I am 19 years old. With Lee Liming we leave Winter Park for Oregon to work in the Coos Bay Lumber camp.

I stick out my thumb, and head straight up to country to meet Lee in Cadillac, Michigan. He rides with his family in a Pontiac. I get there first, and spend my time in the local library, trying to read Emerson. In three months I am starting college, and I have not yet read a book. That won’t happen until Coos Bay, where I buy my first book, and read it. It is a small book, and easy to read, called The Old Man and the Sea.

Lee and I hitch along just under the Canadian border, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, to Seattle, then down the coast to Coos Bay.

Being on the road was not much fun. It has been much romanticized since K and his bunch made themselves the antiheroes of a whole generation.

In 1958 I am living not far from Kerouac, and teaching a few blocks from his house, in Orlando, though I don’t know it, and still do not hear of him or his book, though soon enough I am on the road again.

There is an interesting interim here, but this is for another day, as it is already half written somewhere or another, and I don’t mean in the book of fate.