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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Hop In The Trailer, Kids! We're Off To Cut Wood. -- Laurean Brooks

Crisp, cool autumn days transport me back to the family farm and memories of cutting firewood. While Daddy sharpened the saw blade, not one of us kids could come up with a good-enough excuse to get out of the work.

After our older brothers loaded the axe and saw in the two-wheeled trailer, they hitched the old Farmall tractor to it. Then Daddy. yelled, “Hop in the trailer! We're cutting firewood.” Dressed in our old coats, gloves, and toboggans met him outside.

He usually drove the tractor while the rest of us piled into the trailer for a bumpy ride across the fields and into the woods.

When I was older, Daddy bought a chainsaw. I never used it, but before I was a teen, I cut wood with a crosscut saw. 

Mostly, it was Daddy and our older brothers sawed the logs into pieces while my sister, younger brother and I, threw them on the trailer. But if, while Daddy was working his 30-day shift on the riverboat, the wood supply dwindled, Mama ushered us kids to the woods. My brother Ralph usually drove the tractor on those days. 

Our oldest brother, Johnny, was a sly one. He usually slipped off to a friend's house after school if he got wind that we would be cutting firewood that afternoon. But only when Daddy wasn't home. 

Using a crosscut saw is not as easy as it looks. You and your partner on the other end have to keep the same rhythm of pulling and no pushing. Pushing the saw defeats the purpose. You must wait for the person on the other end to pull the saw through. If you'd don't, the saw jams in the log and is a struggle to free. Worse than jamming the saw was hitting a knot or nail in a log. I can still feel the jarring vibration from the saw.

The firewood was to be cut into specific lengths between 15 and 18-inches. No longer. Mama's orders.

When enough firewood was cut to last for a month, we rode back in the trailer on top of the woodpile, unloading the wood when we got home.

Later, our brothers would split the firewood with an axe, halving or quartering it, depending on the size of the log.

If Daddy was home and Mama hadn't helped with wood-cutting, we came inside to the delicious aroma of dinner.

Cutting firewood was a chore, but I wouldn't trade the memories of those days for anything. Memories of frost nipping at my cheeks, and the pungent scents of cedar, birch, locust or oak tantalizing my senses as each piece fell to the ground.

Do you enjoy romance from the Depression Era? JOURNEY TO FORGIVENESS is a story loosely based on my parents' lives, set in 1938. "Jenny," my mother, was a savvy young woman (18-years-old), from the South who hopped a train to Chicago to find work to support her mother and younger siblings. Sparks fly when she encounters the "thief" who ran off with her vanity case. What happens when she runs into him again? 
Sorry. You will have to read the book.


  1. Oh, I remember the wood cutting. We kids had to stack it along the back of the house and bring enough in the cellar to last for a few days. Our furnace was wood and coal, and those wonderful floor vents brought up warm air to the rooms above. I used to sit on one, wrap a blanket around me, and study late at night. Love the premise of "Journey to Forgiveness." Best of luck with sales and promotion.

  2. Thanks, Judy Ann. You were a farm girl, too. Cutting and stacking wood was hard work, but I miss those days. We also used coal in a coal stove. We had no floor vents, but I remember the warmth the coal and wood stove provided.

  3. I remember felling trees to clear more pasture land. My older brother and I used a crosscut saw which, as you pointed out, requires a certain skill. Once you do it correctly, you get into a rhythm, but it was still hard work.

    1. So true, Joan Reeves. You have to develop a rhythm, and resist the urge to "push" the saw through to your partner. It brings back a lot of memories. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. I love your posts, Laurean! You have such a positive attitude about life. Makes for a lot of intriguing posts, that's for sure.

  5. Thank you, Caroline. I'm glad you enjoy them. I write from the heart...or try to.


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