from Caspar Calling, by Ann M. Connor
in collaboration with Mabel Johnson
self-published in 1967:
We wish we had a later picture of the mill crew . . . and we would like help in scanning and transcribing more of Ann's Wonderful booklet.
'The creaking old mill is still, Maggie, since you and I were young.' Also still is the ring of the woodsman's axe and the musical, rythmic whine of the saws in the nearby woods. The mighty redwood logs no longer careen down the famous, picturesque old log chute, to land in the millpond with a resounding splash.
Yes, it was a sad day, that Friday, November 18, 1955, when those whose daily lives had revolved around the familiar sound of the mill whistle heard it for the last time. Many were they who had spent their entire lives in the community, and to these oldtimers, it meant the end of their lifetime work. It also meant the passing of a fascinating and adventurous era.
Word had been passed around about five days in advance that the mill was shutting down for good, causing many rumors and speculation on the possibility. They heard, but found it hard to believe - it just didn't seem possible!
On Friday, the last day, there was an air of general quiet and unspoken em- otion under the familiar din of the mill engines. At the sorting table, where Ralph Freathy and his group, Henry Silveira, Bill McCord, Domingo Valador, Herman Hackett, and Richie Silveira worked, there was very little conversation -— also at the nearby grading table where Kenneth Fleming, Hank Hanson, Russell Hayter and Joe Ricardo were busy. At 4:30pm, the last board came down the moving belt on the sorting table, and instead of stacking it with the rest, Ralph picked it up and stood it on edge against the wall, and they all just looked at it in silence. It was a 2 by 8, eight feet long.
As the last whistle blew, men laid aside their tools and removed their gloves and aprons, wondering whether to take them or throw them in the big, red trash can. The oilers and clean-up men left the machinery and premises immaculate, as though they expected to return the next day – but in their hearts they all knew they would return only in memory.
Conversation was desultory – 'Why did it have to happen?', 'They could have kept running awhile longer,” etc.
They read the last chalked message on the bulletin board outside the mill office, written by Ted Johnson, mill boss: 'Open House at Bucks 5 pm til mid» night. Free eats and drinks compliments of the Caspar Lumber Company. Pay-checks from November 9 to 15th will be ready tonight. Vacation checks will be ready November 29th.' Someone commented 'Don't feel much like a drink hut guess I'll stop at Buck's - Jim feels pretty bad, too.'
Finally, in glum silence, they reluctantly started up the trail in single file, slowly making their way up the hill toward town in the cold, drizzling rain. From the brow of the hill, the merry echo of a humorist came, 'Oh, it ain't gonna rain no more, no more.'
The long, low blast of the whistle had sounded the requiem of the mill - and the Caspar Lumber Company.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Ann M. Connor, a native of Canada, was a 1956 graduate of Caspar Elementary School, and in l966 received her Associate of Arts Degree at Santa Rosa Junior College.
In 1962, she and four others organized the Sonoma County Historical Society, and she was editor of their quarterly newsletter, the Journal, for four years and also edited and typed a l66 page book of the humorous end historical writings of Dr. William C. Shipley (going back to the horse and buggy days of Sonoms County.) 550 copies were sold.
In l969 the Society opened a museum at 557 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa, which has had over 10,000 visitors todate.(Hours — 1 to 4 pm, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sundays.)
Mrs. Connor recently became a member of the National League of American Pen Women, Sonoma County branch. She and her husband, Edward Connor (Assistant Cashier at the Exchange Bank, Santa Rosa) have four children and three grandchildren, and have made their home in Santa Ross since 1946.
Mabel Johnson graduated from Albion Elementary School in 1930, and from Mendocino Union High School in 1954; She has written many poems which were published in looal newspapers, and lyrics for songs.
$he has also made and sold many attractive t.v. lamps and jewelry of driftwood and shells. The Johnsons, with their son and daughter, have been lifelong residents of Caspar.