Placerville, One Stop On The Road Of Forest Consultancy

On the road...again!!!

Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek


Placerville, One Stop on the Road of Forest Consultancy

It must have been the spring of 1964 when the Footloose Forester returned to Placerville, California. In a recent dream, he recalled showing up before sunrise at a huge cold storage building that normally stored apples and pears from the previous growing season. This time around, he was there to pick up 10,000 or so pine seedlings for contract planting somewhere in the area. He doesn’t remember where they were bound, only that as the returning forester who has spent the previous two years in the US Army, he was going to be in charge of the planting project.


Modern-day prefab cold storage building

The Footloose Forester knew a fair bit about Placerville, sometimes known as Hangtown, haven taken up a brief residence in a boarding house there after graduating from college in January 1961 and hoping to become a dirt forester, a modest but sincere career goal. It wasn’t long before he landed a seasonal job with the US Forest Service’s forest tree nursery outside of town. The annual crop of 10 milllion seedlings grown there was intended for reforestation on lands that were devastated by forest fires. Harvesting was by hand, in late winter and it was stoop labor. But it was an entrée position that helped his name get recognized and considered for the next seasonal job, and pending a Civil Service appointment with more permanent potential. The next seasonal job came along a few months later at Pacific Ranger Station where he gladly moved into the Pacific Ranger Station’s fire barracks, up the mountain in beautiful Pollock Pines.

The Civil Service appointment never came through, and the months of temporary work, although thoroughly enjoyable because it involved a variety of challenges, were filled with many fond memories. A few were about Placerville, where he bought a second-hand 1951 Ford station with blond ash-colored exterior wooden panels. He bought it from Stancil’s Garage in Placerville, although Mountain Motors also had a few second-hand cars for sale. That car was destined to wrack up a few legacy stories of its own. Hint: it was bound for long-term storage in Oakland, California when the Footloose Forester got drafted into the military. Placerville was also the town where he bought a Model 1894 Winchester center-fire .30/.30 lever-action carbine. It was over 100 years old at that time and he still owns it.

As the summer wore on and no Civil Service appointment was likely, the Footloose Forester left the Forest Service and joined Cal-Pacific Forest Consultants as a rookie forester and crew member of their Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) crew. A two-year stint as a draftee in the US Army intervened. It would be 2 ½ years before he next set foot in Placerville, but when he did, it was as crew chief for Cal-Pacific Forest Consultants who was assigned to pick up and transport the 10,000 pine seedlings that were awaiting him in cold storage in Placerville.

Some of the dreams that become seminal Chronicles of a Footloose Forester are composed of kernels of memory, interspersed with many blanks and loose threads that nevertheless comprise a story or two that ofttimes are fond musings. Placerville, the 1951 Ford station wagon, and snippets about consulting jobs are part of the fabric it takes to weave the next tale, On the road…again!!!

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