Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Galena is located east of Strawberry Hill about 13 miles southeast of Lead-Deadwood in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Galena came about as the results of the silver rush in the Deadwood area in the 1880’s. Galena also had a sawmill which was my fathers but that was in the late 30’s and early 40’s. My oldest brother went to first grade at the school in Galena and I recall seeing a picture of him on his 1st day standing in front of the school. Wonder what happened to that picture? The CCC [Civil Conservation Corps] camps were in the Black Hills working on roads, bridges and working in the woods during the depression years. When these camps closed, at the end of the Depression, my father drew from some of those men as employees in his Galena Sawmill. He wanted to be partners with a couple of these men but they chose to be employees instead. Both were with him until they passed on in the 60’s and 70’s. Life was tough in Galena but my only knowledge of that was an occasional story from my Mom. I heard lots of stories about his logging trucks and their cars’ having to go up hills backwards because reverse was a more powerful gear than low was. I remember once, in Sturgis, when I had accidentally, or more likely, lazily, left the water running in the sink unattended. She tore my head off about it but later apologized for her behavior telling me that in Galena their only water was from a pump at the bottom of the hill. She carried all of her water up hill and up the steps so many times that she swore she would never waste it again. I have never wasted it either because of that.
My parents sawmill burned to the ground about 1942. Dad made the decision to move to Sturgis rather than rebuild in Galena and I came along in 1943 in our house in Sturgis. I don’t remember much about that house until later when my Grandparents moved into the house and we moved to a house downtown. On Saturday mornings My Dad and I visited the local ice house and brought a big chunk of ice up to Grandma and Grandpa for their icebox. That was a different time.
My father had several logging camps in the Hills and we, as a family, visited them frequently. I remember all good things as there were always children my age to play with and the camps had these great work horses that were used to skid logs. Someone would always make sure I got a ride on one of these gentle giants.
For me that seemed like a great time to be a kid except I don’t remember very much about it. In January of 1950, I was 7, and my friend LeRoy, who was 6, and I pondered the great mystery of what happened to the 4 that always followed the 19 when you wrote the year in the snow. I hold a great mind picture as I wrote 1949 in the snow, with a stick and my friend wrote 1950 above it. I think it just went down as one of life’s unsolved mysteries as we couldn’t resolve it or at least I don’t think we did.