May 12 is an important day in our family. On this day in 1978 our first child, Jason, was born. It was a pretty big deal. That Jason survived having a neurotic mother was an even a bigger deal. Thank goodness Studly Doright was around to hold us together.
Not only was our son born on May 12, but his son, Jackson, was also born on this date in 2006. That makes it so easy to remember at least one grand child’s birthday. Trust me, the older we get the more important this becomes.
Our Jackson is a cool dude. He’s athletic, witty, and handsome. I can’t even express how much we love this kid who reminds us so much of his dad. And, since I’m not a Nana who makes things for her grandchildren I try to compensate by writing stories for them. This is one I’ve written for Jackson.
There once was a legendary lumber man. The greatest man to ever wield an axe. This man’s name was Jackson.
Jackson was no ordinary boy. Born with an axe in his hand, he used a chainsaw as a rattle and cut his teeth on a big old knotty pine. He learned to climb a tree before he could walk, and he could beat any grown man at log rolling before his first birthday.
When he was nine he could grow a full beard, so he left home and headed out to make his fortune.
“Bye Ma! Bye Pa!” Jackson called as he headed out with just his saw and his axe.
“Goodbye, son!” said his Ma.
“Make us all proud,” said his Pa.
Now even with his skills those first months on his own were not without peril. Once, Jackson came across a mountain lion fighting a grizzly bear. Mid-fight the grizzly bear was distracted by Jackson and the mountain lion got in a nasty swipe at the bear’s nose. Jackson felt responsible for the bear’s injury, so he jumped into the fray and put the mountain lion in a headlock.
“Stop that, you two!” Jackson commanded. “Life’s too short to be fightin’!”
He patched up the bear’s nose and made him shake paws with the mountain lion. “I could use some help out here on my own, and I sure am lonely,” said Jackson. “How’d you like to come along?”
And just like that the grizzly became Jackson’s watch bear and the mountain lion became his pet. The trio made a mighty fine sight as they traveled the back country helping out settlers and felling trees.
One fall morning, Jackson, Grizz, and Kitty wandered into a lumber camp looking for work. Jackson asked to speak to the foreman and was directed to a huge tent. He instructed his companions to wait outside.
“You two stay out of trouble. I’ll be right back.”
Inside the tent was a big man. The biggest man Jackson had ever seen, at least eight feet tall, weighing close to 300 pounds.
“What can I do for you young man?” the man boomed.
“I’m looking for work,” said Jackson. “Folks tell me this is the best camp in the country.”
“We don’t hire youngsters,” said the man. “Run along now, son.”
“Sir, just give me a chance to…”
Just then a mighty roar erupted outside the tent. Jackson and the foreman ran outside to see what was causing the ruckus. There in the clearing stood a giant blue ox. Grizz was on one side and Kitty on the other trying to herd that ox away from the tent. The ox bellowed, Grizz and Kitty roared.
“Down, Grizz! Down, Kitty!” shouted Jackson.
“Babe, sit!” yelled the foreman.
The animals complied.
“Dang, if that wasn’t something,” laughed the foreman, “I see that you aren’t an ordinary youngster. I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you a test and if you pass it I’ll hire you.”
“You have a deal, sir.”
“Call me Mr, Bunyan,” said the foreman.
“Call me Jack,” said Jackson.
That very afternoon the test was arranged. All the men in camp gathered to watch Mr. Bunyan explain the rules.
“Son, my best man can cut down a tree in five minutes and eight seconds. My slowest man can do it in seven minutes flat. All you have to do is beat the slowest man, and you can have his job.”
Jackson nodded his understanding and hefted his axe.
“I’m ready, Mr. Bunyan.” he said.
“Go!” exclaimed the boss. The crowd roared.
“He’s just a kid!” yelled one man.
“You’re going down!” hollered another.
Grizz and Kitty roared their support for Jackson. Amid the noise, Jackson remained calm. Then, he took careful aim and with three mighty chops he cut that tree down in less than a minute.
The crowd went silent. Then they began to chant. “JACK! JACK! JACK!”
Mr. Bunyan clapped Jackson on the back.
“Son, you have a job. And a nickname. From now on, you’ll be known as Lumber Jack!”
And from that day forward all lumber men were referred to as lumberjacks, but there has only ever been one “Lumber Jack.”