Small Frye tries to rope a steer [or vice versa], skunks his brother at romance, and recalls “Our Lady of the Sawmill.”

Leonard Lea Frazer
The original Albreda Hotel -1970
The original Albreda Hotel -1970
Photo by L.L. Frazer
From the Robson Valley Courier – February, June & July of 1976
Introduction:  The stock on my father’s homestead was as wild as any elk or deer and always hard to herd into pasture at night. I did a lot of extra running around trying to get the damn ignorant beasts in safe from predators, and yours truly was getting darn tired of treating them like babies.

I did not have a horse of my own to use, but there sure was lots of young steers around that could possibly be used for something besides eating hay at my expense. I was going to do something about that.

I rope my first steer or did he rope me?
I had a good rope all ready that morning and my victim picked out for the day's fun. I was going to have a rodeo of my very own.
I did my best to make friends with Mr. Steer, but I had a terrible time to get close enough to rope him. I had him in a five-acre field and I chased him around and around till at last I got a swing at him. My rope caught one hind foot. Did you ever try to catch and hold a lion by the tail? Well, that was just what I had. Hold him…  no deal. I hung on for two rounds and got ripped all to pieces. I should have let well enough alone, as any sane person would have done, but no, after another round I let go of the rope, because it was burning my hands too much and I could not stand it. He took a few more rounds before he got tangled up and I ran and, like a dough-head, took the rope off his foot. With a bellow he took off into the brush and I did not see him for a week. In the meantime I had found me another that seemed to suit me just as well and had already figured out a way to get him roped and to hold him. I had dug three different postholes in the field and put in posts and I had it figured, if I could get the rope around his head, I could run with him till we came to one of those posts and then snub him to it. However, I had not figured out how much territory there was that had no posts at all.
I took a swing as he passed me and got him around the stomach, between the front legs and back legs. I had him good and did he take off! It was all I could do to keep a hold of him and, as I made the first round, I decided to put the rope around my stomach.  This would give me more leverage. I never thought about what it would also do to me. With the first lift he gave me I came right up off the ground. Down I came with a grunt. It nearly killed me. I bounced all over that field but I held on and finally he gave up. I was so near dead that all I could do was tie him up so he could not get away. This I did and left him while I made repairs on my own carcass. After I took a rest I came back and put the saddle on him while he was still down and tied.
I had been told that if you put a half a blind fold on a steer he would be easier to handle.
This I did and also hobbled him by tying the rope from one hind foot to the other. This left him with about ten inches to run in.  I did the same to his front feet and then I untied him and was in the saddle as he made it to his feet. I was in for some shaking up, let me tell you, but I stuck with him for three rough rounds. I knew very well that all my insides were torn out or so it felt. Even with the hobbles on he did me in and I had to leave him in mid air. He bucked and jumped till I thought he would kill himself, but finally he gave up and laid down panting.
Now was my time. I made a run for him and before he could make it to his feet I was on him again. He exploded like a ton of TNT and was off again. However, this time I found out that I did not want him for a riding pony and turned him loose.

Small Frye skunks his brother at romance
I guess many of you know just how pungent the fluid that a skunk spurts on his enemies is. It is so strong that if you get it in your eyes you will be temporarily blinded and a skunk can get quite good at aiming this at your eyes.
Plain water will not take the scent off your skin. I used any sort of fat, warmed up, and the only way I could get any relief was to rub it off with warm lard or butter, and then lots of sweet scented soap and hot water. If you get it in your clothes, burn them. I was never able to get the smell out of my clothes after getting a good soaking from Mr. Skunk.
Well, I guess I will get on with my story. As we lived in a very small community, (Albreda) we did not have too many good-looking girls and I had been very smart in getting on the good side of as many as I could. I had one that I really liked and claimed her as my steady (when I was not out with any of the rest).
Leala was very good looking and a good sport and I had ideas about her. So, I kept an eye on her as much as I could. I lost out on a date with her one night, even though I tried hard to keep her under my watch.
Now, at odd times they would hold a big dance at Valemount. I had always taken her and never thought she would let me down. But, as it happened, I had been interested in another girl and had not asked Leala in time and lost out. She had promised to go with my older brother, Charlie. This left me out in the rain.
Now, I did not like this one little bit. I knew she had been jealous of me going fishing with the other girl, but I could see no reason why she had let me down like this. I was determined to get the best of my brother and take over, if I could. So, I gave it quite a bit of thought and came up with the answer.
It was so simple that I could not understand why I had been worried at all. I had it at my fingertips.
In my trapping, I had made up a very pungent scent out of skunk oil and mixed it with rotten fish oil. This, I would let rot till it turned to a fluid. I would always keep it in a well-tightened jar. After I set the trap I would leave a bit of meat or dead bird of some kind, then I'd open my potent jar and pour a bit of this concoction over the bait. Now, any animal coming within half a mile of my set would smell this and come right to the trap and his death.
As my poor brother had a terrible cold, I knew he wouldn’t be able to smell anything at all. Now was my chance!
Things were going my way. I waited until I found out what dress-coat he was going to wear, and as he laid it down over a chair, I got my jar of skunk scent and dug out a good sized chunk of raw scent, the strongest and most potent of all. I very gently put it in his pocket. Then, I smiled a wicked smile. This would cook his goose.
I dressed up in my best bib and tucker and took off to the dance, got myself a jug and also took the other girl to the dance with me.
When we got there, Charlie was already there, but no Leala. She didn't come with him at all. I snickered to myself, knowing right off the bat what was wrong. Nobody would dance with poor Charlie at all. Soon, I saw Leala come in all alone.
No one told him why they would not dance with him and it took him a long time to figure out just what was wrong. Of course, I played innocent. I even offered him a drink out of my jug. Later, when he got home, he learned what the trouble was. But, he could not lay the blame on me, as anyone could have done this to him.
Of course, I saw how successful the skunk scent was and I kept this in mind for future reference, but never did use it.

Our Lady of the Sawmill
Here, in McBride, we have a grand old-timer of the district, Grace Etter (now Grace Bjur). She is the daughter of Etter, of Etter & McDougal (Sawmill). The last time the writer can remember this grand lady, he was washing dishes for her in her father's logging camp at Shere, B.C. This was the wonderful days of short logging, an era when boys grew up to be real loggers, rough and tough as they came. The camps were all built out of material manufactured right on the spot, mostly frame buildings made of rough lumber sawed at the existing mill. Some of them would be built out of logs, chinked and sealed with either sawdust or plain clay. As you approached any of these camps, the most welcome sight and smell was the huge cook shack. Some of them would be large enough to cook and serve food to forty men or more. The next thing you would see would be the big horse barns generally some place in the background. These would be big enough to accommodate ten or twelve teams at one time. These animals were something to see… huge creatures, some tipping the scales at a ton each, mostly big Clydesdales. To one side of the barns would be ten or twelve huge sleighs or sleds, and wagons; these were the big Concords.
Grace mostly looked after the supervising of the cook shacks, to see that they were run properly at all times. When you come right down to it, there was no doubt who was the most important person in the business. If the men did not eat, they did not work, and in those days the cooks didn't go around in air-conditioned kitchens.
The men in the camps worked for their money and they didn't get forty dollars an hour, either. An ordinary logger was lucky to get his board and sixty dollars a month! The “bull” of the woods could get up to one hundred dollars a month, as he was the woods boss. He held a large responsibility, as he had to see that there was always enough good timber marked out each day to keep ten or twelve loggers going, and the sawmill supplied at all times with both timber and repairs.
Grace's father had a partnership in a sawmill at Shere and it was up to him to keep the logging road built ahead of the loggers at all times, mostly up the Raush River. As the logging would be going full blast as soon as the ground was frozen enough to hold the big sleighs and huge loads of logs, he had to keep the steep grades on the main roads always sanded.
At times, there would be two roads, if the country was steep, one to go up with the big sleighs, and another one to go down with a load. 
Workers at a logging camp
Workers at a logging camp
Nels Dahlberg photo