- Static Lines and Canopies: Stories from the Smokejumpers in Civilian Public Service Camp No. 103 (Missoula, Montana) of 1943–1945 ed. by Asa Mundell (review)
- Western American Literature
- University of Nebraska Press
- Volume 29, Number 4, Winter 1995
- p. 364
- View Citation
- Additional Information
364 WesternAmerican Literature Static Lines and Canopies: Storiesfrom the Smokejumpers in Civilian Public Service Camp No. 103 (Missoula, Montana) of 1943-1945. Edited by Asa Mundell. (Beaverton, Oregon: Kinko’s Press, 1993. 78 pages, $13.00.) This is not literature but a good homemade book of anecdotes of the smokejumper life by seventy-seven of the young conscientious objectors who did the parachute-fireman job for the Forest Service during World War II. It shows not only the early primitive nature of the trade but how the CO’s of WW II saved and developed the infant smokejumper program during the severe manpower shortage of the war years. These men were signed on by the USFS and trained as jumpers and expected to do good work (which they did) at no pay other than room and board and $5 a month to cover their medical bills if they got hurt. [Many of them did get hurt.] Yet most of the Montana population, including some of the USFS bosses, reviled them as “yellow-bellies”and draft dodgers during the great holywar against Hitler andJapan. One storyby Elmer Neufeld tells how such an angry foreman was won over to respect them by their outstanding work and obvious courage: On Monday of our second week, right at noon, Cleo, with lunch bucket in hand, came to where I had just sat down to eat my lunch. ‘Elmer, can I sit down here and eat my lunch with you?’ ‘Sure,’ I said, ‘sit down here, Cleo. Is there something we are not doing right?’ ‘No,’says Cleo, ‘It’sjust that when you guys got here, I had made up my mind that I was going to give you Yellow Bellies a rough time. I was going to work your tails off and then kickyou down the road. Well, that hasn’t worked out. There is no way that I can keep up with you personally when it comes to putting out work. You don’t make stupid mistakes, and at the end of a day there’s a lot ofwork done.’ ‘So, Elmer,’said Cleo, ‘let me shake your hand and saywelcome to our forest. And Yellow Bellies you’re not. If you were, you would not have chosen this field ofwork. There is no way that Iwouldjump out of a perfectly good airplane and depend on a little piece of silk to let me down to the ground. So the hard feelings are gone, at least on my part.’ I assured Cleo that I had never had hard feelings—and we shook hands. Cleo was a very good friend of mine from then until he died many years later. Lots of typos. But good smokejumping history.© by STARRJENKINS 1994 San Luis Obispo, California ...