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Interview with William Ed Morris, April 9, 2002 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with William Ed Morris, April 9, 2002
Date:
April 9, 2002
Description:
Mr Ed Morris described his experience with forestry from 1946-1984.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Morris, William Ed Interviewer:  Jones, Patricia / Warren, Harry Date of Interview:  4/9/2002 Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length  60 minutes

 

Warren: Patricia Jones is the interviewer and Mr. Morris is our interviewee. Get the ball rolling.

Jones: Tell me your name and address.

Morris: My name is Ed Morris. I live out at Lake Waccamaw. This interview is for the Museum of Forestry.

Jones: That’s right, today is April 9th, 2002. Let’s get some background information and then we’ll just chat about what you’ve done, how long you’ve done it and what you’ve seen. So tell me where are you from?

Morris: Tennessee.

Jones: Okay, what part of Tennessee?

Morris: Chattanooga. I lived in this small town about 10 miles out of Chattanooga called Red Bank.

Jones: That’s where my grandfather is from, Chattanooga. How long have you been in southeastern North Carolina?

Morris: Since 1950.

Jones: What about in forestry? How long have you been in forestry?

Morris: From 1950, of course I had years in college. I went to work in 1950 and I retired in 1984. Then of course I had four years of forestry school before all of that.

Jones: The areas in forestry in which you worked in. You mentioned management.

Morris: Management is pretty much it until the last three or four years and I worked in procurement.

Jones: Why did you choose forestry as a career? On your little sheet here, you said after you worked summer, you knew you wanted forestry as your career. How did you know, what was it that inspired you?

Morris: Well when I was a kid, fooling around in the woods in forestry in Tennessee, hunting. I knew I was interested in woods work. Then of course World War II came along and I got in the Navy right out of high school and stayed in there until 1946. I was 22 years of age when I got out of the Navy and got back home to Chattanooga, Tennessee or outside of Chattanooga.

I found out about a job opening that I was interested in. My sister worked in a pretty good size organization there and she had run across some information about some people looking north of Knoxville, Tennessee. The company she got this information from was East Tennessee Iron and Coal Company. Don’t mention anything about forestry. If they have iron and coal, they’ve got trees.

So this particular company had hired two foresters working with the Tennessee Valley Authority. I don’t know whether you know about them or not.

Jones: I do, I paid my electric bill to them for many years. Electric Company, aren’t they?

Morris: It’s a pretty big organization and I worked for them for a little while. East Tennessee Iron and Coal Company had a tract 40 miles north of Knoxville. It was 50,000 acres and all mountains and woods country. They wanted to cruise.

Jones: When you say cruise, what do you mean by that? They wanted it cruised?

Morris: They wanted an evaluation of the timber that grew on top of the land.

Jones: The value, the money value?

Morris: Money value of the timber that grew on top of this iron and coal production company. They had hired two foresters from the TVA that worked with TVA to cruise this area. Of course I was very unfamiliar with anything in forestry other than just walking in the woods. I didn’t know anything about forestry. I got a job with this company as a compass man for these foresters. There was one compass man for one forester in running cruise lines through this timber that they had.

I had to move up to a little town called Jacksboro. It’s about 40 miles north of Knoxville. I wasn’t familiar with it, but it was just a little one horse town. I got room and board in that Jacksboro area. We started to cruise. Those boys would come up every day. They’d drive two jeeps. It would be about 10 miles for them to come up every day. I’d just meet them out there. We hired another local boy to run cruise for one of the foresters. That turned into two or three because they didn't last too long (laughter). Would have got outta those woods out there.

Like I said, I was hired on as compass man and we started this cruise. It was about the first of the summer and it took us most of the summer to finish this job. It was a very enlightening job, going over these mountains. I ran into a lot of experiences I never had, especially just getting out of the Navy for four years. We had a lot of experiences up there that I can’t tell you all of them. I might mention…

Let me tell you about the compass man. I’d run the compass and pull the chain. Now the chain is the same thing that I gave you, one that I had left over. It’s two 165 feet, I always call it two and a half chains to me, but that equals 165 feet. I’d pull the chain on a compass bearing across these mountains. The TVA forester would wait until the end of the chain got to him and then he’d holler to you and I’d stop and scratch out a plot.

You’d scratch out a place in the ground and I’d wait for him to come up. As soon as he got up, I’d start tallying the trees in a perimeter around that center plot. Of course he was experienced. He had a good eye for 30 or 40 feet. I can’t even remember what the radius of that circle was around that plot, but we tallied all of the trees, all of the timber in that plot. That was my job. I had a folding book that I stuck in my shirt when I was finished. When he’d call the trees out, I’d put the diameter down, the height, all the information concerning it.

Every so often we would take a height, the number of logs, this, that and the other and that’s the way we cruised that. As soon as we finished a cruise, I’d get my compass out, take another line. The line was set up, I don’t think they had photographs back then, but I think they went by maps. They had cruise lines on those maps and I’d run a certain compass course. We just went across the mountains. Some of them were real rugged going and some of them were not so bad. I wouldn’t say there were no inhabitants back there. There was moonshine stills (laughter).

Warren: Ever run up on any of those unexpectedly?

Morris: Yes, one. My cruise line…we went across several really. The sites, some of them were abandoned and some of them were in operation. But we had a thing about that. When we got back to this little town that I stayed in, the dag-gone sheriff every afternoon would be out there waiting for us. Not every afternoon, but I never will forget that sheriff. He wore a Texas cowboy hat and he had a white moustache. He was in his 60’s I suppose. He would want to know if we ran across any stills that day (laughter).

That’s one thing, we didn't tell a lie, well maybe we did cause we said we just didn't see any.

Warren: A white lie for white lightning (laughter).

Morris: That’s right. We could not afford to let it be known that we were giving out secrets about those people that use that country for their business.

Warren: Next thing you know, they’d be shooting at you. You never had that happen, did you?

Morris: And you’d be surprised. They had an unwritten code or something. They knew what we were doing even though they lived, well I wouldn’t call them houses. They were shacks. But we’d seen several moonshine operations not in action because they’d always know we were coming and they’d leave the place or whatever. It might have been abandoned for a while. The only one I remember really, my cruise line took me right by a shelter with a moonshiner and he had his family there. I remember passing, pulling this chain on a compass, there happened to be a couple of little girls standing out in the yard. They were dressed in flour sacks. Bless their hearts, that really touched me. I’ll never forget those two little girls out there. That was their life. I doubt if I ever seen…

Warren: This was in the Tennessee mountains that you saw this.

Morris: I believe they called it the Cumberland Mountain, but it’s in Tennessee. That was about 40 miles north of Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s a little old town called Jacksboro. It was just a crossroads really with just a few houses. That’s where I roomed and board. I waited for the TVA foresters every morning to get up there with their jeeps and we’d go back in the foothills as far as we could with those jeeps, do our cruise line for that particular day. That was that summer up there.

Jones: So through all that experience, you felt like you still wanted to go into forestry?

Morris: Yes I did even though some of the other boys got their belly full of it in about two weeks. We killed a whole lot of rattlesnakes. We drank water from mountain streams. We got by with it all the time. It was clear running fresh water. I mean just the streams you could jump across. One thing comes to mind, I know one Friday afternoon we drank from a mountain stream on our way out. The cruisers went back home that weekend of course.

I went down to Knoxville, Tennessee. I spent the weekend with my brother down there that was going to the University of Tennessee. He lived in a trailer. I would spend the weekends sometimes with him. I had a couple of friends that I knew from Chattanooga that were going there. I’d stay with him. But that particular weekend, I got as sick as a dog.

I remember my brother’s wife had roasting ears, you know corn. I ate that and man, did I get sick. I thought it was something I had eaten, but I found out Monday morning when I got back over with the other boys, that they had run into it also, same thing.

Jones: So from the water you think.

Morris: Some of the water that we drank along one of those streams. I remember seeing some fenced off area on the next cruise line that had had some hogs, closed in you know, two or three hogs in there. I think that same stream trickled on down the mountain and I think that’s what happened. But the rest of the time, we made out not having carried water and drinking that good, cold mountain water.

Jones: Did you carry food up there with you?

Morris: We had a sack lunch stuffed in the back of our shirt.

Jones: Right, eat when you could.

Morris: That’s about it as far as that particular job, but that’s where I got interested in forestry. We came, we came um, I forgot what I was gonna say… we finished up later in the summer. One thing I wanted to mention about the areas in that time, that point in time, about the 1950’s, was the chestnut blight that was killing all the chestnuts. I don’t know whether chestnut blight affected southeastern North Carolina or not. I never did ask anyone really.

I didn't even think about it like I am with this project. But back in the 1950’s, we had a chestnut blight that wiped out all the chestnuts. There were a lot of chestnuts scattered about those mountains. You could stand off like when you come to an overview or something, you’re traveling in the Smokies or somewhere, back in that time you could see those chestnuts scattered. You’d see tannish looking spots all over those mountains and those were the dying chestnuts.

That was the same time that I was working with these people. We didn't run into a whole lot of chestnuts up there, but at the end of this cruise, I did get a job with TVA for a month or so there trying…they had a project working with Japanese chestnuts. I worked in that project for about a month before the summer was over and I knew I wanted to get into forestry so I enrolled under the GI Bill in forestry at the University of Knoxville, University of Tennessee at Knoxville and got my first year of forestry there.

Jones: You said that was just a one year program they had.

Morris: That was a one year program at that time. They probably have a four year course now. At that time they only had one year forestry. So I went to school and then I had to transfer to the forestry school in Athens, Georgia, the University of Georgia. They had a four year forestry school course. I went down there and finished up my forestry education down at the University of Georgia.

While I was there, I met my partner for life, my wife Grace. She was a year ahead of me. I lost a few years during the war. She was a year ahead of me and graduated in graduation. So she worked there on campus while I finished up my last year which was in 1950. In 1950, when I finished up they had representatives come from different forestry youth organizations. International Paper Company was one of them.

I accepted a job with International Paper and they sent me down to Wilmington, North Carolina. That’s about the first time I ever remember being on the coast of North Carolina.

Jones: Do you remember what type of salary they were offering back then as compared to what they may offer now?

Morris: I had that for a long time, I had that written down on a photograph of a tugboat (laughter). I’ll get into that in a minute, I’ll get into that because that’s the transportation we used to get pulpwood and our mail in Georgetown. I had the receipt from my first check, it was pitiful (laughter). I don’t remember exactly what it was. I’m retired now, anyway it did improve over the years. It was a real pitiful start.

Jones: So they came down there to recruit.

Morris: That’s right, they and other organizations that needed foresters for work came down there. I was more interested in International. I think Union Company had a representative there and I had a cousin that had graduated in forestry there and he accepted a job with them.

Jones: Do you feel like at that time that there was more a demand than there were people to fill the positions?

Morris: More so than now probably. I know a lot of boys who have gotten interested in forestry. It seems like the forest acreage has shrinking to me. Of course I don’t get into the work as much as I used to. Anyway back then there was right good demand for foresters. It seemed like it varied from year to year. I didn’t get a job with Tennessee Valley Authority. They wanted me to come up there, but that particular year they didn't have any budget at all.

Warren: Bad budget year.

Morris: I did get on with International Paper and they sent me down to Wilmington, North Carolina. I got down there and ran into two or three of my old buddies in forestry school in Georgia. Like I mentioned they had a good laugh because I didn't know what a pocosen was. That was something they hadn’t experienced either before they got down there. Having to be in the woods and having to cruise timber for the company for acquisition tracts and things like that, you were in a lot of pocosas.

Jones: Just stayed wet from start to finish of the day.

Morris: Certain times of the year, but it’s always real thick going. You had the briars to go through, that was the main thing. The wetness you could put up with.

Warren: Were snakes a problem there too?

Morris: Sometimes, yes.

Warren: Water moccasins?

Morris: Not too bad, I never ran into too much of a snake problem, in bays and hardwood swamps where they had water you’d see moccasins.

Warren: Other wildlife, bears, bobcats?

Morris: I’ve seen all of it, bears not too often, but occasionally you’d see a bear down a road, a woods road.

Warren: But they kept their distance.

Morris: Coons and things like that you’d see all the time.

Jones: What about strange individuals out in the woods? I know Tim when he started surveying, he’d say every once in a while there’d be some people out there in the woods and they didn't have any business out there. And it was kind of strange.

Morris: I don’t know, but they’ve probably got a still back there.

Jones: They’ve got something going on back there, don’t they. Never ran across anything like that?

Morris: I don’t recall I may have, but I don’t recall any individuals that I didn't know while they were back there.

Warren: If we could go back to when you arrived on the scene in Wilmington. What year was that?

Morris:

Warren: In Wilmington, and you worked for International Paper then?

Morris: From then on, I worked with them, not in Wilmington. I worked in Wilmington for about five or six years with these boys. We all had working circles consisting of about 25,000 to 30,000 acres. I had Maco Unit, St. John had a unit and another unit was down in Shallotte. A friend of mine is still lives down there. There were five of those in our district which was the Waccamaw district south of Wilmington.

Then they had a Cape Fear district which went up towards the Jacksonville area. We had two districts and I worked in the Waccamaw district. Like I said I started in Wilmington in that area, they assigned me to a working district which had about 25,000 acres in it. Each forester was responsible for everything that occurred on 25,000 or 30,000 whatever it was acres of International land in that particular working circle.

You had to take care of road building. I didn't do too much of that in Waccamaw. I moved to Waccamaw a few years, five years later. I didn't have any equipment up there except a TD-9 tractor for fire control purposes.

Jones: So you came out to the lake, lived at the lake when you came to the Waccamaw district?

Morris: When I was transfer from Wilmington, I went to a circle in Waccamaw. I took over the circle there. We had a fellow up there that went with another company. I had been to Waccamaw a time or two on day jobs you might say, cruising timber, whatever. I was familiar with it and I liked it.

Jones: Was that the Green Swamp area?

Morris: Well, no, International didn't own any land at that time in the Green Swamp area, that was all Federal Paper. Back in those days it was Riegel Paper Company. Our land was scattered all us through Columbus County and Bladen County. Each one of us was responsible for the forestry operation of like I say 25,000 to 30,000 acres, in that area. When I moved to Waccamaw, at that time there weren’t any roads built through any of these large tracts. It was kind of tough.

We didn't have any equipment at our disposal at that time to build roads. As I say, we only had this TD-9 tractor. We did get a little slight preparation work after a timber cut, it was clear cut. We could pull a big old drum with chopping blades on it. We could pull that through there and get it somewhat ready for planting, but we just had to do with what we could because we didn't have the equipment to do a whole lot of work in the woods. We had timber sales, that was the main thing that I was concerned with during that time, timber sales.

Jones: What kind of trees back then?

Morris: All kinds, mostly pine.

Jones: Was it only pine back then?

Morris: It was loblolly mostly when I first came up. I don’t remember seeing slash pine which brings up another subject. What we call the super tree program.

Jones: You also wanted to talk about the tugboats.

Morris: The tugboats, we had barge landings in Wilmington, Elizabethtown, Jacksonville and New Bern. We had tugboats that would pull into there and all the wood back in those days came in as short wood. We would take it off a short wood truck and stack it in the yard and put a band around it and stack it in the yard. When the tugboats came up, when we had a barge there, we loaded the wood on a barge.

I cannot remember how many cords of wood we put on those barges. I think it was around 250 cords, but I’m just guessing because I really don’t remember the total amount. We had wood yards at these four places, Wilmington, Elizabethtown, Jacksonville and New Bern. We’d bring empty barges up there from Georgetown. The tugboat would put them up there and tie them up and load them with pulp wood, short wood. I don’t know if you remember short wood.

Jones: Tell me about short wood, I don’t know if I know what that is.

Morris: It’s cut up wood, cut up in pub wood lengths and stacked on the back of a smaller truck than you see on the roads now. There were a whole lot of people that brought in wood during those days and they cut it up in the woods, stacked it on the truck, brought it in. They had their own chains, this that and the other to keep it from getting off the rack, they’d bring it in. We’d bring it in, put a band around it and either put it on a barge right then or stack it in the yard.

Jones: Would people get paid for what they brought in right there?

Morris: Oh yes right there, it was weighed.

Jones: So anyone could bring it in?

Morris: Oh yeah, anyone could bring in wood. We stacked it in the yard until we got the barge in. We had a barge there most all the time. We’d stack the wood on the barges and when we got the barge full, we’d have a tugboat come up from Georgetown and pick those barges up. Sometimes they’d pull two of them or sometimes three. I don’t think they ever got over three and that was dangerous.

Jones: Georgetown, South Carolina?

Morris: Yes, that’s where all the wood went.

Warren: That’s where the big plant was.

Morris: Yeah, all of our wood went to Georgetown, South Carolina.

Warren: I know, it was Riegelwood and Federal Paper, but none at that time International wasn’t supplying any of their wood.

Morris: No, it was entirely separate. Federal wood was hauled I guess on short wood trucks down to their mill.

Warren: How long would a short wood length be? 6 feet?

Morris: Right at 6 feet, but I don’t remember the exact dimensions.

Warren: And they wouldn’t take anything shorter than that like firewood or something? If someone brought up a truck with wood about the size of firewood or something, there wasn’t a bin that they would throw that into?

Morris: I won’t say it wouldn’t vary an inch or two, but it would have to be all pretty uniform. Short wood stacked on the back of a truck. We’d load the barge with it and when we got the barge full, 200-250 cords, I don’t remember what it was, and 2 or 3 of them, a tugboat came up from Georgetown and loaded it down.

I think I was around 19…. I’m going to say in the 70’s, I don’t remember exactly when, but we had some accidents with pulling those barges down to Georgetown. They wanted to get out of that business which they eventually did. In fact, I think we lost a life. It got to be more dangerous with more people using the waterways all the time, all the boating, this, that and the other in the waterway.

Warren: Was the danger primarily to other people that were using the waterway or the people that were working on those barges?

Morris: Well I guess other people were in danger, hitting one of those things or bad weather causing the barge operator not to be able to handle his load.

Warren: Could a load be dumped off if the seas got too rough?

Morris: You wouldn’t want to dump it, that would be the last thing, but that did happen. I mean the barges did lose wood because of rough weather I think mostly.

Warren: Would they let it go to save the barge or would it just accidentally be washed off by the bad weather?

Morris: It usually would take really bad weather for us to lose wood off of a barge.

Warren: But they would do it intentionally?

Morris: Oh no, they wouldn’t do nothing.

Warren: Oh, they’d hold on to that wood as long as they…

Morris: Oh yeah.

Warren: I mean if the barge went down and had a load of wood on it…

Morris: That’s up to the tug operator to get that wood safely down there. You get a lot of currents, this, that and the other, that he has to take into mind, you know, darkness, this, that, and the other whatever. We did have trouble with the safety of getting our short wood down to the mill. So we went into long wood and I reckon Riegel Paper Company did about the same time.

Warren: How long would a long wood length be?

Morris: Tree length. Everything went to tree length wood back in the 70’s. Years I do believe.

Warren: All the wood was going down to the pulp mill, none of it was being used for timber? Was there any timber lumber coming out of this wood?

Morris: No, that would be up to the fellow in the woods. If there was any saw timber, yes, they would take…when we sold the timber, sometimes we had a saw timber sale to get the saw timber out first. Then it would be a pulp wood operation or maybe the buyer might buy it all. He would designate what goes to saw timber _______ and other mills they had in those days, saw mills…

Jones: Now you started to tell me about the super tree program when I asked you about the trees.

Morris: Well okay, the super tree program was an effort to improve on the quality of the trees in the woods. This was before any slash pine or anything like that was planted up here. This was back in the days of loblolly mostly. We were instructed, got instructions when we were in the woods cruising, most of the time cruising, if you found any tree that was exceptional in size, maybe it was straighter and the limbs come perpendicular to the bowl of the tree, things like that that they pointed out that would make that a super tree. There are exceptional tall trees, larger trees even though they’re the same age as the surrounding trees.

We had a super tree program back then when I first got to Waccamaw. We were to designate those trees with tape around the tree or paint or something like that and make a note of the location so we could get back to them. Back in those days, they’d send a man from Georgetown when he got several trees located in one particular area. He’d come up there with a rifle and he’d shoot small limbs out of the top of that tree, cone bearing limbs.

He would take those cones with the seeds in them back to Georgetown to the nursery. We had a nursery in Georgetown, a pretty big nursery. They would use those seeds to grow new pine trees. I remember we had that program working for quite a few years. I don’t know whether Federal Paper had it or not. Maybe they did. It was just an effort to improve on the quality of the pine trees in the woods.

Warren: Well there’s an International Paper nursery in Lumberton now that call themselves super tree nursery.

Morris: Okay, telling me something I didn't even know. I’ve been retired for almost 20 years.

Jones: Okay so after Waccamaw then, you went to New Bern? You stayed in Lake Waccamaw until?

Morris: Yes, 1972.

Jones: So ’55 to ’72 approximately.

Morris: Managed the land up there and in 1972 they wanted me to transfer to New Bern. So I went up there in wood procurement. That means you spent your time rather than managing individual sales, we had wood dealers back then. Turnhill & Morgan was one of them up in Elizabethtown. These other wood dealers that we worked with, to have the loggers bring in wood to our particular yards. That was mostly what I worked in when I went up to that particular area.

Jones: What did you enjoy better, the procurement or the management? Or was it all kind of the same?

Morris: Well it was all in the woods, it was more in the woods than the management part of it and I really enjoyed that management work, but procurement work was good too. It had to go on. You had to be responsible for getting enough wood into the yard. Sometimes you go through real times of famine we’d call it where you couldn’t get any wood in the yard and the mill would be hollering at you, this, that and the other because they didn't have enough wood down in the mill for their use.

A lot of times we had to get out there and get at odds with our wood dealers to try to get them to get more…they actually were in contact with the boys that were buying the wood and cutting it.

Jones: Do you think those times of famine were because there was so much competition or was it just economic?

Morris: Weather a lot of times, weather, a whole spell of rainy weather…all the yards would be empty. There wouldn’t be enough wood coming in. I don’t know what, but there was always a period of weak times and plentiful times.

Jones: Did that affect you and your family personally? Would you still get paid? Or did you also feel the bending affect?

Morris: Oh yeah, we were paid on a salary so it didn't have anything to do with that, International Paper Company personnel. We would have meetings that we had to go to in Georgetown quite often (laughter).

Jones: That was bad enough (laughter).

Morris: They kid me to this day about coming back from one of those meetings, I overturned a truck cause I was speeding I guess. It went all the way over in a ditch and came back up right side, but I got out of it okay. That was one of those wood shortages. So they were pretty demanding.

Jones: Put the pressure on.

Warren: Well what kind of wood was available after October 15, 1954? Of course that’s when hurricane Hazel hit the area. Was there like…

Morris: Well there was a whole lot of salvage wood. We put all the emphasis on it we could, getting salvage wood, but you can only haul out so much at a time you know. Hurricane Hazel, while I was at Waccamaw, it tore the swamp up, the swamp near the fire tower out there.

Warren: In Brunswick County?

Morris: No, that was in Columbus County. I was down there and worked close to that swamp and it was really tore up. There were dead trees everywhere. It was really hard logging. Yeah, we emphasized getting all we could. I don’t know the price, maybe it paid a little more. I don’t know the price of that salvage wood, but we did salvage from the storm every chance we got. Those were some of the times when the wood availability would drop.

Jones: It looks like after that you went to where I was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Morris: Yeah, I was in New Bern for a while and then they transferred me down to Jacksonville. I was still in wood procurement. I was just working with different dealers down there at about the same job. That’s where I was. I lived at Sneed’s Ferry. That’s where I was in ’84 when I retired.

Jones: Then came back here to the lake.

Morris: Yeah, I stayed there for about 15 or 20 more years really after I retired because I loved salt water fishing. Like I told a lot of people, the Lord was with us when we left Lake Waccamaw. I made my last mortgage payment on that house in January, the same month I moved to New Bern. So rather than be strained for money in New Bern to buy a house, we had the house in Waccamaw. We rented it out and kept it for many years while we were gone to New Bern and Jacksonville or Sneed’s Ferry.

We stayed there for about 20 years from 1984 to 1998 and moved back to the lake. We decided we wanted to come back to Waccamaw. So we sold our house in Sneed’s Ferry and came back here and that’s where we are now.

Jones: Here you are today. Well you’ve been in the industry for a very long time. Through courses of changes in history and what not, I’m sure you’ve seen changes in the equipment they use.

Morris: Oh my goodness.

Jones: If you could kind of give me an overview of what you used to use and what you wind using at the end that was so different than what you started with. Did they use livestock and what not from the beginning?

Morris: No, when I started out, all we had was a TD-9 tractor and that was mostly for fire control. Anytime we had a fire anywhere close to company land, we had to tend to that fire. We had a crew of about five or six men and that’s mostly what they were hired for. Of course we used them for road construction and this, that and the other times.

Jones: Just men in one tractor.

Morris: That’s right. Now Federal Paper, Riegel at that time, they got site preparation a lot sooner than International did. If I needed a ditch dug to build a road or something, I had to get a drag line out of Georgetown and it was kind of tough getting that work done, but you could get it done. It was just a matter if they had other units they had to serve also. So we didn't start out with a whole lot of equipment up in this area. They had more equipment down in Georgetown. We had a road construction crew that went all over in each district building the roads that were necessary. They just had to get on a list and wait to get them.

Federal Paper Company, Riegel it was at that time, I keep saying that they were way ahead on the site preparation work than we were really. We were doing a lot more hand planting than they were. I had to hire a crew each year to plant trees.

Jones: By hand?

Morris: By hand and occasionally if it was a good site, we eventually got this big chopper that I told you about and we had some site preparation, but we had a lot of hand planting in the beginning.

Jones: How do they plant now? Do they still do it by hand?

Morris: I see places with a site prepared and I pull up and I’m sure a lot of those places must be planting by hand, but they do a lot of site preparation on those areas before they plant. They do a lot more machine planting now, a planting machine behind a tractor and a man sits on it.

Jones: Never really planting from seed then?

Morris: Oh no, that’s the nursery. All of our seedlings come from the forest service. The forest service, all the time that I was working, furnished bundles of seedlings. We just ordered the bundles of seedlings each year…

Jones: So the North Carolina Forest Service provided your trees not International Paper nurseries?

Morris: No, they had their nurseries and this that and the other, where they tried to get good growth trees and I don’t know, there might have been some work with the forestry service and the tree nurseries. I imagine there was. I believe they may have given some of them to the forest service to plant.

Jones: So did that change by the time you left? Were they planting their own trees?

Morris: I do not know, Pat. I do not know.

Jones: I’m surprised. I didn't know they got them from the forest service. You would think International Paper all along had their own operation from start to finish, but not necessarily. Not in the early days.

Morris: Not in the early days. While I was working, we got all of our seedlings…we knew how many acres we had to plant. We’d order from the forest service so many bundles of seedlings, might get two or three different shipments of seedlings during the planting season.

Jones: Always pine?

Morris: Always pine, we didn’t, other than for experimental purposes, I don’t think we ever did that down in the nursery with hardwood, we didn't fool with any hardwood planting in the woods.

Jones: We talked about some injuries with the tugboat. What do you think was the most dangerous aspect of the work you did?

Morris: What about the tugboat?

Jones: You had mentioned there was some accident danger with that, but what do you think is the most dangerous thing in your daily work that you had to do? I mean did you ever have an injury or did you see an injury with your crews?

Morris: We had some things. Fire control was always a pretty dangerous operation. I took some bad spills and had to have a knee operation on one of them running, trying to keep a fire from getting out of control.

Jones: Oh no! So was it a controlled burn or a fire that started on its own?

Morris: Well it could be either one. We did control burning and most of the time we had that under control, most of the time, but when the wind changes you don’t have any control. That particular one where I had to get operation, it was a controlled burn up in Elizabethtown.

Jones: And everything got wild, huh?

Morris: Yes, the wind changed and it got across the line, but we had to do a lot of that. That was just a daily thing, well not daily, we had to do a lot of control burning, all that we could, just to get the litter.

Jones: Now it seems like they’ll spray more than burn, won’t they?

Morris: Well they spray not for fire control, but they might drop water from a forest service plane or something like that.

Jones: When I say spray, the spray like herbicides and stuff to keep the overgrowth under control.

Morris: Yes, I read about that, that’s something that’s come on really since I retired.

Jones: So you never had to get involved with that. How do you feel about that, the fires opposed to the spray?

Morris: Well the fire was dangerous back then and it still is I’m sure. I don’t know, I feel like the company does enough checking on the herbicides and all that that they spray, they’re pretty sure it’s not going to cause any harm to the environment. That’s the way I feel about it. A lot of people have other feelings.

Jones: Oh yeah, you get conflicting reports. That makes people wonder. I’m sure you’re familiar with the naval stores industry where trees were boxed and marked...

Morris: I’ve seen those trees in the woods.

Jones: I was going to ask you have you seen boxed trees?

Morris: Not too many. I’m not too familiar with that industry at all. I know it was there before the 50’s when I first started. I have seen those trees left in the woods, not a whole lot of them, but I’ve been down to my wife’s kinfolks in south Georgia and I’ve seen a lot of those boxed trees you call them, where they got sap out of the pine trees.

Jones: We have a couple here that the foresters have found and they brought in for us.

Morris: I’ve seen them in the woods back in isolated places every now and then and I recognize them. Of course I haven’t been going in the woods for a pretty good while, but I have seen quite a few the last time in the woods that were boxed at one time.

Jones: Some people can spot where even all tar kiln areas were. Have you seen an areas like that?

Morris: Not that I recall, Pat. I just don’t recall, probably have passed some of them.

Jones: You probably have and not even known, we all have.

Morris: I wasn’t familiar with that operation, but I probably have passed by some.

Jones: Well let’s try to close up here. What do you see as the future of forestry? That’s a big open question there.

Morris: It certainly is. I keep reading about all of this…it seems like every town in the country is spreading out, taking more forest land. I really wonder at times where we are going to grow trees.

Jones: Well you, hear right now International Paper is having some difficulty selling off property just in southeastern North Carolina.

Morris: International has evidently…well they’re getting enough wood from closer areas down there, closer to the mill and I don’t know what their thinking is behind this. I heard the land around Lake Waccamaw is for sale. I just don’t know their reason for selling that wood. I don’t know if they have another supply for wood locally that they can get cheaper probably.

Jones: That’s probably what it is.

Morris: That’s probably… they grow plantations, you know. We replant everything, they do now, everything that’s cut over there, faster growing trees so they’ve got a lot of plantations that have already been cut over. A lot of them have. We’re getting a lot of wood I guess from plantations.

Jones: I guess so. You see a lot of people just with their individual land getting timber sawed off for money because things are hard in this area. So I guess that’s one of the first things people can sell off for money around here.

Morris: Selling timber yeah, it’s always, as far as I know, it still is, it was when I was working, they always get a certain amount of wood from the private individuals, farmers, whoever. A lot of our wood, most of it came from outside of the company. We brought most of our wood from the outside. That’s where a lot of this procurement work came in, buying wood on the outside. Most of the wood came from outside sources. The company wood, when it was mature, we’d cut it, but I guess you could see it was for tough times.

Jones: Save for a rainy day, huh.

Morris: For a rainy day, I think that’s kind of the way they look at it.

Jones: Well say if someone was to come to you today and say, Mr. Morris, do you think it’s a good idea to get into forestry as a career, could you recommend it? Do you think it’s a viable career option or would you say you might want to try something else right now?

Morris: No, I’d put all the emphasis on them trying it out if they are so inclined. But I don’t know as much about the future of forestry now as I feel like I did before. I feel like what’s the demand for paper, we just don’t know if all of this world trading stuff, you don’t how much paper is going to come in from overseas. It’s kind of an unknown world out there now so I just don’t know what the future of forestry might be. I think I’d jump back into it again (laughter).

Jones: Would you? So that kind of answers my next question. If you could do it over again, would you choose forestry?

Morris: Yes, I think I’d try it again. I’m not going to say for sure, but I believe I’d try it again.

Jones: We’ve covered a lot of stuff, Harry, gone back over a couple things, anything else you…

Morris: I want to say one more thing. We had a forestry club here back in the years, 1950 up to probably around the 70’s. We had a group of foresters that met every month. They don’t do that anymore and I don’t know why, but we used to have some real good turnouts. Once a month, usually on a Friday night, we would gather at one of the stations. There are several up there, the Waccamaw warden station and Federal Paper would have some here and there and private individuals would have some over at Carver’s Creek wherever.

Warren: Was that the Bush and Bog Club?

Morris: Right.

Warren: Mike Gillan mentioned that to us also and he seemed to think that was quite a great thing you all did. He also felt and I’m getting a sense from you, you can just answer this, do you think there was more camaraderie amongst the people that were working that were foresters and working the forest back in the 50’s and 60’s as opposed to when you retired or today?

Morris: Well when I transferred to New Bern in ’73, I kind of had to miss out on some of the club meetings and I think it kind of went downhill from that time on, but I’m not sure. I’d check with some of the boys and all at Riegel, I keep saying Federal. It was a real good thing when it was going on and I don’t know why they don’t get together nowadays. We really didn't have a business session. It was just social.

Warren: The wives were included?

Morris: Occasionally (laughter), not too often.

Warren: Oh really, see I got the impression that it was a couples kind of thing, but not so much that.

Morris: We had forestry love kind of meetings where the wives were invited of course, but Bush and Bog, I have a hard time remembering anytime I took my wife to a bush and bog meeting.

Warren: Were there any women in the forestry industry other than office personnel?

Morris: I remember one that we had. She’s down in Wilmington in business now, Ora Royal, but that’s the only one that I knew of back then. She was a check cruiser. They always had a person check the accuracy of the cruisers, not real often, but she was check cruiser out at Georgetown.

Warren: Really? And she’s in Wilmington now?

Morris: Yeah and I can’t recall the business that she’s in. She’s out of forestry, but she’s in Wilmington the last I heard. That was years ago.

Warren: She would be an excellent interview just to see because there wbere so few women.

Morris: I think she’s got a business out there…window tinting business. I don’t know whether she’s still in that business or not, but she was for a long time after she got out of the forestry business.

Warren: Do you have her last name?

Morris: Royal.

Jones: Do you think that was her married name?

Morris: That was her maiden name, I think.

Warren: We’ll have to do a little investigative work here and try to track her down. She would be good.

Morris: I don’t know if she’s interested, she may be in another business now.

Warren: Still she was operating as a female forester back in the 50’s. This has been a great interview, a fabulous interview and I would just say I could see us doing a part two with you.

Morris: Oh no.

Warren: Oh yes, he just gives good information, I’ve got questions that I haven’t even had the chance to ask because you’ve just been so free flowing with everything. We would love to have the opportunity to talk to you again if you can stand us. I don’t mean immediately, not next week or anything.

Morris: I’d have to say no right now.

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