When we last left off, Willie was telling us about his first job…
FN: The first job Willie?
Willie: Now don’t get huffy young fella, I’m gettin’ to it. The first job I had was unloadin’ lumber from freight cars down a Two Goose Junction. They called it Two Goose Junction cause you had to goose some of them fellas twice to get ’em workin’!
FN: That sounds like hard work to me. Is that when you decided to go into woodworking?
Willie: Nope. The very next thing I did was drive truck. I drove all over New England and Canada. Speakin’ of drivin’ truck and all, one day I told Ida to pack my stuff, I had to make an emergency run up to northern Maine. It shouldn’t be more than eighteen hours and I’d be back. it wsa in the fall, and just as coincidence would have it, it coincided with the last three days of fishin’ season. Now, I always carried my fishin’ gear behind the seat of that truck and as soon as I go to Moosehead Lake I gave Ida a call…told her how I was in a terrible fix…truck broke down and I was gonna have to rebuild parts and all, and probably wouldn’t get back for three days. Well, she said she understood how those things happen, and how sorry she was and all. Wonderful woman that Ida is. Now mister man, when I got home three days later I laid it on real thick. “Ida,” I said, “I was under that truck just about around the clock and when I wasn’t under it I was fixin’ the flat tires… all 18 of ’em.” But, one thing Ida, why didn’t you pack my heavy coat? Ya know, the one with the red and black checks. It got wicked cold working under that truck by flashlight. “Well, Willie” she said, ” I did pack your heavy coat…in your toolbox!” Now mister, that’s when I decided to go into woodworking.
FN: How did you become foreman of the prototype shop?
Willie: Well, I’ve always liked putterin’ with wood and spent time in woodworking shops whenever I got the chance. Then, between my truck drivin career and foreman I made shoe lasts. Now for your information mister, that’s a form that you size a shoe over. It’s mighty particular work. Now you just think about it. A shoe tree is nothin’ more than a portable shoe last… that is if its’m made right which most of them other trees you find out there ain’t. Another thing, them others, are just warmed over copies of my originals. But, when you look close you can see just as plain as the nose on your face they don’t have the hang of it. Fit, ya know.
FN: New Hampshire has a great reputation of quality woodworking. I see there are many skilled craftsman in your plant. How many master woodworkers would you say are here at One Cedar Lane?
Willie: I don’t know the exact number but we got an awful parcelful of ’em.
Willie: Ayuh. Except for Ernest.
Willie: Ayuh. His parcel weren’t quite filled. It was back in 1953 that this here Ernest first showed up at the plant. Mind ya, he wasn’t exactly a craftsman but he is memorable. I kinda get a chuckle out of it once and awhile.
FN: Can you tell us about him?
FN: Well …
Willie: Well what?
FN: Tell us about him.
Willie: All you had to do was ask.
FN: OK, I’m asking.