Puslapio vaizdai

Gabe snarled. Two other pieces went the same way. A long, heavy stick had too many knots in it; another, slightly shorter, had too much wane on its corners; another one was rejected because of "through shake"-a split-for more than one third its total length. The pile on the ground was now growing about as rapidly as the load in the car. With every rejection the remarks of the mill men grew more personal and insulting. Norman kept his temper; he was paid for inspecting lumber, not for bickering and fighting with sawmill men.


Then came the trouble Norman had been fearing ever since the inspection beThe closer-grained stock had all been piled in front, to be loaded first; no doubt the mill men had figured that after it was past the inspector, he would not pay strict attention to the grain of the remaining stock. The sticks now coming up to the skids were so coarse-grained that the annular rings were barely visible. There is a special, contemptuous name lumbermen have for pale, dimly grained yellow pine. Norman used it, with his prompt gesture of rejection: "Loblolly."

The attitude of the Jenkins men grew more violently threatening. They talked together, and made ugly gestures toward Norman. The young inspector's clean lips still held their slight smile, but his eyes were narrowing and glinted hard. He looked at his watch, then up the railroad. A slow freight, headed for town, was a few minutes overdue. Again his eyes carefully measured the distance from ramps to car and ground. There was yet no sign or sound of the freight-train. Norman killed time until his listening ears caught a distant whistle and rumble from far up the track. Then he walked out over the unloaded timbers lying at the back of the ramps.

"Loblolly," he said. "All loblolly."

Alf Jenkins and his two sons ceased palavering. Evidently they had made up some definite plan of action. The negroes, who had been through this sort of thing before, dropped their lumber-hooks and

backed cautiously away from the white men. Alf Jenkins asked:

"D' you reject all this here square-edge and sound stock?"

"I do. Your order calls for closegrained pine."

Every man present knew that the lumber in the gondola was not sufficient for a car-load. Norman had as yet said nothing. about it. Gabe stepped cautiously toward the inspector. Norman understood. He immediately walked to the middle of the ramps, thus keeping the mill men out toward the edge. Caleb and old Alf stood on the northern edge of the elevated structure, side by side, watchful, and sullen. The freight screamed its warning to the slothful of Wessing Station.

Norman planted his feet squarely on a wide sill, stooped a bit forward, like a wrestler, shoulders up; then, with cutting, deliberation, stated what he was reasonably certain would bring the Jenkins men upon him.

"You ordered this car placed. You accepted our order A-722. The car will stay right here, on demurrage, until you cut and bring in the square-edge and sound, close-grained short-leaf yellow pine needed to complete the car-load. Whatever demurrage accrues will be taken out of your check for the completed load." He flung the last words almost in Gabe's sneering face. "Just drop us a line, please, when you have the other material ready and wish me to complete my inspection."

Gabe sprang at Norman's throat.

Norman was ready. He ducked about and caught the mill man's rough, hairy wrist in an unyielding grip. They squirmed and struggled fiercely. Norman twisted about with his back to Gabe, still gripping the mill man's right wrist with painful, cracking power. He faced Alf and Caleb, then did the "flying mare" known to wrestlers.

Gabe was hurled over Norman's left shoulder; he struck both Alf and Caleb across the breast and neck as Norman threw him against them. Yells of fright and oaths mingled with the startled. songs of departing mosquitos. The three

Jenkinses were piled in a bruised and kicking heap on top of the pile of rejected lumber thrown off the ramps.

The slow freight was thundering past. It had slowed down for the station, but did not stop. Norman leaped from the ramps into the side-tracked gondola; jumped out on the other side, and was just in time to seize the passing caboose of the freighttrain.

"Here, you!" cried the old conductor. "Git off of here! This ain't no passengertrain."

boose and went to the office building of the Pine-Tree Lumber Company. Passing quietly in through the auditing department, he entered the office of General Manager Blake. Miss O'Hara saw him and jumped.

"You-Mr. Norman! Back already?" she gasped. "And you are not hurt?" He gravely removed his hat. "Not by the Jenkinses," he answered. He was looking at her dimples.

The little report was placed on the manager's desk. Norman turned and started

Norman straightened up on the plat- out, to await his next call for inspection.

form and got his breath.

"Have a cigar," he said.

The old man smelled it carefully, chuckled, and reached for a match.

"Just the same, young man, you got to git off at the next station."


"All right," Norman answered. next station was where he wanted to go. He leaned against the end of the caboose and summed up his piece-tally of material accepted on IC car 100,002. Then he made a simple notation on the report, stating the car was refused until such time as the mill men required for completing the order. That was all. In his expensebook he jotted down the cost of cigars used and the amount of mileage taken for his trip to Wessing.

Again in town, he slipped off the ca

Uncle Pop-gun hurried in. At sight of Bob Norman his eyes widened and mouth fell agape. He seemed more and more amazed as he saw no evidence of violence on Norman's face or clothing.

"I say, Bob," he began, "how in the name of the devil and Tom Walker did you manage to-"

"Wait a moment, Mr. Norman!" Mr. Blake looked up from the young inspector's meager report. Since he knew all about the Jenkins men, the full meaning of it was perfectly clear to him. He asked abruptly:

"Did you have any trouble to-day?" Norman deliberated a moment, as if recalling the inspection by an effort. "None to speak of," he answered. "Goddlemighty!" exploded Uncle Pop.

[blocks in formation]

Fairfield County Mobilizes


Tthe counties of America.

HE war in Europe may be won by It will not be through a military dictatorship that the strength of our democracy will flower in France, but through the proving that the looseness of our government, political, industrial, or social, is not inherent weakness, but fundamental strength. With the counties will rest the laurels of our triumph if in this great test we prove that the chain of individual men in factory and on farm will hold firm behind the battle-line; for upon the power of their union in the counties depends the strength of the chain of counties which make up the chains of States, and hence make the nation.

When war came to us, the cry went out for cooperation. One county in One county in America has answered. It has answered

with the voice of roaring machines, with the voice of clicking harvesters, with the voice of rumbling motor-trucks, with the voice of New England men.

Fairfield County, Connecticut, with Bridgeport, Stamford, Danbury, and Norwalk, all great manufacturing centers within a short distance of New York, with a hundred picturesque villages, and with a thousand half-abandoned farms, has already formed itself into a county association more powerful for the industrial, agricultural, and relief mobilization behind the battle-lines than any other nonofficial organization in the world. The story of movement is the story of the Fairfield County Association for the Mobilization of Resources.

It started in Bridgeport, which munition contracts and the great boom of general trade had changed in a few weeks from a city of 100,000 to one of 165,000. In that brief time the sudden social, housing, industrial, and transportation

problems had put to rout a century of New England manufacturing experience. In the beginning of 1916, therefore, a technical city and industrial planning organization was installed. Before six months had passed, a new city spirit had arisen through one of the most remarkable newspaper advertising campaigns ever conducted. A million-dollar housing company had been formed, and was building model cottages and flats; the industrial problems of a hundred great manufacturing plants were being coördinated, and Bridgeport, which had looked forward in dread to the time when war contracts would cease, was facing with complacency a future of profitable peace.

While Bridgeport was solving problems like caring for workmen who rented their beds in eight-hour shifts and stood ten deep on the sidewalks of Main Street in the evenings, like the planning of a city that would give comfort and joy to the thousands of workmen who alone could make the prosperity permanent, like providing, out of the common pot, business for immense factories whose munition contracts were already being wound up, a New England philosopher out in a Fairfield County village was watching the great game. His name was Charles H. Plump, and his native village was Redding.

On hot summer days he would drive into Bridgeport and watch the great plan unfold under the fingers of George Gove, the man Bridgeport had imported from Wisconsin and the Department of the Interior in Washington to handle the job as secretary of the chamber of commerce. Seeing in Mr. Gove the man behind the firing-lines, Mr. Plump watched his work and talked with him, and presently came to understand the situation far more

deeply than perhaps any other person.

Then, with apologies for what might seem impertinence, Mr. Plump began to talk of organizing the county. He believed that what the rocky farms of Connecticut had once done they must and could do again-support the people of their manufacturing towns. The question of holding the supremacy in manufacturing after peace came and wages receded toward normal he believed would never be answered by Bridgeport alone. The farms must produce more food, all the county's food except possibly wheat. Younger towns in the West, where food was cheaper, would draw the workers or force their wages in Bridgeport far above those demanded in more favorable living regions. It would be a problem of feeding as much as of housing. With Mr. Gove he planned a county conference of granges, farmers' associations, and representatives of the towns and cities, for the industries would have to support the farmers in their plans to support the industries. The Fairfield County Conference became one of the great future developments of the Bridgeport scheme. A meeting was set for the autumn of 1917.

Then came our entrance into the war. Bridgeport, already beginning to adapt itself to peace, with munitions contracts falling off and the plants switching over, as the plan had provided, to the making of export products of other sorts, saw its whole problem reversed. Instead of conversion to peace, it saw increased demands for munitions, with new factories turning to the service of the vast armies to come. The industrial problem loomed greater than ever, but never once did Bridgeport's organization give up the ideal of ultimate conversion of war plants to peace.

One day when chaos seemed more imminent than ever Mr. Plump drove in from Redding. In the course of a talk, at which sat half a dozen men, the Fairfield County Conference, planned in the beginning as an offshoot of the Bridgeport scheme, became the all-embracing solution, and was called immediately. To it came more than

two hundred representative men, the heads of great Connecticut factories, executives of great business in New York who make Connecticut their home, and farmers, citizens, and the villagers.

There the Fairfield County Association for the Mobilization of Resources was organized, and from that day the man who had the vision, and who saw it there applied at last, dropped out of sight. Mr. Plump comes happily to Bridgeport now and then, but the putting of his dream. into facts and events he has passed on gladly to other hands. His work is done.

Out of that meeting of two hundred, three men went that day to Washington to offer the work to the Council of National Defense. At their head was the association's president, E. K. Nicholson, a New England lawyer, counsel for great manufacturing concerns, an orator of ability, and a keen, shrewd student of men. Second was Harry E. Harris, a war millionaire, keen for the work he was to do as head of the industrial department, and strong for the great American principle of doing the thing at hand and doing it with all your might. The third was George Gove, the planner, the professional organizer, who had sifted Bridgeport's problems down to their fundamentals. As executive director of the Fairfield County Association he was preparing the great plan of war and peace, which foresaw every detail, scheduled it, and laid out the work so that every part would coördinate.

Washington was cordial, but it was swamped with work; it had not yet. learned what Mr. Plump and Fairfield County had seen, that the nation's job was one of pyramided units and organization. Washington was still trying to turn us into a great federalized republic "for the duration of the war." At any rate, the Council of National Defense could only approve, and say from the heart that if every county in the United States would assume and do its part as well, the problems of the war back of the lines would all be solved.

The trio went back to Bridgeport that

night, saw the Governor of Connecticut next day, and within two more days the great plan was on paper. In a week the wheels were moving. The world of business has been slowly learning, as the great world we all live in learned with a terrific shock in August. of 1914, the power of a perfected plan. Germany drove her hordes to the very gates of Paris because she had planned every detail of the preparation, every inch of the path, years before. She failed of her goal, and will fail in the end, because she left the personal element out of all those elaborate plans. America will win at last because she will be forced to take the personal element into consideration, and because, building with instead of against the grain of the national instinct, she, too, will plan out to the end, with the personal equation advancing her accomplishment at every step. The plan is now complete, and its backbone, shown on no chart, but felt in every fiber of the structure, is the personal desire of each individual man to serve in the way that he can serve best.

Here is the skeleton. Every business men's organization in the county has sworn its coöperation, and every grange, every charitable and relief body in the county has placed itself voluntarily at the beck of the organization. All avenues of support lead direct to the executive committee, and from it branch five avenues of coördinated activity. Two are fundamental and permanent, the industrial and agricultural departments. Three are vital to the organization chiefly in their support of the two greater and because they are emergency branches. These are the military, the transportation, and the relief and welfare departments. None is to be belittled. Without the magnificent transportation plan, the handling of the great crop of the farmers, a fourfold increase, would be impossible, and the relief plan which will enable this civilian organization to take care of a tremendous disaster without the aid of the military would be unworkable. Without the military department the safety of the great munitions-plants might be jeopardized, and

with the relief and welfare department unorganized, wastage would wreck the peace of the community and impair its vast potential usefulness.

When the call to arms came from the Fairfield County Association to the farmers of Connecticut, a plan was ready.

At the head of this was not home gardens, but financing the farmer. This plan went into the hands of the man who was to put the agricultural mobilization through, a hardware merchant, E. F. von Wettberg of Bridgeport, a man possessed of broad executive ability and a grasp of all the details that come to him as the head of a great chain of retail hardware stores. He tackled finance for the farmer. He sat up one evening with a Bridgeport banker, and they worked out a revision of a plan talked of, but never put into successful effect, in New York, by which money was to be loaned to farmers for crop handling entirely on the credit of the farmer, without indorsement of his note and without security. The New York plan comprised endless questions. The Bridgeport banker agreed to a brief statement of assets, and three letters of recommendation as to the farmer's good character. Then they drew up a note which pledged that "the crop may be sold by me [the farmer] in the ordinary course of business, the proceeds to be collected by me, and held in trust for the holder of this note until same is paid."

Twenty leading county banks agreed to the plan. In the first two weeks sixty loans were made. Since then there has been no way of counting them, for every bank in the county adopted the plan without being asked to do so. Agricultural machinery was sold on credit without a farm mortgage, another shocking innovation for New England, and Mr. von Wettberg gathered in the course of a busy week extra seed for five thousand acres and eight hundred tons of fertilizer.

Then the farmers were given a promise. which no one then knew could be fulfilled without a financial loss to the association, that when the crops came in they would be moved, and sold at a profit.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »