Timber is lifetime work for local man

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 19, 2007

NATCHEZ — After a tiresome week of logging Willy Thomas likes to spend Sunday evening with a couple good friends and a few cold drinks.

And make no mistake about it logging is tiresome work.

“There ain’t nothing easy about logging,” Thomas said.

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And Thomas’ body serves as a testament to 30 years of hard labor.

His face, like his hands, is weathered and hard.

Originally from Franklin County, Thomas said he learned the logging trade from his father. Thomas’ father worked as a logger for 60 years.

“You have to be brought up into it,” he said.

And Thomas was most definitely brought up in logging.

He started working with his father at just 9 years old.

“That work made a man out of me,” he said.

“My feet are at least off the ground now,” he said, Thomas now operates a machine that loads newly felled timber.

Thomas said when he first started working he would manually drag wood or carry it on his shoulders.

“That was hard work,” he said.

Thomas said he next moved to what he called dump hanging.

Dump hanging, refers to a position in the logging process where men manually hack the limbs off of the trees so they can be neatly stacked.

And Thomas said, he takes a certain pleasure in the process of logging.

“I like to be out there with the other men,” he said. “Everybody knows their job, everybody knows just what they have to do.”

And when everyone knows what to do, Thomas said, everyone can stay safe.

“It’s one of the most dangerous jobs a man can have,” he said.

Aside from the obvious perils, like a tree falling on someone, all the tools of the trade are extremely heavy and meant to chop, saw and cut through enormous trees.

And in the world of logging danger lurks in some out of the way spots.

Under tree stumps, Thomas said, is a favorite spot for all manner of cantankerous creatures to hunker down.

Thomas said for some reason bees and rattlesnakes like to live in tree stumps.

“That’s a surprise you don’t want.”

Even with the all the hard work and danger Thomas said he likes logger life.

“It’s been pretty good to me,” he said.