THE MUSIC WAS too loud, though I’d never admit it was because then some smarty pants would say then I’m too old.
However, the piano at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building in Forks was as cheery as it was deafening inside the concrete and metal building.
It was the VFW’s annual Christmas Bazaar and reports said the Forkestra, who had just ended their set, was even louder.
Possibly as loud as the funky Christmas sweaters some ladies and gentlemen of the crowd were wearing.
I had a target and he was sitting at a table facing the front door, Lonnie Archibald. He was accompanied by Marge, his wife.
On the table in front of him were small stacks of his four books on local history and his trusty camera.
He was there for a book signing to promote the release of his latest book on the community of local truck drivers titled “Keep On Truckin’.”
If you have looked at photos in local news publications, you have seen Archibald’s work.
He is known for his action shots of West End school sports teams and travels rather extensively to follow them.
He says, “It’s a challenge to get a good action shot and its fun knowing all these kids.”
Archibald is no slouch at writing, either. From his first book about West End pioneers, “There Was a Day,” through his latest release, he has diligently interviewed and researched facts.
“Keep On Truckin’ ” was born from the yarns spun by retired truckers and loggers who gather most every morning at Lake Pleasant Grocery for a chat.
Archibald said he enjoyed listening to the stories and discovered “all the truckers know each other, like one big family.”
Log truck drivers are the unsung heroes of the logging industry.
There is a mystery to the work out in the forests because the work is not seen by the average person, and yet their stories can be found in quite a few local history books.
In opposition, log trucks are everywhere: in the rear-view mirror, rumbling by on the road and lined up at scaling shacks or weigh stations.
One sees the truck but very often knows nothing about the driver. The drivers communicate on CB radios and perch in cabs so often out of view.
It was this diesel-driven community that became the subject of Archibald’s third book, “Old Trucks and Gear Jammers.”
After the “Gear Jammers” publication, Archibald realized there were plenty of drivers whose stories hadn’t been told. Archibald then set out to try to complete the circuit of local truckers. He says, “90 percent of the drivers in this new book are from the West End.”
Archibald says of the interviewing process, “I would just get them started and the stories would just flow.”
His biggest challenge in interviewing was when he went to get one driver’s stories and the other three drivers in the room would interject their versions.
“It was hard to follow the story’s thread,” he said.
It was fact checking that was one of the most time-consuming for Archibald and he found that dates and names were often the hardest to get correct.
Sometimes, he would write a driver’s story and when he took it back to the driver to review, maybe models of trucks were recorded inaccurately or the dates were misinterpreted.
Archibald still went the extra mile for accuracy, spending hours online verifying facts.
Of 500 books in the first printing, Archibald figures he has only about 200 left. He sells most of them at book signings like the one at the VFW’s bazaar.
His next signings in Forks are at the Forks Thrifty Mart, 950 S. Forks Ave., from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. today; Saturday at the Chinook Pharmacy & Variety, 11 S. Forks Ave., from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday at the regular West End Historical Society meeting at the Congregational Church on Spartan Avenue from noon to 2 p.m. and Wed., Dec. 27 at the Forks Chamber of Commerce meeting at Blakeslees Bar and Grille on Forks Avenue from noon to 2 p.m.
My fellow columnist, Pat Neal, had a book signing the same day Archibald had his at the VFW.
Neal’s signing was at the Native to Twilight gift store in Forks.
He spent the time cozied up in a front corner of the store with his friends. It was a much quieter scene than when I found Archibald.
“Wildlife: Volume 3 The Fisherman’s Holidays” is Neal’s third compilation of columns as printed in the Peninsula Daily News and was released in October.
The books capture the sardonic sentences Neal passes on the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the unwitting folks who ask a straightforward question only to get a nonsensical, head-scratching retort.
“They’re flying off the shelves,” commented Neal, who then explained the books are print-on-demand.
“Every few years, I put my columns together, but really there was a coven of librarians who got me hooked up into doing this thing,” he adds, sounding like he falls somewhere between Ozzy Osbourne and Hunter S. Thompson.
“Wildlife” provides humorous insight from a fisherman’s point of view into a host of holidays from Thanksgiving to the solstice to Election Day and more,” says a comment on the patnealwildlife.net link to his book.
Neal has a book signing at Necessities and Temptations in Port Angeles this Sunday.
He will be there from noon until “I don’t know, maybe I’ll have to just stay there,” he said, which when translated from Neal-speak is 3 p.m.
Duane Miles is also a familiar face to librarians, specifically the ones at the Forks branch of the North Olympic Library System.
He frequently sits at a long table by the large windows that face west and works on his forthcoming book about logging on the West End in the early 20th century.
The working title at this point is “Even If It Kills ’em.”
His previous book, “Thus Far” was written and published with his mother, Florence Miles.
“I was simply going to revise the first book, but there was so much information, I felt there was a need for a whole book because the scope of the first one was so narrow,” he said.
He isn’t really sure if his research for the book came first or his sleuthing through archived funeral notices of deceased loggers came first. Whichever led to the other, Miles recently nominated more than 100 loggers to be added to the Logger’s Memorial in Forks.
Miles explains that he felt “ethically” responsible to “bring honor to these hardworking men.”
He further explains that though the funeral notices were short and clearly not written by someone familiar with logging, they provided the basis for explaining the logging industry and its changes through the lives of these men.
Miles discovered that some changes were politically driven: “During the wars, there were fewer deaths in the woods because the young guys, the greenhorn work force, was off fighting.”
He also noticed that the government made allowances for greater timber harvesting to support the war efforts. The harvesting was again restricted after the wars ended.
Not one to do things the easy way, Miles sits in the library with a magnifying glass and pours over scanned versions of old Peninsula newspapers.
He carefully writes in cursive on binder paper. Then he hands his notes over to Skyla Perry, also of Forks, for corrections and data entry, though he is considering adding a second person to get the work completed faster.
“I’d like to get it done by summertime,” Miles says and has a plan to self-publish through Amazon.
Yet, in the back of his mind is the beginning of another project “I’m going to write a book about shed horns.”
As the Washington state record holder for largest and most found Roosevelt elk antler sheds, he will not have to go far for his source material.
Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools.
Submit items and ideas for the column to her at zorina [email protected], or phone her at 360-327-3702. West End Neighbor usually appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.