More great lessons from History!

August 18, 201110 Comments

When I started college I “thought” I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. After just a few weeks I began to question all of it. So rather than making multiple trips to fill out paperwork to re-declare my major I decided instead to just join the ranks of the “undeclared”.

As I spent some time thinking about my future, often done while drinking copious amounts of super cheap beer, I kept coming back to one of my passions. I’d love to tell you that passion was a beautiful woman, but this is ME we’re talking about, or that it was woodworking.

Instead, that passion that still burned deep inside of me (regardless of the number of ounces of beer consumed) was for history. I loved history since the day I remember learning my first historical fact (sadly I don’t remember what it was anymore, to which I DO think all that beer had something to do with).

I considered throwing caution to the wind and following my dream of being a historian. Archiving and writing about great deeds lost to recent memory, or even about the struggles of the everyday person in whatever era I’d decide to specialize in. I knew in my gut this is what I wanted to do and I’d be a fool to pass up the opportunity to follow my dream.

So one day after giving it a lot of thought and weighing my options on a career I knew would be fulfilling to my heart and soul, I walked across the campus and filled out the paperwork to declare my major…PRE-MED.

Still, I love history! I love learning about obscure facts and sharing them with my family and friends who would prefer I keep them to myself or maybe even just share them at a time they’d be more relevant.

What does that have to do with woodworking? If you haven’t seen it before, Highland Woodworking has posted these great little documentaries by Lee Tigner. They include original pictures and facts about logging in the United States back in the 19th century.

It’s hard to believe men with only handsaws and axes could’ve brought down some of the giant trees that use to cover this country. Being able to see the pics and read some of the history that goes along with them plays perfectly into two of my all time favorite passions, History and woodworking.

Of course I still love beer and pretty women, it’s just now I enjoy GOOD beer in small quantities and the only woman pretty enough for me is my wife Samantha (I love you Schmoopy!)

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  1. John Verreault (aka Johnny_Vee) says:

    I knew it!! Closet Historian, eh? LOL
    Well, I too have that passion and almost did the same in university. We should talk some day over a pint or two of really, really good beer….about the past, not necessarily either of ours, but someone’s/some-where’s past because, as they say, “it’s history”.
    Great bit of introspective on the PodFather. Matt, on this electron-busting, info-spewing thing we call the Internet you are true gem…here’s a pint raised to you.


  2. Patrick Aaron says:

    I knew there was a reason I check your web page first of all the blogs I follow. I mean, besides the great information. I too love history and in high school it was my favorite subject. So naturally I enrolled in college in the engineering program. Cheep beer in large volumes during college. Check. Passion for pretty women. Oh yeah. We have very similar “histories”.
    Seriiuosly, I found this slide show fasinating. Particularly since, for many parts of it, you could change South Carolina to Michigan and Cypress to White Pine or Maple and it would still ring true! There is even sucken log harvesting occuring here. If you and John get together for a pint of good beer count me in. I love discussing history as longs as it not mine LOL.

  3. Matt says:

    Maybe we can find a place with “Yards” of beer? After a couple of those I’m sure we’ll have plenty to talk about, historical or not LOL!

    • John Verreault (aka Johnny_Vee) says:

      Actually, if we could go metric and get metres (meters) of beer it would be even better…hey, it’s 3 more inches, give or take a 1/16th. More is more, right?


  4. PaulF says:

    Little known historical fact:
    The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock because they were out of beer!

    Life’s too short to drink cheap beer.

  5. Andrew Adams says:

    Nice slideshow!

    I liked how they “talked” about felling with axes. but illistrated with a felling saw. In the picture with the two guys leaning on a three foot log by its stump, the felling saw has a curved back that parallels the belly in the tooth line.

    The bucking saw with a straight back and bellied tooth line is shown a few slides later.

    Also some of the pictures show sawn butts with a bit of splintered hinge remaining.

    I wonder how the drying process differs for wood that has been submerged like this? I don’t think the wood is treated with PEG like the timbers of shipwrecks raised for preservation. Is it a matter of state of decay when raised or what?

    I’ve read something about sunken log recovery in Michigan and have a vague recollection that it was in lake Superior near the Wisconsin line. (Forget any dreams of recovering white pine in the Muskegon River or behind Hardy dam). 😉

    On a local note. The Muskegon Yacht Club put in new docks this year and had to redesign part of them after borings showed a thick layer of slab wood from the sawmill that once occupied the site.

  6. Milan Adam says:


    Very cool post, I know tons of people who had passions they wanted to follow but I remember hearing that in the biology class at my local university every single student claimed they wanted to be a doctor. I mean come on, they can’t all really Want to be doctors, can they? Still, it was totally crazy to hear about a generation being so uninspired. I personally started bouncing at clubs when I was about 19, right before I went to school and I found out that the 3 guys I worked with all had degrees in history! That really changed my mind so I did woodworking instead!


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