PST: The Bull Cook, by Stewart Holbrook (from The Century Magazine, July 1926)


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This is an episode in our weekly series titled 'Primary Source Tuesday.' Each Tuesday we have a reading from a particularly interesting historical item. Sometimes it's a historical tidbit that wasn't quite beefy enough to make a full column out of; other times, an especially interesting old newspaper article; frequently it's a short story from one of the frontier literary magazines that thrived in Oregon at the end of the 19th century. Today it's 'The Bull Cooks: When they ring the gong, the boys have to get up.' This is actually a very historically significant piece of writing on several levels. First, it does a remarkable job of evoking the life of a 'crum-boss' in an old 1920s Oregon timber logging camp, a life and a lifestyle that are long gone today but have left a deep impress on the culture of Oregon -- most notably, in the camping and wilderness culture of the state. It's also significant because it was the story that brought legendary Oregon Country raconteur Stewart Holbrook to national attention, and made it possible for him to spend the rest of his life writing stories for a living rather than falling timber. It was published in the July 1926 issue of The Century magazine -- or, rather, that's where I found it, but it must have been a reprint because he first sold the story to the magazine in 1923. You can find and read the article, and the rest of the issue, at

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