‘Old Timers’ tales of Forest Service days

Feb 04, 2019

Camden — Author Bibi Gaston will share her latest book, "Gifford Pinchot and the First Foresters: The Untold Story of the Brave Men and Women Who Launched the American Conservation Movement,” Friday, Feb. 15, at 3 p.m. at the downtown Camden Public Library.

The book tells the story of Gaston’s great-granduncle. Gifford Pinchot served as Chief Forester of the U.S. Forest Service from 1905 to 1909. In 2005, six tattered blue boxes were unearthed in the Library of Congress’s Pinchot Collection in Washington D.C. Inside were 5,000 pages of letters describing the work of early resource conservation professionals. The letters were labeled simply “The Old Timers.”

The letters, penned between the years 1937–1941 by the first class of American Forest Rangers to serve under Pres. Theodore Roosevelt and first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Pinchot, offered a mirror to the America we once were and an optimistic guidebook for the road ahead.

The narratives tell of extreme hardship, fearless struggle, confrontations with cattlemen, miners, loggers and the challenges of turning confrontations into cooperation and gratitude. It wasn’t an easy life by any means, but to these men and women, a life of service was the best life they could imagine. To a one, they were grateful for the chance to live a meaningful life in a time of struggle.

Gaston’s first book, "The Loveliest Woman in America: A Tragic Actress, Her Lost Diaries and Her Granddaughter's Search for Home," was published by William Morrow/Harper Collins in hardback in 2008 and by Harper Perennial in a paperback edition in 2009. Copies of both Gaston's books will be available for sale and signing.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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