If you go to Raymond in Pacific County, and drive out of town east on old Mill Road, keep going for about five miles on the dirt and gravel and you’ll cross a bridge. At a rise on the right, cast your eye out into that open field, and if it’s springtime, you’ll see some lilies and daisies. They used to be just outside the front door adjoining the stoop of an old clapboard house that’s been gone many years.
Jerry and Verena Iman lived there. They’d bought the land from Weyerhaeuser after it was about half timbered. These old bits of property had always been hard to sell to settlers unless most of the stumps had been hauled out. Around Silverdale on Hood Canal were the Imans had lived, lots of people had taken such lands, but about the only thing they could do with them was to put up chicken houses between the stumps. There were no roads, so people walked to the docks where there was a bit of storage of a neighborhood coop, and where people candled their eggs for daily shipment to Seattle.
The land outside of Raymond had been better cleared. In fact the company had put in some demonstration gardens, trying to find things that would grow in the soil. They promoted the land for gourds and pumpkins, though with some help, quite a bit more could be done with it, and there were enough bogs and dense forest left far off the road that a pretty rich soil base could be made. One had to put in tall fences though, for eight foot high ones were no challenge for the local deer.
Firdale had been home to Sunset Lumber company, and lonely trains sometimes still whistled along it’s tracks between Chehalis and Willapa Harbor where the logs of the local mills had always been hauled. It had been a large camp with hundreds of men, though one would never know it in the 1940s. Busy from the 1880s, things had been largely closed down and burned out after the 1920s. But in its day, Sunset had been an enlightened employer of sorts. At the petition of the men, the company had even gone the lengths of building a large recreation hall for billiards and a library with books stocked by the state mobile library system. In the back of the hall were a barbershop area, and a stand where laundry would be taken and returned for the men. The company even stocked writing tables in the library with the stationery of Sunset Lumber.