Potatoes from Heaven?
Tuesday April 11, 2006
By Roger Brandt
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Funny stories no doubt helped the men of the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base at Cave Junction, Oregon, endure the hardship and dangers of fighting fires.
One story is told about the summer of 1949, when several of the men were sent to help put out a lightning-caused fire in a remote part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The fire quickly grew, and after more crews arrived, an elaborate base camp was established where the men could go to eat and rest. Soon the Siskiyou smokejumpers were sent there to have dinner.
Perhaps the most unexpected thing they found was a full-sized iron stove that had been packed in by mules and assembled at the camp.
While they stood marveling at the steaming pots and pans, heated by a glowing fire inside the stove, they heard a supply plane above and looked up to see several parachutes open, with packages floating slowly to the ground. One of these was a hundred-pound sack of potatoes that landed squarely on the stove, knocking pots, pans, and embers everywhere.
As one of the fire fighters mused, “Maybe next time they should drop the potatoes in the field and let the cook put them in the pot.”
Today’s episode of As It Was was written by Roger Brandt , the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I’m Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas – dot- org
Paul Block, former smokejumper. 2005. Interview.
Photos: Roger Brandt: Various photos of the crew at the airport in California after the fire.