The Lumberjack With the Day-Glo Smile
SOMEBODY asked the other day why I'd never written a piece about ``Shine'' Fauchette. Just oversight; I hadn't forgotten Shine, because once you saw him you'd never forget him. Last I heard he was guiding for bear up around New Vineyard, but that was years ago. Shine belongs with the best of them in Maine lumbering lore. He came after the big days of the Bangor Tigers, who specialized in driving logs and didn't care how a river raged. But he was of the same stripe, and retired when the Maine timberland people stopped the spring drives and went for roads and trucks.
Shine was a ``P-I'' - which means a Prince Edward Islander. Came from a little town called Crapaud, between Borden and Charlottetown. His front name was Roland - Roland Fauchette. He signed up with Ned O'Neill as one of the 140 men who built the big camp at Haymock Pond and drove the East Branch.
Ned was fabulous, too - one of the real old-time bosses. He liked the looks of Roland Fauchette at first sight, and he said to Leo Thibodeau, the hiring boss, ``You watch that boy - he'll make his mark!'' Strapping lad; two ax handles in the shoulders, and handsome to boot. Straight as a spruce. He had double teeth.
Fact. It's very unusual. All the way around, upper and lower, he had perfect double teeth, strong and good. But at that time nobody knew he had double teeth. Roland Fauchette went in with the first bunch, and helped clear the place and put up the buildings, and everything was ready for the rest of the men by the time there came a snatch of snow for sledding and they could team in supplies.
That was a big camp, and it took several days to sled in everything from the depot down at Kokadjo, and come night every man jack was worn out from lugging and unpacking and putting on shelves.
All except Roland Fauchette - he'd go all day long, right out straight, and never tucker one bit. Big and rugged. Something to see, he was. And the third morning in comes a double sled loaded with hogsheads of dry peas - the pea soup sled. A hogshead of anything is something to handle, and the men weren't looking forward to getting these off the sled and rolled into the storehouse.
But Roland Fauchette walks over to the back of the sled and pulls the fid on the chain around the load, and he stoops over and clamps his teeth right onto the chime end of a hogshead, and he lifts that thing right up, 'thout touching it with his hands at all, and he turns and sets it down on the snow and then goes back to get a second one.
Well sir - Ned O'Neill sees Roland Fauchette do this, and he came right over. ``I seen it,'' he says, ``and I don't believe it!''
``Seen what?'' says Roland Fauchette.
``I seen you pick up a hogshead of peas with your teeth!''
``Aye,'' says Roland Fauchette; ``easiest way.''
``How can you do that?''
``I got double teeth,'' says Roland Fauchette.
At that every man in camp has to come over and look at Roland's teeth, and then they stood back and watched him pick those hogsheads off the sled and set them down, and as nobody had ever seen such a thing before, there was considerable talk about it.
Well, it was funny about that. Roland, having double teeth, used twice as much tooth powder as anybody else. Fact is that because he was extra careful to take good care of his double teeth, he used even more. So along in February, going on March, Roland Fauchette runs out of tooth powder.
In a camp like that you didn't just step down the street and buy something. Snow over the eaves; you waited for spring. The shop didn't have tooth powder, and the best the clerk could do was promise some for next winter. This is where Milo Gagnon comes in. He took care of the horses. And he had some powder in a can on the shelf.
The next morning Roland brushed, and it turned out this wasn't tooth powder at all, as Milo thought, but something for shining brass on harnesses. Upshot was, Roland Fauchette's teeth came out a bright phosphorescent tangerine color, so when he came for breakfast and asked for the sugar he looked like a gallon of orange paint. The stuff had cleaned his teeth, all right, and that part was good, because he never had to clean them again. That's how Roland Fauchette came to be called Shine.
Of all the stories that came to be told about Shine and his forest-fire teeth, the one I like best is after hours. When the lamp went out and the crew turned in for the night, Shine would pull the blanket over his head, open his mouth, and read a book.