Far Off and Gone Like Summer Wages

summer wages

Tipper – Early 1990s Haywood County NC

I’ve been listening to the Blind Pig Gang’s version of an old Ian Tyson song-Summer Wages. If you’re a bluegrass fan you’ve probably heard Tony Rice’s version.

The song compares love, money, and time to the speed at which summer wages can be lost to beer taverns and the hustlers that sometimes inhabit them.

I used to work for summer wages. Back in the day, when I first met The Deer Hunter, I worked at Lake Logan in Haywood County NC. At that time, the paper company Champion International, owned the lake and the facilities which surround it. They used the location for meetings and to wine and dine anyone they needed to.

Guests could fish after their meeting let out-or before if they were really serious about it.

I worked in the boathouse from sometime in late April to sometime in October. The lake closed each winter-I guess it was too cold for folks to fish and be wine’d and dine’d.

It was a fantastic job. Scenery out every window that would take your breath away; free meals from the dining hall; good pay and even over-time for anyone who wanted it; lots of down time to read, talk, or listen to music; and the best fellow employees-oh what fun we had. But back then I was too young and inexperienced to recognize any of those great things I mentioned. I whined and complained about everything. Seriously I did.

When I look back to the summer wages I earned at Lake Logan I can’t think of one bad thing about the job. I guess that’s what the saying live and learn means. The summer job encouraged my work ethic-the early shift started at 6:30 a.m. to unlock and set up. After working there I could never forget how to fillet a fish. And the best thing about the job-I caught the big one while I was there! The Deer Hunter, he’s a keeper for sure.

Hope you enjoyed the video!




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  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    September 13, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Loved your story. Chitter and Chatter look just like you. Sounds like it was a great place to work. My first REAL job (other than babysitting) was at Walt Disney World. I was a Hostess in Liberty Square and Tomorrow Land. That too was an experience. The tunnels under the park are massive. Oh yes, Chip and Dale (the chipmunks) trapped me on the elevator.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    September 13, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Probably no better thing for a kid than having to work a summer job. Teaches them responsibility, money management, work ethics, so many good lessons. Don’t know if many parents even require that of their kids anymore…so many just seem to hand ’em money and a car without making them earn the privilege of having either.
    I hope that’s still the exception though, instead of having become the rule, cause you do a kid no favor giving them handouts without strings. They grow up thinking all of life is going to be like that, and expect it when they get out on their own, only to have a rude awakening when they find REAL life isn’t like that.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    September 13, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    I enjoyed hearing “Summer Wages” and especially enjoyed your picture and story from your Lake Logan summer work days! What a memory (and what a lifetime catch!) As for my “summer wages”–I had so much work to do on my Daddy’s farm that I didn’t have time to take employment elsewhere, unless sometimes I picked beans with the “truck-load” of bean pickers turned loose in a field of green beans. And for every bushel basket I filled with green beans for market, I would be paid 10 cents! If I worked hard, I would make a dollar a day!

  • Reply
    September 13, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    I really enjoyed reading these ‘first job’ tales, which remind me of a quote, “Youth is wasted on the young.”

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    September 13, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I liked Ed Ammons speedboat saga, back during “the most enjoyable year of his life.”
    And I really enjoyed listening to Summer Wages – how timely is this song, with summer now on final approach to fall. I can appreciate the momentousness of your Lake Logan summer job, Tipper, and how it set your destiny on course to to the life and family you are blessed with today. For nearly two decades now, our Lake Pointe Inn on Deep Creek Lake, Md., has employed both local and foreign students earning “summer wages.” We keep in touch with them as though they were family, for they all treasure their experiences working at the inn, and we treasure them.
    I just listened to the You Tube rendition of Rock of Ages by the Pressley/Wilson family. I’m not very religious, but the tune sent my spirit soaring. And I loved seeing Pap, Paul, Chitter and Chatter doing what they enjoy–making music. Of all the folks I know, this family is among the most genuine. But I don’t even know them. I just feel like I do.

  • Reply
    Phyllis S
    September 13, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Once again, I appreciate and enjoyed the beautiful music. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 13, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    When I was young I worked for one whole year at Lake Rabun in Northeast Georgia. We were building a house on the far side of the lake. There was a road to the site but it was bad to wash out and awful slick when it rained or snowed, so we went to work mostly by boat. I didn’t know about the boat so the first day on the job we pulled in at the dock someone was sitting there in it, waving for us to come on. We loaded all our tools, climbed in and pushed off. Our driver idled it around and out passed the dock then suddenly slammed it to full throttle. The boat sorta reared up like a stallion and took off. Most of my boating experience was with the pole and paddle variety. I didn’t know what to think. The boat was loaded pretty heavy with five good sized men and all their tools but eventually it planed off and was skimming across the lake at a pretty good clip heading straight for the opposite shore. It was lined up with one particular boathouse.
    As we got closer I could see where we were going. The boathouse was anchored to a rocky hillside with a staircase leading up into the woods. It had two bays. One had a boat in it. I had this figured out by now. He’s going to drive this boat into the other bay. But why isn’t he slowing down? Boats don’t have brakes, do they? He is trying to kill us! We drove fifty miles to work and some old fool is going to kill us before we even start.
    By now I am firmly attached to the seat covering but not by my hands. They were poised to cover my eyes. I knew my end was nigh! Just before my final few words of prayer, the driver reached over and slipped the throttle back into neutral. The back of the boat just sank into the water and a wall of water seemed to form in front of the boat. Then the stern bobbed back up and the bow settled down into the water and I could hear waves slapping against the rocky shoreline. I looked around and we were stopped just inside that boathouse.
    I was an apprentice so pretty much the gopher for the crew, so when we needed supplies I was the one who had to go. By boat! Across the lake! Spring into Summer and on into the Fall I had to fetch whatever the building needed. Many times I got lost on the way or back. Or had to wait in line at the building supply up in Clayton. Could have been accidents on the road. Maybe it was the pretty ladies sunning themselves on their boats and all along the shoreline.
    That was probably the most enjoyable year of my life and I got paid for it!

  • Reply
    September 13, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    G’day Tipper!
    I’ve listened to that song ever since ‘way back before Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker got married; it is a beautiful song! I read the meaning a little differently than you do, I get the feeling that he’s talking about how the cowboys would work all summer with no time off, get paid and go to town, and blow 3-4 months pay in one weekend. But then, I may be thinking on terms of the tale my Dad told me when I was a kid, about the lumberjack who worked all winter cutting timber with an axe and cross-cut saw (the ‘misery whip’) back before they had chain saws. He came out of the woods in the spring, went into the saloon and straight to the roulette table. He put all of his money on the 7 and lost. As he walked away he mumbled “Easy come, easy go..”

  • Reply
    September 13, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    My first job, at age fifteen, was in a public library. I was a junior page, shelving books, mending spines, etc. I worked there until I finished college at age twenty-three when I married and moved away. My experience was invaluable and helped to make me the employee I was for many years. Now that I am retired, I still valued my library experiences.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    September 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    What a great job you had. Lucky you!
    I don’t know why I thought you worked at Lake Junaluska. Just had it in my mind for some reason,I guess. Both are lovely lakes at any rate.
    My Uncle and Aunt lived twix Canton and Clyde. He worked for Champion Paper Mill back in the day. I am now sure he took me fishing at Lake Logan too, as well as Lake Junaluska…both lakes were reasonably close to their home, perfect distance for a day of picnicking and fishing.
    I would love to revisit those days.
    Thanks for your post and stirring up my memories as well Tipper!
    I always loved the song too!
    PS….A little bit chilly here this morning…Fall is in the air, I think I’ll wash up some Pinto beans. Then let’em soak and cook up a big pot with some greens and cornbread on the side!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    September 13, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Loseay mercie, Tipper!
    Your first job was better than mine. I went all the way to Canton, Ohio and got a job at a ‘drive-in’ cafe. Made good money and my sister would not let me pay rent or buy food! I went back to the Cove RICH! Well I thought I wuz til I spent all my money on school things and new shingles for our house! But the next year I headed to Atlanta – like every other girl in my class! There I met that one fellow of a life-time!
    Thanks for the recollections!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    September 13, 2015 at 11:42 am

    That’s an awful pretty girl in the picture working for Summer Wages.
    I worked in the Summer for my daddy making “mud” in a big wheelboro. Daddy was an excellent rock mason, and I was helping build a walkway.
    After mixing a big load, I thought I’d roll closer. Big mistake! I hadn’t moved 3 feet when it began to tip over. Before
    long concrete mortar was all over
    the grass. Daddy stopped what he
    was doing, didn’t say a word, and
    helped me clean it up. I was only
    in the 8th grade and wasn’t strong enough to control the
    wheelboro, but I felt bad for it.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    September 13, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Sounds like win-win situation. Great job & meeting the love of your life. Pap & Paul are playing one of my favorite Ian Tyson’s many great songs. Tell them if they would like to do Four Strong Winds it wouldn’t bother me a bit.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 13, 2015 at 9:07 am

    You intrigued me from the first wondering first if that was you and then where you were with the knotty pine paneling. You’ll forgive the latter I hope because I am a forester. Wood gets our secondary attention most times.
    You also remind me of a line from my favorite cowboy movie, Connagher. Sam Elliott comes into the trading post out of the bitter cold and well after dark saying, “Makes a man wonder what he did with his summer wages.”
    He was also the lead in “The Ranger, the Cook and the Hole in the Sky”. The plot is about how the boys who have worked all summer up in the hills are going to avoid losing all their wages to the sharks waiting in town to clean them out.
    Feels like fall has come this morning. A good time to contemplate where the summer wages went.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 13, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Tipper–Every once in a while Miss Cindy turns plain out profound on us. She hit a real lick this morning when she commented: “Only the old can appreciate youth.” Or maybe it’s the way one of my favorite writers, Havilah Babcock, put it: “Boyhood improves with age, and the more remote it is the nicer boyhood seems to become.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 13, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Tipper, you look just like one of the girls in that picture. Actually, I thought it was one of the girls at first glance but I knew the hair was too long to be them now. It’s easy to see where they got their pretty faces.
    I recon only the old can appreciate youth! When your there it takes all your energy to survive it.
    I believe there was two great catches that summer!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 13, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Sounds like a great memory. I didn’t get my first job until I was graduated from high school. At the phone company. I wish now that I had taken a more outdoorsy job. With a chance to meet new people.

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