What about that pit in which he was buried?
"That was quite an excavation."
And that ride across the state in the trunk of the car?
"I was just glad to get out of that hole in the ground. I slept most of the time. I had blankets and it was warm back there."
His sport was boxing in high school and he fought in training-camp bouts in the Navy. He frowned at any mention of it—all he would say was, "I tried a little boxing in the Navy." In the early stages of a conversation with him one gets the impression of feints, fast footwork and lightning jabs, not unfriendly, merely exploratory taps to determine what sort of a sparring match it is going to be.
Being kidnapped may not have bothered George, but it jolted the Weyerhaeuser empire. As a first tentative friendly gesture toward the modern world Philip Weyerhaeuser, who had become president, opened the company woods to hunters and fishermen.
Next Miss Helen Leonard, a kindergarten teacher in Longview, Wash., wrote to Philip Weyerhaeuser and asked him if the company could also open campgrounds for people who wanted to get out in the woods. "I got a nice answer the next year," Miss Leonard said. Things still move relatively slowly in an enterprise geared to the speed of growing trees. The first camp was cleared on the banks of the Toutle River, a great steelhead stream. No improvements were added, beyond a sign reading WELCOME and a request that visitors be careful about fires. It was an informal beginning of an important historical development. Campgrounds are now scattered throughout the Weyerhaeuser woods in the Northwest. Last year they were used by 161,000 campers. Miss Leonard, who still teaches kindergarten at Longview, sometimes takes her class on picnics at the original Toutle River camp.
A far bigger innovation was the first tree farm. The most important contribution to conservation in the history of the lumber industry, the Weyerhaeuser tree farms also brought about the greatest improvement in the appearance of the landscape. In the past, roads in the timber country ran through miles of bleached stumps and bony snags as devastated as the battlefields of World War I.
The first tree farm, as an experiment, was intended to provide a steady supply of logs for Weyerhaeuser mills in the future—not merely next year or next decade, but next century. A tract of 120,000 acres that combined virgin timber, second-growth stands and logged-off land was set aside. The logged-off area was planted with fir seedlings, and no more timber was taken from the tract than was replenished by new growth. It was a stair-step operation: 60-year-old trees, in 20 years' time, would be ready for cutting, by which time the 40-year-old trees would be 60 and the seedlings would have grown to substantial size. That involved constant planting and cultivating, the thinning of dense stands as the trees grew and the cutting of only small tracts at a time. It incidentally left the country green again, the streams clear and the wildlife multiplying.
Primeval forest contains little game. Big trees block out the sunlight from plants that provide forage; the sort of undergrowth that flourishes has little food value. The terraced growth of tree farms, with clearings and different stages of tree growth, provided an ideal range. In the area that was later set aside as the St. Helens tree farm, for example, hunters shot 326 deer in 1937. Last year they shot 9,130 there.