Harmon’s Histories: UM’s forestry students once published their own newspaper
By Jim Harmon/Missoula Current
Most folks are familiar with The University of Montana’s student newspaper, the Kaimin.
But did you know there was another, albeit short-lived, student newspaper back in the early days of the campus – this one published by the Forestry School?
The publication was called the “Forestry Number of The Kaimin.” The first of its annual editions was published on March 11, 1915.
Articles included, “How to make a Cruising Stick,” “Opportunities in Forestry,” and “Table Manners for Forestry Students" (more on that, later).
The paper looked back at the school’s first “short course in forestry” created in 1908, specifically designed to educate forest rangers.
“The class as well as the professors and the men of the district office have all shown much interest in the work. While the course has been very short and lots of ground covered in the two months, all the boys have absorbed a great deal of good hard material that will be very convenient in their every day work.”
It also published “The Forest Ranger's Prayer,” reading in part, “O, Lord, grant that as I make this survey called life I may find pleasant camping places; that the cool waters of congenial companionship may flow past my tent door; that the woods of hardship wherein we must all walk be not too heavily clad with the under- brush of hard luck; that the nettle called remorse grows not too abundantly there.
“Lord, listen to my prayer and grant finally that when I turn over my field notes to the Chief and sign my last report, he will say, ‘Well done.’ Amen.”
The students compiling the “Forestry Number of The Kaimin” demonstrated they had quite a sense of humor about their course of study and their future prospects in life.
Here’s part of an article titled, “FROM A FORESTER.”
It read, “It fills us with regret several inches deep to note that the attitude of the people in the different rural communities toward members of the Forest Service remains practically unchanged. The average son of the soil has not today, and never has, had any use for ‘Forest Rangers’ in a social way.
“Indeed, he seems to shun them from his home as our Maltese kitten does a bob-cat, and not a single instance of a farmer taking one of these corduroy and leather sons of Satan into the bosom of his family has ever been recorded in modern history.
“A few cases have come under our observation during our years of rambling, where some young forester, fresh from the incubator of knowledge would have the temerity to call upon the daughter of some doctor of agriculture and be allowed to stay for awhile, meanwhile being shown that he was about as welcome as a rattlesnake.
“The closing chapter would generally come about 9 o’clock p. m., by papa going out on the front porch, and after taking a weather observation, watering the flowers and blowing taps would put out the cat and the dog and the ranger and the lamp, and the family would retire.
“While the young forester would generally adjust his collimation, take an observation on Polaris, and if his standards were not too badly bent, would probably tie into camp about midnight, having learned a lesson in modern engineering that was not in the text books; while the rosy-cheeked country lass would go to bed and weep bitter tears of anger.”
“And still people are eternally harping on the same old question of why girls leave home, and why so many rangers never marry. There’s a reason.
Oh, about those table manners, mentioned earlier – here are a few examples:
1. Don’t swear at the table; it sounds like hell. 2. Don’t take the pie in your hand. 3. Please don’t remove your shoes while eating. 4. Don’t flip the bones over your shoulders, you might injure a waitress. 5. If you can’t reach something, don’t lay over the table to get it or ask someone to throw it at you.
In conclusion, “Remember, your wife and Forest Service are proud of you, so act accordingly.”
For more about today’s W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation at The University of Montana, click on this link.
Jim Harmon is a longtime Missoula news broadcaster, now retired, who writes a weekly history column for Missoula Current. You can contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. His best-selling book, “The Sneakin’est Man That Ever Was,” a collection of 46 vignettes of Western Montana history, is available at harmonshistories.com.