What Did We Get Ourselves Into?
There is an old adage that “it takes a village to raise a child.” This is also true for the United States Forest Service, a sprawling outfit that employs 30,000 people spread over nine regions and across 600 ranger districts ranging anywhere from 50,000 to more than 1 million acres. This expansive organization has always required the help of an army of unpaid wives, sons, and daughters.
”What Did We Get Ourselves Into?” tells the stories of those intrepid women who gave their lives to “the outfit” without any expectation of notoriety or reward. Over the course of several episodes, listeners will hear stories of rugged terrain, unforgiving dirt roads, spartan housing accommodations, difficult childbirths, wild animal encounters, and much more. They will be taken inside a world that time has left behind, a world powered by loud diesel generators, crank telephones, and wood stoves. And amidst all these obstacles and inconveniences, Forest Service wives stood resilient, ready to overcome any challenge with a stoic determination and can-do attitude. “What Did We Get Ourselves Into?” is essential listening that acknowledges those ordinary families who made extraordinary efforts to achieve “The Greatest Good.”
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In the debut episode of “What Did We Get Ourselves Into?” NMFSH Oral Historian James Wall interviews Dr. Rachel Kline about her forthcoming history of the role of women in the United States Forest Service and the experiences of the early wives who “married the outfit.”
In the second episode of “What Did We Get Ourselves Into?” we explore the life of Linda Hicks, who married into the Forest Service in 1967 and started a journey that swept her from the banks of the Red River in Shreveport, Louisiana to the mountains of Missoula, Montana, and everywhere in between. Along the way she lived in cabins without electricity, trailers stalked daily by grizzly bears, and endured a series of hardships that would test even the strongest pioneers of the early West.
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