In The Days Of Log Drives On The Rivers Of New England, Whenever A Riverman Was Killed On The Drive, His Comrades Hung His Spiked Boots On A Tree To Mark The Spot As A Youth, Robert Pike Spotted Such A Pair Of Boots, And From That Moment Was Born His Lifelong Fascination With The Colorful History Of The New England Logging Industry The Dozens Of Tales He Collected Are Narrated Here By Old Vern, A Cantankerous Backwoods Character Here Are Legends And Wild Anecdotes Of The Loggers And Rivermen Who Worked In The Woods And On The Connecticut And Androscoggin Rivers, Plying Their Romantic, Dangerous Trade In The Early Part Of This Century Others Tell Of Quaint Characters And Unusual Specimens Of God S Carelessness People Like Ginseng Willard, Who Slept In A Coffin For Two Years Just To Get Used To It, Or Ervin Palmer, A Hermit Who Dreamed Of Making A Violin That Would Duplicate The Sounds Of The Natural World Although Pike Was A Respected Scholar And Historian And The Author Of Many books, Spiked Boots Is The One He Wanted To Be Remembered By We Are Proud To Restore To Print This Important Piece Of New England Folk History Illustrated With Never Before Published Photographs From The Author S Private Collection, And A New Foreword By Helen Chantal Pike, Who Grew Up Hearing Her Father S Tales As Bedtime Stories As a song reminds us, Everything old is new again Certainly the reissue of Spiked Boots, the classic anecdotal history of New England loggers, is a case in point Robert Pike s colorful chronicle of early 20th century loggers and their world is a salutary reminder that history is not just charts, graphs, demographics, and footnotes, but is also portraits of unique individuals living and working in vanished environments.
The new edition contains rare, never before published photographs, and an insightful forward by the author s daughter herself a journalist historian providing a portrait of the author a complex, unique New England personality, as fascinating as any he chronicled.
Anyone interested in recalling or capturing fast disappearing regional history would do well to discover this remarkable example Robert Pike served his fortunate subjects well His book is a model for recording regional characteristics before they are lost forever.
B Tomlinson, Ph.
D Princeton, NJ
Spiked Boots is among a rare breed of books, either fiction or fact, that can take the reader directly into the minds of the characters and places the author is talking about Robert Pike approaches the tales of Vern Davison, Jack Haley, and a host of others with such clarity you are transported directly back 100 years to the logging industry of the north country You sit in your chair reading the book and the words slowly turn into the wind rushing by your face as you are transported into the horse drawn carriage with Vern Davison and Robert Pike, and you find yourself slowly engulfed in another era.
Not to be overlooked in the new Countryman Press edition is the foreword added by Helen Chantal Pike, Robert Pike s daughter The foreword adds a look into Robert Pike s life that only a daughter could bring into the book, from the tales of the original peddling trips, to the meaning of his writings to himself, to the intimate detail of Robert Pike reading a well worn copy of Spiked Boots over and over again during his last years of life.
Also added to the new edition are several photographs culled from the Pike Archives featuring a rare photographic glimpse of the scenery and people that the tales of Spiked Boots originates from One can fully appreciate the men spoken of as they gaze at the picture of Ginseng Willard next to the coffin he slept in for two years to, get used to it For fans of America, for fans of history, for fans of self reliance, the new edition of Robert E Pike s Spiked Boots is not one to be missing from the shelves of the library It offers a rare glimpse at a by gone era, of men and women that no longer exist in this form of ruggedness that made America what it is today.