Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 36

N E I G H B O R S

At home in the woods
Putnam County man enjoys decades of logging and competitive wood chopping

J

by Paul Newton
pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop

ackie "JC" Buster can't remember a time in his life when he
wasn't doing something in
the woods.
From cutting wood all summer for his mother's stove in the
1930s to making a living as a logger to competing against sawyers
60 years younger than him at the
Iowa State Fair, he has felt at home
in the woods of Putnam County
for nearly eight decades.
Jackie and his wife, Rowena,
live inside a large barn they built
in the 1980s that features a shop
for Jackie's tools and a large living area featuring exposed wood
throughout. The barn sits about
100 feet from the farmhouse
where Rowena was raised.
With the exception of a few
years in the 1950s, the two have
called Graysville their home for all
62 years of their marriage. Even
though they were living in Missouri, they were married in Salem,
Ark., in 1951.
"We went to Kirksville to get
our marriage license, and there
was a three-day waiting period,"
he says. "I don't know who told
us, but we found out Arkansas
would waive that. So we went to
Arkansas."
At 81 years old, Jackie "JC" Buster is a longtime logger, competitive wood chopper and overall fan of the outdoors.
While Jackie has spent time
working as a machinist, building
bridges and culverts and farming his
"Pretty competitive" is a fairly modest
rural electricity came to the area.
*
family's land, logging has been his
"We lived at a dead end of a place just over
Graysville assessment of Jackie's results at the fair. He
main passion since switching to it full
placed first in bow sawing in 2012, and in
there growing up," Jackie said pointing outside the
time in 1966.
2009, he placed in all five events, includbarn in which he and Rowena live. "My granddad
"I didn't set out to be a logger," says
ing three first-place ribbons. His victory
owned a 25-acre patch of farmland, and they surthe North Central Missouri Electric
that year in the axe division - which
veyed the electric lines right through it. He hated
Cooperative member. "I just kind of
consists of chopping through an
farming around it."
started doing it to help get by in the win8-inch-thick block of cottonwood in
The right of way for the line already had been
ters while I was working construction in
just more than 30 seconds - was his
cleared, but if some trees on the edge of the field
the summers, and I liked it. I like being in
ninth consecutive win.
were cleared, the lines could be moved for unobthe woods."
Jackie placed in two events in 2013, even
structed farming.
Other than being outdoors, he says his profesthough most of the competition was a half-centu"I can still remember the big old birch tree
sion lets him talk to his neighbors and help them.
ry younger than him.
down there on the creek bank. We didn't have any
"Loggers sometimes don't have the best name
While he enjoys the competition and camarachainsaws or anything, so there were three of us
for one reason or another," he says. "We do most
derie of the relatively fast, but grueling, competiand we had to crosscut it," says Jackie. "I stayed
all of our work right here in the county, and we
tions, he also likes being able to perform in front
on one side the entire time while the other two
make a lot of people happy with the returns they
of a crowd.
alternated out. We finally got it down. But, that's
get on their wood. That's been one of the best
"One of our neighbors came up to us at the
what we had to do if we wanted electricity withthings for me over the years."
fair a few years ago and said, 'I really like to see
out the pole in the field."
Jackie also has excelled in wood-chopping comyou guys out there working so hard because, at
With his 82nd birthday coming up in March,
petitions at the Iowa State Fair. This year was the
one time, if you didn't work hard, you know you
Jackie will continue his work as a logger in Put33rd year the 81-year-old competed in the events,
didn't amount to much,'" said Jackie. "And a lot
nam County along with his son, Harlan.
which are one-and two-man crosscut sawing, buck
of the fairs have elderly people that come to them.
"I've had several different partners, but it's
sawing, bow sawing and chipping with an axe.
I think it does their heart good to see us sweat so
wound up now that it's my son and me working
"Just like I didn't plan on being a logger, I
much."
together. Life's been pretty good to us here. We've
didn't set out to cut wood in competitions either,"
Jackie remembers cutting wood for his mother's
come to know how to survive," he says before
Jackie says. "But, up until the last three or four
cook stove growing up. However, he recalls a bigfinishing his thought with a laugh. "Plus, if I quit,
years, I've been pretty competitive."
ger logging task he took on at a young age when
Rowena said I'd have to have a lifestyle change."

36

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Rural Missouri - January 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2014

Rural Missouri - January 2014
Contents
Comments
Columns
Healing on horses
Gut instinct
Out of the Way Eats
Outdoors
For the birds
Missouri Snapshots
Hearth and Home
The company behind the meter
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Intro
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Rural Missouri - January 2014
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Comments
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Columns
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 6
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 7
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Healing on horses
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 9
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 10
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 11
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Gut instinct
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 13
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Out of the Way Eats
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 15
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - For the birds
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 17
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 18
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Missouri Snapshots
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 20
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 21
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 22
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 23
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Hearth and Home
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 25
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 26
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 27
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - The company behind the meter
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 29
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Around Missouri
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 31
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 32
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 33
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Marketplace
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 35
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Neighbors
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 37
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Just4Kids
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover4
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