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.”
”We Feminine Foresters”: Putting Forest Service Wives in Historical Context
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."
What Did She Say? Recovering Women's Voices To Our Land Ethic Narratives
”Southern Discomfort”: The Odyssey of Linda Hicks
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.
”Hail to the Chief”: The Rise of Carma and Dale Bosworth
In Episode Three we look at the world through the eyes of Carma Bosworth. From her small-town beginnings, Carma went on to travel the Mountain West with her husband Dale, a second-generation forester who would go on to become Chief of the whole outfit. Throughout his 41-year stint in the Forest Service, Carma stood with Dale as they rose through the ranks and moved over a dozen times.
”But For The Grace Of God”: The Saga of Carl and Vicki Pence
In our fourth episode, we take a journey alongside Carl and Vicki Pence, two Idaho natives who ventured hand-in-hand through the peaks and valleys of life. Over a forty-year career together in the Forest Service, Carl and Vicki survived historic blizzards, menacing wildfires, and moments of intense grief. Still smitten all these decades later, they are living examples of the transformative power of love.
”Amen and Amen”: The Enduring Love of Joyce and Sonny O’Neal
In our fifth installment of "What Did We Get Ourselves Into?" we look at the world through the eyes of Joyce O’Neal, a southern belle who married her childhood sweetheart Sonny and began a lifelong journey through the outfit. As husband and wife, they grew alongside the forests that Sonny called home. They persevered together through tragedies and hardships but always found a way to laugh in spite of it all.