Lumberjack songs and history with Bill Jamerson
“It’s Daylight in the Swamps!”
Imagine you are an 18 year old immigrant from Sweden and after weeks of traveling by train and horse drawn wagon you arrive at a lumber camp to report to work. On the first day you are shown the bunk you will share with three other men, and get a tour of the camp which includes a blacksmith shop, stable and tool shed. For dinner, you are treated to a meal that includes pot roast, potatoes, fresh dinner rolls, and a large slice of apple/prune pie. After a night on a hay mattress, you are awaken in the morning by the cook, "It's daylight in the swamps" he yells! It's still dark at 5:30am when you start the long walk to the logging site. Your job as a swamper involves notching trees for the sawyers and trimming branches off the trees once they hit the ground. The work is hard, but you're grateful because you're earning $1 a day, and living the American dream.
The story of lumberjack is a window into the world of our immigrant forefathers. These colorful tales appeal to people of all ages. At schools, Bill takes students on a step by step process of harvesting trees, showing the importance of teamwork and pride. At festivals and fairs, children are brought up on stage to compete for prizes with answering questions as "true" or "tall tale" reply. At his general audience programs Bill presents a social history with stories and traditional songs, from the lumberjack era. This program has a "laugh a minute" and appeals to anyone who has an appreciation for the woods, whether as a hunter, camper or simply as a hiker.
About Bill Jamerson
Bill Jamerson knows a good story when he hears one. For over a decade, the Escanaba, Michigan based historian and songwriter has been sharing stories about America's past with his History through Song programs and school assemblies in a 12-state region across the Upper Midwest. He developed a love of history at an early age inspired by his grandfather's stories about life in the lumberjack camps and living through The Great Depression.
Jamerson attended the University of Michigan and was in the advertising business for 15 years when he decided to change direction in his career. In 1992 he wrote and produced his first major documentary for Michigan Public Television, Camp Forgotten - The Civilian Conservation Corps in Michigan, which aired on 58 PBS stations nationwide. He went on to produce ten other films on Michigan history including Grand Rapids furniture making, Mexican Farmworkers, General Motors, Herbert Dow the chemical pioneer and a history of winter sports in Michigan.
In 2002 Jamerson began presenting live programs about the Civilian Conservation Corps, lumberjack and iron mining history in schools, libraries and other venues. His programs included original songs played with his guitar. Most of the songs are based on stories collected from people with first-hand knowledge. The programs often include short video clips from his PBS films.