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Paul Bunyan

Grade 2



No one knows for sure where Paul Bunyan was born.

Some folks say Maine, and others say Minnesota.

But one thing (that) everybody knows for sure - Paul Bunyan was big.

They say that at birth, Paul weighed about a hundred pounds.

For breakfast alone, he had five dozen eggs.

And that wasn’t all.

He also ate seventy buckets of oatmeal and ten sacks of potatoes.

He washed them all down with fifteen gallons of milk.



People say that when Paul rocked his cradle, it caused an earthquake.

So Paul’s parents let his cradle float just off the shore.

But when Paul rocked on the water, there was still a problem.

Waves crashed down on entire towns.

The only place for someone Paul’s size was in the untamed wilderness.

When he got old enough, that’s just where Paul went to live.

He taught himself to hunt and fish.

He learned everything (that) there was to learn about living in the woods.



Even so, one frightful winter caught Paul by surprise.

One day, blue snowflakes began to fall.

Soon, the ground as far as Paul could see was covered with a blanket of blue snow.

The trees looked as if they had been dipped in blue powder.



Paul stood looking at the trees.

He couldn’t believe how beautiful they were.

Just then, he noticed something sticking out of a blue snowdrift.

It was a tail.

When Paul pulled on the tail, out came a big baby ox!



That poor baby ox was just about frozen.

He had turned blue, just like the snow.

Paul scooped up the ox and carried him home.

He set him down gently in front of the fire.

Finally, they both fell asleep.

When the morning sun began to shine, the ox nuzzled Paul awake.

Paul laughed so hard that it shook the Earth.

“Babe,” he said, “you and I are going to be fine friends.”

And so they were.

From that day on, Paul and Babe went everywhere together.



Babe grew like a weed.

Like his pal Paul Bunyan, Babe was just enormous.



Almost anyone could tell you that he was forty-two ax handles high.

No one could even guess how much he weighed.



So Paul and Babe tramped through the woods together.



Back then, the forests were as thick as the bristles on a toothbrush.

Everywhere you looked stood big, tall trees.

Why, you could tip your head all the way back and still not see any sky.

Of course, it would have been nice to let the forests stand forever.

But America was as busy as bees in the springtime.

Pioneers were building houses and barns and churches and wagons.



They needed wood to build all that and no telling what else.

So Paul Bunyan invented logging.

He asked Babe to stand back.

He gave his ax a mighty swing.

“TIM-BER!” Paul called.

Ten pines fell to the ground, just from that one swing.

Paul swung a few more times.

He loaded all the trees on Babe’s back.

“Let’s haul these over to the river,” Paul said.

“Then we’ll send them down to the sawmill.”

When they got to the river, Paul could see that it was too crooked.

“Our logs will get jammed on the curves,” Paul told Babe. “We need to fix that.”

So Paul tied one end of a rope to Babe’s harness. He tied the other end (of the rope) around the river.

“Now pull, Babe!” Paul shouted. “Pull with all your might.”

In no time at all, Babe had that river straightened out.

For a while, Paul and Babe worked on their own.

Then Paul decided to start a logging camp.

He said his loggers all had to be more than ten feet tall.

With that kind of rule, he could find only about a thousand men.

The old-time loggers who worked for Paul Bunyan will tell you all about it.

They say the camp was big.

In fact, they claim (that) it was so big that they needed maps to find their way around.

Paul and Babe dug a few ponds for drinking water for the camp.

Nowadays, we call those ponds the Great Lakes.

Of course, the camp had a cookhouse and a great cook, Sourdough Sam.

To feed all those hungry loggers, he’d whip up big batches of stew.

You might hear tell that he made a mean fried chicken, too.

But without a doubt, Sam’s sourdough pancakes were the best of all.

Every morning, Sam had the kitchen staff strap bacon to their boots.

Then they skated around a griddle(,) the size of an ice-skating rink.

When the griddle was all greased up, Sam poured the batter and flipped the flapjacks.

By all accounts, it was a well-run camp.

Paul hired a bookkeeper, Johnny Inkslinger, to keep track of things.

Think of all the writing Johnny had to do!

He felt that he was using too much ink.

He tried not dotting his i’s or crossing his t’s.

That saved about five hundred barrels of ink.

Even so, he had to use a pen connected to an ink lake.

So things went along pretty smoothly for a while.

Then(,) came the Year of Two Winters.

People called it that because it was so cold.

Shot Gunderson, the camp foreman, had all kinds of problems.

He rode in to talk things over with Paul.



“Boss,” Shot said to Paul, “it’s so cold that the men’s feet are about to freeze right off. What can we do about that?”

Paul was pretty handy with tricky problems.

“Just tell the men to let their whiskers grow,” he said.

“When their beards get long enough, they can stuff them into their boots. That’ll keep their feet warm.” And so it did.

Then Shot said, “Boss, when I give orders to the loggers, all my words freeze. They just hang in the air like icicles.”

Paul thought on that one for a minute.

“I’ll ask Babe to help you haul your words to one place. They’ll thaw in the spring and everybody can hear them then.”

That worked, too. It did cause a little bit of confusion, though.

It seemed as if Shot was yelling “Timber!” and “Chow time!” all at once.

After all the trouble that hard winter, Paul was ready for a change.

He decided to take the logging camp out on the road.

Babe was ready to pull everything along.

But Paul wanted to check some things first.

Paul knew that the forests were precious.

So he made sure there were a few trees left standing.

Also, he replaced each tree the loggers cut with a new seedling.

Paul’s crew logged North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, and all points in between.

Paul even started out for Arizona.

At one point, he began dragging his ax and didn’t notice.

You’ll notice, though. That area is now called the Grand Canyon.

You may be wondering what became of Paul Bunyan and Babe.

Some say that they are in Alaska. Some say the Arctic Circle. You never know.

Keep your eyes open, and some day you just might run into that great lumberjack and his big blue ox.




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