Ready for a clean-cut, freshly scrubbed 1950s look into the inner workings of the timber industry in the deep South? No? You say that this is probably something that's way down on the list of things you'd deliberately seek out to experience in comic book form? Too bad.
John Mason's new forty isn't making any progress. Where are my trees, he asks! Well, maybe a light fire will help. That Mr. Mason... he thinks "a light fire" will solve all his problems. Didn't help his marriage any!
Meanwhile, Miss Blake is hard at work letting that dreamy Mr. Johnson lecture her class on... something... trees, I think. Doesn't matter. Eligible bachelors with jobs are thin on the ground here and Miss Blake isn't letting this one get away! Wait, what's that? Fire? It's time for the Junior Forest Fire Fighting Wardens to swing into action!!
So Mr. Mason is burning this field because there aren't any trees growing on it, and yet he couldn't be bothered to take ten seconds to tilt his head slightly downwards and check if there were, in fact, any trees growing on it. I think Mr. Mason is just in this for the burning.
Early next morning Jackie Davis and his pop are out blasting away at Chatterer The Squirrel here, when Jackie makes a startling discovery - his own father doesn't know that trees start out small, and then later they get big. I'm beginning to think this comic book has its work cut out for it.
Not to worry; Tom Johnson, that mystery man who knows all about trees, is on hand to provide us with tree-related wisdom that lends itself to an exciting new project Dad's cooked up to keep the kids out of trouble.
"Wow! I'll really be a tree farmer!" Yessir, nothing gets young active boys excited like the prospect of acres and acres of pine trees planted neatly in rows.
Just look how jazzed that class is! They can't wait to begin tree farming. Meanwhile Miss Blake's plans are also moving along nicely; she's already got Mr. Johnson talking about 'nurseries'. He's practically on the hook already!
And so it's off into the forest. Carry your pine cones in your burlap bags, always get permission from the landowner, float your pine cones in light oil, and spread them out on your cotton-picking sheets to dry. And yes, this is also MY first time seeing the phrase 'cotton-picking' used to describe something that is actually used in the picking of cotton.
Also: since this is a situation involving young boys and pine cones, I realize that there's going to be some throwing of pine cones at each other at some point in this process. I only ask that you avoid deliberately targeting the face and eyes.
To extract the seed, tumble the cones about in a box made of wire screen with a little handle on the end. What's that? You don't have a seed-extracting box? What kind of tree farmer ARE you, anyway?
We're now at the process where we take the extracted seeds and put them in a fruit jar in the refrigerator. And in a few weeks your mom will throw them out because she hasn't the faintest idea why a jar full of weird seeds are in the fridge. So you might want to label that jar.
"Setting up a seedling nursery sure is fun!" This is, I believe, a usage of the word "fun" that has since gone out of general practice.
Here's all the people that will help Jackie Davis learn about starting a tree nursery, including Soil Conservation Service Man down in the lower right corner whom I believe is either lecturing Jackie on the menace of International Communism or giving him valuable advice on dames, I can't tell which. And your school agriculture teacher is always ready to help.. to help Tom Johnson with his plans for dinner and dancing Saturday night, I think. Maybe I'm reading too much into this.
And as the kids explode with joy upon learning they will have the use of ten acres of their very own for the sweaty, back-breaking fun of planting trees, we find out that Tom Johnson is actually a Conservation Forester for the International Paper Company, here to make sure that America's school children are spending their every waking moment planting and maintaining millions of healthy, profitable trees. So THAT'S his game.
Yessir, this is one of the most productive investments any community can make; planting trees on idle land. And if somebody, some international paper company, for instance, was to happen to pay you a fair market price for those trees a few years down the road, well then it would work out for everybody, wouldn't it? But let's get that first seedling planted first. Can't count our lumber before it's cut, you know!
First, open the ground with a dibble. Yes, I said "dibble". Every tree farmer should know how to use his dibble!
Take it from an old-timer who really likes to set fires, boys - plow a fire break around your woodlot! That means the fires you set --to satisfy the raging urge to burn and destroy that without warning swells inside you like an angry inhuman beast-- those fires will not ravage the countryside.
Sure, make Mister "Let's Set This Fire" an honorary member of the Junior Forest Fire Fighting Wardens. Easier to keep an eye on him, I guess. Here's YOUR chance to help fight forest fires! Send away for this swell badge, show it to your friends, keep it in your wallet and flash it quickly to strangers and they'll think you're a cop and they'll HAVE to help you fight fires!
This has been a public service of the International Paper Company. Plant a tree (for us) today.
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