Louis Sylte shows scenes of his logging days.
Photo by Oscar Roloff/Woodinville Weekly.
by Oscar Roloff
When World War II erupted, Louis Sylte rushed down to the local Navy recruiting office to seek enlistment into their construction battalion unit.
When he told them of his extensive backround, the officials said they were only allowed to enlist men as seamen and he was way over-qualified.
He then rushed to Bremerton Naval shipyard and applied for entry as a pipe-fitter and was accepted.
Here he spent four years surrounded by asbestos work. At that time, no one was aware of the asbestos danger. Consequently, today, Louis at 82 is hooked up to an oxygen making machine that is in his bathroom. Nearly 50 feet of rubber hose runs from the machine to Louis to keep him alive. For him it's that way for 24 hours a day.
If he leaves his apartment, he's hooked up to a portable oxygen bottle that's good for two hours, that's all. Thus Louis can't be away too long.
So today he's paying his dues for volunteering for navy yard duty. He receives no disability for that problem.
His parents came from Norway, briefly resided near Sylvania, then settled on the Eastside.
Born in 1913, Louis attended local schools to graduate from high school in 1932 as a star pitcher.
From there, he worked for Siler Logging Company, yet he found time to play semi-pro baseball and set many a record.
He spent many years logging the then-great forests of the Eastside. "The huge area was full of giant trees. One tree was so huge it took us four days to get it down. All we had were plain saws. I used to climb up 80 feet or more to top trees. It was extremely dangerous," the former logger recalled.
As he mentioned the many Eastside loggers he'd worked with and the people he then knew, I said, "I know them all. Years ago I wrote about them." A small world, indeed.
When time permitted, Louis taught square dance lessons to many area people. (Though I used to square dance, he didn't teach me.)
In 1965 Louis bought property on Chinook Pass and built a nice house on it, then retired there in 1974.
"When my breathing became worse, I had to return here to be near my medical facilities," he said, "The place will now go to my son."
After Louis's wife Juanita died of cancer, he remarried; his wife's name is Grace.
What does the ex-logger think of the bulging Eastside? "There's been a tremendous change. Progress will not be stilled. I recall the roads when they were narrow wagon roads. And the three Gisle brothers owned a Stanley Steamer and ran it up and down the roads until the tires gave out. The three were Einar, Oscar, and Sid. They had two twin sisters," Louis recalled.
I remember one of the Gisle women, wrote about her. In fact, I've been in their old log cabin home. Probably now demolished.
"I've had a good life," Louis concluded.