Posts Tagged ‘forest products industry’

Everyone knows Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and maybe even Ranger Rick Raccoon, but there are many other forest and forestry-related fictional characters that long ago fell by the wayside. Peeling Back the Bark‘s series on “Forgotten Characters from Forest History” continues with Part 17, in which we examine Turp and Tine.

The annals of classic cartoon duos are packed with famous forest-dwelling characters who worked together such as Rocky and Bullwinkle, Chip ‘n’ Dale, Yogi and Boo Boo, and many others. Venture deep enough into the recesses of cartoon history and you’ll also find the classic forgotten forest history character duo of Turp and Tine.

Turp and Tine

Who were these simple painters who transformed an industry? Well the story of Turp and Tine has its beginnings over a century ago with the Hercules Powder Company.  A division of DuPont, Hercules became an independent company in 1912 after a federal court ordered DuPont broken up for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. As an independent, Hercules continued its growth in the explosives market, supplying construction firms and the military with gunpowder, dynamite, and blasting powder. As of 1919, 99% of the company’s revenue came from sales of these various explosives.

Looking for diversification and new opportunities, the company expanded in 1920 into the world of naval stores (products derived from pine tree sap). Hercules bought the rights to pull pine stumps on large expanses of cut-over lands throughout the South, while also investing in research and technology to develop products from wood rosin. Soon the company was manufacturing steam-distilled wood turpentine from these stumps on a massive scale. This was contrary to the prevailing gum turpentine cut from living pine trees, which dominated the market at this time.

Turp and Tine on cut over lands

As a new kind of turpentine, Hercules needed to get the message out as to why their turpentine product was better (or at least as good) as the existing gum turpentine on the market. Enter Turp and Tine. The cartoon duo was created to help educate the public on the steam-distilling process as well as promote the Hercules brand. In the early to mid-1920s Turp and Tine promotional materials, advertisements, and even animated films began to appear nationwide. A Hercules advertising manager of the time described the creation and success of the Turp and Tine characters:

When we prepared this picture two years ago, we were faced with the problem of educating the users of turpentine to the fact that steam-distilled wood turpentine is a genuine spirits of turpentine and just as satisfactory for their work as the gum spirits of turpentine, which prior to a few years ago, was the only kind available. We had to get our story across not only to painters but also to distributors, jobbers and dealers through whom turpentine reaches the ultimate consumer. There was the usual prejudice against a product differing from that which had been the standard for many years, and our salesmen found it very difficult to tell the story with words only. In our picture we made use of animation to portray two painters “Turp” and “Tine” who appear in our  advertising. The introduction of humor into the picture helped to secure the interest of the spectators in the educational features, which included a complete description of the methods of producing both gum and wood turpentine and an animated mechanical diagram of the processes followed in our plants … We have ample evidence in our file that the motion picture was one of the most effective means we employed in accomplishing our objective. Our sales of turpentine have now increased to the point where our present manufacturing facilities are insufficient to supply the demand.*

The characters themselves were designed and drawn by artist Archibald B. Chapin (1875-1962). Chapin was a successful newspaper political cartoonist in the first half of the twentieth century, working for publications in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Philadelphia. He also penned comic strips such as Home Sweet Home, Uncle Dudley, and Superstitious Sue. A Hercules promotional publication circa 1930 stated: “Turp and Tine … sprang full-grown from the ink bottle of A.B. Chapin, who is one of the foremost cartoonists in this country. Since their appearance, Turp and Tine have made a host of friends, because they are likeable chaps; their antics make people laugh, while the lessons they teach are well worth knowing.”

Turp and Tine promo cover

With Turp and Tine leading the way the Hercules Company continued to grow throughout the 1920s and 1930s. At the time of America’s entrance into World War II, Hercules was the country’s largest producer of naval stores. Turp and Tine would ultimately fade into oblivion, though, as the naval stores industry declined and Hercules expanded into production of other chemicals as well as aerospace equipment and fuels. But like all forgotten forest history characters they continue to live on here at FHS.

*Klein, Julius “What Are Motion Pictures Doing for Industry?” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 128 (November 1926): 79-83.

Making turpentine with Turp and Tine

Turp and Tine show how Hercules steam-distilled wood turpentine is produced (click to enlarge).

Making turpentine with Turp and Tine

Turp and Tine show how Hercules turpentine is distilled from pine wood chips (click to enlarge).


Hercules Turp and Tine

Read Full Post »

Everyone knows Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and maybe even Ranger Rick Raccoon, but there are many other forest and forestry-related fictional characters that long ago fell by the wayside. Peeling Back the Bark‘s series on “Forgotten Characters from Forest History” continues with Part 13, in which we examine Herman I. Cautious and Paula Bunyan.

The first week of May marks the annual occurrence of North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. Sponsored by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), NAOSH Week is intended to raise awareness about occupational safety, health and the environment. In honor of NAOSH week, and in the spirit of workplace safety, Peeling Back the Bark brings you not one, but two new forgotten characters of forest history.

Herman I Cautious headIn early 1960, the Pacific Plywood Company of Dillard, Oregon, launched an innovative new safety program. Under the slogan “Caution Pays You,” the new program awarded employees for eliminating workplace accidents. Accident-free years would bring cash awards, based on money collected from monthly contributions into a Safety Dividend Account plan. To help launch this new safety program, a promotional character was introduced: Herman I. (Izzy) Cautious.

While his name was a basic play on a safety question (“her man, is he cautious?”), there was no doubt about Herman’s commitment to workplace health. Always safely decked out in hardhat and gloves, Herman appeared on posters and signs around the plant to raise awareness for the program. His image was accompanied by the “Caution Pays You” slogan, which was trademarked in 1960.

Herman I. Cautious

Pacific Plywood employees with Herman I. Cautious signs. Bob Young at far right.

The idea to use monetary rewards to reduce accidents came from Pacific Plywood Company’s Safety Director Bob Young. He and others at the company had big plans for the program.  An article in the May 1960 issue of The Lumberman stated, “Considerable interest has been shown in the plan by outside industries, and many inquiries have been made about its operation even before it has been started.” It’s unknown how much interest was shown in the Herman Cautious character, though. He was used on company safety awards for a short time, but then appeared to quickly vanish from the public eye.

Pacific Plywood Co. safety award

Herman Cautious wasn’t the only hardhat-wearing forest-related safety character to fade from view in the early 1960s. The U.S. Forest Service has a forgotten safety character of its own: Paula Bunyan. Paula, drawn by legendary Forest Service artist Rudy Wendelin, was presented as the “Guardian of Safety” for the agency.

Paula Bunyan

We’ll let the official backstory on Paula speak for itself: “She is the daughter of Paul Bunyan, the legendary, swashbuckling, and sometimes unsafe north woods hero. Being a woman, Paula knew how to get her message across to her father and converted him to a safety conscious individual without impairing his tremendous production. This spread his fame all the more. We feel the modern day forester is susceptible to the wiles of such a safety symbol.”


Read Full Post »

On this date in 1933, the Timber Engineering Company (TECO) was incorporated  in Washington, DC, as a “national sales promotion, engineering and research agency for wood and forest products” by the National Lumber Manufacturing Association. While that organization later became the National Forest Products Association and later still the American Forest & Paper Association, TECO hasn’t changed names or its mission in the 80 years its been operating (though it has changed hands several times, as is nicely documented on their own history page. Oh, that other companies would provide such useful historical information about themselves—well done, TECO!)

Since 1934, much of TECO’s work has focused on making timber a strong and appealing construction material that can do more than steel or other metals. Its first product was the “split-ring connector,” which was “used in the assembly of heavy timber trusses in building construction,” according to their history page. The connector, the rights to which were purchased from a German manufacturer, allowed the assembly of massive timber trusses used in the construction of blimp hangars, ships, bridges, and buildings, and the occasional oddity such as ski jumps in football stadiums. TECO later moved into plywood research and production and claim to have manufactured the first particleboard in the U.S. Their research and products were critical in the defense industry during World War II era and the construction boom that followed the end of the war.

TECO blimp hangar

Blimp hangars like this one became possible because of TECO’s split-ring connector.

One lesser-known product of TECO’s is the forgotten forest history character, Stickee Staystuck. He was introduced in 1953 in a series of posters citing the “do’s and don’t’s” in successful laminating that were distributed nationwide. But little is known about him, at least to us. It was only by accident that we learned of this character when Eben stumbled across an advertisement with Stickee in it. And despite all the materials we have about TECO (the National Forest Products Association records, the Wilson Martindale Compton papers, TECO Company files in the FHS Library, and TECO subject file in the FHS Photograph Collection), we have almost nothing about this awkwardly named guy. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why our crack research staff (again, mostly Eben) could only turn up that one advertisement with him in it: his name doesn’t roll off the tongue—it twists the tongue. More precisely, it sounds as if you have glue on your tongue. In fact, we’ve been referring to him around the office as “Stickee Sam” or other sobriquets because they’re much easier to say and involve less spittle. His name alone may be why he’s gone the way of Howdy, the Good Outdoor Manners Raccoon. If it’s not easy to say or remember, it won’t, ahem, stick.Stickee Staystuck, the awkwardly named character

Another reason he’s not known to us today is pure conjecture. He isn’t mentioned in the two documents about the founding of the company written just four years after Stickee’s debut available on the company’s history webpage, which, if it’s an indication of his lifespan, says a lot about him. Even for the more freewheeling days of the 1950s, long before the phrase “sexual harassment” was ever uttered in the workplace, you got to admit that Stuckee was a bit over the top, as seen in the cartoon below.

Stickee, we hardly knew ye.

Stickee, we hardly knew ye.

We congratulate the Timber Engineering Company on 80 years of great work. And while this is the 60th anniversary of Stickee’s debut, it’s doubtful that TECO will be marking that anniversary.

Read Full Post »