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Rhonda grew up in North Eastern Oregon in the mid 80's. In high school, she had everything going for her. She had hair to die for, totally tubular day-glo outfits and perfectly fitting acid wash jeans. All the boys wanted to be the one to take those jeans off and all the girls wanted to be the girl in the jeans.

Rhonda's two older brothers, with their burly shoulders, curly, jet black hair and muscle t-shirts could attract girls by the car load. They were well-known to Rhonda's friends and would often crash Rhonda's slumber parties by stealing all the attention.

Peter was the oldest at 22. Blond hair, blue eyes and a college wrestling champion's figure. He was Rhonda's friends' favorite. Old enough to buy alcohol for them and cool enough to do it.

Edward, two years younger, was the shy one. He kept mostly to himself but had a smile that could stop hearts. He was intelligent too. A business finance student, Ed had his head on straight all through life. No side roads, no distractions, Edward took a solid path to get to everything he wanted.

In the summer, all three would work under their father at his lumber mill. Jack The Lumberjack got off to a rough start in the lumber industry. A city slicker from the east coast, Jack made a fool of himself the first time he swung an ax, but soon became the best man the Oregon Forest Service had to offer. He came to work in north east Oregon and decided to settle there. A year after Peter was born, he bought the lumber mill in the small town where he resided. From there, he built it into a strong corporation with ties all around the west coast.

A year after Rhonda graduated high school, everything changed. She was stuck without a clue. She still hadn't started college. She worked full time for her father, doing secretarial work. Rhonda didn't like it much, but it paid.

She was the one who answered the phone when the news came in. A log truck rolled on a wet, winding, mountain road on a steamy July morning. Her brother Edward had been at the wheel and her dad was riding shotgun. The boss was dead as well as two other crew members. Edward was comatose and a fifth fellow walked out comparatively unharmed.

From that day forward, Rhonda sulked. Peter was no help. He buried his problems under alcohol. It took Rhonda two years to come out of her depression. The logging company had been shut down in the mean time, and Rhonda searched for something to do.

Without any schooled skills, Rhonda realized she had to get out of Oregon. She settled in California and turned to the only trade that she knew by heart, lumberjacking.

She showed up at the Los Angeles Lumber Mill company with an application, full of respectable references. The contractors were nervous at hiring a woman, but had respected her father enough to give her a chance.

She went to work her first day in a new flannel shirt and some ripped up acid wash jeans. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and tucked into her father's old hat.

The first few weeks were tough. She suffered through cat calls of "Hey Dyke-arella!" and "Dykenstein." The guys' favorite seemed to be "LesberJack." Soon, however, they re-named her "LumberJill" when she beat one of the more experienced men by chopping a tree quicker. The nicknames dropped altogether when Rhonda started dating the head foreman, Sean.


Last spring, my father, Peter, took me out of Oregon for the first time to go see Santa Monica. There, we watched the only female lumberjack in Southern California marry Sean. Within the next year, Sean and Rhonda will be assuming control of the Los Angeles Lumber Mill and within the next five years, will have completely bought the company.

She truly is her father's daughter.

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