M&T: Were you learning new skills there or were you simply applying knowledge you already had?
RU: Well, I taught myself blasting out there. I had the Whole Earth Catalog, and there was a review in there of a book on blasting. I didn’t have the book but I had this photo of the open book, a left and right page. I read that and thought “Oh, that’s all I need to know.” I went down to Santa Fe and bought a case of dynamite for $35. I had to fill out a form for it, and the fellow just told me “Check this, check that. OK, now sign.” That was the way it went: just like that I had a case of dynamite.
It was great – here was energy I could take up into the mountains and do work with. I blasted holes for houses, such as they were; nobody was building anything much bigger than 18' in any direction, little hogans and so forth up in the mountains there. I even built one right on a ridge, and you could see for a hundred miles in every direction from that spot. I bet that if the Earth was more curved, you could’ve stood on the roof and seen your butt. That place was fun during a lightning storm.
It was all a big adventure: blasting, building, felling trees, hauling, peeling all the bark, working with your muscles and an axe and a handsaw and a case of dynamite. That is all you need in life, isn’t it?
–Roy Underhill, excerpt from “Subversive Woodwright: An Interview with Roy Underhill,” in Issue Eight