BATH — After an hour of telling stories, veteran log driver Dave Calder finally said he wasn’t really a storyteller.

“I do have one story for you, though,” he added.

As part of the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay Speaker Series, Calder told a sizable City Hall crowd what it was like in the days he picked logs along the Kennebec River.

Calder was just out of high school in 1966 when he took a job with the Kennebec Log Driving Co.

His started just past dawn on a hot June day. The crew was a mix of greenhorns, college kids and old hands.

By 7 a.m. they were shoulder-to-shoulder on wooden benches in the back of a pickup on their way to Madison and its dams.

A cord is 8 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet and what awaited Calder and his crew was 100 cords of pulp wood — hung up on ledges 20 to 40 feet high.

“I didn’t know if I would make it through that day,” said Calder.

He described the process of sluicing, when each man with a pick-a-roll — an ax handle with a pick at the end — sets the sharp point into a stick of pulp and whips it down to the next guy in line.

“You’d hope that the guy upstream would have decent aim,” he said. “But, I tell ya, you got your shins all stove to hell. It was 95 degrees, we were there all day.”

They’d make a mile or two a day like that, six days a week, from Skowhegan in June to Augusta by the end of October.

Calder told about a whole season, late May to late November, first up the Kennebec and then back down, setting the booms, sluicing the pulp and finally taking the rear, when they would run south from Moosehead to collect stray sticks that could be as far as 100 feet into the woods.

In one of his pictures, an old hand with a pipe stuffed in his mouth humps a log as big as a person out of the brush.

Their 11-hour days could see wildly varying temperatures. Wages were bad, but they worked plenty of overtime.

The cooks made good grub, and the company charged fair prices, while also setting camps along the river for guys who couldn’t make it home at night.

Poetry among log drivers was an old tradition. Accompanied by his brother Matt on harmonica and strumming the guitar with thick, hard fingers, Calder sang “Driving the Logs on Rainbow,” written early in the 20th century.

The last of the drives was in 1976, when technology changed and the mills required green wood, which doesn’t float, he said. Besides, trucking could get the mills wood in hours as opposed to weeks on the river.

Calder then went to work in the mills, receiving the logs he once drove down the Kennebec.