What would you do ? (14) The Solution

“What would you do ?” used to figure on the cover of a comic called “Boys’ World”. This publication first appeared on January 26th 1963. and lasted 89 issues before the comic was merged with Eagle in 1964. The last issue of “Boys’ World” came out on October 3rd 1964.

I used to buy this comic, mainly for the front cover which always featured a kind of puzzle called “What would you do ?”. The puzzle was based on somebody being in what Ned Flanders would call “A dilly of a pickle”.

Here’s the situation I showed you a few days ago:

Here’s that yellow box, with the exact circumstances, in case you couldn’t understand the picture:

And the correct solution given on page 2 of the comic is:

Well, there we are…..

“Using his axe as a shovel, the lumberjack quickly scooped a shallow trench in the soft ground. Then lying flat inside it, he pulled his jacket over him and covered it with loose earth. As the blaze passed overhead, he was protected from its direct heat – and was able to breathe the cool air in the ‘pocket’ around him.”

Personally, I’m not so sure that that would work, and I really wouldn’t want to try it, but let’s cheer up and look at page 6 with “The last DINOSAUR on earth”. Here’s the top half of this complete short story by Donne Avenelle.

And here’s the artwork and the story’s rather sad ending:



Filed under Canada, Wildlife and Nature

19 responses to “What would you do ? (14) The Solution

  1. The big assumption is that there would be “soft earth” in which to dig. In many forests in the Western U.S. where there are fires, the earth tends to be anything be soft. The solution, though, has merit, and if ever I am caught in a forest fire, I will try it.

    • Be sure to always carry an axe or a shovel.

      • (reply for Andrew)
        I am never without mine. Having said that, aren’t we all, as motorists, supposed to carry a spade in winter? I’m not 100% sure of that, but I seem to remember it being said on TV years ago.
        The bloke in the puzzle is, of course, a lumberjack, so he probably has his axe with him at all times.

    • (reply for a gray)
      I hadn’t realised that! Over here, in Norfolk, where the pine forests stand on sandy soil, the problem wouldn’t arise. Having said that, you might well have a problem with tree roots if the bottom of our garden is anything to go by.
      As you so rightly said, the solution does have merit, and I too intend to try it the next time I am caught in a forest fire. I will let you know how I get on. Hopefully.

  2. GP

    Good luck to all who try!

    • Indeed!
      I think of the suggestions offered to all of these problem situations, this is probably the weakest.
      Both Rosaliene Bacchus and Allen Gray have already pointed out real difficulties in the remedy on offer. Perhaps the problem is that the proffered solution in 1963 was for a world where temperatures were not as high. Nowadays, global warming is playing its part in this problem. The ground will be harder because it is hotter, and the fire will spread quicker for exactly the same reason.
      Let’s just hope that this summer there are far fewer fires than people have had to endure in previous years.

  3. I sure wouldn’t like to have to put the given solution to the test. During the deadly wildfire in Paradise, California, in November 2018, a group of about 150 people survived who, on the advice of a firefighter, fled to an open air parking lot that soon became surrounded by the flames. You can read about it at https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-paradise-survivors-20181202-htmlstory.html

    • Thanks very much for that link. I read the story and it was extremely good. It would make an excellent TV movie, in my opinion.
      I agree with you about the solution. It just doesn’t seem a remedy that would work, given the ferocity of the fires which we see on the TV news. On the other hand, it may be the best of a very bad job!

  4. I have my doubts on it working. An axe isn’t a good digging tool. Still a lumberjack is likely to have other tools available, like a shovel (possibly a small one) and likely wouldn’t be suddenly surprised by a wild fire. And despite the picture, lumberjack would be working in groups, not alone. A group of lumberjacks with shovels and axes are more likely to clear enough ground and dig a deep enough trench to survive the fire. The situation presented is a nice romantic depiction of a lumberjack, but at least in North America, not a realistic view of how they work.

    and by 1963, lumberjacks used chainsaws and drove trucks, giving them more survival options.

    Still, it’s a fun thing for a boy (now matter his age) to think about.

    • What you write is very interesting, thank you. It hadn’t occurred to me that lumberjacks worked in groups, although I suppose that it’s pretty obvious really. And as you say, a group of them could well dig a deep trench that would keep them safe. Let’s hope it never happens!

  5. I don’t think the lumberjack would survive. In north American forest fire the temperature near ground level can reach 800C However I’m pretty sure he would not survive in an Australian fire where temp can get up 1,600 C and averages about 1100 C.

    • That is a good point well made. We don’t always realise that fires can kill without actually touching you. In Hamburg in 1943, the RAF created a fire storm which was like a tornado but made of fire and extremely hot air. People died of oxygen deprivation in air-raid shelters and temperatures even in the harbour were so high that the six inch mooring posts were burnt off level with the water. Forest fires, if large enough, could surely achieve the same destructiveness.

  6. I guess given the choice of burning to death or attempting to dig a small hole in which to lie, I’d probably try the latter. However, best advice is stay out of the forest!

    • This is where a strong belief in Bigfoot would be of great benefit. Worrying that you might get attacked by a ten foot tall gorilla keeps you safe in all kinds of ways.

  7. I wonder if in the heat of the moment, it would strike him to do all that.
    Very sad story of Dorcus. I remembered many science fiction stories set in the future and life of people then. There are many theories about the reasons for the extinction of dinosaurs but it is a mystery. Much smaller creatures have survived for millions of years.

    • I think the current theory is that a large meteorite struck the coast of Mexico and caused a layer of dust to blot out the sun. The bigger dinosaurs were unable to find enough vegetation and both they, and the meat eaters that preyed upon them, all perished. The little animals survived because they only needed small amounts of food.

  8. I had mentioned perhaps finding a trench, gully, shallow spot, etc. in case there were not enough time to dig one… that would be a desperate attempt no doubt… 🙂

    • Absolutely, but I suppose that it’s worth trying in an emergency. I certainly would not like to be caught in a forest fire, although in England, that’s not very likely, unless the climate changes a huge amount from its present grey drizzle.

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