The Secret History of Twin Peaks: Margaret Lanterman (Secrets & Mysteries, Part 5)

From the beginning, when FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper asks, “Who’s the lady with the log?”[1] I was fascinated by Margaret “The Log Lady” Lanterman and her story.  How did she become The Log Lady?  Was she always in tune to the trees, owls, and the nature of Twin Peaks around her?  Could she always listen to her log and tell others foreboding warnings to guide them?   Margaret seemed to be as much a fixture in Twin Peaks as pie and coffee was to Agent Cooper.  I was excited that there was more to read and discover about Margaret’s story when The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost was released.  The only history we had during the original run was that which was given to us by Sheriff Truman, Hawk, and Dr. Hayward.

Let’s delve back to see how Margaret became our Log Lady and discover how linked she was to all the mystery of Twin Peaks. She says, in the introduction to Twin Peaks, when it was syndicated back in 1993 for Bravo television, “Welcome to Twin Peaks. My name is Margaret Lanterman. I live in Twin Peaks. I am known as the Log Lady. There is a story behind that. There are many stories in Twin Peaks. Some of them are sad, some funny. Some of them are stories of madness, of violence. Some are ordinary. Yet they all have about them a sense of mystery – the mystery of life.  Sometimes, the mystery of death. The mystery of the woods. The woods surrounding Twin Peaks.  To introduce this story, let me just say it encompasses the all – it is beyond the “fire”, though few would know that meaning. It is a story of many, but begins with one – and I knew her.”[2]  This history begins also begins with one, so let us get to know her.

Early Years and the Abduction

*2* Three Students Vanish – Twin Peaks Gazette Friday, September 12, 1947.

Three third grade students from Warren G. Harding Elementary School, Margaret “Maggie” Coulson, Carl Rodd, and Alan Traherne went missing overnight while taking a nature walk with their class in the woods near Pearl Lake.  After a search, police and forest service interactions, even bloodhounds, the children were found by Andrew Packard, Scoutmaster and his group of Eagle Scouts near Pearl Lake Campground.  All the children were taken to the hospital for a quick once over, but only Maggie’s were found by the Archivist.  Besides being hungry and not being able to get enough to drink, Dr. Dan Hayward says even after finishing a pint of water, Maggie was still incredibly thirsty.  After examining the rest of Maggie, the Dr. noticed an abrasion, or as he said, “No visible injuries or wounds, aside from minor abrasions on both knees and elbows and this: recently raised or abraded skin on the back of her right knee, centered in the middle.  Reddened or irritated marks that present in straight, thin symmetrical lines that also from an unusual, but perhaps random pattern, seen below:[3]

MargaretCoulson med

When interviewed further by Dr. Hayward, Maggie has said she has no recollection of the evening or its events.  As Dr. Hayward says, “Children sometimes have a tendency to block out traumatic experiences…” [4] but Maggie does ask the Dr., if he thought “the owl was coming back.”

Although the Archivist mentions the other two boys, Alan and Carl, he doesn’t elaborate on “Maggie” Coulson, which Agent Preston believes is because Maggie grows up to be Margaret Lanterman, whom she knows from Agent Cooper’s files is “the Log Lady”.  Agent Preston does go on to say, “If she is one and the same, it would not surprise me to learn that she once got lost in the woods overnight as an impressionable kid and later developed an entire menu of debilitating mental or emotional symptoms related to logs.” [5] Sorry Agent Preston, you might think that The Log Lady has “debilitating mental or emotional symptoms”, but I believe “Maggie” was chosen as a protector for Twin Peaks.  She was given a gift of communication and psychic abilities when she was abducted from those woods.  The reason for her love of logs, well that is a lovely and sad story.

Twin Peaks Post Article

*Twin Peaks Post, October 28, 1986*

Robert Jacoby, brother to Dr. Lawrence Jacoby and dear friend of the Log Lady, wrote a feature about Margaret for the Twin Peaks Post aptly titled, “If These Woods Could Speak, and, Trust Me, Sometimes They Do.” [6] Robert had decided he wanted to “set the record straight” about his friend that he has had the pleasure of knowing these last 40 years.  He lovingly presents Margaret by first introducing someone who may had seen her around Twin Peaks, either walking the trails in the woods that interestingly enough she had a hand in creating.  They may have run into her at the Double R while she was enjoying a piece of Norma’s incredible pie, and as Robert puts it, “she’s eating for two, as it were”, [7] because he explained her log has a seat right next to her.  Robert writes that Margaret is like that person you may have in your town, the one who doesn’t conform to what some people may call “normal”.  She’s the one that makes you feel uncomfortable because she “looks you in the eye with such unblinking clarity, who clearly doesn’t care what you think of her — or her log – but is interested, it seems, in only one thing: speaking deep and thoughtful truths.”[8]  He goes on to mention the rumors that have surrounded Margaret for years, some even speculating she’s a witch, and I love this analogy, “the kind they would’ve burned at the stake in Massachusetts three hundred years ago, if they could pull her off her broomstick.”[9] Others saying she was a mental patient who escaped and is now communicating with trees and her ever present log friend.  He does go on to quote his brother, as Twin Peaks only licensed psychiatrist that, “Margaret Lanterman is the sanest human being I’ve ever met.”[10] This feature on Margaret was Robert’s way of setting the record straight on Margaret and her eccentricities.

Robert goes on to explain about how he and Margaret knew each other in third grade, and how she was tall, reserved or as he called it ‘dignified’ and was like all the rest of her class; wanting to be happy but also accepted by her peers.  Robert also mentions that after she, Carl, and Alan went missing that something had changed.  She was more reserved than she had been prior.  She was more careful, quiet.  Robert speculated that maybe Margaret remembered more than she lead on to others.  Robert talks of their time spent in high school and how Margaret was not like the rest of the class; he stated that, “Her focus, I believe, was never on her own internal troubles, but remained fixed on the outside world.” [11] He recalls one particular ‘date’ they went out on where they went to see Invaders from Mars and spent hours afterwards discussing life in the universe, or as Margaret put it, “life from other places” and questioning why they may be interested in visiting us.  During college they lost touch, but Margaret ended up studying forestry at Washington State and had dreams of working for the U.S. Forest Service.  She cared very deeply for the environment and preserving the earth and natural world.  She believed that the demise of earth was not from nuclear war but man’s own mistreatment of the environment.  Margaret applied to work for the Forest Service, but this being the early 60’s, women were mostly kept in the steno pool and not out and about amongst the trees in the field.  She ended up getting a job at the town library.  Which is where she met her future husband.

Marrying a Fireman, his name was Sam. 

Sam Lanterman was the youngest lumberjack at Packard Saw Mill.  He was also about a ten years older than Robert and Margaret.  He was also a very large, very strong man.  From a long line of woodsmen, he was third-generation, the oldest of five, and was talented enough to compete in lumberjack competitions, starting at age fifteen.  He and his brothers were the first to go to school, and our large, brawny, Sam (short for Samson) the Lumberjack grew found of poetry.  Robert mentions that this along with Sam’s square jaw, chiseled features and sensitive side is what made Margaret fall “…in love for the first, last, and only time in her life.” [12] The met each other at the lumber yard while Margaret was getting wood for the cabin she was building.  Sam was in town with his brother to drop off some reclaimed wood, and being the type of man he was went to help Margaret. Not that she needed the help, with one glance of Margaret holding her own against those two by fours, and Sam was smitten.  She instantly felt the same way even taking care of their first date, but giving him the credit for planning.  It was an old fashioned traditional courtship, and both knew how meant to be they were for each other.

They were engaged a year to the day of them meeting and of course there would not be a better spot to get engaged than “The Heart of the Forest”, right by Pearl Lakes near Glastonbury Grove.  How interesting that Margaret got engaged around where she was abducted as a child?  Would this be a lucky coincidence or a devastating omen?  What happened next would tend to fall on the latter.

As Robert puts it , “Having attended more than my share of nuptials over the years, I’ve never seen a couple so plainly, sincerely, and unabashedly in love.” [13]  A thunderstorm had moved in and lighting caused a fire up down the ridge by Blue Pine.  Sam being the volunteer chief needed to help, even though he would be leaving his own wedding reception. As Robert recalls, “I’ll not forget the look on Margaret’s face as they parted as long as I live.  She knew I’m convinced of it, what was going to happen.” [14] Margaret had gone to work and helped others misplaced from the fires at the Grange Hall, she had received word that Sam had fallen into a burning ravine after a burst of fire in the form of a funnel took Sam off the ridge and into the ravine.  She was still in her wedding dress since she had been up all night assisting others.  They had recovered Sam when another storm came through and put the rest of the fire out.  Margaret buried Sam in a plot where she and Sam were building the house that they were to make their home.  She also went back up to The Heart of the Forest, where all that was left was a small circle of sycamore trees.  This is also how Margaret ended up with her log.  A glorious Douglas fir had fallen over, when Margaret left the woods with a piece of the tree in which she carried “like a newborn babe’.  It was almost as if the tree told her which part to take and how to treat the log.  So was born, “The Log Lady”.

What Robert goes onto to say, is that it was a long time coming to defend Margaret’s honesty and truth.  She had become the center of many theories and back talk, whispers and jokes.  He believes that Margaret is a truth teller.  Someone who has seen, done, and faced grief that many of us may never face and she has done so with such truth, personal truth, that she has discovered the purpose of life.  It uncovered that not only can grief lead to madness, in Margaret’s case it has led to ultimate clarity.  Your choice is whether to listen to those voices, be it inside your head, from another, or from a Douglas fir log.  Robert also says sharing Margaret’s story was long overdue and hopeful was a way to open others eyes.

It was his ‘swan song’ to say, it was the last piece for the Post due to his health on that ‘final’ trip we will all go on someday.  Robert mentions that he doesn’t have doubt that Margaret knows when her time may be up due to telling him he has nothing to fear.  The part of the whole piece that affected me the most was his last quote in this piece, “But even in this dark moment I take some comfort in a truth I’m now forced to accept: Storytellers don’t run out of stories, they just run out of time.  It’s someone else’s job now”. [15]

Robert Jacoby’s Service and The Log Lady Legacy

Robert Jacoby passed away from multiple sclerosis about three weeks after this column was published.  His service to spread his ashes was over at the Chapel-in-the-Woods.  Margaret asked if she could say a few words.  Those words resonated with the Archivist.  What he wrote was from what he remembered was a beautiful tribute from one friend to another.  Soak in these words, they are beautiful not only from this book, but as an overall view of life.  The Archivist mentions “Margaret holds her log and looks around, really looks, for some time before speaking” and then she begins.

“This is ‘now’ and now will be again.  Blue sky, cool air, and green, green forests.  Mountains, lakes, and streams.  The wind, the wind.  Water, earth, air, and fire; red, yellow, purple, and white.  We come from the elemental, and return to it.  There is change, but nothing is lost.  There is much we cannot see – air for instance, most of the time – but knowing our next breath will follow our last without fail is an act of faith.  Is it not?  Dark times will always come, as night follows day.  A dark age will test us all, each and every one.  Trust and do not tremble in the face of the unknown.  It shall not remain unknown to you for long.  Robert knows this now, as will we all in the sweet by-and-by.” [16]

log2

The dark time Margaret eludes to be of course Laura’s death in Twin Peaks.  Though, for ourselves the dark time could be a time where we lose our faith in ourselves, in another, in life itself.  As Margaret mentions though, trust.  Trust yourself, what you know to be your truth, since we will all come to know the unknown, eventually.  I believe this to be Margaret “The Log Lady” Lanterman’s legacy.  She was chosen when she was ‘taken’ as a child and bestowed with the gift of truth and premonition.  I also believe she was blessed with the ability to ‘feel’ the earth, as she says the elemental.  Hence why after the death of her mortal husband, she was given his spirit to continue their love within the log.  The energies and vibrations are easier to listen to within a totem.  The log was that totem.  As we all witnessed to in S3 of Twin Peaks, Margaret continues her truth until her death.  Her log has become golden and she ventured into the unknown with no fear.  It is through her entire story, the story of her life, and how she lived.  She did not run out of stories, she just ran out of time.  Now it’s someone else’s job.

Quotes

[1] Pilot episode, 1.01, MacLachlan, K.  ABC, 1990

[2] Bravo Syndication Intro, Pilot episode, 1.01, Coulson, C. Bravo, 1993

Frost, M. The Secret History of Twin Peaks, (2016) New York, Flatiron Books

[3] Pg. 247      [7] Pg. 514      [11] Pg. 515    [15] Pg. 518

[4] Pg.248       [8] Pg. 514       [12] Pg. 516    [16] Pg. 521

[5] Pg. 260      [9] Pg. 514       [13] Pg. 517

[6] Pg. 514      [10] Pg. 514     [14] Pg. 517


The previous articles in this Secret History of Twin Peaks series are:

The Secret History of Twin Peaks: Milford, Nixon and the Blue Book Years (Secrets and Mysteries, Part One) by Mat Cult

The Secret History of Twin Peaks: The Lewis & Clark Expedition and the Nez Perce (Secrets and Mysteries, Part 2) by Ali Sciarabba

The Secret History of Twin Peaks: UFOs, Conspiracy, and the Players, p. 86-123 (Secrets and Mysteries, Part 3) by Rob E. King

The Secret History of Twin Peaks: Oh, What A Tangled Web – Reporting on Reporter Robert Jacoby (Secrets and Mysteries, Part 4) by Brien Allen


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