West Virginia State Civilian Conservation Corps Museum Association is
proud to announce that Wayne Franklin Blake was inducted into the West
Virginia CCC Museum Association Hall of Fame on October 19, 2013 at the
Quiet Dell United Methodist Church dining room at ceremonies during the
Fall CCC Jubilee.
Our Honoree was born February 23, 1921 on a farm at Orlando, Braxton County, West Virginia. He is the son of John Marion Blake and Charlotte Ethel Skinner Blake. He attended Orlando Grade School and went to Burnsville High School, but had to work on the farm so did not graduate.
Mr. Blake is married to the former Joann Skinner. They had two girls; Lorretta Blake and Debra Ann Helmick, five sons; John William, Braden Alexander, Bailey Grace, Brenley Marie.
Brothers and Sisters: nine boys and five girls. Oldest brother; Francis Marion, Edward Scott, sister; Edna Jane, myself (Wayne), brother; Cecil Burton, sister; Katherine Evelyn, Goldie Gay, Nina, Opal Mae, L.J, Charles Duane, Patrick Dudley, Lydie Lee.
At the age of 17, Wayne joined the CCC in 1938. “Dad was a blacksmith who worked with the State Road. When Dad was laid off for political reasons, I had to do something. Things were really tight then during the Depression. Things were really tough. I worked in a saw mill before I joined the CCC at Copley, West Virginia. We travelled to Sutton, then to Richwood. A doctor from Richwood gave us physicals. Then, I was sent to Camp Cranberry, West Virginia. When our camp broke up, some went to Black Mountain CCC Camp. I worked in the garage, took care of the tools. Didnt know very much about mechanical work, but I watched and learned. They worked you really hard. I was used to working hard from my time on the farm. My Dad had typhoid in 1930 and 1932. We loved our well water, but, it was as contaminated as could be.”
“We had a mechanic, but, he was not real good at putting things together. Forest Supervisor said we have a truck broke down, I said, 'we have a vehicle with the transmission out, and the supervisor drove. Supervisor said 'we have no sergeant rating here', so I was promoted to corporal rating. Took all their mechanic work to a shop that was open in Elkins. While at Cranberry, I remember the forest service outfit, building roads and trails, in case of fire. Took up railroad tracks that led to the William's River. Had to move all big rocks. I met a guy who lived on the William's River road named Walter Sawyer, my best friend in the CCC. I think it was a wonderful thing, and would be today, too. We need to get the young people off the dope and doing something constructive.” His CCC photo album was destroyed by water in his basement, sadly.
"After CCC, joined the U.S. Army Infantry. Served all over the United States. Our whole division was always on maneuvers, travelled to Hollywood and Pasadena which was a resort area, Vista Del Rio Hotel. Made training films for the Army three months. Also, served in Texas, Louisiana, in the Mohave Desert, Uniontown Gap. McArthur preferred to have green troops rather than soldiers on maneuvers all the time. One time when I came home on leave from Indiantown Gap for maneuvers. Remember the tornado that hit Shinnston. Got cold and windy, after a heat wave, back in 1944. One of the biggest trees I have ever seen had to be cut in two in Shinnston. Camp Indiantown Gap, the next day, we loaded on the train and travelled to Camp Miles Standish, Mass.”
"After the war, went back moved to Weston and worked for the Board of Ed for Lewis County. I drove school bus, on several routes. The last seventeen years for kindergarten kids from Horner, a three room school." As a substitute, he drove a school bus along Fink Creek, Hurst, area of Western Lewis County, West Virginia. Our Honoree retired January 1, 1987 from the Lewis County Board of Education. Mr. Blake regularly attends CCC reunions at Camp Cranberry, near Richwood and at events sponsored by the West Virgina CCC Museum Association . He lives today with his family in Weston, West Virginia.
Mr. Wayne Blake