Following the lean years of the Great Depressionbut by tkq18339


									               ecember 7, 1941 is     first time, on a major scale, women       of the school stood now at near the
               one of the most        tied back their hair, put on trousers,    450 student mark; if the projected
               remembered days of     and went to the factories where they      expanded enrollment reached 700,
               the WWII era and       built airplanes and ships. There was a    then additional facilities and personnel
               perhaps of the 20th    shortage of young males on every          would be added; and students
century. With the bombing of          level of this country’s home front.       currently enrolled spent $150,000 a
Pearl Harbor, the United States          One of the least noted                 year in Buckhannon, adding to the
was thrust into a long dreary four    consequences of this shortage of          local economy (Plummer 77).
years where it seemed that the        young men was that colleges and             However, by the fall of 1943, the
entire world was turned upside        universities across the nation had a      effect of the war was being felt
down. Just about every aspect of      difficult time keeping their doors        heavily on this little Buckhannon
daily life became reordered and       open during “these trying times.”         campus. The local newspaper
what was once unheard of now          West Virginia Wesleyan College was        reported that the autumn enrollment
became the norm. The nation sent      no exception to this plight.              was down to around 230 regular
every able bodied man and many           Following the lean years of the        students, with 160 of them female
women into some aspect of the war     “Great Depression” but prior to the       and the remaining 70 males mostly in
effort. Nearly twenty percent of      beginning of WWII, West Virginia          the lower classes. In fact, the entire
the population of this country was    Wesleyan’s enrollment had steadily        Junior class had only three males
called into active duty in some       been increasing each year. The July       registered and out of 124 Freshmen,
branch of the military. That many     31, 1941 issue of the Republican Delta,   only 24 were male (Buckhannon Record,
or more of the “home front’s”         a special issue dedicated to WV           September 24, 1943). But this was the
population went to work in the war    Wesleyan on the occasion of Dr. Roy       “regular” student enrollment and it
production centers. The               McCuskey’s retirement, made several       was by no means the “entire” student
population of West Virginia was no    observations about the growth of the      body and hadn’t been since early in
exception. Most domestic              college and what the institution meant    the spring semester of 1943 when 350
industrial production ceased and      to Buckhannon and the Upshur              additional male students had arrived
every factory was converted to        County community. The following           to be a part of the 49th College
producing for the military. For the   facts were presented: the enrollment      Training Detachment of the Army

34                                                               The Upshur County Historical Society • Spring 2008
air cadets continued from page 34

Air Cadet Training Program.                    Wesleyan’s oldest residence hall and     Street , Sophomores to the “Goodwin
   Some time before the beginning              its only female dormitory. Obviously,    residence” also on Florida Street, and
of 1943, WV Wesleyan                           the female students were shuffled off    the Junior girls to the former home of
administrators had been                                                                 Dr. A. A. Schoolcraft. Each of these
approached by officials of the                                                          moves necessitated the move of the
Maxwell Air Field in Alabama                                                            original occupants including the
discussing Wesleyan as a possible                                                       president of the institution. The
site for training cadet students                                                        Kappa Alpha boys were also promptly
(Buckhannon Record, February 19, 1943). In                                              farmed out to friends and smaller
1939, a federal law had been passed                                                     dwellings (Buckhannon Record, February 26,
allowing the War Department to                                                          1943). The young ladies were allowed
send servicemen to colleges and                                                         to continue taking their meals at
universities for academic and flight                                                    Agnes Howard but they were to enter
training. By March of 1943 there                                                        by the Meade Street entrance with
ere over fifty colleges and                                                             the dining room “being completely
universities throughout the country                                                     blocked off from the rest of the
participating in this program. By                                                       dormitory” (Buckhannon Record, February 19,
the end of the war the program had                                                      1943).
spread to nearly double that                                                              Other changes to campus were
number                                                                                  made to accommodate the Air
(<>).                                            Cadets. Regular classrooms were
Along with WV Wesleyan, other                                                                             used for the cadets
campuses in the state having this                                                                         but not in
program included those of West                                                                             conjunction with
Virginia University, Davis and                                                                              the regular
Elkins College, and Concord                                                                                  students. The
College in Athens (Buckhannon Record,                                                                         gymnasium and
February 4, 1944).                                                                                            athletic fields
  Final                                                                                                        were used for the
approval for                                                                                                   physical
the Wesleyan                                                                                                    education and
program was                                                                                                      military
made by the                                                                                                      training. The
War Manpower                                                                                                      cadets ate
Commission                                                                                                         their meals in
“after it was                                                                                                       the “new
learned that the                                                                                                     student
Officers of                                                                                                           center” of
Maxwell Field                                                                                                          the gym-
were especially                                                                                                         nasium.
impressed with the                                                                                                      Today’s
mathematics and                                                                                                          reader
science department,                                                                                                       will
and by the spacious                                                                                                       realize
campus of Wesleyan                                                                                                       that this
College” (Buckhannon                                                                                                gymnasium is
Record, February 19, 1943).                                                                       the one now long gone from
  Of course the campus                                                                  campus. Interestingly, a wide wooden
had to be totally                                                                       boardwalk was constructed from the
revamped to                                       to various other campus and town      dormitory to the gymnasium at the
accommodate this new student                   facilities. Senior girls were moved to   rear of the Administration building
population and staff for its                   the president’s residence at the         “so that there will be a minimum use
duration. The cadets were housed               corner of Sedgwick and College           by the cadets of the regular campus
in “Agnes Howard Hall,”                        Avenue, the Freshmen to the Kappa        walks which are used by the Wesleyan
                                               Alpha fraternity house on Florida

The Upshur County Historical Society • Spring 2008                                                                              35
air cadets continued from page 35

 students” (Buckhannon Record, February   same grassy meadow land of Brushy              instructions but would not fly solo.
19, 1943). Of course, you will            Fork. The college leased land from             Thirteen “Army cub airplanes” were
remember that the great majority          “Lum” Lewis and Frank Smith for the            brought in and twelve were to be in
of “regular” students were female.        duration of the war and in turn                the air at all times in order to
  Captain J. B. Hupp was the              rented it to the CAA. The work was             accommodate the 350 cadets. Plans
officer in command of the cadet           begun immediately with a projected             had even been made in the original
program and he established his            completion date of April 1. In                 design that the airfield could be
center of operation in the                addition to the runways, a hangar              upgraded to handle eighteen planes
Administration building. By                                                                     and 500 cadets in training
early March, 1943 the first 350                                                                  (Buckhannon Record, March 19,
cadets had arrived in                                                                            1943).
Buckhannon coming from                                                                                According to the local
Miami Beach, FL by train. On                                                                       newspaper, activities began
the day of their arrival, the                                                                      very near schedule with the
mayor of Buckhannon, John                                                                          first training starting the week
Anthony, issued a                                                                                  of April 9 . “The hangar,
proclamation, sirens sounded,                                                                      machine shop, and waiting
and the high school and                                                                            rooms are practically
Wesleyan bands played. The                                                                         completed at the airport…and
temperature was near zero but                                                                      a number of airplanes are
hundreds of local residents                                                                        stationed at the field. The
gathered at the depot and                                                                          runways have been graded and
along the streets to welcome                                                                       rolled, and are in first-class
the cadets. Although these                                                                         condition,” according to
cadets had been in training for                                                                    Lieutenant John O. Sholar,
about four weeks in Florida,                                                                       public relations officer
most were originally from                                                                          (Buckhannon Record, April 9, 1943).
Pennsylvania and New York                                                                             Various non-military
(Buckhannon Record, March 5, 1943).                                                                personnel were employed to
  The training was a rigorous                                                                      make the operations at the
five-month program with                                                                            airfield run smoothly. George
classes in mathematics, physics,                                                                   Brinkerhoff served as flight
English, current history,                                                                          contractor and Marvin McKee
geography, physical education,                                                                     was the general field manager
and military science. Two                                                                          and flight instructor. Chief
weeks of the training period                                                                       pilot was A. D. Patterson along
were to be spent in flight                                                                         with six additional flight
training at a nearby airport                                                                       instructors Layton R. Ward,
(Buckhannon Record, February 19, 1943).                                                            Eugene William Ross, E. R.
Unfortunately, the only such                                                                       Bruder, Henry R. Bergman,
facility locally was a grassy                                                                      Casimir S. Butnoris, and A.A.
meadow on Brushy Fork which                                                                        “Tut” Zorzi, with only Ward
had been in use as a landing                                                                       being local from Elkins. The
strip for some years. One of its                                                                   plane mechanics were James T.
hazards was a ditch that ran                                                                       Stanford, James Click, and
across part of the runway area.                                                                    Kent Smith. Click and Smith
That was about to change.                              (Photos courtesy of Alice Light Collection) were both from Buckhannon.
  Wesleyan’s president, Dr. J.                                                                     Jim Click had been an Upshur
W. Broyles, announced in mid                                                               County school bus mechanic prior to
                                          and a “completely equipped machine his employment at the airfield in
March that two diagonal runways,          shop” was a part of the plan. The plan March, 1943. Kent Smith was the
of packed soil and each a half mile       was that each cadet student would
long, would be constructed under                                                           mechanic’s helper.
                                          have ten hours of flight training over             Two young ladies were also
the auspices of the Civil                 the two week course at the actual
Aeronautics Authority, but at the                                                          employed at the field. Ellen Lou
                                          airstrip. During this time, cadets               Brown, daughter of Dr. and Mrs.
expense of the college, on that           would become familiar with flight
36                                                                       The Upshur County Historical Society • Spring 2008
air cadets continued from page 36

Ralph C. Brown of Buckhannon              Record, March 19, 1943).                       By the summer of 1943, the new
served as clerk-stenographer and             By the following week, application        airfield on Brushy Fork had been
Avis Beer, also of Buckhannon,            had been made to the national                dedicated with more than 2,000 in
served as bookkeeper and secretary        council to establish a USO Club in           attendance and the aircrew students
(Republican Delta, March 2, 1944). In a   Buckhannon for the use of the                had received physical training outfits
recent interview with Avis (Beer)         aviation students at Wesleyan                consisting of long blue trousers with
Reed, she once again reminded us          College. The Buckhannon Rotary               gold stripes, white tee shirts, white
that the major intent of the ten          Club offered the use of its rooms for        sweat shirts, gym shoes, and tan
hours flight time was to screen the       the USO club for three evenings a            shorts. (Buckhannon Record, May 28/June
cadets for the ones most likely to        week. Of course committees were              11, 1943). Air Cadet students became
go on to the regular flight training      formed to oversee the operation of           an ongoing component in the
following their time at Wesleyan.         the club and included that of                Buckhannon community by
She indicated that cadets who got         chaperones, refreshments, and                participating in USO sponsored
air sick, fearful, or dizzy, didn't       hostesses. Remembered names                  dances, presenting “variety shows,”
have much of a                                                                                          speaking to local
chance of going on to                                                                                   organizations, having
the real training                                                                                       meals with local
following their                                                                                         families, hosting an
academics (Reed                                                                                         open house of the
Interview).                                                                                             college quarters, and
   By the end of                                                                                        planning public
March, 1943, life for                                                                                   demonstrations of
the Air Cadets                                                                                          military maneuvers
settled into a routine                                                                                  and flying skills for
of academics and                                                                                        “particularly the
flight instruction.                                                                                     youths between 18
The days might have                                                                                     and 26 years of age”
been long and great                                                                                       (Buckhannon Record, June
                                                                                                          11/ June 18/ June 25,
effort made to keep
the military and
civilian students each                                                                                      By July, 1943
on their own turf, yet,                                                                                   additional aviation
by the end of the first                                                                                   students had arrived
month recreational                                                                                        on the Buckhannon
activities were in the                                                                                    campus and more
works. The first                                                                                          were to follow
                                                                                                          (Buckhannon Record, July
dance, in a series of
                                                                                                          2, 1943). By fall of
dances, was
                                                                                                               that year, the
announced with “no
                                                                                                               Buckhannon Record
civilian men admitted
                                                                                                               newspaper had begun
and the ‘girls’ by
                                                                                                               including a special
special invitation
                                                                                                               section entitled the
only.” The dance was
                                                                                                               “Cub Flier: Army Air
to be formal with the                                     (Photo courtesy of Ralston Family Estate Collection) Forces 49th. C.T.D.”
orchestra composed
of air corps students and local                                                            This effort allowed a more consistent
                                          included those of Mrs. H.D. Potter,              and constant publicity to the general
musicians who had already been            Mrs. Eleanor Williams, Mrs.C. E.
practicing together. The                                                                   public as well as a device of
                                          Fretwell, Mrs.C. Edmund Neill, Mrs.              communications between various
decorations were in keeping with a        William C. Manser and others, all
patriotic theme of red, white, and                                                         other campus programs across the
                                          complete with the official USO flag, a nation. Letters and quotes from
blue and…”All of the 350 aviation         supply of servicemen’s stationery, and other campus program publications
students will be guests at this           a window sticker. The club appeared soon showed up in the Buckhannon
opening dance, and spectators will        to be well utilized during the time the edition. “Tips For Hot Future Pilots,”
be admitted to the balcony for a          air cadets were in town (Buckhannon
small admission fee” (Buckhannon                                                           and “Air WAC Still Needs
                                          Record, March 26/April 2/April 9, 1943).         Thousands Of Enlistments” as well as
The Upshur County Historical Society • Spring 2008                                                                               37
air cadets continued from page 37

constant jabs directed toward other                     were in the drafting programs, the         to take place on Wesleyan’s campus
campus companies were just some                         students were mostly from local areas.     for at least the summers of 1943 and
of the news items reported to the                       The engineering aides program was          1944 was the nurse cadet program in
general public and this particular                      extremely demanding with courses in        conjunction with St. Mary’s Hospital
Buckhannon population                                   algebra and trigonometry. Both             Nurses Training School in
(Buckhannon Record, November 16,                        programs were taught by Wesleyan           Clarksburg. At Wesleyan, these
1943).                                                  instructors and local teachers. The        students were provided with
  By December, the local                                drafting program was under the             academic pre-nursing scientific
Buckhannon newspaper carried one                        sponsorship of the West Virginia           courses that lasted three months.
other very interesting piece of                         State Vocational Education for             Following this academic effort on
information in that a “Wesleyan                         National Defense system while the          campus, students continued specific
Trained Wright Field Trainee” was                       engineering program was under the          nurses training at
“First Woman to Participate in Test                     supervision of the U.S. Engineering
Flight.” A Miss Mildred Strelitz                        Science and Management War
participated in an official test flight                 Training program (Buckhannon Record,
during Wright Field’s long history as                   January 8, 1943).
a research and development center                         These programs were an intense,
(Buckhannon Record, December 3, 1943).                  ten week
In reality, Miss Strelitz was not an                    certificate training
Air Cadet while at Wesleyan but a                       and the
student in one of three other                           individuals
important educational, but                              successfully
government sponsored programs                           completing the
conducted on the Buckhannon                             program as
campus.                                                 engineering aides
  Even before the first aviation                        were assigned

                                                                                 directly to the   St. Mary’s. The local
                                                                                 Army Air Force    newspaper recounted that “St. Mary’s
                                                                                 experimental      has one graduate class of cadet nurses
                                                                                 laboratories at   corps now in foreign service in Italy.
                                                                                 Wright Field,     Every young woman who takes up
                                                                                 Dayton, OH.       this cadet nurses training releases a
                                                                                 During            graduate nurse for service in the
                                                                                 training,         national emergency” (Buckhannon
                                                                                 students          Record, May 5, 1944).
                                                                                 received $105       By early spring of 1944, notice was
                                                                                 per month for     given to Wesleyan that the Air Cadet
                                                                                 their efforts,    training program on its campus would
                                                                                 and upon          be terminated. Indication was made
                                                                                 completion of     that the program closing on this
                                                                                 the program,      campus was made, not due to any
                                                                                 they received     “dissatisfaction relative to the
                                                                                 $164 per month    performance” of the Wesleyan
(Photos courtesy of Ralston Family Estate Collection)                            while working     program but rather because “as the
                                                        at Wright Field replacing men who          war continues, emphasis will
group of students arrived on                            had been called to active duty. WV         naturally shift from training of vast
campus, a group of more than sixty                      Wesleyan was the first college, not        numbers of new men to the training
engineering and drafting aides                          offering an engineering degree, to be      of replacements.” Wesleyan was one
enrollees began a course of study                       approved for this type of training         of seventy colleges and universities
that would be entitled “Defense                         (Buckhannon Record, February 5, 1943).     across the country where the Air
Studies.” Made up of mostly                             These programs continued at                Cadet programs were ending and the
females, although a few 4-F                             Wesleyan until the end of the war.         institutions would be returning to
classified males (meaning not                                                                      civilian users (Buckhannon Record, February 4,
                                                          The third special training program
physically fit for military service)
 38                                                                                 The Upshur County Historical Society • Spring 2008
air cadets continued from page 38

1944).                                               an ad appeared in the local paper                        been most pleasant. Dr. J. W. Broyles
  By May, 1944 the program of                        that “The Brinckerhoff Flying Service                    and his splendid faculty have been very
training Aid Cadets in both                          is now in a position to give flying                      kind to us and it is with regret that we
academic and pre-flight training at                  instructions to civilians at the Lewis                   sever our ties here. I would like also to
WV Wesleyan and its airfield at                      Flying Field at Buckhannon” and that                     take this opportunity of thanking all of
Brushy Fork would be relegated to                    “Passenger Flights” could be arranged                    our many friends in Buckhannon whose
history. Over 700 soldiers had                       for civilians by contacting the school                   many kindnesses to the personnel and
gone through the program.                            by phoning 533” (Buckhannon Record, May                  students are things that we will never
According to a local news account,                   12/May 19, 1944).                                        forget (Buckhannon Record, May 26, 1944).
not a single accident or injury                         By the end of May, 1944 the last of                     A rumor has it that some Air
occurred in the entire program                       the Air Cadet students had departed                      Cadets married local girls and
effort. Almost immediately,                          Buckhannon and the now,                                  returned to Buckhannon later on.
attention was drawn to what would                    commanding officer, Captain Sholar,
become of the Brushy Fort airstrip                   expressed his gratitude by stating that
and facilities, but within the week                     Our relations with Wesleyan have

                                                                                                             (Photo courtesy of Max and Avis Reed Collection)

Bibliography and Works Cited                                                         Lions Club Members,” “Aircrew to Present Variety Show Tonight,” “Aircrew
                                                                                     Students Plan Open House,” “Demonstration Given By Aircrew Students.”
“Army Air Corps at Canisius.”  Buckhannon Record, July 2, 1943. “More Air Students Arrive Monday.”
Buckhannon Record, January 8, 1943, “54 Now Enrolled in Defense Studies.”         Buckhannon Record, September 24, 1943. “College Enrollment Affected by War.”.
Buckhannon Record, February 5, 1943. “More Engineering Students to Enroll at      Buckhannon Record, November 16, 1943. “Cub Flier: Army Air Forces 49 . C.T.D.”
   Wesleyan College.”                                                             Buckhannon Record, December 3, 1943. “Wesleyan-Trained Wright Field Trainee First
Buckhannon Record, February 19, 1943. “Coming About March 1; Will Put Enrollment     Woman to participate in Test Flight.”
   Near 700 Mark,” “350 Air Students Arrive at Wesleyan; Greeted by City.”        Buckhannon Record, February 4, 1944. “Wesleyan College Aircrew Training to be
Buckhannon Record, February 26 1943. “College is Prepared for Air Students: About    Terminated.”
   350 Are Expected To Arrive Sometime Sunday; Regular Students Moved.”           Buckhannon Record, May 5, 1944. “Wesleyan to Train 30-35 Cadet Nurses.”
Buckhannon Record, March 19, 1943. “2 Diagonal Runways, Each Half Mile Long Will Buckhannon Record, May 12/May 19, 1944. “Learn to Fly” advertisement, “Aircrew
   be Available,” “Dance Will be Held For Air Students.”                             Training Ends Without Mishap.”
Buckhannon Record, March 26/April 2/April 9, 1943. “Application Made For USO      Buckhannon Record, May 26, 1944. “Last of Aircrew Students Leave.”
   Club Here,” “USO Club to Open Here on Saturday For Service Men,” “USO          Plummer, Kenneth M. A History of West Virginia Wesleyan College: 1890-1965.
   Rooms Opened; Well Patronized.”                                                   Buckhannon, WV: West Virginia Wesleyan College Press, 1965.
Buckhannon Record, May 28/June 11, 1943. “Airport Dedicated Before 2000 Sunday,”  Reed, Avis Beer. Personal interview by the author, January 2008.
   “Aircrew Students Receive Physical Training Outfits.”
                                                                                  Republican Delta, March 2, 1944. “Flight Training Personnel At Airport Do Important
Buckhannon Record, June 11/ June 18/June 25, 1943. “Aircrew Students Fete local      War Job.”

The Upshur County Historical Society • Spring 2008                                                                                                               39

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