Pat Shingleton: "Grapes and Fires..."
At Wiltz Drive to Claycut a small grape arbor sits adjacent to the road. It brought back memories of the Concord Grape arbors in Pennsylvania. Residents would sink posts, connect bailing wire and plant the young vines in late February or early March. Our vines were very old, producing enough sweet grapes for consumption and for my Mom to “can” jars of grape jelly. Our neighbor, Lee Whitmire, had a larger, more developed arbor that enclosed a portion of his backyard. This arbor was not only loaded with pods of grapes but also served as an inviting space. I remember my grandfather often visiting Mr. Whitmire under the shade of the arbor during many hot, summer days. From grapes to fires. In 1945 Albert Staehle drew a uniformed bear with the name inspired by New York City fireman “Smokey Joe” Martin. Officially it became Smokey Bear with no “the” in the middle. In 1947, Smokey’s trademark slogan, “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires,” was added with Washington disc jockey Jackson Weaver as the voice of Smokey. As noted in “Acts of God, The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” in 1948 Forest Service artist, Rudy Wendelin presented the renderings of the fire prevention bear; familiar to us today. The Smokey the Bear Act was passed by Congress, regulating the commercial use of the name and image; becoming the most popular symbol in the United States in 1952.