Alvin Becraft his journey,
Alvin was born on May 26, 1908 and passed away June 11, 1972 he had 5 sibblings they were , Edward 1903-1960, Paul 1906- 1937, Lucille 1915 - 1992, Vernon 1918-1971, and Alice 1921-2007. His mother was Nellie Dean Becraft, 1889- 1960 and his father was Ira Franklin Becraft on 1884-1973.
Alvin had 3 daughters with his wife Levenia Leona Holland Becraft. They were my mother Dolores Vernon, Nancy Williams and Marilyn Becraft all born and raised in Fort Smith Sebastian County, Arkansas on 2023 Street.
My grandfather, was a proud man. Highly skilled and experienced holding the ability to be consistent with determination as he gained the knowledge necessary to succeed in the field of glass blowing. This is the story of Alvin Becraft and his life long career in glass blowing.
As a young boy, Alvin was provided with a strong foundation that was put into place early on with a set of strict work ethics instilled in him from his father and grandfather. Bound with the support of the labor work force as many of the 1800's and 1900's children were.
It was 1908 as people flooded the streets. Oklahoma was a freshly developed promised land celebrating a new state, abundant with natural resources and materials. Many of the industries that were up and running took advantage of the resources while establishing themselves and building reputations with the ability to employ up to 400 plus workers in their factories. In the middle of all of the established businesses stood popular glass factories. The glass plant owners during the labor work force along with other industries were all seeking out young boys which became a priority necessary to run a seamless strong production line. The owners of the glass plants would hire young boys 8 to 16 year old. In the glass establishments they would place the children into the position of "carry boys" consisting of fetching hot glass from the 130 degree undesirable part of the shop to the seasoned glass blowers on the other side of the plant. In a nineteen twenty two Oklahoma newspaper reported that Alvin Becraft was working as a carry boy at Bartlett and Collins Glass Shop at the young age of only 14 years old. He was also working a newspaper job and attending school at the same time. The article also stated that it was summer break. In fact, this shop was placed right on Alvins daily path as he walked to school everyday. He would peer through the windows of B and C Glass Co. watching the blowers crafting their glass pieces. This could be a contributing factor that Alvin had to follow his brothers and father into the glass industry without choic following a family tradition with only privledge as his incentive. In 1924, when "The Child Labor Law" was put into place it put a stop to working children under the age of 16 with the hard laboring part of the job was finally being enforced. Around 1924 his family moved to Arkansas for better job opportunities. Which leads me to believe the CLLaw that was put into place was the reason for the abrupt move. In 1929 Alvin met his wife Levenia Leona Holland in Arkansas and marries her Sept.7, one month before The Great Depression and The Wall Street Crash. Still it seems Alvin never skipped a beat. Alvin continues to prove he held skills obviously from the results of a labor ready era . All of the men in the early 20th Century carried hard working skills and drive able to hold down a job with the experience and knowledge instilled within them as tireless consistent workers. Alvin took work seriously chasing his dream. As his passion grew while he continued in the glass industry. Alvin is seen at The Simpson / Witherspoon Plant until the mid 1930's. Alvin was also employed at The Radiant Glass Co. where he stays with them for much of the 1930's and early 1940's. Alvins father, Ira eventually moves to West Virginia around 1934 with his wife Nellie and his son Vernon. Vernon was shown working in the tin industry at this time. When researching the census it revealed that Ira was working next to his son Vernon in the steel industry at "Weirton Steel Division" in West Virginia. Ira retires at Weirton Steel Division around 1961. as a Shearer. Now Edward his older brother leaves Oklahoma to marry his wife and Paul passes at 1932 of influenza. His sister Alice and Lucille than marries the Rhoades brothers. At this point Alvin seems to be the only one in his family that remained in the glass industry, making a career out of working with glass his entire life. This is the last time thst I see his family together. As Alvin is still shown working at Radiant Glass Co, Soon around 1948 he is known to be at The Marigold assuming he left the Yummy Yum Ice Cream Distributor ,a furniture job, a refrigeration job and a grocery store job. He also worked at a family ran Tailor shop job and living in a families basement. He than buys there own home on 2023 Short 15 th Street in Sebastian Fort, Smith Arkansas. Now laying down most of his jobs. Once he decided to go to work at, " The Marigold Glass plant" to work next to O.C. Hamon and George Werchsky. Alvin then returns to the grocery store owner of a prior job mentioned above, only this time to come together and build a one room factory in Alvins own backyard calling it "The Becraft Glass Factory ". Inside a few years he was once again set back from a truck accident he was hurt very bad in with my father. Alvin returns and begins his dream of working a five man production line for the duration of his life. Ebb kilgore, Ed Kotowski, Emmitt Craig , George (Bill) Beck, all retired next to my grandfather working endless hours at the shop until my grandfather passes in 1972 from cancer. As an unfortunate transfer his well earned legacy wasreleased to Ralph Smiths Sr. Alvins brother in law moving the shop and legacy to Wheeler Street in Arkansas and changing the name to " Smiths Old Timers.' Which is the reason why any confusion has been placed on my grandfathers original Becraft Glass pieces. Most likely being that the same workers followed Ralph using the same molds. My grandfather was a true crafting artist who blew these questionable pieces with only one ecception the workers beside him at his time of passing. Now for my Uncle Ralph he worked at Dixie cup his entire life. He is my Uncle and He aquired the whole lot of my grandfathers tools. Lighting the furnace on wheeler street. Smiths Old Timers.
I want to thank my grandfathers followers and readers.
Author Leona Beaumonte
watch for part 3
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