When my grandmother left her home state of Wisconsin, I don’t think she realized she would end up working out in the middle of the desert in nowhere Idaho. My grandma graduated from the Civil Aeronautics training program in May of 1945 and boarded a bus headed from Seattle to Idaho. The bus drove to Boise, Idaho and disembarked passengers but those working for the government stayed on and drove. They drove and drove and drove according to grandma and the further south they drove the more she started to wonder what in the WORLD she had gotten herself into. After Boise, the ‘cities’ got smaller and smaller and farther apart but the sagebrush and jack rabbits became more and more abundant as the population became less so.
Finally, after many hours of riding on a hot, rough old bus, the ladies working for the Civil Aeronautics Authority arrived at their final destination; the ‘booming metropolis’ of Strevell, Idaho. At one time Strevell, which was about 2 miles from the Utah border, was quite the little town. It had a school, several service stations, restaurants and even a hotel. Strevell was also where the Civil Aeronautics Authority had an office.
Strevell, Id. Civil Aeronautics office
They performed a variety of tasks at the Strevell Civil Aeronautics office, most of which revolved around transportation, especially air travel. Back in those days airplanes crossed the U.S. using radio transmissions and following lit beacon lights that dotted the country. My grandmothers duties included reading the weather 24/7 and operating and maintaining the beacon lights for the airplanes moving back and forth across the country.
My grandma’s boss was kind of a gruff, grumpy man who was supposed to do the maintenance of the beacon towers which were very tall (they had to be seen by airplanes after all)! This job included changing very large lightbulbs which were located at the top of the towers. The ‘boss’, who was in charge of the towers was supposed to do that portion of the job but coincidentally was afraid of heights, so he made the office ladies climb up those tall towers and do the job for him! Grandma even got herself fired on one occasion after asking the boss, “what if I don’t want to?” when he told her to change the light bulb! After about three days, he hired her back. I’m pretty sure he knew a good thing when he saw it.
My grandmother lived and worked and made friends in this little building until December of 1946. She left to start her next journey after meeting the love of her life but that’s another story for another day!
Some of the businesses back in Strevell, Idaho’s heyday, including the hotel (top right). Strevell is now a ghost town, with very few standing structures remaining.
Photo on the left is what is left of the Civil Aeronautics office where my grandma worked and lived and photo on the right is what is left of the old school.