Wynston Edwyn Bland
WOW!! what a name and what a man!!
Born in Bristol, Va., on February 28, 1925 to Harold and Irma Bland. They must have known he was going to be as unique an individual as his name, and he certainly lived up to that.!! When just a young lad, he became a door to door salesman for the Saturday Evening Post. Even then he was creative enough to use some "reverse phychology" with his would be customers. When they answered the door, he looked them straight in the face, smiling sheepishly from ear to ear and asking "you wouldn't want to subscribe to the Saturday Evening Post, would you?" Now who could resist such a salesman? He was blessed with many customers.
The Great Depression broke out when he was just 3 years old, and it took a major toll on both his father and his grandfather, both committing suicide when Dad was just 12 years old. That's when Dad became a salesman to try to help bring in some money to support them as a family. They were very poor, and I remember Dad telling the funny story regarding the holes in his pants.....he would paint his leg black underneath it to try to hide the brightness of his white legs, hoping noone would notice that hole!!
Dad was very bright in school, making mostly A's with little effort. He attended high school at James Monroe High in Fredricksburg, Va. where he was a football hero. Upon graduation, he entered Virginia Tech (then called VPI) at the age of 16. When Grandma sent him off to school, she had no idea how she was going to pay for his education, but she had a vision that her boys were going to make the most out of the gifts God had given them, and she knew somehow the Lord would provide. Living poor was not an option. Those were the days of the hitchhiker...it was so common and "right" back then. Dad hitchhiked his way back and forth from college whenever he wanted to visit his Mom. He always got a ride within a very few minutes of sticking out that thumb. I remember when we were young, and traveling from Chattanooga to Petersburg to visit Grandma, we would quite often see a VPI cadet standing on the side of the road in his uniform, and we'd always pull over to pick him up. Brother and I would hop in the back of the station wagon to give him plenty of room to sit down, along with his suitcase. We were always so thrilled to pick them up and find out where they were from and as much as we could learn during our trip down the road. There was never one ounce of fear that something bad would happen to us. Dad was always looking for these opportunities to "pass the favor on"
WWII broke out after his first year at Tech and he joined the Navy. He served in the Pacific Theatre and on the inside of his hard hat he wrote this little poem..."The man who wins has akes and pains and sometimes loss to bear.
Before the victory he gains, of grief he gets his share."
Dad was a man with a burning patriotism for his country and he did a great job of passing that on to my brother and me. Singing the "Star Spangled Banner" or pledging allegance to the flag many times turned into a teary occasion.
Dad actually graduated from VaTech in 1948, but they allowed him to claim the class of 45, because that would have been his year to graduate, had it not been for the war. After graduation, he married my mother, Mildred Ann Tate, from Birmingham, and they moved to Chattanooga, where he started Wynston Bland Construction Co., after working just one short year for Mark Wilson Construction. Dad was successful right from the gitgo and he was actually the first to get into tilt up walls. He would lay the design down, crisscrossing the top with re-inforced steel, pour concrete and then raise them up with a crain. I remember many a spectacular performance as we stood there breathless, hoping the wall would not break as they were slowly raising it with large crains, to an upright position, Sometimes it broke, but most of the time it was very successful. Dad also had a brick factory where he made handmade brick and fired them in a kiln that he called "Big Mama". He had designed a rod iron table stand that would hold brick table tops, desplaying the different styles he offered. If you wanted him to build you a building, you would come into his show room, look over all the tables, pick the style you prefered, and then he would give you a complimentary table as a "thank you" giving him the job. We have two of those tables in our home today, and both of our sons grew up, bumping their heads on the corners as they learned to walk.
When my brother was old enough to become a boy scout, Dad became a scout master, and maintained that title for brothers whole boyscout career. They went on a camping trip somewhere every month!! Dad was dedicated to being a good dad, and also helping many boys have experiences he felt were important in life.