Troy Lusk, a busy, busy man
What can a man accomplish in a life that began with a working career at the age of eight as a water boy and fireman at a moonshine still?
If you are Troy C. Lusk, of Galford Run Road, you can do anything you want, up to and including building a house on Wesley Chapel Road for U. S. Senator Jay Rockefeller and his family.
If you own a home or business in Pocahontas County, chances are Lusk has passed through it to make it better. If he didnﾒt, you have been deprived.
A walk through the basement and first floor offices of the Pocahontas County courthouse will give you an idea of the precision and perfection that has been a hallmark of Luskﾒs life as a master carpenter.
Born April 5, 1923, in a doctorﾒs office in the coal town of Alpoca in Wyoming County, Lusk was raised on a hillside farm on McCageﾒs Ridge there.
It would be years before he came to Pocahontas County where he found that a bond was formed between his family on that ridge and Dr. Roland Sharp.
ﾓDr. Roland told me that he doctored all my people in Mullens.ﾠ They used to pay him with two or three chickens or a ham.ﾔ
ﾓWhen I was four-years-old my dad got killed in the coal mines,ﾔ said Lusk. ﾓI was the man of the house.ﾔ
Life was difficult for the family.
ﾓI had an uncle that made moonshine. When I was eight-years-old I was the water boy and the fireman,ﾔ he said. ﾓHe had a ton truck and he sold moonshine, a truckload at a time. When he would have a sale, I would get five dollars.ﾠ Thatﾒs how I bought my clothes.ﾔ
ﾓIt was hid everywhere.ﾠ It took us half the night to gather it up,ﾔ Lusk remembered.
Lusk helped to support his mother, brothers, Andy, Eldon and Eldridge, and half-brother, Vancie; sisters, Pauline and Bernice, and half-sister, Alice, by working on a sawmill until he was 15.
ﾓ I hewed out cross ties by hand, made hand split shingles, notched dovetails and built my mom the one and only grainery that was on the farm,ﾔ he said.
He visited McCageﾒs Ridge in 2006.ﾠ Everything was gone, except the grainery, which stands as a tribute to his craftsmanship.
ﾓWoodworking was born in me.ﾠ I was the type person to look at what another man was doing and figured out I could do it, too,ﾔ he said.
Lusk pulled a stint with the CCC at Camp Watoga from the age of 15 to 17.
It was at that time that his friend, Bedford Taylor, brought him to Galfordﾒs Creek near Dunmore where he met Taylorﾒs first cousin and Luskﾒs future wife, Glenna Taylor.
Lusk heard that there were jobs in the shipyard at Baltimore so he worked four days in a coal mine to get enough money for a ticket.
ﾓI was in Baltimore when Pearl Harbor was attacked,ﾔ he said.ﾠ ﾓI was making more money than I ever had and was hired in as a trainee chipper and corker.ﾔ
Lusk worked only two weeks at the school before the quality of his work was noticed and he was sent to Slip #10, a ship.
ﾓI took to that air hammer like I had been doing it for five years,ﾔ Lusk said. ﾓI was sending Mom money and I sent Glenna money and she came to Baltimore and went to work for General Electric.
The young couple was married February 10, 1943.
ﾓWe were only married 30 days to the T when I got my Draft Notice,ﾔ he said.
Lusk soon found himself in Europe, Italy, Corsica, Naples and Sicily as a switchboard and teletype operator, working midnight to 8 a.m., seven days a week.
ﾓIf it rang, youﾒd better answer,ﾔ he said.ﾠ ﾓWe handled calls from outfit to outfit and controlled all air traffic, by radar, including all bombers coming in from Africa, France and Germany.ﾔ
Lusk treasures two reminders of his days in the service, V-Mails that he sent to his ﾓdear mother,ﾔ messages saved to be shared with other generations.ﾠ And his well-worn copy of Pultizer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Bill Mauldinﾒs book, ﾓThis Damn Tree is Leaking.ﾔﾠ Mauldin spoke to all WW II infantrymen through his cartoons of ﾓWillie and Joe.ﾔ
After the war Lusk moved to the Charleston area where he ﾓworked around the clockﾔ from 1946 to 1957 as a contractor on his own and building cabinets and stairways for other contractors in the area.
It was in Charleston that he and Glenna welcomed daughters Deanna and Judy to the family.
While on a visit to Pocahontas County, the family passed by the newly planned National Radio and Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. Glenna asked him to consider applying for a job at the new facility.
And Lusk joined in on building the Grote Reber Scope, the Jansky Antennae and the Little Bighorn, built on a hillside, Luskﾒs pride and joy.ﾠ
ﾓIt was Dr. Finleyﾒs project.ﾠ It zeroed in on one certain star.ﾠ From the small end you could hear traffic from as far away as Hevenerﾒs, as if it was right beside you,ﾔ Lusk said.
The design stumped two engineers and Spence Greenwood told them to ﾓgive that Lusk fellow a chance and heﾒll build it for you.ﾔ
With the help of Leon Ervine, Bedford Taylor and Basil Gum, Lusk ﾓgot it going.ﾔ
He also remodeled the house at the Recreation Area and set up the first machine shop and carpentry shop at NRAO, and they are still being used today.
Daughter Janie was born in Bartow in February 1958 and son, Timmy, was born in Elkins in 1965.
ﾓI almost tore that hospital apart,ﾔ said Lusk, so happy was he to finally have a son.
ﾓHe was tired of women and cosmetics,ﾔ laughed Janie.
He returned to his love of construction in 1965 and with the help of Fred Goldizen, took on the remodeling of the county courthouse, which consisted of putting in new offices and bathrooms in the basement and a complete refurbishing of the paneling and drywall in the first floor hallway and offices.
As farmland was being bought up in the Wesley Chapel area, rumors ran rampant as to what was going on in the area.ﾠ Some folks thought that a prison was going to be built there.
But those rumors were laid to rest one Sunday afternoon when Lusk was visited by his former employer from Charleston. Granville Elliott told Lusk he was bidding on a big jobﾗa big house for Jay Rockefeller. Elliott asked Lusk to be his lead carpenter
Lusk took the job that lasted a couple of years for Elliott, but, for Lusk, it lasted until the house was completed and then, off and on, way past his retirement.
In the midst of his commitment to the Rockefellers, he worked for Burns Motor Freight, building the sign in front and remodeling the interior of the office building.ﾠ He also worked for all the Burns, remodeling and adding to their homes.
In addition, he transformed a gas station into the present Fast Break convenience store north of Marlinton, reworked AJADﾒS, now Hudsonﾒs Variety, and added his carpentry skills to other homes and businesses in the county.
When Howeﾒs Leather in Durbin and Hanover Shoe in Marlinton closed, Lusk was hired to teach a carpentry class at PCHS as part of the stateﾒs plan to retrain displaced workers.
Many folks have told him that he should write a book and the tales of his life surely would fill several volumes.
He is now the oldest resident on Galfordﾒs Creek, living out his retirement years in the immaculate home he built on what was originally creek bottom and tree stumps.
He may be the oldest, but he is by no means worn out.
He lost his wife Glenna in 1997, but his children, six grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild add joy to his life.
He takes excellent care of the tools and workshop that took care of him. As his hands on those tools left their mark on this county and beyond, so, too, his chosen field left its mark on him.
He now has some health problems brought on by years of breathing the fine dust of his trade.
But that has not made him sedentary.
Looking around Luskﾒs home, visitors will see that he is a stickler for neatness and detail.
ﾓYou donﾒt even want to be around him when the leaves fall,ﾔ said Janie.ﾠ ﾓWhen one hits the ground, he runs out and picks it up.ﾔ
There is a Proverb that says, ﾓA little idleness, a little folding of the hands and poverty will overtake you.ﾔ
That has not been a problem for Troy Lusk.
Although work ethic, skill and passion are not contagious, they are often passed on to the next generation.
Grandson ﾓLittle Troyﾔ Lusk, Timmyﾒs 11-year-old son, loves to stack wood and after Lusk taught him the proper way to ﾓstart a handsaw,ﾔ he cut up a quite pile of lumber.
ﾓTroy, youﾒve got my name, Iﾒm depending on you to carry on,ﾔ Lusk told his grandson, who responded to his ﾓPapawﾔ that he would do his best.
ﾓAnd I believe he will,ﾔ Lusk said proudly.