Gratie Jewel Ridley

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Gratie Jewel Ridley

Birthdate: (63)
Birthplace: Raymond, Dewey, Oklahoma, United States
Death: March 23, 1964 (63)
Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Place of Burial: Broken Arrow, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Warren A Ridley and Emma Bell Ridley
Husband of Hallie Ridley
Father of Rosemary Ridley Craig; Raedelle Plummer; Marian Ford; David Warren Ridley and Oran Lee Ridley
Brother of Effie Mae Addington; Maude Ethel Ridley; Charles Oran Ridley and Ernest G Ridley

Occupation: retired furniture maker; carpenter; auto mechanic, pattern maker
Managed by: Maggie Anne Sierras-Trotts
Last Updated:

About Gratie Jewel Ridley

At the start of WWI, male teachers were in short supply. Gratie actually taught Wood Shop as a Senior in Central High School since he worked as a carpenter and was the son of a wheelwright. After Granddad had graduated high school, he went to the draft board. When he went back to pick up his orders to report he was told that he was no longer needed. He did trade with a friend, or even his brother Earnest, for some 'trench art' which I still have.

When World War II started, he was too old for service. He did hire on as a carpenter at the Douglas plant. Since he was a master at blueprints, and despite pleadings (on his knees practically from the way my Dad told it) from his boss not to take his best man, he was brought into the model shop. Since he needed the certification he was sent to night school. The teacher, convinced that Gratie could teach him, gave him his certification and he filled out his hours of schooling drawing and coloring movie posters. Once in the model shop, he set out to make a model of the Douglas plant. Two women were assisting by making the structure of the plant while Gratie made the planes and machines. He would carve the models first out of wood, make his molds, and then cast them out of aluminum. All were made within a few thousandths tolerance of scale. Since he worked off of top-secret blueprints, he had clearance for that and he was given permission to visit any part of the mile-long plant except the bombsite room. He told them he really didn’t need it. So he spent his days making what amounted to toys. At one time they were backed up on the line waiting for the glass nose for one of the planes. For three weeks, five days a week, Granddad and two other gentlemen worked around the clock to make a mold to form their own glass. Once the pattern was made, noses crafted and fitted, the men were allowed to resume their normal work. Oh, he had other strenuous duties as well. Since nylons were practically non-existent, he would use his airbrush to paint the secretaries’ legs with leg make-up. I would like to find a picture that was in the Douglas News showing one of the office ladies perched on his workbench with her skirt above her knees (shocking!). He was making a stroke with the airbrush. He would then hand-draw the seam down the back of the leg. Grandma Hallie saw the picture and was rather sceptical about his hard work.

I have a badly yellowed copy of the article about Granddad making the model and the picture shows him pouring aluminum into a mold and an inset of a machine model nestled in his hand. Of course his ham-hand wasn’t the best thing to use for scale but I have access to some of the machines and I have a set of the airplanes plus a model of the Dauntless he used on ashtrays and a couple of unpainted planes. Now, to possess something that was a model of current military aircraft was bad enough, but a SCALE model? It started at the end of the war when Gratie started to clear his tool check. He did not have all of his tools that he had checked out but he was cleared. The model shop had been broken into when he was on vacation and he was called back to see if anything was missing – none of the models were in the shop so it was certain nothing was missing at the time since they were sure it was some models they were wanting. So he went to the Colonel in command over the plant. He tore up Gratie’s pink slip and gave him a chance to work off his tool check. So he set out to make models and ashtrays for the military staff. He requisitioned for empty artillery shells but he went in one morning to find one LIVE round on his desk. He calmly called and had them remove the thing. He made a larger model of the Douglas Dauntless and put it on a swivel at the top of the ashtray made from the empty, cut down ammunition shell. Later the Colonel asked if he had a set for his self. Granddad told him his location would be under the jail where they would have to pipe sunshine to him if he were ever caught with a set. The gentleman assured him he could make a set for his self and be able to take it home. Once Granddad made up a set of what he wanted, he padded a box with shredded blueprints (most were stamped with the dire consequences if one were caught with the blueprints on their person). The Colonel placed his lead seal on wire wrapped around the box. When Granddad reached the gate, the military guard took one look at the seal and motioned him through.

I would like to know whatever happened to the model of the plant and I would like to find out where some of the ashtrays ended up as well.

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Gratie Jewel Ridley's Timeline

August 1, 1900
Raymond, Dewey, Oklahoma, United States
February 22, 1927
Age 26
Gentry, Arkansas, United States
December 7, 1928
Age 28
Gentry, Benton, Arkansas, United States
August 30, 1931
Age 31
Muncie, Kansas, United States
October 4, 1933
Age 33
Kansas City, Wyandotte, Kansas, United States