Wright joined the Army while working in Canada
Culver World War II veteran Clyde Wright, 93, joined the U.S. Army in 1941, while working in Canada.
"I joined in Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) when I was 16 by falsifying my birth certificate. It didn't take much to change 1927 to 1925, and I had an immediate induction and was sent to boot camp in Fort Lewis, Washington," said Culver resident Wright.
Wright had grown up in Figueroa, California, an area in downtown Los Angeles. "Dad and mom had a dry cleaning business and movie stars from Beverly Hills were their customers," he said.
At age 8 1/2, he was given a special license to drive his mom to work in a Falcon Knight car, then he would go to school.
When he was a teenager, his parents went to Canada to work, and Wright found work at the Bear Lake Lumber Co. Next, he tended train engines for the Canadian Northern-Northern Alberta Railway, which ran a route out of Edmonton.
"It was wood fired going north and coal fired going south. I fed the engines fuel, filled up the water tanks and kept the boilers at a specific temperature and pressure for about nine weeks," he said, noting soon after he joined the Army.
After boot camp training, he was sent to Camp Wolters, Texas. "There I saw on the bulletin board they needed aerial gunnery volunteers. I signed up and went to Las Vegas Army Air Airfield for gunnery school," he said.
His first assignment was back in Edmonton with the 11th Air Force, as the rear gunner on an A-26 light bomber, equipped with 50-caliber guns. "That was the first place we were needed because of the Aleutian Islands," Wright said.
He flew four patrol missions between the Aleutians and Edmonton, then saw another bulletin board post seeking air-sea rescue personnel in Selfridge Field, Michigan. Transferring, he spent three weeks as the port gunner on an 85-foot PT boat, which operated on Lake Michigan.
Next, he was shipped to MacDill Army Air Field in Florida, where the military was gearing up for the D-Day assault.
"We were in the Gulf of Mexico and did standby on fully-loaded (B-17) bombers that were going across to England. Our job was to patrol for subs and pick up crews from planes that didn't make it on takeoff over the ocean," he said.
After all the bombers were gone, he was transferred to Santa Ana Army Air Base, near Newport Beach, California. There, they flew pilots, who had flown 25 or more missions, on convalescent tours to Catalina or San Clemente Island (a Navy test base) for rest and relaxation.
Clyde and Roberta Wright were married in 1944, and had two children, Sandy and Randy. He re-enlisted to go overseas, but when he found out he couldn't take his family, he was allowed to get a discharge.
That marriage, however, didn't work out, and Wright moved to Coyote, California, leaving all his military photos behind. In Coyote, he worked at a gas station owned by the parents of movie star Rory Calhoun. "I got to see quite a bit of Rory," he said.
In 1949, he moved to Lake Tahoe and worked installing the 26-terminal ski lift at Squaw Valley Lodge, and a tram to the top of Squaw Peak. He also did some work for Bell Telephone, which had its own lumber mill, forges, glassworks, and manufacturing units.
He remembered the big winter of 1951-52, when it snowed over 20 feet at Tahoe. "We had the only snow plow in the Tahoe area and it took four of us to operate it, but we got all our stuff cleaned out," he said.
It was in Tahoe that he met his second wife, a Swiss girl named Elizabeth. "She had finished at Cal-Berkeley (University) and came up to ski and work," he said.
They were married in 1953, and he started working for Caspian Lumber Co. as a choker setter, until a log fell on him, breaking his pelvis and putting him in the hospital for seven weeks. Unable to do heavy lifting, Wright worked as a propane driver for Cal Liquid Gas Co. until 1956, when he became a climbing switchman for AT&T at Tahoe.
Meanwhile, the Wright family was growing with five children, Steve, Kim, Keith, Jennifer and Tim. Today, they have 43 grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren.
In 1960, Wright ran the Olympic Exchange telephone office for the Winter Olympics in Tahoe, then in 1961, the family moved near Placerville, California, where he worked for Pacific Telephone as the climbing switchman for all the outlying offices.
Wright spent a 38-year career in Placerville, and retired from AT&T in 1986. In retirement, he focused more attention on the volunteer projects he worked on with the Telephone Pioneers of America from 1956 to 2015.
His family enjoyed vacationing in Oregon, and his favorite spot was Lake Billy Chinook at Cove State Park. So, in 1992, the Wrights bought a house in nearby Culver. "Beth and I moved up here and she helped me build a deck all the way around the house. You can see Mount Hood skiers from our deck," he said.
After his wife passed away in 2006, Wright continued to be active with the Telephone Pioneers on projects, including providing lunch for visitors at Cove Park's annual Eagle Watch, building a stage and replacing plank benches for the park's amphitheater, and building handicap fishing piers and trails for many U.S. Forest Service properties in California, Central Oregon and the Oregon Coast.