Wade “Gob” Hampton Martin was born in 1920, the son of Marcus Lafayette and Callie Holloway Martin. He had four brothers, Edsel, Wayne, Fred and Quintin and one sister, Zenobia. All of them carved. In the early 1930s the family moved from Andrews, N.C. to Swannanoa, N.C. Wade was nine at the time and grew up in Beacon Village. After serving in W.W. II, Wade got a job at the Beacon Manufacturing Company. In 1950 he took some carvings to Margaret Roberts, the manager of Allanstand Craft Shop in Asheville. When she sold those, Wade carved more. In her article, “The Carvings of Wade Martin” in May We All Remember Well, Vol. 1, Maggie Lauterer wrote that when Wade got laid off at Beacon he started carving full-time. He found he could make more money selling three carvings a week than working in the mill.
Martin, a master craftsman sold his pieces all over the country and won national acclaim. “Fiddin’ with Wood” by Carol Mallett Rifkin, Asheville Citizen-Times April 29, 2007 mentioned that Wade Martin’s “original carvings sold for $25 or less and were often given as gifts or bartered in exchange for medical or dental care. Many sell for thousands of dollars today. A set of four small musical figures recently sold at Brunk Auctions in Asheville for close to $4,000.”
Wade started carving less and less in the late 1980s and had basically stopped by 1993. And then Algene “Genie” Larae Ott asked Wade if he’d make one more carving, a carving of Smokey the Bear signing “I love you?”
And, so, he did.
Swannanoa resident and photographer Bob Ruiz took the Smokey the Bear photos. Through Swannanoa Library branch manager Carla Hollar, Ruiz loaned the prints to the North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library for scanning. They are a part of the Bob Ruiz Photograph Collection MS256 which contains hundreds of photographs documenting Swannanoa, that he has so generously allowed the library to copy and add to our collection.
You might look for Smokey the Bear when you travel around Western North Carolina. He’s likely to show up in the most appropriate places.
For more information see:
May We All Remember Well, Vol. 1, 1997, “The Carvings of Wade Martin” by Maggie Lauterer.
Woodcarving Mountaineer Style with a Barlow Pocket Knife by Wade Martin, 1986. [Ref. NC 736.4 MAR] Post by Zoe Rhine, librarian