Depression Glass Patterns

Blenko

Walking through our house, I look at all of the lovely pieces of glass, with colors that are so vibrant and beautiful. How could I have known more than 50 years ago that that I would have a collection of glass that my Dad's hands may have touched? I grew up in a small town, Milton, WV. Blenko Glass was and still is located in this town. It was a source of income for many people. Dad started at Blenko in the 1950s and worked there for about 10 years. My four brothers worked there in the summer to earn extra money. When times were tough, Blenko was a Godsend. My Dad, Preacher Clark, and Mom decided in the mid 1950s that it would be profitable to build a small restaurant across from the Blenko factory as there were no eating places close by. I remember the budgeting, planning and then opening day… wow!! Far greater business than we had planned on. The main courses were home cooked, with pies from Price's Bakery, bread products from Heiner's Bakery, meat delivered from Logan's Meat Packing, and delicious Sealtest Ice Cream. The family worked hard, but we had a lot of fun. I can still remember many of the workers and their nicknames. Shorty, Radio, Television, and Jarfly, just to name a few. My cousin and I were teenagers, so we would go to the restaurant after school, work the evening shift until the workers had their dinner about 9pm, clean up and, the next day, do it all again. We would cater into the plant three times a day for the workers' breaks. At that time, hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream were available. I think back to the hundreds of times I was in the plant but hardly gave a second thought to the glass, I remember it was very hot. The glory holes were going, as well as huge fans that almost blew you over. You had to pay attention to where you were walking; it could have been hazardous. When looking back, as a kid I didn't realize what a special place I had access to. All those lovely pieces of glass were there then. Many colors have come and gone, but the hard, hot work of blowing glass remains. Blenko is one of the last glass plants in WV. Over the years, hundreds of plants have closed. We've lost Bischoff, Pilgrim, Rainbow, and Morgantown, familiar collectible names.

In 2002, my husband Roger and I went "back home" to Milton, to meet with members of a newly formed Blenko Collectors Society. It was so good to see former Blenko employees and collectors that I had communicated with since joining the Blenko Collectors Society. Retired Blenko workers showed their skill at producing this beautiful glass, and there were five of the original designers attending. While there, we met two Blenko Collector Society members, Deborah Allen and Rick Trickett who were also members of The Peach State Depression Glass Club in Atlanta. Deborah and Rick both lived within a few miles of us. The Blenko Collector Society continued for a few years but has since disbanded. Blenko now sponsors a weekend "A Festival of Glass". Many of the former collector society members attend. The last few years have been financially difficult for Blenko, with having to close for a couple of months and recently filing for bankruptcy. They are still producing this wonderful glass, we hope they will continue for many years to come.

Lorna Hart

Contact Us  |  ©2015 Peach State Depression Glass Club