Collection Title: Jackson Purchase Oral History Project – Kentucky Dam Project
Series Number: OH214
Interviewee: Oakley, Jewell
Interviewer: Marshall, Tim
Date interviewed: November 29, 1995
Processed by: Jessica Davis in October of 2013.
Date processed: April 19, 2013
Description: 1 sound disc (52 minutes)
Abstract: Jewell Oakley describes working for the Tennessee Valley Authority during the construction of the Kentucky Dam from November of 1939 until he was drafted into the United States Army in the latter part of 1944. He recalled his childhood and early adulthood on the family farm in Marshall County, Kentucky. He told of accidental deaths at the dam, workers being crippled and construction equipment failures. He discussed his daily duties as a laborer and equipment maintenance apprentice. He spoke of horseplay among workers, race relations, schedules, safety procedures, joining the union, the Thanksgiving strike of 1940 and working under severe weather conditions. He concludes with the many changes the dam brought to nearby communities and the Flood of 1937.
Biographical / Historical note: Jewell Oakley was born on June 23, 1915 near Aurora, Kentucky in Marshall County. At age fifteen his family relocated to Calvert City, Kentucky, where he worked on the family farm. He was hired as a laborer by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the fall of 1939 and after a few months he became an apprentice. He was drafted into the United States Army in the latter part of 1944 and served as a trainer in a field artillery unit. An illness prevented him from going overseas and he later was discharged for medical reasons. After the war, Oakley returned to work on the dam until it was completed. He later farmed and worked in construction. In 1950, he was hired by Air Products and Chemical Company at Calvert City in their maintenance department. He remained at the plant for twenty five years before retiring in 1975.
General information: No user access to original recordings. Use audio user copies, digital derivatives, transcripts, and/or tape indexes. This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Permission for reproduction must be requested from Murray State University.