- Associated Press - Saturday, August 27, 2016

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - Sarge Maynard is well past retirement age.

In fact, he has retired once.

Fifty-one years ago.

After 20 years of service in the United States Army - not counting time served with the Navy during World War II - Maynard retired in 1965.

Of course he worked as a civilian once he returned to West Virginia, but as most people work with a final retirement age as a goal, Maynard has simply worked to continue working.

And today he can be found doing just that at Jimmie’s Place, the Beckley landmark “beer joint” he and his wife Janice purchased in 1992.

At 91, he works seven days a week.

And he has no plans of slowing down.

Claude Frederick Maynard is a native of Bud in Wyoming County.

An athlete in high school, Maynard transferred from Herndon to Mullens to play football.

Soon, however, the war came calling.

“I was getting close to 18 so I decided to enlist in the Navy,” he said.

Although he chose the Navy, he said it wasn’t because of any preference, but rather efficiency.

“I went down to Huntington and there were two lines,” he said of the enlistment process. “The Navy line was shorter so I decided to enlist in the Navy.”

Maynard doesn’t talk much of his time in the war - in fact he doesn’t allow mention of drugs or war in Jimmie’s Place - but he served throughout the Pacific from 1943 through 1945.

“You name an island in the Pacific and I was there for the invasion of it,” he said.

During the war, Maynard said as troops landed on an island, boats were left behind for those who would stay, so he traveled on landing crafts back and forth from San Francisco to pick up more.

It was during a trip back to San Francisco that he learned of the end of the war.

“We were out parading on the streets of Frisco and found our mission was to invade Japan,” he said.

Reflecting on the atomic bomb that led to the end of the war, Maynard said, “It’s hard to tell how many people we would have lost if it hadn’t been for that. It saved a lot of our troops. And a lot of theirs too, because one big boom and it was over with.”

After his time in the Navy, Maynard returned to West Virginia, but re-entered the military six months later.

“Everything was topsy-turvy with the second World War ending, so I went in the Army,” he said.

His first stop was Pennsylvania, then Texas, where he played a year of football for the Army, and then Europe.

While there, he became involved in Little League Baseball, igniting a passion that would continue when he returned to West Virginia.

As he traveled in France, Maynard said they would “level out a spot and build a field here and there.”

His greatest success came in Oleaon, France.

“We won the European Championship,” he said. “We were supposed to go to Williamsport (for the Little League World Series), but couldn’t get transportation quick enough because of the war with the Algerians.”

But upon his retirement in 1965, Maynard brought his love for the game to Beckley, where he moved with his wife Janice, a Mabscott native, and their young children.

He also brought a desire to see all kids included.

“When I got involved with (Beckley Little League), there were six teams,” he said. “You sent a lot more kids home than you were putting on a team. So I went to headquarters and said I wanted to create something bigger than what we had. We ended up with about 25 or 30 teams so that every kid, no matter how good or how bad, girl or boy, could get on a team.”

And he started what a football league, too, even carting around the majority of the players in an old Volkswagen bus.

“And after practice they would come to the house and I would feed them,” Janice added. “That’s the reason we don’t have any money to this day.

“They ate it all!”

Maynard, known as “Sarge” since his Army days, worked in and around the coal industry after returning home.

Through the years, like many, he became a fan and customer of Jimmie’s Place.

The bar, he said, originally opened as a speakeasy in the 1930s and has been a Beckley fixture ever since.

“It’s a landmark,” said his son, who wears a shirt that reads, “Son of a Soldier.” ”Like Sarge. There will never be another one. It’s a Beckley landmark.”

Janice can often be found at Jimmie’s Place, too. The bar doesn’t serve food - potato chips are the lone exception - or liquor and keeps early hours, closing at 7 p.m.

Maynard knows nearly every customer although new faces are welcome. But just as he prohibits talk of war and drugs (talking about girls is allowed, he says), he also keeps a tight leash on the clientele.

“I like the people who come here,” he said. “And the ones I don’t like, don’t come here.”

Mullens native Gerald Hayden, now an attorney in Beckley, stops in to see Maynard whenever he gets a chance.

“When I was little, I had a newspaper at the school,” he said. “Sarge gave me $20 and I had to send him a subscription to the Mullens Middle School newspaper.

“He’s something else. He’s the reason I stop here.”

John Maynard lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, but says he will drop everything and take over Jimmie’s if and when his parents need him.

He is a proud son.

Proud of his dad for marrying his mom - what he says is his greatest accomplishment - and proud of him for being part of the “Greatest Generation.”

The Maynards are a close family.

“If you’re not close, you’re not a family,” John Maynard said.

But although he’s prepared to take over whenever his parents are ready, Sarge said he’s not quite ready for his final retirement.

“I see too many of these guys who go home and get on the couch like they’re waiting to die,” he said, waving off any notion of stopping.

“Death is going to have to wait on me because I’m going to have something to do that day.”


Information from: The Register-Herald, https://www.register-herald.com

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