Thursday, April 18, 2013

CCC: 80th Anniversary

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  The CCC was started with a twofold purpose: to help with the rampant unemployment of the early 1930s and to provide assistance for our national forests.  The group provided labor for many tree planting and conservation programs and built countless parks and camps that are still in use today throughout the nation.  Many young men were able to work and send money home to their families.  Sometimes their  service took them many many miles away from home to parts of the country vastly unfamiliar to them.  And most of these young men were changed forever in ways small and large.   My father was one of these young men.

He served in Idaho protecting trees from blister rust.  He loved the opportunity to live in the woods - a drastically different environment from the Bronx.  And while he was there he sent home pictures like the one above with notes written on the back to his parents.  Most of the money went home with a small stipend going to the CCC boys for necessities.  He was never a stranger to hard work, but the opportunity to perform it in the midst of nature was a special treat.

I've read many accounts written by CCC boys.  I've never read a complaint about the conditions, the hard work or the compensation they earned.  Everyone always expresses gratitude at the opportunity to participate and the chance to help their families. It is so different from the entitlement attitudes we hear so much of today.

We have spent a few weekends in cabins built by the CCC in nearby state parks.  The simple fact that they still stand strong after 80 years is testament to the quality of the construction.  Each cabin is made of hand felled and hewn logs with huge stone fireplaces and cozy front porches.

I've never been to Idaho to see where my Dad worked, but it is an item on my "bucket list".  There are no structures there to visit but it would still be nice to see the forests in that area and experience the scenes that so affected him.  His love of the outdoors led to family vacations in the mountains which in turn led to my own love for the outdoors.   Such a simple program with such long reaching benefits.  I wish our social programs today produced results of this magnitude.


  1. You father lived my dream! Living in the woods! I would love to do this today, especially with the worldly attitudes your referred to. I really get my fill of those attitudes working on a pressurized metal tube soaring at 30+ thousand feet in the air! What a lovely memory of your father!

  2. I love this post, Nina. My other blog is a family history blog and this fits right in with my sense of importance about remembering and recording stories of people's lives. This was such a sweet tribute to both the CCC and to your father. I'm sure your father's work, as well as so much other work done by people working on CCC projects, continue to bless countless lives. I think times were very different in the 1930s. People were so grateful for any work and didn't have the sense of entitlement that we sometimes see these days.

  3. Because of this post, Nina, I thought you might be interested in this post: She shows photos of the CCC museum. I don't know if it will be interesting to you or not....