Title: Fred White
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Title: Fred White
Series Title: Fred White
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Full Text

Fred White
March 16, 1998
37 pages Open

Fred White describes his father and his family life, including farmwork (1-2). He also
discusses his early schooling and the effects of leaving school at a young age (3).
Because of the Depression, several members of his family went into New Deal
organizations (4-6). He details his reasons for joining the CCC in 1935 and discusses
the entrance physical (6-8).

After initially being sent to Louisiana, White was transferred back to Florida (8). He
talks about the capacity of the CCC to produce soldiers for WWII (9). He discusses his
experiences at the Louisiana camp, including quarantine, uniforms, and medical
facilities (9-12). White then recalls the Florida camp, including the physical layout, the
discipline, and a typical day of work (13-15). He details the road-building (15-16). He
also talks about pay and preferred tasks for him it was kitchen orderly (16-17). White
then recalls an anecdote about receiving KP duty for being AWOL (17).

Next he talks about the functioning of the camp waking up, meals, and exercise,
focusing on cards and other forms of recreation (18-20). He also recalls fights that
broke out over gambling and drinking, as well as the punishments facing the brawlers
(20-22). White enumerates skills he learned from his work in the CCC (22), and also
talks about commanding officers and "local experienced men" (23-25). He discusses
sports and religious services as well, and his trips into town (25-26).

White mentions segregation at the camps, as well as roles for women (26-27). He talks
about leave and desertion, although he adds that homesickness affected him very little
and that his health was excellent at this time (27-28). He discusses interactions with
various people in the camps, and mentions dealing with Cajuns and a language barrier
at the Louisiana camp (28-29). He cites his reasons for reenlisting and his reasons for
finally leaving (29). He discusses music at camp (29-30). White talks about the
importance of his CCC experience and defends its merits (30-31).

Finally, he discusses his career after the CCC and mentions meeting his wife (32). He
also talks about his work during World War II, particularly in welding and roadwork (33-
34). He talks about the end of the CCC and his experience with the draft during World
War II a back problem prevented him from serving (36). White concludes by
discussing the founding of the CCC alumni organization (37).

Fred White
March 16, 1998
37 pages Open

Fred White describes his father and his family life, including farmwork (1-2). He also
discusses his early schooling and the effects of leaving school at a young age (3).
Because of the Depression, several members of his family went into New Deal
organizations (4-6). He details his reasons for joining the CCC in 1935 and discusses
the entrance physical (6-8).

After initially being sent to Louisiana, White was transferred back to Florida (8). He
talks about the capacity of the CCC to produce soldiers for WWII (9). He discusses his
experiences at the Louisiana camp, including quarantine, uniforms, and medical
facilities (9-12). White then recalls the Florida camp, including the physical layout, the
discipline, and a typical day of work (13-15). He details the road-building (15-16). He
also talks about pay and preferred tasks for him it was kitchen orderly (16-17). White
then recalls an anecdote about receiving KP duty for being AWOL (17).

Next he talks about the functioning of the camp waking up, meals, and exercise,
focusing on cards and other forms of recreation (18-20). He also recalls fights that
broke out over gambling and drinking, as well as the punishments facing the brawlers
(20-22). White enumerates skills he learned from his work in the CCC (22), and also
talks about commanding officers and "local experienced men" (23-25). He discusses
sports and religious services as well, and his trips into town (25-26).

White mentions segregation at the camps, as well as roles for women (26-27). He talks
about leave and desertion, although he adds that homesickness affected him very little
and that his health was excellent at this time (27-28). He discusses interactions with
various people in the camps, and mentions dealing with Cajuns and a language barrier
at the Louisiana camp (28-29). He cites his reasons for reenlisting and his reasons for
finally leaving (29). He discusses music at camp (29-30). White talks about the
importance of his CCC experience and defends its merits (30-31).

Finally, he discusses his career after the CCC and mentions meeting his wife (32). He
also talks about his work during World War II, particularly in welding and roadwork (33-
34). He talks about the end of the CCC and his experience with the draft during World
War II a back problem prevented him from serving (36). White concludes by
discussing the founding of the CCC alumni organization (37).

Interviewee: Fred White
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: March 16, 1998

W: My dad was a farmer, sharecropper. He never had anything of his own except a
house full of children.

P: What did your family do as a whole? Did your family work on the farm?

W: My dad was always looking for a place for all the family to work. We worked from
the time we were big enough to walk until I left home.

P: What kind of farm work did you do as a young boy?

W: Plowing a mule or a horse. We had mules and horses; [they were] not our own.
They belonged to the people we sharecropped for. They furnished all the
material and everything, and we did the labor.

P: How long did your father work as a sharecropper?

W: Off and on all of his life. He worked in a lot of different things. He worked in the
woods cutting timber, pulp wood, and blocks for a stave mill or crate mills. We
probably cut a lot of timber over in the northern part of Alachua County near the
Bradford County line, that came to Gainesville or Micanopy for this crate mill.
The crate mill had been down there for years, but we did not do the hauling of it.
The people we cut the timber for hauled it to where they wanted it to go. We cut
many, many blocks from big trees for ten cents a block. They were about fifty
inches long.

P: You did that work as well?

W: We did that.

P: How old were you?

W: From the time I was big enough to pull the end of a cross cut saw. We worked in
the woods when we were not plowing a mule or things like that on the farm.

P: So you were ten or twelve years old?

W: I started plowing at nine years old. My father moved down to Clearwater, around
Largo, in 1923, and he stayed down there until the early part of 1927 when the
banks started closing and all the people who had money just about lost it in the
banks. We did not have any money, so we did not lose any, but it hurt us

Page 2

indirectly because we were working for people who had money. They did not
have money to pay us to work for them after they lost it in the bank. So my Dad
moved back up between Lake Butler and Worthington Springs and started
farming with a man named Rance Anders. He had about a twelve horse farm
and we worked for him for wages in the spring of 1927. That is when I started
plowing at [the age of] nine years old for fifty cents a day. My dad got a little
more than that because he was more experienced, but my older brother and I got
fifty cents a day to plow on the farm.

P: How many were in your family?

W: Fifteen of us. I was the second oldest of the fifteen.

P: Can you give me some breakdown in terms of...

W: My older brother died in 1960. He was born June 12, 1916. He was the oldest of
the fifteen of us.

P: How many males and females?

W: There were nine girls and six boys in the family.

P: What was the age range?

W: There were approximately two years difference in the ages until after the
eleventh was born and then they had two sets of twins to cap it off. I was at a
meeting in Miami when Americorps was organized and I made a little speech and
I told them, well, when I went in the CCC=s, there were eleven children at home.
After that, two sets of twins, so I said my dad and mother could use that twenty-
five dollars a month going home to help support the children.

P: Where did you all live? Where did you find a place for that many people?

W: He never had a house of his own. Most of the people he worked for had a little
house that we could live in and we just moved from place to place. My dad did
not stay in one place very long. He was always moving.

P: Wasn't it awfully crowded?

W: Yes, very much so, but we managed.

P: In retrospect, how did you feel about that kind of life? Do you feel like you were
deprived? Did you feel like you were unhappy? How do you recollect those

Page 3

W: Looking at it now, we were deprived of a lot of things, but at the time we did not
realize it and it did not bother us at all. It is what you were used to. You just go
ahead with what you have and make the best of it. We managed and got along
all right. We fought together and played together and we just enjoyed each

P: What about school?

W: I went to school. I first started school in Largo in 1925. I was a little older than I
should have been when I started school, but that was the first place I went to
school. I went to school there a couple of terms. I guess they call it kindergarten
now. We called it primer back then. I went through the second grade in Largo.
Then we moved back up here and I did not go to school until we moved back to
Brooker in 1928. We lived beyond Worthington Springs near Lake Butler in
1927. After we made a crop for Rance Anders, we moved back to Worthington
Springs and we worked on the tobacco farms to try to make a living. We kept
groceries on the table, but such as it was, we never had a lot of fancy food to eat,
but we had good stable groceries. Maybe that was the best for us really.

P: How far did you go in school?

W: I never completed the third grade in school. I went part of two terms in Brooker
in the third [grade] and I never went back. My dad did not think we should go to
school when we had to work to do.

P: Did you brothers and sisters go?

W: They went, some more that I did, but of the fifteen of us, not one of us finished
high school. I had one sister that completed the eleventh grade. She got
married and she did not go to school anymore. Most of them got a little more
than I did. I consider the experience that I have had with other people since I left
home in 1935 as a chance to learn a little bit more that I did not learn in school.

P: How did only getting to the third grade effect you the rest of your life?

W: I think I had a kind of inferiority complex. I felt others were a lot smarter than I
was and I was holding back many times. If I was educated enough, I could join
in the conversations that were going on, but I think I missed a lot by not having
the education. So many times people were talking about things that I knew
nothing about. If I had gone on to school and milled with other people enough to
learn and know what they were talking about, then I could have joined in the
conversations a lot better and had a part in it. I always felt that other people
were superior to me. As I get older I feel like they put their pants on just like I do
in the morning, and I have a right to say my thing just like they say theirs. So that

Page 4

is the way it has been for the last several years. I do not hold back when I have
something to say. I say it whether it comes out right or not.

P: Where did you learn to read and write?

W: I just learned it from trying to read. Some people taught me a little bit. When I
first went in the CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps], I went to Louisiana for the
first four months. They had a class, and they enrolled boys that they considered
illiterate which was my class. They enrolled us and we started going to school,
but I was only there four months, so I did not have a chance to learn much there.
I did not really see the need to take advantage of all the opportunities that I
really had. I could have done a whole lot better. Now I can see it. The hindsight
is better than foresight. I did not realize it back then, but I could have learned a
whole lot more. I just thank the Lord that I learned what I did. I say when you
mingle with so many people, like I did in camp for three years and four months--I
was with people from all over the United States--you can learn a little bit from all
of them if you just listen. I think I picked up a lot of things, maybe some good and
some not so good.

P: Let's talk a little bit about the Depression. How did the Depression, particularly
after 1930 or 1931, impact your family?

W: We moved around Starke and we worked for people who had strawberries and
things like that. My dad moved from Brooker up to Heilbronn Springs and Lawtey
in 1929. He farmed for Homer Caney over in Brooker during 1928 and 1929, and
then we moved up to Heilbronn Springs in 1930 to pick strawberries. We would
find other odd jobs in the afternoon because we picked strawberries in the
morning to try to get them ready for the market by one o'clock. Then we moved
over east of Starke and cut timber for a fellow for six months or so. We moved
closer to Starke when things really got tough for us. The WPA [Works Progress
Administration] was started and my dad worked on the WPA. They only let one
out of a family work on the WPA, so my dad arranged for my older brother to
work on the WPA while he had a chance to pick up little odd jobs other places.
Then when the CCC were organized in 1933, we moved to Hampton just before
Christmas and my brother went in the CCC, January 10, 1934. I worked around
Hampton doing whatever we could find farming for people. It made it hard on us.
I worked at a stave mill in Hampton for a little while when I was sixteen years
old. Then I worked with a fellow named Frank Johnson who contracted clearing
the right-a-way, [cutting] the underbrush for the Southern Bell telephone
company. He had a great big truck and everybody that was working for him
would throw their bedding on the truck, which was just a mattress. He had an old
wood burning stove and one fellow would do all the cooking. We would just go
wherever the job was. He would rent a house and we would move in and just
throw our bed on the floor and we would camp there for a couple of weeks or as

Page 5

long as the job lasted.

P: Probably in some ways, you were lucky to get any kind of job.

W: That is right. We were very fortunate. We were taught to work and we were not
afraid of work. When I had a job, I usually kept it because I worked. I went to
work at the stave mill in Hampton and I took another fellows job because he
was out for a few days. He was a little ill and when he got well and was able to
come back to work, the foreman said, I do not need you, so I had the job. It was
bad for him, but it was good for me. I kept the job, but he told him he had
another job and if he would learn to do that he would put him back on. Every
dollar I made, or the biggest part of it, went to my dad to help pay the grocery bill
until I left home. Then they got twenty-five dollars a month from the CCC=s for
three years and four months while I was in. I lacked twenty-one days of being
twenty-one years old when I got out of camp, March 9, 1939. Then I was on my
own. I said, that is it, I am going to do something for myself.

P: How did your father feel about working for the WPA? Did he consider that to be
a dole? Was he in any way reluctant to work or have your brother work for the

W: No, I think the situation was times were so hard that we were just happy to get
anything so that we could make a dollar or so to help survive or to buy a few
clothes and keep a little food on the table.

P: What was your view of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal? Do you remember
how you perceived Roosevelt? Or how your father did?

W: I think, from what I remember, that they were very glad to have Franklin Delano
Roosevelt as president, because he helped to get things going. As you know,
the first thing he did was to help farmers. I guess they just insisted that farmers
kill a lot of their stock. They had overcrowded the market to where they could not
sell anything and people did not have any money to buy it with in the first place.
The market was glutted and they killed a lot of hogs and cows and things on the
farm, just slaughtered them, done away with them. I think the government paid
them a little something for what they did, but it got the economy straightened out
and we began to make a little money. But things were still pretty hard even up
until World War II started, and then things began to pick up because a lot of
defense plants opened up and we got work there. The government made jobs
for a lot of people. The important thing was that we had something to do when
the CCC were organizing. Thousands and thousands of boys went into camp.
They gave them a job. I know that the ones who were joining the army back then
became jealous of the CCC=s because we got thirty dollars a month and they got

Page 6

about nineteen dollars a month as a buck private, but they were getting all theirs
and we got five dollars a month. Ours went home to our parents.

P: How did the Depression effect your long term outlook on life?

W: I do not really know how to explain it except that we just took things every day as
they come and hoped for the best. Just do the best we could with what we had.
I know around Hampton, just before I went into the CCC=s, I was working at
anything I could get. Out beyond Hampton Lake, there was a farmer who
needed someone to plow for him and I would walk about three miles in the
morning and plow all day behind the mule until sundown and walk back home.
That was a lot of walking and I was tired, but that is what we had to do. I think I
got seventy-five cents a day. When we got our pay, it consisted of things he had
on the farm, like a gallon of syrup or a few potatoes or a piece of meat out of the
smokehouse. They paid labor with things that they grew on the farm. Like I told
them in Miami when I was there for the organizing of the Americorps, I said, that
was all right because we were going to the store and buy it anyway. We were
working for food and that was all right with us. We never had any cash money to
spend for any pleasure or anything. We seldom ever got to go to a movie even
though the tickets were very cheap at that time.

P: What about anybody else in your family? Your brother was in the CCC and one
brother was in WPA. Did anybody else in your family participate in any New Deal

W: No, nothing except when my younger brother, Billy, when he became old enough
went in the CCC on January 10, 1934. He was my borther who worked on the
WPA. He was eighteen just a month before Pearl Harbor and he joined the navy.
He was right in the midst of it for about four years.

P: Let's go to when you joined the CCC. Give me the dates when you joined and
tell me specifically why you joined.

W: I joined October 28, 1935. I went because I thought it was much better than
anything else I had up until that time, and it was a chance to help my family. I
had helped them all along, but I could not earn as much money plowing on the
farm and things as that sort as I could by going into the CCC=s. Many, many
times I would write home and say, if you have an extra dollar, I would like to have
a dollar or so for myself, but if you need it, I have a place to eat and a place to
sleep and I will get by without it. I don't really have to have it.

P: What did you spend your five dollars on?

Page 7

W: I smoked cigarettes back then and spent some of it for cigarettes. I didn't
smoke all that much, but I smoked a little bit and would have a cold drink once in
awhile and a piece of candy, something like that. Movie theater tickets were
twenty cents, so we would get to go to a movie once in awhile, things like that. I
had more money than five dollars because I was always looking for a way to
make an extra dollar. Many times, the boys who got money from back home
would pay me to work on KP [Kitchen Police] on weekends in their place or if I
had to sit on a fire tower in Ocala National Forest, they would pay me a little extra
money. I washed clothes for others. I shined shoes for them. In the Ocala
National Forest, we had barracks with two wood burning heaters in each barrack
and I would get up before daylight in the morning and put a fire in each one of
them. I made sure we had plenty of wood and at the end of the month, each one
of them in our barracks was supposed to give me a quarter. Well, I was at the
head of the line when we got that money and so I would get my quarter.

P: Did they always pay you?

W: Not everyone, but I collected a lot of them and it helped a whole lot. I was just
out to make an extra dollar. I stayed at camp and worked many times while
others were going home or out having a good time. When I went home to
Hampton or Brooker or wherever my dad and mother was living, I had to
hitchhike most of the time. I never had money to pay my way home. I learned to
be pretty good at hitchhiking.

P: Where did you first hear about the CCC?

W: I did not hear too much about it until my brother joined in 1934. He was stationed
in Olustee.

P: Were there recruiters or advertising posters? Did you learn about it just from
your brother?

W: That was the only thing that I remember now. I knew that when he went in, but I
do not remember hearing hardly anything about it before then.

P: Where did you sign up?

W: In Starke, Bradford County.

P: When you signed up, did they interview you before they allowed you to become
an official member of CCC?

W: Not in Starke. They had the recruiting team here in Gainesville and they would
send messages to Starke and ask for so many from Bradford County and the

Page 8

surrounding area and maybe other counties. They would all come into
Gainesville and there was a big group of us. They wanted twelve when I came in
and I was the thirteenth one, but they took me anyway, so I always considered
thirteen my lucky number. They enrolled us right here. They would give us a
little preliminary exam, like testing our eyes and our hearing. See if you could
read the lines up there for your eye test and all that. I remember one fellow said,
I cannot read it, but I can count them. So that is the way a lot of them were at
that time. They could not read a word, but they could count.

P: Did this examination deal with your character or background? Did they ask you
whether you had any arrests or anything like that?

W: Not that I remember. No questions were asked about your character.

P: Was there a standard for height and weight?

W: Not that I remember. They were all different sizes.

P: When you got through your preliminary work and you were chosen, where did
they send you?

W: There was fifty-four accepted right here in Gainesville. We loaded on a train right
here on Main Street. You know where the train used to run right down Main
Street, and fifty-four of us boarded that train from the surrounding area. They
took us to Jacksonville and we went to a great big open restaurant, and we got a
good meal and that was enjoyable. They gave us a bag of sandwiches and we
did not know where we were going, but they said, this is supposed to last you
until you get to camp. We wound up in Hammond, Louisiana, way in the
morning, before daylight. Army trucks were there to pick us up and take us into
the camp. It was about thirty-five miles out to a little town called Springville.

P: Did you request a place? Did you ask for a certain job or a certain location?

W: Nothing at all until after I got to Louisiana and then they said we could transfer to
other camps if we wanted to. Of course, I put in for a transfer back to Florida.
That is what I knew all my life. March 5, 1936, my transfer came through and a
friend of mine and myself, we went thirty-five miles into Hammond where we
could catch the bus or we could hitchhike or we could walk or do whatever we
wanted to. They took us to Hammond in the army truck then we were on our
own. My friend and I started hitchhiking from Hammond and we got to New
Orleans. The bus the others were on passed us in New Orleans. We beat them
that far, but we had a struggle from there. We finally made it to Crestview and
we got stranded. We just could not get out of there. We started counting our
pennies and said, I believe we can rake up enough money to buy a ticket to

Page 9

Jacksonville, so we did. We managed enough to get to Jacksonville and we
were dead tired. We got on the train and we just stretched out on the seat and
went to sleep. We woke up in Jacksonville, so I hitchhiked to Hampton and he
hitchhiked to Graham. Then on March 12, 1936, we reported to our camp, 1420
Ocala National Forest on Lake Kerr. I stayed there from March 12, 1936, until
May of 1937. The camp closed there and we moved to Fernandina. I was there
from May of 1937 to March 9, 1939. I tell a lot of people that I stayed in just long
enough to see a lot of little, puny, pale-faced boys come into camp. Within six
months or so, they had a little color in their face and a little meat on their bones.
When World War II broke out, a big majority of CCC went right into the armed
forces. The CCC made the armed forces. They made men out of those boys
that went into camp. I can really say a lot about that.

P: When you went from Gainesville to Jacksonville, was that the first time you had
ever been on a train?

W: No, it was the second time. The first time was when my mother and the five of us
who were born at that time boarded the train here in Gainesville and one of my
aunts went with us. My dad and some of my mother's brothers were staying in a
house in Ozona. It was the first place we went when we went to south Florida,
just before Christmas in 1923. That was my first train ride. I had an uncle who
was living over here, down from La Crosse. He had a little money that he got
selling moonshine. He was a bootlegger, but he had some money. He took us to
Gainesville and he helped us get on the train and they met us when we got down
to Ozona. We unloaded in a place called Southerland. I do not hear much about
the place anymore, but that was the name of a little place right close to Ozona.
So we lived there for a little while and wound up moving on over to Largo.

P: Was the experience in Louisiana the first time you had been out of the state?

W: First time I was ever out of the state of Florida.

P: When you started the program, what did they tell you about the kind of
experience you were going to have? They must have given you some sort of
orientation. What did they tell you about what they expected from you? Did they
explain to you how much you would be making and what hours you would be
working and all that sort of information?

W: They told us what we would be making, but as far as the type of work or anything
that we were to do, I never remember hearing anything about that at all.

P: Somebody said at one point that some of the people hired by the CCC were
taken on instead of going to jail. Do you know of any cases like that?

Page 10

W: Not at all. I never heard of any of that. But they did put on a lot of older people
as local experienced men. They were called LEM=s and they got forty-five
dollars a month. We had several of those, but they were in the most responsible

P: Talk about your first experience when you started at the camp in Louisiana.
What happened the first day you got there?

W: They kept us isolated from the other 150 or so that were there. We were
quarantined for two weeks. We were not to leave camp. We took a series of
shots, just like they would inducting you into the armed forces and to get us as
healthy as they could. Then after two weeks, we began to mix with the other
boys. We were all just one group after that. When our two weeks was up, the
sergeant came out with the names on a roster and the older boys that were there
lined up in two lines. They had their belts in their hands and when the sergeant
called our names, we would go down between the two lines of boys and we
would get a [slap] with the belt. That was a bad thing because some of them
used their belt buckles and it started some fights and a lot of our boys were
transferred to other companies because they got into trouble, but you couldn't
blame them. I don't remember being hit with a buckle.

P: Why did they run through that gauntlet?

W: That was just initiation. When we went to camp they started hollering, fresh
meat, immediately.

P: This was a one time thing and after that they did not bother you?

W: As far as I know it never happened after that.

P: Once you were isolated for two weeks, then what happened?

W: They sent us out. During that two weeks, after the other boys would go out to the
different projects, they kept us busy around the camp cleaning the camp, raking
pine straw, leaves or whatever and working in the kitchen some. When the older
boys were there, they tried to keep us isolated as much as possible. We went
out in the woods. We were cleaning out ditches, shrubbery and stuff like that and
building bridges across canals and places that were dug in the woods to just
make it more convenient to get to fires that would break out and things like that.
That was a big part of the CCC=s, building roads and things to help get to fires.
That is what we did in the Ocala National Forest mostly.

P: What personal belongings did you take with you?

Page 11

W: I did not have much to take. I took the few clothes I had with me, but after I got
there I did not need any of them because they gave us a supply of clothes.

P: Talk about your different types of uniforms.

W: We had khakis for dress and we had regular old blue denim jumpers and pants
that we used. Some of them were big enough for two people my size. As one of
our fellows said, these clothes are fitters made by the wear=em company.

P: Did you have to wear your denim during work assignments?

W: You did not have to if you did not want to. You could pull your jumper off and go
with just the pants on if you wanted to. Many of us did when the weather was
warm enough, especially in the Ocala National Forest.

P: But most of the time you were supposed to be in some sort of uniform?

W: No, not necessarily. You could just about wear anything you had during your
work detail. The camps were controlled by the army. We would get up in the
morning by the bugler and we would make our beds, sweep up around our beds
and make sure everything was in order. By the time we got to the bath house and
washed our face and cleaned up a little bit, we would fall out for reveille and by
daylight we had to take exercises and all that. They would call the roll and make
sure you were there. By the time we got through with that, it was time to go and
eat breakfast. We would have a few minutes between eating breakfast and
being turned over to the Park Service or Forest Service, whichever we were in.
In the forest, it was the Forest Service, and then in Fernandina, it was the Park
Service. All the ones that were not working inside the camp in the kitchen and
around the camp, were turned over to the Park Service. They would send us out
on trucks to the projects that we were designated to work on.

P: When you first got to Hammond, did you know anybody in the camp?

W: No, except some of the boys that I went with. I knew some of the ones from
around Bradford County who were enrolled at the same time I was.

P: Did that help you in adjusting?

W: Yes, I think so. Just good to know somebody there.

P: When you arrived, can you explain how you felt? Were you nervous? Were you

Page 12

W: Not that I remember. I was just one of the boys. I had been away from home
many times before going into the CCC when I was working with Frank Johnson,
cutting a right-of-way/underbrush for Southern Bell Telephone Company.

P: Just glad to be there?

W: Yes.

P: What did you do most of the time you were in Hammond?

W: We went out to the woods to do the work we had to do. We were just cutting
underbrush around places and cleaning out ditches and building bridges over
canals and things of that sort. It has been so long I cannot remember a whole lot
of what we did during the four months that I was in Louisiana. I remember a
whole lot more about what we did in the Ocala National Forest.

P: When you got to Hammond, did you have another medical exam?

W: Yes, I am sure that they gave us a good physical. It was mandatory that we take
the shots for all different diseases. When you bring a whole big group together,
you never know what you are going to be involved in. That was the purpose of
quarantining the group that I went with for two weeks before we mingled with the
older ones.

P: They had a dentist and a medical facility at Hammond?

W: Yes. They may not have had one at camp, but they always had one to come to
camp, maybe a certain day of the week or once or twice a month. All the ones
that were scheduled to have dental work done or have their teeth examined, they
would take care of that when they would come to camp.

P: How did you get from Hammond to Ocala? Did you request a change?

W: They gave us the privilege of transferring if we wanted to. I went and put in for a
transfer back to Florida. I did not specify any particular camp. It just happened
that I wound up in Ocala National Forest.

P: Did you request any kind of work?

W: No, nothing at all.

P: Just wanted to go back to Florida?

W: I would just do whatever they told me to do. But I would work on several different

Page 13

P: Let's go to Ocala then. Describe to me what that camp was like.

W: I do not know if I understand exactly what you mean.

P: Did you have barracks? Did you have a mess hall? Describe the physical layout
of the camp.

W: We had a big mess hall and we had an infirmary and we had a recreation room.
We had an educational room, and we had four barracks to stay in. Also had a
latrine back of the barracks. There were about fifty of us in each barracks. Back
in Louisiana, they had little cabins and there were about four to five in each one
of those and that was a difference. They were built low to the ground and
boarded up about three feet from the ground with about three feet of screen.
They had canvas curtains that dropped down or you would tie them down at
night, but in the morning we rolled them up and cleaned everything up. In the
Ocala National Forest we had barracks and that was better in a way because we
had about twenty-five bunks on each side. The sergeant and the commanding
officer would go through there every morning and the floors had better be
cleaned and bedsmade. Everything in order. They looked from one end of the
barracks to the other and those beds better be lined up, all the way from one end
to the other. They figured out a deal to make sure we had a fresh made bed to
sleep in every night because we had to strip the bed--then fold the blankets,
sheets, pillowcase and fold the bed toward the head. We had to take the
blankets, fold them up, and put them on the head of the bed. Then we had to
fold our sheets, put them on the blankets and fold our pillowcase and lay the
pillow on top of it. Every evening we had to make up that bed. That was an
advantage to us if they had not made that rule. Most of the guys would just throw
the covers back over and tuck them under. But that was one of the first things
they taught us when we went in, how to make up our bed.

P: So the environment was quite a bit like military discipline?

W: Oh, yes, definitely.

P: Were the sergeant and the commander army?

W: The sergeant was a CCC enrollee just as I was. A lot of the commanding officers
were reserve officers. We had a commanding officer and a mess officer. Many
times the doctor was a serviceman. The doctor would not stay there at the camp
all the time, but he would make his rounds. When we needed someone he would
come. We had a guy that was in charge of the infirmary and he knew medicine
pretty good. Like the time when I had the mumps. Of course, I was exposed to
them. We had several cases in camp where they had a quarantine ward down

Page 14

there, too. Some of the guys would slip out at night and come up to the barracks
and play poker with the guys, so I was exposed. One morning I woke up and I
stretched a little bit and the pain hit me right under the left ear there and I said,
uh-oh. I went by the infirmary and told the guy there and he looked me over and
he said, you go right onto the quarantine ward. I will send your bed down there.
So that was it. I was in there for nineteen days in the quarantine ward.

P: You must have been pretty sick.

W: They just made sure that they kept you there long enough. I was sick. I had it
double. I had it on both sides and I missed going home in 1936 during
Christmas. I went home for New Years. I was able to go by that time.

P: Explain to me what a typical day would have been like in Ocala. Start when you
got up and what you went through all day.

W: Well, we only worked six hours a day during the short days of the year. During
the summer when the days were long, many times out on the job that I was on,
we would work twelve hours a day and build up some time, so we would go
home and stay a week. They allowed some of us to do that. I started out helping
to clear the underbrush on about a hundred foot right-a-way and the surveyors
would go through and set a center line of stakes. I got in the staking crew and
we would go through and measure out from the center fifty feet on each side and
set stakes for the underbrush crew to come in and cut all the underbrush. We
would have to set a reference stake out, so we could go back and have
something to measure back to the center when they got through, because they
destroyed most of the stakes. We would set the stakes then for the grader to
come and grade the road after it was cleared up. Throw up the grade and then
we would go back to set center stakes and then measure out about eight feet on
each side of the center and set stakes for the subgrade. The road grader would
come in there and push the dirt out from the center to the sides. Then the
shovels and the crew would come in and level it down a lot more. We would
come back and set stakes again for the clay. We would pour about eight inches
of clay into that road and it would pack down to about four inches by the time the
road was really settled. I worked in the staking crew. I worked in the clay pit
some shoveling clay and I helped prospect for some of the clay. We would go to
the big hills and we had something like a posthole digger, but it would go a lot
deeper. I had a chart and checked off about ten by ten and for every ten foot
square, we would dig a hole and prospect for clay. We would keep a record of
how deep it was to the clay and go on down and see how much clay was there.
Then if they thought it was a good prospect, we had a little bit of heavy
equipment, but not very much, we would go in there and move off all of the dirt
and start getting the clay. First thing, they would dig a clay pit and build a ramp
over it. The machines were used to scrap the clay. They did not want to dig it,

Page 15

but just scrape it. It was called fresno scraper. We would pull it behind a little
caterpillar and scrape the clay and run across that ramp. We had a hopper and
we would just load it in there. There were four of us in the clay pit and when that
fresno went across that hopper and dumped the clay, we would shovel it all in
from around the edges. The truck would back down in with the pit and trip the
hopper. We would load that truck with clay and he would haul it out road. We
had guys that would level it off to about eight inches deep where the road wa
ready for it to be dumped. I was setting the stakes for it one time, but the guy
wanted me over in the clay pit, so he made arrangements to get me over there.

P: What kind of roads were you building? For what purpose?

W: Clay [roads] to get to the fires that would start in the forest. My experience was
also on the tower just as a relief man when others wanted to go home on
weekends. I would relieve them on the fire tower. If we had a thunderstorm and
lightening, you could look for a fire. On the fire tower I saw that many times.
When lightening would strike and knock a limb off of a tree, it would start a fire,
so we had several towers in the forest. We would set our instruments towards
where we saw smoke and get a reading on it and call another tower and tell
them. They would set their instruments to get a reading on it and try to pinpoint
it. Then we would call the fire department and say we have got smoke in a
certain area, you better check it out. Those roads we built helped to get to those
fires. If it was severe, they would get people there to put those fires out and I
never remember having a real severe fire while I was in camp in Ocala National
Forest. But I understand they had some big ones before I went there. They had
two camps, 1401 and 1420. 1401 was on what is called Milldam and ours was
on Lake Kerr, about five miles west of Salt Springs.

P: When you were clearing the road, what did you use, sling blade?

W: We had regular old brushooks, we used some of them. Some of them just a
sling blade for the little stuff. Some things I had experience in using before I went
there. Clearing right-a-way for Southern Bell, we used one of those with an ax
on the backside of it and a hook on the other side. You cut the small stuff with
that hook, but if you had a big one, you turned it over and used it as an ax. I cut
many a tree with those things before I went in the CCC=s. I was ready for that.

P: Did you consider that to be particularly hard work?

W: No, not to me it wasn't because I had been used to hard work. A lot of the guys
complained about it being hard. I said, hard work? This is a vacation for me and
it was. I had been used to hard work before then, but it was easy for me.

P: So some of the people had no experience at this and so the heat and working

Page 16

outside was difficult for them.

W: Me, I had been working on the farm and in the woods all my life from the time I
was big enough to pull that cross-cut saw. My dad had my older brother and I
pulling that cross-cut saw. One would pull it a little bit and the other would pull it
a little bit. But we got onto it after awhile. We could stay with it.

P: What type of work did you prefer? Did you have an option to request a particular

W: Yes, if you saw another project you would like to work on, you could ask for it and
sometimes you would get it, sometimes you wouldn't.

P: Was there anything like senority among campers? If you had been there longer,
did you have a chance to get a better job?

W: They didn't go by senority too much. They went by the experience that you had,
I guess. How they felt about you being able to lead a group and do the job that
needed to be done. I never was a leader, which was a forty-five dollar a month
man, but I was an assistant leader many times. I got an extra six dollars a month
and I thought that was a pretty good honor. We were supposed to sign up every
six months and a lot of guys got out of camp and resigned later and got back in,
but I was in three years, four months straight through. Several wondered, why
did you stay in so long? Well, they told me that as long as you were a key man
you could sign up again. I do not know where they got the key stuff, but I kept
signing up.

P: Did your pay increase at all during the whole time you were in?

W: Nothing but that extra six dollars a month. I went to Fernandina then and I was
assistant leader down at the old Fort Clinch. I guess they felt like that I knew as
much as about what they had to do as anyone else, so they put me in charge of
building the jetties around the old fort there at Fernandina.

P: I read somewhere that for a lot of the workers, the best job was being a driver,
because it was a lot easier. You did not have to do a lot of work and you were
not out in the sun. Is that true? Did people try to get that job?

W: I suppose they did. I did not know too much about that. They tried to get out of
working KP in the dining hall or in kitchen.

P: How often did you have to do that?

Page 17

W: Well, if you happened to do something you were not supposed to do, they put
you on extra duty and you might have to spend a weekend working KP. I did that
one time. I was AWOL one time the whole three years and four months I was in.

P: Why?

W: Because another guy and I came from Hampton to Gainesville and another
fellow was supposed to pick us up on the corner and he never showed up, so we
were still there the next morning. We hitchhiked our way to Ocala. The army
trucks were at the post office until eleven o'clock at night and if you were there,
you could catch the army truck out to the camp. But if you were not there, you
were on your own. We had no way of getting out there. Next morning a truck
came in to pick up the mail about eleven o'clock, so we went back to camp in the
army truck. We were in trouble.

P: Normally, how often would you do KP?

W: Maybe once a month to fill in for someone else. I was the dining room orderly for
awhile. I think I might have kept that for a little while as a record. I do not
remember why, but I got out of that. I enjoyed that. I just cleaned the tables off.
Everybody was supposed to pick up their own plate and dump what was left in
the garbage can and put their plates on the shelf right next to the big sink where
we washed all the dishes. To them, my job was to wash the tables, take the
plates after they had dried, and put a cup on the table, and lean the plate up on
the cup. Eight to the table, four on each side and then make tomato and lettuce
salad, something like that. That was my job as a dining room orderly. That was
good. I enjoyed that.

P: Take me through a typical day. When you were out clearing brush, what time
would you get up? Then take me through the entire day until you went to bed at

W: The best I remember, after we were turned over to the Forest Service, we would
get on the trucks and they would ride eight or ten miles, maybe more depending
on what part of the forest we were going to work in. We would get started around
eight o'clock, more or less guessing. We would probably work until two or three
o'clock in the afternoon. We worked about six hours, maybe a little more.

P: Did they bring you lunch?

W: Oh, yes. They would send the army truck out there with three great big stainless
steel cans with lids. They might have sauerkraut and weiners in one, lima beans
in another, and different vegetables. [We always] had plenty of bread. We had

Page 18

our canteens and our mess kits in the woods with us. We would get ready to eat.
They set those cans off, and three guys would take over serving, one on each
can, and we would march by with our canteens and mess kits and they would
load it up. Then we would sit down and eat.

P: How was the food?

W: It was good. I enjoyed it.

P: Did you get plenty?

W: Oh yes, we got plenty. They served good food.

P: What time would you get up in the morning?

W: I cannot remember exactly what time the man would blow that bugle, but I know
it was before daylight most of the time. It must have been around six o'clock
because we had to have plenty of time to go through our exercises, have
breakfast and make up our bed and make sure everything was cleaned up.

P: What sort of exercises did you do?

W: Jumping jacks. We called it side-straddle-hop back then and squatting exercise--
put your hand out in front of you and out to the side. Then we did a little bit of
drilling, too. Just like the army. They would teach us our right face and left face
and about face and all that. We learned a lot about that, too. If we had gone into
the army, we would have been ahead of the game on things like that. I did not
know a whole lot about it, but sometimes they got some new ones in and I had a
group off by myself trying to teach them what I knew. They let me take quite a bit
of authority there once in a while.

P: What time did you come back in the afternoon and then what did you do when
you got back to the camp?

W: Most of the time when we got back to camp, we had a shower and we had some
leisure time. We could spend it in the recreation room or in the reading room,
educational department or you could just choose whatever you wanted to do.
For recreation, we had some guys that liked to play ball and we had a boxing ring
down there that guys would get the gloves and go down and do a little sparring in
the ring. I had a little experience in that. I enjoyed all that. We would go down to
the lake and go swimming if we wanted to. Course like me, I was trying to find
things to do for somebody else so I might make a little extra money.

P: Did you have a movie theater?

Page 19

W: No, not in camp. They would send an army truck in to town every night to take
guys that had a pass. You had to have permission to leave camp, and sign out.

P: What else in recreation?

W: Pass time, playing cards, poker, black jack, or whatever you wanted to play. We
had a couple of pool tables most of the time. They would usually charge a nickel
a game and they would use that for other things. I do not know what they used
all the pool money for--to buy what you needed to keep the table clean. In fact,
that was my job in Fernandina, I was the house man at keeping the pool tables in
shape, keeping them brushed and keeping the tips on the cue sticks. But I played
all the pool I wanted to for nothing. That is where I spent a lot of my time when I
should have been doing something else, but I didn't. We would go to the beach
in Fernandina, too, in the afternoons when we got off. We did not have any
money, but you could always go swimming. They had a big casino right there
and a lot of the boys like to dance and they had a juke organ there. I think they
put a quarter in the juke box, if you had a quarter, but if somebody put a quarter
in, it benefited everybody that wanted to dance. I did not do much dancing back

P: Did a lot of people play cards? Any gambling?

W: Yes, we played card games, poker. That is an interesting subject, too. We
always played poker back then and I enjoyed it. My dad played poker when I
was growing up and I learned it from him. Once we had rain most of the day,
and we slept the afternoon. We went down to the recreation hall, there was
about four of us playing penny ante poker and Lieutenant Rutledge, who was our
commanding officer at the time, came through and he saw us playing poker and
he said, you guys better break up this game and go get some sleep. I said, well
we slept enough this afternoon to last us a week. So he said, well, go ahead and
play, but the first complaint I hear about poker debts, we are going to have it
stopped. After that, on payday we had a little money and we had a poker game
down in the bath house. The lights went out at nine o'clock, and they had bed
check and many of us weren't in bed. They would turn the lights out, but we had
lights on in the bath house, spread a blanket down on the floor and we played
poker. Lieutenant Rutledge came down there and boy, he got mad. He said,
break it up, right now. We will need some fellows to work on the wood pile
Saturday morning, so I think you are the ones to do it. So we broke up the game.
Then he prosecuted us. He was going to kick us out of camp for playing poker.
We were allowed to have a legal representative. Our old doctor represented us
and he asked us a lot of questions. During the process he said, well let's dilute it.
We were supposed to be under oath, to make a sworn statement and the doctor
asked a lot of questions and he asked for a delay in the trial till we could get

Page 20

everything together. Finally we told him about him [Lieutenant] telling us to play
down in the recreation hall and he said, well, this report that he makes, will have
to go into headquarters. When we told the doctor, our representative, he said,
you got him, right there. He gave you permission to play poker in the recreation
hall and you played poker. Now he is trying to stop it all and he is prosecuting
you for gambling. He says, whenever we go to trial, one of you has to make a
sworn statement. They will swear you in and you tell him all about this time he
gave you permission to go and play poker down in the recreation hall. He said,
that is going to stop him because that is not going into headquarters. That is just
the way it worked. When this guy made his statement, it was just about the
same group of us that was there before. We got to that point and he says, well
that settles this part of it, but you are still restricted to camp a week for missing
bed check. So we were not prosecuted for gambling.

P: Were you worried that you might be kicked out?

W: No. It did not make any difference to me then. I had been there over three years
so it was time to go anyway.

P: Were many people kicked out?

W: Only one that I remember, wild Bill Heartly, he got in a fight with a guy [Maxie]
and the other guy beat him up. Wild Bill=s mind was a little bit off mentally
anyway, but good enough that they kept him in camp. He was not a problem
maker, but Maxie came in drunk and he slapped Wild Bill around and beat him
up and he went on to his bunk and went to bed. After the fight, Wild Bill Hartley
was so upset he was going all over camp squalling like a baby. He was upset.
He got ahold of a knife and he went and jumped right on top of Maxie and started
cutting him. He cut him across the shoulder and he was in the hospital for about
three months. He cut him mostly across the shoulder. They kicked Wild Bill out
for cutting Maxie.

P: Did they punish the other guy for being drunk and starting the fight?

W: No. As far as I know, they did not punish him at all. But he was just that type of
guy. He was a good guy as long as he was sober, but he would go out on
weekends and get drunk and fight with people, come in with a black eye. But he
would fight right on. I think he was a sergeant in the army. They thought enough
of him and he was intelligent enough that they made him a sergeant over some
department. I believe he was a supply sergeant. Another guy was acting as top
sergeant at that time and they had some words. Maxie and Jarvis were the top
sergeants at the time in Fernandina. They had had some words once before and
during all this time, two little guys got in a fight and everybody gathered around
and let them fight it out until one of them whipped the other and that was all over

Page 21

then. But somebody said, Jarvis, it's about time for you and Maxie have your
little difference settled. Jarvis said, well go get him. So he went and got Maxie
and they started slugging. Maxie said to Jarvis, well, it is supposed to be a fair
fight. We must stand up and fight like men, and we do not get down on the
ground. So they started hitting at each other.

P: Did they have gloves on?

W: No. They did not put the gloves on then. We did not have a fighting ring in
Fernandina. At that time in Louisiana, when they had grievances, they would
make them get the gloves and put them on, but this one, they just let them fight it
out with their bare fists. Jarvis, hit Maxie and gave him a black eye. Jarvis had a
bloody nose and Maxie said, well it is supposed to be a fair fight, we ought to
stop and rest a minute. But Jarvis did not agree with that, so he said, if we are
going to stop, I will consider the fight over. He left and I do not think either one of
them won the fight. They got bruised up a little bit.

P: Did you ever get into any fights?

W: Oh, a little bit. I had a fight with one guy. It was while I was working in the dining
room. I was getting some hot water to wash my dishes and he run up and there
and stuck his hand under the hot water and accused me of causing him to get
burnt. I said, the water was running, you did it yourself. He said some ugly
things to me and I asked him outside. He got out there and I said, do you still
think I am the cause of you getting burned? We pulled our coats off and laid
them down. There was a loading platform about four feet high, we were on the
ground and I said, do you still think I am the cause of you getting burnt? He
thought I was the cause of it, and I just slapped him as hard as I could. Hit him
right upside the head. He jumped about ten feet and I did not get close enough
to hit him again because somebody came out and stopped us. But I was ready
to give him the best that I had. Another time I was thinking about, we had a little
exhibition. We had a little boxing match. We had one guy that would promote all
the fights and he had several matches and we would invite the public to come to
camp on Friday nights when we had the fight. A lot of them did. After the fights
were all over, anyone could get up in the ring and challenge someone to get into
the ring with them. All of a sudden a guy got up in the ring and he challenged me
to get in there with him. I said, I do not know why you asked me to get in the ring
with you. I said, well, he might work me over, but I am going to give him the best
that I have got. So we got in the ring and put on the gloves and we bounced
around a little bit and I had an opening and I slapped him upside the head and he
gave up. He said, that is it. I said, that was an easy fight.
P: So you were undefeated!

W: Undefeated. (laughter) I did wrestle a little bit, but not too much of that, just

Page 22

tussling. I ran into some that was better than I was when it came to wrestling.
Some of them had more experience in wrestling than I did. All my wrestling
experience was just rough and tumble. I did not have any scientific holds or
anything. I did not know much about it. I just used my strength, what little I had.

P: Were they pretty strict on bed check?

W: Yes they were.

P: What would they do if you missed it?

W: If you were not there for bed check, just like the commanding officer said, he
would find a place for you to work some extra duty. Back on the woodpile
Saturday morning. We had those wood heaters and we had a big woodpile out
there. You would cut timber in the woods, some trees were not much good for
anything but for wood. We would bring it to camp in big pieces. Then we would
cut it up with an old circle saw. We used wood in the stoves in the kitchen, too.
So to get wood for the stoves and wood for our heaters, somebody had to work
on the woodpile and that is where they got most of our extra duty.

P: When you look back at your three years plus in the CCC, did you learn any new
skills that you had not had before?

W: No, well, except building the roads. I had not had any experience in building
roads. I learned a lot about staking and things of that sort, and laying out to build
a road. That was good experience. And building jetties around the old fort. I
had never had any experience in that before. We had a tugboat and a barge and
we would go across the river and dig rocks out of the banks with a pick and load
them on the barge and go back across to the fort in high tide and we would dump
them off. Then when the tide would go out, we would place the rocks on the
jetties. They said the purpose for that was to keep the old fort from washing
away. It was right on a curve and many times the current was very swift. The
engineers said the water was washing sand out from under the old fort.
Eventually it would just tumble over. They said, if we build jetties out around the
old fort, they will trap the sand and build it up. Evidently it did, because it has
been there since 1938, 1939. It must have helped. I tell people, you go to that
old fort and see those jetties. I personally put a lot of rocks on those jetties.
They gave me about ten boys and put me in charge of it. I finally got tired of it
and talked to my boss about changing to something else. I said, I do not know
much about this, and he said, well you probably know about as much about it as
the rest of us do. He wanted me to stay on, but I finally got off that and got onto
something else.

Page 23

P: Were there many accidents when you were working?

W: No, I cannot remember any in the camps that I was in.

P: Did they have a safety program?

W: I do not remember a safety program.

P: Talk about your camp commanders. What were they like? Were they
competent? Easy to get along with?

W: One particular one was a real good commanding officer. He stayed two hitches
with us for one year. They were supposed to come every six months, same as
we were. Captain Hood was in Fernandina and all the boys seemed to think a lot
of him. He was the type of man that could talk to you just like you were his own
little boy. If he would see you do something that he thought you needed a little
talking about, he would call you in the office. Just in private and he would talk to
you. I remember one time I went, but I do not remember what it was for, but he
talked to me and he made me feel about that high when he got through [holds
hand close to the floor]. You could not help but like him. All the guys liked him.
When he left, we collected all the money we could get and went and bought him
a nice wristwatch. We had it engraved on the back, from the officers and
members of Company 1420, CCC, Fernandina, Florida. We presented that to
him when he gave his little farewell speech. Many of them knew how the boys
felt about them and they were gone and we did not even know when they left.
They would sneak out. This was one that we really gave a big sendoff. He was
a fine man. We had several of them while I was at camp.

P: Did you call them sir? Did you salute?

W: Yes, if they were in uniform. They could wear civilian clothes if they wanted to,
but if they were in uniform, we would give them a salute when they walked by.
We were taught to do that when we first went in camp. I do not think all the boys
did it, but they were supposed to.

P: What about the foreman? The more immediate supervisors? Were they pretty

W: Yes, most of them would treat us real good. I never had any problems with any
of them. I do not know anybody that did.

P: Describe the LEM's, the local experienced men. Who were they and what was
their function?

Page 24

W: They had one fellow that was experienced in grading roads and he ran a road
grader in Ocala National Forest. They had another fellow that was experienced
in automotive and he was in charge of all the automotive equipment, the trucks
and everything. He was the one that was responsible for assigning the truck
drivers to drive the trucks. Another fellow had experience working in the woods
clearing right-a-ways and things of that sort. A fellow named Peacock and he
lived right there in Ocala National Forest. They hired him and he would work with
the leaders. When our first sergeant got into trouble with something and they
busted him back, they made Peacock top sergeant, even though he was
experienced in the woods. He was intelligent enough to know how to handle
everything in the camp, too.

P: Mainly they were to give guidance in a specific area?

W: Oh, yes. They were experienced in a particular skill.

P: How many LEM's would you have, for example, in the Ocala National Forest?

W: I do not believe we had over four or five at a time in the Ocala National Forest.

P: How many would be in the hierarchy? You would have a commanding officer.
You would have somebody in charge of your barracks. You would have a couple
of first sergeants. How many administrative personnel would you have in the

W: In the camp we would have a top sergeant. He would be over the whole camp.
We had two army officers, a mess officer and a commanding officer. As far as
the others, like doctors and dentists and all those, they would just come
periodically whenever we needed them. They had a certain time that they would
come. As far as sergeants, we had a supply sergeant to take care of all the
clothing. The mess sergeant would take care of all the kitchen personnel. We
did have a local experienced baker, Pop Carter. He was an old man. He was
crippled. He got burnt with hot grease years ago, but he was old at that time.
Believe me, he knew how to bake. He had a couple of guys working with him all
the time, but he was in charge of all the baking. I guess the mess sergeant,
named Raymond Cams was over him, too, but he did not bother with him. He let
him do what he wanted to do. Probably made out his own menu. I guess they
were the only ones we had in camp, but they were in camp all the time. They did
not go out in the fields to work. The Park Service had a superintendent of the
forestry and he had a few local experienced men to work with him like the grader
and the one that was experienced in clearing right-of-ways and things of that
sort. If he felt he needed a local experienced man, I suppose he could get one.
P: Mainly you were organized and regulated in camp by the army personnel, but
when you went out to work, it was the National Park Service or Forest Service.

Page 25

W: Right. When we finished our work in the woods, we were turned back over to the
camp. We were under army regulations at that time.

P: What happened to your dirty laundry?

W: If we did not take it home or get somebody else to wash it, we had to wash it
ourselves. I washed a lot of clothes for myself, and I washed clothes for other
people, too. Down on Lake Kerr we had a pier that ran out over the lake quite a
ways and we would go down there with an old GI brush and a bar of soap. It
would wash some clothes pretty quick.

P: Did you take any courses at either Fernandina or Ocala?

W: No, I did not. I should have, but I did not. I did not see the need of it then like I
do now.

P: Talk a little bit more about sports. Did you all have any organized baseball teams
or anything like that?

W: Yes, in the Ocala National Forest, we had a baseball team and they played the
other camp, 1401 Milldam. They had teams from other places that they played
ball against. I never did participate in it, but I know we had one guy, Nick Hogan,
who was a pitcher. He was good and so were several others that played on the
team, but I never did take any part in baseball. When we went to Fernandina, we
had volleyball and things like that we played there in camp. I was in charge of
our volleyball team once. We played against the other barracks.

P: I understand that there were some examples of these baseball players who were
scouted by the professional baseball scouts and ended up playing professional

W: I never heard anything about that.

P: What about religious services?

W: We had a chaplain who would come over and have services in the mess hall. I
do not remember how often he was there, but he would come and after we had
meals, he would speak to us for awhile. We did not have to stay in there and
listen to him if we did not want to, but you could. It was strictly a voluntary thing.
I remember he was a Baptist minister, but now-a-days I know that one would
holler about the other one, but back then we did not, and a big majority of the
guys would stay in and listen to the minister speak after we had our meal.

Page 26

P: How often did you go to town?

W: Maybe on weekends, Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. We would go to a
movie most of the time. Our place of recreation in Louisiana was the town of
Pontchatoula which was about twelve miles from the camp. A lot of the guys
would go and find places to dance and things like that or play pool. Going to the
movies was one of the main things we would do when we went to town.

P: What did you do about girls?

W: The ones who had money to take them out and show them a good time, they
found some girls, I guess. I would talk to a few of them, but never really dated
any of them, not around the camps anyway. I had girlfriends at home when I
would go home on weekends. Another guy and myself did go to Fort McCoy,
and we went to see a couple of girls one afternoon, but that was just a one time
affair. We did not go back. We had dances, too, at Orange Springs. We went to
the dances there a few times.

P: Did many people go to the casino in Fernandina? Did they gamble at all?

W: They did not have any gambling up there. Upstairs there was a big open hall.
As far as I know, they never had any gambling. I believe it was just a place up
there for people to dance and enjoy themselves.

P: You could not have girls at the camp, right?

W: I do not remember anybody bringing any girls to the camp. If they did, they
would go out to pick up their boyfriends and take off. They did not stay very long.
Now my brother was in camp at Olustee. I went to his camp and visited with him
one weekend and they had dances at their camp. They would send army trucks
to Starke and places to gather up the girls who were interested in going to the
dances. But I do not remember having any in our camp when I was in.

P: Were there any women working in the camp?

W: Not in the camps that I was in, but I think from what I've learned since we
organized our chapter here, that there were a few women who were secretaries
and worked in different occupations.

P: Should there have been CCC camps for women as well?

W: I do not know if it would have been proper at that time or not. I really don't.
When I went in, the camps were segregated. We were all white. They did
organize a few black camps. In fact, I think there were two of them at Olustee.

Page 27

We got two fellows to come to O=Leno State Park when we had our dedication of
the little building that we reconstructed there. They let it be known that they were
ex-CCCers and they joined our chapter. They had not come to our meeting, but
we got their names on the roll. The two of them had a lot to do with several
buildings at O=Leno State Park.

P: When you were there during your three years plus, did you feel like your health
improved because you had medical and dental care all the time?

W: I do not know if it improved or not, but I was in pretty good shape. I felt like I was
pretty healthy when I went there and I really never had any problems, so I got
along good. I did put on some weight after I went there. I went in weighing 131
pounds. Before I left Louisiana four months later, I weighed about 160.

P: Were you ever homesick?

W: Never bothered me a bit. I know a lot of the guys got homesick, but I had been
away from home quite a bit before I left to go in the CCC=s.

P: Somebody reported that almost twenty-five percent of the people in the CCC at
one point or another, deserted. Why do you think there were so many people
who were leaving camp?

W: I know we had some leave after I went in camp, but I never knew just why. One
went in with me and the group from around Hampton--Olen Hicks. He has been
in the plumbing business in Palatka for years, but he came home for New Years
in 1936. We did not get to come home for Christmas. There was a fellow there
close to the camp who had a big truck with a canvas top over it. He offered to
bring as many as he could haul down here for five dollars apiece if we paid him.
As many as could get on the truck came. Some of our boys did not go back.
One from Salt Springs did not go back--Buster Taylor and Olden Hicks was one.
There might have been more, but they were the two that I remember.

P: Did they explain why they left?

W: I never talked to them after they did not go back, so I do not know.

P: What if somebody wanted to get out of the six month commitment? Would they
let them leave?

W: If they asked them. Well, I do not know if they could or not. They would be
under the same rules as anybody else. You have desertion against you and you
would just get a dishonorable discharge. I do not know if it would ever hinder you

Page 28

in anything else you wanted to do after that or not. You would get a
dishonorable discharge if you were kicked out for something you did or if you

P: What about the leave policy? How much leave time did you get and did you take
all of your leave time?

W: They did not give us any specified amount of leave time. If you had a death in
the family or sickness or anything, they would give you as much time as you
needed to go home and be with the family. I remember the first experience I had
when I was in Ocala National Forest, one of my uncles died in Brooker. I was
called and they let me go. I was gone a week before I went back to camp.

P: Did you have to make up that work?

W: No.

P: You still got paid?

W: Yes, that was all figured in, I guess. At that particular time, it was on a weekend
and nobody was there to legally give me permission to go, but I felt it was
necessary and I left word that I was going home, and why, I signed but and left.
So I left and I did not know what they would do about it when I went back. I think
after about three days, they had marked me out for a whole week, but I did not
know that, so that was legal. They gave me time off for that.

P: Describe some of the interesting people you met while you were in the CCC.

W: It has been so long, it might be hard to remember some of that.

P: Were most of them from Florida?

W: No, the camps I was in had boys from everywhere, all over the United States. I
guess the most interesting thing was when I went to Louisiana, they had so many
guys there who spoke French. I could not communicate with them very much, but
we learned to communicate a little bit for the short time I was there. They could
not speak English and I could not speak French. They had some of us in the
same class, studying. I guess maybe if I had stayed there, I would have learned
to speak French. But a lot of them were from Louisiana where a lot of them
spoke French all the time.

P: Did you interact with a lot of people who had a different background? Maybe
they were Jewish or Catholic or from New York or wherever? Did you spend
time with people who were really from a different background or different culture

Page 29

than you were?

W: I never noticed too much difference in the camps that I was in. I guess we did
not talk too much about our religious backgrounds. That is a subject I guess we
just never talked about.

P: Why did you continue to reenlist?

W: I just knew that it was beneficial to my mother and dad and all those little brothers
and sisters.

P: Why did you leave?

W: I had been in so long they were going to discharge me anyway. My time was up
and I beat them to it by about two months. I got a job and I got out. That job was
not paying me anymore than what I was making in the CCC. I wished a lot of
times that I was back in the CCC when I got out and was working on this
particular job. It paid me a dollar a day and I was working long hours, a lot longer
than I was with the CCC.

P: Do you remember the CCC newspaper, Happy Days? Did you ever see a copy
of that?

W: If they put that out, I do not remember. I think we had something on that, I might
have some literature or something on that. I saw something about it at O=Leno.
Our camp probably had one, but I do not remember.

P: What about music, did you have much music at camp?

W: We had some guys could play music pretty good. One particular one went to
camp when I did. He enrolled from Bay Lake, down across from Fort McCoy in
Marion county. He was a red headed guy. We called him Red, but Earl
Hollingsworth was his name. He played a guitar when we were going to
Louisiana. He had played music around here. I did not see him again until I ran
into him at one the celebrations over at Gold Head Branch [Mike Ross Gold
Head State Park, east of Keystone Heights]. Crown Chapter Three from
Jacksonville was having their celebration over there and they invited him and
some others to come over and play music for them. Earl Hollingsworth was in
that crew. He said, that is the first time I remember seeing you since you got off
at Hampton Junction the first of January in 1936. It had been fifty years or so
since he had seen me, but we got back together. He lived at Brooker then and
he had a crew that played music all the time. He would play just about anything,
but he was good.

Page 30

P: What do you recall about the music of that period? Do you remember any of the
popular songs? One of the songs that people remember was Brother, Can you
Spare a Dime. Did you ever hear that song? Sounds like a good Depression

W: I do not remember if I did. I can remember a lot of the old songs back before I
went in camp. Jimmy Rogers played a lot of those old songs. Little Mary Fagan
and all those kind of things.

P: Let's look at an overview of your experience in the Civilian Conservation Corp.
How do you think that experience changed your life?

W: I cannot really say how it changed, but I guess I learned more about accepting
responsibility. I had taken a lead part in things that I was involved in. I did in the
CCC and I think I have since I got out. If I was involved in something, I was not
afraid to give my input and take responsibility for what was going on. I think as
years passed I have been a little bit more in that area, taking responsibility for
things and letting people know what little I knew about whatever was going on.
Maybe I helped, but maybe I did not, but at least I explained how I saw things
from my perspective.

P: Are you glad you joined?

W: Oh, yes. It was a great experience for me. I would have been working a whole
lot harder, than I worked while I was in the CCC and probably not making as
much money. It was so beneficial to my little brothers and sisters and my mother
and dad. I had an older brother, but he only stayed in about six months. He
might have stayed in longer, but he got out and got married, so he did not help
mom and dad anymore. He was only nineteen years old. I had three other
brothers that grew up and they all left home and got married at a lot younger age
than I did. I helped my mother and dad and brothers and sisters longer than
anyone in the family.

P: How long did the average person stay in the CCC?

W: I can imagine that the average length was at least a year. Some that I was with
stayed as long as I did and some stayed longer maybe. They got in before I did
and they got out about the same time that I did. Two of my old friends in
Jacksonville, Harry Edwards and one of them is living over in Lake George now,
they stayed in a long time. They got out and got jobs in Jacksonville and got
married in 1938. I stayed on until 1939 at camp. The two paper mills in
Fernandina were just being built in 1938 and 1939 and a lot of the boys got out of
camp and got jobs at those paper mills. They stayed right there until they retired.
I see a few of them once in awhile and talk with them.

Page 31

P: What about your dislikes? What did you dislike most about the CCC?

W: I cannot remember anything that I really disliked about the CCC.

P: What did you like the most?

W: I liked it because it was really a big benefit to me. I know they put us through the
exercises and things. Some of those were pretty rigid, but it was good for us and
I realize that. I said it might be hard on you a little bit sometimes, but it is good
for you.

P: Do you think the CCC was an effective organization overall?

W: Very much so.

P: What do you feel like was your greatest accomplishment during the time that you

W: Knowing that it was helping to feed my mother and dad and brother and sisters.
That was the greatest accomplishment in the CCC. There were thousands of
other families just like mine that reaped the benefits of the CCC.

P: What about the work that you did?

W: I think the work was very, very good in helping to build the forests and the parks
and a lot of dams in other states in places that I did not know anything about,
because I did not work on those. From what I can find out now, from the overall
picture of CCC, there was a lot of good accomplished.

P: The CCC was socialistic. Did you ever hear any criticism like that?

W: Not that I remember. Never.

P: Some people said it was fascist. Did you ever hear anything like that?

W: No.

P: What happened to you after you left the CCC?

W: The first job I got was in a barroom serving drinks which was a big mistake. A
man furnished me a little place to stay over in Jasper. He gave me a job and
gave me a little note saying that he was hiring me, so that got me a discharge.
They took me to a place off in Yulee, put me on a train, and I went to Jasper. I

Page 32

stayed there about a month. He had a little room there that I stayed in, and I
would open the barroom in the morning. I ate all my meals right there in the
barroom. We served sandwiches and things. After about a month, we had a
little run in and he fired me and that was the best thing that ever happened. I got
out of that. Then I came back to my family's home. We were in Brooker again. I
stayed a couple of weeks and I went back to work in the pulpwoods, cutting
timber and loading pulpwood on trucks and hauling it to the freight cars in
Brooker and loading it on. After about two weeks, I had enough of that. I had
bought an old car in Jasper. I had saved up enough money. I just took my old
car and came to Gainesville. I had some relatives living here and I began to
scout around for a job here in Gainesville. I had an uncle who had been there for
years over at the Sunland Training Center and I went over there and put in an
application and because of his experience. I think Dr. Dell was superintendent of
the Sunland Training Center and he called me to go to work immediately. So I
went to work, May 2, 1939 at Sunland Training Center. My wife was working
there. That is where I met her and eight months later we were married. We have
been together fifty-eight years now. That was my experience after I got out. I
worked at the Sunland Training Center for about two years, about a year and a
half really, and I quit and went to work where they were building Camp Blanding.
I had learned to work all my life. I talk to a lot of young boys nowadays, and my
advice to a young person, boy or girl, is that you may not get an education for
some reason or another, but there is nothing wrong with it. It is good. You need
all the education you can get, but if you do not, you can make it if you are willing
to work. That is the first thing. If you are willing to work, people will show you
what to do. That is the way I found it in my experience. If you hire on a job, if
you want to work, they will show you what to do, and you will pick it up from
there. That is the way it was with me. I always worked wherever I worked and
always got along. Even doing construction work--I have never worked in union
anywhere that I could not go back if they had some work. They liked my work
and I got along with everybody.

P: What did you do during World War II?

W: I worked at Camp Blanding until they finished it. I was pretending to be a
carpenter, but when that was over I found out I was not a carpenter, so I just got
little jobs around Gainesville for a year or two. I did a little roofing work. I worked
with a layndry a little while. My wife had some relatives in Brunswick, Georgia,
so I went up to Brunswick to see if I could find a job. I was hired in with winn and
Lovett Grocery Company in Brunswick for twelve dollars a week, so times were
still pretty rough. I worked there about a month and they transferred me to
Jacksonville Beach and I worked out there about a year and a half. When Pearl
Harbor was attacked, I was out at the beach. Then defense work started and
they started hollering for people in defense work and enrolled a lot of people in
the army. I was classified 3A, and it was a long time before they called me. After

Page 33

about a year and a half in the grocery business, it was October of 1942, my older
brother started welding and he talked me into it. He was working in Savannah,
Georgia in the Southeastern Shipyard. He loaned me some money to take a
welding course and so I went to school there in Jacksonville and learned to weld
a little bit. I did not get in enough time to learn much, but I went to Savannah and
was hired in the shipyard. They gave me a test and they said, well we can enroll
you in the school here in the shipyard, but they paid me, I was not paying
somebody else. I started off at sixty-two cents an hour. That was more than I
made in the grocery business. I got twenty-two dollars a week as an assistant
manager after a year and a half and I had kept the store for two weeks while the
manager was on vacation. I got my vacation and then I said, you have got two
weeks to get somebody else, because I will not be back. In the defense work
industry, they had a lot of construction going on at Mayport, and I was working at
the store and they were coming in there cashing their big checks and that kind of
got my attention. So I took a welding course and hired in and in three weeks
time they sent me out on the yard. They had an instructor with each crew and he
helped me and I kept improving my welding. Pretty quick I was welding shell
plates on the ships, 440 foot cargo ships. I stayed in the shipyard in Savannah
for about two years, then I quit and came to Jacksonville. St. Johns was going
then. I worked there about three months, I guess. I wound up going to Orlando,
working down there for about seven years. I worked in shop for four years, not
making any money, but I enjoyed the work. A lot of layout work and I enjoyed
that. My older brother and myself thought we could find more money than that,
so we wound up going up to Augusta, Georgia. Work was going on at the
Savannah River plant, an AEC job, so after about four days, we got on at the
Savannah River plant with the pipefitters union and I worked there for a couple of
years. My brother did not work very long. He quit and went to work on a power
plant down there at Beach Island at a power plant. I stayed on for a couple of
years and I learned a lot more about welding while I was up there. I thought I
could weld when I went to the Savannah River plant, but they said, we are going
to keep you in the school until you do it like we want it. That was a good job.
Dupont had the whole contract on the whole reservation, but BF Shaw had the
piping contract under Dupont and I worked for BF Shaw. After two years, they
started a paper mill in Perry, so I bought me a mobile home. In fact, I had a
small one when I went there, but I bought a big one in Aiken, South Carolina. I
went to Perry and worked there about five months on the paper mill. Then took
off up to Tennessee for another five months, north of Cleveland about ten miles.
Then went over to Oak Ridge and worked a couple of months over there, out of
Knoxville and I made it back to Gainesville. I started to work for the power plant
down here and I have been here ever since, but I worked out of town on a lot of
different jobs. If it was a union job we worked on it, but if it was not union, we
would not have anything to do with it.
P: Mainly welding?

Page 34

W: Pipe welder. I have welded all my life just about. I started November 4, 1942, in
Savannah, so I stayed with it until I retired until April 1, 1980, so I have been
retired 18 years now.

P: One of the things that was interesting to me about the CCC, was that at some
point they enrolled a lot of older World War I veterans who had complained about
not having a job. Did you encounter any of those individuals?

W: When we went to Fernandina, they had a side camp there. They were staying in
a big old brick building in Fernandina. They brought them back to Gold Head
Branch, after we got started. They were working around the old fort, cleaning out
the sand and everything. I knew that they were there, but I did not have a
chance to talk with them too much. I knew that we took over what they were
doing there in Fernandina. When we went there, they just had the barracks built,
but no windows or doors. They were open. There were places for the doors and
windows and the mosquitoes almost ate us up. They had mosquito bars to put
over our bunks to keep the mosquitoes out. When we went out in the morning to
go to work, we had to take a gallon can of citronella and a hand spray to spray
each other. We made sure we kept our clothes on. We sprayed those old denim
jumpers that we had then the mosquitos would stay off of us.

P: At Fernandina, did you do work other than at Fort Clinch?

W: I helped a little bit doing some of the road work around through the park. They
came up with the idea of mixing the coquina shells from the beach with muck for
the surface on the road. It packed down and made a good hard surface. There
were ditches in the little prairies right there close to our camp at the fort. We
would cross a bridge there and in the marsh there was a lot of muck. We built
runways and one for dual wheels on the truck, one runway for each side of the
truck. We would lay them out there and trucks would back out in the marsh into
the muck. We would dig that with shovels and load it in those trucks. After they
got the right-of-way cleared and graded out and mixed that shell and muck
together, and make a hard surface for the road around the beach there. It was
on the off side of the sand dunes. The beach was on the other side.

P: It probably drained a lot better than clay, didn't it?

W: Yes, it was a lot better than the clay. On the sand dunes, too, we had a project
where we would go into some of the lower areas around there and dig up some
of the tall grass that would grow there. It almost looked like needles. We would
haul it up there and set it out on the sand dunes. I don't know if it ever worked
or not, but I don't remember seeing any of it after that. We set it out on the sand
dunes, hoping it would grow and prevent some of the sand from blowing from the

Page 35

beach over on the road that we just built on the other side of the sand dune.
Then we [also] broke up a lot of concrete from old buildings that were built way
back many years ago around Fernandina there. We would use jackhammers on
a lot of it and break it up into small pieces and haul it to the beach to the fort and
put it on the jetties. We also fabricated a lot of twelve inch concrete blocks to
build the jetties with. Most of the time, we used picks to dig rocks from the river
banks and hauled them across on the old barge. We had several projects going.
I learned to run a little bull dozer going up those sand dunes, pulling those trucks
up there with grass that was to be transplanted. I drove a truck a little bit. I
worked on just about everything they had. Also when we were making those
concrete blocks, we had a mixer down there with a gasoline engine on it. We put
the hopper down on the sand bed, and somebody would throw a few shovels of
sand and a few shovels of cement and I would pull a lever and dump it in the
hopper, Dump some water in there and get it mixed. I would dump it out in
wheelbarrows, and they would put it in those forms we had built for blocks, so I
was the operator. I worked as a guide some around the old fort, too. They did
not charge people for going in there then. We studied up a little on the history of
the old fort and tourists would come there. On weekends I would work on it. We
would take someone around and tell them what we knew and a whole lot we did
not know. If they gave us a quarter tip, boy, we were proud of that. I learned a
little bit about the old fort, too. There were five gun rooms there and there were
foundations for buildings that were never completed. I showed where the mess
hall was, where the latrine was and all that. Up on the platform overlooking the
water, they had one gun carriage that would turn in a full circle. It was the only
one in the whole fort. They could turn that any direction they wanted. They had
a big ball that went over the top there that had a chain hoist. They would lift the
ammunition up with a chain hoist for that gun up on top. Some of the old gun
carriages were still there in the rooms where they shot out through the little
opening there.

P: Let me ask you why you think the CCC came to an end in 1942?

W: Because of World War II. It was going strong at that time and they needed men
and a big majority of the CC boys went right into the armed forces. The CCC's
made the armed forces.

P: And some of them went into defense work?

W: They had recruiting officers in the camp in Fernandina before I left and they
would sign up all that wanted to go. The camps were still going for another two
years after that, three years I guess. This was March of 1939 and they disbanded
the first of July in 1942.

P: Did you have any desire to join the armed services at that point?

Page 36

W: I did right after I got out of the CCC's. Another fellow and myself went to
Jacksonville. We had it in our mind that we wanted to join the coast guard, but
we were told that they had so many applications for the coast guard that they
would not even talk to us. Then we said, well, how about the navy. They said,
well, you will have to go to Savannah to the recruiting place there to get into the
navy and that was in 1939 before I went to work over here in the Sunland
Training Center. We did not feel like hitchhiking to Savannah. It was the only
way that we could get there, so I did not get into the service. Then I got married
and I really did not have much desire to go after that. My order number was real
high and they did not call me until I was working in the shipyard in Savannah.
That was in the first part of 1943. They reclassified me from 3A to 1A, and they
said you have ten days to apply for a deferment. The shipyard tried to get me a
deferment. They jumped me up to a second class welder, then they contacted
the draft board here in Gainesville and asked for my deferment. They got a
message back saying your request for his deferment has been denied by the
board. Then they sent me my greetings. On my birthday, March 30, I got my
greetings. It said report to the draft board April 16th here in Gainesville. I just
quit my job right then. I said, I am going to have a few days off. I had saved a
little money working in the shipyard, so I wanted to enjoy a few days before I
went. I did not think anything in the world would keep me out, so we packed up
everything we had and shipped it to Gainesville. My wife was going to stay with
her mother. I came and went to the draft board April 16th, went to Camp
Blanding. The old sergeant came on the bus and said if you have anything
wrong with you, we want to know it now, do not wait until you get into the army. I
said, well, I had kidney stones, but I got rid of those. I do not think it is anything
to worry about. The sergeant said, we better send you to the hospital and take x-
rays. After about four days in the hospital there, they took x-rays and said, well,
you can go back to the ward. I went back and it was about thirty minutes and
they called me back and took five more. Then they said, go back and get in line
and finish your exam, so I did. When I got to the end of the line, an army officer
and a navy officer was there to decide what part of the service that you would fit
in best. One of them was reading my paper and said, that means rejected. The
other says, yeah, it sure does. They stamped a card rejected, and said hang this
on your shirt and go check in everything you have and get ready to go back
home. I did not know what the problem was except the big word on that card. I
went to a doctor and he said, that is your back. A vertebrae. It is twenty-five
percent forward displacement, too much arch in my back. He said, we do not
want you in the army. I went back to Savannah and hired back in the shipyard.
After that, I thought about Fernandina. We would stand at attention a whole lot
when we full dressed and one of the officers walked by me and he looked at the
way I was standing. He wondered if I should be in a little bit more in one place
and out a little more in the other. I did not think much about it. I was doing the
best that I could standing at attention. After I had this rejection from the army,

Page 37

that brought it all to my mind. I had two back surgeries, but the doctor would not
say that had anything to do with it. It was just heavy lifting.

P: Talk a little bit about how you got interested in the national organization for the

W: A fellow that I was in camp with lived over in Starke, Thorton Johns. He had a
son who was working in the pipe trade here in Gainesville and he was telling me
about his daddy being in the CCC's and he joined the chapter of CCC alumni in
Jacksonville, Crown Chapter 3. He was interested in knowing if I would be
interested in joining up with the chapter. So, I went over there to one of their
meetings and my wife and I joined up with them. We made several trips to
Jacksonville for their meetings and then several of us got together around here.
One guy was the organizer for the national and one of our city commissioners
was very much interested in getting all this together. I talked with him several
times and I got with this guy who was the organizer down in south Florida. I got
several letters from him and he corresponded with some others in the area that
he had heard from and was interested in organizing a chapter here. He set the
time and several of us met with him and we got organized right away. This
October that will be ten years ago, so it was 1988.

P: When did the national organization start?

W: I'm not sure when they started, but it has been a lot longer than that. We were
requested to join the national and we pay them dues every year. We get these
journals every month.

P: That is from the national organization?

W: Yes. They put out a lot of information about the CCC's that is even new to me.
Things that happened in other places that I did not know anything about.

P: Mr. White, thank you very much. That concludes the interview.

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