Title: James C. Keene
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Series Title: James C. Keene
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Full Text

James Keene
May 5, 1998
30 pages Open

James Keene talks about his childhood in Ft. Myers, Florida where his father worked on
a large orange grove. He talks about the effects of the Great Depression on his family

Keene talks about his life after his father left the family particularly his mother's attempts
to care for the family. He discusses his entry in to the CCC, how he joined and where
he joined. He signs up in Ft. Myers and is transported to a camp in Wells Tannery,
Pennsylvania. Keene discusses the events of an average day at the camp, what they
did, what they wore, what they ate. (p7-14)

Keene is transferred to a camp in Moapa, Nevada. He discusses camp life there and
trips to Las Vegas for leisure (p18-33)

Keene discusses how he left the CCC and moved back to Florida. He takes a job as a
sales clerk at Camp Blanding and then takes a job as a brakeman for Seaboard Airline
Railroad. With the onset of World War II, Keene joins the navy. (p33-36)

Keene discusses the legacy of the CCC and about what it has meant to him and others
of his generation. His is a mostly favorable impression of the CCC.

Interviewee: James Keene
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: May 5, 1998

P: This is Julian Pleasants. I am at the home of Jake Keene in Brooker, Florida and
we are going to be talking about his experiences in the Civilian Conservation
Corp. When and where were you born, Mr. Keene?

K: I was born in Fort Myers, Florida.

P: What was the date?

K: February 21, 1919.

P: Talk about your family. How many family members [did you have]?

K: I had four brothers and two sisters and my mother.

P: Where was your father?

K: My father abandoned his family in late 1928.

P: Do you know why?

K: I am sure that [it was because of] the Depression. I believe that he just could not
handle not being able to support his family.

P: What did your father do for a living?

P: He lost his job in the fall of 1925. Since 1922, he had worked as foreman for a
citrus grove farmer on an eighty acre grove on Pine Island which is an island in
Lee County, Florida. He was so involved in the work. He was a hard worker. He
lost his job and the owner of the grove, a man named Mr. Masters, told him when
I was there. They raised naval oranges. They were beautiful fruit. My dad
sprayed those things. He kept that grove immaculate, it looked like a golf course.
He kept the bugs off of it, and he did everything that you had to do in an orange
grove to keep it first class. Mr. Masters said, Corbett, the last fruit that we
shipped to New York stayed in the car and spoiled. We never got a dime out of
it. I had to even pay the freight on it. We will just abandon this grove and all I
want you to do is stay here on the grove. You do not have to do a whole lot of
work on it, just keep it from being abandoned completely. When things pick up
again, we will restore it. Mr. Masters was a very rich man. He had funds and
money. He lived in a great big home in Fort Myers on Fowler Street. He could
see the future. My daddy could not. My dad was a man with a third grade

Page 2

education. He did not understand the economic problems that were facing the
country whereas Mr. Masters did. As a consequence, Mr. Masters told him, I
cannot pay you what I have been paying. He had been paying my father $200 a
month which to him and my mother was a lot of money. It was all they needed.
He said, I am going to have to cut your pay down to fifty dollars a month. That hit
my father right in the face. He did not stop to think about it at all. He did not ask
Mr. Masters why. He just flat told Mr. Master, I am not going to work for you for
fifty dollars a month under any conditions. Mr. Masters said, that is your
prerogative and your decision. I have a man who will take the job for fifty dollars
a month, and he is ready to move in when you move out. That was the last job
that my father had. I seriously doubt that he made fifty dollars in any month for
the next three years. It was a struggle. My mother was a very conservative
individual and she put a little money aside and her savings carried the family
through 1927. In the fall of 1927, that money ran out. He [my father] struggled
and struggled and saw that he was not getting anywhere. He, like so many men
did in that period of time just before the Depression set in 1929 with the stock
market crash, abandoned his family to the welfare system.

P: Did you ever see him after that?

K: Yes. He showed back up. He left in 1928 and at that point I was eight or nine
years old. It was about nine years before I saw him again. That was just for one
little visit, perhaps one hour. He vanished again for another five years.

P: Did you see him again after that?

K: Yes. After that, he moved back to Florida. He lived in Tampa. I finally wound up
living in Tampa. My work took me there and we got acquainted. I was the only
one in the family who was interested in making his acquaintance. We never had
any real relationship, but I did know him.

P: When you were living in Fort Myers, what were your living conditions like on the
orange grove?

K: They were nice. We had a nice home that we lived in. Of course, it was isolated.
The only way you could get on and off the island was by ferry boat. In 1925 they
built a road from Fort Myers to the island. My father bought a brand new 1925
Model T Ford over the objections of my mother. He paid $325 for it. He was
proud of that car, as any young man would be.

P: Why did your mother object?

K: She had saved this money to purchase the small clapboard house where she
was born in

Page 3

North Fort Myers. She wanted to move their next to her sister.

P: What were your living conditions after he lost his job?

K: They deteriorated terribly. On one end of Pine Island there is a little town named
St. James City. On the other end there is a little town named Bokeelia and in the
center, there is a little settlement named Pineland. It is about twenty miles from
one end to the other. We first moved to St. James City and we lived there for
about ten or eleven months. In early fall of 1926, the hurricane came through.
We lived in a beautiful old home. When the hurricane was over, there was not a
thing there. The home was gone. There was not even a splinter. St. James City
had potential at one time. They built a little hotel there and had a big warehouse.
The warehouse was made of heavy timber and it was set out on pilings. The
ferry boats and freight boats would come there. [The hurricane] picked that
building completely up and sat it off of the pilings. It was not on its original base
at all. Directly across the San Carlos Bay in a place called Sanibel, there was a
store that was owned by the Bailey family. It was completely gone. It blew away
and our house blew away.

P: Were you there during the hurricane?

K: Yes, we were, but we were not in that house, thank goodness.

P: Where did you go?

K: My daddy was at Bokeelia. He was running a mail boat between Pineland and
Bokeelia and the little islands out there. He got caught up in the hurricane and
could not get to where we were. It was twenty miles apart. I had an uncle there
who I always loved. I loved him all my life. We called him Uncle Jim. He was a
beautiful person. He was very family-oriented and he looked after his family. My
daddy left the Model T with us for some reason. I do not know why. We had our
Model T Ford and Uncle Jim had a Model T Ford. He [Uncle Jim] told us that we
could not stay in the house. We were right on the waterfront of San Carlos Bay.
We had to get back up on the mainland because he could tell that it was going to
be a terrific hurricane. He knew there was a hurricane out there because they
told him so on the ferry boat. That was the only system of information. There
was no radio or telephone where we were. He could tell that the storm was near
by his barometer that was falling real fast. He loaded all of us into that Model T
Ford and took us up about a mile [inland] on the island and headed those Model
T Fords up to a bamboo thicket that was six to eight inches at the base. He
drove those cars into that bamboo on the lee side of the hurricane. We sat in
those cars during that entire hurricane.

P: How long did it last?

Page 4

K: It must have lasted twelve hours or longer. When the eye came over, we got out
and stretched around and there was an old house that was practically blown
down, but we got lucky. In most houses they put the kitchens away from the
house. The kitchen part had an old wood stove and they got enough dry wood to
build a fire in that thing and made some hoecakes and stuff like that. The eye
passed and it started up again. He knew what to do. He moved the cars on the
opposite side of the bamboo thicket and we sat there until it was over. The water
came up to where it was covering the tires of the cars. We were a mile from that
place. It was a terrible experience.

P: If you had stayed in town, you probably would not have made it?

K: No. My mother was dead set on staying there. My uncle said, you are not going
to stay here, no way. We do not know what will happen to that old house. He
saved our lives. At that time there were five of us.

P: Talk about your schooling. Where did you go to school and how much did you

K: Mr. Masters hired a teacher. He went to the school board and got all of the
books and things that the school provided. He set up a school in one of the
houses that was on the property. There were about ten or twelve children who
lived in the vicinity. That was the first school we went to. It did not last long
because we did not stay there long. Then I went to school in the first grade at St.
James City. We moved from there back to Pineland. I went to school at the little
one room school in Pineland. I got out of the first grade in Pineland in 1927.
Then from there we moved to north Fort Myers in a little community called
Pomona Park. From there I went to the second grade in a little one room school
near there. They closed that little school and we went across the
Caloosanatchee river by bus to third grade. Then they built a larger school near
us in 1929. I went to the fourth grade there. Then we moved into Fort Myers and
I went to the fifth and sixth grade at Edison Park Elementary and then I went to
Gwynn Junior High School and went through the ninth grade and graduated. I
then went to the tenth grade and a half at Fort Myers High School and then I had
to drop out.

P: Why did you drop out?

K: It was a matter of being the oldest one in the family. I got to be seventeen years
old and I was eligible to be in the CCC. I went in the CCC.

P: How did the Depression affect your mother?

K: It was a terrible time for her, particularly being abandoned. She was a wonderful

Page 5

woman. She kept those six kids together with the help of the county.

P: What work did she do?

K: Anything she could find to do--housework, laundry. Later on, they got some
government work and she worked at a government mattress factory. When I
went into the CCC, it took the pressure off of her a lot. I went to Pennsylvania in
1936 for the first six months and she said that the first check that she got from
my allotment was twenty-five dollars. She said, that was the most money she
had seen in years, since 1925. It took five dollars deposit to get the electricity
turned on in her house. That was the first thing that she did. It did not cost
anything to run electricity because the only thing electric was a little bulb hanging
in the center of the rooms. You went and turned it on with a little string switch.
The bill was maybe about a dollar and a half, two dollars a month, maybe not
even that much. She took the five dollars and had her electric turned on and the
kids were gleeful about switching the electricity on. Then things picked up with
that allotment. She got things back to nearly normal.

P: What was her view of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal programs?

K: She just loved that man. As far as I am concerned, he is the only true politician
who ever lived. He got down and he lived with us. He lived with the poor people
and unemployed of this country. He went against norms and he put programs in
place. He did not give anyone anything. He never handed out anything for free.
You had to go out and do something for it. We had the WPA and the PWA and
all of those programs. A man went out there and worked for it. He did not just
walk up and get it for nothing. The CCC was the same way. It provided
employment, but we did a service and everybody got good from it. It was
estimated that of the 3,000,000 young men who served in it, each one provided
for four others. The allotment averaged out to provide for a mother and father
and at least two children who he left behind. In my case, it was five and a

P: Did any other [members] of your family work in the WPA or CCC? Did anyone
else have government jobs?

K: No. They were too young. I did have one brother who in 1940 or 1941 got in the
CCC. He did not like it too well and he did not stay but the six month period.

P: If you look back on your life, how did the Depression affect you in the long term?

K: I only hope that the American people are never faced with that situation again. It
was a terrible time. I came out of it with enough knowledge and enough training
that I could go on and make a living. I could have done several things with [the

Page 6

things] I learned how to do while I was in the CCC that I could have made a
living. I learned responsibilities. I learned the value of a dollar. After my period
in the CCC, I got a job with the government and I worked out at Camp Blanding.
I was in the Quartermaster Corps out there for three years. I knew that after my
period in the CCC that I was an outside person. I worked in an office and I was
not really happy. I just wanted to get out. I had this chance to be employed by
the railroad as a brakeman so I took that. I could have done several other things,
I am satisfied.

P: Let us go back to the CCC. Where did you first hear about it?

K: My neighbor's son was eligible when they first opened it in 1933. He went in and
he came back with a story that it was nothing for free, but it was three good
meals a day and you worked hard. You could tell that the twenty-five dollars
pushed that family up. They ate good. I had a little job. I started when I was
sixteen in 1935. I got a job delivering telegrams for the Western Union Telegraph
Company. They would not hire me until I was sixteen. On my sixteenth birthday,
I went down there and the man said that he heard about me and he would give
me a job. He gave me a job delivering telegrams and I went to work at 4:30 in
the afternoon and worked until closing at ten. It was not a lot of money. They
paid us every two weeks. Sometimes I would make two dollars and sometimes I
would make two and a half or three. You picked up a dime here and a dime
there as tips. If you were nice to them, they would hand you a dime. That was a
lot of money. I would take it all home, though. Most of it went to the house. The
only expense I had was the upkeep of my bicycle. That was it.

P: How long did you do that?

K: Two years. I worked for the whole of 1935--for a little over a year. I went to the
assistant manager of the Western Union and told him, I would like to go into the
CCC. I would like to stay six months. I am going to drop out at the half break of
school. Then I will go to the CCC and then come back and pick it [Western
Union job] up again. I wanted to finish my high school. He said, go ahead and
spend six months so that when you come back, I will give you your job back. It
will be in the winter time and it will be better for us anyhow because summer is
slow. I did that. In 1936, I joined the CCC.

P: Tell me about your first experience with the CCC. Where did you sign up?

K: We signed up in Fort Myers. I do not recall who was handling it, but I think it was
the welfare department.

P: Did they give you a physical exam at that time?
K: No.

Page 7

P: Where did they send you?

K: We got on a train in Fort Myers the first time. We went to [Fort] McPherson,
Georgia, just out of Atlanta.

P: What did you do there?

K: We went through the indoctrination and physical and those terrible shots. There
were three of them. The first one was one and the next time there were two and
the next time there was one. The first one they give in your shoulder. It was
some kind of a test they give you [small pox]. It is still there. We stayed there
about three weeks. Then they loaded us up on a Southern Railway train, and
there were at least five companies of 200 men apiece. It was the longest train I
had ever seen. It had two big engines pulling it. We loaded that train one
morning, and we did not know where we were going. They dropped off a
company in Virginia. When I signed up in 1938, I went to that company, but it
was located out in Nevada. Then they dropped off two companies in Maryland,
one in Hagerstown and another one just up the road from Hagerstown. Then
they dropped us off in southern Pennsylvania. They took another company
another few miles [further] in Pennsylvania.

P: What was the name of that camp in Pennsylvania?

K: We were in Well's Tannery, Pennsylvania. It is right off the southern border of

P: When you went to Fort McPherson, was that the first time you ever had been on
a train?

K: Yes. It was the first time I had ever been out of the state of Florida.

P: What was your reaction? Were you nervous? Excited?

K: I guess I was excited about it. I was a seventeen year-old kid leaving my family
for the first time. My baby brother said, I thought you would never come back

P: What did the indoctrination consist of? Did they talk to you about the work you
were going to do or responsibilities?

K: That is right. They told us exactly where we stood, what we were going to do,
what they expected of us. They made it very plain that we were civilians, but we
were bound by army regulations and rules. We expected that and knew it. They

Page 8

really got us fattened up. They fed us good there. One kid said, he never saw
so much food in his life. He was right. The army provided the cooks and the
bakers and all of that. In McPherson we were in little tents. We got out and
exercised and hopped and skipped and jumped. Then we marched a little bit. It
got us started.

P: What kind of uniforms did you wear?

K: They were old army World War I uniforms.

P: Did you have to wear them all of the time?

K: No. They also had work uniforms. They were denim. It was a denim shirt and
trousers and army shoes.

P: What kind of insignia did you have?

K: I do not recall any insignia on that uniform.

P: But it was clear that you were CCC rather than marines or military?

K: Yes. The army boys had better uniforms and did not like us at all. They would
boo when you went by. The reason was that the CCC boys were getting thirty
dollars a month and the army boys were getting twenty-one. They did not like
that at all.

P: What about old World War I veterans. Were there any of those in the CCC with

K: They were not with us. They were in a separate camp. There were a lot of them.
There were a number of veteran camps in the state of Florida. I never saw one
of them.

P: They were not mixed in with the younger group?

K: No. They were separated into their groups and camps. There was one out at
Gold Head Branch and they stayed there almost the entire time.

P: What about character requirements? When you got in, did they ask you about
any trouble with the law or anything like that?

K: Most of the boys who came into the camps were all in the same boat. We were
all paddling the same canoe. Nobody wanted to have any trouble. It was very
rare that any of the boys gave any trouble. We all worked hard and appreciated

Page 9

the fact that we could work and make some money.

P: I heard once that there were some individuals who were sent to the CCC instead
of going to jail.

K: That happened. It was isolated, but I know of at least two or three who were
given the option of going to jail or going to the CCC. They were not really bad.
They were just kids who were prone to picking up something that did not belong
to them. One kid was a very intelligent young man. He turned out to be our First
Aid Man. The judge told him that he either needed to go to jail or to the CCC. I
do not remember what his problem was, but I think it was just malicious fighting.

P: When you first started, did you have a choice about where you wanted to go?

K: No. You just went where they wanted you to go.

P: Describe the camp in Pennsylvania.

K: It was a beautiful camp located in a beautiful wooded ravine. It had been there
for some time. I am surprised that the camp had not been abandoned because, I
do not remember any big projects. There were small projects and I think they
were just finishing them off. I know I worked in a little state park that they were
building. I do not know exactly what the main project was because that is where
I worked the whole period, just building trails up the sides of the mountains.

P: What did you do specifically?

K: It was mostly just building walk trails up the side of these little mountains and
down and around. We built around the big trees. We would take out the small
trees. They were very careful that they did not disturb anything. When we came
across a great big rock in the path, we had to go over to the side of the trail that
we were building and dig a hole. We moved the rock into the hole and took the
sand and filled the hole up. It worked out beautifully. You never even disturbed
the rock. You just moved it over there and put it back in a hole.

P: So you were mainly clearing brush?

K: It was brush and trail. There were a lot of heavy stones on that path. We would
just move them out, but we did not just stack them up like a lot of places you see.
We buried them and took the sand from one hole and put it in another and put a
rock in that hole. You could see it, but it was not laying out on top of the ground.
When we would dig a tree up, the forest service was very particular in pulling it
all the way down to a clearing and piling it up there and we would burn them. It
was beautiful. I would love to go back there and walk that trail. I know it must be

Page 10

beautiful now.

P: When you went off to the CCC, what could you take with you?

K: Just what you had on. That was all they wanted you to take.

P: When you went, did your mother have to sign permission for you to go?

K: I do not recall that she did, but I imagine that she did.

P: How did she feel about your leaving?

K: Like all mothers, she did not like us to go off, but she was not against it by any

P: When you went to the camp, did any of your friends or people who you knew go
with you?

K: I knew several of them.

P: Did that make it easier for you?

K: Yes. There were five or six from Fort Myers who were in that group.

P: Describe the barracks for me. What were they like?

K: It was 120 feet long and twenty feet wide. The bunks two feet apart on each side
of the barracks. Generally, there was shelving above the bunk and a lot of the
camps built wood lockers at the foot of the bed. The others bought metal
lockers. You could buy a steel locker for three dollars. They took fifty cents out
of your allotment every month. That little space that they gave you was your
home and you had to keep it up. It had to be clean and made up right and
everything [kept] in proper order. That company commander would come in
every day and inspect it.

P: You had to make your beds every day?

K: Yes. You had to make your bed and put it in the proper alignment and

P: How many men would be in the barracks?

K: Generally there were forty. Sometimes there would be fifty.
P: How many were in your camp total?

Page 11

K: The normal complement was 200 men. In the new companies, they always had
200 men. Every three months, you would have some discharged and leave and
then you would replace them. You built them back up to 200. It was generally
near 200 men.

P: Did you have many people leave?

K: No, not too many. Every once in a while, one would have sickness in the family
or the family needed then back home for some reason or another. You could be
discharged on hardship discharge. If you were guaranteed employment back
home, you could get discharged on that. You had to almost have a certified letter
from the individual who was going to employ you [to prove] that he had
employment for you before you could be discharged.

P: Did some of them just get homesick?

K: Yes. We had a lot of homesick and girlsick boys. They left their girlfriends back
home. That was generally the main thing.

P: Did some of them just not like the work?

K: You had what they called gold bricks. They were soon found out and they were

P: Who pushed them?

K: The men who worked with them, generally, particularly if you had a joint thing
where you were doing this work together and he laid that on you. You would get
after him about that.

P: Explain the military control of each camp. Who was in charge? What kind of
authority did they have?

K: You generally had a commanding officer. He was generally an army reserve
officer. You had a junior officer. He was in charge of the mess hall and the PXs
[post exchange] and general work and whatever the commander wanted him to
do. They demanded respect and we respected them.

P: Did you have to salute?

K: No. We were civilians. We were not under any military rules other than
discipline. We had to tow the line. The worst thing the commander could do was
just extra duty and restriction in the barracks and the camp. That was all he had.

Page 12

He could not put you in jail or fine you or anything.

P: Could he discharge you?

K: He could discharge you for being an undesirable individual. We discharged two
under those conditions.

P: What did they do?

K: They appeared to be queers [homosexuals]. We also discharged one more for
getting in jail. We discharged him on the grounds that he had abandoned. He
was actually in jail and he was there way past the time allotted for a man to

P: Do you remember what he was arrested for?

K: I think he was arrested for slapping a girl around. He had gotten intoxicated and
beat up on a woman. That was in Las Vegas, Nevada.

P: How was your food?

K: The food was good. It was generally plentiful and it was pretty well-prepared.
On my second tour, we had a mess sergeant. He was good. He wanted the
best and he got it out of the cooks and the bakers. He was a good man.

P: Did you have to do KP?

K: Yes, did a lot of KP.

P: Was that a routine thing where you took turns doing it?

K: Yes, we had a company sergeant who was the main man. If you had a good
company master sergeant, you had a good company. If you had a slacker as a
master sergeant, you had problems. If you had a good one, and we did, things
went well. Every place I ever went, we had good ones. They were CCC boys
just like us, only they were promoted up.

P: They were not in the army?

K: No. They were CCC boys just like us. They generally were great big boys. You
never had a master sergeant who was a little runt. You wanted somebody who a
fellow could look up to and respect. You got KP if he went around and inspected
the barracks and found something wrong with your bed. Other times, he would
just say, you, you and you, go to the kitchen. That would happen generally on

Page 13

Saturday, but that was your camp work day. You did not go out on the road on
a Saturday. You either went over to the forest service and you worked around
and cleaned up trucks and their buildings. The company cut the grass and
cleaned up camp and went to the kitchen and cleaned up there.

P: Was the mess sergeant military?

K: No.

P: He was also CCC?

K: In the beginning, they were [army]. I guess for the first year, the army provided
all of the cooks and bakers. While they were doing that, they were training CCC
boys. You started out at KP and then you got into second cooking and then you
got to first cook. Then they set up baker schools all over the area. You would go
there. We would send one who had real potential and wanted to be a cook to
that school.

P: When you left the camp, you worked for the forest service?

K: Yes. That was the way it worked. When you were in camp, you were under the
army regulations and rules. When work time started at 6:30 or 7:00, you came
under the control of the forest service or the service that was using you. You
went out on the road and you worked. When you came back, you were under
camp rules.

P: Talk about a typical day. What time did you get up? What time did you have
breakfast and go to work?

K: They called about 5:30. You did your bathroom bit and then you came back and
got your bed and your area in order. We always had at least two promoted men.
They called them junior and senior leaders. We generally had at least two of
them assigned to each barrack. He would make his inspection around 6:15. At
6:30 we would go to breakfast and come back and get that behind you and then
you would go to work. We would start work at 7:00. You worked until 11:00 and
then come in for dinner and go back at 1:00 and quit at 4:00. Then we would
come back to camp. If you were too far away, you lost too much time coming
back to camp, and they would take the meal to you. It was a routine thing. After
you got back to camp, they gave you time to clean up. Most camps that I was
ever in demanded that you dress for supper or the evening meal. They had you
put on your dress uniform that was usually khakis or in the winter time, it was the
other. Then we went out and they had the ceremony where they dropped the
flag. Then they went to supper and then you were on your own for the rest of the
evening. Lights out was at 9:30 or 10:00.

Page 14

P: What did you do for entertainment at night?

K: Generally, we wrote letters. Most boys wrote letters home and read their mail.
We had a rec hall that had a little library in it. You could go down to the library
and read. They generally had at least one newspaper there and other papers
that you could read. They had a small library of books. In some camps, they
even had a school that you could go to. They had a mechanics school and
typing school.

P: You would do this at night?

K: Yes.

P: What about just general education? Some of the CCC boys did not have more
than a third or fourth grade education.

K: Some of them could not even write their names. They had an educational
advisor. He had classes where he taught reading, writing, arithmetic.

P: Did you take any classes?

K: No. I took a mechanics class for a while, but I knew that I could not handle that.
I had learned how to type in school. At Western Union, they let me go back there
and type. The manager taught me where to put my fingers.

P: What about playing cards?

K: Yes. They played cards in the rec halls and on the beds at night.

P: Did they have any pool tables or anything?

K: They had at least one, sometimes two pool tables. They also had a piano. You
always found somebody out of 200 men who could manipulate it. We would get
around and sing. It was a self entertainment group.

P: Did you ever have a chance when you could take girls out?

K: Yes, every weekend you could bring your girlfriend. A lot of the camps had
chaperoned girls and they would have a dance in the rec hall.

P: Normally you would be able to leave on Saturday night? Could you go into town?
K: Yes. If you were way off [from town], they had liberty trucks that would carry you
to town.

Page 15

P: What would you do?

K: I often went to town when it was nearby. If I had money, I would go to a movie.
If you were in Las Vegas, you could go anywhere. They had all kinds of
entertainment there. It was cheap then. It is not now.

P: What did you spend your five dollars on mostly?

K: I would save it and if a liberty truck left, I was on it. I could go to town. I did not
like to stay in that camp all of the time. We would go to a movie or go to an ice
cream parlor and just walk around.

P: Did you ever have any fights or conflicts?

K: You occasionally got two guys who would butt heads. I remember of one
instance where two fellows just did not like each other. We had a pair of boxing
gloves and one night, the sergeant said, we will just put these boxing gloves on
you and see who is going to come out best. Then I do not want to hear any more
about it. They did. When it was all over, it was about equal. They banged each
other around pretty good. When it was all over, the sergeant said, shake hands
and I do not want to hear no more out of you fellows ever. That wound it down.
We had another instance. One boy was a little boy named Bockelman from
Jacksonville and he was a fly weight. He was a little man. This big boy did not
like him. They kept on and kept on and one day the little one challenged him and
said, let us put the boxing gloves on and see if you can whip me. It developed
that Bockelman had fought professionally in the ring and he just demolished that
big guy. That wound that down.

P: How about accidents? Did you have a lot of accidents that occurred while you
were working?

K: There were accidents. The CCC was not a safety conscious operation. It never
was. I do not know why. They talked about it a little bit. Safety was not a main
feature. The foreman would see a fellow doing something wrong and he would
talk to him about it, but we never had any safety classes that I recall. I do not
recall anybody being seriously injured, either.

P: Did you have medical personnel?

K: Yes. Most companies had a doctor. We had a doctor everywhere I ever was.
They were generally old, retired army doctors who did not want to quit. They
came to the camps. We had a big Irishman out in Nevada named McGlaughlin.
He was like most Irishmen, he was prone to drink a little too much. But, he was a

Page 16

good doctor

P: At the end of each six months, would they give you a physical exam or was it
only when you came in and when you left?

K: No.

p; So when you had a problem, you could get it taken care of?

K: If you had any kind of problem, you just reported to sick call.

P: How would you say your health improved after you went to CCC?

K: Not so much of health, but good food and good hard work. It just made a
stronger person out of you. It was nothing like it is today. We ate what we could
find. It was not a matter of vitamins and muscle builders and all that stuff. You
just wanted to stay alive. Most of us were skinny. I was six feet tall and
weighted 145 pounds. When I came back, I was up to 155. It was a combination
of good food and work and routines that made a healthier person out of you.

P: You stayed in the CCC for the first time for six months?

K: Yes.

P: Why did you leave?

K: I wanted to come back to high school and finish it. I went right back to delivering
telegrams and going to school.

P: How long did you do that?

K: The whole year of 1937.

P: Did you finish school?

K: No. I dropped out again in the first part of 1938. It got to be impossible. There
was not any kind of work. I had a problem with the management at Western
Union and I felt that it was time to go. I was not making anything anyway. A man
offered me a job in the first part of January of 1938. He said, I will give you a job.
I said, I guess I have done my school bit. I went to work for him.

P: What kind of job?

K: It was a construction job. When I took the job, he was going to give me

Page 17

permanent employment, and he was going to teach me the construction trade. I
guess it just got worse and worse and he just did not have any work for us. He
had to let us go. There were about three or four of us young fellows who went
with him under those conditions. I worked until the first of May or June and all of
a sudden, we did not have a job. It was in the middle of summer in Fort Myers.
That is the worst time of the year. There is nothing going on. There was
unemployment there for the next several months. I was out of school, and I went
down to Pine Island to visit my Uncle Jim and he put me to work out there with
him. It was not work. I just fished with him commercially on a fishing crew. We
worked like the devil catching mullet. They were giving us a cent a pound for that
mullet. There was four of us on a crew and we would go out and catch five or six
hundred pounds of mullet a night and get six bucks and by the time you paid your
bill, you made fifty cents. It was terrible.

P: When did you decide to go back into the CCC?

K: I decided I did not want to be no fisherman, that was for sure. I went back to Fort
Myers and I knew that every three months there was a new group [of CCC
enlistees]. I went and signed up. That was in mid-September. The lady told me,
I am sure we will approve you and let you go. On the eighth day of October,
1938, I left again.

P: Do you regret now leaving the CCC for the first time?

K: I would have been better off if I had stayed, but I was not as quite as mature in
my thinking. I did not realize that you could get promoted if you worked and did
your job right. In 1938 when I went back in, that was what happened. I went to
work and I did my job and I was promoted to junior leader after the first six
months. I fell into the opportunity to be the company clerk. I took that job and
they promoted me to leader.

P: Was there extra pay for that?

K: Yes, twice as much. The junior leader got thirty-six dollars a month and that
gave him eleven dollars [for himself]. The leader got forty-five dollars a month.
You got twenty dollars extra. Twenty dollars was paid to you and twenty-five went
home. Twenty dollars was a lot of money back then. Every weekend I was
going somewhere.

P: When you went back in, did you request a place to be sent?

K: No, it was the same thing.

P: Where did they send you?

Page 18

K: Logandale, Nevada.

P: How far is that from Las Vegas?

K: Fifty miles north on the Santa Fe Railroad.

P: What exactly did you do at that camp?

A: May I go back just a little? We left Fort Benning, Georgia where we had been
The second day was different however. I was assigned to work with a foreman
named Mr. Swanson, a wonderful and very knowledgeable person. We were
assigned to work on a project that had evidently been in progression for at least
three years. The project was under the Department of the Interior and actually
was a miniature Boulder and/or Hoover Dam. The Camp worked on this project
during the winter months, mid October through mid March. The Camp then
moved to the summer camp in the mountains. The project was engineered and
designed to dam the Moapa River and to back water into a reservoir for future
use. The source of the water in Moapa River was and is the snow melt from the
Sierra Nevada Mountains which were about a hundred miles away. There are
many small rivers than handle this snow melt which eventually flows into the
Colorado River. During the winter months the Moapa River slowed to a trickle
because snow does not melt to any degree during the winter months. The
Moapa Valley is a rich and fertile land. Water was the only draw back to almost
any year around farming. Radish and asparagus were the money crops and they
grew profusely when water was available.

As I mentioned earlier, the project was at least three years old. My
first day at the project was really one of awe. Here was this huge chunk of
concrete setting our on dry land, no river in sight. The river would be
rechanneled when the project was complete. It appeared to me that the entire
project was about half complete. Mr. Swanson recognized that I was probably a
little more responsible than the other fellows that had been assigned to him so
that he made me crew chief over three men. Our job was to build a rock
support structure behind the dam. The structure was twenty feet at the
base and ten feet wide. It went up the back of the dam for thirty feet at an angle
from twenty to two feet. There was one at each end of the dam. I assigned one
to mix mortar and the other two to shape the rocks. I would place the rocks and
cement them into place. This was slow work because Mr. Swanson wanted
them almost perfect. We finished one side that was begun by the last crew and
started the other which we did not quite finish.
Meanwhile another crew or crews were building forms and mixing and
pouring solid concrete support structures behind the dam. They were only half
as thick as our rock structures but they were higher, all the way to the top, I

Page 19

guess at least forty feet. There were at least a dozen of these.

At least three other crews were working on the reservoir which required
cutting through and removing thousands of yards of pure rock to gain access to a
sort of valley between two ridges. This valley extended several miles after the
opening was cleared, forming the reservoir.

When we left Longdale for Charleston Mountain in the spring of 1939 the
project was nearing completion but probably required another six months to
complete. Our company did not return to Longdale.

This was just one of the thousands of similar projects that the CCC
program completed. This project had a bad ending however. In 1956, as I have
been told, there was an exceptionally heavy snowfall in the mountains. There
was also a very early and hot summer. The heavy snow and fast melt caused
too much pressure on the dam and it collapsed, sending tons of water down the
river and flooding the entire area between Logandale and Overton, Nevada for a
short while.

P: How long did you work on the dam?

K: Six months.

P: When did you get your job as clerk?

K: Out there we had two camps. We had a winter and summer camp. This one at
Logandale was a winter camp. We got there in October and we stayed through
March. On the first of April, we moved to the Charleston Mountains. That is
thirty-five miles west of Vegas in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Our camp was
6,000 feet above sea level. When we moved up there, Mr. Swanson gave me a
job. He promoted me to junior leader. He said, our project is building these
culverts. I want you to dig into the side of the road and go down and brick it in
with rocks like you were doing over at Logandale and then we will put a pipe
under the road and let the water from the road run down the side of the
mountain. That was my job. I had a crew of six men and myself. I had two of
them going at a time. I worked there for a while doing that. We finished that
project and then Mr. Swanson sent me up the mountain side. He wanted my
crew to dig a big hole in the ground and we were going to build a concrete
cistern. There was a small spring and they wanted to fill the cistern up with
spring water and reserve it. The thing was supposed to be fifty feet across and
fifty feet deep.
P: This was on Mount Charleston?

K: Yes. I worked that a while and then one night I decided I would go over to the

Page 20

office after about a month and a half or three months. The clerk was in there and
I asked him if I could type my girlfriend a letter. He said, sure. I was pretty good
at it, but I was not anything special. I typed my girlfriend a letter. When I got
through, he handed me an envelope. He said, mark that out where it says for
government use only and put your stamp on it. It worked out that I went over
there quite often. He said, come on back and type any time you want to. I will be
here every evening. That went on for about three or four weeks. I would go over
there every night or two. One night he said, do you think you could handle my
job? I said, I doubt it very seriously. You seem mighty efficient with it. He said, I
am going to start training you for this and do not tell nobody. Come over here
every evening and I am going to train you to be a company clerk. I did not have
any idea what he had in mind. That went on for about two weeks. One night, he
said, you can handle this job now. He said, I am leaving here. I am going home.
He wrote himself a discharge and signed the commander's name to it and left.
He left me there. He said, you are the company clerk. He wrote out a special
order promoting me to leader and company clerk. He said, come to work in the
morning. I said, I have to tell my boss that I am going to be over here. I knocked
on Mr. Swanson's door and told him what happened and he said, go right on. I
will get someone to take your place out there. That worked out. I went back the
next morning and I was over there at the office sitting there behind the desk and
the old commander came in and said, who are you? I said, I guess I am the
company clerk. He said, what happened to Mr. Stone? I said, he is gone. All of
the papers were there on the desk. He said, what was the matter with him? I
said, he told me that he was going home and he was tired of being in the CCC.
That was all I know about it. He said, do you think you can handle this job? I
said, I have been training at it for the last three or four weeks, and I believe I can
handle it alright. He said, okay. That was all that was ever said about it.

P: Did you ever have any LEM's, local experienced men, working with you?

K: Yes. We had a lot of them.

P: They were older men?

K: Yes.

P: How did that work out? Did you get along with them?

K: Yes. They were generally nice, good fellows. They were caught up in the
Depression just like everybody else. They, at one time, had been foremen on
jobs and had a lot of experience in a lot of areas. They just needed a job. They
were automatically paid leader pay. That was forty-five dollars. They were paid
directly. They did not go through any allotment or anything. They were paid
directly forty-five dollars.

Page 21

P: They did not have to give up twenty-five?

K: No. If they stayed in the camps, we had barracks for them. They charged them
a minimum, a dollar a month or something like that. They could eat at the mess
hall in the officers' mess area. They were more or less, low-paid forest rangers.

P: They lived separately from the regular CCC?

K: Yes. They lived in the forestry officer barracks.

P: They were mainly more knowledgeable about things?

K: Yes. They were very knowledgeable about everything--building, forestry, water
pools. We had one fellow who I do not see how he could not have gotten a job
working anywhere as a mechanic. He was about the most knowledgeable
individual I ever saw, as far as mechanical work goes. He kept those trucks
humming. He would get forty-five dollars a month, but he was very happy at
what he was doing.

P: What did you do when the weather was really bad? What if you had snow or
heavy rain?

K: They would bring us in. If it was bad weather, you would come in.

P: What would you do?

K: Go to your barracks and wait it out.

P: You would have the day off?

K: Yes.

P: What would you normally do on Sundays?

K: They had church services on Sunday. In Pennsylvania, I just hiked on Sunday.

P: Did they have a chaplain?

K: Yes. You also had a representative of a local church who came.
P: Did you go to church services on Sundays?

K: Yes.

Page 22

P: It was inter-denominational?

K: Yes. It was non-denominational.

P: What happened with your laundry? How did you get your laundry done?

K: We contracted with a local laundry.

P: Were the barracks at night quiet or noisy?

K: It was generally very quiet. After a day of work, the fellows got into the routine
and it was generally a quiet time. Everybody went to sleep.

P: Did you ever get the CCC newspaper Happy Days?

K: Yes. We got five copies of that and put it in the reading room at the library.

P: Did you read that?

K: Yes. I read it all of the time. They carried the front page of the local paper on the
back side of that [Happy Days].

P: That was important for you to get information?

K: Yes, it was part of it. It was interesting.

P: Were you aware of what was going on in the rest of the country? Did you listen
to the radio and read newspapers?

K: Yes. It was bad times. You could tell from the tone of the letters from home that
it was not good. My family was enjoying the income of the extra money. My
mother said, she never saw so much money in her life.

P: How did she get along when you were out of the CCC?

K: It was not really great. One more [brother] was working, the one right under me.
He was contributing. I was working and contributing what I had.

P: But it was not what you made with the CCC?

K: No, it was not near that. All of us together would have ten or fifteen dollars a
month as opposed to the twenty-five right up front. It was like the story one
fellow told me awhile back. He said, when he went into the CCC, his family was
right on the hog. The father had not worked in a long while. There was not any

Page 23

possibility of work. There were eight kids in his family and he was the oldest. He
went in the CCC and his father told him, son, the day before that check came,
this family was the poorest family in that area. I got that check and we were the
richest family in the area. It was that quick. Twenty-five dollars would get you
from the bottom to the top.

P: It really made a difference?

K: It sure did.

P: How did the townspeople treat you when you went to town?

K: They treated us great. In Pennsylvania, we had a little bit of problems to begin
with because we were Southerners in Yankee country. That camp had been
there for a long time, but northern boys had been in it, and they were accepted
pretty well. They kind of looked at us with a cross eye. It did not take long until
they saw that we were Americans just like them. We were not up there to redo
the Civil War or anything even though we were fifty miles from Gettysburg. I
went there twice to look that place over.

P: What about Las Vegas? Did you go to Las Vegas a lot?

K: Yes. Las Vegas was a fine liberty town. They treated us good.

P: What was it like in 1938?

K: It was just a little bit of a town. I think they said the permanent population was
2,500 people. There were people coming and going, like there is now, but it was
just on a minimal basis.

P: They did not have all of the casinos like they did later?

K: They had them. There were casinos there, but they were right uptown. There
was one street that ran three blocks and at the end was the Santa Fe Railroad
depot. There were casinos on both sides. At the most, there were only about
ten casinos and they were small. They were not anything as lavish as they are
now. You just went in there and you played a slot machine and pulled them by
hand or you could play bingo. After I got to be company clerk, I said, we ought to
have a ball team in Vegas. Mr. Jones, our educational supervisor, said, if you
get up a team, we will get in the league in Vegas. I got up a team and we got
into fast-pitch softball. I made a lot of good friends there. One friend I made was
an umpire. Another friend I made there was a young man who was an engineer
at Boulder Dam. He took me out to his house several times. I would come into
town and he would meet me. He had a family, a wife and a little daughter. They

Page 24

were beautiful people. I do not know why he took such a liking to me, but he did
and it was purely a friendship. He was an upright man. I told him, they are
moving us back to Florida. He said, no. You cannot go back to Florida. I said, I
got to. He said, you would be making the mistake of your life. You stay right
where you are at and I will get you a job at Boulder Dam and you can stay right
here. I did not stay.

P: They moved you back to Florida?

K: Yes.

P: Where did you come then?

K: Right across the street. There was a CCC camp there. The road that you came
in on, it was a supply road. It came right back there and turned and came back
right behind the mess hall.

P: None of that is left now?

K: There is nothing left out there of the old CCC camp except for the well.

P: What year was that?

K: In 1939 we came back here.

P: What did you do at this camp?

K: I was company clerk here.

P: How long did you stay with this group?

K: We were here a year. I stayed here fourteen months.

P: What did the camp do?

K: They built roads all over this place. [They built] all of these access roads that you
see breaking off of this main road.

P: Did they do any fire fighting?

K: Yes, we fought a few fires. That was not so bad here as it was over in the
national forest. All of this was private land over here at that time. We did not
plant any trees over here. We built our telephone lines all over the place. We
built several fire towers in the area. It was for fire protection more than anything

Page 25

else. These access roads served multiple purposes. You could get in and out of
them and then they served as fire breaks, too.

P: Did you enjoy that kind of work?

K: I never got into that. I was always a clerk. I enjoyed every day of it.

P: Why did you leave the CCC?

K: I was offered a job. The district inspector, a man named H.J. Hindman was an
army reserve major. They made him the Quartermaster Sales Officer at Camp
Blanding. His duties involved feeding the Army stationed at Camp Blanding, the
31st division, the 1st division, the 43rd division and all of the other forces out
there. He said, I want you to come out and work for me out there. He said, I will
give you a clerk's job out there. I thought about it awhile and said, that sounds
pretty good. I was in line for several jobs at that time. One was with the forest
service as a ranger. I had about transferred over to the forest service as a clerk
for the superintendent. In fact, I worked for him for a little while. Then, I had
another job offer. At that point in time, work was getting to be plentiful.

P: This was 1940?

K: Yes. Things were picking up economically all over the country mostly because of
the war efforts.

P: So, you resigned from the CCC and went to Camp Blanding?

K: Yes, I went to work at Camp Blanding as a clerk in the Sales Office.

P: Did you stay there for the duration of the war?

K: I stayed there for three years. I was promoted regularly and got up four ranks. I
was still making $2,400 a year. I started out making $100 a month, though.

P: When you started out, were you making more than you made at the CCC?

K: Yes. You have to consider that you were making more money, but at the CCC, I
got forty-five dollars and I got my food and a place to sleep and a place for
everything. After I stepped out of it, I had to start paying for that. It all amounted
to be the same thing.
P: You were at Camp Blanding for three years and then what?

K: I started out at Camp Blanding. We bought everything right there. We bought
and paid for it right there. We had contracts. We bought every dollar worth of

Page 26

food and supplies at Camp Blanding. As the time passed on, they set up supply
depots all over the country. They then shipped that stuff to Camp Blanding.
They would buy it and pay for it there and shipped it to you. All you had to do was
just acknowledge it and account for it. Our department really developed into just
passing papers around. It did not amount to anything. I was department head of
the accounts payable department. I had six clerks working under me. It kept
coming down and down and finally I had myself and one clerk and we were not
doing anything. I had a chance to go to the railroad, and I did it even though it
was probably a mistake.

P: You went to work as a brakeman for which railroad?

K: Seaboard Airline Railroad.

P: How long did you do that?

K: Thirty-nine years.

P: How did you get out of World War II?

K: I did not. I did not know it at the time. I really thought that I was 1-A. They could
have called me anytime they needed me. They had me classified 3-A which
gave me exemption when I was working out there at Camp Blanding. I do not
know how it happened and I did not argue with it. When I changed positions
from there to the railroad, I broke that continuity right down and bang, I was in the
Navy. I went to work for the railroad on December 3 and about a month and a
half later, I got a letter from the draft board that I was re-classified 1-A and I was
to report to so-and-so. They drafted me right out. They did not consider a thing

P: Where did you serve?

K: I was put in the Navy. I requested the Navy and they gave it to me. We went to
Great Lakes Naval Training Center. I spent six weeks there just training. Then
we went out to California. They put us on a troop train and took us to a little
place just south of San Francisco called Camp Shoemaker. I think it was a
temporary installation. It was an assignment center. You took a lot of the men
from the training center and sent them there. From there, they were assigned
wherever they needed them.

P: Where did you go from there?

K: I went to San Diego. I started training as a small boat operator for the
amphibious forces. I got to where I could operate a fifty ton barge. It had duel

Page 27

diesel engines in it and dual controls. It had a two-man crew, a botswain and a
coxswain. Both of us were trained to do either job. One operated the engines
and the other the ramp that opened the front of the boat to unload men and
equipment onto the beach.

P: Where did you go from there?

K: We were lined up. I do not know how it happened. We were put in divisions and
one division left and they went to China to some place not too many miles from
Japan. We were lined up to go, but I got transferred out of this boat division into
a larger one. I never did get there. During the transition, they dropped those
atomic bombs on Japan. That wound it down. They never sent another crew
out, and they all started coming back. I never did have to go over.

P: There are some people who talk about how the CCC was a fascist organization.
Did you ever hear any comments like that?

K: No. There was nothing fascist about the CCC. That was common talk from
sources opposing the CCC concept.

P: When you look back on your time in the CCC, what did you like most about it?

K: It took me from a period that was down for a young man. I was just starting out
and there was not a thing in the world that was looking good and it put me into a
position where I was helping and doing something. I liked the whole thing. It
was a great experience. It made me feel a little bit better about myself. You take
young men coming into the labor market and there was no labor market there.
You could not find any kind of a job. At one point in the late spring of 1938, the
arcade theater in Fort Myers was going to be rebuilt. On this particular morning,
they were going to hire the employees for it. A friend of mine and I decided that
we would go down and see if we could get on. We were both pretty good
workers. We got down there at four o'clock in the morning and they were going
to start interviewing at eight. There must have been 1,000 men there ahead of
us. I thought, we have no chance here.

P: What did you dislike most about the CCC?

K: I never in my life disliked the CCC. I have thought about just about every day of
my life and I never found one thing that was bad. There were some rough points,
but there was nothing really dishonorable about the CCC. It was a beautiful
thing. It could still be a beautiful thing even today under certain conditions. It
would have to be a little different, but it could be a great thing.

Page 28

P: What skills did you learn from your experience in the CCC?

K: I learned carpentry. I could do a fair job of that. I can lay bricks, I can lay rocks.
I learned more in the clerk business about running and managing an office. I do
not have any problem with that at all. I was elected as a union representative for
the railroad. I served in that thing for twenty years as a representative for my
craft. I went to a lot of meetings and strike calls and that stuff.

P: How do you think the CCC experience affected you personally?

K: I think it just made a better person out of me. It gave me something to look
forward to at a point in time of my life when it was dark. Here was a young man
who was seventeen or eighteen years old and did not have enough money to get
out of town. It was terrible. It was a program that 3,000,000 of us went into and
we all came out better people with a little better outlook on life. Most of us
served in the Army or Navy. A lot of us died. A lot of us came back. There was
nothing wrong with the CCC.

P: Did the discipline of the CCC help you in the Navy?

K: Yes. I understood discipline. I did not have any problem with that. You learned
that real quick. We learned that in the CCC. It really provided discipline for the
young men in the armed services. They understood discipline from the word go.
We did not teach them that. They knew rules and they knew how you had to
operate in order to get along with everybody and how to do your work and
everything else. It was great.

P: Why was the CCC terminated in 1942?

K: The economy of the country had gotten to the point where you could get a job.
The economy was the main thing because men took other jobs and it got to the
point where there was a lot of work that the CCC program had not completed. A
lot of state parks were not complete and a lot of other work was not complete.
They began a program of consolidation. They closed this camp and took these
boys and put them over in this camp. Then the armed services started taking the
main people [like] all of our cooks and bakers. We had our head cook, our
master sergeant cook, our three first cooks and our five second cooks all went
into the army in one week. [They took them all] except one second cook and he
was the youngest man on the totem pole. So, there we were with a second cook
as the main man and anybody who wanted to be a cook went in, generally the
KPs. The food and everything fell rock bottom. That was the main reason that it
closed down. The main people, like Mike and I, left. I left the clerk job in the
hands of a fellow who was about like me when I started. Mike left it in the hands

Page 29

of a fellow who did not know anything about it. Our commanding officer left. He
was pulled out and the company put in charge of a subaltern and that subaltern
was a clerk from one of the camps. They ran him through a fast officer's school
and sent him down here. It just deteriorated to a point that it was not doing well.

P: It was time to close it down.

K: That is right. The only disappointing thing about it was that they did not make
any provisions at all that it would be restored. It just got to be time for it to close.
They were going in the army or going to work. The fellows were just abandoning

P: Why was the CCC important in American history?

K: I believe that the final report that was put out will justify the statement that the
CCC was one of the greatest programs ever devised in this country. Money
wise, it had a great affect on the people. The forests of this country before the
CCC were completely obliterated. They had been ravaged. The land of this
country was like Oklahoma. There was nothing. The people had abandoned the
state of Oklahoma. They had all gone to California or anywhere else they could
go. They did so many things to improve the country as a whole. If the people of
America really knew the whole story. Of course they do not anymore because it
has been sixty-five years ago now. This country was in a bad position back then.
Take the state of Florida. The CCC just took half of the state. The other half
was owned [by people] who did not want the CCC. That was the Lykes brothers
and those big land owners in south Florida from Highland County south. They
were cattle people and they were just ranging the cattle. In this part of the state,
though, the government owned a lot of the property. They owned Osceola
National Forest and Apalachicola National Forest and Ocala National Forest. It
was just dead property. They had not done a thing to it for years. It was just
there. People were running ranch cattle on it and that was about all that was
coming out of it. The CCC put two companies in the Ocala National Forest.
They began restoration projects replacing all of the timber and cutting down all
the bad timber. It was the same thing they did at Osceola and Apalachicola
National Forests. They restored those forests. In the Apalachicola Forest, they
had three companies working the whole time. Osceola had three companies that
worked in part of it. The CCC also developed and built the very first eight state
parks that began the Florida park system.

P: Were there any blacks in the CCC? Did you serve with any?
K: There were black companies.

P: Not integrated?

Page 30

K: No. There may have been some integration up in the north. I heard that there

P: You never served [with any]?

K: No. I never saw any integration. In fact, it was so segregated that they never put
Yankees with Southerners and certainly no colored with whites. It was strictly

P: Let us end on that. I want to thank you very much for your time.

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