|Dad's Civilian Conservation Corps
experience was probably not much different from that of the other
3 million men who participated in the program. Dad was only seventeen
years old when he first entered the CCC and during the time when the
country was in the midst of severe economic decline and the future
for many young men seemed bleak. I believe the CCC experience was
a turning point in my Dad's life. Dad saw the CCC as an opportunity
- an opportunity to make it on his own while at the same time enjoying
the chance for a new adventure or experience. I know he loved the
thought of being independent but also understood and valued the friendships
developed and the hard work to get things done while at camp.
I could not have summarized my thoughts about my Dad's time spent in
the CCC Camp any better than Richard Melzer who, in his book Coming
of Age in the Great Depression - The Civilian Conservation Corps Experience
in New Mexico, 1933-1942, summarized the CCC experience with the
...at every stage of a youth's experience in the CCC...most
enrollees learned values, shouldered responsibilities, and acquired
self-confidence essential for their transition to manhood. They
had in short, experienced important rites of passage and come of
Melzer went on to say that:
...For most this transition to manhood that eluded them during
the Great Depression came after their CCC experience and only after
they left home, had learned a work ethic, had acquired more education
and training, had gotten their first jobs and had contributed to
a larger community in which they felt a valued part...
However, Dad's contribution and that of others meant much more.
As Melzer said:
...As a bonus to the nation...the fine men shaped by the CCC
were ready and able to serve as fine young soldiers, airmen, sailors,
and defense workers when their country needed them most... [in World
War II]...when the CCC slogan "We Can Take It" became "We Can Do
My Dad served his country in World War II by enlisting in the US
Navy on June 29, 1942.