A Musical Tribute to the Civilian Conservation Corps
Michigan based author Bill Jamerson will present a music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Garnet A. Wilson Public Library in Waverly on Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 10 am. The program is free and open to the public.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a federal works program created by President Franklin Roosevelt in the heart of The Great Depression. During its nine year run beginning in 1933, over 139,000 young men in Ohio enrolled in the camps. The camps were run by the army with an average of 33 camps in operation each year. The enrollees were paid $1 a day with $25 sent home to their families each month. The money kept many families from starving.
The CCC in Ohio planted 90 million trees, built hundreds of bridges and dams, constructed over 3500 miles of truck trails, engaged in erosion control, constructed check dams, stocked fish, fought forest fires, and built several state parks, including Tar Hollow, Scioto Trail, and Shawnee State Park. They also planted millions of trees at Blue Rock State Forest. In 1937, they helped in the rescue and flood control during the Ohio-Mississippi flood. At Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the CCC constructed much of the infrastructure, including the famous Happy Days Lodge, constructed out of wormy chestnut wood. The camps not only revitalized Ohio's natural resources, but also turned the boys into men, by giving them discipline and teaching work skills.
Jamerson's book, Big Shoulders, is a historical novel that follows a year in the life of a seventeen-year-old youth from Detroit who enlisted in the CCC in 1937. The enrollee joins two hundred other young men at Camp Raco, a work camp in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, run by reserve army officers. It is a coming-of-age story of an angry teenager who faces the rigors of hard work, learning to cope with a difficult sergeant an fending off a bully.
Some of the songs Jamerson performs with his guitar include Franklin D., written by an appreciative CCC Boy, Chowtime, a fun look at the camp food, City Slicker, which retells of the mischief the boys find in the woods, and Tree Plantin', Fire Fightin' Blues, which tells of the hardships of work out in the woods. The folk songs range from heartwarming ballads to foot stomping jigs.
Along with a novel and CD of songs on the CCC, Jamerson has produced a PBS film, Camp Forgotten, which aired on Ohio Public Television in 1994. He has also authored several articles on the corps. In his talk, Bill will discuss his research methods, some of the interesting enrollees he has met over the years and CCC projects he has visited. A question and answer period and book signing will follow his presentation. Former CCC'ers and their families are encouraged to attend. People are invited to bring photo albums and CCC memorabilia. For more information, please call the library at 947-4921 or visit Jamerson's website at: billjamerson.com.