“Imagine, you’re 17 years old trying to survive during the Great Depression. Life is tough in Chicago. Food is scarce, jobs are non-existent and you’ve turned to petty crime to eke out a living.”
“One day. you hear about a new job works program created by the federal government that pays a “dollar-a-day.” … Over the next year, you put on 20 pounds, develop good work habits, gain confidence and make life-long friends. The job skills you learned help you find a job when you leave camp. Your experience in the CCC turns out to be the most important event in your life. It turned you from a boy into a man.”
— Bill Jamerson
The Tread of Pioneers Museum and Bud Werner Library invite you to “Dollar-A-Day Boys” at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Bud Werner Memorial Library. Michigan-based author, Bill Jamerson presents a multi-media storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s federal works program created during the unmerciful hold of the Great Depression.
Tales from the Tread
Tales from the Tread columns publish the first and third Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today.
If you go
What: “Dollar-A-Day Boys," with author and speaker Bill Jamerson
When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14
Where: Bud Werner Memorial Library
A Q&A and book signing will the program, and attendees are encouraged to bring CCC photos or memorabilia to the program.
More than 25 percent of the U.S. population was unemployed, hungry and desperate during the Depression. Out of the financial turmoil emerged FDR’s New Deal programs, which introduced major federal government initiatives that invigorated the economy through new opportunities, conservation of natural resources and infrastructure improvements designed to strengthen the country and its citizens.
With more than 2.5 million enlisted men, the CCC is recognized as the single greatest conservation program in American history and the spark that initiated modern conservation movements.
CCC in Colorado, Steamboat
More htan 57,000 men served in the CCC in Colorado, where they built roads and bridges, as well as reforestation, soil erosion control and grazing control projects. The CCC constructed Rocky Mountain National Park, the Colorado National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park and Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.
“Camp #868 opened on May 30, 1933, outside of Steamboat Springs. The men fought forest fires, built roads and planted trees in the Routt National Forest. They also were involved in timber stand improvement and helped reduce fires by removing dead trees and building fire breaks,” Jamerson said. “The C's were important, not only because the money they earned was sent home, but also because they came into Steamboat on weekends and patronized stores, movie theaters, saloons and dance halls. The men also were brought in on Sunday to attend local churches, and many of them met their wives while serving.”
About the speaker
Since 1992, Jamerson has researched the CCC. He produced the documentary, “Camp Forgotten — The CCC in Michigan,” for Michigan PBS, recorded a CD of songs and wrote a historical novel titled, “Big Shoulders.”
“I’ve met hundreds of these men, and nearly all of them told me it (the CCC) was a life-changing experience for them,” Jamerson said. “Whatever the need of the individual, whether it was to learn to read and write, learn job skills, get three square meals a day or find a father figure, it seemed like the camps met their needs and more.”
Candice Bannister is executive director of Tread of Pioneers Museum.