by Delbert Trew
brought many programs
if you will, the following scenario. The stock market crashed, sending
the economy into a tailspin. Banks are closing right and left and
40 percent of the people are part-time employed or unemployed. Black
clouds of dust arrive daily from The Dust Bowl and there seems to
be no relief in sight from any direction. Many are saying the end
is coming and all should make preparations.
This scene was exactly what newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt
inherited when he took office in 1932. In order to provide relief
and sustenance to those suffering, he initiated many programs, which
were promptly named "The New Deal."
Reams of information have been written about these programs, some
extremely successful, others not so successful. That period of time
became known as the greatest environmental disaster in American history,
resulting in the largest migration ever to occur in America, and marked
a complete turnaround in governmental thinking about financial and
Of interest is the fact this period has been recorded and photographed
in great detail for study by future generations. Hundreds of oral
interviews were taped of personal views of the time. Anyone can find,
read and study this period with little effort.
successful New Deal program that became the favorite of Roosevelt
was the CCC or Civilian Conservation Corps. Operated by the Army and
War Department, supplied and kept busy by the Department of the Interior,
supervised by the Corps of Engineers, only young men between the ages
of 17 and 25 years of age, unmarried, unemployed and living with their
families on government relief were eligible to join.
They were enlisted military fashion, subject to military discipline,
underwent physicals and received routine inoculations, then sent to
Fort Dix to undergo five days of military training while receiving
uniforms and military issue clothing. After completing this regimen,
they were transported to locations across the country where government
work projects were in progress.
The side benefits of the CCC to the nation were many. The wholesale
recruiting of this age group in cities dropped crime rates committed
by this age by 55 percent. The program removed a burden from families
already on welfare and since the recruit was paid $30 per month with
$25 sent directly home to his family, relief was multiplied.
Recruits nicknamed the CCC the "Colossal College of Calluses"
because of all the hard physical labor involved. The $30 per month,
bed and board was deemed, "a dollar a day plus three hots and
a flop." There were few discipline problems and later most recruits
recalled their stint in the CCC fondly.
As for the CCC accomplishments, the records are clear. After beginning
in 1933 and closing in 1942, more than 3 million young men built 3,470
forest fire towers; installed 65,100 miles of telephone lines; built
97,000 miles of roads, trails and fire breaks; spent 4.1 million hours
of fighting forest fires; cut and hauled out millions of diseased
National Forest trees and planted more than 1.3 billion new trees.
Because of the extensive records and files of the CCC, mobilizing
the nation's military forces for World War II was quick and easy.
This quick call-up of young men, already used to military training,
stopped the enemy in its tracks, turning the corner towards eventual
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
November 1, 2006 Column