I found this photo in my grandparents old photos. I don't know the man in the photo but the back says Leon Madden, Bradley, AR, "I live on the Red River" in pencil handwriting. My grandpa was in the CCC camp so this must have been one of his buddies.
Curator: The Company 747 designation on the mock cannon tells us what unit this is. The NACCCA website states listings gives Company 747 as being in two different known locations, Camp F-1-AR, occupation of that camp being first noted in the sampling on May 26, 1933. Thats quite early in the program and probably means this was one of the first CCC Companies formed from the initial volunteers. This Camp was in Eagleton, Arkansas and was within that towns city limits. Although Eagleton had a post office, and was therefore the location of the camp in CCC records, its nearest railhead was in Mena.
At some point Company 747 moves to Camp F-31 in the city limits of Paris, Arkansas. The first noted date of this occupation was July 1, 1940. When the camp stopped operating is not known to me, however it could not have been long after this since the Corps was terminated in 1942 with the outbreak of WWII.
The F designation of both camps means that the function of these camps was to work with the Forestr Service. This usually meant the clearing of brush overgrowth to prevent fires, the building and maintaining of firebreaks and fire roads, the building and maintaining and manning of fire lookout towers, forest fire fighting, and such other activities as needed to maintain the forests in the area, which might also include the planting of seedlings and the running of phone lines to fire watchtowers or other needed duties.
When precisely Mr. Madden's photograph was taken is not clear. From his civilian attire and the note on the back saying where he lived, and that it was given to a friend, would seem to hint that it was taken upon Mr. Madden's Discharge from the CCCs. It also hints that this camp had a photographic lab among its educational facilities since if it was a going away photograph it presumably would have needed to be quickly developed to have Mr. Madden then sign it (unless the owner wrote Mr. Madden's words on the back later from memory).
Another hint as to the timing of the photo may be the pile of mattresses in the background alongside the barracks. The way they seem to be stacked on a refuse can and a crate makes one believe they are being thrown out. The number of mattresses, if being thrown out, would either give the impression of a massive house cleaning, or a mass exodus. Large numbers of men did Discharge at the same time, particularly early in the program when the six month enlistments had all begun at the same time. However, I am not certain that the mattresses of these men would be thrown out like this. Similarly, although the Company does seem to have been in Eagleton a long time, I don't know that housecleaning alone would have led to such a disposal. As such, I believe this was taken at the end of this Camps useage. Since Mr. Madden also seems to be departing, I suspect that this photo was taken sometime between 1940 and 1942, when the Company ceased operations and the Camp was being broken down and the Company discharged. If so, then it is possible that Mr. Madden and the unnamed owner of the photo were in both locations, since a two year enlistment would not have been served in full in the Paris camp. This is, of course, speculation.
If anyone is a fashion maven, they may also be able to gather some insight into the date by the obviously fashionable clothes being worn by Mr. Madden. I suspect these were a recent purchase made in anticipation of discharge. Accordingly if the period of this fashion could be determined then the date of the photo might be more accurately guessed. If any do so, note that he also seems to be wearing a tie, possibly a colorful one. I can not tell if it is tucked away into the shirt in the military fashion, or if was flapping in the breeze so much that it did not make an impression on the film. But it is clearly a part of the ensemble.
One other item of interest is the Mock Cannon. It was obviously put together by the Enrollees as a Center piece to their Flagpole area, just as many Army posts have old civil war cannons displayed in like location. It is also a very humorous item. The piece is made, quite nicely, to resemble the infamous Big Bertha, which was a very large rail borne artillery piece used by the German Army in World War I to shell Paris from many miles away. This "Little Bertha", together with the white painted rocks around the white flagpole, no doubt made a pretty and smile invoking memory for the men of Company 747 for many years after their service had ended.
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