What We Did For A Dollar A Day

A Poem By John Derden, CCC Enrollee 1937-1939

In the depth of the Great Depression in 1933,

President Roosevelt created the CCC.

For our nation, he had a plan ---

To give young men jobs, improve our forests, and build state and federal parks

Throughout the land.

From the country, villages, towns, large cities, and the ghettos, by the

Thousands we came.

We were eager to participate in FDR's CCC game.

Our uniforms and equipment were 1917 army style.

And every time we went to town, the girls would point to our pistol-legged

trousers and smile.

We lived in tents and barracks and had to sweep the floors and make up our bed.

We shined our shoes, brushed our teeth, and combed our head.

To heat the barracks we built our own fires and cut our own wood.

The need for dry kindling was well understood.

They taught us to lay rock, our cement, and build lakes for wild geese and ducks,

To operate bulldozers and drive trucks.

We dug ditches, built roads, and sloped banks,

Built campgrounds, log cabins, and water tanks.

We worked in the rain, the snow, and the mud,

To crush rock, cut logs, and rescue people from the Mississippi flood.

Our camps were located all across the land

From Alaska to Death Valley's burning sand.

We were often stationed far from home in places we had never been

To perform hard work with very little money to spend.

When in town, if we asked girls for a date they would say, "No thanks, we go out

With railroad men,

Because you CCC boys only have five dollars all month to spend."

With axes, rakes, saws, and leaking fire pumps on our back,

We climbed mountains to fight fire all day with only a sandwich in a paper sack.

If we ever went home for a visit, we always had a short time to stay,

Because we had to hitch-hike or walk all the way.

Working in the kitchen would have been a good deal,

But they had too many pots and pans to wash and too many spuds to peel.

In the evening before we could eat,

We lowered the flag and had retreat.

We did our work well all across the land; our forest roads are still lined with

Our shrubs and trees.

And as people ride by and enjoy the scenery, they always say, "These roads and

Trees were put here by the CCC's."

And we are proud to say,

We did this all for just a dollar a day.

----- Written by John B. Derden

         CCC Enrollee, 1937-39

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