Biography of James F. Justin

CCCman, c. 1935-1937,  Co. 1229 Camp SCS-6 Machias NY c.35-36, Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE 1936-37 & Pvt. Co. B, 3rd Regt., NJ State Guard 1941-42

Thirty Dollars A Day, One Day A Month!

     My father was walking home from school one day in 1935 when his father pulled up to him and told him to get in the car and that he was going to enlist in the CCCs.  Jim was 16.  His mother had passed away three years before and his father's work was on the road.  I guess his father decided someone needed to raise him and the CCCs would do the trick.  

     In any case, Jim was soon on his way to Fort Dix, then known as Camp Dix, in New Jersey, for conditioning training. This training was followed by the formation of Company 1229 under Captain G. of the United States Army Reserve (Anonymous for reasons soon to be apparent). Although G was an infantry officer, he tended to wear cavalry style breeches tucked into knee high boots. These pants, which would puff out on the sides of the thighs by design, earned the Captain the nickname among the men of "Bloomer Boy G***", complete with a derogatory song that would go "Bloomer Boy, Bloomer Boy,...." (if you know this song let me know ! ).  Captain G led the newly formed company by a train to Camp SCS-6, Machias New York.

      Camp Machias, built in the summer of 1935, was a Soil Conservation Service camp. The Camp was located near only small towns and was itself on private land.  Camp Machias was dedicated to Soil Erosion prevention projects within a ten mile radius of the Camp. As of May 1936 the Camp had for its use 13 trucks as well as one tractor.  The Camp lacked a medical staff on site and relied on a part time physician shared between several camps. Similarly no church services were held on site though a truck was provided to drive the men to services weekly.

         The work of Company 1229 was done on Farm lands and Wood Lots and also along Stream Banks. By the end of June 1936 the Company would have completed seeding and sodding 13,573 square yards, dug 8,210 linear feet of diversion ditches, cleaned and cleared 6,760 quare yards of channels, planted 310 acres of fields, improved 244 acres of forest stand, planted 280 pounds of tree seed and built 13 temporary and one permanent dams.

        This work required the men to be split into small groups who would work far from the others on the various projects of the day.  The standard practice at Camp Machias at this time was to truck the men back to camp at noon for lunch and then return them to their projects for the remainder of the day's work.

          Two of the Enrollees in camp were Bill Johnson, the camp Bugler, and Eddie Jerome.

        The work, as related to me by my father, was varied.  The first job to be done was to lay out where and what projects would take place in the days to come. This first involved a survey of the land.  I imagine that this work would be supervised by one  or more of the Technical Staff. The Camp records of May, 1936 indicate an engineering aid, Mr. Q. W. Bernhard, as being on the Staff and I suspect he would be the surveyor who would lay out the work to be done. In any case the Surveyor and a few of the men who would assist him would carry the surveying equipment into the field to lay out where fire breaks, seeding, and so on would take place.

       At least some of the work also involved drainage ditches to fight erosion. As Mr. Ashburn advised as of 2010, some of that work still remains, “My friend has 160 acres on Canada Hill Rd. in Machias NY. The CCC boys built a concrete drainage ditch on his property. It must have been built well because it is still standing. It is impressive. There is also a stand of pines above this project. I would have to say it was part of (the CCC work).”

Drainage Ditch for Soil Conservation, Top and Bottom, built by CCC Men at Camp Machias, NY (2010 Photo)

       Being in Northern New York, this work would for much of the time my Father was present, involve crossing snow covered country, deeply snow covered.  You couldn't walk without breaking through the crust of hard snow and sinking hip deep in the stuff.  To get around the men used snow shoes during the snowy New York winters. Dad talked about how they were awfully hard to put on and use at first. Feeling like you had flippers I think is how he described it. But then once you got to used to it you could move along at a pretty good clip shuffling along.  But all in all my father learned to prefer another method of winter travel, cross country skiing.

        "Winters where my camp was got plenty cold back then, still do I imagine." he would relate, "And the snow! Oh man, I'm telling you there was a LOT of snow. We would wear snowshoes sometimes or cross country skis because you weren't going anywhere just plain walking. You'd be in up to your neck. Still, we had to go out in the woods, it was what we, the CCCs, were there for. And we would go out for fun too. We would put on our cross country skis and pack up the gear and start going out for pretty long trips."

      "Man that was living I'll tell you.  On one beautiful sunny afternoon I was in the woods cross country skiing like I was somebody, I liked the whole thing. And I was experienced at this by this point, I thought. I knew how to use the skis well. I felt pretty good about myself skiing across the open field of sparkling snow with my comrades.

      "Whereupon my comrades behind me suddenly noticed I was gone. Vanished.  They had no idea where I had gone, and neither did I for a moment. One moment sunny skies and open field the next I'm buried in ten feet of snow!  I was in a ravine that a creek ran through.  The snow had blown over the ravine and drifted until it had filled it up and smoothed it over even with the snow on the banks and the fields. You couldn't tell the creek bed was there, until I skiied over it that is.  Then the crust would break and down you went! Anyway they heard me cussing and I got out.  It took a little while to get me out of there! Who knew cross country skiing was dangerous!"

       Long afterwards my Dad would talk about the cross country skiing. He really enjoyed it. When it started to become popular in New Jersey later, he talked about going out and doing it again, though he never did manage to find the time.  He did, however, teach his kids to enjoy the snow, taking us sledding and tobagoning. Three of us would get the skiing bug as a result too. But that would be much later of course.

       One of the jobs Jim had in the CCCs was surveying, which was good work.  He was the chain man or something on the surveying team.  I am not sure which camp he did this work in, either would need a surveyor to help lay out the work, but the Delaware camps had property line work specifically mentioned so it may have been there.  Anyway after being on the team for a while, Dad was going out for the boss surveyor job, the guy on the team who did the figuring. So they had to have a test, him and some other guy on the team. They used the surveyor equipment to figure out Dad came in a couple of degrees off, about three degrees or inches, three something. The other guy was right on. Dad was off on his calculations. The other guy was a college guy, thats how he got it right. So the college guy got the main job and Jim stayed as an assistant. 

       After the surveying was done the men would go into the field or woods to clear brush or cut fire breaks or to plant trees or other soil conservation labors. It was hard work.  As the work was on private land the men would work around farm lands or other cultivated areas. One such incident led to the following story;

      "We were working in a forest where they grew and harvested maple trees for syrup.  They tapped the trees by hammering a metal spout into the tree about four or five feet off the ground.  The tree sap would start dripping out soon enough.  To catch the sap you would hang a metal bucket from the spout handle.  Then you just left it alone for a while.  When you came back you had a bucket of sap to later be boiled for syrup, like you use on pancakes, or maple candy.

     "While we did other work in the area, cutting firebreaks or something, the buckets would sit there slowly filling.  It was hot work.  Well pretty quick you'd be so thirsty your tongue would be hanging out for a drink.  Meanwhile there is the sap dripping into the bucket.  Somebody tried it and found out it was watery, not syrupy yet, and quenched your thirst.  It was also sweet like pogey bait.  It didn't take long before everyone was taking slugs of sap out of the buckets.  It was gooood!  It seemed like another one of those things experienced out in the woods in good company which was just good living.

       "Unfortunately there is a reason they boil the sap to make the syrup.  Maple tree sap has an effect upon the young man's body which suffice it too say shouldn't be discussed in polite company.  But you could say we ran all the way back to camp!"

     "Also if we were near a farm they might invite us in for lunch, it was really nice - nice people. You could trust people back then.  Then when you were done eating and talking you would go out and start skiing again."

       Recently Mr. Bernard Rice has written to the Museum and told the following story; "I was living in Holland, New York, between Colden, NY, on Lewis Road. The CCC worked cleaning up the woods behind our farm which we were renting. My Mother served them Food and Coffee and made her home made pies and home made bread. They did a fine job cleaning out the woods." This farm is about 20 miles NNW of Machias. I can not but think that this is the farm, or one of them, that my Dad visited and was fed such good food and received such warm welcome that he still talked about it 60 years later. Thank you Mrs. Rice!

     There was fun to be had in the camp itself as well.  One such story Dad would tell like this, "In the CCCs you slept in open barracks.  Each guy had his bunk but there weren't any walls separating you. Everyone was in the one big room, or bay.  Everyone had to be in his bed by lights out.  In our camp there was a mandatory bed check each night.  What that entailed was the night guard coming to the door of the barracks and looking in the door to see that everyone was in bed under the blankets when we were supposed to be.  Now this particular night guard, who was an enrollee, not one of the officers, was a real plick (as the Chinamen would say), he would come when we were asleep and shine the flashlights in your face and be noisy, to wake you up, generally making a pain of himself.  Well one night we decided to get him for fun.  Each of us had a shoe, one of our boots, handy and none of us went to sleep. We waited up for the night guard. Then, when he came into the door and shined his stinking flashlight at us, Wham!  Thirty boots came flying at him, he was buried in `em.

     Everyone was laughing - for a second.  The light was suddenly switched on as a bellow of cursing came from the man in the door who, we realized now, wasn't the night guard we expected. It was one of the Army Lieutenants. What a grand and glorious feeling that was."

      The men at Machias, and also at a nearby CCC Camp at Centerville, also enjoyed fun with the locals.  Young ladies at Machias would come to Dances held at the Camp. Trucks from the Camp would go and pick them up and bring them to the Camp for an evening of song and dance. As Dee Ringer, then Miss Doris Slocum of Machias, recently recalled "All my girlfriends and I went to all the dances and parties we had for the CCC boys too. They always had dances and used to send the truck to pick us up. When I look back - them were the good old days."

      However, life at Camp Machias was not all fun and games.  The company was sufferring the travails of being under the command of a bad officer. Morale was low and the food was awful. My Father told this favorite story about the food;

       "I entered the CCCs in 1935 when I was 16, getting away from living in the house where my Father had boarded me while he was on the road working.  As that comedian says, I got no respect there. Pearl Mackey had alot of people boarding in her house, working men who needed good food and her children, who rated higher than I did.  So whenever there was good food, meat, cooked it would go to the adults, mainly the men.  Then what was left would mostly go to her kids.  Not that any of us got much, it was the depression and she was a pennypincher anyway. It was so bad that at night we would sneak a flask - a Sneaky Pete kind of bottle - of hot ttea up to our rooms to fill the empty spot.  And of course if we got caught I would be the one to take the heat as always. On Sundays Pearl Mackey would cook meat for the men and for us kids it would be bean or potato soup.  The soup would be watered down so it lasted all week long.  If you got a real piece of potato, man that was living!  Still, pretty quick you got sick and tired of potato soup.

       "Well by the time I got to the CCCs I wasn't too particular about what I ate.  Particularly after the razzing that took place at dinner with the guys in the CCCs. People would say anything, the grossest kind of stuff, when the food was served and you were eating to try and make you sick. Calling chipped beef on toast SOS was the mild stuff. People would  spit in their coffee to keep people from drinking it, was another mild thing. You pretty quick had to build up a tolerance to bad food and bad manners.  Still, what they served at Camp Machias was enough to give even my cast iron stomach adjada.

     "Apparently how the system worked was that the camp commander would get money allotted to him for the camp budget.  This guy decided that he would pocket some of it.  He supposedly was taking money for himself and buying bad food, literally bad, for the guys in camp with the little that was left rather than using all of it for the good food we were supposed to be getting.  Well the result was food that was horrible and not much of it either.  The Captain's shenanigans weren't known then, but the food spoke for itself.  Everyone got sick of it fast. Some wise guy started a protest.  I'm sitting there minding my own business when out of nowhere everyone starts marching through camp shouting about the bad food.  Well I hated the food too so I grabbed a pot and ladle and started marching with them and beating the pot with the ladle for noise, like a Little Drummer Boy.  We had ourselves a right proper food riot going and I was out front beating the `drum' and leading.

     "Well the camp commander got out in front of us and climbed up on something.  `Wait boys," he said or something like it.  We stopped and he started talking us down.  He started talking about how much better we had it here than we had it before and how we had good clean uniforms and good barracks.  He went on about how good life was for us here, how nice we were treated and paid and how we were good men and so forth.  It worked really well.  He had everyone calmed down, dumb and happy.  He finally stopped, knowing he had won.  But I was hungry I guess, cause I called out "Yeah But what about the food!".

     "All pandemonium broke out once more.  I was public enemy number one.

     "Although, the Captain got his in the end I heard - they caught him and brought him up on charges eventually - from that moment on I was on the Captaiin's S**t list. I never got back in good graces at that camp after that.  And I got to know all about the food, my next few weekends were spent peeling it."

       Perhaps as a result of his KP duty Jim also was assigned to a duty he very much enjoyed.  The Mess Hall received its bread by truck, presumably from one of the local contractors who provided some of the camps food.  Camp Machias, like many CCC Camps, was not directly on a road and apparently this truck could not make it up the track leading to the camp.  As such when the truck which delivered the company bread arrived, it did not bring the bread to the camp but would deliver it at the main road. My father would ski down to the road to pick up the bread delivery and bring it back to the Mess Hall. The outdoors and the skiing appealed to my Father and he loved doing this duty.

         One of the other aspects of CCC life at Machias and also in Delaware were the truck rides back and forth between camp and the work sites.   Riding in the back of the Stake Trucks, sitting on the benches down the middle or sides of the bed, the men would sing and joke and rough house like school boys.  Someone would reach over and behind everyone and hit somebody in the back of the head with his gloves and then sit very innocent like he didnt do it.   Of course then accusations would fly as to who did do it. My Dad really enjoyed these rides. Sometimes in the evening the ride back would be in the dark and my Dad would lay looking up at the stars.  He used to take comfort, when feeling lonely so far from home, at seeing familiar Orion in the sky above.  It made him feel at home.

       The men would sing when riding in the Trucks.  One song noted above was about the Camp Commander, "Bloomer Boy". Another Ditty my Dad would still sing many years later to us, was SHOVEL


"S" is for the spuds we get each morning

"H" is for the ham we seldom see

"O" is for the oversize shoes they gave us

"V" is for this verse composed by me

"E" is for the end of my enlistment

"L" is for the last they'll see of me

Put them all together they spell Shovel

The Emblem of the CCC !

       But despite some of these simple pleasures, Jim was never really comfortable at Machias. He had gotten on the Captain's bad side with the food riot and was constantly getting into trouble. In high school Jim had been very popular, had been on the dance committee and otherwise had been one of the guys in charge.  In Machias, he had a rough time adjusting to the military style discipline and rigors of the CCCs and being on the short list didn't help the transition. This and the general lousy conditions of the camp kept Jim from being happy during his stint at Machias.

       Also all of his money went to his Father.  Whether his Father thought he would be better off without the temptations of cash or if he just couldn't spare it, Jim didn't get any or only very little back. Due to his slight pay, Jim was often left to go without what few luxuries the light pay of a CCC man could buy.

       This was not atypical of the CCC man's lot. Jim would talk about how the men would rush to call "Butts!" whenever a fella would light a cigarrette.  Whoever was judged to get dibs by calling first would get the butt of the cigarrette when the smoker was finished with it.  The winner could then smoke the butt himself. The boys were that poor.

       My Father's enlistment ran out in March of 1936. Being totally sick and tired of "Bloomer Boy" G and the lousy camp life under his command, Jim quit the CCCs rather than sign up for a second enlistment.  He was not alone.  As the entire company was formed at the same time, the bulk of the men's enlistments ran at the same time.  Fully 72 of the men decided to leave the CCC's rather than continue to serve, a very abnormal retention rate.  According to an official CCC special report on Camp Machias of May 25, 1936, this abnormal rate was due to the poor administration of the Camp and the disregard for company welfare.

       Captain G did not long survive the loss of so much of his company. On April 15, 1936 he was relieved for unsatisfactory service.  Although the company books appeared to balance, an Army investigation revealed at least one dishonest transaction involving Captain G. Presumably this was the food pilferage which led to the food riot though the records do not give details. Maybe my Dad had had the last laugh with Bloomer Boy afterall. Though it is easy to blame the Captain, this story was repeated in numerous other camps according to my research. Times were tough, temptation to pocket money, when there was a desperate need of money, must have been incredible to some men. Maybe he had family to feed, maybe he had problems. It is tough to be hard on him in retrospect, though he was very hard on my Dad.

     Although Jim was thoroughly disgusted with Bloomer Boy, the pleasant memories of the good points of CCC life must have soon prevailed, for Jim re-enlisted into the CCCs within the year. After another stint at Fort Dix for training, Jim was shipped to Company 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia, DE.

     The Magnolia Camp was located about five miles outside of the State Capital in Dover, and was built on an apple orchard and near a baseball field. They had a Library and Entertainment Director and a Pool room. Most of the boys came from New York. The Company Enrollee Senior Leader was Harold E. Rivenbaugh. One Enrollee Assitant Leader was Olen F. Solloway.  Also at this camp was Jack Lewis, a college graduate from Rutgers whose unsual duties included painting the men at their work. He would eventually become a famous artist.  His CCC collection is currently on display at the Delaware State Museum.

     In Magnolia, Jim tried from the start to fit in well and benefit from his experiences at Machias. Blessed with that and a better commander and a happier camp, Jim enjoyed his second enlistment greatly.

    The Magnolia Camp, like the other three CCC Camps in Delaware, was dedicated to the eradication of the Mosquito.  Numerous CCC Camps across the country, those with MC designations, had been dedicated to this task. It was an endeavor which was necessary for the health of citizens living near wetlands and considered vital by the military which relied upon bases in remote areas where their troops were constantly subject to malaria and the even more dangerous Yellow Fever.  

     Upon the begining of the CCC operations in Delaware, a local newspaper, the Delmarva Star, summed up the mosquito infestation in Delaware thusly, "Wrestling Delaware from the Wilderness was a task accomplished, it would seem, centuries ago. But that is not entirely correct. Only part of the three lower counties along the Delaware were taken from posterity. Today what remains are vast areas of swamp and wasteland that lie beneath the tides and great inland flows, producing nothing except a dismal and weird beauty. It remains for the lowly mosquito…to bring about the renovation. His home … is the swamp land where he (is) dedicated to the proposition of making life miserable for the Delawarians" ( Quote found in the Delaware State News ).

     So miserable was the mosquito infestation in some portions of Delaware that persons could not venture into the woods without protective clothing, being reduced to wearing kerosene soaked cloths on their faces to ward off the pesty and unhealthy insects. The CCC's were among the first Mosquito Control efforts in the state and would become the basis for the State's modern Mosquito Control efforts.

      Mosquito Control work consisted mainly of draining swampland, or more properly salt marsh. This would not only provide useful land for later use but also removed the Mosquito breeding grounds. Not only was this important then with so many incurable Mosquito borne diseases around in those days and as pest control, but also with the West Nile Virus that is spreading, the important work done at Magnolia continues to benefit the people of that area to this very day.

     The swamps were drained by the digging of ditches to allow the water to drain into the watershed, converting the swamp into dry land.  The ditches were usually dug about 150 feet apart. These were dug from the salt marsh by spade and hook wherein sod was removed in clumps of 60 to 80 pounds weight. A two man crew could complete 235 feet of ditch a day. The Delaware camps had already dug thousands of miles of ditch, 2,878 by 1936 and cleaned an equal number of miles of existing ditching and streams. They would dig thousands more, one spade and hook at a time.

     The work was hard, but it lead to one of my Dad's favorite stories which he told this way, "Our camp in Delaware was not too far from town. Some of the guys would get out of camp and go into town from time to time. There was a barber shop there we could go to and so on.  But some would go drinking.  There was a guy in town who would sell you moonshine.  I didn't get to go into town much myself as all of my money went home to my Dad and he didn't send money back for me to go out on the town.  So one particular night when some of the guys went into town and tied one on, I was in camp getting a good nights sleep.

     "The next morning it was work as usual, bright and early and on a hot summer day.  A Really Hot day, I mean man it was hot. Our work in this camp at the time was digging drainage ditches to drain a swampland.  The marsh terrain was this thick marsh grass, cat o nine tails, with root thick wet dirt underneath. We had to dig narrow ditches through this to drain off the marsh for mosquito control to prevent mosquito transmitted diseases.  The way this was done was in two man teams.  One fellow would have a long flat cutting spade with a short handle with a T shaped grip on top.  The other would just have a Hook (called a potato fork by some).  The edges of the ditch, which would be four to five feet wide, would be cut with a hay saw. Once the ditch was started one fellow would stand in the ditch facing the way you want the ditch to go.  The other member of the team, the cutter, would stand ontop of where the ditch is going to go facing the other fellow.  The cutter would drop his heavy shovel into the marshground about a half foot or so from the fresh edge of the dug ditch and push it in straight down.  This would cut the roots and dirt the width of the shovel blade and as deep as the ditch is going to be, making a square foot of loose dirt about a foot or two deep.  The hook man would then hook the roots and begin to flip the whole mess out of the ditch.  The cutter then lean back on his shovel handle, flipping the cube of dirt and breaking its contact at the edges with the dirt.  Then the hook would lift it up and flip it, or hook it, to one side of the top of the ditch.  In this way a fairly sizeable chunk of dirt which otherwise would be hard to dig is cut out and thrown out of the ditch lickety split.  You could with two quick movements each dig out over about a foot of ditch.  Not that this was easy work, it wasn't.  It was a hard back breaking job. Each chunk of dirt weighed 50 to 70 pounds. On a blistering hot muggy day like this particular day, it was a real b***buster.

     "Well my team mate this fine morning was one of the fellows who had had a wee bit ( add Irish accent here ) the night before.  A real toot.  And he was feeling every bit of his hangover when we went out to work.  Anyone whose had a hangover knows a nice hot muggy day doesn't help one bit, and this was one of the hottest.  Well this fella says to me as we are getting ready to start digging that he wants me to take it slow, real slow, so he won't feel bad.  The problem with this is that the CCCs were run under pretty strict rules and you were supposed to work hard.  If you didn't you would get in trouble.  I wasn't about to get into trouble by slacking off for this guy who went out and had a good time last night.  If he wanted to work slow, fine, I'd wait for him.  But I wasn't going to be the one leaning on my shovel while he was waiting for me.

     "I was the cutter this day and I cut the dirt when work starts without putzing around.  The hung over hooker flips the bottom right away and without pause I flip the shovel and break the dirt.  Well my friend quickly realizes that I am not playing ball with him and, as he flips the dirt out of the ditch, starts cussing me out under his breath.  Well I explain to him - as I step back and cut the next part of ditch - that I'm not getting into trouble for him.  Now he knows exactly what I am talking about and he doesn't want to get into trouble either.  He doesn't want to be seen leaning on his handle while I wait for him either.  So he hooks the dirt and I flip and he flips and we start doing our next cut without slowing down.  But he is mad, steaming mad.  He wants me to slow down so he can.  He cusses me out some more and says he's going to clobber me.

     "Oh Yeah?!  I say to myself.  I'll show the S.O.B., cause I am getting mad now too.  I cut the next block of dirt hard and fast. I'll show him. Not only am I not going to slow down, I am going to go faster.

     "Oh Yeah?! he must have said to himself too, cause he not only didn't rest like he wanted to, he dug faster too.  

     "Foot by foot we cut dirt the rest of the steaming miserable day, cussing each other like longshoremen and working like bunnies.  We almost came to blows. but we went like gangbusters. A team's quota for the day was a couple hundred feet. But by the end of this day my buddy and I must have cut 600 feet of ditch, more than any other team that day! He wanted to kill me. Laugh" ( note I seem to recall the number as 600 feet actually but that seems like an awful lot but whatever it was it was much more than normal ).

     The laziness of Dad's team mate that day seems to have been shared but some others in camp, for a funny version of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was put together which read like this;

The Magnolia Address

     Eight months and six days ago, our predecessors brought forth from this apple orchard a new encampment, conceived by Roosevelt and dedicated to the proposition of getting rid of mosquitoes.

     We are now engaged in a great civil strife, testing whether this spade or any spade so constructed, or so leaned upon, can long endure.

      We are sunk into a great marsh land in Delaware, providing a final resting place for all forbears of the mosquito that the tourists and townspeople might sleep in peace.

      It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger nonsense, we cannot excavate, we cannot irrigate, we cannot hollow this ground. The"goldbrickers" present and absent who struggle here have driven us far beyond our poor power of patience to remonstrate with them. The world will little note nor long remember what we say to them, but it can never forget what they didn't do here.

     It is for us, the remainder, rather to be excavating here on the unfinished work which they who struggled here have thus far so nobly deserted. It is rather for them not to be here, rather than engage in unintentional labor, that from these "goldbrickers" we take decreased emotion to that cause to which they gave their last full measure of devotion; that we highly resolve that these mosquitoes shall breed, but not here, that this camp shall have a new freedom from bites; and that discipline of the Army, by the Army and for the CCC shall not perish for the lack of relief.

      This bit obviously tickled Dad, though I do not know if he helped write it or not.  He would many years later type it up as something from the CCCs he thought worth telling about.  

     Although Magnolia Camp life involved less appealling work, there was also better opportunity for excitement. Trips to home to New Jersey as were possible as were trips to cities, one to Wilmington and at least one Vaudeville show at the Trocadera in Philadelphia.  Again my father had many happy stories of these times.

     There were other entertainments as well.  The soon to be famous artist Jack Lewis was a member of the Company. He was a college man from Rutgers and helped put together plays by the CCC men. There was also a Federal troupe in Delaware going to CCC Camps but I am not sure if these two groups interacted or not. In any case Mr. Lewis put on at least one play in which my father partook as an actor.  We have a photo of him in clown costume amongst a cast of twenty or so.  This production included a recitation of The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert Service and a production of Pagliacci. Mr. Lewis said that there was some good talent in that group of men.

     Other entertainment for the CCC men which my Dad went to included going to the State Fair, where there was also a CCC parade to promote the CCC Mosquito Control operations. This was the idea of the Mosquito control commander, Colonel Wilbur S. Corkran.

     Dad's enlistment in the CCCs ended in 1937 and he went home. He kept in touch for a while but never joined the alumni group and eventually lost touch with his CCC friends.

     After the CCCs Jim went on to various jobs, including factory work.  In 1941 he joined the New Jersey State Guard and was activated when Pearl Harbor was bombed.  However by this time he had a wife and two children as well as a machinists job in a steel factory,Crucible Steel, which would be making bombs and 16 inch gun shells.  He was discharged for one or both of those reasons.  Draft boards later would turn him away for poor eyesight and flat feet but he would be called up anyway in 1944.  Upon saying his farewells and going to ship out he was summarily sent home again upon reaching the induction center. The Army had decided it had as many men as it needed and was reducing intake.  My father often complained about that, the embarrassment and not being able to get veteran status, but I for one am glad of it.

     Jim went on to raise four sons and moved into a professional career while also becoming a writer and artist. All of this was aided no doubt by the skills and confidence he learned in the CCCs. Certainly the CCCs stayed with him always. For our vacations we would travel across the country, up into the mountains, across the deserts, out into the swamps or into the forests.  Always the Great Outdoors.  We drove all across the country but I can't tell you what Chicago, or Denver or Pittsburgh look like, the city wasn't where we were going. But I Do remember looking out across the tops of the Rocky Mountains with my Dad and Mom from a little dirt trail we shouldn't have been driving on.  It was probably built by the CCCs.

- John Justin

James F. Justin, Rehobeth Beach, Delaware on Leave from CCC Camp, September 6th(?) 1936

James F. Justin, Crew for Digging Swamp Drainage Ditches, Jim Justin is on Left. The man on the right is one of the Crew Bosses. Sammy in truck I think

James F. Justin (left) and Men of Co 1295, Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, September 6th(?) 1936

Sammy, Stepping from Drainage Ditch with Spade and Hook, Taken by Jim Justin, pretty sure his name was Sammy, Jim's friend

Barracks, Water Tower and Shed, According to Jack Lewis, The Last Barracks on the row, Barracks Number 4. The Dining Hall straddled the end of the street. 1st Building was the Recreation Hall and across the company street from it was the Reception and Officer's Building.

Mess Hall and Sammy, I had thought this was a barracks but Jack Lewis thinks it was the Mess Hall, he was there so I will agree with him.

Men of Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE 1936-37 pose in their costumes from a play. James F. Justin is in the dark clown costume at right end. The man in the left rear is the artist Jack Lewis who put on the play. This production included a recitation of The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert Service and a production of Pagliacci ( the clown suits come from the last one). Mr. Lewis said that there was some good talent in that group of men.


James F. Justin State Guard Story A biography regarding State Guard service during World War II

Aunt Jemima on the Run A story by James Justin of Co. 1229 Camp SCS-6 Machias NY

Bed Check A story by James Justin of Co. 1229 Camp SCS-6 Machias NY

Home Made Cooking on the Farm for the CCC Boys, Bernard Rice, Holland, New York

Oh Yeah? A story by James Justin of a Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE

Shot Heard Round The Meadowlands, A story by James Justin of Co. B, 3rd Infantry Regt., NJ State Guard, 1942

Still Frozen Waters A story by James Justin of Co. 1229 Camp SCS-6 Machias NY

Yeah, But What About The Food? A story by James Justin of Co. 1229 Camp SCS-6 Machias NY

Cast Photo Men of Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE 1936-37 (or possibly Co. 1229 Camp SCS-6 Machias NY c.35-36) James F. Justin's Company, pose in costumes

Company 1295 Barracks and CCC Man

Company 1295 Barracks, Water Tower and Shed

Company 1295 Ditch Digger

Company 1295 James F Justin at Rehobeth Beach DE

Company 1295 James F Justin and Men of Co. 1295 Ditch Digging Team

Company 1295 James F Justin and Men of Co. 1295 at Rehobeth Beach DE

Camp Inspection Report, 6/8/1937, Page One, Page Two, James F. Justin, Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE

Camp Inspection Report, 6/8/1937, Camp Work Summary 1935 to 1937, James F. Justin, Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE

Camp Inspection Report, 6/8/1937, Education Resume, James F. Justin, Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE

Camp Inspection Report, 6/8/1937, Listing of Army Personnel, James F. Justin, Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE

Camp Inspection Report, 6/8/1937, Listing of Forestry Personnel, James F. Justin, Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE

Camp Inspection Report, 6/8/1937, Supplemental Report, James F. Justin, Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE

Camp Inspection Report, 6/8/1937, Typical Menu, Page One, Page Two, James F. Justin, Co. 1295, Camp MC-54, Magnolia DE




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Thirty Dollars A Day, Volume II Enrollee Memories G to P

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