Biography of Rudolph Elmer Hoff

CCCman 1933-1937, Company 653, Company 2619

    In the summer of 1933, Rudy decided to take a change of direction in his life by quitting school to join the Civilian Conservation Corps. He had no regrets about it at the time. In the book "The CCC: How We Remember It," published in 1990 on page 119, Rudy wrote " When you are hungry, broke, and wearing shoes with no soles, and no prospect of a job, you don't care whether you finish school or not." Rudy also said he was 2 months short of 18 and had to see the minister of his church to say that Rudy was 18 so he could enroll in the C.C.C.. Rudy's life did change. Rudy stayed in the C.C.C. for 4 1/2 years did many different things while enrolled. On May 25, 1933 Rudy was inducted into the C.C.C. at Fort Sheridan, Illinois where he stayed for one month for conditioning, very much like a military boot camp. In fact, the U.S. Army under the War Department (the original name for the Department of Defense) oversaw the C.C.C.. He left Ft. Sheridan with a satisfactory rating on June 19, 1933 and was sent back to Wisconsin to his first camp, Camp Clam Lake (Camp F-15) Company 653, just outside the town of Clam Lake in Ashland County, Wisconsin in the Chequamegon National Forest. He arrived at Camp Clam Lake the following day (June 20). Rudy was at Camp Clam Lake from June 20, 1933 to October 4, 1934. While at Camp Clam Lake Rudy was initially assigned to reforestation projects, but was promoted from enrollee to assistant leader. On October 5,1934 Rudy was transferred to a Camp Boot Lake near Townsend, Onconto County, Wisconsin in the Nicolet National Forest to help set up Camp F-30 with 2619th Company. Rudy was probably highly regarded at the time of the transfer. The evidence of this is in a book put out by the Sixth Corps Area titled "Civilian Conservation Corps Sparta CCC District Annual 1937," on Page 140 which stated that Rudy was one of twenty-six CCC veterans assigned to the camp "who, because of their experience, were placed in key positions so that the work ahead would progress with as little trouble as possible." Rudy was to help lead some of the 229 enrollees who were assigned to the camp. Setting up Camp F-30 was not easy. Once again, in the book The CCC: How We Remember It," on page 119 Rudy recalls the winter setting up the camp-"How would you like to live in a tent at -35 degrees? Only a few of us had winter clothing at the time. Not until spring did we finish the barracks and clothing come." Except for a one-month period running from January 29, to February 27, 1937 where Rudy was sent to Sparta to fight floods, Rudy spent the remainder of his Civilian Conservation Corps tenure at Camp Boot Lake. Rudy did many things while in the C.C.C.. Again on page 119, Rudy said, "I was busy getting promoted as one of the earliest in the Corps. By turns I was a "key man" (Asst.Leader), a leader, truck driver, a powder monkey, Asst. Educ. Advisor, and finally, Supply Sergeant." Rudy also recalled some his work experiences in the book "The CCC: How We Remember It," on page 119: "I went to explosives school and was assigned to a crew hauling gravel. Since it got cold at night, we had to set the explosives the night before the gravel froze. Then, the next morning we would detonate the charges and work the gravel. One morning the charges were set off, but we counted one short. After 45 minutes, we concluded that either we had counted wrong or two had gone off together. My supervisor and I went to inspect the site. We found one charge that had not gone off, and we decided to diffuse it. Suddenly there was a loud explosion and the next thing I knew we were dodging large chunks of frozen gravel. Neither one of us were physically injured but, like Pres. Reagan, I never regained the hearing in my right ear." On another explosive job site Rudy recalled another experience:  "Once I was called to dynamite an ice jam at a bridge construction site. The blast went off all right, but while I was inspecting the effect, somebody rolled the log I was standing, I went into the icy water. Fortunately we had a fire going, and my buddies covered me with an overcoat and put me on at truck bound fore the infirmary. The temperature that morning: 22 degrees below zero!" Rudy attributed his ability to survive to the Civilian Conservation Corps. He summed up his C.C.C. experience by saying: "In the CCCs, we learned teamwork how to take care of each other, a practice that came handy in the Army." He continued by saying: "It's a wonder I'm here to tell this town. I could have been dead of infection, mosquito bites, frozen stiff, drowned, or crushed by a caterpill ar truck that fell on me. But somehow I survived because the CCC taught mehow to." It is not know what the details are behind the tractor falling on Rudy or the other incidents mentioned above. There is no mention of them in his work record. They are the memories of experiences that Rudy had while in the CCC. On Rudy's work record it shows that though out his service Rudy was promoted a number of times. But he also was disrated a few times back to an enrollee for being absent with out leave. One time he was demoted from an assistant leader to an enrollee and fined $3.00 because he left camp under orders not to do so because there was a high fire danger and they needed corpsmembers to stay in camp in case they needed to put a fire crew together. Rudy, as all other corpsmembers, receive $ a month, $ of which was sent to his parents, who more than like need the money. The CCC was started up by President Franklin Roosevelt to help provide jobs for the nations unemployed young men to help ease the affects of the great depression, which was devastating many families at the time. Rudy decided he was once again up for a challenge. On June 21, 1937, Rudolph Elmer Hoff concluded his service with the Civilian Conservation Corps.

- Provided by Rudy's grandson, Dan Witter

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