Biography of Travis Belue
CCCMan, Possibly Company 2133, Camp BR-7, Deaver, Wyoming
Travis Belue applied to join the Civilian Conservation Corps at the age of 16 years old in Hilford TX. He had to fill out an application and had to send into the Bureau of Reclamation or some branch of government. He lied about his age because one was supposed to be 18, that wasn't right to do but he couldn't see any other way to help his Mother and Dad. They were desperate and were living on jackrabbits.
This was in 1935, that was a terrible depression and his folks didn't have anything and neither did Travis. Actually Travis had to quit school to get into the CCC. President Roosevelt started the CCC in 1933 to keep guys like me off the streets and out working to make a little money. It wasn't much but it was good. Travis was sure they knew he wasn't 18. He joined up with others in Oklahoma and came to Deaver, WY to the CCC camp. Curator's Note he may have been in Company 2133 which was in this camp sometime in 1938, but it may have been an earlier company. The Army controlled the camp. They didn't carry guns or march like the Army, but they did have Army issues. They furnished them clothing and they got $30 a month. They had to send $25 of that to their parents. Travis bought a little home and paid for it with that $25 a month.
Travis landed in Deaver, Wyoming August 8, 1935. They came on a troop train. There were about 120 men. When they came through the Wind River Canyon they thought that was so beautiful and they were thrilled. They thought they were going to be stationed there. They kept going and going and finally they got to Lovell. They could see they were out of the pretty country. From Lovell they went on to Deaver. They got into Deaver at 4 P.M.. It was hot and Travis said, "I mean Hot!". The wind was blowing a terrible force. Our lieutenant's name was Lieutenant Harrington. He got us off the train and stood us there. Travis said they were a bunch of greenhorns. Lieutenant Harrington said, "Now the wind don't always blow this way, it sometimes blows the other way!"
The camp had just been built. They gave them shots just like they would have in the rmy and issued Army clothing. There wasn't any water in the barracks yet, so they had to wash in the irrigation ditch. Travis said they survived. The water was piped in later on.
Travis had duty in the kitchen and the other men went out in the field. Soon Travis got to be second cook and finally he moved up to first cook. Then he was getting $45 a month. He had $20 to spend and $20 to send home to the folks.
The first year that he was in Deaver, he was so homesick and of course he was only 16 years old. Travis stayed in camp, for the first year. The other guys would get in a truck and go to town.
The second year, 1936, he kind of got ove rbeing homesick. He always wrote home, which did help. He decided he would get out and go to town like the other guys. One evening, he went to Cowley to a dance. He looked across the hall and there was a pretty girl. So he went over and asked her to dance. Her name was Irene Lythgoe. They continued to date the rest of that year.
In each of the barracks was a pot bellied stove. There was one person who had seniority. This person was assigned to build the fire of a morning. Everyone was supposed to take turns, but no one wanted to do it. So George Ellis from Lovell, Wyoming, was in our barracks. George said, "I'll build the fire every morning If each of you will pay me 5 cents a week". So they did. George built the fire for the rest of the time. George married Velta Berryman, one of the Deaver girls.
Travis said there was only one major accident that he could remember. One young man by the name of Clifford Olson, a local boy from Cowley, made a little crystal radio with a wire for an aerial. There was a power high line just outside his barracks. He was going to throw the wire upon the pole. He was standing on the ground and it fell on one of the high wires. He didn't survive.
Travis said he finally decided to leave the camp and go home. When one signs up, it was for 6 months. He kept signing up until he had been there for two years. He left on the train and headed home to his family. It wasn't long before he decided he missed that pretty girl from Wyoming so he headed back to Cowley. Irene and Travis were married in 1937.
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