Biography of Charles Kierniesky

CCCman, Parvin State Park, Pitsgrove Township, New Jersey

     I have an interesting story to tell about me spending twenty one months at Parvin State, Park in Pitsgrove Township, which is about ten miles from Vineland.

     At the age of fifteen I dropped out of my second year in high school, because I wanted to obtain a job, to help my Mother who was raising four children. We had an absentee father. So I signed up for the C.C.C.'s telling the recruiter that I was eighteen years of age, which you had to be. Luckily I was big for my age. They took us to Vineland, N.J. to Landis Avenue, about a group of twelve boys and men.

     We stayed in front of the Methodist Church until a Lieutenant came and chose five of us, to go to camp. The rest were taken back to Millville, N.J. and waited for another call. I was fortunate to be chosen.

     We were assigned to a Barracks, and I was placed in Barracks #3, which was the toughest, roughest group of men that were in the camp. There was five barracks. Each barrack had one Leader, who made $45.00 a month, and two Assistant Leaders, who made $36.00 a month, and the rest of the men made $30.00 a month, of which $25.00 was sent home and we kept five dollars. The men I was with were from Jersey City, Newark, Perth Amboy and most of them were very tough.

     They issued me army clothing, that was left over from World War One.

     I joined in June, 1934. At that time enlistments were for six months only, and you could not reenlist. Later they changed it, so you could reenlist every six months. I worked building roads, trails, dams, and taking out stumps out of the pond. Most of the time I worked on weekends, in the kitchen doing K.P.. There were a lot of men who did not want this extra duty, so they paid me two dollars to work in their place on weekends. I gained forty pounds in six months. The food was very good and you could have all you wanted.

     I worked hard, because I did not want the authorities to find out my age and discharge me. I learned a lot from my stay at the camp. We had baseball, boxing, weight lifting and we had dances on Saturday night at the Recreation Hall.

     The ambulance driver would go to Norma and Cenerton N.J. to bring girls to the dance. The orchestra was usually comprised of the Camp's Foresters, who were our bosses in the field.

     When it rained we did not work, but we had to work Saturdays, to make up the lost day. The yeard 1934 and 1935 were extremely cold. We had good warm clothing, but I saw men working and crying because it was so cold.

     We could go to Camp Dix, N.J. to have teeth extracted, bit no other dental work would be done. At the same time they would bring a truck load of food back to the Camp.

     One of the best things President Roosevelt did was to start these Camps.

     Our main source of transportation was "Hitchhiking" on Friday after we finished work. We hitchhiked home for the weekend.

     Many of the times I would walk from Millville, N.J. to the Camp which was ten miles away I- in soaking rain. No one would pick me up.

     We did have bed check at 10:00 P.M.. I can truthfully say that it took the boys and men off the streets and they had some productive things to do. It was a great experience. Taught me not only work experience, but also discipline.

     After leaving the C.C.C., I obtained a Job at Wheaton Glass Co. and stayed there 46 years, including my five years in the service.

----- Charles Kierniesky




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