Biography of Abraham Caroff
CCCMan, Company 1285, SCS-5, Attica, New York
In the year 1936 on New Year's Day at age 17, I came down with meningitis. It was a time when not much was known about treatment for the disease. I was hospitalized for about 4 weeks. I was critical ( and partially conscious) for about one week of that time. It was God's will that I survived. I was sent to a rehabilitation center for about one week to recover. Please understand that I was a charity case in the hospital and rehabilitation center because my grandparents who were raising me were destitute and on home relief (welfare).
Months later I was looking for a way to rebuild my strength and body. That's how I came upon the idea of joining the CCC.
I was in Company 1285, Camp SCS-1, stationed in Attica, New York.
We worked on Soil Conservation. We planted trees, made irrigation ditches for local farmers, and fought small brush fires, all under the supervision of the Forestry Service and U.S. Army Reserve Officers. I loved the outdoor work and grew stronger each day.
My salary was paid monthly. Some of it went to my home and grandparents, plus $5 was given to me. I never had so much money of my own. Five dollars per month! Wow!
All of my clothers were issued to me by the U.S. Army, including shoes, socks, underwear, et cetera.
The food was the best I ever tasted. I was introduced to foods I had never eaten at home before because not only were we so poor, but we followed kosher food laws. Foods such as bacon and other meats, vegetables, spaghetti et cetera we did not eat. I looked forward to meal times. Between the good nutrition and exercise, I became a hale and hearty 17 year old.
The only down side to my experience at the CCC was gacing some anti-semitism, which was foreign to me at my home in New York City. That was unfortunate, because then I was easily prevailed upon and led by the only other Jewish camper. One week before my official discharge he persuaded me to leave the camp and hitch hike with him. I went with him and therefore received a dishonorable discharge. What a mistake I made to leave a place I was so happy in. The experiences left me with life long benefits plus most certainly helped me during World War II for five years. I served in the ETO as a First Sergeant and was awarded two Bronze Stars.
I am now 82 years old and have been married for 56 years to my wife, Blanche. We have four children all of whom are married and are serving the community; a Doctor, a Nurse, a Lawyer and a Judge. We also have eleven grandchildren, some of whom are also already serving their communities; a Doctor, a Lawyer, a Trader, and a C.P.A. Accountant, while the others are still in school. We also have a great-grandchild.
The C.C.C. was a wonderful and excellent experience, the type of situation to be recommended for adolescents who can't seem to find themselves. The CCC built not only physical strength but strength of character also.
----- Abraham Caroff
Curator's Note: Mr. Caroff has recently passed away. He will be missed.
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