Leader, Camp S-139, Camp Pocono, Promised Land, PA
(Officially Greenton was the address for the camp mail)
Soldier, 3rd Cavalry Military Police, USA
These are comments from TOM FRANTZ prior to the dedication of the new CCC Statue.
CCC REUNION, CAMP S139
Saturday, August 21,2004
When I passed by the Cresco train station on my way here, I could not believe it; I never thought I would see the place again. That was the start of my life in the Lords Valley, in paradise, in the PROMISED LAND.
Honored guests, friends of the park, my fellow CCC brothers...I see some canes and some wheelchairs. I know it took a great effort to come here today, but we are most grateful that you came so we might be reunited again. We all grew up during the depression!
The Park Manager asked that I talk of my experience of six years being at the CCC Camp, Camp Pocono.
This brings to mind the young lives saved by the CCC by providing the means to feed the hungry families throughout the nation through the work projects. I earned my high school diploma in 1934, in Jim Thorpe Country, yes, I'm a coal Cracker. I know how to pick coal!
There comes to mind my desire to learn and my dream of becoming a Forest Ranger. So I enlisted in 1935 at the age of 18. I left home to be sent by rail to Cresco, PA. Army trucks awaited me and other enlistees that came from many other parts of the country.
We hopped into the trucks and my journey and home began at a place called Promised Land. We were fortunate we could move into established barracks; earlier men arrived and moved into tents. We were sent to the supply barracks to fill duffle bags with all necessary olive drab gear. We became an army without guns.
We soon found out we had to settle down in our new surroundings. Army officers, the Top Sergeants, kept us busy working around camp and we had to respect and obey given orders. This was tough for some kids, two or three days were enough! They went over the hill. Homesickness also took its toll. The Sgt. blew the whistle it seemed, all the time, to fall out for duty and each morning and evening to show our respect to the flag.
The work projects of the Forest Service became our daily task. Local experienced men called "L.E.M.s" in the trades of carpentry, masonry and road building were brought in to teach us. We began building campsites, cabins, did timber stand improvement, etc. Each day the trucks took off to do a day's work from 5AM to 4PM out in the field. There comes to mind the burning brush, log peeling, the chipping of stone, the forest fires, the bitter cold, the deep snows, the use of axe and saw, tree planting, in due time the skills of the LEMs were passed on to those willing to learn. Truck drivers had pride in maintaining their trucks and knowing to become mechanics.
There comes to mind the recreation, sports, liberty to Scranton, movies in the Rec. Hall, and Camp S-139 had a great hockey team! We held dances for local girls to learn of these CCC Boys. I remember skyhooks, bed sheets shorted, a pet cub at camp and lots of rattlesnakes, bushes, beavers and boxing gloves that settled disagreements.
During my years, I became an Assistant Leader and then a Leader in Barracks 4 where I was in charge of 50 energetic, enlisted boys. As leader, I was responsible to sec that the building and surroundings were clean, good enough to qualify for Army inspections and responsible to get all of the boys to acquire habits of good personal housekeeping. The lights went out at 10 PM, no talking or laughing.
During those six years, we had a great turnover of boys as 2 years was the limit of enlistment. I met a lot of boys from all over the country. I was in my glory, enjoying what I was doing in camp as well as on the work projects. As I continued my life here my hope of wearing the green of the Forest Service would be realised. I had worked under two Superintendents, Dewey Streepy and "Red" Garland Inscoe. That day finally came when Red Inscoe said "Tom, there is a job opening that you can fill." Here I am, today, the only living member of that Forestry Staff.
I may have moved up the ranks in six years, but one cannot achieve this alone. My fellow CCC Comrades, from all over the country, who served here with me made it possible. The statue of a CCC Boy with axe in his hand represents my footprints along with hundreds of other men who labored here at PROMISED LAND and throughout the nation.
The dedication of the statue at the Masker Museum will be our history book for all who enter.
The CCC men served their country during peace and war. A recent book called the Greatest Generation failed to mention the CCC. With the closing of this camp and the others throughout the nation, I, along with many other discharged CCC men had been drafted. Nine months later, December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, I served for the duration in the 3rd Cavalry Military Police and finally received an honorable discharge as a Sgt. of the U.S. Air Force. I and the other CCC men who were lucky enough to return home went on to do many great things and live good lives. A few of the well known CCC men include: John Glenn, Walter Mathau, Danny Thomas, Robert Mitchum, and Raymond Burr. There were many others who had too much pride to be known as CCC men who became successful.
Today the commitment of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation, the State Park Administrators, employees and friends will continue to protect and preserve the legacy of Penn's Woods for future enjoyment.
In my remaining life, my body will return to the good earth where I was born. I am leaving my heart forever in the PROMISED LAND. This place made me what I am today!
----- Tom Frantz
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