Biography of Charles M. Gilliland

CCCMan, Company 2920, Camp Sullivan Lake, Camp F-1, Metaline Falls, Washington

     At the end of my Sophomore year at Central Valley High School, I decided to join the CCC. From July 1, 1939, to June 30, 1940, my one year in the CCCs was spent at Camp Sullivan Lake with Company 2920.

     We lived in wooden barracks and in the center of the barracks was a big pot-bellied stove. We also had a shower room with flushing toilets. In the morning we assembled at the flagpole and saluted the flag and repeated the Pledge of Allegiance before going into the mess hall for breakfast. We usually had plenty to eat and a bell was used to call us to meals. In the evening, we gathered around the flagpole to retire the flag.

     One of the bakers, in the years before I got there, was one of our own Chapter 41 members, Leonard Watt. Also a member of Chapter 5 (Seattle), George Ehrgott, served at Lake Sullivan with me.

     We dug up Gooseberry bushes to rid the forest of blister rust. We also planted trees. We sawed trees down to clear along the roadway. We built a log wall at the north end of Sullivan Lake to keep the bank from being washed away. We fought forest fires. One day while on duty, I laid down to rest and when I got up a burning snag fell right where I had been lying. I was the Water Boy for one full day. We had to carry the water bag on our backs. As I was not very big, one day was enough got me as that bag full of water was very heavy.

     In the evenings, educational classes were held. On the weekends we were taken down to Metaline Falls in a CCC truck to take in a movie for 10 cents. One summer weekend, I hitch hiked home (to Liberty Lake) only to end up helping fight a grass fire on my Mother's family homestead. Another weekend in the winter, I hitch hiked home and it was so cold I thought I was going to freeze to death. I finally got a ride part of the way, which I really appreciated.

     It was a rewarding experience to serve my country, help my family financially and have good food and clothes to wear. When I was discharged, I returned home and finished the two remaining years of High School. After graduation, I joined the U.S. Navy where I served for two years.

     I have made some life-long friends while attending the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni reunions. My wife, Phyllis, and I have made it to all seven National Reunions and we were privileged to take our son, Ed, to the last four. At this year's reunion in Mystic, Connecticut, our son, Ed, joined the NACCCA.

     What a small World. The morning after I had finished this article, and while I was helping the man haul away limbs we had trimmed from our trees, my wife said I'd have to hurry as I had to get this article in to Peggy Borses for printing in the CCC newsletter. This man knew our son, Jon, and worked with him. He told me that his uncle was in the CCC's. "Does he live in Spokane?" (No --- in Seattle) "Whats His Name?" (George Ehrgott). I told him I worked with him at Sullivan Lake. Small World isn't it?

----- Charles M. Gilliland

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