Biography of Rafael Gonzales

CCCMan. Company 252, West Almond, New York & Newhalen, Oregon & Vancouver Barracks, Washington

      My life as a young man with the C.C.C. in the eastern north part of N.Y. and camps at Fort Dix, New Jersey are not forgotten.

     I came to this country from the village of San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, USA very young at the age of 16 to a Godfather in N.Y.C.. After living sometime with this Godfather and his wife, I was told I had to find a place to live as it was the Depression Days and they couldn't afford to take care of me and my school days. Then I was around 17 plus, still about 3 months short of being 18 years old and old enough to join the C.C.C. camps.

     I really didn't know what to do at this time. No other relatives or close friends to ask for another place to live. I prayed to God to help me find other relatives in N.Y.C. or around. So I decided to write a personnel letter to a great person and a true friend - the late President - the Honorable Franklin D. Roosevelt - for permission to join the C.C.C. camps at my age which was close to the 18 years old requirement. I received an answer a few days after from the President of the USA to go to Whitehall downtown N.Y.C. with the letter he sent me. And I did and was inducted into the CCC camp and was sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey. And from there to CCC Camp #252, West Almond, New York and from there to the Newhalen, Oregon C.C.C. Camp - Vancouver Barracks, Washington and others to the State of Washington where I was called "Chico" for a short name.

     While in the State of Washington in nearby Longview, Enumclaw, Puyallup, Spokane, Seattle and Tacoma, I became well known for my kind, nice, and friendly personality because I didn't either smoke or drink alcohol and I was a Spanish singer and played the Maracas and a Spanish guitar.

     That was my life there in the U.S.A. until discharged. I took Nursing and worked for a while at the N.Y.C. Bellevue Hospital, then transferred to the Craig Development Center, Sonyea, N.Y. where I was employed for 38 years and retired. Three days after retirement I was rehired as a Male Nurse, Deputy Sheriff with the Steuben County Sheriff Department. I was also retired when I hit 70 years old and since then have been writing two weekly columns from the Wayland area to the Valley News and the Naples Shopping Community News.

----- Rafael Gonzales

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