Biography of Santo Marciano

Assistant Leader, Company 3225m Camp GLO-5, Elkton, Oregon

Soldier, US Army, Phillipines, WWII

Edited by Lauren, Heidi & Russ Fleischman

   Santo was born on December 14, 1919. He was Giuseppe and Giuseppa Marciano’s third son to be named Santo. The two previous children named Santo had died. He grew up on the West Side of Buffalo, New York. His neighborhood was primarily Italian immigrants, so because his parents only spoke Italian, Santo and his brothers and sister spoke Italian at home, and English, which they learned at school.

   During the Great Depression, Santo would go to the local saloons and shine shoes. He got a dime (10 cents) for every pair of shoes he shined. In spite of the fact that by 1933, 13 million or about 25% of Americans were out of a job, Santo’s father, Joseph, kept his job at Iroquois Gas Company throughout the depression.

Santo at CCC camp, circa 1939

   Even though in 1939, when Santo was 19, the depression was ending, he couldn’t find a job. He was too old to shine shoes, so on April 11th, 1939, Santo joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. Santo traveled by train for 4 days from Buffalo, New York to Drain, Oregon, the nearest station to the Elkton Civilian Conservation Corps camp. He slept in a Pullman car on the train and played cards and talked with fellow travelers during the day. Santo was in Company 3225 at camp GLO-5. At the camp, he worked on road building and fighting forest fires. Santo was an Assistant Leader in Road Construction. During his time in the camp, Santo was described as having a “pleasing personality,” and being a “splendid young man, very good typist and excellent worker.” Santo said about forest fires: “It’s not easy…In August and September there were forest fires like crazy. It was dangerous business.” Forest fires were the thing Santo liked least about being in the Civilian Conservation Corps. He earned $30 per month in the CCC camp, he sent $22 home to his mother every month, and kept $8 for himself. He would spend his money at the camp canteen, where he would buy pints of ice cream for 15 cents. The men in the CCC joined for 6 months at a time, and if they signed up for another 6 months they would get a week’s leave. So Santo signed up for another 6 months and used his week off to visit San Francisco. He hitchhiked there from Oregon so he could visit the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island.

   After the adventure to San Francisco, Santo returned to Oregon to the CCC camp. After two months he became homesick and had his brother Jim get him a job at Keystone Chrome. The supervisor there, Ray O’Grady, wrote a letter to the supervisor of the camp saying Santo had a job waiting for him in Buffalo. [Editor’s note- Ray O’Grady is Santo’s son-in-law’s Great Uncle] Santo was allowed to go home to the job at Keystone Chrome. Santo made $.40 an hour at his new job.

   When America got involved in the Second World War, Santo was involved in war production working as a welder in a shipyard, so he was deferred from the draft. In late 1944, Santo realized that the war was going to pass him by, so he enlisted in the Army in July 1944. He fought for the liberation of the Philippines in 1945.

   After the war Santo returned to Buffalo, married, raised a family and is living there still.



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