Biography of Dawson H. Needham

CCCman, Death Valley, California & Sequoia National Park, California

   I was one of the three million men who served in the the CCC program during a one year stint starting in January of 1940. The reason was to help out my widowed mother with five off-spring. I left school in the eleventh grade to join up in the three C's.

   The public projects I worked on were being a "powder monkey" on a new road being created in the Sequoia National Park, after having left Death Valley in the spring of 1940. While in Death Valley, I worked on a crew making adobe brick to be used in the construction of adobe housing.

   I had two older brothers, David Alton Needham and Ray Earl Needham, who had served before me.

   To beat the oncoming summer heat, my company was transferred from the lowest campsite in America (Death Valley) to the highest camp in California (Sequoia National Park) in the High Sierras.

   While there for the summer I worked on road construction serving as a powder monkey for the blasting crew. We were engaged in the development of Crystal Caves parking lot and the road to get there. Our company upon completion of this project, went on to put in a lighting system to light the way for visitors along the way.

   When this was completed I was re-assigned to become a visitors traffic counter along the trails of the scenic Morro Rock destination that our company had created the trails to be used.

   Following the autumn break in the weather, our company was returned to Death Valley once again. Upon my return I was elevated to a crew chief of the Adobe brick project. There I worked until I was discharged in December of 1940, in time to be home for Christmas.

   I was able to take pride in assisting my Mother, in surviving the rigors of the great depression. I earned a dollar-a-day. $22.00 of those dollars went home to my Mother and I was paid $8.00. That equated to .05 cents an hour for a thirty day month. Thank God for President Roosevelt for his far-sighted wisdom in the creation of this marvelous work program that put many young men to work and gave them self-esteem.

----- Dawson H. Needham


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