Tom Y. Richardson (on left)and Hobart D. Parish (on right)
Biography of Hobart Parish
CCC Man, Company 1474, Camp Montgomery, Clarksville, TN & Camp P-63 Forest Service then SCS-8, Murfreesboro, TN
I was from a small town in West Tennessee. Buena Vista, which means beautiful view. I played with the grandaughter of the area squire, Magistrate, who selected boys to go in the CCC. He had been telling me I was too young to enlist. I had said something to him about the CCC's having no idea what it was. At that time most roads were bad, car tires had a habit of going flat etc., so I hadn't seen a camp.
He was carrying a group of nine boys (his quota) to enlist and invited me to come along. The enlistment point for several counties was Bethel College, McKenzie, Tn. I would sit under a tree and read a book, watch the birds, people etc. while he waited for them to be examined. It was hot, there was no Air Conditioning then.
He came out and asked me if I would like to go into the CCCs. One of the boys had failed the exam. I said you have been telling me I was too young, He said they are going to take care of that. I said what about my mother and he said I will take care of that.
So I went into the Gym for the first examination in my life I also learned later my birthday year had been changed. I was actually l6 but the papers showed 17. I had quite a time getting that straightened out many years later. I enlisted July 5, l934.
We went to the McKenzie depot and waited for the train to whisk us away. I went to sleep on the plank that covered the top of two benches backed up together. We boarded the train and arrived in Clarksville, Tn. About 2:00 AM in the morning. I thought if this world is as big the other way as it was this way its a large big place.
Two army trucks were waiting for us, I had never seen a Army truck before. The drivers were very nice Earnest Bolton and Cannon. I remember his nick name but not his real name and I won't use the nick name. We were told by the driver's that there were only about twenty boys in camp and they would welcome us as fresh meat.
One of the older guys among us, a comedian, had an answer when we arrived and they began howling from different camp locations, "fresh meat". He said "fresh meat? hell there are more of us than they are of you."
We were carried by the supply room and issued a canvas and wood folding cot, a mattress, mattress cover, a pillow, 2 sheets, a pillow case, a mess kit, a knife, fork and spoon, a canteen cup three blankets, towel, wash cloth, toothbrush, shaving supplies etc. Quite a job getting this stuff together and getting up to the barracks. The mattress cover served a good purpose and made a good sack along with the barracks bag and clothes. We were instructed by the sergeant how to set up the bunk, use of the covering etc. Really late when we got to bed. The bugle call sure came early the next morning. Most of our supplies and equipment was World War 1 stuff.
We had dress up uniforms ( that we had to pay for ) to use for special occasions. They had green CCC dress uniforms in other camps at some point. We never used the green, though I have seen them since. Dress uniforms, bought by the boys, were a tighter, smoother knit material, still the army color but smoother and looked much better than the standard issue of old World War I surplus. These pants and shirt looked much neater. I believe the Green Uniforms came out in 1939 probably after all the old Army surplus had been used. We also had Riding Breeche's or britches, Both officers and CCC boys used them, however the Officers usually wore riding boots with them the boys used leggings made from canvas with staves in some instances like a girdle they fastened with a buckle and strap. Also, we had the wrap around which was a 2-1/2 inch or 3-inch wide piece of material you wrapped around your leg below the knee and overlapping it as it spiraled upward this was over riding pants (breeche's) I believe one of the pictures I sent might of had one of the officer's sitting down with riding habit on including the boots.
We had CCC patches and used them on caps, shirts etc. I have seen some chevrons that are supposed to be CCC insignia for Leaders and Assistant Leaders. Seems like the sergeant had some type of insignia and maybe the mess sergeant. I don't remember wearing and chevron, maybe I did and just don't remember.
One incident I remember about the first day of camp we had these old World War One Mess Kits. Some times the top fit very tight and to pull the top off there was a littlle ring fastened to the lid. I was having trouble getting mine off this cook said let me see that. He took my mess kit and gave it a hit on the side on the counter and the lid came off. This cook did not stay in camp much longer I guess his time was about up. About 5 years later after I went to work for the U.S. Engineers in Chattanooga, TN on our way to the restaurant, where we usually ate, from our boarding hous (no food) we passed by a club that said members only, we could hear laughter, music etc. and we really wanted to see what it was. his went on for awhile and we finally got the nerve one Saturday night to give it a try, so we rang the door bell or knocked and some one slid the shield back, looked out the glass then opened the door and said come on in he grabbed my hand, said who he was and it was the cook who opened my mess kit, it was really a surprise.
Thus, I found myself in Company 1474 in Camp Montgomery # 1474 Clarksville, Tennessee in 1934. Company 1474 was at Clarksville from 1933 to 1939. There were also several side camps over the years that camp Montgomery was in service at Clarksville. The Camp was P-63 until l936 when it was changed from a Forestry camp to a Soil Conservaton Service camp, SCS-8, which was about the time the SCS was established.
The Camp at Clarksville had four rows in the middle. The row on one side was Barracks 3 and Barracks 4. Barracks 1 and 2 were the next row in. Then there was the Rec Hall in the next row which held the canteen, barber shop, and a small sleeping quarters. The fourth row was the Mess Hall. The buildings were set in the rows with the short end of each rectangular building at the end of the row. On one short end of these rows was a stand of trees in which was a number of Log Cabin style buildings. The Log Cabin on the side of the camp closest to the Mess Hall was the Office. In the middle were two Supply cabins. Then there was a First Aid Cabin and later they built another first aid cabin behind that one which had a room in it so that boys who were sick could stay and be away from the healthy boys in the barracks. The officer's barracks were beyond these Cabins. The Cabins were in front of the first three rows, the ones with the barracks and rec hall. On that end of the camp but before the Mess Hall was the Flag Pole, where the American Flag flew. I don't think we had a CCC Flag. I am sure some camps did because I have since seen one someone brought to the Dickso Old Timer's Day Parade. But that was much later of course.
On the other side of the camp from the Cabins were the buildings used by the Using Service. The using service had three fairly large buildings plus two or three small buildings for Explosives, paint, oil, etc. One was the office and supply building. One was for keeping vehicles under a shed, the other was the vehicle, etc, repair shop, and blacksmith shop and small storage for mechanical supplies.
The army side had two vehicles and the using service about ten or twelve. We had and old Army shop truck, one to two dump trucks about six or seven stake trucks and three or four pickups. Sometimes the numbers varied.
Behind the cabin used for an office we built a swimming pool. We got our swim suits at Montgomery Wards or other stores. When out at the Side Camps we swam in creeks and rivers, sometimes in the nude.We collected 50 cents from each boy and with other donations and the work being done by the boys we built the pool. Further out from the camp in that direction we dug out a hillside and made a clay tennis court.
The officer's played tennis along with visitors, using service people and some of the boys would play too. I was a ping pong guy and played a lot with the canteen steward. We both won at Ping Pong, he won more than I did . He always won at boxing . We were about the same size he may have been a little taller and weighed some more than I did, Called him Mac, his real name was W. B. McIntosh.
There were white stones lining the walkways and delineating areas of the Camp. There was a very nice grass covered area between the flagpole and mess hall. We built a drinking fountain with stone on the outside and a space for ice on the inside which would allow for cooling and protected from freezing in the winter. Between the Mess Hall and the Rec Hall there was an area outlined in stones where we assembled (lined up) for reveille in the morning at the same time the flag was raised and for retreat in the evening when the flag was lowered. Boys were assigned to raise, lower and fold the Flag. We had a bugler who played the bugle for these events (most times).
I don't remember the names of the Bugler and don't know where the bugle came from maybe the Army Supply Depot. Bugler was not dressed any different than any other boys as I remember. The nightwatchman woke him up in the morning to call reveille. I don't think he had any rank. I don't know where they learned to play maybe in high school.
Mail was usually distributed at one of the line ups for chow or one of the line ups of the day, Reveille, Retreat or exercise line up. Most everyone got some mail but not too often. Remember a stamp cost two cents then, money was scarce and I mean scarce like none to very little.
The camp was built on the Clarksville, TN City Dump. This camp is completely taken over now by the city of Clarksville with houses over the entire area. The swimming pool walls and foundation is the only thing left and it serves as a basement for a house.
We had a separate Latrine with Wash Basins for face, shaving, teeth on one side with Commodes and Urinals on the other side of a wall, in the end of the building a wall separated the showersfrom the other part of the building. When athletes foot became prevalent we added a holding ara for a foot treatment. Some type of disenfectant was placed in water which was about 3' deep that you walked through to take a shower.
The Latrine was the only source of water, there were no taps in the barracks. If you usually woke up wanting water you could keep a canteen fll by your bed. Our water was what we called city water from the townof Clarksville,TN.
As far as I know my Mother was not upset that the Squire had sent me into the CCCs. She knew I wanted to go in the CCC. I wrote her and she was very glad to see me when I got a chance to go home on a visit.
We were paid monthly. CCC enrollee pay at the start was $30.00 per month enrollee got $ 5.00 of the 30.00, 25.00 went home or to a Guardian or to a designee, Later the $ 5.00 was raised to $ 8.00 with $22.00 going home. Leaders got $45.00 of which they kept $20.00, Assistant Leaders got to keep $11.00 when they were raised to $36.00 I am not sure about this but I believe LEM's got to keep all their pay.
We would receive paper canteen books, which would be deducted from our pay, filled with coupons we could spend at the canteen for things we needed. Our Canteen sold razor blades, tooth paste, soaps, candy, paper, post cards and items of this natue, the bare essentials needed by the boys. Canteen was about 15' of the Recreation Hall consisting of a room about 12'xl5' where the canteen stewart slept and with a little storage for things like canteen checks, extra supplies etc. a space of about 15'x25' was used for the canteen it had a place about 10' wide by say 3' that was used to make sales, hand out the basketball, pool sticks and balls, ping pong raquets and balls , boxing gloves etc the door to this opened out I believe with props to hold it open The sleeping quarters had a door that opened into the Recreation hall and also one to the outside I believe . The canteen stewart had to sweep the recreation hall and keep the place clean. Hours were after boys came back from work I would say 5 to 9 Pm on work days and from maybe 10 AM to 4 Pm and 6 to 9 on saturday with sunday mmaybe 1 to 9 PM strickly a guess on hours. By the way in the opening in the canten there was a counter baybe 2' x 10' . Shelving was along back and sides , probably about 10" deep and heights according to neds all were shop made. They also sold special items like foot lockers (Metal , lined with heavy cardboard, wood or something similiar).
The foot locker purchased by the enrollee was his to keep . He paid for it. It was not required by anyone but it gave you some extra space to store items . You could lock it if you like. I can't remember ever having anything stolen. I believe we got a bargain. As I remember it cost $2.00. I carried mine home wit me and kept it for many years along with some Government issue items and some that I purchased.. Items such as overcoats, shirts, pants, shoes, caps, ties, etc . In moving, storing etc. items just disapeared. I wish now I hadkept up with the items better. Since I wasn"t using them, they either disappeared while in storage as did many pictures or was thrown out.
The balance of the space on that end of the rec hall was used for a barber shop with the entrance coming from the outside. The barber shop was run by an enrollee, there was a charge for cutting hair. I know the enrollee barber got to keep some of this don'5t know how much but something after he paid for supplies.
I am not sure of the size of the building but there was room for basketball and other things was along the aside of the court sometimes we moved the ping pong table further away from side onto the court to give more room for play. I suppose all the recreation items were army issue. I remember a piano but don't know if it was army issue or a donation, Some of the boys had guitars, french harps, jews harps and some could play and sing very well. I had played guitar some at home and had one but I don't remember ever bringing it to camp. I didn't play very well. The favorite recreation activities were Baseball, Basketball, ping pong and pool in my opinion.
Clarksville was called a fairly large town at that time - Not a NY, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Miami, New Oreans, Memphis or Nashville size - but about 6000 Pop. I was told that what we as boys spent and what the camp spent helped the town and its businesses. Although we had very little to spend. Being a College town the college boys didn't care very much for us as we seemed to be preferred by the town girls, maybe they did not have too much for entertainment. However we did play ball with them, later had some boys go to school there. One of my survey crew boys, Preston Hubbard, later taught there. Although most of our work was done on farms in the area we helped the town in emergencies such as the Flood of l937 where we moved many families from the area that was being flooded. Moved the motors and machinery from the water plant which was flooded shortly after. We played in their parks attended dances and seemed to fit in fairly well. I don't know of any large difficulties.
Clarksville had one policeman that seemed to have it in for CCC boys, he didn't like them visiting the bootlegger or riding with girls in speeding cars. You know 45 mile an hour. I was in one side camp which is a small camp maybe 40 men. We seemed to work in with the population of the small town very well. One of our LEM's had a daughter that was very beautiful and when she won the local beauty contest the local girls were upset they blamed us CCC boys and I guess they were right.
I have heard stories about mistreatment of CCC boys in other areas. But all in all I guess we did fine with the Clarksville people. Many CCC boys married local girls. In addition the small towns where our side camps were treated the boys very good.
Since then and during the last 30 years I have heard of School Teachers who were teaching history teaching that he CCC's were boys who had broken the law and that type of misinformation, of course History is HIS-STORY and subject to misinformation. I have heard of CCC boy's going to the school and letting the Teacher know she is misinformed and sometimes being asked to teach the class on what the CCC's were. I know my grandaughter a number of years ago asked me a lot of questions about the CCC, also, read books and came home very proud because she was the smarttest one in class that day.
One of the things we did in Clarksville was go to the movies. The town had two theatres, prices were ten and fifteen cents as I remember. I had a pass for I obtained the show posters and posted them at camp. I obtained the job of posting the movie posters by talking with the Theater owner. We had a bulletin board in camp and could post items. The Theater posters were usually a standard size about 12'x18'. We also had movies in camp sometimes, but our camp movies were few.
I don't remember a lot of the old Movie Stars in these films. But of course I remember Mae West, Shirley Temple, Bettie Davis, Clark Gable, Humprey Bogard, Bob Steele, Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, Gene Autry, Betty Grable, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Buck Rogers, Myrna Loy Hank Thompson, Al Jolson, Jack Benny etc.
Speaking of movie stars, we had several CCC boys, through the entire CCC that is, who ended up in Movies, Sports Etc. Raymond Burr, Robert Mitchum, Marlon Brando, Walter Matteau, Chill Wills, Frank Sinatra, (was told he went over the hill). There were also the fighters Joe Louis, Archie Moore, Probably Others. There was the famous St. Louis ball player Red Schoendist (probably spelled wrong) Cal Worthington the LA Car dealer noted for his lions, tigers, monkees etc. used in advertising, Chuck Yaeger who broke the sound barrier.
Of course many more never became famous but worked hard and produced good work in the CCCs. I still recall the names of several of the people who worked in the Using Service, Forestry Work and Conservation Work at both Clarksville and Murfreesboro.
We had engineers named Bates Green, Glenn Sugg, C. C. Fisher. and one other that the name don't come right now. Some I just remember the last names. Three more engineers are Bud Roth, Armstrong and Williams. I believe that covers the Engineers.
Superintendants were S. W. Chubb, Jerry Porter, O. C. Bumpas. The Foreman who were there during my approximately five years included I.E. Black, Tom Brightwell, S. O Owens, Bates Green, Joe Halliburton, Joe Richardson, Hancock, Robb, Mac Rice, R. W. Rogers, H.W. Mook and W. Sellender. Mac Rice's brother Billie Rice enlisted later and he worked with the regular crew and on the survey crew he also became the camp Sgt.. Our Forester was George Buller and our Soil Conservationists were H. Wax, Wiley, and Sims.
We had a Agronomist that came down from Iowa occasionaly to check out soil and furnish information on what it needed to grow grass, tobacco, corn, wheat etc. The Agronomist was connected with the CCC and went to different camps as needed (evidentially there were not many Agronomist at that time). They stayed in the Officer's Quarters ate in the Officer's mess etc. Information furnished was given to the Farmers in regard to lime needed, fertilizer needed, what crops could successfully grown in that type soil this information was handled by the Camp Soil Conservationist.
Our Agronimist was a very nice fellow but I don't remember his name but he was a fast driver, no one liked to ride with him, we never told him our short cuts and if we had some that would allow us to get back to camp we would use them. When we got there before he did he would be upset and want to know how we got there first and we would say don't you remember us passing you. We had a lot of fun out of him before he caught on to us. He was very good in his work. We kidded him about his talk sometimes you know he would say "crick" for "Creek" etc.
Most Officer's and Using service people were good and you could talk with them. Sometimes you had to make appointments. Starting in middle of l934 I think the Officer's became more adapted to the CCC and in most cases were very good to the boys. They still maintained order were stern and maintained discipline.
On the army side our Officer's were Lt. Goodwin, Lt. Lusk, Lt. Charles A. Senn, Capt. Gurley, Capt. Painter, Capt. Britt, Lt. James F. Shackleford, Capt. Benn, Capt. Brightweiser, Capt. Holiday, Lt. Steele and our civilian Doctor was Phillip Lyle. We had Educational Adviser's Milhous and O.B. Beasley. I am sure I missed quite a few.
Captain Gurley was a World War I type. He was very understanding of the boys. Captain Holiday in charge of the camp when we worked the l937 floods. I later ran into Lt. James F. Shackleford while I was working for the Corps of Engineers. He was an Engineer Officer.
I sometimes worked on a work crew, rather than the Survey. From my knowledge of CCC work. There were usually about 20 in a work crew. We would be put to work setting trees, mostly pine or locust, setting out kudzu, building small dams, forest fire towers and the building for the attendant, also roads, telephone lines.
The location of a Tower Site was picked based upon the most useful location. It was usually on the higest elevation in the wooded areas that were to be observed. It was placed on a high hill, so observations may be made from the deck. The Towers would be 20 to 30 miles apart as the crow flies.
Usually a very little clearing of the site was needed to allow for construction of a Forest Fire Tower. Then construction of the Tower started with a concrete foundation with each leg of the tower mounted on a level concrete base. The towers came unassembled but they were in a broken down state that allowed you to assemble them as you do now with kids toys except on a much larger scale. You put up one section or lift at a time.
The Forest Fire Tower was a steel and wood tower were about 100' tall. I don't know that we were smart enough to be scared then, at the height we were working at. I don't remember scaffolding but what ever you needed and had you used to get the pieces up - ladders, rope slings etc. The construction of the Tower was of steel framing of steel angles with wood steps going up about 8 to 10 steps and turning so that you balanced all corners of the tower. At the top there was a room with glass on all sides. When completed, there was usually a small house constructed out of logs, rock or lumber at the foot of the tower where a attendant could live. The CCC Blacksmith made the hinges, fasteners and other parts for this building. Our Company I believe built four towers.
Side camps were also established in the general area of the towers to build roads to the towers and for other purposes. Telephone lines were also built, though I was never involved in this myself. This was needed for the Fore Towers to report and communicate, radios being used for communications then was unheard of and cell phones were in the dreaming stage. To string the phone lines they used both trees and poles the telephone crew used climbers on their feet to go up the poles and in some instances up the trees.
I stayed in one Side Camp at Kingston Springs, Tn. this camp was approximately 40 miles from the main camp in Clarksville, Tn. This side camp was not far from where the Forest Fire Tower was built. Now the telephone company has built a tower about twice as high you can see both from I-40 on way from Nashville, Tn to Memphis, Tn. or vice versa. We stayed in Tents six men to a tent. We had metal bunks by then, to replace the old canvas beds we had with folding wooden legs we had when we first came to camp. The steel cots we had at the side camp were on stilts (about 1 and ½ " pipe sawed off and placed under the bunk legs to get the mattress up even with the wooden part of the tent. With this arrangement the air could then blow through the screen wire part by rolling up the side flaps of the tent. This was our version of Air Conditioning. In the winter heat was from a small wood coned shaped stove (heater) it had a name but I don't remember what it was called. No buildings. There was a shower and latrine tent, mess tent, office tent and about six or seven tents for the boys to sleep, read, hangout or whatever. Hot in summer cold in winter. In addition to us Enrolleees, there were two foremen, two leaders, a mess sgt. and cook and I believe a clerk along with truck drivers for two crews.
I stayed at Kingston Springs, Tn. side-camp about two months. It was very plesant we had a creek not to far away to swim in. Sometimes there would be girls come down to the creek swimming hole (don't know how they found it) and as you know then we swam in the nude or in our shorts. There was a Honky Tonk nearby all we had to do was walk a swinging bridge across the river and through the woods to dance and have fun. The CCC's could have built the swinging bridge I don't know. Now Honky Tonks where music and dancing was done with Fiddles, Guitars, Banjos, piano etc. Some singing and just a jolly good time. There was no beer then in camp, Most counties in TN were dry then, all are wet now. But at the Honky Tonk, Prohibition was in effect ?
The people in the little town of Kingston Springs were very friendly. They let us use their baseball fields and attend travelling side shows or medicine shows. A Side Show or medicine show might have various types of entertainment - comedy- music - skits etc.
We played baseball against the local teams and against other camps. We had a CCC team. Our pitcher was very good I think he later pitched in the minor league. Both the main camp and the side camp had baseball teams. Playedother camps and local teams. Main Camp also had a Basktball team, played local high schools and colleges.
The Rairoad came through town. So I went to Nashville, Tn with a boy from Nashville. Train trip from Depot at Kingston Springs to Depot in Nashville, Tn. was only about 30 Miles it was on the NC&StL railroad later combined with the L&N now CSX or something. Nothing unusal about the train ride. Transportation by rail was natural then. Everyone in town not busy met the train, if it was a Passenger train. I could catch the train in Kingston Springs and ride to my home the conductor usually sang out the next stations like Hollow Rock Junction, Sawyers Mill, Camden, Eva and Johnsonville, Denver, Waverly and McEwen, Tennessee City and Dickson to, Burns, White Bluff and Creggie Hope, and Kingston Springs, Pegram, Newsom Station, Bellview and Belle Meade then Nashville of course is your destination. When we got to Nashville, I attended my first Tennessee State Fair. Of course he knew just how to get in, to get around town and back to the railroad station. Nashville had street cars then.
We also worked at the Side Camp of course. We built roads, Telephone lines, done other miscelaneous and built one forest fire tower.
Another camp was at Dickson, Tn about thirty five miles from main camp this camp was only visited by me daily then return to the main camp. Another camp was near Erin, Tn about 30 miles from main camp and another side-camp was near Dover, Tn. about 35 miles from the main camp at Clarksville, Tn. I don't remember any other side-camps, I believe these four were all that was based out from the main Clarksville camp. Remember it took longer to go from town to town then roads and vehicles were different, thus the need for side camps to support the Fire Tower projects that far from the Main Camp.
I went back to one of those Towers I had most to do with not long ago and the concrete footings were still in good shape. I don't know how we were able to build so many thing that withstood the weather and time but we did it, but we had good instrucctions and we did not know any better than to follow the instructions and rules. When I visited the tower the attendant who has a house there now, he was a state employee and also does other work, was burning the remains of the small cabin we had built at the Tower base. He said he tried to get the state to furnish funds to make repairs to it, the roof etc. He had placed a picnic table on the concrete floor which was still in good shape. I know two of the towers our camp built are still standing. Many of the towers built by the CCC have been dismantled. Much more area can be observed by the use of plane's and helicopter's. But many of them are still standing
Tree Planting was not too tough we used mattocks and generally planted them in dug holes about six foot apart (two steps or about two three foot strides. Trees were seedlings (small trees) they came in bundles, I don't remember the size probably 25, 50 or 100 to a bundle. Trees were approximately 12" to 20" long. We picked the trees up at Jackson, Tn. Company 499, SCS-5. They had about a 100 acre nursery. Sometimes they may have made deliveries. We had no set amount of trees for each boy to plant. Each area that had been selected for tree planting was planted with seedlings set about 6-foot apart. Boys were supervised very well with a Foreman a Leader and a Assistant Leader usually with each crew. I never heard of any trees tossed away. Most boys had been instilled with a need to help reclaim the land and to do a good job. Of course we had some Gold Brickers, some smart alecks and some that was just plain lazy . These were dealt with with the Foreman , the Leader or Assistant Leader or by the other boys. The boys usually had a certain amount of pride and wanted to learn and do a good job, they would use jokes, tricks an talk to encourage the lazy to pull their weight.
After we planted the trees we didn't tend to them, didn't water them or anything. I believe we checked later to see if we needed to replant. Many of these trees have been harvested and sold by the Government. Fort (Camp) Campbell was built in an area where many trees were planted.
I believe the kudzu came from the same place, I don't remember if we used seeds or cuttings. Kudzu was a native Japan plant and will grow about anywhere we used these plants in areas where erosion was the worst. Kudzu requires a watchfull eye to keep it from getting out of hand. Later someone saw how it grew in bad erosion areas and decided to use it along highways and roads. I am not sure this was a wise decision unless the growth was controlled. I understand that Japan uses the Kudzu plant for different valuable uses.
The small dams, commonly called check dams, were built in ditches caused by erosion to collect the soil and hold it so as to bring the areas back to use. Dams wer laid out by the survey crew and the Engineer who established the type of dam to be used. Dams were mostly made of brush, sometimes reinforced by wire fence, also logs or poles were used and in some cases limestone rock. We also ran a rock quarry where limestone was quarried and ground, transported to those farms we were working on that needed lime. We had a visiting agronomist who made reccommendations as to what was needed.
Rock detail was probably in 1934 or 1935 the boys who served on the survey crew sometimes had to go out with the regular crews when they caught up with their work on surveys, so we went with different crews on these occasions. Boys usually worked at something. This was not like a punishment , jail or controle group as was some other controlled places for criminals. We weren't criminals as some teachers have taught and some have thought. We used from 20 to 40 boys on this work when it was being done and as needed. It was not a continuing project.
Tennessee has several different types of rock, such as Granite, Crab Orchard Stone, Limestone, Sandstone Etc. I am not a expert on any, however the Limestone usually comes from a Limestone rock bluff , at least what we quarried did, but in travelling through Tennessee you may see holes usually square or rectangular going into the side of hills, if it is a limestone face they are usualy quaring rock for stone, gravel,(several sizes) of course sometimes it might be coal or other type stone.
We had rock hammers ranging in size from 10 Lb to l6 Lb if I remember right. Whe you could swing the l6 Lb hammer you were really in good shape, you might say you had graduated. At first we bored the holes in the rock by using drilling steel, which had a cutting bit on the bottom or the end you started driling with. One man held the steel and turned it by hand while it was bein hit by sledge hammers by two boys you, if you as holding it turned it between each lick (hammer Stroke). It wasn't easy. Later we had a aforeman who came up with making an Air Compresspr from a A-Model Ford Engine , this was made to allow two cylinders to pump air and two to be run as a engine. This was mounte on a two wheel trailer type vehicle all made from scrap and donated parts. From some where we got a Jack Hammer and air hose and were in business, holes could be sunk in the rock very much faster, easier and with less chance of injury.
In our camp we usually used dynamite on the bluff to blow the stone out. Once the holes were drilled they were loaded with dynamite and a blasting cap wires were strung to the blasting machine a safe distance from the explosion . The blasting machine a box like contraption with a handle in the top connected to a rod that when pushed down into the box created an electric current which travelled the wires to the caps that set off the dynamite and the explosion broke the rock out of the bluff. Of course they have improved the system since then. Once it was blown out, it would pile up in all sizes sometimes if it was to large we would use a few sticks of dynamite to crack it up smaller.
We had few tools and used rock hammers (muscle driven by a CCC boy) to break it up to go in the crusher. Mostly we used the rock for crushin up to say about corn meal size for use as agricultural lime on farms etc. Some was used for gravel and used on roads our camp streets and walks. Some of the rocks about 6" to 10" was used in the border. We used some larger rock on dams(small erosion control dams) We did not have any large equipment the CCC boys jus manhandled the larger stones and loading was done onto stake body trucks. We had I believe not more than two dump trucks. Graver and lime from the crusher went from the crusher bin directly on the truck. Some camps may have had more equipment when they worked for some Federal or State agencies Like TVA, Dept. of Interior Agencies, National Parks had some equipment that could be used.
I was involved for short times in several hard jobs. The first that I remember was digging in hard clay in July to build that Tennis Court. Later laying sand bags at night on the Missippi levee. Filling them carrying them and laying them as the water slashed up against them . The hurrying, darkness and the fact that the levee could break and carry us away added to the job. Fighting Forest Fires could get difficult and scary. Breaking up rocks. Erosion control, strip croping, fencing, terracing, planting trees etc. Numerous tasks were hard.
However, I usually worked on surveys and drafting almost all my time in the CCC's. I was crew chief for that time. I don't know why they picked me unless it was because I was so skinny.
On the first crew I was on it was with Arnold Pate a boy about my same age. He was from Mckenzie, Tn. Our Engineer at that time was Glenn Suggs. We did not take any examinations or have any skills to start working on the survey crew. The engineer trained us on the job.
We traveled to the work site by pickup truck, stake truck, dump truck, and sometimes in the engineer's private car. We hitch hiked sometimes with the work crews and sometimes we ate with them but most times we carried our lunch (sandwiches) in a box or paper bags.
We had Army Mess kits, metal plates with handles that would fold and hold the plates together so they could be carried when not in use. The knife, fork and spoon were carried inside the kit. We had a canteen for water and a canteen cup, with a folding handle. Wish I had kept some of the utensils as they were World War I Stuff. Don't think there are any around except in museums.
Chow was delivered by Army truck to each of the work crews. Chow was in cans similar to 10 gallon milk cans. One of the Leaders or Assistant Leaders supervised the distribution to that the first through the line would not get more than their share and leave the end of the line without. Usually some was left and those with a big appetite could come through the line again.
Crews were usually 20 to 25 boys, sometimes a few more. At the main camp there were usually 6 to 8 crews. At the side camps 1 to 2 crews. Crews were served hot lunches like meat and two or three vegetables, sometimes stew or soup.
Survey Crews usually carried their own lunch. This would be sandwiches, sometimes fruit and sometimes something sweet, like jelly sandwiches. The regular sandwiches were usually cheese, baloney, bacon, sausage or whatever.
We were usually fed well. But sometimes near the end of the month food might be scarce or not as plentiful for some items. Generally the mess sergeant did a pretty good job of keeping the boys fed. Of course the Camp Commander had a hand in the food purchasing and distribution. The Commander or Second in Command could make a big difference. I understand that a previous commander did not manage the food supply properly and they almost had a riot. He called for help from the National Guard and they came to camp on horses. But the boys held their ground and there was later an investigation by the Inspector General, It was found that the commander might be holding out on money for the food budget. This was before I came to camp.
We carried our equipment once we reached the work site by lugging it the best we could. Plane Table, Tripod, Chain (Tape) axe, stakes etc. When the weather was bad we wore 5 buckle overshoes and them plus a acre of mud on them got kindly heavy.
On Surveying, we did mapping of many farms, most of these we later worked on in some way. We used many methods of surveying mapping by use of a plane table chaining distances, use of triangulation, and use of a transit and plotting this on map paper attached to a plane table which had been leveled. We used an Alidade and a hand level in staking out small dams used to prevent and stop erosion. The dams were built out of brush fence wire, logs, rock (limestone) etc. We the survey crew staked these out and the work crews came in later to build them. Some of the rock and log dams had spillways the brush dams were built lower in the middle to serve the same purpose some few were built of concrete and/or dirt. Ditch bottoms and banks were seeded or sodded. We also surveyed for small buildings. fire towers, roads, telephone lines. Also, areas to be set in trees, pine and locust were the most used. Later after becoming a Soil Conservation Service camp, (changed from the Soil Erosion Control Service in 1935 I Think) we surveyed for terraces, strip cropping, Contour layouts for plowing fields etc.
We had surveys for different things. Usually we mapped or surveyed the hold farm, at first we only used a plane table that we mounted on a tripod, a chain ( a 100 foot tape) Alidade, pencil, plane table sheets, a celluoid cover, stakes to mark areas, axe, our lunch, water and along with the Triangulaation method, mapped the farm. An Alidade is atopographic surveying and mapping instrument with a telescope and graduated vertical circle in some instancies. An indicator and sighting apparatus used on a plane table used in angular measurements. Also used in triangulation measurements. If we were laying out terraces or strip cropping areas we used a level mounted on a tripod , rod, stakes, axe, (single blade and smaller than a standard single blade axe) Later we got a Transit and used it mounted on a tripod and measured distances (without setting the transit up level) along with a range board marked in feet and inche or tenths of a foot. by leveling the transit we could also do contour work for either terraces or planting strip crops. Sometimes we had more than two on a crew and used more than one range board and/or level rod. If we had to do any clearing we might have a large axe, bush hook or machete. Of course we had to carry all these things from whereever we parked our vehicle.
The first vehicle I remember us using was a 1933 Chevrolet pickup truck. We used it a long time. One time coming from work gong downhill (a gravel road as most were at that time or just plain old dirt) I let off on th gas and the wheel and axle from both sides passed us as we skidded on the gravel on the rear end . We gathered them up wiped them off the best we could jacked up one side put the axle with wheel still atached, then jacked up the other side and slipped the axle back in. we weren't to far from camp so we slowly drove into the camp garage.
Sometimes we had long days and some time short days on the short days we did work back at the camp. When we went to a side camp we usually ended up with a long day. Survey crew was 2 to 5 boys with 2 or 3 most days.
Sometimes we stayed late in order to finish a job and not have to go back to the same place for a little work, sometimes when we got in the mess hall would be closed however we had a good mess sergeant and cooks giving us cheese, baloney, mayonnaise,mustard,crackers, bread or what ever they had in the stoeroom. We usually ate on the loading dock, taking anything we had left back to the barracks where it was promptly eaten.
We had mostly good boys, sometime as first they were unruly but most lost that under strict discipline. Some didn't want to take baths but after a good soaping with GI soap and rub down with a GI brush they changed. I wouldn't like to try and pick out any favorites, we had some few that was overbearing, I just kindly forgot about them, I would have to think very hard to remember any of them. I could come up with many names that I liked, that we worked together, played ping pong with & other games.
We had one boy who was being transferred to another camp in Oregon, I don't remember his name he worked and stayed in the using service supply room. We put several sticks of firewood in his locker (travelling Locker - Trunk) while he went over to the army office to pick up his travel orders and tickets.
In addition to my first crew I also served with numerous people on surveys. Besides Arnold Pate and myself was Enoch "Snag" Knight, Ducky Yates, he was short so Ducky is what I remember, Claude Hodge, Milton Vick, Billie Rice, Preston Hubbard, Hollis, Talmadge Atkins, Densil Fletcher, Lanie Barker, Hawkins, Earl Davenport, Alsobrooks, Miller, Davis, Marchbanks, Brooms, Warren, Johnnie Guffie, Holland, Hayes, Scarborough, Vink and I am sure there are others.
Vink came from New York and helped on the design of the George Washington bridge. He was out of work so he wound up working with the CCCs. He taught me a lot even though I was in charge of the survey crew.
Preston Hubbard joined the army after the CCCs, was in the Air Corps or the Signal Corps, and was captured by the Japanese in WWII. He was in the Battaan death march. He was in several prison camps and went to Japan prison on a Hell Ship. He spent several years in prison. He wrote a book about his time spent in captivity. The book was titled Apocalypse Undone, You should read it. What those soldiers went through is unbelieveable. After the war, Preston Hubbard became a professor of history at Austin Peay University and ended up a Dean.
I have many funny memories of my times with these guys, some weren't funny at the time but later in talking about it happening it was. We had a Foreman who had been up around Detroit that was always talking about the driving on snow and ice when we would have Ice or Snow on the roads. We had a unusual Ice Storm one night, the next morning I had to go from the using service over to the Army side for something, maybe wood, it was so bad the crews didn't go out that day, when I got back I told the Foreman Engineers etc. how slick it was, this they already Knew. Later they talked about going down in Clarksville for coffee, food or something. Some said it was to bad this Foreman said it"s not that bad, I am use to driving on ice I will drive. So several of them got in the car and headed for the restaurant just before the restaurant the street deadended into another street when they got to this stop street and he put on the bakes and began to turn his wheels he skidded across the street and up on the sidewalk and almost in to the store, When they came back the others was giving him a kidding about his driving, he had to listen to this for quite awhile. Ice father north is frozen harder and don't have the little dampness on top that makes the ice in this area much harder to drive on.
I could tell many stories of the happenings of the CCC boys but they would have to come to me. A farmer gave us a old Fordson Tractor after we got it fixed up we found that when we tried to tow some things the rear wheels would spin or wouldn't dig in and hold to move foward. All wheels were steel, no rubber tires then on farmtractors. So we decided to pour concrete in the back wheels to hold them on the ground, of course we did it up good but when we put them back on the tractor wouldn't move so we had to chip about 2/3 rds of the concrete out, then they worked fine.
Wish we would have had some 4-wheel drive vehicles back then we could have elimated some pushing or a farmer pulling us out of a creek or mudhole with mules. The only vehicle we had with four wheel drive was a 4-wheel drive, chain driven shop truck. This was a chain driven, four wheel shop truck had a lathe, tools for use by a mechanic, sometimes welding equipment, and other items needed by a field mechanic. Th chains were similar to bicycle chains but much larger and went from a wshaft geared doewn from the engine one to the rear wheels and another for the rear wheels and used a system of gears and sprockets instead of drve shafts and differentials.
We had a sucession of Engineers one of which had worked for the Rhode Island District of the US Army Corps of Engineers. He had transit equipment, levels, rods both level and stadia. He taught engineering classes after work hours as did the Forester, Soil Conservationist, mechanic, carpenter, blacksmith etc. In the Drafting area he taught us how to use Slide Rules, Protractors, T - Squares, Sterescopes, drafting equipment etc. (much of this equipment was his) e had been a Major in the Army he encouraged us to take any Civil Service Examinations that we felt we were qualified to take I took Surveyman, Rodman and Engineering Aide and passed all three.
In 1937 there were floods in our area. We worked at several locations during the l937 floods as what they would now call disaster relief. One was Clarksville, Tn. on the Cumberland River, we moved people that were going to be flooded to higher areas. We worked with the Red Cross, we did the work they got the credit. The Clarksville water works was going to be flooded so everyone was told to store up water in barrels, lardcans, bath tubs, cisterns whatever the towns people could get. We moved the machinery (pumps, motors etc.) out of the water plant to higher ground. A reporter named Crow was writing for the Clarksvile Leaf Chronicle and he gave the CCC very little credit I was listening when our commanding Office, I believe it was Capt. Holiday called the paper by phone, he was very upset at the news coverage and asked to talk to that dam hawk, buzzard or crow whatever his name is.
A large group from our camp along with I believe the other camp was from Pikeville, Tn. went to Hickman, Ky and worked down the river sandbagging etc. We stayed on a Corps of Engineer Quarterboat slept in shifts. The kitchen stayed open most of the time and fed everyone who came along, families who had lost their homes or were driven out by the flooded Mississippi River.
I guess one of the saddest times was when we lost ne of our members, while working in the l937 flood on the Mississippi River by drowning. The river was up to the top of the levees and we sand bagged the low places. The river was several miles wide in places. We lost one boy by drowning, his name was Hagewood. I will never forget being woke up and the heroic efforts of the boys who tried unsuccessfully to rescue him.
I had a pickup truck and used it along with stake trucks to pickup supplies. We were told that if the levee broke it would probably change the course of the river and destroy Reelfoot Lake.
On October 1st l937 I was made a Camp Assistant, they had given our camp three spaces, I met the qualifications and was made Camp Assistant at a salary of $70.00 a month and under civil service. Camp Assistant was a Soil Conservation Service (SCS) position, I didn't work for the CCC or the Army. As a Camp Assistant we had the same privilege as other SCS Technical Personnel ( Engineers, Foreman, Foresters, Soil Conservationists Etc.). The Military personnel had no control over them unless they stayed in the officer's barracks and/or ate in the officer's mess. I ate at home most of the time but we could eat at camp.
Camp Assistants were picked from the CCC enrollee group for the qualifications they had. There qualifications would have come from what they did in camp and learned from on the job training, and also from the work they did from local schools. You see, if there were schools nearby where a CCC Enrollee could attend at night on their own time, they were allowed to do so. Also in some instances they were allowed to attend classes at colleges. Remember they needed to be close enough that the boys could walk, so did the night school. Night schools that I knew about were at nearby High Schools. As a result of their experience and schooling, some CCC men became qualified to do some of the work of the Project Foreman and Staff. I never saw the required qualifications for a Camp Assistant. If they had the qualifications to do the job, the best were picked and hired by the Project Service to work at the Camp after their CCC enrollment.
One of the Camp Assistants was the Using Service Clerk, kind of a Adminstrative Assistant. He stayed in the Officers barracks and Ate in the officer's mess. I know that the other Camp Assistant had been discharged and I went back to West Tennessee his home to see if he was interested. Very few people had phones then if they lived on the deep country. I did recruit him, he was glad to get a job paying $ 70.00 a month.
I stayed at home as I was married by this time to Clarksville Girl I met while attending High School - I met her older sister first. We were married in l936, no secret but not broadcast either. CCC Enrollees weren't supposed to be married at that time.
I did about the same work I had been doing with maybe a little more responsibilities and authority. I thought that most all camps had Camp Assistants, maybe not. The Project Assistant was similar to a Local Experienced Man (LEM). They were enrolled men subject to the 30.00, 36.00 or $45.00 pay depending on their job. and outside the age of a regular enrollee, they could be married and were selected by the using servicr (SCS) and qualifications were based on the skill needed.
The appointment was for 9 months. They did not renew these jobs and on July 12, l938 I reenlisted as a Project Assistant this was similar to a Local Enrolled Man (LEM'S).
Company 1474 moved to Murfreesboro, Tn in l939. We had about served our need in the Clarksville, Tn. area, at least within driving distance of the available needed work. I only went to Murfreesboro to do survey work I was hired by the U.S. Engineers before the balance of the camp moved. Barracks and other Buildings at Murfreesboro were still under final construction when I left. I never visited the camp. I was in the CCCs through 1939. Company 1474 remained in Murfreesboro until it was disbanded in 1942.
I stayed in until I was hired by the Corps of Engineers and was discharged on June 5, l939. I was hired as a Rodman $ 1260.00 a year.
I was hired as a Rodman by the Nashville Tennessee Engineer District. It was when getting this job that my age on my papers had to be fixed. When I went to work for the Corps of Engineers with the help of my Mother and the Doctor who was still around I was able to get a birth certificate and get my age corrected.
When the CCCs the Technical Staff went to other Government work or to jobs with business or contractors. The end of the CCC Soil Conservation Effort meant that the Conservation work had to be picked up by the Farmers and others or not done at all. Many farmer's had seen what could be done to prevent erosion and continued the good work of the CCC's. Much of the type of work done by the CCC's was continued by the National and State park systems, by the Forestry Service, Soil Conservaion Service and other City, State and Federal agencies. Much was also continued by land owners, Timber Companies etc.
The work started by the CCC's in our area was completed as promised as the camps were phased out. Some of the buildings were used or moved for use by the Corps of Engineers as was some of the equipment to help in expediting the war effort.
When I went to the Corps of Engineers it was a different type work. We surveyed and placed navigation aids, buoys, lights, boards, crosses, surveyed the river channel. Later worked on surveys for Dams. When the war loomed we surveyed and built air fields, camps, Camps to hold captured soldiers mostly from the war in Europe. Also, surveyed for and built chemical plants, ordance plants for explosives, Oak Ridge a secret plant which had much to do with the Atomic Bomb. This Oak Ridge Project was turned over to the Atomic Energy after the war and later to the Energy Commission. We were involved in many projects that had to do with the Military War Effort. We did both Civil and Military work mostly Military during the war WW 2 then returned to mostly Civil Works work.
Oak Ridge work and work on a special area at Fort Campbell was very secretive. Yes I was exempt from the draft for awhile because of our work load. I later was caught in the draft but they wer more particular about who they took, so they turned people away because of their physical conditio that they once would have drafted. After finding out I was turned down I talked with the Sergeant and he let me go back ad talk with the Doctor who was a Major. The Major talked with me for quiet awhile about my work and finally said you will be helping the war effort more where yoy are than if I allowed you to join a Army or Navy unit. I was very disappointed at that time but since I have felt he was probably right. However, you know at that particular you felt you were not doing your duty unless you were in the Military service.
I worked with the Corps of Engineers until I retired, having worked in the field, in the District Office in the South Atlantic Division Office and the Chief of Engineers Office.
I have been connected to Chapter Number 126 NACCCA since its founding was Treasurer at the beginning then VP later President then Treasurer my wife Virginia is Secretary. Today I am the Chapter Treasurer for my NACCCA Chapter 126. We marched and/or rode in the Dickso Old Timer Parade each year. We had our Tennessee CCC reunion at Montgomery Bell Tennessee State Park at the same time as the Old Timer's Day. Park was built by the CCC a Black company was stationed there and later a White Company Disbanded in 1942.
We meet at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns Tennessee, which was built by the CCC. Our next reunion will be in May.
I have very few pictures of my time in the CCCs, as my pictures were lost during the storage of furniture. I do have a 1937 Annual of District C, fourth corps area. Well its about time to get ready to go Square Dancing so thats all for now.
----- Hobart Parish
Co. 1474 Staff and Leaders Photo, Camp P-63-Tenn., Clarksville, Tenn.
Company 1474 Camp Photo, Camp Montgomery, Camp P-63-Tenn., Clarksville, Tenn.
Company 1474, Lunch in the Field, Camp Montgomery, Camp P-63-Tenn., Clarksville, Tenn.
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