Biography of Walter C. Parrott, Jr.
CCCMan, Camp Nile Creek, & Camp near Carnation, Washington & Camp Naches
In May 1933, at the age of 22, I asked my Dad whether I should go into the Marines. Instead, he suggested, "No, son, wait until President Roosevelt's plan for the CCC is ready." After trying to sign up at the recruiting office in Seattle, which wasn't too far from our home in an area south of the city called Des Moines, I was told I would have to go as an alternate as they couldn't take me for sure.
Soon after returning home I received instructions to report to Fort Lewis. There were at least 200 men living there in tents awaiting instructions as to where they were to go. Sgt. Lungo was in charge at this camp and he put me in charge of one group. Among our duties was to make grocery lists for all the men in camp. Also, I collected the mail from the post office daily for distribution and made out the "health and sickness" reports.
Finally half of us at Fort Lewis were sent to Camp Nile Creek and the other half were sent to a camp near Leavenworth, Washington. I was just one of the boys under Capt. Moore and Lt. Enderud. They were in charge of the camp -- sleeping quarters, meals, etc., while the Forest Service was in charge of the work we were to do.
Camp Nile Creek was on the east side of the creek and we had two rows of tents making up our sleeping quarters. We built a long shed from the trees we cut down for the mess hall. The Stringers for the foundation were two feet in diameter.
Because I was late getting on the list for the road survey crew, I wound up doing carpentry work as an apprentice learning to use carpentry tools. For picnic grounds, we built tables chairs, and "comfort stations" -- otherwise commonly known as outhouses. These were well built sheds made out of clear lumber (no knots) with fly proof screened openings in the gables.
For the first three months hot dogs were our only meat. We finally built a cooler on the creek. At that time about the only thing on this creek was a tooth pick mill.
Later, a carpenter was put in charge of the building party and four of us were sent with lumber and two trucks to build a stable. The lumber for the flooring was 3 inches thick. The stable was 14 feet wide by 16 feet long. It was built immediately adjacent to the Forest Service Lookout tower. Inside one corner was a rat proof box for storing grain and oats for the horses. Bill Graham was a green horn like myself, but a little more experienced than I. Some of the others were more experienced in carpentry. One of them had helped his father build barns.
The carpenter had a bulldog with several pups. One weekend I took one home to my mother and she named it Lady. One weekend two of us decided to hike down from the lookout building to a place that looked like a dry lake bed. It was farther than we had thought and after we got down to that landmark there wasn't much more to see but we still had to hike back in the dark. We didn't have flashlights and we could hear the animals whistling and breaking through the brush. It gave us an eerie feeling.
After the stable was built, we returned to the main camp. Soon, the whole camp was moved to another location in near Carnation -- sometime called Tolt because it was on the Tolt River, an estuary of the Snoqualamie River. The convoy traveled at 12 miles an hour -- the spped of the slowest vehicle, a FWD, with the forward and back wheels steering simultaneously.
The first night there we stayed overnight at the veteran's hall in Cle Elum. The following day we got to Fall City, where the Snoqualamie River had flooded. The rest of us had to wait all day while some were sent ahead to learn the road conditions on from Fall City. The trip on the flooded roads was completed safely and we arrived at our already built camp.
Sometime after we arrived, I made a trip home. Dad let me keep his old open Ford for weekends. About ten of us would ride in this old open Ford. One time, enroute to Fall City with ten of us in the car, the overload caused a flat tire. Some of the fellows decided to walk while the others waited while I put a double patch inside and out on the dollar sized hole. After we had traveled some distance, I picked up the walkers. We drove into camp that night and went to see the cook. He fixed us a giant meal piled high with food but I was too exhausted to eat.
During the winter and part of the spring I got started in schooling. It was a class on rapid calculation, but I didn't get to complete the class because we had orders to move back to Camp Naches which was a Forest Service Camp. My service in the Civilian Conservation Corps was from Spring of 1933 to July 10, 1934.
The CCC proved to be an important stepping stone for it led me to the WPA in the King County assessor's office. When asked if I had experience with T-Squares and Triangles, I replied "IN a high school post-graduate course in 1931 I completed a year's merchanical drawing in five months"> Also in 1931 I had elementary drawing in the fist quarter at the U of W.
The experience gained in the assessor's office led to the King County Aerial Survey for a new project - a phase of the WPA and the War Department. That work was supervised by the United States Coast & Geodetic Survey (USC&GS) and required triangulation survey stations from King County to Great Falls, Montana. My next opportunity involved work as a technician recorder for a survey party which read angles between the lights. This was my chance to see different parts of the United States that I had not seen before. The USC&GS involved setting up steel towers (90' plus or minus a few inches) for triangulation work in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Alaska, too, was to be included from Valdez to Fairbanks.
Through my services with the USC&GS, I received an "invitation" from the War Department to take a trip to London in February, 1943. These in buildings lined with four miles of hallways, we computed coordinates for the war effort. And after two and a half years, a number of us had the privilege of a six month sojourn in Paris while waiting for a ship to transport us to the U.S. I received an honorable discharge, dated February 13, 1946.
Looking back I'm grateful to the CCC for the privilege of leading me into such an interesting line of work that may never have happened otherwise, including 20 years as a draftsman and computer in the Washington State Highway Department. I've been retired since 1976. Thanks a lot!!! Age at Present 87 Hooray! I'm Happily Married as well to Mary.
----- Walter C. Parrott, Jr.
Back to James F. Justin Civilian Conservation Corps Museum
Back to James F. Justin Civilian Conservation Corps Biographies Exhibit