Biography of Thomas E. Pendergast
Leader, CCCman. Company 2604, Knoxville, Galesburg, Illinois
What a wonderful idea bringing to light the history and work done by the C.C.C.. Outside of serving during World War Two in the U.S.A.A.F., being twice wounded, it was the greatest experience of my lifetime.
Two brothers, both now deceased, preceded me in the Corps. One went to Idaho, fighting forest fires and Spruce Bud Worm. Another was assigned to Quincy, Illinois and then on to West Allic, Wisconsin, planting trees and working on parks et cetera.
This sounded glamorous, so out of high school I joined the CCC, expecting to see some of the world in our States.
I grew up outside of Galesburg, Illinois on a farm. Alas, my first assignment was to Company 2604, in Galva, Illinois - all of thirty miles from home. Alas again, we moved kit and kaboodle to just west of Galesburg, Illinois for the rest of my three years. The camp was close by Knoxville and may be listed as being at that town in the old records.
Nevertheless I matured in the Cs. I became a field leader, making $45 a month. I got to keep $15 a month, the rest was sent to my family. This was more than I made anywhere at that time. The C's taught me leadership, hard work for the common good and provided help for my family during the depression years.
We built soil conservation dams, thinned scrub trees, removed stumps, planted trees, and did a vast amount of contour farming layouts to prevent soil erosion. These farms laid out on contours are still visible today and shedding gully washing water into seeded waterways.
Many funny things happened. We fenced in our workplace one day without a gate to get our truck out. We had to cut a few wires!
We had a wonderful baseball and basketball program competing state wide with other camps. This was an opportunity that as a farm boy I never had in high school.
I went on to become a teacher in high school and retired in 1982 as an elementary principal after 33 years in education.
In retrospect, none of my experiences were more gratifying than my becoming a man in the C.C.C..
----- Thomas E. Pendergast
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