Biography of Paul Pope

Enrollee, First Cook, Company 4480, Camp SP-10, Hunting Island, Beaufort / Frogmore, South Carolina & Company 4477, Camp SCS-24, Bishopville, South Carolina

   I originated from Sinclair County, Alabama. I was raised on a two horse farm following a mule, me and my daddy. He said he was going to learn me where my living come from and taught me how to work. That’s a lesson I appreciated, and I would always have a job afterwards.

   But the work on the farm didn’t pay much at the time. We had plenty to eat but there wasn’t too much money. So I looked elsewhere. But we didn’t have jobs in the area. If you could get a job the pay was only 50 cents a day. So when I got a chance to go into the CCCs around 1939 I signed up.

   They sent me to a CCC Camp at Bessamer, Alabama just out of Birmingham. This was not a working camp, but a camp where they sent you on to other camps where you would stay and work. Here I had a chance to go the West Coast or South Carolina. If you went to the West Coast you had to sign up for a year so I went to South Carolina as I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not.

   They put us on a train for Beaufort, South Carolina. We road all night in rail road cars and stopped in Augusta Georgia and then came on down to Beaufort. From there we went by truck out of Beaufort and eventually on through a little old wide place in the road, not a town really, that we would learn was called Frogmore. The boys in camp would come to call it Plumnearly, as it was plum out of the state and near out of the world.

   From Frogmore, we went along the road and over a bridge to Hunting Island, Camp SP-10 Company 4480. The Camp was run by the Army and had Army Barracks where we would sleep and a Mess Hall where would eat and a Tool Shed and buildings for the Army Officers who ran the Camp. The also was a light house on the island.

   Shortly after we first got down there, we got three or four guys walked out with their barracks bag. It was a long walk up that road to Beaufort, but they didn’t like the place, its in the sticks. But for those of us who stayed, it was not bad. We enjoyed ourselves down there, us boys did.

   At Hunting Island we worked out on the field doing landscaping for a short time and I didn’t like it too much. They had an opening to get into the storage room so I went in there. I ran the Storage Room in the kitchen. That’s where they had the canned goods the good stuff and all.  Soon I got a chance to be a cook so I stayed in there as a cook.

    I was a second cook at Hunting Island. They taught us how to cut meat and all that. They would take a half of beef or a hog and we would cut it up and cook it. Although we cooked meals for 200 boys in the Company, it didn’t take too long. We cooked in big army pots and we had them big old coal stoves. Then we had KPs in there that helped us out.

   When we weren’t working we kept busy from one thing to another. We would play ball. Since we were down on the ocean, we would go swimming. The marines up from Paris Island would come down there to go swimming sometimes as well.

   On Saturdays sometimes we went from Hunting Island up to Buford on the rec trips to go to a show. It wasn’t but 30 dollars a month that we were paid and some went home and we kept the balance. But that gave us some that we could spend some on these trips to town. We thoroughly enjoyed these rec trips.

   I was at Hunting Island about six months. It was about 1940 or thereabout that our work was done on Hunting Island. When the Hunting Island camp disbanded we had the choice to go to another camp but we had to reenlist. Again I had the choice of enlisting for another year to go to a camp on the West Coast or enlisting for six months and staying local which is what I did.

  So then I came over here to Bishopville, South Carolina, to Camp SCS-24, Company 4477. This camp was on Lee State Park Road. To get to the Camp site now, though its all grown up, you would go down 15 from Bishopville towards Hartsville about three miles and then turn right at first highway, which is Lee State Park Road. There’s a church on the left right there and also there’s a Beauty shop on the left side as you pass the river. Its about 7 miles from Bishopville (about four miles from I15). The Camp was right on the road, before you get to I20.

  The Bishopville Camp was Soil Conservation Camp when we got there. Before we went there it was a Park Camp worked by another Company. They dug a pond and they had camps down near the river. They built Lee State Park, which is still there and you can stay there and there are trails. That Company’s boys came from Williamsburg.

  My Company was Company 4477. Our foreman was Mr. Scurry who worked for the Soil Conservation Service. He had his place right out there at the edge of the Army Camp that we stayed in. Where I was at was that was the Army Quarters, run by the Army Officers.

  Mr. Scurry was over the boys out in the field. We did terracing and setting out grass all out there on a hill near St Matthew Church on 341. To get to the site you would go about about a mile from Bishopville towards Lynch’s River on 15, make a left on 341. That’s where we done all that work up there. The work was Soil Conservation Work on private property to stop erosion. I can’t think of the owner’s name right off hand, he was an insurance man. There’s a dog place there now.

  Not long after I got there, they found out that I could cook so they put me in the kitchen there. I stayed in there till I got out. I became First Cook. We had a fellow from Georgia who was over us as the Mess Sergeant. He later married a girl from here.

  The camp was a good camp. We didn’t have any body that got in trouble at either camp. I fairly enjoyed it. We had some good friends from around and about there.

  Just before I got out of the CCCs I met my wife. One of the boys, Marcus Mann, dated a girl who had a sister. We were both a cooks, he was on one shift and I was on another shift. He took me out on a blind date with his girlfriend’s sister. We liked each other and dated. Later Marcus and I both married the Godwin sisters.

  I left the CCCs after four months at Bishopville, and ten months over all. I got a job making ammunition boxes here and left to do that.

  When WWII started up when I was over here in Lee State Park. When the War come up they disbanded the CCCs. A lot of those boys went into the service. I was turned down for the service on account of my eyes. So I stayed here in Bishopville.

  Me and my wife got married in 42. I’ve always said I reckoned I could get one just as good but I couldn’t get one no better.

  While in the CCCs we got $8 a month for ourselves and the rest went home. My family put up a small amount from the rest that I got when I got out of the CCCs. When I got married I used that to get some used furniture for our house.

  We had a boy who became a Marine, and trained at Paris Island. He was in the first bunch that landed in Vietnam and served four years over there. My younger Boy was in the Army at the same time. He went to South Korea.

  Thanks to my daddy’s lessons, I had a job all my life. When I retired on June 30, 1986, I had never asked for but two jobs. I worked at the Bishopville High School for 38 years nine months. I was there when they first integrated. They’ve disbanded the high school now, they built a new one here out in the country. But the old building is still there. I hope they do something with it. I didn’t have no problem with those children. They think the world of me, everybody knows me here.

 ----- Paul Pope

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