Biography of Russell L. Reininger
Assistant Leader, CCCMan, Company 831, Camp SP-3-NM, Roswell, New Mexico
Signal Corps Supplies, Omaha Beach, USA
I was born near Oakwood, Oklahoma on September 9, 1916. In 1937 I was in need of work.
At that time there wasn't a job to be had doing anything. I signed up April 15, 1937 and served until March 30, 1938. They shipped several of us boys from or near Taloga, Oklahoma to Roswell, New Mexico. Company #831, Camp SP-3-NM. It was located east of Roswell about 8 miles and about 1 mile West of the Pecos River.
Our job was to make roads and paths throughout the Bottomless Lake State Park area. Also we were building a bath house and flag stone walk ways out to the edge of one of the lakes.
We had about 4 staff engineers and our leaders were enlisted men. We had to truck from our camp about 4 miles to the Park Area.
I worked with Mr. McAffee to survey the bathhouse and pad measuring driving stakes, holding the transit rod, etc. I learned to set up the transit and a lot about reading blue prints. We were making a lot of it out of flag stone rock that the boys hauled in from a near rock quary. They also often brought in a large diamond back rattle snake. Same about 5 ft long and big around. No one ever got bit that I know of.
I don't remember how many lakes there was, but some they said that they had never been able to reach the bottom. I know one deep hole that you couldn't throw a rock across it and it was so deep that if you threw a big rock into it you couldn't hear it hit the bottom.
On work days we dressed in fatigues (jacket and pants). When we came in from the days work we changed into khaki shirt and pants, with a black tie and skull cap, much like the army. We were called to formation to lower the flag and then went to supper.
We had a recreation hall. It had a magazine rack and newspapers. There was a ping pong table, a dart board, punching bags and a boxing ring.
In one end of the rec hall was the canteen. The canteen was operated by one of the boys, whose last name was Aiken. We could draw a scripp book against our wages to assist us through the month. We could buy candy, toilet articles, tobacco, Pop, and other small items with this scripp or with cash at the Canteen.
I don't remember any school classes for the boys other than a small one on reading and writing. I know I assisted one boy with his letters home and with the ones coming back.
They took us by truck on a trip to tour the Carlsbad Caverns. It was a one day trip and we took a sack lunch.
Our cooks was enlisted men and their helpers (K.P.'s) was on a rotating basis. I think a week at a time was the rotation. We were called to chow by a bugle which I blew. I had been in the high school band.
I was only a part time bugler and received no extra benefits for this duty. Taps was played at night by a recording from the office. I don't remember if wake-up was by bulge or whistle.
When called for chow, we gathered at one of the two doors of the mess hall. Then on cue went in and stood at our table until the whistle blew. Then we sat down , turned over our plate, and the meal was served family style. When a bowl was emptied the person who took the last portion out of it got up and went for a refill. I remember having plenty to eat, but the desert was kinda sparse. A small square of cake and one half of a peach. But they were on a budget and doing the best they could. Had I been home I probably wouldn't have gotten that. As you know that was the years of the great depression and I ate better there in the CCC's then I would have at home.
We had a doctor for sick call each morning. I don't know if he was full time or part. Of course, we had short arm inspections every so often.
I developed a pain in my right side and was sent by Army medical ambulance to El Paso, Texas for an appendix operation. I think it should have been a hernia operation because two months after my discharge the hernia showed up.
I remember very few names. The First Sergeant, or the one doing that type of job, was named Fant. Two of the engineers were Mr. McAfee and Mr. Scanlon. One boy was named Cambell, who they said was making a good road grader operator. Two boys from my area there in Oklahoma were Ray Teigue and Floyd Spence.
Saturday mornings were devoted to changing sheets, cleaning up our barracks and standing by our bunks for inspection. Our beds were made up Army style. I don't remember any outside inspector's coming in.
The last 6 mo. I got a raise in pay, so then I was keeping $11.00 a mo. And my folks was still getting their $25 per mo. I don't remember being called assistant leader, but maybe that was kinda what it was. Mr. McAbee took a liking to me and would give me orders to take a few men and do this or that and the men understood that I was kinda over them.
I got a suit sample kit and sold pants and suits to the boys. I took little profit so I could sell more and as a bonus get more pants for myself. I went home with some good clothes.
When we were discharged our train ticket was provided to our home town. All the C.C.C. clothing we had was what we wore. Of course I had more clothing as I sold the suits and pants for the boys from my suit sample bit. I had a nice suit and several pairs of wool trousers. Better clothes than I ever had.
I left the CCCs in 1938. I then moved with my family to Idaho.
The CCCs. Was a help to me when I went into the Army in WWII. I served in Europe with the Signal Corps Supplies. I hit Omaha Beach on D-Day and went on up into Germany.
I worked after WWII at the V.A. Hospital in Boise, Idaho. I have four children. I retired in 1973.
My wife and I travel across North America to see the kids in the Summer. I love to fish and hunt deer and elk. My wife and I return to the warmer climes of the South for the Winters.
I would like to see such a program be continued like the C.C.C.. I have heard a lot of people say that the CCC's did a lot of good and I have seen a lot of roads and trails built in Idaho that were made by the C.C.C. boys. It made the boys assume some responsibility, away from their parents, and they had to do things on their own.
----- Russell L. Reininger
Eugene Thomas Scanlon, Engineer, Company 831, Camp SP-3-NM, Roswell, New Mexico (new 5/22/05)
Company 831 Camp Photo, Nov. 1937, Russell L. Reininger, Camp SP-3-NM, Roswell, New Mexico
Company 831 Group Photo, Nov. 1937, Russell L. Reininger is in third from from front, center, black hair, no hat, Camp SP-3-NM, Roswell, New Mexico
Company 831 Retreat Formation, Nov. 1937, Russell L. Reininger, Camp SP-3-NM, Roswell, New Mexico
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