Biography of Robert I. Ewing
CCCMan, Company 979, Camp F-72, Idaho Falls, Idaho
I joined the CC in American Falls, Idaho, on April 30, 1933. I was 17 years old on March 30 and had to do a little politicking to get in - but I got the job done. There were about 10 of us joined at that time - - I am the only one left today. We left from American Falls on the train with Elmer Richardson as our leader. We landed in Boise, Idaho, and were taken from there to Idaho City, Idaho, by some Nash-Quaad trucks which were from World War I. The tires on these trucks were flat rubber welded to steel. It was the roughest ride I had ever taken in a truck.
When we arrived at Idaho City we found that we were to be quartered at a camp just a few miles north of Idaho City. Idaho City was, at one time, one of the largest cities in the West. Gold mines did it. By our time there was only one mine left, a hydraulic affair using lots of water. When we finally got bedded down the first night we found that we were all from Idaho and that we were to be the leaders in all firefighting in the Boise Basin. It didn't work out that way for there were lots of young men from all parts of the country who did a good job. I was lucky -- when the camp doctor -- how I wish I could remember his name, he was from New Jersey -- found out that I could type I was relieved of all KP work on all weekends providing that I do the doctor's typing. This I did, very gladly.
About a week after we arrived at Idaho City the Army Captain, who had learned that I had a little ROTC training, ordered me to go in an army truck to the middle of the City of Idaho City and direct traffic for three hours. I thought that this would be easy time for there couldn't be too much traffic. Little did I know that two trains of CCC enrollees had arrived in Boise from the East and that all of the kids on those trains would be located in the Boise Basin -- which had Idaho City as a center. I will never forget the first truck to arrive -- a part of six trucks -- the leader dropped off, came up to me and asked "Where is the closest Sporting House?"
I being a dumb kid from a farm town didn't know what he was talking about. Eventually, he told me what he was looking for but I had no idea what to tell him. Then he and the other six trucks, all loaded with CCC men from New Jersey, were sent on their way to the left of where I was standing where a new camp had been built for them.
I only stayed in the CCCs for four months when I left to go to college. In those months I learned a great more than I ever learned in a year in College. First off, I learned that the kids from New Jersey were every bit as good as I was even if they grew up in the slums of some city. When we were out on a fire they got scared at night, suspecting that they would be run over by all kinds of animals. Little did they know that we westerners had lived out in the woods and knew that there was nothing out there to worry about. Eventually, most of them became pretty good woodsmen.
In Early September, 1933, I requested permission to leave Idaho City and go to college at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho. The Captain granted my wish and I was on my way.
Ours was company 979, Camp F-72. I trust that is right for I am going back 67 years.
The Idaho State Historical Society has developed a video covering some of the things that the CCC did in Idaho. Unfortunately, all of this video was taken in Northern Idaho and doesn't have anything to do with my part of the state.
----- Robert I. Ewing
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