Biography of Nicholas Rossi

Leader, CCCMan, Company 1264 & Company 1243, Camp NP(D)-2-NY, Pine Camp, Fort Drum, Carthage, New York


    I was enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps July 9, 1941 at CCC Company 1264, Carthage, New York. Subsequently, Companies 1264 and Company 1243 were consolidated under the designation Company 1243.

   Why did I join the C.C.C.? To get three square meals. Also an allotment check for my Mother, separated from my Father since I was four years of age.

   One horrible experience was when two newly enlisted enrollees arrived in the fall, and were shortly thereafter declared AWOL. In the Spring the Black River ice broke up and their bodies were discovered. As Chief Clerk I was asked to identify them. Another tragic incident, I was in the mess hall, and one of the Army half-tracks crushed one of our personnel.

   The Army half track was present due to the fact that our camp, which was named Pine Camp, later was, and is today, Camp Drum, an Army facility. I still recall personnel of the 4th Armored Division, on skis and dressed in white, being pulled by troop carriers. They were "Ski Troops".

    We did Reforestation work, all types of outdoor work was done, including road repairs.

   For recreation we went into Carthage. Carthage was the last town I can remember where you could buy a tap drawn 5 cent beer. The temperature went down to 36 degrees below, everything was frozen for three days. Don't know how those farmers survived the cold, with their black tar paper covered houses. Everything in the area was so rural. It was 3 miles to town, and about 30 miles to Watertown, N.Y..

   Can't seem to recall what sports we participated in or what recreation was available besides going into town.

   We lived in barracks. We had Bugle calls for Reveille, taps, mess and were also used to assemble. The one meal I recall was Sunday's supper. The Cook's afternoon off, we always had cold cuts. Daily musters were held, discipline always present. Calisthenics daily. We had mail call daily. We had a library that contained papers, books and magazines.

   I satisfactorily completed Company Clerk Training while we were still Company 1264. I received Certificate #U.C. 2534-22, dated December 30, 1941, Carthage, N.Y., signed by Conrad Shumway, Company Commander, Robert I. Katz, Camp Educational Advisor, John J Degur, Project Superintendent, Leonard I. Janelli, Instructor.

  We had a canteen, or P.X. as we called it. I bunked there, and was paid $15 monthly to run it. Will never forget, was lying in my bunk when over this big rounded Philco Radio came the announcement, "Pearl Harbor was bombed".

   All our officers at the Camp were called to active duty, most were reservists from World War I.

   Charles J. Rose replaced our Company Commander when he was called to active duty, and remained with us till the camp was shut down. The old commanding officer who was called to active duty had to report to Fort Devens. He told me if I go into the Army to contact him. I was discharged for the convenience of the Government, due to the closing of our camp and the liquidation of the C.C.C., on July 23, 1942, from Company 1243. I joined the U.S.C.G.

   The C.C.C. most assuredly helped our youth be strong, loyal and well disciplined for our entry into World War II. What an asset they were.

   Upon discharge, I took a train home. A New York "East Side Kid", the C.C.C. can be credited with helping to develop my brain and body. The money earned in the C.C.C. certainly kept our family in food, those were tough times. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his adminstration must be applauded for helping our youth.

   I very strongly recommend that a new C.C.C. be created along the lines of the old one. These single families certainly could use the guidelines that were enforced when I was an enrollee in the C.C.C., what good work could be done, ask some of our environmentalists.

----- Nicholas Rossi


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