Biography of Ed Ruple
Mess Sergeant, CCCMan, Company 709, Grand Marias, Minnesota & Crescent City, California & Company 1730, Bunker, Missouri
A Company, 133rd Infantry, 34th Infantry Division, USA
I was born 16 October 1916 in Graniteville, Missouri. Graniteville is a small town 60 miles south of St. Louis. It is the home of the Elephant Rocks and has the best red granite in this country. I was in the Civilian Conservation Corps.
I entered the Civilian Conservation Corps August 1933. I went to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. A train load of us went from there to Fort Leavneworth, Kansas. I was there approximately six weeks. We were issued world war one uniforms. We looked pretty sick. Soon a company was formed, Company 709. We were sent to Grand Marias, Minnesota. It was a new camp. We were 16 miles from Grand Marias, close to Lake Superior. The Northern Lights was something to see.
Our job was mostly trapping snow shoe rabbits and getting rid of porcupines and burning dead brush. It was too cold to get out as we had no transportation, so we stayed mostly in the barracks.
On 10 February 1934 Company 709 was transferred to Crescent City, California, which was great to get away from the cold as it was 52 below when we left Minnesota. Camp Gasquet where 709 was close to Crescent City, Ca. For one and a half years we built road side parks along Highway 161. We built buildings for the park service. We worked at the Oregon Caves at Selma, Oregon.
Our past time was playing base ball and mining for gold and going to a local cafe for Beer and wine. We had movies at Certain Times, but most of our time was work. Some times a land slide and the road was blocked until we got there and cleaned the road. I enjoyed my stay in California. 1936 came and I was sent to Jefferson Barracks for discharge. Got there and I re-enlisted, and was sent to Company 1730 Bunker, Missouri where I spent my last 5 1/2 years of CCC service. Company 1730 was one great bunch of young boys. We built low water bridges, made roads, cut wood for the stoves, surveyed and built dams, and lakes, planted trees, camp the camp clean and during the season we fough fires night and day.
We had good cooks and fine food to eat. Good barracks to sleep in. Showers and good latrines. Past time here was baseball and we had a no one team. Also basketball team and a fine bunch of boxers. We had movies every Friday night outside, weather permitting, or inside if not in the rec hall.
We had inspections every day and the best barracks at the end of the week got cigarrettes. The morale was always high, local girls was brought in for dances. In fact 33 boys from Camp Bunker married local girls.
Lunch was taken to work groups in manmite cans by truck. Every so often on Saturday we had cold meats cheese potato salad and cole slaw. We had no drills but had reveille and roll call five mornings a week and retreat five days a week. Evening meals was in our CCC dress uniform with the tie. Some boys went to local high school for classes.
We had two group photos taken, in 1935 and in 1939 and put into a book which we bought for $5.00 at one dollar a month payment. Company attention was the name of our weekly newsletter.
You could buy rings bracelets and patches if you wished. But we didn't have money to buy much. You made $30.00 per month. $25 went home and you had $5.00 which was a lot in 1939. Anyone who had two years or more had to leave the CCC with the exception the Army Side could keep three and the Forestry side could keep three. At that time I was Mess Sergeant and got to stay. So in October 1941 I decided on my own to leave the CCC to play semi-pro base ball. I then went into the military and spent 26 years.
In World War Two I was with A Company, 133rd Infantry of the 34th Infantry Division. We fought through Africa, Sicily and Italy. Then in Korea.
I give the CCC that built my life and the accomplishments I made in my life. I am a life member of the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni, which has its own museum in St. Louis. Our membership is getting smaller, but we have a National Reunion every year. Last year it was in Connecticut, 2000 in Cleveland, Ohio and 2001 it will be in Lurray, Virginia. I still work in our national parks, volunteering with upkeep of the cannon facilities at York Town.
----- Ed Ruple
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