Biography of Nicholas V. Sawick

CCCMan, Company 1219, Shrewsbury County, Vermont

   In 1933 I was inducted into the CCC at Camp Dix, New Jersey. My first assignment was in Shrewsbury County, Vermont. I think the camp was Camp #1219. There were 250 men in the camp, and, since the CCC was run by the army, we were supervised by four army officers, one sergeant, and one medical officer. We slept fifty men to a barrack that was heated by two wood stoves, one at each end of the barrack.

   Our main jobs were fighting forest fires and building roads. The only tools we used were a pick and shovel, a sledge hammer, dynamite and raw youthful muscle. It took a month and a half to build a six mile dirt road, using cracked rock as a base and dirt topping. The road would have two purposes - to serve as a fire trail for firemen to bring equipment into the forest and to provide an access road for tourists. The road ended at the home of Calvin Coolidge, which became a tourist attraction.

   As you can imagine, social life was limited. However, opportunities did arise. On one occasion, the camp posted a notice about a party in Rutland, twenty-five miles away. I was not on the list of fellows allowed to go, but that didn't stop me. I sneaked into the truck that was taking the guys into town.

   It was a great party, but our sergeant spotted me and had a fit. To punish me, he refused to let me ride in the truck back to camp. Having no other choice, at midnight I started walking. It was pitch-dark. No light, no cars, no hope of a lift. Even in the summer, in the Vermont mountains, it can get pretty cold at night. When I felt really chilled, I snuggled up to a cow sleeping in a field to get some warmth. Fortunately, the cow did not object.

   To the astonishment of the entire camp, I arrived at reveille, made roll call, ate breakfast and then went to work. At nineteen years old you can do anything!

   They also assigned me to a three month stint near Speedwell, Tennessee where I worked on a TVA project. With a team of mules and plow, we excavated and leveled land. We even relocated an old cemetery to make room for a dam and reservoir. The work was so hard that one of the mules dropped dead in his tracks.

   The CCC was a great experience for a young man. We were earning money in the Depression, thirty dollars a month, twenty-five of which was sent home to our parents, five of which we kept for ourselves. We were fed well. In Tennessee, I had the best baked beans I have ever tasted. Our youthful energies were put to good use, and we gained experience and maturity.

----- Nicholas V. Sawick

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