Biography of Harold L. Taylor
CCCMan, Camp Lake Sullivan, Metaline Falls, Washington & Company 949, Camp SP-7, Seven Mile, Washington
I first entered the CCC's in October 1935 within a few days of my 16th birthday. At the time I went in our family consisted of 9 children at home (with 2 already away from the nest). The $25 stipend that went home each month was a godsend to our parents.
My first camp was at Lake Sullivan near Metaline Falls, Washington. The only name I remember there was that of the Company Commander, Lt. Tomlinson.
Our camp had barrack type quarters heated with the proverbial " pot-belly stove. We had a mess hall and a recreation center along with a " canteen" to purchase personal items. I really don't remember what we had in the Recreation Hall, but I would guess at least a pool table.
I believe we had some "military" type formations such as roll call, taps, marching to meals. I believe these were quite limited.. The clothing we were issued fit our working climate for comfort and durability. It was very warm without being too restrictive for the type of work we were doing.
I may be wrong but I had always understood that the military type formations were restricted by the edicts of the Geneva Convention which was trying to limit military buildup after WWI.
At this camp we worked for the US Forest Service during the work day. I do remember one Ranger by the name of Smitty. As far as other enrollees , I have no memory of any names. We built fire roads in the mountains, strung telephone wire to lookout stations, cleared and burn "slash" in the forest. To clarify " burning slash' simply means that we would gather and burn the underbrush and limbs from fallen trees. In other words clean up the area surrounding our work sites. Much of this work was done in sub zero weather. As I remember it we went to work if the temperature was above minus 30 degrees F.
Building roads required felling lots of trees and blasting the rock area so the equipment could grade the roads. My experience allowed me to work with the crosscut saw felling trees, on a jackhammer drilling for the blasting powder and one stint as a "powder monkey". The name " powder monkey" attached to all who work on the dynamite or blasting crews. We would prepare the dynamite for insertion in the holes drilled by jackhammers for readiness to blast whatever section they were working on. And of course, during the real cold stints, I wiggled my way into a job as "Kitchen Worker". In the last job my only memory of tasks is peeling large quantities of potatoes and making sandwiches for the work crews, usually peanut butter with jam and ones with cheese. Our camp had a pet cow elk we called "Minnie the Moocher" because she always showed up at the kitchen for hand outs.
The Ranger station at this camp has an Historian who has a lot of memorabilia and pictures of those days. I visited them about 4 years ago. The Ranger I talked to the day I was there, knew some of the story of the camp's pet cow elk, Minnie the Moocher, and showed me a picture of the elk crossing the walk on top of the dam. The area of the camp was and still is a very pristine setting.
I had many good times at this camp and noted many of the enrollees were from the east. My tenure at this camp ended when I was discharged because I was convinced the Company Commander that I had a job in Spokane, Washington. I left this camp about in the middle of June, 1936. My leaving the CCC's did not thrill my mother who depended on the $25 for family expenses.
I was out only a short period when mother took me to the CCC's recruiting station on Washington in Spokane and convinced the recruiter to take me back.
This time, as noted on the copy of my second discharge, I was at both Fort George Wright and Camp Seven Mile. I was at Fort George Wright for a Hospital stay as a patient for ten days and then spent time working in the Kitchen until I could go back to Camp.
I was at Camp Seven Mile from July 29, 1936 till May 18, 1937. The work we did at Camp Seven Mile is pretty well indicated on the discharge. This included four and a half months kitchen police, four months ten days of building rock walls, placing the rocks, two weeks of park road construction with pick and shovel. The Project Superintendent, Mr. Harold A. Durfee, rated me as a satisfactory man and my Company Commander Captain Herbert H. Boehme, Engr-Res, 26th Engineers, noted that I was a dependable enrollee.
I have over the years visited and saw the results of many of the project. These included Riverside State Park and the Bowl & Pitcher on the Spokane River.
I went into the CCC's ate age 15 and am now over 81, most of the ones I knew were a lot older at that time.
I have always felt that this was a very important part of my life and was really disappointed that Tom Brokaw's book on "the Greatest Generation" made no mention of this program which was so very important to us and the rest of the country.
As indicated on my discharge, I left the CCC's to join the Navy where I served during WWII and then retired at 20 years.
----- Harold L. Taylor
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