A Musical Tribute to the Civilian Conservation Corps
SPRING VALLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY, MONDAY, OCTOBER 3 at 2 pm
Michigan based author/songwriter Bill Jamerson will present a music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Spring Valley Public Library on Monday, October 3 at 2 pm.
The presentation includes telling stories, reading excerpts from his novel, showing a video clip from his PBS film and performing original songs with his guitar. He has presented at CCC reunions around the country and at dozens of state and national parks. The program is as entertaining as it is important; as honest as it is fun. It is about people both ordinary and extraordinary, with stories of strength, wit and charm.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a federal works program created by President Franklin Roosevelt in the heart of The Great Depression. During its nine year run from 1933-1942, 2.6 million men enrolled across the country including eighty six thousand in Minnesota. An average of 51 camps operated in Minnesota each year with a total financial obligation of 85 million dollars. A camp opened outside of Spring Valley in June of 1936. The men came into town on weekends and patronized stores, movie theaters, billiard rooms, bowling alleys, saloons, dance halls, and churches. Many enrollees met their wives while in camp. The enrollees spent approximately $5,000 a month in nearby communities, helping the local economy during the depths of The Great Depression.
The C’s planted over 180 million trees in Minnesota, fought hundreds of forest fires, released several billion fingerlings in rivers and lakes, built hundreds of dams and bridges and constructed thousands of miles of roads. They also built many state parks including St Croix, Lacqui Parie, Gooseberry Falls, Whitewater, Interstate, Flandrau and Itasca State Park. Camp Rabideau in Blackduck, north of Bemidji, is still standing and contains many original CCC buildings. It is one of the finest camp restorations in the nation. The C’s also built several bridges north of Duluth on Highway 66. The CCC camps not only revitalized Minnesota’s natural resources but also turned the boys into men by giving them discipline and teaching them work skills.
Jamerson’s book, BIG SHOULDERS is a historical novel that follows a year in the life of a seventeen-year-old youth from Detroit who enlisted in the C’s in 1937. The enrollee joins two hundred other young men at Camp Raco in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is a coming-of-age story of an angry teenager who faces the rigors of hard work, learning to cope with a difficult sergeant and fending off a bully.
In his program Bill performs original songs, including Chowtime, a fun look at the camp food, City Slicker, which tells of the mischief the boys find in the woods. Wood Tick is a song about the nicknames the locals gave the enrollees, and Tree Plantin’, Fire Fightin’ Blues tells of the hardships of working out in the woods. The folk songs range from heartwarming ballads to foot stomping jigs.
Jamerson also produced eleven PBS films on Michigan history including, CAMP FORGOTTEN – the CCC in Michigan which aired on Minnesota Public Television in 1994. He produced a CD of original songs and has authored several articles on the corps. A question and answer period and book signing will follow his hour-long presentation. Former CCC members and their families are encouraged to attend and bring photo albums and memorabilia. For more information please contact the libfrary at 346-2100 or visit Bill’s website at: billjamerson.com.
We will have pictures and information about the local CCC camp that was just outside of Spring Valley!