By ALFRED EMILE CORNEBISE
PROFESSOR EMERITUS, UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN COLORADO
When FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps in April, 1933,
an organization that would eventually enroll over three million American
men came into being. Established to rescue the unemployed, the downtrodden
and the despairing, as well as help preserve the nation's lands and forests,
it was an instant success. Shortly after its creation, the CCC had its
own distinctive press. In Washington, the semi-official Happy
Days was established. Issued to guide and direct the Corps, because
of its close reporting of all aspects of life in the CCC, as well as its
publication of letters and opinion articles from the rank and file, it
serves as a substantial historical source. In addition, over five thousand
camp newspapers were published. Usually mimeographed sheets, these also
provide much information at the company level about the life and times
of one of FDR's most impressive creations: the CCC.
After FDR founded the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933, newspapers were launched almost immediately relating to the new organization. In Washington, D.C., a remarkable national weekly publication, the semi-official Happy Days, was founded. Its owners were Melvin Ryder, the paper’s editor, Ray Hoyt, the managing editor, and Theodore Arter, Jr., the business manager. Ryder, a regimental sergeant major in the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I, had been on the staff of the famous doughboy newspaper, The Stars and Stripes. He knew from that experience what men in camps were interested in, and he launched a paper which clearly told the CCC story, acted as a sounding board for opinion among the CCC enrollees, encouraged and instructed the men as they assumed their new roles, and supported in general the aims of the administration’s New Deal programs. Happy Days also strongly encouraged and instructed camp editors in the production of camp newspapers in the thousands of CCC installations that were created. There would eventually be more than 5,000 camp papers published by almost 3,000 of the CCC companies from 1933 to 1942. This rich source provides an excellent opportunity to view from new perspectives all phases of life in the CCC throughout its career. This study examines key aspects of the history of CCC camp journalism.
A PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL LIFT FOR THE UNEMPLOYED
Few people have heard of such pieces of “literature” as the brief, continuing story, “Anthony Obtuse,” or the extremely short one-act play of three scenes, “Morning Becomes Electrified.” But these were among the reading fare of two companies of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1930s America. They were printed in the organization’s respective camp newspapers produced for the enlightenment, edification and entertainment of the 200 or so men who made up each company. The first installment of “Anthony” (author unknown), an obvious reference to the popular novel, Anthony Adverse, which was published in 1933 by Hervey Allen, appeared in the August 1936 issue of CCC Company 297’s mimeographed paper, the Kanona Daze.1 “Morning Becomes Electrified,” a parody of Eugene O’Neill’s 1931 play, Mourning Becomes Electra, was written by George Berhard Egarian and “William Shakespear” Gilliam, two members of Company 909 at Highland, California. It was printed in the February 1, 1938, issue of the Tabloid Owl, that unit’s colorful, provocative, and often humorous sheet. A nonsensical piece, “Anthony Obtuse” was billed as “a short story of haze and blue daze,” while “Morning” was concerned with the chaos in a typical camp barracks following the sounding of reveille.
The events preceding the creation of these pieces, and the establishment of the papers in which they were featured, were complex. Shortly after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal was launched, the Civilian Conservation Corps was established. Especially tragic seemed the fate of America’s aimless, largely unemployed, youth, who were often in trouble with authorities. For the males, at least, relief was soon forthcoming.2 The CCC was created by the Emergency Conservation Act, which was passed by Congress on March 31, 1933,3 and instituted by Presidential Executive Order No. 6101 on April 5, 1933. Initially enacted for two years, the life of the CCC was repeatedly extended by Congress. The Corps was specifically intended for “the purpose of relieving the acute condition of widespread distress and unemployment” existing in the United States, and at the same time was “to provide for the restoration of the country’s depleted natural resources and the advancement of an orderly program of useful public works.” Though later greatly expanded in scope, the CCC was at first mainly concerned with the nation’s forest lands, for which specific goals included “the prevention of forest fires, floods and soil erosion, plant pest and disease control,” and the construction, maintenance or repair of “paths, trails and fire-lanes in the national parks and national forests” as well as similar work on state forest lands.4 Of course, with almost 14 million unemployed in the United States by March 1933, the initial enrollment of just over 250,000 men was relatively small, but for those involved the program was a physical and spiritual lift of immense value.5
While straightforward in concept and initiation, the implementation and administration of the CCC became an intricate matter requiring considerable coordination. In order to placate the powerful labor unions, who worried that the government was moving into their bailiwicks, Roosevelt appointed Robert Fechner, vice president of the International Association of Machinists, the new agency’s director.6 The Departments of War, Agriculture, Interior and Labor also were directly involved. The War Department assumed responsibility for constructing and administering the camps, and providing the food, clothing, medical care and discipline for the men. The departments of Interior and Agriculture planned and administered the work projects.7
The younger men who entered the program, normally between the ages of seventeen and twenty three, were called “junior enrollees.” The first of these were enlisted on April 7, 1933, and on April 17, the first 200-man camp was established in the George Washington National Forest near Luray, Virginia. Within two months, 255,237 men had been assigned, and by July 22, the Corps included 301,230 members lodged in more than 1,500 camps across the nation. By September 1935, at the height of the CCC’s development, there were over 2,600 camps in existence, grouped within the nine Army Corps administrative areas within the United States and in some American possessions abroad. By the end of its career in 1942, over 3 million men had passed through the ranks of the CCC.
In addition to the junior enrollees, “local experienced men,” or “LEMS,” also were recruited. These were “experienced, unemployed, and physically fit woodsmen [and other professionals] residing in the vicinity of the work projects.” In this way, the CCC camps better fitted into the local scene, and at the same time men were secured who were experienced in local conditions and in the use of the heavy machinery often used on the job. Their numbers were first set at 35,250.
The pressing problem of unemployed World War I veterans also was addressed, at least to a small degree, with provision for the initial enrollment of 28,225 men. The Office of Indian Affairs was further authorized to enlist 14,861 American Indians, who, living at home rather than in camps, worked on projects on Indian reservations.8 Blacks were accommodated as well, both in their own segregated companies and sometimes in racially-mixed units. In addition to the work in the continental United States, there were eventually about 4,000 enrollees at any given time in Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.9 Numerous agencies, such as federal, state and local forestry, agricultural, and park services were eventually drawn into the work of the CCC. Though there were subsequent changes, normally junior enrollees were inducted into the CCC for a six-month stint, usually having the option to reenlist for another similar term. They were paid thirty dollars per month, in addition to their food, clothing, housing, and medical care. Of the thirty dollars, the men were expected to send twenty-five dollars home to assist their families. They were first given a two-week orientation program by the U.S. Army, consisting of standard military drill and discipline programs. They were issued army uniforms and following their initial training were sent to a camp, often deep in the forest. The typical camp, which strongly resembled a military cantonment, was commanded by an army officer, usually a first lieutenant or captain, or on occasion by a Marine Corps, Navy, or Coast Guard officer. He was assisted by a second-in-command, a second lieutenant. The services of army doctors, dentists and chaplains also were utilized.
Despite the presence of military leadership, however, the CCC was not a military organization, and considerable resistance developed within the government and among the public to it being developed along militaristic lines. As time evolved, reserve officers were drawn upon, and the regular officers returned to their respective military establishments. Late in the CCC’s existence, leadership positions reverted to civilians, though reserve officers often served in these capacities.10
Other professional assistance at the camps included the all-important superintendents and foremen, who were in charge of the work pursued. In a forestry camp, the superintendent might be a forest ranger able to manage forestry projects. Agricultural experts served as superintendents if the camps were engaged in soil erosion relief, engineers supervised road and bridge construction, and skilled carpenters directed building programs. Most camps utilized trucks and heavy machinery which required skilled personnel such as drivers, operators, mechanics, and machinists, often the LEMS, though enrollees also developed the skills necessary to operate such equipment. The cooks were frequently drawn from the ranks of army personnel who served as sergeants or as civilians. An enrollee operated a camp canteen which sold candy, soft drinks, tobacco, and personal items. The profits supported a company fund which made possible the purchase of athletic equipment and uniforms, as well as providing for the publication of camp newspapers. A civilian educational adviser was also part of the “overhead” (the command structure). Invariably a college graduate, the adviser established and supervised the camp’s often ambitious educational programs, which were a mixture of academic education and practical training. The federal Office of Education assisted in providing the educational programs.11 Many of these activities emanated from the work projects, and superintendents and foremen and other skilled personnel conducted a great deal of on-the-job training. Enrollees learned about such things as first-aid and safety, as well as how to operate heavy machinery and use all sorts of tools; how to drive a truck, an ambulance, or to cook; how to manage an office, work as a clerk or type; how to build buildings and bridges; the techniques of fighting forest fires; and how to control soil erosion.
Following their workday, the men had several options: they might attend classes arranged by the educational adviser, or drop in at the recreation hall, which scheduled activities such as movies, and instruction in hobbies such as photography or arts and crafts. Others participated in sports with many camps fielding competitive teams. There was usually a truck going into the local town or village, if not too far distant, and the men might go there, but they were required to return to camp by around 9:30 p.m..12
“HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN”
Among the leisure activities pursued by some men was the publication of camp newspapers.13 Often undertaken by a journalism class under the supervision of the educational adviser, these frequently followed the lead of the national weekly publication, Happy Days. A felicitous choice, the title was no doubt inspired by FDR’s political theme song, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” and it struck a positive chord of hope for those associated with the new organization. Though a private venture, the paper was officially authorized and effectively served as the semi-official voice of the CCC. It was widely circulated in all the camps. It was launched on May 20, 1933, when Volume 1, Number 1 appeared with twelve pages in a five-column printed format, about a month following the creation of the CCC. Its owners were Editor Ryder, Managing Editor Hoyt, both of whom were from Washington, D.C., and Business Manager Arter, Jr., of Altoona, Pennsylvania. Ryder, who had been on the staff of the famous, venerable doughboy newspaper, The Stars and Stripes, and had a knowledge of what men in uniform desired in their newspapers, was ideally suited to make an instant success of the paper.14 The owners also later supplied numerous accouterments, souvenirs, handbooks, and other items which they sold through the paper’s offices.
Happy Days advanced itself as a model worth imitating. It avowed in its initial issue that it had no formal policy, unlike other newspapers, “except the honest policy of being of cheer and giving you the dope.” The editors requested letters from the readers because it “is YOUR paper,” and also asked for criticisms because “we can take ‘um on the chin.” The paper’s tone was therefore invariably upbeat and strongly supported the CCC’s administration’s goals. Columns, such as “Smiles” and “Toothpicks and Splinters,” as well as the letters, built upon The Stars and Stripes’ proven formula of accentuating the positive but at the same time allowed gripes to be aired and shortcomings to be discussed, though always within limits.15 The first issue, therefore, set the stance, mode and form, and much of the attitude would prevail throughout most of the paper’s lengthy career. Happy Days ended in August 1942 in an entirely different era with America at war.
Asking, “Brother Can You Spare a Rhyme?” the paper planned to print the best poems of the enrollees, paying five dollars for each one accepted. Soon inundated with responses, such columns as “Sing You Sinners!” were created to accommodate company poets. Also a dollar was to be paid for inventions that the men proposed: “For instance--if you invent a way to peel potatoes with one hand--or to keep from falling down hill--or to find your way through the woods in the dark,” the paper wanted to know about them.16 Regarding potatoes, one is reminded how destitute many people were as the depression years unrolled. Happy Days, especially in its first few months, had a lot to report regarding food and how the famished enrollees liked their chow. The paper’s second issue, for instance, asked: “Remember the first meal after you enrolled? How was it--good?” For most of the men, accustomed to deprivation, it certainly was, and the paper was soon recording the rapid weight gains by enrollees. The food, while never gourmet, was plentiful, wholesome, and generally well-prepared. Indeed, there could only be rejoicing that the “Old Spanish Custom”--eating--had been revived by the CCC. The paper often had columns devoted to recipes and all aspects of food preparation, and numerous food firms advertised in the paper. Eating was the subject of early poems in the paper as well.17 Subsequently, one of the staples of all camp newspapers would be printing detailed holiday menus, such as on Thanksgiving Day. If there was food, there were also new clothes, another subject for the omnipresent poet.18
For the first few issues, Ryder drew upon the services of two cartoonists who had been on the staff of The Stars and Stripes in France during World War I: A.A. “Wally” Wallgren and Cyrus Leroy Baldridge.19 However, the paper soon employed others as well, many becoming quite skilled and inventive, and the veteran cartoonists withdrew.
There is no doubt where Happy Days stood regarding authority: it strongly supported those in charge. There were special columns, such as “Brass Hats,” for the military officers which highlighted their comings and goings. There also was a column for the chaplains, the “circuit riding Sky Pilots” or “Holy Joes” (as they were sometimes rather irreverently called, especially by the veterans’ companies). FDR drew considerable praise in the CCC, much of it heartfelt. His picture often appeared on the covers of camp papers, and Happy Days closely followed his genuine interest in the new organization, which obviously was one of his favorite creations. Lyman Husted, of Company 221 at Fort Hancock, New Jersey, in “The 221st Company Psalm,” captured something of the typical attitude toward the President:
Roosevelt’s my shepherd; I shall not want:
He maketh me to lie down on straw mattresses;
He leadeth me inside a mess hall;
He restoreth to me a job.20
Along the same lines, a letter in Happy Days asserted: “I thank all those who voted Roosevelt in, because this world was about to come to an end. I vote that our honorable President keeps his seat until Gabriel blows his trumpet.”21 In addition, many of the camp papers, as well as Happy Days, had a common desire to honor earlier leaders of the nation, especially George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. They were prominently featured on covers of the February issues of the papers, and it was de rigueur for editorials to commemorate them in traditional ways.
Related to authority was the matter of discipline, which had to be addressed. The men were admonished in an editorial in the paper’s first issue that “discipline does not necessarily mean giving up our rights--more often it brings a fuller enjoyment of our rights.” The President set the issue in a broader context, noting that “this great group of men have entered upon their work on a purely voluntary basis, with no military training and we are conserving not only our national resources but our human resources.” Similarly, Robert Fechner, the CCC Director, observed, “You are workers. You are not the objects of charity, nor are you in any respect a part of the U.S. Army. You have been given jobs by the federal and state governments to do work that needs to be done.” In addition, the men were given an opportunity of finding themselves. Therefore, he concluded, “You have been sent into the forests not to just chop around with no effective aim toward a definite accomplishment.”
Still, discipline problems existed. For a time, the men took matters into their own hands, holding “kangaroo courts,” which brought to trial those who “buck[ed] the line,” and then the guilty offenders had a long paddle applied to their “nether parts” by members of the court. But this resulted in excesses and such actions were soon discontinued. Commanding officers resumed control and in extreme cases gave offenders dishonorable discharges.
Desertion was another serious problem facing the CCC which Happy Days often discussed. Many men became homesick and simply went AWOL. To cope with this “first battle of [the] conservation army,” some camps created “homesick squads”, which helped those who suffered the malady of “homesickness blues.” An editorial in the paper’s second issue noted that “to live in the woods with two hundred other men for six months or longer is an experience which relatively few men” had had the opportunity to enjoy.
Most CCC papers devoted considerable space to safety. Accidents often occurred as enrollees, unfamiliar with tools and heavy equipment, such as the ever-dangerous ax, harmed themselves or others. Truck and auto accidents were common. So were the number of deaths and serious injuries resulting from the men’s habit when going home on leave, especially in the early years, of hitching rides on freight trains. Others lost their lives from the careless use of dynamite, commonly employed on many work projects. Lightning killed others, and there were numerous cases of snakebite as men from urban areas encountered the unfamiliar wilderness and its perils. Also of considerable concern were the dangers of firefighting. Several dozen men died on the fire lines. Drownings were all too frequent, and the CCC embarked upon a never-ending campaign to give swimming and lifeguard training to as many of the enrollees as possible.22 Diseases, including “the venereal menace,” were frequent subjects for discussions, usually in articles by camp doctors.
The camp papers, reflecting Happy Days, frequently manifested an interest in current trends such as developments in aviation and radio, as well as other advancements, especially in scientific and technical fields.
In addition, the papers revealed the pros and cons of the political discussions involving the CCC that waxed and waned in this period. In fact, despite the organization’s success, opposition often surfaced. After all, not everyone in the United States supported FDR and his New Deal. In addition, if sometimes obliquely, occasional friction between CCC men and the communities they found themselves in was discussed. Commanding officers at time used the papers as lecterns, urging the enrollees to behave themselves when on leave, or when in town for the evening, and to establish firm ties with local populations. Thus, the papers functioned as public relations organs.
Numerous articles and editorials discussed how to get a job and how to conduct interviews with prospective employers while, at the same time, appealing to employers to consider hiring former CCC men who had learned discipline, embraced the work ethic, and would be good candidates for employment. The papers naturally stressed recreational pursuits, such as the formation of stamp clubs, musical groups, arts and crafts activities, and, of course, sports. Happy Days also conducted a long-running column, “Behind the Counter,” which was devoted to the business and management aspects of running a camp canteen, hoping to encourage those who might wish to make merchandising a career.
Advertising was a prominent feature of many papers, although some carried none. Happy Days certainly did, however, with ads for razor, tobacco, and candy companies, for example, being prominently displayed. It also took an active part in the establishment and nurturing of the camp papers, which emerged almost from the beginning of the CCC program and continued in large numbers until the end. It is impossible to determine which CCC newspaper was the first to appear but a likely candidate was The News, a mimeographed paper first published on April 15, 1933, at Fort Slocum, New York, one week after the first contingent of the CCC arrived to be processed. There was also the C.C.C. Bugle, produced at another army camp in Brooklyn, New York, likewise engaged in the processing of new enrollees. There would eventually be well over 5,000 camp papers published by almost 3,000 of the CCC companies, some of whose publications appeared under more than one title.23 Subsequently, many were systematically accumulated by the library at the University of Illinois and the Library of Congress. These collections were eventually taken over by the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago, and, supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, were preserved in microform, either microfilm or microfiche.24
STRESSING CREATIVITY AND ORIGINALITY
The first papers were mimeographed, and this form of reproduction was the norm throughout the career of the CCC. However, there were some printed papers while others were produced by the presses of local newspapers or commercial print shops. The most frequent publisher was typically a journalism class created in the company usually by the educational adviser, who at times edited the paper. However, sometimes a frustrated, unemployed newsman in the CCC saw an opportunity to use his expertise in bringing out a camp paper.25 Some of the papers were actually magazines, usually monthlies, and had as many as fifty pages of mimeographed material. Other papers were published as semi-monthlies or weeklies, and a few editors attempted to bring out dailies. Sheets appearing irregularly were also common, reflecting the difficulties of maintaining a staff, obtaining supplies, or finding the means of publication, and the further handicaps of pressing work demands, blizzards, forest fires, or floods. Papers often had runs of several months or years, sometimes with name changes; others appeared for a much shorter time.
The ideal paper was a weekly mimeographed sheet, with a stylish, colorful cover, good makeup, and clearly written, creative editorials, articles and features focusing on a camp’s life and activities, rather than on national or international news. It might have had advertising and would have had sections or columns devoted to wit and humor, as well as sports and entertainment, with some emphasis on the educational program and safety matters. Happy Days, the perennial arbiter of the camp papers, favored the mimeographed sheets over the far fewer printed ones, insisting that professionally printed papers detracted from creativity and originality. In addition, they were generally more expensive, which was always a matter of concern.
Happy Days featured articles such as “Camp Paper Comment”; “We Liked, This Week”; “With the Camp Journalists”; “How They Stand” (a column that ranked the papers); and “The Hell Box.” All were intended to assist editors and staffers in producing the best paper possible. The preparation of the stencils required for the mimeographed papers--always a challenge--was discussed in great detail, together with proper makeup and all other aspects of producing a paper. To encourage the improvement of the papers, Happy Days eventually established a ranking system, awarding stars for various levels of performance in several categories, such as weeklies, dailies, and monthlies, and whether the paper was printed or mimeographed. Though some of the papers’ editors professed to go their own way and refused to be guided by Happy Days, the rankings were closely, even eagerly, watched. When a paper attained a five-star rating, the highest possible, there was rejoicing in the fortunate camp, and sometimes a banquet was held to celebrate.26
Though the papers varied widely in quality, given the limitations of the mimeographed form, many functioned at an impressively high level and were characterized by vivacity, style, originality, and imagination, and many excellent editors and writers emerged. One example of originality appeared in the titles of the papers. There was perhaps considerable discussion and interest, and no doubt often enthusiasm, manifested by those involved in naming their paper. Nonetheless, some were traditional, predictable, and prosaic. Therefore, Spotlights, Tattlers, Trail Blazers, Beacons and Chanticleers abounded. Some editors were less certain as to how to name their papers, and simply used a “?” as a title. In Wellston, Michigan, Company 679’s editor made do with “U” Name It for the unit’s weekly before deciding to call it the Hoxeyville Daze. Seeking to involve the enrollees in naming the paper of Company 1814 of Duncan, Arizona, the editor temporarily selected the name, What Shall We Call It? until a final decision was made to employ The Mill Whistle. At least two companies despaired of finding a proper name for their papers, leaving them at the Nameless News. Occasionally, two or more organizations combined to produce a paper, sharing the name. Such was the case with Companies 1951 and 2950, both of Lompoc, California, which published the 51-50 weekly.
Many titles, in various ways, embodied the names of the home states of the men in camp, as in The Alabama-Georgian of Company 478 of Crawfordville, Georgia. When the camp moved to Bastrop, Louisiana, the paper was renamed The Alagala, accommodating the influx of Louisiana enrollees. Yet another move to Florida resulted in the title Our Fla La Ala Ga. The whimsical Arkan-sawyer played on the name of the home of the men of Company 4799 involved in the new life of forestry work at Kettle Falls, Washington. Indeed, the men from Arkansas seemed particularly inclined to include some reference to their home state in the names of their papers. Another example was The Arkansas Traveler of Company 3780, in Big Sur, California, perhaps reflecting a bit of homesickness. Later called the Arkifornian, no doubt when the men became better accustomed to their new domicile, the paper was eventually continued as The Big Sur Babble.
A common device was to focus on the locations where the men were stationed. Airs of Ozone, of Company 1708 of Ozone, Arkansas, is a good example. Others included The Big Bar Battler, of Company 996 in Big Bar, California; The Cammal’s Hump, of Company 365 at Cammal, Pennsylvania; the Vernal Journal, of Company 1507 at Vernal, Utah; and the Zigzag Zephyr, of Company 928 at Zigzag, Oregon.
Equally understandable was that many of the papers’ titles referred--sometimes with pride--to the specific jobs that the men did. The Infant Tree, published by Company 3882 at Grass Valley, California, had a double meaning: a reference to the quasi-military discipline and the forestry activities with which the men were by then familiar. The Mononga-healer pointed to the conservation work along the Monongahela River carried out by Company 2590 of Neola, West Virginia. The Sod Saver’s Rag, of Company 2737 of Fullerton, Nebraska, requires no comment. Many companies engaged in dam construction seized the opportunity to use the word “dam,” considered a bit daring for the times, in the names of their papers, as did Company 2735 in Seneca, Kansas, when it chose By A Dam Site. Company 1231 of Iona Island, New York, selected The Dam(n) Builder, and Companies 205 and 219 at Cherryplain, New York, reveled in their paper’s title, This “Dam” Thing. Some of the names incorporated clever or coined expressions of interest, as in the case of The Lyman Rickey of Company 292 of Lyman, Washington. Other examples included the O’lustee Cheer of Company 453, Olustee, Florida; Spartan Life of Company 4474, Spartanburg, South Carolina; The Un-conchas of Company 3351, Conchas Dam, New Mexico; and The Umpqua Oompah of Company 1990, Medford, Oregon, which was a reference to the river that ran through the area. Someone of a literary bent brought forth Tobacco Road for Company 1156, Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. Others similarly inclined produced Uncle Sam’s Cabin of Company 3545, Pathfork, Kentucky, and the Poe Valley Ravin’ for Company 1333, Coburn, Pennsylvania.
Other papers gloried in the challenges posed by the CCC, which contributed to the renewed spirit of “can do.” The sheet of Company 2541 at Kirkland, Arizona, was certain that the CCC was the Depression Cure, as its title suggested. The new spirit also was trumpeted in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, by Company 887’s We-kan-tak-it, a reference to the CCC’s motto, while in Meyers Falls, Washington, Company 602 called its paper Upanatem. The perky Hi-de-hi-de-ho manifested the high spirits of a company of black enrollees (number 4487) in Anderson, South Carolina. Others paid homage to the president, as did Company 322 of Edinburg, Virginia, in the Rooseveltian.
The 1930s were dust bowl days and these hard facts were alluded to in some of the titles, as in Gusts O’Dust of Company 3827, which was located in Springfield, Colorado, at the heart of that state’s dust bowl, and The Sandpaper, Company 3811’s paper produced in equally-dusty Lamesa, Texas. In the depths of Death Valley, California, the men of Company 912 chose the appropriate Boca del Infierno to adorn their paper’s masthead. The veterans’ companies sometimes selected names indicative of their wartime experiences. However, the men of Company 2431 in Lillington, North Carolina, parodied the title of World War I’s The Stars and Stripes, calling theirs the Scars and Gripes.
Inevitably, there was a considerable range in quality among the papers. Geography even entered into the picture. For some reason, an unusually large number of first-rate papers were published by companies in Minnesota, Missouri, and California, a fact at which Happy Days repeatedly marveled. In Minnesota, The Sullivanite of Company 719 at Brimson, possessed perhaps the best editor that the CCC produced, at least according to Happy Days, in Bob Morin, one of “Minnesota’s mighty men.” Long regarded as topflight was The Seagullite, published by Company 3709 in Grand Marais, which was once called by Happy Days, “the snappiest weekly this [paper] ever laid eyes on.”27 There was also the “bellicose” and “warlike” The Walkerite of Company 3709 of Walker. Boasting the motto “the paper with the punch,” it sometimes criticized Happy Days.28 Companies in Missouri, stung by the praise often accorded Minnesota papers, responded with many of the CCC’s outstanding sheets. One of the best--and most controversial--was Swan Lake Splashes, published by Company 1727 in Sumner. Calling itself “the glamour paper of the C.C.C.” and “the spicy paper of the C.C.C.,” it insisted on presenting the lighter side of camp life, eschewing the “dull moralizing” which it regarded as all-too-common in the CCC press. It also caused a furor by publishing a cover featuring a thinly-clad belly dancer, thereby pushing the limits of what was acceptable in publishing at the time. For this, it received a strong scolding from Happy Days and numerous scalding comments in other papers.29 Other good Missouri issues included Roaring River Ripples, published by Company 1713 in Cassville, which featured the excellent art work of Tobie Watkins, and the Chilli Con Chats of Company 1716 in Chillicothe, which also had remarkable art.
One of the most interesting of California’s numerous excellent sheets was the Tabloid Owl, the brainchild of Company 909 at Highland. This exceptional, entertaining paper’s motto was “a paper for people who think they think.” The Hoy-La of Company 985 in Santa Barbara was known throughout the CCC for its goofy, highly-inventive covers, featuring humorous Rube Goldberg-like inventions and absurd convolutions.
To be sure, exceptional publications appeared throughout the country. Among the best was Shell Shocks of Company 1572 in Lebanon, Ohio, which possessed one of the best columnists, Harry McCue, according to Happy Days. The Triangle Tirade, the handiwork of Company 2390 in Salem, Virginia, frequently included creative cartoons by the editor, R. Lemon, described as “another Petty,” which rated “extra cheers.”30 Indian enrollees produced several good papers, as did editor H.W. Lookingglass at the Kiowa Indian Agency in Fort Cobb, Oklahoma, who presided over the Chieftain. Some good papers appeared outside the United States. Company 9502 at Kamuela, Hawaii, brought out the interesting Ka Leo Oka Makani O Kamuela (“The Voice of the Wind”). Also noteworthy were The Alaskan, produced by the CCC Admiralty Division Headquarters, 6th Corps area, in Juneau, and El Verde, the Spanish-language monthly of the CCC Miscellaneous Company in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. As a group, the papers of the veterans’ companies were generally considerably better than those of the younger enrollees. After all, these older members had more experience with life in general, and camp life was not a new situation for them. Happy Days, in a reference to The Bass River Veteran of Company 2201 in New Gretna, New Jersey, acknowledged that the paper was “devoid of the impetuosity that is [sometimes] evident in papers published by junior outfits.” Furthermore, its news stories and features revealed a “keen sense of understanding” that perhaps only more mature editors and writers could produce.31
As noted above, Minnesota camps produced an unusually large number of
superior papers. The veterans’ camps there were no exception. The Veteran’s
Voice of Company 1774, at Rochester, regularly displayed humorous covers
and thoughtful editorials and articles. On occasion, it criticized Happy
Days for such things as its often uncritical support of
authority and its alleged prudishness. There were also good veterans’ publications in other states. The most distinctive was The Ponderosa Veteran of Company 2936 in Usk, Washington, the first printed paper to win five stars. Happy Days once referred to it as “’Public Inspiration No. 1’ in CCC journalism.”32
The papers produced by many of the black companies received special attention, with Happy Days praising them for being “up to the standards of many papers with less handicaps.”33 Members of these organizations obviously appreciated the opportunity to express themselves, and they published numerous first-rate papers. Several themes were common, foremost being attempts to promote racial solidarity and a sense of the worth of black people in the United States. In addition, the needs for the men were articulated to develop and improve themselves by a focus on education, development of a work ethic, and attention to personal conduct, health, and general appearance. Many of the papers emphasized the accomplishments of notable blacks, such as Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, the latter sharing billing with Lincoln and Washington as three of “February’s Immortals.”34 To the same ends, The Border Tab of Company 2924 at Jamul, California, published an on-going page, “Who’s Who in Colored U.S.A.,” and The Trojan of Company 2694 in Bitely, Michigan, included articles on the history of blacks and their rightful place in American society.35 One of the best of the black papers was The Muskingum Totem of Company 1521 in Zanesville, Ohio. When it received a five-star rating in the August 12, 1939, issue of Happy Days, the camp enthusiastically celebrated with a sumptuous banquet. The Big Apple Gazette, published by Company 246 at Panama, New York, was likewise warmly praised by Happy Days on several occasions.
HUMOR AND JOKES
As for the content of CCC papers, a sampler of selected topics is in order. Humor was an unfailing staple. Several perennial subjects were commonplace, such as a preoccupation with the Scots, revolving around their proverbial stinginess. For instance, the Rock Hound, published by Company 855 in El Paso, Texas, printed the following on June 9, 1934: “Scotchman (extending his pipe to his best friend): ‘Take a wee puff, Mac. We have a new baby at our house’.” Blacks came in for their share of jokes, too, as did women. An anonymous poem in The Veteran’s Voice of Company 1774 in Rochester, Minnesota, was typical:
A giddy young gal from Saint Paul
Wore a newspaper dress to a ball;
The dress caught on fire
And burned her entire, sport section,
Front page and all.36
The interest in women provided camp editors with opportunities to test the limits of what was acceptable in print. They skated as closely as they dared to what was ordinarily regarded as too risque. Co. 299 News, in one of its “Laffs” columns, published two examples: “Sometimes a girl is like a typewriter keyboard. If you touch the wrong places you get terrible words.” And: “The skin you love to touch is generally covered up.”37 More acceptable was an entry in the “Groans and Giggles” column of The Harbinger:
Here’s to the ships of our navy
And the ladies of our land
May the first be ever well-rigged
And the latter ever well-manned.”38
Also regarding humor, camp members were singled out for gibes, comment, and discussion, more often than not featuring the relationships between enrollees and the fairer sex in neighboring towns or cities. The peculiar and unusual habits of the men were fair game as well. To exploit these, Walter Winchell was widely copied, and numerous papers introduced gossip columns, such as the provocative “Vulture Winchell” in The Wamego, the sheet of Company 1662 of West Branch, Michigan.
Happy Days almost always featured jokes and borrowed widely from the camp papers to fill its humor columns. Alpine Echo of Company 1921 in Fairfax, California, was one of its favorite sources. The editors of Happy Days once bragged, “We swipe most of our jokes from Alpine Echo and tell ‘em to friends over at Harry’s Bar. They’re always good for a drink.”39 Health was another prominent subject in the CCC press. Tobacco, which was heavily advertised, especially in Happy Days, was generally regarded as a health hazard, though not always. The Heppner Roundup did not consider it so, and in an article, “Tobacco--Is it Harmful?” argued that tobacco had been a great boon and solace to the soldiers in the trenches in World War I and concluded it also could be beneficial to the enrollees in the CCC. Much less acceptable was toleration of the common housefly, which suddenly in mid-1937 was identified as the carrier of the dreaded disease, polio. Immediately, camp papers launched extermination campaigns against the insect. Hooey, the camp paper of Company 553 in Yellow Springs, Ohio, produced a cover featuring the fly in great detail, identifying it as “Public Enemy No. 1 of the CCC,” and Whozit? of Company 1519 in Nigh, Kentucky, published a series of clever cartoons to the same ends.40
Safety was also a matter of pressing concern, and special pages or columns were devoted to it. A common form was the safety jingle, such as the following which appeared in The Dugout, the paper of Company 2625 of Hales Corners, Wisconsin:
They missed the turn
The car was wizzin’
The fault was her’n;
The CCC papers are useful sources to the cultural and social historian.
The development of slang, for example, both concerning the CCC and society
at large, can be followed in their pages. In this regard, the Pine Needle,
the paper of a black company, Company 237 in New Lisbon, New Jersey, paid
close attention to “jive talk” as in its column, “The Jive Box.”42
The paper of another black company, The Trojan of Company 2694 in Bitely,
Michigan, similarly produced a continuing column, “Jive Around the Lake,”
which was intended to inform “All Hep Cats in Swingology.”43
The CCC papers were rich in accounts chronicling the many and varied projects undertaken by the organization. For example, The Alaskan, published in Juneau, ran a series of articles recounting the restoration of Indian totem poles and the resurrecting of native culture in the area. As the war drew near, CCC men from camps in Washington and Oregon were used in airfield construction on Alaska’s Annette Island, and their progress was documented.44 In Colorado, Company 1848 at Morrison found itself engaged in one of the largest and most difficult projects undertaken by the Corps: the construction of Red Rocks theater, which is still in use. The effort’s progress was followed by the company’s paper, the Red Rocks Echo.
Another subject widely discussed was the introduction of military drill in the CCC. While many enrollees were in favor of it, many others, including members of various veterans’ companies, were not. In any case, FDR and the War Department were against it for various reasons, and it was not until late in CCC history, in August 1941, that minimal drill was introduced in the camps.45 Some men did not wait for the government to act. Patriotism and a certain sense of urgency was particularly pronounced in Hawaii, and long before Pearl Harbor the enrollees of several Hawaiian companies volunteered for military drill, both before and after work hours on their own time.46
To a surprising degree, journalism in the CCC, including Happy Days, paid little attention to the worsening international situation as the 1930s unfolded. As the editor of The Glen, the paper of Company 275 in Moravia, New York, once wrote, “the camp paper is an interpreter of a small world,” in other words, the individual CCC camp. Time, Jr. of Company 293 in Jackson, California, agreed, understanding that its masthead motto, “All the news that fits,” applied to local affairs. There were exceptions. Occasionally, dictatorships were attacked, usually on the grounds of their being undemocratic. However, there was little understanding of the nature of Fascism and Nazism, as well as of Japanese militarism, and the accounts were usually naive in the extreme.47 The Italo-Ethiopian War was reported in the pages of the Pine Needle, the paper of Company 237, a black company in New Lisbon, New Jersey. The Mosquito Chaser, the paper of Company 1203 at Port Byron, New York, which had a large number of enrollees of Czech origin, was naturally concerned with the problems of Czechoslovakia. It devoted considerable space to that nation’s affairs, especially during the Munich crisis of the autumn of 1938, which resulted in Czechoslovakia’s dismemberment.48
Whether the United States should become involved in foreign affairs was also a matter of concern to men in the CCC, as in the nation at large. Happy Days generally remained objective about such matters, but many of the camp papers were more vocal. One strong faction demanded that the nation embrace a neutral stance. The Vets’ Voice of Company 1774 in Bayport, Minnesota, declared in December 1939, “It used to be ‘Hold ‘er, Newt’, but now it’s ‘Hold ‘er Neutral!’” However, as war clouds thickened, the paper came out for an ever-stronger defense policy and began to wonder why the veterans were not being utilized to a greater extent in national defense programs. After Pearl Harbor, the paper was indignant that the veterans seemed to be largely ignored.49 In like manner, the Tamarack Times of Company 297 in Priest River, Idaho, earlier asserted: “Let us hope that we have seen the last of these conflicts in which we have had to sacrifice so much of our country’s blood.” Yet it, too, followed the general course of the Vet’s Voice and its change in attitudes.50
Unaccountably, there was a paucity of war news in the CCC press immediately after the Japanese attack on Hawaii. Apparently, editors were of the opinion that the men were already well informed by the press and radio of the details. Therefore, many December 1941 and January 1942 issues of camp papers focused mainly on company matters and the usual scene at camp. As for the future of the CCC and the fate of individual enrollees, many papers counseled calmness and urged a “wait and see” attitude. The Border Tab, the paper of a black company, Number 2924 in Jamul, California, congratulated the men for the general calmness that they had exhibited following the attack. It asked them to observe the blackout orders and to prepare to defend their area in the event of air attacks. The paper also published instructions on how to fight incendiary bombs and cope with gas attacks. Only in the May 1942 issue of the paper were the men exhorted to cease wearing their “drape suits,” because “WE ARE AT WAR” and cloth was needed for the war effort.51 Also with the coming of war, the commander of Company 2142 at Poultney, Vermont, urged the men in the unit’s paper, The Poultney Slate, to “Keep your shirt on” and not rush out to volunteer for the armed forces. After all, the CCC was fully engaged in vital activities dedicated to the preservation of the nation’s natural resources and was, in any case, already organized for the nation’s defense. Happy Days applauded this attitude, publishing the commander’s remarks in an editorial.52
But unavoidably, the CCC’s papers soon reflected the sterner times, though optimism was still the predominant tone. With little sensationalism, the Broadcast of Company 1742 in Tarkio, Missouri, in its December 1941 issue calmly affirmed its confidence in ultimate victory and urged everyone to do his duty. More forthrightly, the Daily Voice of Company 491 in Warrenton, Oregon, affixed a new slogan to its masthead: “One More Day Nearer Victory,” and Company 3336 at Snow Hill, Missouri, adopted the provocative title, The Dive Bomber, as the name of its company sheet. Soon camp papers were printing letters from former members of companies in the armed forces. These often looked back with nostalgia at the good times that they had enjoyed in the Corps and also informed the men as to what to expect if they entered military service.
What seemed suddenly pressing in early 1942 was what the fate of the CCC might be in the new war conditions. Indeed, the nation was rushing toward full employment, and millions were soon to be enrolled in the armed forces. There seemed little need now for the Corps. In particular, Happy Days feared that the organization’s days were numbered. There were momentary hopes that the CCC might be used to construct the Alaskan Highway when that project was broached, but that was an idle dream. What the CCC did contribute was most of its heavy equipment, and following this transfer to the Army, the end of the CCC seemed in sight. Such proved to be the case, and editors closely followed the last debates in Congress on the organization’s fate. This came on June 30, 1942, when Congress voted to cut off its funding, ending a nine-year, three-month existence. Soon all the camps were disbanded and with them the publication of the camp newspapers. Happy Days brought out its last CCC edition on August 8, 1942, and then continued as the Civilian Front. In any case, Ryder was by now more interested in the Army Times, which he had founded in 1940.
To be sure, the camp papers were quite often poor productions. Never mastering the use of the mimeograph, some editors produced pages that were so faint as to be illegible. Other papers were merely cobbled together, lacking sound makeup. In yet others, articles and editorials were inane and commonplace; poetry was beneath the level of doggerel; cartoons were little more than stick figures; and the wit was heavy-handed or sarcastic as authors unsuccessfully strived for irony. Nevertheless, outlets were provided for the men to express their deepest sentiments as well as their hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations and desires. In the course of their publication work, many enrollees learned things about life in general, about writing or drawing, and more important for some, how to produce a newspaper. Numerous careers in the publishing field were launched in this way.
Undoubtedly, CCC journalism is of lasting importance and significance. Happy Days discussed all facets of the CCC in its pages, and it remains a rich repository for any detailed study of this New Deal creation. A prominent camp paper, The Seagullite, put the matter in perspective, observing that “the history of Happy Days is the history of the CCC. No organization ever had a better organ. Readable and entertaining, it presents news of Corps interest fairly and impartially. Its files are a record of everything of importance that ever vitally concerned the CCC.”53 As for the camp papers, despite their shortcomings and limitations, most of the CCC journals endeavored to build camp morale; sought to interpret to outsiders, including the homefolks, CCC and other officials as well as other companies on routine exchanges lists, what their camps were all about; and served as diaries and repositories of the histories of individual companies.54 As Marlys Rudeen, at the Center of Research Libraries in Chicago, who played a major role in the preservation of the camp papers, has written, they are valuable sources for the student of 1930s America and remain key “primary documentation of the day-to-day activities, amusements and musings of the young men who participated in one of the most extensive social relief programs in U.S. history.”55
1. The paper was so named because the company was stationed at Kanona,
2. There were only a few experiments in the establishing of CCC-type camps for girls and women. These were rather fatuously called “She-She-She” camps by male CCC members.
3. This order created the Emergency Conservation Work [ECW], which was unofficially referred to as the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC did not become the official title of this work until June 28, 1937, when it was designated as such by Congress. See Kenneth Holland and Frank Ernest Hill, Youth in the CCC (Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education, 1942), note 2, p. 7. This Act is conveniently reproduced in Ovid Butler, ed., Youth Rebuilds: Stories From the C.C.C. (Washington, D.C.: The American Forestry Association, 1934), pp. 188-89. The President also appointed the secretaries (or their representatives) of the departments of Agriculture, Interior, War, and Labor as members of an Advisory Council to the Director of the CCC. The Office of the Director was located in Washington, D.C., and consisted of the divisions of Selection, Investigations, Safety, Planning and Public Relations, Research and Statistics, and Automotive and Priorities. Liaison officers and special investigators made up the field staff.
There have been numerous studies of the CCC. These include the standard work by John A. Salmond, The Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942: A New Deal Case Study (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, l967); Leslie Alexander Lacy, The Soil Soldiers. The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Great Depression (Radnor, Pennsylvania: Chilton Book Company, 1976); John D. Guthrie, Saga of the CCC (Washington, D.C.: American Forestry Association, 1942); an account by the organization’s last director, James J. McEntee, Now They Are Men: The Story of the CCC (Washington, D.C.: National Home Library
Foundation, 1940); and an extensive report by the American Youth Commission, The Civilian Conservation Corps (Washington, D.C.: The American Youth Commission, 1940). A pictorial presentation of interest is Stan B. Cohen, The Tree Army: A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942 (Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1980). A useful bibliography has been compiled by the Office of the Director, Civilian Conservation Corps, Civilian Conservation Corps Bibliography: A List of References on the United States Civilian Conservation Corps (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Director, Civilian Conservation Corps, 1939). The major archival source for study of the CCC is Record Group 35 in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The basic finding aid is: Douglas Helms, Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Civilian Conservation Corps (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1980).
4. The CCC eventually identified over 150 types of work that it performed. Later projects included transportation improvements in many parts of the nation, involving the building of hundreds of miles of roads and thousands of bridges as well as airport construction. Also, range development programs were undertaken, as were wildlife surveys and construction to aid in wildlife preservation. In addition, the men built thousands of dams, some rather large concrete ones, for flood control.
5. Some of the enrollees’ stories and reflections on life in the CCC are recounted in Butler, Youth Rebuilds. See also Alfred C. Oliver, Jr., and Harold M. Dudley, This New America: The Spirit of the Civilian Conservation Corps (London: Longmans, Green and Company, 1937); Helen M. Walker, et al, The CCC Through the Eyes of 272 Boys (Cleveland: Western Reserve University Press, 1938); and Edwin G. Hill, In the Shadow of the Mountain: The Spirit of the CCC (Pullman, Washington: Washington State University Press, 1990).
6. When Fechner died on December 31, 1939, Roosevelt appointed James J. McEntee, also a vice president of the International Association of Machinists and Fechner’s assistant, as his replacement.
7. For details of these operations see Holland and Hill, Youth in the CCC, pp. 25-42.
8. The Veterans Administration was authorized on May 11, 1933, to begin selecting qualified veterans. By 1941, there were about 150 camps made up of World War I veterans. The Office of Indian Affairs began its involvement on July 1, 1933.
9. See Holland and Hill, Youth in the CCC, note 5, p. 32.
10. The military’s involvement was the source of an often bitter debate in the nation. Fearing militarism, there was considerable opposition to anything of this nature being associated with the CCC. See Ann Thedford Lanier, “The Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942. Organizational Structure and Social Effects,” unpublished MA Thesis in Sociology, University of Colorado, 1983, pp. 128-145; Charles W. Johnson, “The Army and the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-42,” Prologue, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Fall, 1972); and a Communist pamphlet by James Lasswell, Shovels and Guns: The CCC in Action (New York: International Publishers, 1935). Albert W. Jernberg, a reserve U.S. Army Air Corps officer who commanded several CCC companies, including a camp for black enrollees, presented a vivid account of his four years of service in My Brush Monkeys: A Narrative of the CCC (New York: Richard R. Smith, 1941). A useful semi-fictitious, but generally accurate unpublished narrative by another officer, “Naturally,” is located in the Edwin W. Jones Papers, U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
11. For educational developments in the Corps, see Frank Ernest Hill, The School in the Camps: The Educational Program of the Civilian Conservation Corps (New York: American Association for Adult Education, 1935).
12. Many new enrollees were informed as to what to expect in their camp life by the guidebook by Ned Harland Dearborn, Once in a Lifetime: A Guide to the CCC Camp (New York: Charles E. Merrill Company, 1935).
13. See brief account of camp newspapers in McEntee, Now They Are Men, pp. 40-41.
14. The new paper was published by the Happy Days Publishing Company. Its offices were located in the National Press Building in Washington, D.C. The cost of a paper was five cents per copy, three cents in the camps, or one could subscribe for six months for one dollar. Hoyt later wrote a widely circulated, popular book which he sold through the paper’s office:“We Can Take It”: A Short Story of the C.C.C. (New York: American Book Company, 1935). In 1940, Ryder, sensing another opportunity, launched the Army Times to cater to the journalistic needs of the growing United States Army. This created the Army Times Publishing Company, which still publishes Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, and Defense News. Microfilmed collections of Happy Days are in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Hoover Institute Library,
Stanford, California; and The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison.
15. See Alfred E. Cornebise, The Stars and Stripes: Doughboy Journalism in World War I (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1984).
16. Happy Days, May 20, 1933. Throughout its career, Happy Days paid one dollar and sometimes five dollars for such things as: “the what-how-why” of smiles; the best photos of camp sites; and a nickname for the CCC. The winning name was “civies,” though another suggestion, “peavie”, a tool with an iron hook used in the forests to handle logs, came into general use. The winning name was largely ignored. Henceforth, enrollees were often called “peavies.” Some of the names rejected included: “Sapling Soldiers,” “Messkiteers,” “Forestreers,” “Doughless Boys,” “Roosevelt’s Timber Tailors,” and “Depression Breakers.” Songs were desired, especially devoted to the CCC, with the paper suggesting a possible title: “We don’t have to say Buddy Can You Spare a Dime Anymore.” Mottos also were considered. The winner was “We can take it.” In addition, the paper sponsored contests seeking to locate the best athletes in the camps and who was the tallest, shortest, and oldest enrollee as well as which company could boast the youngest commanding officer. Many of these matters also had earlier concerned The Stars and Stripes.
17. Happy Days, May 27 and June 3, 1933.
18. Happy Days, May 20, 1933.
19. Baldridge’s first cartoon was “Peeling Spuds,” establishing some continuity with the nation’s World War I military experience. Many veterans remembered KP or “kitchen police.” See Ibid.
20. Happy Days, June 10, 1933.
21. Letter from James A. Spencer, Company 611, Estacada, Oregon, Happy Days, July 29, 1933.
22. Yet, the men took considerable pride in their new skills, which the camp papers, and especially Happy Days, fostered. On the safety issue, Happy Days featured a “Safety Jingles” column, paying one dollar to enrollees for any of their jingles published in the paper.
23. A survey in Happy Days early in 1937 noted that of the 2,095 camps in existence, 1,677 (80 percent) published camp newspapers. See Happy Days, January 23, 1937.
24. The Center for Research Libraries in Chicago, Illinois, obtained the collections of the University of Illinois and the Library of Congess, and between July 1, 1988, and March 31, 1991, supported by grants from the National endowment for the Humanities as well as its own funds, organized the papers for preservation in microform. An excellent, detailed finding aid was also prepared: Marlys Rudeen, comp., The Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Papers: a
Guide (Chicago: The Center for Research Libraries, 1991). See also Marlys Rudeen, et al, “Final Performance Report CCC Camp Papers Project” (Chicago: Center for Research Libraries, 1991), p. 1. The University of Illinois Collection, initiated by P.L. Windsor, the library’s director, began in September 1934. There are discussions in Happy Days, February 24 and August 31, 1940. Two other collections of CCC camp newspapers which were not included in this project are located at The Idaho State Historical Society in Boise and The Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln.
25. Typical of the experienced journalists so involved was a former newspaperman, Harold H. Buckles, who launched the mimeographed sheet, 847-Log, for Company 857 in Encampment, Wyoming. See his story in Butler, Youth Rebuilds, pp. 163-166.
26. See photo of The Quail Call editor of Company 1953 in King City, California, cutting a “five-star cake” in Happy Days, November 23, 1940. Exactly five years before, the paper had set up the star merit system. See Ibid., November 23, 1935.
27. Happy Days, November 19, 1938.
28. The Walkerite‘s editor was L. H. Lindstrom, who had edited several outstanding CCC papers including, The Sea Gull Times, The Seagullite, and The Deer Lake Echo. In his view, his long experience as a camp newspaperman was better than a four-year college education. See Happy Days, June 1, 1940, and discussion in The Seagullite, April 25, 1939.
29. The offending cover appeared on the front of Swan Lake Splashes in August 1940. The paper also had its admirers, especially veterans’ papers. Vets’ Voice of Company 1774 in Bayport, Minnesota, wrote that Splashes was the “grabbed-first-to-look-over” paper on the exchange list. See Swan Lake Splashes, September 20, 1940.
30. Happy Days, August 6, 1938.
31. Happy Days, October 22, 1938.
32. Happy Days, March 30, 1940. See also discussions in Happy Days, October 14, 1939, and May 4, 1940.
33. Happy Days, June 5, 1937.
34. See, for example, the Pine Needle, Companies 235 and 237, New Lisbon, New Jersey, February 1939.
35. The Trojan, under the dynamic leadership of the educational adviser, Bert M. Miller, also strongly supported the educational program of the company and in other ways sought to motivate the black enrollees to improve themselves.
36. The Veteran’s Voice, March 1938.
37. In the November 22, 1934 issue. Co. 299 News was published by Company 299, Masonville, New York.
38. The Harbinger, April 9, 1937. This paper was published by Company 698, Argyle, Wisconsin.
39. Happy Days, March 12, 1938.
40. The Heppner Roundup, Company 297, Heppner, Oregon, December 1937; Hooey, May 22, 1937; Whozit?, May 28, 1937.
41. As quoted in Happy Days, March 21, 1942.
42. Pine Needle, August 1938.
43. The Trojan, October-November, 1940.
44. The Alaskan, March 20, May 20, June 20 and September 1940.
45. Happy Days, August 16, 1941. The new instructions provided for fifteen minutes of drill a day, five days per week, of the regulation army infantry drill for unarmed troops. The President was opposed for political reasons. The Army knew that mere drilling would do little to prepare men for war in the modern era. The War Department wanted the CCC to concentrate on technical training, such as radio and auto mechanics, and even cooking.
46. Th-CCC News, paper of the CCC Headquarters of the National Park Service, Honolulu, Hawaii, October 1, 1940. As early as 1936, members of Company 3802, in Littlefield, Texas, voted for compulsory military training. See The Tumbleweed, August 17, 1936.
47. See a good example in the Tamarack Times, Company 297, Priest River, Idaho, January 1940. As The Veterans’ Voice of Company 1774 in Ely, Minnesota, flippantly observed in March 1938: “After reading the war news in the Far East during the past several months, it would seem that the Japs have made a hobby of collecting China.”
48. Mosquito Chaser, October 1938.
49. Vets’ Voice, February 13, 1942. Indeed, it remained a baffling mystery to numerous veterans--and to Happy Days--why they were not mobilized as units, even before Pearl Harbor, to be used to help train the men soon to be drafted. Later, when war came, many hoped that a veterans division would be raised for combat duty. See discussion in the Vets Lament, Company 1921, Big Trees, California, August, 1940. One veteran, a former World War I captain, grimly asserted when war came, “I’d [even] go as a private,” but there seemed little chance of that. See The Upshot, Company 1572, St. Paris, Ohio, December 1941
50. Tamarack Times, June 1, 1940.
51. The Border Tab, December 1941.
52. See The Poultney Slate, December 1941; and Happy Days, December 27, 1941.
53. The Seagullite, April 25, 1939. The paper was published by Company 3709, Grand Marais, Minnesota.
54. There is a succinct, useful article on the function and role of the
CCC camp newspaper in The Harbinger, Company 698, Argyle, Wisconsin, September 11, 1936. Regarding circulation, FDR was a frequent recipient of camp papers. When he visited the CCC camps in Glacier National Park in August 1934, Company 1240 produced a “Roosevelt Edition,” of its paper, The Weekly Call, providing him with a copy. The Green Guidon, the paper of the Fort Missoula Division in Montana, dedicated its August 3, 1934, issue to the President and presented him a hand-lettered edition. He regularly received issues of The Meriwether Tri-C News, the paper of Company 1429 in Warm Springs, Georgia, which he often visited. A paper with a certain flair for publicity, The Harbinger of Company 698 in Argyle, Wisconsin, sent copies of its paper to the Governor of Wisconsin, Postmaster General James A. Farley, and even Bing Crosby, who answered in a letter that he hoped that “all the boys are taking every advantage of their opportunities at camp.” See The Harbinger, September and October, 1939.
55. Rudeen, “Final Performance Report,” p. 1.