Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The CCC and WW II preparedness

CCC Camp Rock Creek, California

Last night I watched the episode of American Experience on PBS about the Civilian Conservation Corps. Yes, I had learned about this New Deal program in school but I had no idea about the CCC's contribution to making it possible for us to enter the conflict and then prevail in the Second World War.

Here's that part of the transcript:

Houston Pritchett, Joined the CCC in 1939: I was in the CC’s for 23 months and four days, never forget it. And I left because they was gonna take the men out of the CC and send them straight in the army. It’s time for us to make a move.

Harley Jolley, Joined the CCC in 1937: The coming of Pearl Harbor and the movement of the United States into World War Two brought an enormous demand for manpower. That was the axe that killed the CCC. By July of 1942 the CCC was phased out, gone.

Vincente Ximenes, Joined the CCC in 1938: Without the CCCs, I really… I really don’t know what we would have done. We did not have an army prepared to go to war. And here was approximately two and a half or three million men who were prepared and had been organized to work together. I joined the Air Force in 1941. And they didn’t have to do a hell of a lot of training for me. I was prepared.

Houston Pritchett, Joined the CCC in 1939: Nobody didn’t have to tell you about how to make a bed and how it should be done, how to clean your clothes. And they didn’t have to tell you — if the man tell you to go do something, you didn’t ask questions, you do it. The CCC made me a man, it made me respect discipline and how to work and get along with people.

So there you have it. That most "liberal" of programs (yes, even then its detractors called it a "communist" and "socialist" approach) enabled us to enter and win that war.

The film is truly fascinating --- and inspiring, too. You can read the entire transcript right here. Highly, highly recommended.


  1. Ellie, how is your hand? ...

  2. Hi, Cathy. Thanks for asking. It's better. The arm block has worn off so I can now use a few more fingers! I'm keeping my arm in a sling most of the time since I'm supposed to keep the hand elevated. I went to work today and taught my usual Wed. morning class. I'm back home at the moment for a long lunch hour and resting up. I don't have as much pain as I was expecting - so that's good!

  3. Good to hear that your hand is doing okay -- if you ever quit blogging I'm going to really miss your posts. So get well soon, hear? LOL

    I enjoyed watching the program about the CCC, too. I did know about it before, mostly from my mom's stories about the Depression. She always told us that the park benches and the zoo buildings in our hometown were all built by CCC workers. I do not believe that the CCC was started to provide young men for the armed services, but I know that those who were in the CCC were better prepared for the military than those who were not in it.

    The Job Corps of the late 60s was meant to do the same thing as the CCC -- except it allowed females to join, too. I believe we could use a similar program right now to provide work for young people who cannot find jobs. It would help them survive without living off mom and pop -- you know, the "boomerang generation!

    I love the programs like this one with all the old photos and video of the olden days...

  4. Yes, Classof65, I heard much the same stuff from MY mother.

    Thanks for your kind words. They mean a lot to me!

  5. My dad was in the CCC and then joined the Marines for WWII.

    Hope you heal quickly.

  6. If we took the jobless, aimless young people off of the streets today and put them in something similar to the CCC, taught them discipline, a work ethic, how to get along and cooperate with a group to get things done, there would be a great deal less crime on the streets and a motivated group of young adults better prepared for meaningful lives after their service was over. In fact, I actually believe in universal service. It does not have to be military. It could be Peace Corps, VISTA, AmeriCorps, CCC, any number of ways to serve, but giving up two years for your country should be seen as a good, productive thing for for the citizen as well as the country.

  7. Ellie, I'm pleased to hear your hand isn't giving you as much pain as you thought & that you're getting better.


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