A Musical Tribute to the Civilian Conservation Corps
Press Release Michigan based author Bill Jamerson will present a music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Kalona Public Library on Thursday, April 16, at 6:30 pm. The CCC’s worked with dozens of farmers in Johnson County on soil erosion control projects. The presentation includes telling stories, singing original songs, showing a video clip and reading excerpts from his novel. Jamerson has performed at dozens of CCC reunions around the countryand at CCC built national and state parks. The presentation is as entertaining as it is important; as honest as it is fun. It’s about people both ordinary and extraordinary, with stories of wit, strength and charm.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a federal works program created in 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt in the heart of The Great Depression. During its nine year run, 49,000 thousand young men served in Iowa. The enrollees were paid $1 a day with $25 sent home to their families each month. The money put food on the table for the families back home. There was an average of 29 camps in operation in Iowa for each year including camps in Iowa City, Sigourney, Fairfield, Solon, and Mt Pleasant. The money the CCC Boys spent in towns on the weekends helped keep merchants in business.
The CCC planted over 30 million trees in Iowa, built bridges, erected telephone poles, and constructed hundreds of miles of roads. In southeast Iowa the number one job was working on farms
repairing gullies, terracing hills, digging ponds, and soil conservation projects. The CCC also stocked fish in rivers and lakes, repaired river banks, and fought forest fires. CCC Boys also built half a dozen state parks including Beed’s Lake, Lake McBride, Black Hawk State Park, Stone State Park, Lake Wapello, Lake Keomah, Gull Point, Fort Defiance, Ledges, Lacey Keosauqua and Clear Lake. The CCC built the lodges, bath houses, shelters, hiking trails, water fountains and also park furniture. The camps not only revitalized Iowa’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 CCC in 1937. He joins two hundred other young men at a work camp 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.
Some of the songs Jamerson performs with his guitar include Franklin D., written by an appreciative CCC Boy. Chowtime, a fun look at the camp food. City Slicker, which tells of the mischief the boys create in the woods and Wood Tick is about the nicknames locals gave to the CCC. Tree Plantin’, Fire Fightin’ Blues is about the hardships of work out in the woods. The folk songs range from heartwarming ballads to foot stomping jigs.
Along with a novel and CD of songs on the CCC, Jamerson has produced a PBS film, Camp Forgotten, which aired on 58 TV stations across the Midwest. He will talk about enrollees he has met over the years and CCC projects he has visited. Former CCC’ers and their families are encouraged to attend and requested to bring photo albums and CCC memorabilia. For more information please call the library at 656-3501 or visit Jamerson’s website at: www.billjamerson.com.
General information about the CCC can be found at http://www.ccclegacy.org/
Author available for interview at 906-4209-3100. Photos are also available on the PRESS page of the website.