Monday, December 24, 2012

A Salute to NACCCA/CCC Legacy Chapter 44

CCC veterans gathered for an
event in Paysonm, AZ. (L-R):
James Grose, Arquimedes Fraijo, Jack
Duncan, Owen Carolan, John
McLeod (rear), Bill Millard
Fred Garcia and Mackie Clark
Chapter 44 of the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni (NACCCA) was organized in 1981 and since that time has been in continuous operation under the guidance of ten different presidents and a host of able officers including Audrey Clark who has served as our valued Chapter Secretary for many years, Fred Garcia, our Chapter Treasurer who has put in more time as a Chapter officer than anyone else, and Jack Duncan, our long-serving and most recent Chapter Vice-President. 

For those not inclined to do the math, that’s 31 years of effort, working to preserve and share the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  In that time, the Chapter has placed plaques and statues from one end of Arizona to the other; plaques in places like Grand Canyon National Park, the Arizona state capitol in Phoenix, Colossal Cave and Chiricahua National Monument and statues at Colossal Cave Mountain Park near Tucson and Phoenix South Mountain Park.  We created a CCC museum exhibit at South Mountain Park and hosted a traveling exhibit which we staffed at history events at South Mountain Park, Pueblo Grand Museum, the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Phoenix, in Payson, Arizona and elsewhere.
Gerald Johnson, CCC and USMC Veteran
and Arizona CCC statue donor

Certainly the crowning achievements in the Chapter’s resume must be the purchase and placement of two CCC worker statues in Arizona.  The initial task of raising funds for an Arizona CCC statue was undertaken as something of a shoestring effort but labored along for more than a year.  Just when it appeared that the fundraising effort would stumble into failure, CCC alumnus Gerald Johnson of Bisbee, Arizona stepped forward to donate sufficient funds to acquire Arizona’s first CCC statue, which was placed at the Colossal Cave visitor center.
Jack Duncan, CCC Veteran and
and Arizona CCC statue donor

We might have stood content to have helped get Arizona a single CCC worker statue but in typical we can do it fashion, another CCC veteran stepped forward to offer his help.  Jack Duncan, who worked in the CCC in Colorado and who has served so well as Chapter 44 Vice President put up the money to buy a second CCC worker statue outright.  Arizona’s second CCC worker statue was erected at Phoenix South Mountain Park.

In hindsight, it seems clear that Arizona would not have even one CCC worker statue were it not for the generosity of former enrollees Gerald Johnson and Jack Duncan, who provided sufficient funds to make the purchase.  Additional funds raised by Chapter 44 helped with incidentals associated with placement of the statues and remaining monies have been used to purchase the Happy Days newspapers and Arizona camp newspapers on microfiche for the Arizona State Archives.  The singular generosity of Gerald and Jack made it possible for the Chapter to do so much more in these last few years that would otherwise have been possible. 

CCC Plaque at Chiricahua NM
in Southeastern Arizona
Among the Chapter’s other significant accomplishments:  We commissioned a portable exhibit case, which we then filled with CCC artifacts and donated to the National Park Service in Flagstaff.  Chapter 44 hosted the 2004 NACCCA reunion and sponsored a writing competition to mark the 75th anniversary of the CCC in 2008.  We donated funds to help restore a scale model of the battleship USS Arizona.  In 2010 we donated the entire available editions of Happy Days newspaper on microfilm to the Arizona State Archives and we have recently acquired all the available editions of Arizona CCC camp newspapers to donate to the State Archives in honor of the CCC’s 80th anniversary early next year.  Along the way we also helped and inspired historians and writers including Robert Moore, Jane Jackson and Robert Audretsch, who sought us out in their efforts to document the history of the CCC.

 Nobody – nobody – can honestly claim to have done more to promote the history of the CCC in Arizona than the members of Chapter 44 over the past three decades.  You should all be proud of the effort because it was done through your work, your time and with donations large and small to the chapter treasury, even in the form of purchasing raffle tickets at our monthly meetings.
Our once robust little organization is winding down its operations even as we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the CCC we all love so much.  By the end of 2013 we will cease operation and halt our quarterly meeting schedule but one day, I hope that scholars and historians will take a moment to note the largely anonymous efforts undertaken by Chapter 44 under the NACCCA banner, the CCC Legacy banner and finally as an independent social organization focused on keeping the story of the CCC alive. In the meantime, each of you should take pride in what you have accomplished as members of Chapter 44 and know that your efforts will help insure that people remember the important work of the CCC in Arizona and nationwide.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A small mystery solved.

In my last post at the  Civilian Conservation Corps Resource Page, I spoke of tying up loose ends and how those loose ends don’t always bind up as nicely as we might like. In that particular case, the loose ends didn’t quite come together but it was an exciting moment or two as I sought to identify where a particular photograph might have come from.

As it turns out, there’s a loose end here at Forest Army and as luck would have it, the ends came together much more neatly this time around. In a post I made back in late 2010 I editorialized regarding the standardization and regimentation that were such an important part of the CCC’s success (you can see that post here.)

At that time, I was mystified by the purpose of a particular pole or post installation that I’ve encountered both in photographs and in the field. The pole looked like this in a photograph that I obtained from the National Association of CCC Alumni (NACCCA) back in the early 1990s.
I found a surprisingly similar pole installation at the site of a former CCC camp in Yavapai County, Arizona and have ruminated on its purpose ever since. It seems clear that a standard set of plans guided the construction and installation of poles like these; how else do you explain the striking similarity between two examples when one example is at Grand Canyon National Park and the other in a U.S. Forest Service CCC camp near Prescott, Arizona? But what were these posts or poles used for?

At the time, I wrote, “I’ve no idea what the purpose of the twin pole arrangement is; perhaps it was part of a gate, or perhaps it was one in a series of telephone or telegraph poles strung through the juniper…one wonders why the photographer even bothered with snapping the picture at all.”
Well, we’ve tied the loose ends together this time, thanks to some fortuitous help from a prolific local CCC researcher. About a week ago I received an email from Robert “Ranger Bob” Audretsch, who’d just wrapped up some research at the Grand Canyon museum. He attached one photo as representative of about “60 great photos” that he’d found for a project he’s working on. I don’t have the faintest clue why Bob picked the particular photo that he attached to his email but the second I opened it up, I knew that all the uncertainty surrounding the CCC mystery poles at Grand Canyon and Walnut Creek was cleared up. Sometimes the loose ends tie themselves up without much help.

The picture Ranger Bob emailed me shows three CCC boys working on a string of telephone or telegraph poles, with two guys cinching up the posts while a third guy strings the wire atop the pole. I’m wondering if it was safe for one enrollee to be climbing atop the pole before it was fully wired into place, but I suppose that was a matter for the project foreman to worry about. At any rate, they all appear to be working really hard; the camera captures them in something of a blur. There is no doubt that this photo depicts the same project that is depicted in the rather innocuous photo that I received from the NACCCA collection so many years ago and I’m pleased and proud to post them side by side here, perhaps for the first time ever.

Armed with the Grand Canyon telephone pole photo from Ranger Bob, I can now easily conclude that the similar pole installation I saw still standing at the former site of the Walnut Creek CCC camp was or a telephone or other type of wire strung to or through the camp. Who can guess what sorts of communications passed that way while the camp was in operation; we’ll never know, but we at least know why those poles were placed in the ground.

You can find more information about Ranger Bob Audretsch, his CCC research, and his book at his website CCC Books. Pay him a visit, look around, buy a book!

Buffalo Crossing Camp, Eastern Arizona

Buffalo Crossing Camp, Eastern Arizona