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.

Buffalo Crossing Camp, Eastern Arizona

Buffalo Crossing Camp, Eastern Arizona