CCC’ers reunite again

Sean C. Morgan

Five alumni of the Civilian Conservation Corps reunited Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 7 at the Longbow Organizational Camp on the Sweet Home Ranger District, a camp that was constructed in the 1930s by one of 56 CCC camps in Oregon.

The men were honored by officials from the Ranger District and joined by members of the modern Youth Conservation Corps, a program reinstated just this year in the Sweet Home district.

Members of the CCC included Paul Mauer of Willamina and originally of Silverton; Joe C. Bellow of Salem; Bill Albright of Lebanon and formerly of Philomath; Ken Molver, originally from Albany; and Harold Hill, also from Albany.

Unemployed, unmarried men between 18 and 25 from families on relief were eligible to work in the CCC during the program’s run from 1933 to 1942, building trails, camps, structures, campgrounds, telephone infrastructure, roads and more as well as fighting forest fires. They earned $30 per month, with $25 going to their families. They also received room and board.

The program, a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, put people to work during the Great Depression, said Sweet Home District Ranger Cindy Glick. “The work, by today’s standards, was extraordinary.”

The YCC program, reinvigorated this year under the direction of Candice Lawrence, reflects the spirit of the CCC, Glick said, and she awarded certificates to three of the four members, including Miranda Reynolds, Timothy Miller and Shiloh Moore. David Stoddard left a couple of weeks earlier after taking a new job.

“They aren’t building roads, but they are putting on events like this,” Glick said. The Linn County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue also assisted in the reunion, preparing Longbow prior to the event. Youth SAR members included Jordan Martinez, Madalyn Leever, Quinlan Harp, Isiah Miller, Bret Burns, Nicole Kachel, Chris Kinkade and Declan O’Hara. They were led by Lisa Chase.

The CCC reunion received visits by Roland C. Burgiss, the ranger in the Sweet Home area in 1938 when Longbow opened, played by Ranger District Archaeologist Tony Farque. Burgiss could often be seen driving around in his new 1938 Ford. C.B. McFarland, Oakridge district ranger, portrayed by Steve Coady, also visited.

Both rangers were known to CCC alumni.

Burgiss (Farque) delivered a message from the President of the United States, who said that CCC workers were enaged in projects of definite practical value, which merited the admiration of a nation for protecting and preserving the forests while learning skills and gaining job experience.

The program shortened World War II by as much as three years, Farque said. The men were already trained to take orders when they enlisted to fight the war.

“It’s great that we have the YCC here this year,” McFarland (Coady) said. “This is definitely hands across the generations.”

He noted that the CCC workers attended the school of hard knocks, and their colors were black and blue, while Burgiss (Farque) recalled the basketball coach and teacher who led the CCC workers from the local camp, Camp 2907, to a win over the Sweet Home Union High School’s basketball game.

Kenny Molver, 96, a member of the first “hot shot” firefighter team, recalled the same teacher, noting that he was able to earn his high school diploma in just 1 1/2 years.

“Dessert was the best thing they had,” Molver said of his experience. “Where we came from, we didn’t have dessert.”