March 18, 2016
THE CCC BOYS OF CHEROKEE COUNTY
Michigan based author Bill Jamerson will present a music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Cherokee County History and Arts Museum, on Monday, March 28 at 2 pm. The program is co-sponsored by the Cherokee County Public Library and the Cherokee Historical and Preservation Society. The museum is located at 301 College Drive in Gaffney, SC. The program is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more information please call 864-487-2711 or 864-489-3988.
Dressed in uniform, Jamerson shares stories about the CCC, reads excerpts from his book, shows a short video from his PBS film, and sings original songs with his guitar. It’s a nostalgic program with lots of laughter and many heartfelt stories. He has performed at CCC reunions around the country and at dozens of CCC-built national and state parks. His program is as entertaining as it is important; as honest as it is fun. It’s about people both ordinary and extraordinary, with stories of strength, wit and charm.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a federal works program created by President Franklin Roosevelt in the heart of The Great Depression. During its nine year run beginning in 1933, over 55,000 men served in South Carolina. The camps were run by the army with an average of 29 camps in operation for each year. Over 57 million dollars was spent in South Carolina running the camps over their nine year run. The enrollees were paid $1 a day with $25 sent home to their families each month. The money sent home provided relief for their families who were desperate for food and basic necessities.
The CCC in South Carolina planted millions of trees, built hundreds of bridges and dams, constructed over a thousand miles of roads, did soil erosion control on public and private lands, built check dams, stocked fish, fought forest fires, and built several state parks including Table Rock, Chester, Edisto Beach, Barnwell, Oconee, Cheraw and Kings Mountain. The camps not only revitalized South Carolina’s natural resources but also turned the boys into men by giving them discipline and teaching them work skills.
Camp Daniel Morgan opened on August 25, 1935, one mile southwest of Gaffney. There were also camps outside of Union, Fountain Inn, Woodruff, Chester, Spartanburg, Greer and York. The men came into nearby towns and cities on weekends, where they patronized stores, movie theatres, billiard rooms, dance halls, churches and restaurants. Many enrollees met their wives while in camp. The C’s also helped out the townspeople during emergencies, such as fires or floods. The enrollees from a single camp spent approximately $5,000 a month in town, which was a boast to the local economy during the depths of The Great Depression.
To find local info, research local newspaper beginning August 25, 1935.
Historical society may have some photos of SC C’s.
Additional photos can be found at: http://www.ccclegacy.org/Archives_South_Carolina.php (public domain) The best photos are of the men at work or play.
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 C’s in 1937. The enrollee joins two hundred other young men at a work camp in a remote part of 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. The book is based on the life of a CCC Boy.
Some of the songs Jamerson performs with his guitar include Franklin D., written by an appreciative CCC Boy. Chowtime is a fun look at the camp food, City Slicker, is about the mischief the men find in the woods, and Tree Plantin’, Fire Fightin’ Blues tells the hardships of work out in the woods. Wood Tick is a lament over the nicknames the locals gave them. The folk songs range from heartwarming ballads to foot stomping jigs.
Along with a novel and CD of songs, Jamerson produced the PBS film, Camp Forgotten-The CCC in Michigan, which aired on 58 PBS stations in 1994. In the program, Bill will talk about many of the interesting enrollees he has met over the years. A question and answer period and book signing will follow the presentation. People are encouraged to bring CCC photos or memorabilia to the program For more information please call the library at 487-2711 or visit Jamerson’s website at: billjamerson.com..
Jamerson is available for a telephone interview at 906-420-3100
Photos of Jamerson and CCC Boys can be found on website: www.billjamerson.com
This program is sponsored by South Carolina Humanities and the South Carolina Arts Commission.
The mission of South Carolina Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. This not-for-profit organization presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that reach more than 250,000 citizens annually. South Carolina Humanities receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as corporate, foundation and individual donors. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state.