Sunday, May 5, 2013

If I knew then what I know now

When I was  teenager, my late stepdad worked hard during the week. Some weekends he drank to excess and relived World War ll. As annoying as it was to hear him carrying on, I felt very sorry for him as he ranted about his navy adventures in New Guinea. He was just a poor backwards kid from the swamps and he often referenced the C.C. camp.

From the time I was a young girl, I felt such pity for him because of his experiences. I could only imagine the hardships and atrocities he'd endured and witnessed at war, and especially as a lad in that CONCENTRATION CAMP.

It was about ten years ago when I realized that he was never in a concentration camp. I was taking my parents for a drive through Jefferson Barracks National Park when we spied an old wooden barracks building with a sign that caught his attention.

Long sober, he said, "I was a member of the CCC." I thought, Oh no! I parked the car and we went inside the new museum. He gazed into his past at photos and artifacts from the Great Depression. The Civillian Conservation Corp was part of the New Deal endorsed by President Roosevelt.

The CCC operated under the army's control. Camp commanders had disciplinary powers and the young corpsmen were required to address superiors as “sir.” By September 1935 over 500,000 young, poor men had lived in CCC camps, most staying from six months to a year. The work focused on soil conservation and reforestation. The men planted millions of trees on land made barren from fires, natural erosion, or lumbering—in fact, the CCC was responsible for over half the reforestation, public and private, done in the nation's history. Corpsmen also dug canals and ditches, built over thirty thousand wildlife shelters, stocked rivers and lakes with nearly a billion fish, restored historic battlefields, and cleared beaches and campgrounds.

The CC camp was not a concentration camp.

So, for all of those years, I was mistaken. Everybody makes mistakes.

Don't allow a mistake, hard work or rejection to stop you in your writing tracks.
Don't allow a misunderstanding to affect your relationships.
Don't bow your head in shame and embarrassment and turn away. Turn around.

Erect a virtual bridge, mend a family fence, plant a shade tree to sit beneath and contemplate.

Next time you are in a park, walking a trail, or visiting a campground in the US, remember the young men who worked hard to provide these places for our enjoyment.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sometimes, I think, there are divides too big to bridge. However, your post reminded me of a part of my life that I had forgotten about...a phase that could turn to writing fodder.

Thanks, Linda.

Tammy said...

I learned something today about the The Civilian Conservation Corp. Sounds like something we could use today!

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

I had no idea that these camps existed.

I love how you show how your misunderstanding shaped who you thought he was for so many years. How many of us are getting it wrong, and how many of us are misunderstood?

Joanne Noragon said...

The CCC was important in my parents' time; as you said, it employed a lot of young men, keeping them and their families out of the bread line. My parents made a point of showing us local projects undertaken by the CCC, and many CCC probjects near me are now owned and maintained by the national parks. I'm sorry you missed seeing CCC works as a child.

Bookie said...

Nice post, Linda.
The CC built the local rock baseball stadium in a park here...and Roaring River was a lot of CC was a great program at the time.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Well said, Linda. And P.S. There's an excellent YA novel called HITCH (by Jeannette Ingold)that gives insight into the CCC! I think you'd really like it.

Unknown said...

I grew up hearing about my father's military experience only to learn about 10 years ago that he had never passed the physical as he has flat feet so the entire tour was just a few days?? It was important to him, a man who was generally extremely honest to be considered a veteran. Was it my place to criticize his reason for creating this illusion? Just before he passed he was treated by the veteran's hospital.

Susan said...

I Linda. I'm glad your step dad got sober. War does terrible things to people. I know my own dad suffered a lot during World War II in the Army Infantry. I'm just glad he survived the horror. Susan

Connie said...

I can remember reading about the CCC in history class in school, but I can see how easily it would have been for you to confuse it with a concentration camp. There is a park very near to us that I love and spend a lot of time in.

And, yes, we shouldn't let a mistake or understanding keep us from doing what makes us happy or make a divide between us and loved ones.

Pearl said...

THere's something rather amusing about that. :-)


Lynn said...

Interesting info. And also interesting is the things we think about people and the truth we find out later...

Pat Wahler said...

Very good advice, and interesting tidbits about your relationship with your step-dad.

Critter Alley

Janet, said...

My husband's dad worked in a CCC Camp and I believe a few of my uncles did, too. The CCCs did beautiful stone work at a lot of our state parks. The beauty is still there for us to enjoy.