We had little in those days and got along with minimum needs, and were reasonably contented. My thinking is today, looking at the past and today, that the more one amasses, the more one can lose his freedom--that one can become obsessed with fear that he may lose what he has, or may not get what he wants.

In 1936, I was graduated from Rossville High School in Rossville, Indiana. And, at the time of my Dad's death was about ready to begin a year's commitment in the CCC--the Civilian Conservation Corps. Millions of people were out of work following the stock market crash on "Black Thursday," October 24th of 1929, and during the Great Depression that lasted until we entered World War II in 1941.

Civilian Conservation Corps

The Civilian Conservation Corps, was one of President Franklin Roosevelt's projects, and was signed into law on March 31, 1933. It was a depression era public works project, controlled by the army, and the members lived in camps like soldiers. Each camp had a commanding officer, a mess hall, laundry, and tool house. Many camps had a recreation hall and a canteen.

Our CCC commander was a Captain Love, who claimed to have been a college roommate of Thomas Dewey. Dewey was the one-time Governor of New York. They had attended the University of Michigan. Captain Love told us that Thomas Dewey could have been an opera singer if he had not gone into law and politics Dewey also ran for president twice and was defeated, by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and then Harry Truman.

The Corps was supposed to promote environmental conservation while getting young, unemployed men off the streets. The recruits did things like planting trees, building wildlife shelters, stocking rivers and lakes with fish, and clearing beaches and campgrounds. The CCC housed the corpsmen in tents and barracks, gave them three meals a day, and paid them a small salary. The enrollment period was for six months, and each recruit could re-enlist for six month increments, not to exceed a total enlistment of two years. Each corpsman was expected to work a 40-hour week.

The recruits were supposed to be citizens, between 18 and 25 years of age, unemployed and not in school, unmarried, of good character and good physical condition. Since I met all of these requirements, I was allowed to join and stationed in my home state of Indiana, working on soil erosion projects.

The CCC's were like being a GI in the army. We lived in a barracks, slept on cots that we had to make up every morning, arose very early to reveille, and were subject to the Articles of War. Our commander was Captain Love of the United States Army, and one time roommate of Thomas E. Dewey when they were students at the University of Michigan. Dewey was the former Governor of New York, and the Republican candidate for president against Roosevelt in 1944, and Truman in 1948. I voted for him twice, by absentee ballot at Ciampino air base in Italy and in Austin, Minnesota in 1948. The CCC was a wonderful experience and the experience made it easier for me to adjust later on to the discipline of the Army and its Air Corps.

When my CCC enlistment was up in June of 1937, I worked as a common laborer at the National Cash Register plant in Dayton from June, 1937, until October of 1939. While working for NCR, during the late 1930's, I was one of 3,000 that were laid off. Since I only had about one year of seniority, was just twenty years old, and a common laborer, it was natural that I was dispensable. Nine months later I was recalled, but during that nine months I worked in a restaurant that served many of the thousands of NCR employees. My job in the restaurant was to do anything that I was told to do. I began by peeling potatoes, mopping floors, washing dishes, and scrubbing out pots and pans. Later, I worked my way up into roasting beef and pork, preparing and cooking vegetables, and other assorted cooking duties.

In October of 1939, I returned to Rossville, Indiana, where my grandparents lived. From then until Januaary of 1940, I managed a small restaurant in Cutler, Indiana, until I left for Evanston, Illinois, to enter Evanston Collegiate Institute, a junior college which was founded in 1934 by the boards of two Methodist Theological Seminaries. In 1950, it became Kendall College, a four year institution. While there, I worked for money and keeps from February, 1940, to July, 1941, went to school, and played basketball on the starting five as a guard. The two restaurant experiences helped when I was assigned to be mess officer as an extra duty in Sicily, and has carried over even to today. And, even now, I piddle in the kitchen, helping the better-half, most often.

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