When: Wednesday, September 7, 6 p.m.
Where: Mancos Public Library
Michigan based author/songwriter Bill Jamerson will present an hour-long music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Mancos Public Library on Wednesday, September 7, at 6 pm. This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Dressed in uniform, Jamerson shares stories about the CCC, reads excerpts from his book, shows a video clip from his PBS film and sings original songs with his guitar. It’s a nostalgic, fun-filled program with songs, laughter and many heartfelt stories. He has performed at CCC reunions around the country and at dozens of CCC-built state and national parks. The 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 57,000 men served in Colorado. The men were 17-25 years of age and came from families on relief. The camps were run by the army with an average of 34 camps in operation in Colorado for each year. Over 63 million dollars was spent in the state operating the camps. The enrolllees were paid $1 a day with $25 sent home to their families each month. The money provided relief for their families who were desperate for food and basic necessities.
The C’s constructed hundreds of miles of roads, built bridges, worked on soil erosion control, were active in reforestation, and worked on grazing control operations that restored grass and water to vast stretches of land for cattle and sheep grazing. They constructed Rocky Mountain National Park, the Colorado National Monument, Mesa Verda National Park, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.
Diorama Mod Basketmaker Construction 1934
There were three camps located within thirty miles of Mancos that were in operation between 1933 and 1941. The men came into town on weekends and patronized stores, movie theaters, billiard rooms, bowling alleys, saloons, dance halls, and churches. Many enrollees met their wives while in camp. The enrollees spent approximately $5,000 a month in nearby communities, helping the local economy during the depths of The Great Depression.
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. He joins two hundred other young men at a CCC 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.
Some of the songs Jamerson performs with his guitar include Franklin D., written by an appreciative enrollee. Chowtime is a fun look at the camp food, City Slicker, is about the mischief the men found 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 film, Camp Forgotten-The CCC in Michigan, which aired on 58 PBS stations. 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 533-7600 or visit Jamerson’s website at: www.billjamerson.com.