2013-02-26 / Front Page

Dollar-A-Day Boys: A Musical Tribute To The CCC Coming To Owen Library

Bill Jamerson Bill Jamerson Upper Peninsula-based author Bill Jamerson will present a music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) at the Owen County Public Library on Monday, March 18, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The program is co-sponsored by the Owen County Historical Society and is free and open to the public.

Jamerson’s program will include stories, a short video, reading excerpts from his novel and playing original songs with his guitar. Jamerson has presented his program at CCC reunions, and at CCC built state and national parks around the country. The CCC constructed many bridges and structures at McCormick’s Creek State Park.

The CCC was a federal works program created by President Franklin Roosevelt in the heart of The Great Depression. During its nine-year run from 1933-1942, over three and a half million young men between the ages of 17 and 25 years of age enlisted across the country. They were known as “Roosevelt’s Tree Army” because they planted over three billion trees nationwide. The enrollees lived in work camps located far from towns and were paid a dollar a day. Twenty-five dollars a month was sent home directly to their families.

Jamerson’s novel, “Big Shoulders,” follows a year in the life of a seventeenyear old youth from Detroit who enlists in the CCC in 1937. The enrollee joins two hundred other young men at a work camp in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula run by army officers. It is a coming-of-age story of an angry teenager who faces the rigors of hard work, learning to get along with a difficult sergeant and coping with a bully.

Some of the songs Bill performs include Chowtime, a fun look at the camp food; City Slicker, which tells of the mischief the young men get into in the woods; Borrowed Mom, is the story of an orphan who finds a mother; and Tree Plantin’, Fire Fightin’ Blues tells of the hardships of work. The folk songs range from heartwarming ballads to foot stomping jigs. The stories and songs are as educational as they are entertaining, as honest as they are fun.

In Indiana, over 63,000, 17- to 25-year-old men in the Civilian Conservation Corps planted millions of trees, fought forest fires, improved rivers and streams, built roads and bridges. They also built state parks including structures in Turkey Run, Ouabache, Pokagon, Fort Harrison, Versailles and Mounds. The CCC engaged in many soil conservation programs for Indiana farmers, such as repairing gullies, terracing hills, and introducing strip farming practices. The camps not only revitalized the states’ natural resources but also taught the young men job skills and encouraged discipline.

Jamerson has produced over a dozen documentaries for Michigan Public Television, and produced several CD’s of songs on historical subjects. In his presentation, Jamerson shares many stories he has picked up first hand from former CCC Boys he has met over the years. Audience members are encouraged to bring photo albums or other CCC memorabilia.

For more information about the program, call the Owen County Public Library at 829-3392, or visit billjamerson.com.

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