Special to the Tribune-Star
Forty Riverton Parke High School juniors and seniors enjoyed the stories, songs and history lessons of author-songwriter Bill Jamerson on Sept. 20 as he presented his “Doll-a-Day Boys” multi-media tribute to the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s at Rockville’s historic Ritz Theater.
Jamerson, a Michigan native, has written “Big Shoulders,” a novel based on his encounters with CCC veterans, has produced a documentary about the successful New Deal program called “Camp Forgotten,” and has developed a compact disk of 12 original songs called “The Dollar-A-Day Boys.”
“There’s so much for us to learn from the men who worked in the CCC camps,” Jamerson said. “We need to appreciate how this program helped make these boys into men — how tough and resilient the work made this generation.”
Students from Mike Lunsford’s College Challenge United States History class and Sande Bemis’ Senior English class attended the program, which was sponsored locally by the Rockville Public Library, and is part of the Ivy Tech Community College-Parke County Learning Center “Sack Lunch” series.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was the most successful and least controversial of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal responses to the Great Depression. During its nine-year run from 1933-1942, more than 3.5 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 more than 3 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.
“I felt Mr. Jamerson did a great job of trying to show our students that the tough times of the Depression helped define what these men became-the ‘Greatest Generation,’” says Lunsford, whose students receive college credit for taking his class. “I hope our kids came to understand through Bill’s presentation that when they’re faced with adversity, there’s really only one way to face it, and that’s by facing up to it and working through it. I thought Bill’s program was great, and we appreciated the sponsors who gave us the opportunity to see it.”