Musical tribute to CCC at Douglas County Library on Nov. 14
Bill Jamerson has presented his program at CCC reunions around the country and at dozens of state and national parks.
ALEXANDRIA — Michigan-based singer/storyteller Bill Jamerson will present an hour-long musical tribute to the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Douglas County Public Library on Monday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m.
Dressed in uniform, Jamerson’s presentation includes the telling of stories, showing a short video clip from his PBS film, reading excerpts from his book, and performing original songs with his guitar.
Jamerson has presented his program at CCC reunions around the country and at dozens of state and national parks. The presentation is about people both ordinary and extraordinary, with stories of strength, wit and charm. Jamerson was awarded CCC Educator of the Year in 2017 by CCC Legacy, a national organization based in Virginia.
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, 2.6 million men enrolled across the country including 86,000 men in Minnesota. An average of 51 camps operated in Minnesota over nine years with an operating budget of $85 million.
The CCC boys came into nearby towns on weekends and patronized stores, movie theaters, billiard rooms, bowling alleys, saloons, dance halls, and churches. Many enrollees met their wives while in camp. Each camp spent approximately $5,000 a month in nearby towns, helping the local economy during the depths of the Great Depression.
The CCC planted more than 180 million trees in Minnesota, fought hundreds of forest fires, released half a billion fish in rivers and lakes, built hundreds of dams and bridges and constructed thousands of miles of roads. They also built many state parks, including St. Croix, Lacqui Parie, Gooseberry Falls, Whitewater, Interstate, Flandrau and Itasca State Park. Camp Rabideau in Blackduck contains many original CCC buildings. The CCC also built several bridges north of Duluth on Highway 66. The CCC camps not only revitalized Minnesota’s natural resources, but also turned the boys into men by giving them discipline and teaching them work skills.
Jamerson's book "Big Shoulders" is a historical novel that follows a year in the life of a 17-year-old youth from Detroit who enlisted in the C’s in 1937. The enrollee joins 200 other young men at Camp Raco in 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.
In his program, Jamerson performs original songs, including "Chowtime," a fun look at the camp food, and "City Slicker," which tells of the mischief the boys find in the woods. "Wood Tick" is a song about the nicknames the locals gave the enrollees, and "Tree Plantin’, Fire Fightin’ Blues" tells of the hardships of working in the woods. The folk songs range from heartwarming ballads to foot-stomping jigs.
For more information, contact the Douglas County Library at 320-762-3014 or visit Jamerson's website at billjamerson.com .