Life in CCC camps to be explained

Published 8:51 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

Michigan based author Bill Jamerson will present a music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Davie County Public Library in Mocksville, on Thursday, March 17 at 6 p.m.

The program is free and open to the public.

Jamerson’s program includes stories about the CCC, reading excerpts from his book, showing a short video clip from his PBS film and singing original songs with his guitar. It’s a nostalgic program with lots of laughter.

He has performed at CCC reunions around the country and at dozens of CCC-built national and state parks.

“His presentation is as entertaining as it is important; as honest as it is fun,” said library director, Jane McAllister “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, more than 76,000 men served in North Carolina. The camps were run by the Army with an average of 45 camps in operation for each year. The enrolllees were paid $1 a day with $25 sent home to their families each month. The money kept many families from starving.

Camp Daniel Boone was located approximately one mile northwest of Mocksville.

The CCC in North Carolina planted  millions of trees, built hundreds of bridges and dams, constructed more than 2,000 miles of roads including the Blue Ridge Parkway, did erosion control, built check dams, stocked fish, fought forest fires, and built several state parks including Singletary Lake, Fort Macon, Umstead, Mt. Mitchell, and Hanging Rock.

There were 24 CCC camps in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  The camps not only revitalized North Carolina’s natural resources but 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 CCC in 1937.The enrollee joins 200 other young men at a work camp in a remote part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is a coming-of-age story of an angry teen who faces the rigors of hard work, learning to cope with a difficult sergeant and fending off a bully.  The book is based on the life of a CCC Boy.

Some of the songs Jamerson performs with his guitar include Franklin D., written by an appreciative CCC Boy. Chowtime is a fun look at the camp food, City Slicker, is about the mischief the men find in the woods, and Tree Plantin’, Fire Fightin’ Blues tells the hardships of work out in the woods. The folk songs range from heartwarming ballads to foot stomping jigs.

Along with a novel and CD of songs on the CCC, Jamerson has produced a PBS film, Camp Forgotten, which aired on 58  PBS stations in 1994 and a CD of songs.  He has authored several articles on the corps.

Jamerson will talk about many of the interesting enrollees he has met. A question-and-answer period and book signing will follow.

Former CCCers and their families are encouraged to attend and bring photo albums and CCC memorabilia. For more information please call the library at 753-6030 or visit Jamerson’s website at

This program is co-sponsored by the Davie County Public Library and the Davie County Genealogical and History Society.