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Dollar-a-Day Boys: A Musical Tribute to the Civilian Conservation Corps

When Sep 12, 2012
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Where Decorah Public Library
Contact Name
Contact Phone 563-382-3717
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Michigan based author Bill Jamerson will present a music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Decorah Public Library on Wednesday, September 12 at 4 pm. The hour-long program will include stories, video, reading excerpts from his novel and playing original songs about the CCC with his guitar. Jamerson has presented his program at CCC reunions, and at state and national parks around the country. The presentation is as entertaining as it is important; as honest as it is fun. It's about people both ordinary and extraordinary, with stories of wit, charm and strength.

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 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.

In Iowa, over 58,000 young men participated in the program. They planted trees, constructed roads, dams, bridges and fought forest fires. The CCC worked closely with farmers installing fencing, repairing gullies, creating drainage ditches, terracing hills and other soil conservation measures. The CCC built or improved nine state parks in the state including Fort Defiance, Gull Point, Maquoketa and Ledges State Park. Backbone State Park is home to a CCC Museum. They also worked at Woodman Hollow State Preserve, Yellow River State Forest, and Shimek State Forest.

Jamerson’s novel, BIG SHOULDERS follows a year in the life of a seventeen-year-old youth from Detroit who enlists in the CCC in 1937. The enrollee joins two hundred other young men at Camp Raco, a work camp in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula run by army officers. It's 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 he 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 camps not only revitalized the state’s natural resources but also taught the young men job skills and discipline. In his talk, Jamerson will share many stories he has picked up from former CCC Boys he has met over the years and will discuss some of their work projects in Iowa. He will sign books after his talk. 

For more information about the program please call the library at 382-3717 or visit Bill’s website at: The program is free and open to the public.

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