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CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS CAMPS SUBJECT OF BOOK TALK & SIGNING IN KENT

Press Release 2/4/16 (Kent, Connecticut) – Join the Kent Memorial Library and the Kent Historical Society as they welcome Martin Podskoch of East Hampton, Connecticut on Saturday, March 11, at 2:00 p.m. at the Kent Town Hall, 41 Kent Green Boulevard, Kent. He will discuss and sign copies of his newly published book, Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Their History, Memories and Legacy.

Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Their History, Memories and Legacy is the definitive book that records the CCC experience for the men who helped support their families during the Great Depression with days of hard work, Army discipline, and camaraderie.

This volume is the second state CCC project Marty has completed.  New York State was the first. He learned from the first research effort the skills needed to complete such an all-encompassing history. He interviewed many old men whose fond memories of their youth in the CCC remained vivid. In his interviews Marty found that these men felt great pride in their work with the CCC, that it was a good time in their lives – – for some, the best. Most agree they learned how to get along with many types of people. As you read what each man said you will come to know something of the time, to reach into the past and know what it was to be in the CCC!

The CCC was a public works program that operated from 1933 to 1942, as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. It targeted young men and veterans in relief families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression, providing unskilled manual labor related to environmental conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands.

Volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways. In nine years, 2.5 million young men participated in restoring morale and public appreciation of the outdoors.

These young men worked in 21 Connecticut CCC camps while some traveled to Western states to do conservation projects. These interviews and hundreds of marvelous photos of camp life capture the vitality of the young men who worked so hard to improve our forests, which had been ravaged by fires, lumbering, and storms. We must not forget their labors in the woodlands and state parks that continue to be enjoyed by millions today.

Podskoch’s book describes the history and projects of the 21 camps located throughout the state. Camps were located at Housatonic Meadow in Sharon; Stones Ranch in Niantic; Natchaug State Forest (SF) in Eastford; Nipmuck SF in Union; Squantz Pond in New Fairfield; Meshomasic SF in Cobalt and Portland; Pachaug SF in Voluntown; Black Rock SP in Thomaston; Tunxis SF in East Hartland; Mohawk SF in West Goshen; Burr Pond in Paugnut SF;  American Legion SF in Barkhamsted; Salmon River SF in East Hampton; Wooster Mountain SF in Danbury; Shenipsit SF in Stafford Springs; Experiment Station Land in Poquonock; Macedonia Brook in Kent and three camps in Cockaponset SF in Killingworth, Haddam, and Madison.

Enrollees signed up for six months and worked a 40-hour week for $30/mo. The government sent $25 to the enrollee’s family and the enrollee received $5. The young men received good food, uniforms, and medical care. At first they lived in tents; later they lived in wooden buildings. These young men and special camps for war veterans were able to help their families and gain a sense of worth.

There are hundreds of pictures of the boys at work and at camp, sometimes laboring mightily, other times clowning around or playing on camp teams.

There are excerpts from camp newspapers of cartoons, poems, doggerel, and songs that will delight the reader for this unique window into their lives.

Since most of the boys quit school after 8th grade to help their families, the Army organized evening classes for those who wanted to get a GED, learn vocational skills or just hobbies like photography. In precise detail the reader will see what the boys studied in the education classes, a wide variety of classes from Accounting (practical) to Drawing and Music (entertainment), and life skills.

Scores of interviews with CCC veterans tell each man’s story from early life in a large family trying to help during the hard times. Angelo Alderuccio, from Bristol, worked at the Cobalt CCC camp in 1934. He said, “I was happy joining the CCCs because my mother was going to get some money, and it took me off the streets.”

CCC enrollee, Ed Kelly of Woodbury, said: “I was interested in the CCC because there were no jobs and I had cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. There were eight children in my family and the money I earned helped my parents.”

You will follow boys from city and village as they learn of the CCC, enlist, travel away, and become the muscle and bone that built the state parks, water projects, planting trees, and so much more. Their stories continue, most often through WW II, a return home to begin to use what they’d learned. There are stories of their families and their professional lives. After reading one boy’s life journey it is clear how much the CCC helped each one develop the character and purpose they carried through life.

Marty Podskoch has authored six other books: Fire Towers of the Catskills: Their History and Lore, Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, the Southern Districts, Northern Districts and also Adirondack Stories: Historical Sketches and Adirondack Stories II: 101 More Historical Sketches. His travel book, The Adirondack 102 Club: Your Passport & Guide to the North Country, was published in 2014.

This event is free & open to public. His book Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Their History, Memories and Legacy will be available for purchase & signing after the talk. Please register. For more information, call the Library, 860-927-3761; email kmlinfo@biblio.org; stop by the Library; or visit the Library’s online calendar at kentmemoriallibrary.org.

The Kent Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the rich history of Kent as well as to provide educational and research material to enrich the public understanding of Kent’s artistic and cultural heritage. For more information, visit kenthistoricalsociety.org or call 860-927-4587.

The Kent Memorial Library’s mission is to enrich the lives of individuals and the community by providing materials, programs, and services to encourage reading, learning and imagination. The Kent Memorial Library is located at 32 North Main Street, Kent, Connecticut. Visit kentmemoriallibrary.org for more information.