Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Since the Great Depression is a popular topic during our current economic turmoil, I thought today would be a good time to write about the Civil Conservation Corps.

If I run north for my daily workout, I run past a CCC-built picnic shelter. This one, built with Joliet limestone, is in Harms Woods in Skokie.

Scattered throughout the Forest Preserve District of Cook County are similar structures. On Archer Avenue in southwest suburban Willow Springs, there is a monument to the CCC workers.

Here's some more about the CCC, from Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism:

Perhaps no program better represented the new governmental martial outlook than the Civil Conservation Corps, or CCC. Arguably the most popular program of the New Deal, the CCC mobilized some 2.5 million young men into what could only be called paramilitary training. CCCers mostly worked as a "forestry army," clearing dead wood and the like. Enlistees met at army recruiting stations; wore World War I uniforms; were transported around the country by troop trains; answered to army sergeants; were required to stand at attention, march in formation, employ military lingo--including the duty of calling officers "sir"--read a CCC newspaper modeled on Stars and Stripes, went to bed in army tents listening to taps; and woke to reveille.

After the CCC was approved by Congress, FDR reported, It is a pretty good record, one which I think can be compared with the mobilization carried on in 1917." The Speaker of the House boasted of the CCC's success: "They are also under military training and as they come out of it the come out improved in health and developed mentally and physically and are more useful citizens and if ever we should become involved in another war they would furnish a very valuable nucleus for our army." Meanwhile, the Nazis were establishing similar camps for virtually identical reasons.

During warm weather weekends, the Harms Woods shelter is popular with picnickers, on light-jacket days the fireplaces are blazing.

About an eighth of a mile south of the shelter was a CCC-built public washroom, a little brother of sorts, also built with Joliet limestone. It was a notorious spot for male/male sexual trysts.

Some stuff I just know.

The Forest Preserve District demolished it two years ago.

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