Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 2, 2012

Library to host music and storytelling


Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Michigan based author, Bill Jamerson, will present a music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Greensburg-Decatur County Public Library at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 15.

The hour-long program 'Dollar a Day Boys' will include stories, video, reading excerpts from his novel and playing original songs with his guitar. Jamerson has presented his program at CCC reunions, and at CCC built state and national parks around the country.

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.

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 is 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 Bill 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 stories and songs are as educational as they are entertaining, as honest as they are fun.

In Indiana, the Civilian Conservation Corps planted millions of trees, fought forest fires, improved rivers and streams, built roads and bridges. They also built state parks including Indiana Dunes, Ouabache, Pokogon, Fort Harrison, McCormick Creek, Turkey Run and Mounds. The CCC engaged in many soil conservation programs for Indiana farmers, such as repairing gullies, terracing hills and introducing strip farming practices.

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 Indiana. He will sign books after his talk. For more information about the program please call the library at 663-2826, Ext 257 or visit Bill's website at: billjamerson.com.