ABOUT THIS POST
Women were a part of camp life
Women had camps as well
Camps were a place for work and humor
The CCC camps needed to have more than just an impact on young men, which is why Elanor Roosevelt created opportunities for women to get involved. While the CCC was directed at young men, there were a few women who worked for the camps. Some jobs that were open for women were things such as…
The CCC camps needed to have more than just an impact on young men, which is why Elanor Roosevelt created opportunities for women to get involved. While the CCC was directed at young men, there were a few women who worked for the camps.
Some jobs that were open for women were things such as secretaries, administrators, and educators.
While there weren’t any CCC camps for women, there was one CCC-like camp called “Camp Jane Addams.” In Nature’s New Deal by Neil M. Maher, Maher writes, “Not surprisingly, Camp Jane Addams trained its female enrollees not in conservation work but rather in domestic skills that could help their families weather the Great Depression.”10 During this time, sexism was still heavily practiced but Eleanor Roosevelt helped create this camp out of her compassion for struggling women. Also, making a female camp helped keep Roosevelt’s name in a good light.
Although women were banned by the CCC leaders, the employees still remained active with them both sexually and emotionally. The local women were written about in many issues of the Kentucky CCC camp newsletters. In one issue of a camp newsletter called The Cloverleaf, a camp member wrote, “A good looking girl was seen on a bus by an enrollee, who said she knew Capt. Reed. Captain, we haven’t told a thing on you, yet.”11
The women were so involved that they got to vote in polls about which men in the CCC camps were the most involved. In Camp Shelby News, a CCC camp newsletter, an anonymous person wrote, “Girls Cast Vote- The girls downtown have contributed a list showing the following: Fred Wellman…. Best Dressed, Ollie Stucker…. Most Generous, Ned, Nick, Ed…. Most in Love.”12
These quotes show that the CCC men were actually involved with these women, whether it was dating or sex. The employees getting involved with the local women had a good impact for the most part. Most of the people who lived in these areas were farmers. The locals would have started having kids at a young age so they would have more hands to help tend to the farm. By having these young men around at the camps, families could have helped get their daughters married off to have more men who could have helped farm and get more money.
However, in one camp newsletter, an unexpected announcement had to be made. In the Rockcastle Camp Chapter, a doctor wrote, “The wise person takes no chances. Syphilis- Consult a competent physician. Avoid the Quack.”13 This picture announcement is proof that men were having sex because syphilis is an STD. Women weren’t the only thing that men liked to have fun with though.
Humor Within the Brotherhood
The CCC men were always trying to lighten the mood to create a brotherly environment in their camps. Each newsletter for each different camp had a humor section where members could submit jokes. Sometimes the jokes would be general jokes or camp inside jokes. In a camp newsletter called The Red River Peckerwood, some members wrote, “Caldwell is now acting sergeant on the pickup line. The first sergeant is thinking of opening a barbershop and specializing in the prisoner’s haircut.”14 Of course, to people who read this from outside the camp, this didn’t make any sense. These were the kind of jokes and good times that showed people that the CCC had a positive impact on these employees’ sense of brotherhood.
The men joked about everything but the biggest thing they joked about was the members and their women. Numerous camp newsletters commented jokingly on the men going home with women. The one that caught my attention was a section in the Rockcastle Camp Chapter newsletter. The editor wrote, “Alvio Woods and Snaeder are playing second fiddle to their girlfriends. Joe Chandler’s girlfriend had a picture made so he could take it home with him to see if his family approved.”15 The fact that the men could use people’s names and didn’t have to hide the person they are talking about shows that had built a comfortable community.
Since the employees worked hard, it was good that they were given time and space to relax and cut up as young men did. When outsiders looked in and saw the brotherhood that had been forged in the camps, then they would have understood why the CCC was such a positive thing. Even though the men came from such drastically different backgrounds, they still came together as brothers. They even shared their religion on camp, to learn more about that – click this link.
10 Neil M. Maher, Nature’s New Deal, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008): 82.
11 “Generals About the Camp,” The Cloverleaf, Vol. 1, No. 3 (February 15, 1936): 6.
12 “Street Sweepings,” Camp Shelby News, Vol. 4, No. 4 (April 17, 1938): 6.
13 “Picture Announcement,” Rockcastle Camp Chapter (June 1938).
14 “Humor,” The Red River Peckerwood, Vol. 3, No. 6 (March 1936): 5.
15 “Chatter,” Rockcastle Camp Chapter (June 25, 1937): 9.