Michigan based author Bill Jamerson will present a music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Estherville Public Library at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 11.
Jamerson's presentation includes telling stories and performing original songs. He has performed at CCC reunions around the country and at dozens of CCC built national and state parks. 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 beginning in 1933, 54,000 young men worked in Iowa camps. There was an average of 34 camps in operation for each year. The enrollees were paid $1 a day with $25 sent home to their families each month. The money put food on the table for the families back home. March 31 marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of the CCC.
CCC enrollees planted over 45 million trees in Iowa. They built 235 bridges, erected over 2,100 miles of telephone poles, worked with hundreds of farmers on soil conservation, constructed 3,300 miles of truck trails, stocked fish, fought forest fires, and built state parks including Backbone State Park which houses a CCC Museum. The camps not only revitalized Iowa natural resources but also turned the boys into men by giving them discipline and teaching them work skills.
Jamerson's book, BIG SHOULDERS is a historical novel that follows a year in the life of a seventeen-year-old youth from Detroit who enlisted in the CCC in 1937. He joins 200 other young men at a work camp in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It is a coming-of-age story of an angry teenager who faces the rigors of hard work, learning to cope with a difficult sergeant and fending off a bully.
Some of the songs Jamerson performs with his guitar include Franklin D., written by an appreciative CCC Boy., Chowtime, a fun look at the camp food, City Slicker, which tells of the mischief the boys find in the woods, and Tree Plantin', Fire Fightin' Blues that tells of the hardships of work out in the woods. The folk songs range from heartwarming ballads to foot stomping jigs.
Along with a novel and CD of songs on the CCC, Jamerson has produced a PBS film, Camp Forgotten, which aired on Iowa Public Television in 1993. He has also authored several articles on the corps. In his talk, he will discuss his research methods, some of the interesting enrollees he has met over the years and CCC projects he has visited. A question and answer period and book signing will follow his presentation. Former CCC'ers and their families are encouraged to attend and invited to bring photo albums and CCC memorabilia.
For more information please call the library at 362-7731 or visit Jamerson's website at: billjamerson.com..