Annual reunion held at Parker Dam State Park this weekend
ran in the DuBois Courier-Express Sunday Edition, the Tri-County Sunday on July 21, 1998
By ERIN L. NAPPE
Tri-County Sunday Writer
PENFIELD Lou Adams was just 16 years old when he left his home and family in McKeesport to fight a war against a horrifying enemy.
He was not shipped to a foreign land; he was stationed in Lawrenceville, Va. He carried a pick and a shovel instead of a gun.
The year was 1936, and the enemy was the poverty of the Great Depression. Adams, along with millions of other young men, was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The CCC was one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. It was created in 1933 to combat the poverty caused by the Great Depression. It provided over three million jobs for men ages 18-25.
Lou and his wife Helen have been organizing an annual CCC reunion at Parker Dam State Park for the past nine years. This year, the reunion was also a celebration of the CCCs 65th anniversary.
About 325 guests from all over the country attended yesterdayâ€™s reunion at Parker Dam, one of the state parks created by the CCC. They ate, danced, and reminisced about their days in the corps.
Among the guests was 87-year-old George Bush. Bush was a member of company #383 in LaPorte for three years. One of his jobs was serving as first cook.
“I was always interested in collecting things,” he said. Bush used to collect stones, which he painted and gave away.
He also created over 6,000 silhouette drawings, documenting some of the work done by the CCC workers. At the request of his company commander, he taught art to the other men in his camp.
“Those were the best days of my young life,” Bush said.
Ray Dunlap and Charlie Fedora of Fayette City both enjoy coming to the reunions.
“Thank God we’ve got people like (the Adams) who put this together,” Dunlap said. “There are very few of us left, and it’s the only way we have of getting together.”
Rudy Yukon of Niagra Falls, N.Y. was one of the men who helped build Parker Dam. He began working as a laborer, then became a hospital orderly.
“It was a great experience,” he said.
Don Moss of Oakland, Md., has a special connection to Parker Dam. His father, Howard Moss, was the commanding officer of camp 309 in Tyler.
“He moved the family to a log cabin in the spring of 1934,” Moss said. He and his brother and sister went to school in Penfield.
Moss remembers riding to school in an army truck during the winter when his father’s car wouldn’t start. He also remembers being taken for “hikes” in the woods with the CCC men.
“They were actually hunting for rattlesnakes,” Moss said. The men would lasso the snakes with shoelaces and catch them live. A doctor in Penfield paid $1 for each live snake.
The first CCC camp was in Virginia, but the second was opened in the Allegheny National Forest near Marienville. The men lived in military-type barracks. In addition to their room and board, they were paid $30 per month. Most of the men sent money home to their families.
The CCC workers built cabins, dams, and roads to create state parks. The corps was eliminated in 1942 when most men went off to war.
While Adams served in the CCC, he helped build Boulder Dam, Skyline Drive in Virginia, and trails into the Grand Canyon.
He remains very active in the organization. He belongs to the National organization, as well as several local chapters. He is considered an authority on the group.
“They call me Mr. CCC,” he said, smiling. He added that Helen knows almost as much about the group as he does.
Helen said she was Lou’s “CCC sweetheart.”
“We’ve been married 58 years, and he’s still my sweetheart,” she said.
Adams is the curator of the CCC museum at Parker Dam, a volunteer position. He said people donate memorabilia, and he displays it.
“We live for this,” he said. He and his wife travel all over the country to reunions and museums. They were presented two hand-carved plaques yesterday, in recognition of their dedication to the CCC.
“This was my first job, and it will be my last,” Adams said.