Bill George sent us a CM Profile of his years at the Fricot City Academy and Yountville Center in the early ’80s.
After my graduation from high school in 6/82 I had no plans. I worked a few dead end jobs for the next year with no direction in life.
Finally in 9/83 my older brother told me about the CCC, and I had two choices. That or military.
I applied to join the CCC shortly after.
Within two weeks I received a letter from the CCC welcoming me and hoping I was ready for a year of HARD work LOW pay and MISERABLE CONDITIONS and it was written just like that!!
I had a report date of 10-1-83 to CCC headquarters in Sac. After my intake, I boarded an old grey bus to Calaveras County in the town of San Andreas to the Fricot Academy. I would spend my first three weeks here. Three weeks of sheer hell!!
I think we started with 20-30 (rough guess) on our crew and the same amount on the other ten crews as well (again rough guess). So out of 300 recruits there were available spots for maybe 75-100. It was the academy’s job to trim down to the proper amount in three weeks.
They ran us into the ground from the first moment we were there, and it continued until we were down to the proper amount of recruits. We ran, hiked, cut trails among other things constantly. Out of a 24 hour day we had 9 hours to ourselves, 8 of those hours we were sleeping.
Finally when we were down to the proper amount of recruits that they had available spots for all the torture ended!! We had succeeded!!
The next day our perspective centers arrived to pick us up.
I was on my way to Yountville center.
I was prepared to pull in the center and get screamed at the moment I got out of the van, like we did at Fricot. Much to my surprise, they seemed happy to see the five of us. I was shown my sleeping area to put my bags away then given the opportunity to clean up before dinner. Dinner was amazing, you actually were fed enough to get full!!
Shortly after dinner they had a meeting of the center to welcome the newcomers.
The following day we were up at 6am roll call for PT instead of the 5am wake up at the academy.
PT was a fraction of what it was at the academy, with a fraction of the running and you didn’t have CLCs/ACLs every 10 feet screaming at you!!
After PT and breakfast we all prepared for the day and the crews we would be on at our daily am meeting.
My first month was spent in center on the maintenance crew basically janitorial work.
I then got on a crew led by C1 Jim Daniels working on the grade. I spent the next 10 months on that crew. We worked on many different projects with CalTrans, Department of Fish and Game, and Department of Water Resources, just name a few. We did stream clearance, levy erosion control, many, many hours of sandbagging during the floods, as well as trail construction. In September 1984 they created a crew on the grounds of the veteran’s home to help the tradesmen with different projects.
Having only another month left before the year was up it was my intention to become a specialist.
One of the many projects they had was building signs for all of the different buildings on the vet’s home. The project was supposed last for about a month.
Shortly before the project was over the cement mason of the vet’s home went to our center director, Ernie Thompson, and asked to keep me working with him. I was then promoted to green hat and given my second year in the Corp.
It was the best two years of my life, the conservation Corps help me tremendously.
After my days in the Corps I went into the auto repair trade. I worked for Ford Motor Company for 25 years, then went into business for myself. I opened a mobile auto business for my final 5 years in the trade, retiring two years ago.
The Corps taught me discipline and responsibility.
I enjoyed it so much that after 30 years of being out of the Corps, I have just submitted my application to come back as a C1.
Photos of Yountville Center courtesy of former Corpsmember Sherryl Jones.