To Brigadier General George P. Tyner1
June 21, 1938 [Vancouver Barracks, Washington]
The Department of Labor is having a conference here at Vancouver Barracks of the selecting agents of the CCC for this Corps Area. The conference was moved from Portland to the Post because of the hotel strike. The purpose of this note is to pass on to you a suggestion made yesterday by the representative of the Grazing Service with regard to their camps in particular and the CCC in general.
In describing the work of the Grazing Service he commented on the fact that by its very nature the camps were invariably located in the most desolate country, far from streams and lakes, usually with a dearth or complete absence of trees, and almost always with a large population of snakes, desert insects and other unpleasant residents of such regions. Therefore, the problem of maintaining morale among the boys was a much more difficult one than in the other camps. I recalled, after he made this comment, that our particular grief and explosion out here was in a Grazing Service camp, and that a similar blow-up in California was also, I believe, in a Grazing Service camp.2 Your statistics may show others of the same nature.
This being the case, it would seem that the general policy for camp construction and maintenance should ordinarily allow more money for installation of camp facilities and improvement of recreation rooms, and for recreational facilities. Also, since most of these camps are in such isolated localities the leave area situation should be treated as a special proposition. For my Grazing Service camp in the desert southeast of Bend I tried to locate an unoccupied store room in the town of Bend to set up temporary sleeping quarters and a cook stove, so that when the boys went to town in the winter—it goes to 40 below zero down there—we could send them in Friday evening and bring them back to camp Sunday night. While in town they would have a warm place to loaf, a place to sleep and very simple bulk meals, most of the food being prepared before they left camp. I had in mind little more than a stew and coffee, bread, apple sauce, or items of this general nature requiring almost no preparation.
I figured in this way the boys would get a reasonable break from the monotony of camp and would not be on the streets. I found that some of them had been making it a practice to get the police to allow them to sleep at the jail. This fact stirred me up to the necessity of some definite arrangement.
The other suggestion this man made was, that like the army, it would be better to allow a choice whenever possible, on the part of the enrollee as to the type of camp he wished to enter. Farm boys, for example would get much more benefit from a Grazing Service camp or a soil conservation project; whereas city boys have little aptitude for such work. I do not think they should be allowed a choice of camp, only a choice of type of work involved. And, of course, there would be no certainty that the choice could be met.
I pass these items along for such consideration as they are worth. By the time you receive this letter my CCC responsibilities will have terminated—but not my interest.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Vancouver Barracks, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Tyner was assistant chief of staff, G-4, in the War Department.
2. In early February, 1938, thirty-seven C.C.C. enrollees had been discharged from Camp Frederick Butte, Brothers, Oregon, by the camp commander when they refused to work. A week following the incident, Captain Herman O. Lane filed an inspection report concluding that the discharge of the enrollees had been necessary to maintain discipline at the camp, but that the incident was the culmination of unfortunate circumstances. The recently organized camp consisted of enrollees from the metropolitan areas of New York and New Jersey, who had set up camp in inclement weather in a desolate area fifty-six miles from Bend, Oregon. A lack of properly prepared food in an atmosphere lacking leadership and efficiency on the part of the camp commander fueled the fires of discontent. Conditions had improved, however, by the time Captain Lane submitted his report: “The organization commander has been replaced by a competent Ninth corps Area captain and experienced cooks have been transferred to the camp." Marshall, in his Second Indorsement, concurred with the findings of the report. (Lane’s Memorandum to Commanding General, Headquarters Ninth corps Area, NA/RG 407 [324.5, CCC (3-25-33)].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981– ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 604–606.