Dan Parks

My grandfather, forced to quit school after the 8th grade to work on the family farm, fudged his age to join the CCC at 17. His CCC crew worked the Wisconsin northwoods and improved the beautiful Camp Copper Falls State Park. He sent $25 a month, almost half his pay, home to his impoverished family. I pulled the records myself to find all this out; he never spoke of it nor any other hardships during what undoubtedly was a difficult life.

The seeds of the CCC still bloom today in ways that not even President Roosevelt could have dreamed of. The CCC taught my grandfather a skill (truck repair) that allowed him to climb into the lowest tier of middle class, owning and operating a small-town gas and auto-repair station. My grandfather’s children were the first generation of his family to graduate from high school; most of his other grandchildren (including me) would become the first generation to go to college.

My grandfather’s name was Claire Metzenbauer. I never saw him happier than he appears in the attached a photo from the 1937 Sparta CCC Annual (seated center, first row). He must have been thrilled to be there, earning a living in the Wisconsin woods that he would love his entire life. You can be sure my son will hear all about the great grandfather he never got to meet, and the honorable work he performed in the CCC.

CCC team of Claire Metzenbauer at 1937 Sparta CCC Annual (seated, front row)

Richard A Walker is the director of the Living New Deal.

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