The Adventure Continues…

What The Men Left Behind

by | Nov 20, 2019

“It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab hold of life and let it pull you forward.”
-Patti Davis

There’s a good chance if you’ve camped in a state park campground, you’ve seen the handwork of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

This public work relief program provide nearly a million young men employment to work on environmental projects. It was in operation from 1933 to 1942 for unemployed, unmarried men between the ages of eighteen to twenty-five during the Great Depression.

It is considered to be one of the most successful of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. The CCC planted more than three billion trees, constructed trails, built and improved structures like bridges, fire lookout towers, buildings and shelters in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments during its nine years of existence.

I enjoy exploring history. It provides me insight as to how those before me lived their daily lives. I have captured the handiwork of the CCC with my camera in many of the state parks I’ve temporarily resided in Arkansas and Texas. They used the resources of the area and, from what I understand, the architectural style of the region they worked.

I fell in love their craftsmanship at Garner State Park (near Leaky, Texas). The pavilion overlooking the Frio River and the large dance floor stirs my imagination as I wonder how much fun the dances had to be back in the day. Another structure that has filled my photo app is the shade shelter at Bastrop State Park (Bastrop, Texas). This one building has three fireplaces with three very different “atmospheres”. The front of the building is open towards the campground with a fireplace in the center of the wall. The back of the building is split into two section; one having a fireplace in the corner with what I would consider theater seating facing it, and the second is enclosed with a unique fireplace I hadn’t seen before. I’m curious to see how the smoke vents up into the two holes in the chimney without smoking out the room.

Willie James and I are still seeing hawks soaring high on the upper atmospheric wind currents while on our walks. Seeing the one at McKinney Falls (On The Fence Post) brought up a lot of unresolved guilt of not being a better mother to my two sons. I know I did my best with the knowledge I had at the time. Experience is our grandest teacher and the lessons are, at times, unbearable. But, we pick ourselves up and move on to the best of our abilities in each moment.

I want to thank those that offered their kind words after reading last week’s post (On The Fence Post). The support team I rely on to help keep my head out of the oven is a small, intimate number of friends. For a person who, be damned, will do “it” by myself has been given the biggest of lessons that, in fact, I cannot.

What pulled my aching heart out of this most recent abyss of grief was a sentence that a dear friend shared with me. It’s something her late-husband whispers to comfort her in her grief, “I am here; I’m no longer there and in pain.”

As a mother, it is hard to watch our children suffer. We are natural healers and nurturers. Our conversation reminded me that I do have a closer relationship with Jeremiah; we communicate more so now than we did in life, I feel his presence more so now than in life, and of the two of us I am the only one resistant of all things possible (I am human, after all). The hawk sightings are a blessing and a constant reminder on this soul’s journey.

For now I shall bounce state park to state park this winter, write my story and doodle. Who knows, maybe I will finish writing my books, put my doodles on a coffee mug and/or find my new home. With all the photographs I’ve taken of the structures the men of the CCC built, I have a grand collection of inspiration to implement. Their craftsmanship and service has stood the test of time, and for that I am grateful.

Until next time…

Captured moments along the way…

Bastrop State Park Shelter; Bastrop, Texas
Bastrop State Park Shelter; Bastrop, Texas
Bastrop State Park Shelter; Bastrop, Texas

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About The Author

C.K. Kochis

I am a writer; it's what I do. My mission in life is to guide women exhausted from nurturing others and the stagnation of daily routines to ignite self-love through the power of their words. I am utilizing my Integrative Nutrition Health Coach education as the foundation of ElementsForAHealthierLife.com to create a platform for coaches and leaders to share pearls of wisdom and professional insights. I wrote, designed and published “Get A Compass Not A Clock” and “UnLeash Your Story: A Journal Writer's Guidebook”. My virtual assistant clients keep me creatively busy, while my grandsons teach me about the importance of play.

10 Comments

  1. Barbara Parcells

    We can only do what we can, from where we are, with what we have and know. When we know better, as Maya Angelou says, we do better. Imagine if those ancestors of ours had looked at the wilderness, thrown up their hands and said, “nope, no way, can’t do it.” To grow is to learn and we never stop doing either.

    Reply
    • C.K. Kochis

      To grow is to learn, isn’t that the truth?

      Reply
  2. Andrea

    Thanks for a glimpse into the past. The CCC strikes me as an amazing example of creativity — in work boots! Enjoy those hawks.

    Reply
    • C.K. Kochis

      You’re welcome, Andrea. Each time I come across their handwork “in work boots” I am in awe. The CCC truly left their mark on the landscape.

      Reply
  3. Vatsala Shukla

    Thanks for sharing information about the CCC,Cindy. As a non-American, I wouldn’t have known about it even though I had to study the Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal as part of my World History paper in 12th grade. But not in such depth.

    I’m glad you and Willie James are enjoying yourselves. As for being a good mother, I firmly believe that you were and are a great Mom. There’s a card in Doreen Virtues Angel Messages Oracle that says our parents love us to the best of their ability. QAD!

    Reply
    • C.K. Kochis

      You’re welcome, Vatsala. I’m glad you enjoyed the information regarding the CCC and found it insightful.

      Willie James and I are enjoying our time on the road. Thank you for the kind words of support. I may not have been a perfect mother, but I did my best. Life is our grandest teacher,

      Reply
  4. Laura Joseph

    Thank you for sharing. I learned a lot about CCC and what a great use of taxpayer dollars. Not to mention your hawks. They bring such beautiful medicine for our souls. 🙏

    Reply
    • C.K. Kochis

      The hawk sightings are a blessing, and grand medicine for this soul’s journey.

      I agree about the CCC being a great use of taxpayer dollars. It helped young men to gain employment, give back to their country and leave behind a legacy for generations to utilize.

      Reply
  5. Kathleen

    Beautiful post, Cindy. It’s definitely a week for fireplaces and their bygone function as a community gathering place; be it family, neighbors, guests at a state park or the spirits of our loved ones, we gather at the hearth whether it is made of clay or takes form as loving parent who has done the best she could in each moment. Safe Journey to you and Willie James. <3

    Reply
    • C.K. Kochis

      Kathleen, I could not have said that better. Fireplaces (or in my case, campground fire rings) are a place of gathering. Willie James are enjoying our new home. Now he has room to run – and boy does he ever!

      Reply

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