During the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 until the late-1930s, some 3 million American men found work in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief organization for unemployed, unmarried men in operation from 1933 to 1942, which established over 3,000 work camps throughout the Mainland United States and in the territories of Alaska and Hawaii.
Unemployed men between ages of 17 and 27 could enlist in the CCC for six months, and reenlist for a maximum of four six-month periods.
In Hawaii, roughly 3,000 men enrolled in the CCC at camps based in Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Molokai and Kauai.
Kauai’s CCC Camp was located at Kokee, and was comprised of several buildings, including the administration building, mess hall, barracks, a recreation building, supply room, garage, workshop and laundry room.
Men labored at reforestation and trail and road building projects and were paid $30 per month, of which $25 had to be sent home to their families, while the CCC provided them with food, shelter, clothing, cots, army blankets, sheets and mosquito nets.
Workdays began at a 5:30 a.m. wakeup, followed by calisthenics at 6 and breakfast at 6:20, after which work crews and their foremen reported to trucks that would transport them to the area closest by road to their day’s work site; the men would oftentimes then hike to the site.
Lunch hour was at 11 a.m.; work resumed at noon and continued until 3 p.m., when the men were trucked back to camp.
Supper was served at 5 p.m.; thereafter, the men occupied themselves with reading, athletics, letter writing, socializing and hobbies, etc. until lights out later in the evening.
Kokee’s CCC camp closed in 1942.
Nowadays, the former Kokee CCC Camp is under the charge of Hui O Laka, an environmental group that renovated and maintains it.
My uncle Johnny Panko of Ansonia, CT, was in the CCC and later served as an Army S/Sgt. combat engineer during World War II.
He participated in the capture of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, Germany in March 1945 and was wounded in Germany in April.