Interview Date: March 18, 2008
Transcribed by: Mim Eisenberg/WordCraft; May 2013
Listen: Read Transcript
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
U.S. FOREST SERVICE, REGION 8
Interview with: Howard Aleshire and another man called Leonard [his brother?]
Interviewed by: Maria Schleidt
Date: March 18, 2008
Transcribed by: Mim Eisenberg/WordCraft; May 2013
MARIA SCHLEIDT: —like a security thing? Like, you walk away from your car it’ll [unintelligible; 0:06] so you can see?
WOMAN: Right. Okay. Well, I just wondered because I think I’m still open. They’re open now.
SCHLEIDT: There you go.
HOWARD ALESHIRE: [Chuckles.]
SCHLEIDT: Can I just sit near you?
ALESHIRE: We ain’t got much light now.
SCHLEIDT: That’s okay.
WOMAN: Bye, y’all.
SCHLEIDT: Bye. Drive safely.
ALESHIRE: It won’t be no problem me to explain that to you.
SCHLEIDT: Okay. Thank you, sir.
MAN: You’re welcome. Do you have any kind of diagram?
SCHLEIDT: Yes, I do. We found one.
MAN: Because he’ll know coming in from Mine Creek Road.
ALESHIRE: Yeah, that’s the way it goes toward that there.
SCHLEIDT: Well, let me tell you how this started. We had to do a timber sale survey. We had to go in there and look and make sure we’re not destroying any historic properties or prehistoric Indian sites, so one of my technicians went out there, and he says, “I think I found the CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] camp.” I said, “Well, how do you know?” He says, “There’s concrete everywhere.” And so—
ALESHIRE: You know, [cross-talk; unintelligible; 1:10]—
MAN: Let her finish her story.
ALESHIRE: Yeah. Somebody’s been feeding you a line, because when you went in, you know, all of the barracks and everything was all they left, and when you stepped off of that driveway that goes in?—
ALESHIRE: —you was under Army.
ALESHIRE: And when you went across the road, you was under the Forest Service, on the other side. And all of that first big slab there was a recreational hall.
SCHLEIDT: That’s right. We think we found it.
ALESHIRE: Yeah. And that thing—it housed the camp store and everything, you know. It had a movie theater, and all of that was in that.
ALESHIRE: Now, the next one in front of you—
SCHLEIDT: So I suspect that this building right here—this is your flagpole, with the square?
ALESHIRE: That flagpole sat right out in front of the recreation hall.
SCHLEIDT: And I suspect this is it. This is the recreation hall? It has a chimney? We found a chimney that says, “Company 742, CCC Company.”
SCHLEIDT: And it’s got sort of a platform on one side?
ALESHIRE: Now, this—what I was going to tell you was—this would be the easiest way for me to explain it.
ALESHIRE: Then you can mark it where you’ll know what I was saying.
ALESHIRE: Now, right behind the—
SCHLEIDT: Let me get a pen.
ALESHIRE: Behind the recreation hall was the bath house and the latrines, and we called it the Spring Branch.
SCHLEIDT: The Spring Branch?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, that’s what—I’ll tell you why we did that.
ALESHIRE: Now, this commodes and everything—instead of having commodes, all it was was a box, just like a outside toilet, and it had a ditch under it with gravel rock in it, and water run through it all the time.
MAN: From that storage tank. It comes up Mine Creek and [cross-talk; unintelligible; 3:32]
ALESHIRE: That’s right. We called it [Spring Ridge? 3:34].
MAN: I heard that story a lot of times. [Laughs.]
ALESHIRE: This stored water from the cabins back there where the forest rangers lived. All that went through that, you see? And they had that tank up there, is where they could run water. Kept it going all the time.
SCHLEIDT: Oh, okay.
ALESHIRE: Now, another thing: And there’s going to be a bunch of pipes under that that went out to these other buildings.
SCHLEIDT: Right. We found a lot of pipe.
ALESHIRE: Yep. Another thing it did: They was real strict on landscape. And everything was landscaped by hand to where that that water run off. It all went to the Spring Branch.
SCHLEIDT: We’ve seen a lot of hand-dug—
MAN: Modern-day sewer system. [Laughs.]
SCHLEIDT: We’ve seen a lot of hand-dug channels lined with rock.
MAN: That’s [unintelligible; 4:29].
SCHLEIDT: And lots of pipe and lots of concrete, and lots of sidewalks.
ALESHIRE: Yeah. And when you passed the recreation hall there, now, was a dining hall, kitchen and dining hall set the long way.
SCHLEIDT: Okay. We found that, and we found the root cellar.
ALESHIRE: The what?
SCHLEIDT: There’s a root cellar.
MAN: A cellar.
SCHLEIDT: A cellar.
MAN: A root cellar.
ALESHIRE: Oh. Yeah, there was a grease pit.
SCHLEIDT: Grease pit!
ALESHIRE: Probably what you found.
MAN: They probably had a cellar, too,—
MAN: —to keep the fruit from freezing.
MAN: [unintelligible; 5:01] groceries.
ALESHIRE: And to your right, like you was going in, now,—
ALESHIRE: —and to your right, right behind the mess hall, in the east end of it, was a hospital set back there behind it.
MAN: And infirmary type thing?
SCHLEIDT: Whereabouts? Where is it? Behind which building?
ALESHIRE: Well, if you’re going in right, you know, where you’re behind the mess hall?
SCHLEIDT: Behind the mess hall? Uh-huh.
ALESHIRE: It would be sitting back a little bit behind it, on the east corner.
SCHLEIDT: The east corner?
MAN: [unintelligible; 5:38].
SCHLEIDT: I’m not sure.
MAN: This is going up to the mountain.
SCHLEIDT: Okay. Yes.
MAN: This was the—
SCHLEIDT: There’s the flagpole. Then there’s the rec hall, mess hall,—
MAN: Mess hall.
SCHLEIDT: —latrines, barracks—
MAN: Barracks, some of the [unintelligible; 5:55]. There’s one directly behind the—
ALESHIRE: Yeah, but you had to go around the end of the mess hall to get to the hospital.
MAN: Straight around back of it or out here to the right, to the east more?
ALESHIRE: To the east of it.
SCHLEIDT: East of it?
ALESHIRE: [unintelligible; 6:09] go around that way, anyway, but that’s what I meant, was: kind of behind it.
SCHLEIDT: Okay. Was it a big building?
ALESHIRE: Not too big. You know, a pretty good-sized little building, but—
SCHLEIDT: But not as big as a barrack.
ALESHIRE: Oh, no. No, it [was] just built more like a little house, you know.
MAN: First Aid and [unintelligible; 6:29] station.
MAN: Well, what was the bigger one out from the hospital to the right, a bigger building?
ALESHIRE: Well, now, they had one there where they had night schools.
SCHLEIDT: The education building?
ALESHIRE: Well, similar to that. You know, where you could go—this was voluntary: go if you wanted to or you didn’t have to. And then—now, this is going back to your right as you went in?
ALESHIRE: And for the Forest Service, all this bunch was—now, they had huge, huge woodworking shops.
MAN: [unintelligible; 7:08].
ALESHIRE: And they had large mechanic shops.
SCHLEIDT: The garage?
SCHLEIDT: They had a garage?
ALESHIRE: You know, they done all that. They teach them boys how to do that mechanic work.
SCHLEIDT: Now, I was told—
ALESHIRE: Now, they’re just a wooden building.
SCHLEIDT: I was told to the right of the flagpole was the project superintendent’s building, the Forest Service project superintendent?
SCHLEIDT: Is that correct?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, that’s [cross-talk; unintelligible; 7:32].
MAN: One is the offices—
SCHLEIDT: They’re offices for the Forest Service?
ALESHIRE: Yeah. Of course, they lived back up that canyon behind that water tank there.
ALESHIRE: Little cabins. They had cabins up in there, built all back up in there. Ands they lived up there.
MAN: That was off limits, right? Right, Howard?
MAN: That was all off limits to you guys, all up where they lived?
SCHLEIDT: Now, who lived in the cabins?
MAN: The supervisors.
SCHLEIDT: The supervisors?
ALESHIRE: Supervisors. They stayed out there, you know, all the time because—
MAN: Did they have their families?
ALESHIRE: Yeah. Some of them did. I never will forget, that old colonel we had was a lieutenant colonel. Yeah. And when you go across there on his side, he made sure you walked [the chalk line? 8:24].
ALESHIRE and MAN: [Both chuckle.]
ALESHIRE: He’d have—
MAN: [unintelligible; 8:29].
ALESHIRE: We’d get out there on that parade ground, where it’s on the left as you turned in, and you’d do calisthenics and some sort of drill, everything just like you do in the Army.
ALESHIRE: It was real comical, you know. We got along good with him, but he didn’t take no foolishness.
ALESHIRE: Another thing they had to take care of them troublemakers: They had the side camps. You know, one over there at old Camp Wilder?
ALESHIRE: And they had another one down towards [Camp] Slatington, close to Slatington Tower, and they’d ship you into that. And, boy, there you didn’t have no privileges, see? No [unintelligible; 9:15] or nothing else, hardly.
MAN: I’d show you [unintelligible; 9:16].
ALESHIRE: And they’d leave you there for a while. When they brought you back, you was ready to—
MAN: Toe the line. [Chuckles.]
ALESHIRE: Yeah, it kind of leveled it out.
SCHLEIDT: Can I ask you: What year did you serve in the CCCs? What year did you enter?
ALESHIRE: Well, I went in in ’39. I know late ’39 because I was there when the war broke out in 1941.
SCHLEIDT: How long did you stay with the CCCs?
ALESHIRE: Two years.
SCHLEIDT: Two years! Oh. Okay. That’s longer than most boys.
MAN: He was under age, and they just signed him over.
SCHLEIDT: Oh, you were under age!
ALESHIRE: Yeah, they signed me in.
SCHLEIDT: You were—
ALESHIRE: You see, back then times was hard, and they had to sign me in to get me in there that way, and that’s how come [unintelligible; 10:02]. And I had to—when the war broke out, I had about two or three months left to have my two years in, and they had Nolan Gann, who was left there when everybody else had gone, as we moved what stuff they wanted to keep, the Forest Service wanted to keep, to Camp Mulberry up here inside of Fort Smith, and I spent the rest of my time up there. Got discharged up there.
SCHLEIDT: So you were discharged from Camp Mulberry?
SCHLEIDT: And that’s at Fort Smith?
MAN: North Fort Smith.
ALESHIRE: North Fort Smith.
MAN: [unintelligible; 10:42] in the forest records, too. I don’t know if they still have [unintelligible; 10:43].
MAN: Gann, G-a-n-n.
SCHLEIDT: G-a-n-n? Okay.
MAN: And he and Howard were under-aged and both [unintelligible; 10:51], so they got to move out the detail [chuckles], because all the other guys went into the military. They come out there and just [unintelligible; 10:57].
ALESHIRE: I tell you what: It’s all new to me, you know, being a kid. I got out there, and I done a man’s work. And they used me. If I didn’t have something they wanted hauled, I was on the [fire guard? 11:19]. Had to stay anyway because I drove a crew truck.
SCHLEIDT: You drove a truck?
ALESHIRE: Where they had a woods fire, I had to haul up crews out to the fires.
SCHLEIDT: Did you start out as a truck driver at 16?
ALESHIRE: Yeah! They made a truck driver out of me.
MAN: So did [unintelligible; 11:42] passed away.
SCHLEIDT: So you never had to go out and plant trees or do soil erosion projects?
ALESHIRE: Oh, I worked—you know, I did all kind of work, you know, bank sloping and even had a little old RD-5 ’dozer that I operated whenever they needed it and worked the crusher when [cross-talk; unintelligible; 12:05].
SCHLEIDT: You worked with the crusher?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, the rock crusher and—
MAN: [unintelligible; 12:09 up there on the left.
MAN: [unintelligible; 12:12].
SCHLEIDT: Okay. What else did you do? Did you fight fires?
ALESHIRE: Oh, yeah. If they had one, I was there.
SCHLEIDT: You were there?
ALESHIRE: And then later on, getting up close to the end of that, that had a detail they called the hotshot fire crew, and we’d come up here on the [post office’s lawn? 12:45] and spend a weekend after—just laying out there on the sidewalk, you know, in case they had a fire around here close.
SCHLEIDT: Close to Mena?
ALESHIRE: And we was the first—
MAN: [unintelligible; 12:57].
ALESHIRE: Yeah. First six men there whenever they had one, you know, and I went on many a fires, a lot of them, even the one up there in Mulberry before my time was up.
MAN: [unintelligible; 13:19]. He turned 16 right after that picture was made, and I turned 10 [chuckles], but we’d go up to the tower and [unintelligible; 13:24] [line of fire? 13:26] that we called [the ranger? 13:28]?
MAN: And we’d [unintelligible; 13:29] ourselves because we’d take [unintelligible; 13:32] and all that because there wasn’t any people. There wasn’t any people.
MAN: There wasn’t any vehicles. There wasn’t any radios.
SCHLEIDT: So you just went and handled it yourself.
MAN: So the [procedure of the crew trip? 13:44]. He had to go and be there [cross-talk; unintelligible; 13:44].
ALESHIRE: Yeah, but being under that Army control, whenever I was drafted into the Army, they credited with me with “previous military service.” So they made me an active corporal down here in Little Rock and put me over half of a troop train going to San Luis Obispo, California. And I had the half of it—I had to keep them boys down, in line, you know, that was in there. They had [a loads? 14:23]. So then when they took them to boot camp in San Luis Obispo, California, shipped me all the way back across the country to Dothan, Alabama, in Camp Rucker, Alabama.
SCHLEIDT: Camp Rucker. The Army.
ALESHIRE: And that was the weirdest thing, and we figured we was going to the Pacific.
ALESHIRE: You know, being down there in them swamps?
ALESHIRE: Rattlesnakes and all that. But whenever our initial training part of it was over, they pulled what you called a [passive? 15:05] review—
SCHLEIDT: Passive review?
ALESHIRE: —and a parade, you know?
ALESHIRE: And of all people, old General [George S.] Patton was in the line. So he picked the unit, the 35th Infantry Division, that he wanted it because of the size of the guys that was in it and the type of training we had. And in that part of the country at that time it was, you know, still war. So what he done, he sent us to Tennessee on maneuvers. We got in there in Tennessee that night, and there was about three or four inches of snow the ground—
SCHLEIDT: You’re kidding.
ALESHIRE: —and cold, and we still had summer clothes.
SCHLEIDT: [Sharp intake of breath.] Oh!
ALESHIRE: And they moved—it was out in the field, the pup tents—you know, living in pup tents. And we stayed on that. Then when they got done with that, why, they shipped us to Durham, North Carolina, for advanced training.
SCHLEIDT: So where in North Carolina?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, and then’s where we knew that something was up.
SCHLEIDT: Durham, South Carolina?
SCHLEIDT: North Carolina. Sorry.
ALESHIRE: Because it changed. Everything changed. And so anyway, I got up there, and they had already advanced me up to a sergeant. I was over a squad of—a twelve-man squad of demolition [tank? 16:34]: minefields and, you know, whatever. Anything you needed blowed or [burned? 16:38] or whatever, that’s what we did. And so they loaded me and two and other guys up and sent us to Elkins, West Virginia, in the dead wintertime, and took mule pack training.
SCHLEIDT: Mule pack?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, I had to pack them ammunitions and stuff on them mules.
ALESHIRE: You had to take care of that mule, too, because—it was the 7th Cavalry that was who they was, you know, and, boy, you talk about rough and cold. We was living out in pup tents, now, mind you. Didn’t have no barracks or nothing. And finally I got out of that, and I went back, and I thought, Well, now I got it made. I got [unintelligible; 17:27]. [Chuckles.] That’s the time I got [to check out? 17:30] my feet and kind of look back on the ground, you know, and got settled down. Order come down: Pack. Be ready [unintelligible; 17:41]. And so they shipped us out to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.
ALESHIRE: Yeah. And there’s whenever we started getting our overseas shots and different clothing and all that stuff—you know, all [unintelligible; 18:01]. I’m talking about this is all happening in a week’s time. And they came in one evening, and they said, “Well,”—said, “Pack your gear.” Said, “We’re moving out.” And went to New York and boarded a boat to England. And so we got into England, and the Germans bombed the devil out of us that night.
ALESHIRE: So we knew then something would happen. You know, something was going wrong. And at that time they hadn’t even declared war on Germany. That’s where everything began to change, and all if our training changed. Everything. It’s just unreal how fast it changed, you know.
ALESHIRE: And so anyway, I hit the Omaha Beach in the invasion in what they called Wave Six, and there was five other waves ahead of me, you know, when we went in there. And you talk about a bunch of shook-up boys, now.
ALESHIRE: All that, you know, was kind of new to us, in a way, but in a way, we already had been trained for it. Knew what to do. And Patton—he had a way. He said that 99.9 percent of the best weapons we had in our arsenal was psychological.
ALESHIRE: And that’s what he went by.
ALESHIRE: And he said brute force—speed and brute force—and he give orders—he didn’t go down to [unintelligible; 19:51]. He’d give them to the non-coms [non-commissioned officers]. That’s what he gave the orders to.
SCHLEIDT: Oh, really? Directly.
ALESHIRE: And he’d come around and give you them orders hisself.
ALESHIRE: He’d have them spells once in a while. You know, if it’s kind of slow, they’d take a prisoner or two, but if they got a push—you know, where you go be a’pushing, you didn’t take none.
ALESHIRE: He’d come around and turn them orders, said, “No prisoners today. We ain’t got no way to take care of them.”
MAN: [unintelligible; 20:28].
ALESHIRE: And another thing he told us—he said, “Now, there’s one thing you want to always remember.” Said, “This is war.” And he said, “Age, sex or whatever has no meaning.” And he said, “If it bounces up in front of you,” he said, “shoot.” And he meant you to do just that.
ALESHIRE: And I was in that Battle of the Bulge to help get that airborne outfit that was cut off up there. They destroyed one infantry division, and we was already across out of France into Germany, and they pulled us back as replacements with another division, and they put us on a train, in boxcars, and we went all the way around that neck down in Holland, and got out in an old Germany army camp on Christmas Eve. We thought we was going to be there, you know, for Christmas. And that day at noon, old Patton come a’wheeling in there and said, “Boys,” said, “gather your stuff.” He said, “Leave your gear.”
SCHLEIDT: “Leave your gear”?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, “Leave your gear.” What he wanted us to carry was just a weapon, and each guy had at least one box of ammunition of some kind or another, and I had a pack that I carried all the time. Had forty pounds of TNT in it. Anyway, we set out afoot, mind you, because the snow and ice—the vehicles—they hadn’t even got there yet. They was still coming down. We went down in the train. And we walked all that evening, all night, till about nine or ten o’clock the next day we walked in the [unintelligible; 22:33] [building? 22:34]. And what he had figured—the stuff that had been there before, that we’d have a whole artillery with everything we needed, but it wasn’t that a’way. They didn’t have any.
SCHLEIDT: Oh, they didn’t have it?
ALESHIRE: No, they done used it, and didn’t have no way of getting no extra, and so what he did—this is another one of his tricks.
ALESHIRE: [Chuckles.] We had make-shift ways of doing things, you know.
ALESHIRE: So he had us scoot around and gather up all the wine bottles we could find and fill them up with gas and put a pick in them—
ALESHIRE: Called a Molotov cocktail.
ALESHIRE: So when you got all of that ready, he lined us up about, oh, three or four feet apart, and we hit that German army. Now, I’m talking about they had an army. They had everything: tanks, troops and artillery and all the little old blacktop roads. And we had that thing in a run, and all the first wave was a’doing was just—you know, if something jumped up in front of you—because it’s about daylight and it’s six below zero—you’d shoot and just keep a’going. And we’d run by them tanks at throw one of them cocktails in the back of it, and the gas would explode and go down in their [beds? 24:08] [unintelligible; 24:11], and I [unintelligible; 24:14], them [unintelligible; 24:12] would come out of there.
ALESHIRE: And then there’s another wave right behind you and one behind that one, and they’re shooting everything that you passed, and you just kept running and burned all them supply trucks and everything [into the wind? 24:28]. That’s the kind of deal that was.
ALESHIRE: And then after the two days it took us to completely clean in, you know,—and then what we did after that, we went around in the woods and off of the roads and places like that and gathered up the dead that we could find and drug them out to the blacktop so the grave registration could find them, and when they got our replacements up there, we loaded up and we left [unintelligible; 25:02] one morning, and was in Denlo, Holland, that night, [when we quit? 25:08].
SCHLEIDT: Where were you?
ALESHIRE: Denlo, Holland.
SCHLEIDT: Okay. Yeah, we was on our way to Berlin. We thought. [Laughs.]
MAN: She might be more interested in CC, but—
SCHLEIDT: That’s interesting!
MAN: Yeah! When you finally got to the Rhine River and they told George Patton not to go into Berlin till the Russians got there to help officially take East Berlin, you know?
MAN: He had a fit. Tell them what they made you do there at the Rhine. [Laughs.]
SCHLEIDT: Wait! What did you do at the Rhine?
MAN: We got documentation! [Laughs.]
SCHLEIDT: What did you do?
MAN: He [unintelligible; 25:43]. [Laughs.] He may not want to tell you. Anyway, he said, “You’re tall and skinny, so [unintelligible; 25:49] that creek.” [unintelligible; 25:50] “[unintelligible; 25:51] that creek and get these tanks over.” “Well, I’m not goin’ over in there.” I mean, he didn’t mind them arguing or anything as long as they finally did it.
MAN: But made him wade. And he said, “Yeah, that wasn’t bad. We can cross.” They crossed, and [unintelligible; 26:04].
SCHLEIDT: So he made you wade first?
MAN: First guy across the Rhine River. [Laughs.]
SCHLEIDT: Lucky you! I’m glad you’re tall and skinny.
ALESHIRE: Anyway, I’ve had a colorful life.
SCHLEIDT: Yes, you have!
ALESHIRE: And I’ve seen a lot of world.
MAN: But the CC camp helped you guys get more into military type training and [unintelligible; 26:30].
ALESHIRE: What we did about that two years I spent over there in the Shady [Camp Shady]—but then after my first year in the Army, I got that first stripe on my sleeve. That was ten dollars a month.
SCHLEIDT: Ten dollars a month?
ALESHIRE: And they gave me credit for my two years over here, see?
SCHLEIDT: Oh, they gave you—they equated that to military service?
SCHLEIDT: Oh, okay.
ALESHIRE: It was credited as military service.
SCHLEIDT: Well, that’s good. It counted for something, huh?
MAN: Ten dollars a month then was quite a lot of money. [Chuckles.]
ALESHIRE: Anything to make a dollar. That was—
SCHLEIDT: Yeah, as a CCC, you would have earned what?
SCHLEIDT: Thirty dollars a month? Twenty-five went to your parents, and you kept five? But you were a truck driver, so you probably made more money.
ALESHIRE: Over there, when I was over at the Shady—
MAN: What’d you get as a truck driver?
SCHLEIDT: What’d you get as a truck driver?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, over at Shady, though—all we got over there was a little book of six dollars of coupons, and the only place you could spend them was in that store in that recreation hall.
SCHLEIDT: What kind of movies did you watch?
SCHLEIDT: Movies. Did you watch movies?
ALESHIRE: Oh, old-time westerns. You know, that’s all they had. And half of them wasn’t even run; there was always a break in the film or something, you know. Most everybody would get tired and get up and leave before it was over.
SCHLEIDT: [Laughs.] did you go into town?
ALESHIRE: Very seldom, because I was always on fire guard. I had a detail, a signed detail on Sunday evening, and as soon as I ate dinner, I had me a pickup that I’d go to Shady Lake, and then I’d start back—I’d check all them camp grounds for cars where people had been over on the weekend and have left cars, to make sure they’re all out, and I’d go from Shady Lake to Barge Springs and then to Cold Springs and then back over to the camp. And I had to do that every Sunday afternoon.
SCHLEIDT: Cold Springs? You mean up in—
MAN: Straight on up the road, where—instead of turning, you went over the mountain towards Shady Lake, up past the [unintelligible; 28:50] [pit? 28:51], straight ahead there [unintelligible; 28:52], towards [unintelligible; 28:52]?
MAN: That was Cold Springs, and it used to be quite the little deal up there.
SCHLEIDT: Oh, okay. All right. And then you’d go back to the camp and go back to your barrack?
ALESHIRE: I’d try to get all the done and back over in time to eat supper. [Chuckles.]
SCHLEIDT: What time was supper?
ALESHIRE: Oh, I don’t remember now, but they had a certain time for it.
SCHLEIDT: Did you have to dress up before you went to supper?
SCHLEIDT: Did you have to dress up to go to supper? Did you have to put on your clean clothes?
ALESHIRE: I didn’t hear that.
SCHLEIDT: Did you have to put clean clothes on and wear your dress uniform to go to dinner?
MAN: Did you hear?
MAN: She wanted to know if you had to put on your dress uniform to go eat your supper.
ALESHIRE: Oh, no.
MAN: Just your work clothes, then.
ALESHIRE: You didn’t have that time. What you did, you’d fall out there by the flagpole, in front of that old colonel, and they’d lower the flag, and you’d stand to attention and hold your hand over your heart while the bugler blowed the taps.
SCHLEIDT: And this was every afternoon?
ALESHIRE: Every afternoon, and they was out there doing the same thing doing the same thing in the morning when they raised it.
SCHLEIDT: Mm-hm. Did you go to truck driving school?
SCHLEIDT: No? You didn’t have to take an exam, a test?
ALESHIRE: I had a [unintelligible; 30:22] Forest Service supervisor, I guess it was, over there. Called me out, and I was skinny and tall anyway, you know. And he said, “Howard,” he said, “come here.” He said, “I got a job for you.” Took me up there and put me in the—all their old trucks were Dodge. Dodge trucks. That’s all they had. He said, “I’m gonna make a driver out of you.” And I got in there with him, and by the time he got through with me, I could drive that thing.
MAN: That was the training.
SCHLEIDT: That was your training?
ALESHIRE: That was my training.
MAN: How long did it last? Half a day?
ALESHIRE: [Chuckles.] About a half a day.
SCHLEIDT: Half a day? All right, someone else we interviewed was also a driver.
ALESHIRE: [unintelligible; 31:09] driver. They had—
MAN: Daniel—just a minute. I’ll think—[unintelligible; 31:13].
SCHLEIDT: Yes. He was a truck driver also.
MAN: You know, Daniel—oh, I’ll think of his name in a minute, [unintelligible; 41:24]?
ALESHIRE: But that was the kind of life we had over there.
SCHLEIDT: I can’t [unintelligible; 31:33]. Probably not.
ALESHIRE: I’m going to turn this thing—
SCHLEIDT: Dolan Daniels.
SCHLEIDT: Dolan Daniels. He talks about being a driver.
ALESHIRE: Yeah. They had several drivers.
SCHLEIDT: And he had a twin brother. What was I going to ask you?
ALESHIRE: They had a driver and a truck for every crew, regardless of what crew it was.
MAN: [unintelligible; 31:59].
SCHLEIDT: Did you ever work in a fire tower as a lookout?
ALESHIRE: No, that’s one thing I missed. I worked on that [Big Mountain Tower? big mountain tower? 32:06] when they built it, but I never had to stay up there.
MAN: That was my other brother who stayed up there.
SCHLEIDT: Right. You stayed up there with your father?
MAN: For a little while, and then they put him off because they needed him down [unintelligible; 32:23].
ALESHIRE: But the way they had me hooked up, I didn’t have time.
SCHLEIDT: Mm-hm. You were too busy.
SCHLEIDT: So you didn’t go into town that often. Did the boys ever go into town, to Mena?
ALESHIRE: Oh, yeah. Yeah, a lot of them did.
SCHLEIDT: How did they get there?
ALESHIRE: They had an Army truck that was, you know, a Regular Army rig, and it went in every day, and they’d take the mail in, and they’d stay up there and pick up the mail and come back in the evening, and them guys would drive that Army truck in and back, if they didn’t miss it. If they did, they walked if somebody didn’t stop and pick them up.
SCHLEIDT: But that’s a long walk.
ALESHIRE: Yep. But they’d do it.
SCHLEIDT: How was food in the camp? Did you enjoy the food?
ALESHIRE: Most of it, yeah.
SCHLEIDT: Did you put on any weight?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, I did. [Laughs.] Six foot two and weighed 190.
MAN: [Now he weighs? 33:26] 130, and you wouldn’t know it.
SCHLEIDT: Really? You put on 60 pounds?
SCHLEIDT: Wow! Okay!
ALESHIRE: I weighted 192 whenever I come out of the service.
SCHLEIDT: Do you remember anyone in the Forest Service at that time? Any staff member?
ALESHIRE: Of course, a lot of them I do, you know, but—
SCHLEIDT: You don’t remember their names?
ALESHIRE: You know, I never paid that much attention to it.
MAN: But you remember one.
ALESHIRE: Old Harry Rabb was—
ALESHIRE: Harry Rabb.
ALESHIRE: Yeah. He was over that [cursor? 34:11] crew, and if I wasn’t working for him, I was working for old Booger Lewis on the road. What I had to do: Booger drove a road maintainer, and I had to follow in the pickup, and if a rock got too big to drive over, I’d get out and throw it out; otherwise, [unintelligible; 34:31].
SCHLEIDT: Did you do any dynamiting?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, I did that too.
SCHLEIDT: With the CCCs?
ALESHIRE: Yeah. And where we had that rock crusher, it got to where that little ol’ ’dozer wouldn’t push it, we’d drill it and I’d shoot it.
SCHLEIDT: Ooh! You’re a man of many talents.
ALESHIRE: That’s what got me into what I was into over there, knowing how to do that.
SCHLEIDT: So you did dynamiting, you did fire prevention, you drove a truck, you worked with the rock crushers. Did you work on the road crew? Did you ever have to do—
ALESHIRE: We didn’t have—you know, if it’s something—the reason we wasn’t running the crusher, they’d take us out and we’d slope banks—you know, picks and shovels and—
SCHLEIDT: Was that on the truck trails?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, just do all that by hand, you know. That’s what it’s for.
MAN: Like [375? 35:34]. They built it over the mountains. The road used to go up to the creek.
SCHLEIDT: Oh, up—
MAN: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 35:40] mountain, right where the trailhead is up there. [unintelligible; 35:47]. There was no road [unintelligible; 35:46] of the mountains. The CCs built it.
SCHLEIDT: Yeah, I read a lot in the newsletters. All they talk about is building roads, especially with the crew from Camp Wilder.
SCHLEIDT: And then it’s Camp Slating?
MAN: Then they built the road over to [unintelligible; 36:08] [Sugar Creek? 36:09], [unintelligible; 36:10] where Shady Lake [unintelligible; 36:13]. There was just a riding trail, a mail trail over there way back [unintelligible; 36:15] the road. Everything had to go around [unintelligible; 36:21], the streams. [unintelligible; 36:21] lots of [unintelligible; 36:22] to get back to [unintelligible; 36:23].
SCHLEIDT: Yeah. Mm-hm. So tell me, when they closed down the camp—
SCHLEIDT: When they closed the camp, what did you do?
ALESHIRE: That’s when I went to Mulberry.
SCHLEIDT: But didn’t you—
ALESHIRE: When they closed that down, we hauled everything and dug a pit down there below the latrines—
SCHLEIDT: Dug a pit below the latrines.
ALESHIRE: Yeah, in the field out there—you know, past the parade grounds. Whatever they didn’t want to keep, we hauled it out there and dumped it in that [unintelligible; 36:59].
SCHLEIDT: How big of a hole?
ALESHIRE: It was a pretty good-sized one.
MAN: There’s [unintelligible; 37:02] pieces [unintelligible; 37:05].
ALESHIRE: Everything, like [unintelligible; 37:06] and bedding and all that kind of stuff like that. They—
ALESHIRE: —loaded all that, shipped it to an Army camp somewhere. I don’t know where it went.
SCHLEIDT: Okay. So you’re saying the beds and the sinks and the stoves—
ALESHIRE: They left—the stoves and the barracks was still there when I left. But everything else was moved out.
SCHLEIDT: Did you have to help take down the buildings?
SCHLEIDT: No? You just hauled it out.
ALESHIRE: Yeah. The buildings was all still there, even when I went in the Army.
SCHLEIDT: Oh, really? The buildings were still up.
ALESHIRE: Yeah, they was still there. They hadn’t tore them down.
ALESHIRE: I’ve often wondered how come they didn’t send an Army detail out there because they’d have been good training grounds, and they had everything they needed was already there, but they didn’t do it.
SCHLEIDT: Did you eat off of china or a mess kit?
SCHLEIDT: Mess kit?
ALESHIRE: Mess kits?
SCHLEIDT: Did you eat from real china or mess kits?
ALESHIRE: Oh, mess kits. If it was away from the kitchen. If it’s in the area, you used china.
ALESHIRE: It wasn’t china, either. It was old white [unintelligible; 38:20] like that.
SCHLEIDT: Mm-hm. Do you have any—do you have your mess kit?
ALESHIRE: No. I used to have, but I had to—I think I still got my knife and spoon, I believe, or my knives and a fork left [of that camp? 38:40]. The rest of it all got away.
SCHLEIDT: Uh-oh. Did you ever take any photographs?
ALESHIRE: Not out there, no.
SCHLEIDT: No? No photographs? Do you have a yearbook?
SCHLEIDT: No yearbook? Do you have your discharge papers from the CCCs?
ALESHIRE: I don’t know what happened to them. My mother had them, but I don’t know where they ever got off to.
ALESHIRE: Because I come out of there with an honorable discharge.
SCHLEIDT: Very good. Well, thank you, sir. That was fun!
ALESHIRE and MAN: [Both chuckle.]
SCHLEIDT: Now, is there anything else you want to tell me about the camp?
ALESHIRE: No, that’s all I can think of. The only thing, Leonard, you know, going past the road that goes in?
ALESHIRE: Over where the [unintelligible; 39:26] and to your left was what we called the wood yard. They had a little sawmill in there and a wood saw. That’s where we hauled all of our old dead logs and stuff up there—
MAN: Cut off some [sign? 39:39] back in [unintelligible; 39:40].
ALESHIRE: Yeah, sawed it up into wood, and whatever boards that the woodworking shop used, they [sold them? 39:47] right there on the little sawmill.
SCHLEIDT: And where is that located?
MAN: Just as you went by the driveway?
ALESHIRE: Yeah. All the way to the four sides of the campground. It was right down in the corner.
MAN: Still going off Mine Creek.
MAN: There on the left.
ALESHIRE: Yeah, on the left.
MAN: Close to where the bridge [cross-talk; unintelligible; 40:07].
ALESHIRE: It was there before you crossed the bridge.
MAN: Mm-hm. So where is Mine Creek [on the map]?
SCHLEIDT: Oh, that’s the road right there.
MAN: Okay, so you come on east and there’s a bridge up here?
MAN: The sawmill will be right up here.
MAN: Tell her about the old pot-bellied stoves.
ALESHIRE: There were two of them in there. Big ’uns. One at each end of each one of them barracks. It’s what we used for heat.
SCHLEIDT: Did you have to make your bed every morning?
ALESHIRE: You better! [Laughter.]
MAN: That why they used to flip the quarter. It better bounce.
ALESHIRE: Yeah. [Laughs.] Like I said, over there on that side, it was Army, and that’s what you did. When you hit that floor, you made your bed.
SCHLEIDT: Okay. How many barracks were there? How many barracks?
ALESHIRE: Best I remember, there’s six.
SCHLEIDT: Six barracks?
ALESHIRE: I know there were six. It may have been seven, but I’m pretty sure there’s six.
ALESHIRE: And if one of them got crowded, they’d double-bunk them. They wanted to get them all in there.
SCHLEIDT: Do you remember the sign as you came in? Wasn’t there a sign?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, a little bit about it. The best I remember was it had Shady, and right there under that was carved in that [tupelo? 41:39] wood was “Shady CC Camp.”
SCHLEIDT: Okay. So was it something like this?
ALESHIRE: Well, it was a emblem—
SCHLEIDT: Something like that made out of stone?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, like the Forest Service used—you know, Leonard, wasn’t there a emblem?
MAN: It was still there. The old [monument? 41:57] was still there [unintelligible; 42:02].
ALESHIRE: That was [unintelligible; 42:03].
MAN: It had a board coming out of the [unintelligible; 42:07].
SCHLEIDT: How tall would you say it was?
ALESHIRE: Oh, it was up—
SCHLEIDT: Taller than you?
ALESHIRE: Yeah, I made it as high as that ceiling.
SCHLEIDT: It might be like the one that’s still standing where the Experimental Forest is, the stone structure still standing. And the sign is back at the work zone.
ALESHIRE: Yeah, they had a [unintelligible; 42:33], a couple of [unintelligible; 42:31].
That sign up there, you know, where—blowing in the wind all the time.
SCHLEIDT: [unintelligible; 42:40]. Okay. It’s not there anymore.
SCHLEIDT: They must have knocked it down. I’ll have to keep searching for it.
MAN: Yeah, apparently [unintelligible; 42:48] down in [unintelligible; 42:49].
SCHLEIDT: Yeah, probably.
MAN: And I guess folks hauled it off [cross-talk; unintelligible; 42:52].
ALESHIRE: I hope this don’t bother you.
SCHLEIDT: Right. What was that?
ALESHIRE: I said I hope this don’t bother you.
SCHLEIDT: No, it doesn’t bother me. Okay. Yeah. At least the other one’s still standing, so if we ever want—
MAN: A picture or a replica—
SCHLEIDT: —or a replica, we could rebuild it.
MAN: You can take a picture and see what [unintelligible; 43:09].
SCHLEIDT: I have to take a picture. I’ll take a picture and send it to you. Okay. See if that brings—jogs your memory. Okay. Well, that’s good. Very good! So you dug a hole, and you threw everything inside. You pushed everything inside.
ALESHIRE: Yeah. [Sound of thunder.]
SCHLEIDT: Okay. That’s lovely.
ALESHIRE: They’ve been a’watching it. They’ve been a’calling me this morning and told me they’re watching it on radar.
ALESHIRE: It’s already here to here.
SCHLEIDT: Okay. Well, thank you, sir.
ALESHIRE: You bet.
SCHLEIDT: I appreciate it. Can I come back and talk to you some other time if I have questions?
ALESHIRE: Eh, yeah, if you catch me when I ain’t got something going on.
SCHLEIDT: Okay. I will. I’ll call you ahead of time.
Oh, what year were you born?
ALESHIRE: January 25th, 1923.
SCHLEIDT: Twenty-three. Were you born here in Mena?
ALESHIRE: No, I was born in Athens, Arkansas.
ALESHIRE: [That’s been the only really? 44:09]—in Howard County.
SCHLEIDT: Howard County?
MAN: Yeah, just below Shady Lake.
SCHLEIDT: Okay. All right. Well, thank you, sir. You have a good day.
ALESHIRE: Oh, yeah. You too.
SCHLEIDT: Thank you.
[End of interview.]