Heritage, 2009, Volume 3 Page: 27
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The oral histories featured in the "New Deal
for Texas Parks" curriculum is another venue
by which the Texas Parks and Wildlife Depart-
ment works to preserve a legacy that Texans
continue to benefit from today. Janelle Taylor,
TPWD's Civilian Conservation Corps coordi-
nator, considers the work of the CCC as an in-
tegral part of the early history of Texas parks.
The participation by Texans in the Depression-
era program was overwhelming; the scope of
their labors ranged from building state and
local parks, to implementing erosion control
methods on private land, to forestry services,
and to installing electric and telephone lines in
rural Texas areas.
In 1997, Taylor began, somewhat informally,
conducting oral history interviews at the Na-
tional Association of CCC Alumni's annual re-
union held that year in Austin. Hearing these
initial stories by alumni, Taylor says she real-
ized that these men were a rich resource of au-
thentic information that could help the TPWD
preserve the historic integrity of the buildings
and facilities constructed by the Corps. Fur-
thermore, this CCC enthusiast noted that from
these interviews emerged a moral character
that defined the values of this Depression-era
generation. One of Taylor's favorite anecdotes
deals with the struggle some enrollees faced
in having to lie about their age in order to help
their families in desperate times. Some of the
men interviewed joined the New Deal pro-
gram at 14 or 15 years of age, clearly under
the 18-year-old age limit. To make the mis-
representation more palatable, the enrollee
would slip a piece of paper marked with "18"
into the bottom of his shoe. When asked by a
government official if he was "over 18," the un-
derage enrollee could truthfully answer, "Yes,
I am over 18."
Gradually, the TPWD's oral history program
progressed from its amateur beginnings to
one in which staff historians now conduct
interviews, organize events to connect with
more participants, and secure grants to tran-
scribe and digitize these personal histories
for posterity. Taylor concludes that while so
many of the CCC alumni display an inher-
ent modesty when talking about their Corps
experience, believing that they were merely
providing for their families, these men left an
indelible mark not only on their native soil,
but in other states as well. And that is why
the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
makes every effort to honor their contribu-
tions. -Pamela Murtha
Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum Heads Toward Completion
There is much progress to report on the Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum in Cuero. In April of this year, the foundation for the museum's annex was poured, and now walls
and a stairwell have been erected. Restoration work in the historic 1903 Knights of Pythias building has also moved forward simultaneously. According to museum officials,
the projected completion date for the work is during the first quarter of 2010. Photos courtesy of Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum.
HERITAGE Volume 3 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 3, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254214/m1/27/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.