Feb 12, 2018
The Civilian Conservation Corps: Depression-Era Beefcake
1933: The heart of the Great Depression. 40% of the U.S. population is out of work. President Roosevelt, just inaugurated March 4th, promises a New Deal full of federal programs designed to get the economy started again.
Among the unemployed are many buffed young twinks, aged 18-25. Roosevelt tries to think of a way to get them photographed with their shirts off in those days before the physique magazines.
He comes up with the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC, who would be housed in work camps while engaging in federal improvement projects.
At its peak in 1935, there were 500,000 workers in 2,900 camps. Among them were future actors Raymond Burr and Walter Matthau.
There were also a few thousand older men (experienced workers), veterans, and Native Americans.
Apparently they weren't provided with shirts.
Their projects were diverse, involving soil conservation, making trails and shelters in state and national parks, building wildlife refuges, fighting fires, Here the CCC boys are at work on controlling the Mormon crickets that swarm in Nevada and Utah. (Mormon cricket is the name of the species.)
Here they're posing with shovels in Bradford, Pennsylvania.
More after the break
Plus sports and other recreational activities. This is the Camp Vermillion boxing club.
Yes, the camps were segregated. There were 143 black camps, with 200,000 workers.
What the millions of men who served in the CCC remember most is the camaraderie, the life-long friendships formed.
And the buffed physiques glistening in the sunlight.
Seriously, were they provided with shirts?