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0:00K: This is Kelly Lally and I’m here in Ollie, Kentucky, with Mr. Reuben Vincent. Today is August the 26th, 1987. When were you born, Mr. Vincent?

R: I was born right down the road here in 1918.

K: 1918. Um, so you grew up in this area.

R: Yeah.

K: How many people were in your family?

R: Four of us children.

K: What number were you?

R: I was the oldest.

K: The oldest? What did your family do for a living?

R: Farmed and worked in the sawmill.

K: Did you all have a sawmill in your family?

R: My granddad did.

K: What were times like for you and your family during the Depression?

R: Oh Lord, pretty rough.

K: Um, how old were you when the CCC came into the area?

R: I don’t know just when it came in. I went in in ’37.

K: ’37? How did you hear about it?

R: Well, they had a, they uh, had to go down here to Brownsville and sign up. And then they’d call you, see, and send you over to where number two camp was. And there’s where they examined them, and then distributed them out there to other camps. Some of them went to Nevada and Utah, and first one’s like another.

K: And you went down the road. [chuckles]

R: Well, they kept me. Elmer Reynolds was superintendent, and he kept me because I was a carpenter.

K: How did you learn to be a carpenter?

R: Ah, my dad carpentered along, and I helped him all the time I was a kid. And when I got grown, I just started it myself.

K: So you went in in 1937 and were in camp number two. How long did you stay in?

R: Twenty months. Maybe twenty-two months.

K: And so you were nineteen, is that?

R: I guess so.

1:55K: You didn’t have to go very far. Were you homesick when you left home for the CCC?

R: No, I could come home. It’s just a little while, see.

K: Do you remember your first day in camp, by chance?

R: Oh yeah.

K: Can you tell me about it?

R: Oh, they didn’t give us, do nothing but give us shots and [chuckles] give us our clothes and took us to our ward, got bags, and gave us a bed.

K: Did they give you any training before you started your official work?

R: No.

K: You just started right in?

R: As quick as you got the shots and got over them, why, we went to work.

2:42K: How were you paid?

R: Every month. We’d draw a dollar a day, and we got eleven dollars and twenty-one dollars come home to our parents.

K: Twenty-one? Earlier, I think //

R: I mean nine. Nineteen dollars come home. We’d draw eleven, and nineteen come home.

K: I guess they start giving you all more a little bit earlier, if they only let them keep five.

R: Yeah. It’s eleven. Didn’t get much.

K: How did you spend your eleven dollars?

R: Oh, it wasn’t no trouble. I bought a car and wasted it.

K: [laughs]

3:18K: Tell me about the different work projects that you worked on at, in the CCC while you were there.

R: Well the first one I went to, carpenter out there on those buildings. And then I helped a fellow run the roller, and—steamroller, and we rolled that gravel down around that circle. I fed the steamroller, fed it with wood. And we rolled all that down. And then I went to driving a truck, and I drove a truck the rest of the time I was in there. Hauled the men out to work, and to the job, and then I’d haul rock. And it had seats on those trucks, and then I went to Louisville and to Bowling Green a lot of times and picked up oil and stuff. Went out to Cave City and got the freight. That is, once a week, they’d send me to Cave City and get freight.

K: So you were on the road a lot, it sounds like.

R: Well, it’s generally—even after we got all through working the VCW eight hours, then we’d work for the Army, they called it. And after we put in our eight hours, why, on Saturday, you’re supposed to work for the Army a half a day, cleaning up the camp and things, see. Mowing the grass and stuff. Well, they always had meals, one after the meal, or something like that with a truck. And then when it comes Friday evening, why, a lot of times I’d come home on Friday evening ‘cause I didn’t have a lot of Army time, see. Didn’t have to be there on Saturday.

K: Oh. And you had—Could you bring the truck home, by chance?

R: No, no. It was their truck, see.

4:52K: How long did you work on—Was the residential, the ranger residences—

R: About two months.

K: About two months? And as a carpenter, what did you do?

R: We just done everything that was towards building a house. You know, we cut the stuff, boxed them, roofed them, then hung the doors and windows, and put the trim down. Laid the floor.

K: Out of curiosity, I couldn’t figure it out earlier: what kind of wood are those made out of? Do you remember, by chance?

R: Pine.

K: Pine? Okay. We were trying to figure that out when I did the other project.

R: Pine. They’re built out of pine.

K: So for about ten months you worked on those buildings, and then, then you went driving the truck for the rest of the time you were there?

R: Well on, I quit in the houses there when they started building roads, and I worked about two weeks around that road there. Fired that steamroller.

K: Mm-hmm.

R: And just that one circle’s all we had, see. And then I went to driving a truck.

K: How did you get chosen to drive the truck, by chance?

R: Well, the truck drivers just take you out to work, and they didn’t have to do a thing. Only sit there ‘til noon, and load you up, took you back to camp, brought you back, stayed there, didn’t have to do a thing. Well I seen that [unintelligible] so I put in for truck driving.

K: [laughs] Did you have a driver’s license at that time? Did you get one?

R: Well I had one, you know, private driver’s—but then you had to get the government license. I drove an old truck about, oh a month I guess, had mechanical brakes on it. And Elmer Reynolds, the superintendent, come in one evening, and he asked me, he said, “How’d you like to have a new truck?” I said, “Be alright.” So we had a new one setting in the garage, a new Dodge. And next morning, I got that out, had five-hundred miles on it, and I drove it the rest of the time. And when I left, it looked just like it did when it started.

K: Wow. You must’ve put a lot of miles on that too. You really took care of it.

R: I took it just like mine.

K: What was your favorite part about being a truck driver other than not having to //

R: I just liked the driving.

K: [chuckles.]

7:10K: How much free time did you have, Mr. Vincent?

R: Oh, we’d get off four-thirty in the evening, and then had it all up ‘til next morning at eight o’clock.

K: What did you do when you were on your free time?

R: Oh, we’d—I’d take—Lot of times I’d take a bunch of boys out to Cave City, [unintelligible] you know. And then we just fooled around there at camp. Pitched horseshoes, [laughs] played volleyball.

K: What did you do on the weekends if you didn’t come home?

R: Well, when I had to stay on a weekend, I had to drive a fire detail truck through fire season. Had fire towers all everywhere, you know. You had to take two boys to one, and pick up two, every eight hours. And every fourth weekend was my weekend to stay in fire detail, they called it. And that is my job over the weekend, is to deliver them boys and pick up them others, the whole weekend.

K: Did you go home most other weekends, then?

R: Yeah.

K: How did you get home?

R: I bought me a car.

K: Oh that’s right. What kind of car did you have?

R: Uh, ’30 Model A Roadster.

K: Got you around too, huh?

R: Yeah, I went down took her a ride in it.

K: Oh, were you courting when you were in the CCC? [to Mrs. Vincent:] Where are you from, Ma’am?

MRS: The lower end of the county, down at Waynesville.

K: Um, so that’s how you spent your weekends then.

8:47K: Did you ever participate in any of those organized recreation programs? The baseball teams, or—

R: No.

K: Did you ever go watch them?

R: Oh, once in a while. They’d have one, and I’d generally have to take the boys out there. It was my job hauling them places, you know.

K: There was also an education program. Did you ever take any classes that they offered?

R: Nothing but first eight and stuff like that.

K: Did the CCC boys play pranks on each other?

R: Yeah.

K: Do you remember any of them?

R: Oh Lord. They’d get a chance and they’d get the water hose and wet them, you know, and a lot of times the boys would, you know, put on their Sunday clothes to go someplace, you know. Some mean boy would be hid up there around the corner with a water hose, you know. They’d pull that water on, boy, they’d have him drowned.

K: Do you remember any more, by chance? I know it’s the spur of the moment.

R: Uh, can’t think right now. We done about everything, though.

K: Okay, well if you think of some while we’re talking, you can bring them up anytime. 1:00K: You, earlier you were telling me where the different camps were, that were situated. Could you tell me where they were again?

R: Number one was over at the Great Onyx. Do you go by that?

K: I think so.

R: You go out, some of Mammoth Cave, you’ll cross that road over there to Great Onyx. They call it, let’s see. Perry Cox run that cave there for a long time. Then the park bought it. Then number two camp was out there where I was at, see, between Mammoth Cave and Cave City. Number four was on this side of the river, over at Cade, they called it. And number three was down towards Brownsville, uh, right close to the quarry down there. Called it “Joppy.”

K: Okay, thank you. 2:00K: Was there much interaction among the four different camps?

R: No. They had a showhouse over right the other side of the Mammoth Cave down in there. And one camp would go one night, and the other ones go another night, see. They didn’t mix.

K: You didn’t mix at all. Being from the area, did you have friends in any of the other camps?

R: Oh yeah.

K: But you just didn’t run into them very much?

R: Oh yeah, I’d see them out, you know, on the road. On working the roads, you know, and cleaning out the underbrush around a lot of places. See, the colored boys run the quarry. They run the quarry. And ‘course, we hauled rocks out of there most the time. Number two really doesn’t want rock hauling near the rest of them. But we was there close. They just can’t fuss to do it all the time.

K: Did number two do most of the road building too, or was it kinda mixed up?

R: No, it was mixed up.

K: Um, but each camp did their own road building. They didn’t mix up. Is that correct?

R: They just had two graders, and they graded all the road, you see. Those two graders was from our camp, but they graded the roads everywhere, see. And of course, different camps hauled some rock, but number two done the most of it.

K: I know camp number one was a Black camp. How did the white people in the area feel about the presence of Blacks in a camp nearby? Was there much tension?

R: No, I never heard a thing about it. ‘Course all the foremans was Whites. Superintendents. Things like that. 3:00K: What kind of relationship did the CCC have with the people of the surrounding area?

R: Well, they got along good with the people. Hardly ever heard of anything. CC boys. They’re strict on us. You know, if you did anything, why, they confined you to camp, and fined you so much, took it out of your money, pay, see.

K: People couldn’t afford that.

R: Nah, you couldn’t afford to lose that dollar a day.

K: Yeah. Did the local residents interact very much with the CCC boys?

R: Yeah. A lot of people come visit us, you know. I never—Every so often, they’d have a dance over there at number two, and I never did dancing. I’d always come home on that night. It’d be on a weekend, Friday evening, Friday night, you know.

K: And they’d invite people in?

R: Other camps. They’d go and bring a bunch of girls in there, and they’d have a dance going.

K: Did a lot of the CCC boys date local girls?

R: Yeah. Most of them that come in here from other states married local girls. Almost everyone.

K: Yeah, I’ve talked to a few, I think, too. Must’ve been something for the girls around here, all these men coming in. 4:00K: I know that a lot of people were displaced from their homes when the park was first started.

R: Yes ma’am.

K: Was there much tension because of that?

R: Yeah. [unintelligible]. See all this back down the river see, and between here and Houchins Ferry and all back there, they bought all that, and all those people moved out. They went to Grayson County, Butler County, everywhere.

K: I know some people tried to stay as long as they could on the land.

R: Yeah they did.

K: And uh, they had to be forced out of their homes. Was there any um, any incidents, any trouble?

R: No, I never heard of any.

K: Was the tension mainly with the park service? Or did any of that come onto the CCC at all?

R: No, ma’am, it didn’t. CC didn’t have anything to do with that. Except after they moved out, they tear those buildings down and haul them away. But the park was seeing after all of it. 5:00K: How successful do you feel like the CCC was in relieving the effects of the Depression?

R: Oh, it helped out a whole lot.

K: Did it make a difference for your family?

R: Yeah.

K: For the local area, do you think it helped the economy?

R: Yeah.

K: What do you think was the greatest thing that the CCC did?

R: Uh, the greatest thing they done for this country is build the roads.

K: Were the roads really in bad condition before then?

R: They just dirt roads. They built all these roads and gravel—rocked them, and then they built those fire towers and they kept the fire out of the woods a lot, see. ‘Course a lot of times we’d get a fire, why, they’d take all the boys to fight that fire. I hauled them out and stayed out all night.

K: Yeah, I talked to a fire dispatcher, and he said they got pretty bad during that dry season.

R: Mm-hmm.

K: Was there any problems with the CCC that you noticed?

R: Mm-mm.

K: At all? 6:00K: Well what did you do after you got out of the CCC? You stayed in for twenty months you said.

R: I married just before I come out. And I went to Charleston, helped build a power plant, that’s the first job I had.

K: You still working as a carpenter?

R: Mm-hmm.

K: And then—

R: Then I came back home and went to farming, and driving a truck.

K: Been here ever since?

R: Down the road. You ever been out to Job Corps?

K: No, I haven’t, but I’ve been hearing a lot about it.

R: That’s where we live. We owned that place for a long time. That’s where we lived and raised our family.

K: And you all had to leave because of that?

R: No, I sold it to my uncle, and then he sold it to a Childress, then Childress sold it to the park. 7:00K: I’m uh, hearing a lot of—A lot of people I’ve talked to have been comparing the CCC with the Job Corps. What do you think about that?

R: They don’t work, work like we did. ‘Course they go to school most of the time. See all them have to go to school so many days, and then they work. But we worked when we’s in there, boy. But these boys, most of the time, it looks like they’re just playing.

K: Do you think the CCC made a difference for the military during World War II?

R: Yeah.

K: In what way?

R: Well see, they trained us just like we’s in the Army. In fact, we was in there for a while. Every evening we had to march and do all that, just, you know, getting ready for the Army. And of course when the war broke out, see, boy, they had a lot of them done trained. They just went right in.

K: What did you do during World War II? Were you here?

R: Yeah. Farmed. I done lots here, I guess, World War II. But I’ve lived right here in this vicinity, three, four miles all my life. Born down the road here, oh about three miles. 8:00K: Do you think that the park has been a good thing for this area?

R: Well, in one way, and one way it moved a lot of people out, lost—You know, your neighbors are left out and maybe never see them no more. ‘Course, most of them’s all passed on. Just younger ones.

K: In what way does it help the area? Do you think it’s a good thing in general?

R: Well I guess it was. It uh, caused people to move and get further out, you know, take up more things in the world. My dad, he lived down here on his dad’s place, and Granddad took up his land when he was a boy. And the heirs still owns it now. He had six hundred acres. We lived on that for years, see, down on the creek.

K: Do you ever go back to the park?

R: Oh yeah.

K: Do you keep in touch with any of the people that you were in the CCC with?

R: Not too many. Just hardly ever see them. I run into one down at Bowling Green about two years ago, I hadn’t seen since he was discharged.

K: I bet that was a surprise.

R: He just lived out 185 out of Bowling Green. I run into him, and I looked at him, I thought, “Well if that ain’t Taylor, I’m fooled.” And he looked at me, and I said, “You been to CC camp?” He said, “Yeah.” He said, “Did you?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “I believe it was.” Said, “I’d’a remember you by your teeth.” He said, “I always thought you had the prettiest teeth.” ‘Course I got them all broke out, crown now. And that’s the first time I’d seen him since we left in ’39.

K: Wow. And you recognized each other too, huh? 9:00K: Well let’s see. Is there anything else you want to tell me about your experience with the CCC?

R: Uh, that’s about all of it, I guess.

K: Well let me go back to camp number two, just to clarify a little bit. Camp number two, you say, worked hauling a lot of the rock from the quarry. What other things did people in camp number two do?

R: Oh they built—Some of them carpentered. They built them garages out there, you know, past the residence. We hauled them rock from over here at Brooks Knob Tower for that. And built a lot of that.

K: To build those garages?

R: Mm-hmm.

K: Um, what else were people from number two involved in? Did they work much in the woods?

R: Yeah, they worked in the woods, and on the roads, then the cave. Around the hotel.

K: What did they do in the cave?

R: Oh, they built bridges back in there. I drug timber back in there after I got out of the camp. Mules hauled it back in there. Had a pair of mules and a little sled, and we hauled that timber back there to build those bridges across them—

K: So you worked a little bit for the park after you got out as a carpenter to do that in the cave?

R: Mm-hmm.

K: How long did you do that?

R: I was just over there during the winter season.

K: Did you ever do anything else for the park?

R: No, that’s all I’ve ever done for the park, except I hauled some timber out from over there around the cave where they cut down, where it was dying. Hauled it over here and sawed it up for them. They built those banners around the road, some of them, and I sawed stuff out for the ferry boat. Aprons in the floor of the boat back then. ‘Course they got them all steel now.

K: Well, I guess if there’s nothing else you want to tell me, I’m finished with the interview.

R: Well that’s about all I know.

K: Well I appreciate you talking with me. Thank you.

R: Thank you.