Sunday, June 21, 2009

ON THE BANKS OF BUCK CREEK: CPS Camp # 19

Hubby and I went looking.

I thought we'd find what we were searching for beyond this barrier - up that path. It was a lovely hike in spite of gnats and stinging nettles. It led to the top of the mountain.I wanted it to take me to an old CCC turned CPS camp. (That's Civilian Conservation Corp turned Civilian Public Service). It did not. So we went back to the only other possible spot.
And discovered that this pile of rocks was not a pillar for a building but rather, someone had stacked them on a pallet to haul them away.
No wonder I did not find the large amounts of rocks I expected from the photos I'd seen! Someone has taken them.
We did find old road beds here. And saw that the power lines stopped at this site. Which seemed to indicate we'd found our spot.

Still, I wanted to find an artifact to help me know that this was the place. My hubby reached down and picked up this.
Yes, there were a few broken boards here. Not much considering the old dormitories, dininghalls, etc that used to grace this place.

Photo: Compliments of Guilford College Friends Historical Collection.

We also found this. A boxwood hidden in the undergrowth - definitely a sign that someone cared about this place at one time.

Not much else to go on.

I love old buildings. They make my heart beat faster. Or stand absolutely stock still. I wish I could've seen the foundations, at least.

But, in spite of what was missing, there were things I found - the damp mossy mountain smell that my character awoke to each morning. The stifling heat of a June day and the cooling restorative power of Buck Creek. The ever-present sound of water running over rocks, a huge moss-covered boulder where my character may have sat to ponder his choices.
I found a few broken boards and a plethora of weeds to remind me why I need to tell the story of idealistic young men who lived here. Perhaps some reader will discover that his great-grandfather served time here during World War II. The grandfather may not have chosen this place but he knew he could not choose war either.

He was a conscientious objector who wanted to do work of national importance. So the government gave him forestry work. It was tedious and backbreaking. He may have stuck it out or he might have asked for a more meaningful assignment. Perhaps he volunteered instead to be a human guinea pig for medical experiments. Or to fight forest fires in Montana. Or to work in a Virginia mental hospital.

But first he lived here (or in one of 150 other CPS camps) with like-minded individuals from various backgrounds. Here in this silent spot beside a gurgling stream he made his quiet stand against war.

2 comments:

  1. wow! There is nothing like bathing in the aura of your setting, locking it into your senses. I can't wait to see the book!

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  2. Hey Mary Ann,

    You know the feeling!

    I can't wait to see the book also! Wish is were written!

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