By John Yager
Copyright © 2004
Usual stipulations apply. All my stories can be found in the NIFTY Prolific Net Authors section. I also maintain a notification list. If you'd like to be added to it, let me know at the e-mail address below.
As always, many thanks to Andrew for proofing.
The following Wednesday morning Marvin was on the road again, much to his daughters' objection.
"The plan is really quite simple," Stanford told the group of nine men and women gathered in a private dining room at the lodge.
Looking around the room, Marvin recognized several of the other committee members, not that he'd met them before, but he had seen photos of them from time to time in newspapers and on the TV news. They represented a couple of important banks and a big sports equipment company. One man was the director of the state tourist agency.
"The statue was commissioned by the
CCC some years ago," Stanford continued, "and bronze copies can be acquired
for monuments wherever there's interest in creating a memorial to the
"It a life size statue but it will cost less than $20,000 to have a copy cast and shipped to Carr. That's a fraction of what a newly commissioned statue of the same size and quality would cost. My staff and I have worked up a complete budget and, with the added expenses involved, I believe we can complete the entire project for about twice that amount. But to be on the safe side, I want to suggest we set a fundraising goal of $50,000."
Marvin was shocked. He'd recently bought a very handsome gravestone for his wife, one which would eventually also bear his name, and it had cost less then $1,000. This was getting entirely out of hand.
It was then that Stanford unveiled the image he'd placed on an easel at the end of the conference table. Marvin was awestruck. He knew it was an idealized statue of a CCC worker, but it looked for all the world like Sam!
There was a cocktail party that evening followed by an excellent dinner in the lodge dining room.
When dessert had been served, Stanford
asked for everyone's attention and then introduced Marvin. "You all met
Mr. Hartley earlier today and I hope you've all had a chance to visit with
him. It was Marvin here who brought this project to my attention, although
I don't think he envisioned anything as ambitious as we're now
"I've asked Mr. Hartley to serve as the honorary chair of this committee and assured him that his duties would be minimal. Thanks to all of you, I can now tell him that $40,000 has been pledged. That may be enough, but I really hope we can raise another $10,000 in smaller contributions, not only to assure all the costs are covered, but because smaller gifts from the general public will raise interest in the project. I do think it's reasonable to say that by next spring we can expect to gather here for the dedication of the Carr CCC Memorial."
Marvin was amazed. Over the next few months, at the request of Stanford and the committee, he spent many days traveling the roads of Carr County, speaking at service club lunches, schools and a few churches. Stanford's office prepared a Power Point presentation for him with historical photos of the CCC teams at work, the construction of the lodge at Carr State Park, and some general history of the organization.
To Marvin's surprise he was an effective speaker, telling his own story and the story of the CCC, and the service it had been to the area and the nation. He always mentioned the three boys by name who'd died while serving at Carr, but never singled Sam out, other than to say one of the three had been a close friend.
The contributions came in. Service clubs gave a couple of hundred each, a few a much as five hundred. Churches took up collections and school children organized fund raising projects. By Christmas, when Marvin's daughters absolutely insisted he stop his travel for fear of slick roads, more than the needed $10,000 was raised.
"We can use the extra money for new trees and landscaping," Stanford said.
In March Stanford called again. "Marvin," he began - they were on a first name basis by then - "we've been thinking, that grave site isn't going to be a very attractive place for the monument. It isn't all that large and there are absolutely no trees."
"I know, Cal," Marvin agreed. "I've been thinking about that too."
"I know this is a delicate issue, but how would you feel about moving the remains to Carr State Park and erecting the memorial here."
"That's just what I've been thinking. I guess we'd have to get permission from the boys' families and that might be difficult. I don't know if you could even track them all down."
"We don't need their permission, Marvin," Cal said, although I would want to find them if we could and let them know. "I had our staff check the old files, from the CCC days and the time of the boys' deaths, and then had an attorney look all that over. We are okay, the families gave permission for the State Forestry Service to make all the arrangements and the permission forms were broad enough to cover this contingency.
In April, when the weather was again
warmer, Marvin hit the roads again. On one of his trips to Carr, Stanford
asked him to stay over at the lodge again so they could talk. After a short
chat about the fundraising and the general enthusiasm for the project,
they walked out to a wooded grove about a thousand feet from the
"I think this is the place, Marvin," Cal said as they stood silently amid the big old trees.
"Yes," Marvin agreed, "it's
On a lovely evening the following June, just at twilight, Marvin Hartley, accompanied by a sizable number of his family and friends, stood by the veiled statue as Cal Stanford introduced a succession of speakers. While the statue was hidden from view, the three new granite markers in front of it were clearly visible.
It seemed so fitting that Sam and the other boys were back in the forest they'd loved, and where they'd died.
The program wasn't long, and when
the speeches were finished Marvin stepped forward, as he'd been asked to
"We were boys then, but some of us died as men. It is in memory of those who were lost, but also all who were serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps, that we dedicate this memorial," Marvin said clearly. But there was an audible tremor in his voice as he pulled the cord, unveiling the statue and adding, "now they are home."
A further note. This story is based on remembrances
shared with me by the man I've called Marvin Hartley, who, through e-mail
and telephone conversations, has become a dear friend, even though we have
not yet managed to actually meet fact to face.
Marvin will not be embarrassed for me to tell you that he is now 84. He is still in excellent health, and he is still speaking frequently to diverse groups about the Civilian Conservation Corps, a largely forgotten chapter in American history. He still lives alone in the house he and his wife shared for most of their married life and, despite his daughters' objections, he is still driving.
I first considered titling this story CCC but, at Marvin's suggestion, changed it to Twilight. It is about the CCC, of course, but also about so much more.