The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

by

Timothy Egan

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CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Term Analysis

A public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942. It was designed to keep young men working during the Great Depression and to perform public works projects. The corps worked to build dams and bridges. They also restored forests, made trails in mountain ranges, and paved roads on the prairie. It also worked on a soil conservation project north of Dalhart in the mid-1930s.

CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Quotes in The Worst Hard Time

The The Worst Hard Time quotes below are all either spoken by CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) or refer to CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the First Mariner edition of The Worst Hard Time published in 2006.
Chapter 9 Quotes

Most scientists did not take [Hugh Hammond] Bennett seriously. Some called him a crank. They blamed the withering of the Great Plains on weather, not on farming methods. Basic soil science was one thing but talking about the fragile web of life and slapping the face of nature—this kind of early ecology had yet to find a wide audience. Sure, Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir had made conservation an American value at the dawn of the new century, but it was usually applied to brawny, scenic wonders: mountains, rivers, megaflora. And in 1933, a game biologist in Wisconsin, Aldo Leopold, had published an essay that said man was part of the big organic whole and should treat his place with special care. But that essay, “The Conservation Ethic,” had yet to influence public policy. Raging dirt on a flat, ugly surface was not the focus of a poet’s praise or a politician’s call for restoration.

Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

The flatland was not green or fertile, yet it seemed as if the beast had been tamed. The year had been dry, just like the six that preceded it, and exceptionally windy, but the land was not peeling off like it had before, was not darkening the sky. There were dusters, half a dozen or more in each of April and May, but nothing like Black Sunday, nothing so Biblical. Maybe, as some farmers suggested, Bennett’s army had calmed the raging dust seas, or maybe so much soil had ripped away that there was very little left to roll.

Page Number: 304
Explanation and Analysis:

Elsewhere in 1938, the recovery and the energy of the New Deal had run out of steam. More than four million people lost their jobs in the wake of government cutbacks, and the stock market fell sharply again. Some of the gloom that enveloped the country at midterm in President Hoover’s reign was back. In the Dust Bowl, the fuzz of a forced forest and the re-tilling of tousled dirt did not stop the wind or bring more rain, but it was a plan in motion—something—and that was enough to inspire people to keep the faith. As Will Rogers said, “If Roosevelt burned down the Capital we would cheer and say, ‘Well, we at least got a fire started anyhow.’” The High Plains had been culled of thousands of inhabitants […] But as the dirty decade neared its end, the big exodus was winding down. The only way that folks who stayed behind would leave now, they said, was horizontal, in a pine box.

Page Number: 304-305
Explanation and Analysis:

People were drilling deep and tapping into the main vein of that ancient, underground reservoir of the Ogallala Aquifer, as big as the grassland itself, they said. These new boomers, a handful of men in town, wanted no part of Bennett’s soil-conservation districts. They wanted money to pump up a river of water from the Ogallala, pass it through a tangle of pipes, and spit it out over the sandpapered land. They would grow wheat and corn and sorghum, and they would make a pile, using all the water they wanted, you just wait and see. They talked as if it were the dawn of the wheat boom, twenty years earlier. Melt thought they had not learned a thing from the last decade. The High Plains belonged to Indians and grass, but few people in Dalhart shared his feelings.

Related Characters: Melt White, Hugh Hammond Bennett
Related Symbols: Wheat
Page Number: 305
Explanation and Analysis:
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CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Term Timeline in The Worst Hard Time

The timeline below shows where the term CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) appears in The Worst Hard Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9: New Leader, New Deal
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...wheat growers to reduce supply in return for cash. The newly created Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) would work “to stitch the land back together” by building dams and bridges, restoring forests,... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Long Darkness
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...get them to understand that they were responsible for maintaining an ecosystem. He used the CCC to demonstrate soil conservation. Governor Alfalfa Bill Murray was furious with all of the government... (full context)
Chapter 15: Duster's Eve
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...quickly. Sheriff Barrick said that roads were blocked by huge dust drifts—as soon as the CCC dug one out, another appeared. A professor at Kansas State college estimated that, “if a... (full context)
Chapter 17: A Call to Arms
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Roosevelt called for “young, uniformed CCC workers” to save America’s heartland by planting the vast row of trees that he had... (full context)
The City vs. the Country Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...needed and a permanent agency to restore and sustain the soil. One hundred and fifty CCC camps were redirected from the Forest Service to the newly formed Soil Conservation Service, and... (full context)
Chapter 23: The Last Men
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...Hugh Bennett’s project, Operation Dust Bowl, “was in full swing.” With the help of the CCC, Bennett started working on 16,000 acres, but soon the project expanded to 47,000 acres. After... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...soup kitchen to try to farm one last time. He followed the advice of the CCC and plowed in furrows “so the wind would ripple instead of rip and lift.” He... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...He did not know the new people in town, who were mostly workers from the CCC. People were reaching into the Ogallala Aquifer, eager to get the water out of the... (full context)