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As a few of you already know, I recently lost my little brother...only 1-1/2 years after losing my oldest brother; I'm not ready to write about my pain just yet, but I have been doing a lot of self-indulgent reminiscings via the box of snapshots my parents accumulated over the years.

In addition to the people pics, there are numerous scenery photos from family vacations, with the requisite poses of kids fresh from wailing "are we there yet," now impatiently leaning against historical markers. I'm glad those placemarker shots exist now, but oh how I remember longing to run around and explore and having to stand still while my parents exhorted us to STOP squinting and START smiling!

The first vacation I remember was to Yellowstone via Mount Rushmore and the Badlands ... this would have been in the early 1960s when I was about 6 and my little brother 2. It was not until I was much older that I realized that my Dad was retracing the steps of his own first trip "out west" as a teenager ... not on a vacation, but as a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps ... one of the wonderful New Deal programs that put a nation reeling from the Great Depression back to work in meaningful jobs.

Dad became eligible for the CCC in the "second phase" of the program described in the linked article. He joined the summer of 1936--just after he turned 19--and he often spoke of it as an adventure as well as a job. His work took him to the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho, working primarily in Yellowstone Park building roads, maintaining trails, and learning to fight forest fires. The work would have been physically demanding, but Dad grew up in an era and in an area where farming was still done with teams of horses and wood needed to be chopped for the stove in order to cook dinner. I found this cool period video

Dad took his own Brownie camera along (I believe it was one of these or one very similar), and the resulting 2x3" photos tell the story far better than I can. This one looks just like the camps shown in the video:

More below the fleur-de-kos.

In this first photo, Dad is the taller guy on the left. Have you ever been to the Badlands? It is comparable to the first view people have of the Grand Canyon--impossible to put into words, and cameras don't fare much better in capturing what you actually saw.

The contemplative image of a couple of teenagers awed by nature is pretty cool, IMHO.

According to the articles linked above, during the early years of the CCC, young men traveled to the camps by bus. That changed by the time Dad joined ... he said that he and his buddies pooled their resources and drove. You catch a glimpse of their vehicle parked next to Old Faithful. Dad is the one by the sign stooping his 6'3" frame so as not to seem so very much taller than than his pal. Then there is Old Faithful--something worthy of a picture all by itself.
After straining my eyes with a magnifying glass, I'm pretty sure that this animal has a mane, so I'd vote for its being a wild mustang rather than an elk. But I could be wrong.
Don't know where this is, but the beauty
Dad was captured doesn't need a name.
The inscription on this marker reads:
Honoring thousands of
westbound immigrants who
left the Oregon trail near
here for California.
Gold was discovered by these pioneers.
Erected by students of
Yale University 1930
I looked online for more info on this, and found an articlein the Yale University paper discussing money being collected for a marker in Yale, Idaho at the spot where pioneers left the Oregon Trail for California. Methinks this may be the marker in question.

Our family vacations did not take us so far into the state , but our 1960s trip to Yellowstone includes several shots with each of us standing next to a "Welcome to Idaho" sign.

And more scenery
Again, I'm not entirely sure which mountain this is, but I can well imagine Dad trying to capture its essence to show the folks back home. Family vacation photos include many such representing the hope that we will really have that lucky shot that sums up the experience.

Now its your turn to share memories in the open thread.  

Originally posted to Genealogy and Family History Community on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 09:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by National Parks and Wildlife Refuges and History for Kossacks.

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