Here’s to History with Janet Oakley!
We were fortunate to host Janet Oakley this past week, whose area of expertise is the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) logging camps which operated in the 1930s and were responsible for providing young men with jobs and for creating park, road, and trail infrastructure. Mineral had its own CCC camp at the end of what is now Pleasant Valley Road. All that remains today is a chimney from one of the CCC buildings. Janet gave two talks at the Roxy Theater on the “Tree Soldiers” who served in the CCC, with lots of local detail — and afterwards local performers presented a bench reading of the one-act play she wrote about the era.
That’s Janet on the far left, with April Doolittle from the Roxy Theater and Fire Mountain Arts Council. That’s also Janet on the near right, with Mineral School’s Derek Scheips, who helped host her this past week. With a bit creativity and collaboration, we brought Janet here with help from Humanities Washington and with co-hosts Fire Mountain Arts Council, Centralia College East, and Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad.
Janet wrote about her visit on her own blog here, which was generous of her. In addition to speaking for the college’s Lyceum program during the day and at the Roxy during the evening, Janet toured the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad Museum in Mineral. She also met up with a Portlander whose father served in the Mineral CCC camp, and local CCC alum Jim Hale, who shared stories with the two of them from his time working in the Mineral logging camps.
A highlight of her visit was watching the locally-cast reader’s theater performance of “Tree Soldier.” On the left, local actors — including teens from the high school — played the khaki-clad CCC boys. When the CCC camps were in operation, the boys who worked in them were typically ages 17 to 25 — like this cast. Playing older versions of the CCC boys were Fred Schwindt (back right) and John Mullenix (back left).