This time as we talk turkey, let’s talk about actual turkey. Turkey, “Roast Young Vermont Turkey” to be exact, was on the menu for the Thanksgiving meal at Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-81 Slate Run. This Thanksgiving menu (LM2018.2.1) is from 1933, the first year of the Civilian Conservation Corps program. The menu lays out a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Not only is there turkey but also chestnut dressing, cranberry sauce, two kinds of potatoes, salad, vegetables, and several deserts including, of course, pumpkin pie. The menu includes a roster of the men in CCC Company 364.
Food was an important part of life in the CCC. Part of the appeal of enlisting into the CCC for many of it’s young enrollees was access to regular meals. Food insecurity was felt by many during the great depression and many men entered the CCC underfed. In his 1937 annual report the Director of the CCC noted that it was estimated that the average new enrollee gained 8 to 12 pounds after 6 months in the Corps. It is likely that many members of Company 364 wouldn’t have had access to such a Thanksgiving feast if it wasn’t for the CCC.
This meal was prepared by the cooks of Camp S-81, including Merrill Bowen. Mr. Bowen was a member of the Seneca Nation and a descendant of the Seneca Chief, Cornplanter. After his time in the CCC, Mr. Bowen was active in Tribal matters and served the President of the Cornplater Land Owners Corporation. This menu, and photographs of Merrill Bowen’s time in the CCC were donated to the museum.