Cooley B. Taylor
1936, 4726, Crow Creek, SCS-1 Orderly
1939, 4726, Presho, SCS-2 Clerk
1939, 4726, American Island, SCS-1
I joined the CCC in April 1936 and was a member of Company 4726 at Camp Crow Creek, Presho and American Island until April of 1940. I feel that t he experience of being in the same company for 4 years at three different locations doing three different types of work gave me a unique opportunity to observe how the CCC got the job done with benefits to the members, community they worked in and the economy as a whole.
My first summer as a member of Company 4726 was as a member of a carpenter crew. Some days we were building forms to pour concrete for the spillway of the dam--one of the largest in the nation built by the CCC--or perhaps moving a farm house and other building out of the area to be when the dam was closed. Camp Crow Creek was located in the Crow Indian Reservation. These buildings were Indian dwellings that had to be jacked up and moved.
In the late fall of 1936 I was offered the job of hospital orderly as the orderly at the time had been sterilizing his tonsils with the alcohol issued by the army strictly for medicinal purposes. I found out later would have been legal if his had been removed before soaking.
Being hospital orderly was a good and interesting job. We had sick every week day morning but any time of any day if someone was hurt or became ill someone was at the hospital and doctor was available if needed. There was an assistant orderly and one of us was on duty at all times.
I was orderly until the spring 1939, during which time Company 4726 moved to Presho for the summer and then to American Island west of Chamberlain. At Presho, where a dam was completed, and the men lived in tents, we had a small building for a dispensary but hospital ward was a tent. It was common knowledge that summer that if a man wasn't well enough to help set the tent when it blew down he got transferred to either Chamberlain or Pierre so we usually we didn't have many in the ward.
The camp on American Island at Chamberlain was a well built up camp, previously the home of Company 4725--a veterans CCC Company. I was glad to get back into a nice hospital building.
Those who had served 2 years CC were scheduled to be discharged March 1939. So when I was offered chance to be a clerk in the SCS office and still stay in Company 4726 I eagerly accepted as times were still tough on the farm near Virgil, SD where my family lived.
I was assigned to the SCS district office in Chamberlain as a clerk-typist. At this office was an agricultural engineer, a soil scientist, a couple of agronomists and two or three conservationists. They were the technical assistants for the Brule-Buffalo and American Creek conservation district--planning what a farmer should do to conserve soil and water on his farm. These practices included stock dams, terracing and contour farming, wind breaks and other conservation practices. I enjoyed the work and the occasional trips to the farms with these technicians.
In April 1940 I was discharged to accept other employment. This ended 4 of the best and most productive years of my life.x
Birth: 1918, Virgil, South Dakota. Death: Jan. 2, 2008, Rapid City, South Dakota.
RAPID CITY - Cooley B. Taylor, 89, Rapid City, passed away Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008 at the Golden Living, Bella Vista Nursing Home.
Cooley was born in 1918 at Virgil, S. Dak. to Sylvanus and Nellie (Bly) Taylor. The family moved to Lusk, Wyoming where Cooley attended grade school. In 1929 the family moved back to the Taylor Ranch west of Virgil. He graduated from Wolsey High School in 1935 and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps where he remained until he received his appointment as a Rural Letter Carrier in Virgil.
In 1941 Virgil married Elda Sprecher. On June 15, 2007 they celebrated sixty-six years together.
From 1943 to 1945 Cooley served in the Army. He was assigned at Seattle, San Francisco and in the Philippine Islands.
Following military service he returned to Virgil and worked as a Rural Letter Carrier there until transferring to Mitchell in 1962.
Following his retirement in 1972, he and Elda spent their winters in Arizona and their summers in Rapid City.
During his lifetime, Cooley loved to hunt and fish. He was also an avid bridge player and a Dodger baseball fan.
He was an active member of the United Methodist Church, the American Legion Post 286 and the Rural Letter Carriers Association.
Survivors include his wife, Elda Taylor, Rapid City, two sons, Ronald J. Taylor, Wolsey, S. Dak., and William B. Taylor, Neah Bay, Washington, three daughters, Bonnie Livingston and her husband Frank, Ramona, S. Dak., Nancy Bruce and her husband Phil Pownell, Phoenix, Arizona and June Apaza, Spearfish, S. D., a sister in law, Alice Taylor, Palmer, Alaska, nine grandchildren, ten great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
Services will be Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church with Rev. Doug Diehl officiating. Interment, with military honors provided by Rushmore VFW Post 1273 Honor Guard, will be at the Black Hills National Cemetery.
xDerschied, Lyle A. "The Civilian Conservation Corps in South Dakota, 1933-1942." Brookings, SD, South Dakota State University Foundation Press, 1986. No longer in print. Available at some libraries but may not be checked-out.
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