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Henry T. Gabur (Gabe)

Lily, SD

1935, 2754, Wind Cave, NP-1
1935, 2750, Fruitdale, DBR-2

Additional information indicates that Henry Gabur worked at Jewel Cave (Wind Cave side camp) and Mount Rushmore records include: Worked 1934-35 for CCC Age 16 (lied about age to work at Mt. Rushmore, said he was 18) CCC worker, handed drill bits to workers. $1 per day plus room and board. Born Jan 26, 1914. Died Feb 24, 1992 age 78. Buried in Hillside Cemetery Lily, SD

I was in Company 2754 at Camp Wind Cave in 1935. Jewel Cave was our side camp. We didn't have to stand in formation for the flag at the side camp. Most of us didn't have to shave--we were too young.

There were lots of camps near Custer and we had lots of fights. Wind Cave was away by itself; closer to Hot Springs.

(Editor's note: Henry enclosed a newspaper clipping written by Cindy Uken in November 1983. Parts of that news story are included here.)

"At age 17 he left home to make his way in the world and says it's a decision he would make again if he had to.

" 'The hoppers (grasshoppers) and wind had ruined the crops and us kids couldn't get a nickel for nothing so we signed up at age 17 with the CCC . . . . Hank Gabur, Lily resident, recalled. 'We signed up and didn't even tell the folks.'

" 'Dad never did say anything about my joining because it got us off the farm and off the streets,' he said. 'But, Mom was different. The first time I came home she saw the khaki uniform and there was a certain look in her eye. I know she was thinking of what happened in WWI and she even cried just looking at the uniform. She cried, but never really said anything to me.'

"With the three pleats still ironed in the shirt to perfection, Gabur modeled his former uniform as though he were still that 17-year-old CCC employee. He strutted about the room with a pride only he and other CCC workers would possibly understand.

"He credited President Franklin Roosevelt for setting up such a program and said he wished another such program could be established for today's youth.

Jewel Cave CCC side campJewel Cave CCC side camp - courtesy photo

" 'That kind of program would help the country and get these kids off the streets just like it did for us,' Gabur said.

" 'When I was working out there we did everything by hand and chisel. We didn't have jack hammers, lights and cement mixers. We dug square post holes by hand. Now that was work. But, times have changed so much. That fish pond (Blue dog Fish Hatchery) over there is nothing compared to what those caves were,' he said--then apologized for his feelings.

" 'Us boys got $30 a month and the folks got $25 of that. We would get the other $5 which didn't leave much. But we didn't have to shave or anything so there wasn't much to spend it on,' he said.

"He stretched his arms out to a foot's length and said those were the days when candy bars could be boughten that size for a nickel.

" 'The average run of people are afraid of caves but I never was really. There was only one time I can remember being scared and that was when I crawled into a crevice on a slant. It was covered with chocolate colored crystals,' he said with his voice becoming fainter and fainter as he described the scene.

CCC men working in caveCCC men working in cave - courtesy photo

" 'I slid down easy but coming back my shirt kept doubling up and I couldn't get back up. Finally I had to take my shirt off to get out. I went back to the cave later to see what that spot was like and you know I never did find that particular place again--or the shirt.'

" 'We were told that any of the pieces that we were chipping away while working on the cave we could take home. I had quite a head of hair then so I would put the pieces in my hair under my cap in order to get them out of the cave. Maybe that's why I was always told I had rocks in my head,' he laughed.

" 'There were only nine guys who went to Jewel Cave when construction first started. I was the first one to step inside the cave only to be welcomed by a swarm of bats,' he recalled."x

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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