“Just a little. Not what you said, just your voices. Are you sure you should be consorting with him? The CCC men don’t have a good reputation.”

“Why is that?”

“I don’t know, exactly. Mother Wade just says they’re troublemakers and riffraff.”

“Well, I might as well tell you. They need a nurse at Camp White Rock. It would only be a few days a week, but it might help with money, especially if you don’t need me for deliveries anymore. The problem is, I don’t know what I’d do with the doctor.”

There’s a long pause as Lilly contemplates my situation. “If there’s a job there, you should take it,” she finally says. “You know yourself that jobs are few and far between. If you don’t like the men or if the camp is too rough, you can always quit.” A hopeful smile crosses her pretty face. “Maybe I could take care of Dr. Blum and you could pay me a little. Say, fifteen cents a day.”

“But what if you start contracting again, or what if he tries to wander off?”

“I might have to tie a bell to his shoes so I could tell where he is, but B.K. is here most of the time. We might even find little chores for him.”

“He can cut wood and carry things. Not much else. Children seem to enjoy him, though I don’t understand why. I’ll think about your proposition. The first thing is to see how the camp feels and if there’s an actual offer from the director or it’s just Captain Wolfe’s grand idea. Maybe if B.K. thinks it’s okay, I’ll let Dr. Blum stay with you while I visit White Rock the first time. See how it goes. . . .” I move toward the door, anxious now to leave and get back to the farm.

“Wait,” exclaims Lilly. “You forgot apples for applesauce.” She pours half a bucket of the bad ones in a clean white sac that she finds under the counter, this without sight, and she doesn’t drop one! I’m surprised when she moves toward me and takes me in her arms. “It will be okay, Miss Becky. We will all be okay. Even this one.” Here she rubs her swollen belly. “We will get through this together.”

17

Camp White Rock

“Isaac, today will be different.” I use a soft schoolteacher voice as if I’m talking to a six-year-old and that’s about how old Blum seems. He’s gone from being a baby when we first returned to Liberty to being a first grader, but still that’s progress. “After we make our last delivery, you’ll stay with the Bittmans while I go to the CCC camp.”

“You’re to do as they tell you. They may have some chores. If there’s nothing to do, just sit down on a box. This interview is important. They need a nurse at the camp and I need a job.”

Who knows if Blum’s even listening. He has the same blank stare as he always does.

The trip to the CCC camp takes longer than expected. Following Crocker Creek, which roars around boulders the size of an auto, I climb higher and higher with the mountainside falling away on the right. Am I really going to drive this road in the winter? Twenty minutes after passing Mrs. Stone’s place, I see the first signs of my destination, a dark green arrow that reads CCC CAMP.

Here, I turn into a narrow forest drive and am surprised when it ends in a pine-ringed clearing holding multiple log structures and a row of what I think may be dorms, five in all. Young men are coming and going between the buildings. It’s a whole little village of men, and I head for a group of fellows crowded around a tractor in a garage.

The corpsmen look over when I get out of the car, and though I don’t think of myself as a femme fatale, I’m very aware of my femaleness.

“Excuse me,” I say to the group. “Can you tell me where I might find the camp director?”

“Headquarters is two buildings down,” an older man answers. It’s Loonie Tinkshell from the Texaco station! “Howdy, Miss Myers. What are you doing way up this way?”

I really don’t want to share that I’m interviewing for a job, but there’s no way around it without seeming rude. “I’m going to talk to the director about employment as the clinic nurse, just a part-time position.”

“Well, holy cow! I’m working here now too.”

“I don’t have the job yet!” I can’t help but laugh.

“You’ll get it!” “Yeah, you’ll get it.” “Good luck, lady!” a few of the young men chime in, and I smile. The kindness of strangers, my mother used to say, and it’s true, especially in hard times.

Following Loonie’s directions, I turn the Pontiac around and pull up next to a smaller log building across from the dorms. Here goes nothing, I say to myself, crossing my fingers behind my back. The many-paned windows reflect my tense face, and I practice a smile and smooth down my hair.

Mrs. Ross

“May I help you?” a big-bosomed woman asks as I enter the building. Her voice is higher than you’d expect from her size and her blue-gray hair is crimped and stiff.

“I’m Nurse Becky Myers. Captain Wolfe asked me to come meet the director today and talk with him about nursing services. I’m sorry I don’t have his name . . . the director.”

“The supervisor is out. You can wait if you want to.” She looks at her watch, indicating it may be hours.

“Is the captain here? I’ve come a long way.”

“No. They’ve both gone over to Camp Laurel.” She gives me no further explanation and offers no tea or coffee, though I notice she’s sipping something from a white mug with a green CCC insignia on it.

“I’ve come a long way,” I repeat firmly, sitting down and making it clear that I’m not going home. That’s all there is, no small talk or questions, and the woman goes back to her typing.

So, here I am and I hope this is not a half a tank of gas and a day wasted. I’m disappointed the men aren’t here. I was pretty sure I told Wolfe that I’d come on Thursday, although now that I think of it, there wasn’t an exact time.

While I wait, I take in the overly warm room. Directly across from me is a door labeled INFIRMARY and next to it a red-and-black poster with a photo of a strapping young fellow in a CCC uniform holding an ax. “A young man’s opportunity to work, to learn, and to conserve our national resources,” it reads, probably a poster designed by someone at the FAP, the Federal Art Project, a government program that hires unemployed artists.

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