Al Lindstrom was just a month out of high school when he signed up to make history. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, a public work relief program that put young men to work in U.S. forests and parks during the height of the Great Depression, from 1933 to 1942.
Many CCC enrollees were far from home for the first time in their lives. Lindstrom was able to stay in his home state of Minnesota while working for the CCC, but the experience was no less an eye-opener.
"It was a surprise to me on payday when I asked the enrollees to sign their name, and some of them said, 'I don't know how to sign my name, I don't know how to read and write,'" Lindstrom recalls.
Philip Brown, park ranger and CCC researcher, also joins Arizona Illustrated. He says his interest in CCC history came about when he found that a CCC camp was once located in Saguaro National Park. Brown now runs a half-hour program twice a week to teach others about the CCC.