My grandfather Jan Skrok died in May 1936 in Buffalo, Erie, New York, leaving my grandmother with five children aged 5 to 18 in the middle of the Great Depression. My mother was the youngest. Her oldest sister Helena Skrok married Jan Szalkiewicz on 30 October 1937.
The oldest boy, Czesław/Chester Skrok, born 25 September 1919, left East High School in June 1938, after completing his junior year of a college entrance course of study. For the summer of 1939, he was a cook at the Lawtons Canning Company in southern Erie County, New York, a facility producing canned fruits and vegetables. However, times were hard for the working poor, and jobs were hard to come by.
As a response to unemployment affecting young unmarried men, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a voluntary government work relief program that was part of the New Deal. The CCC created manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources on rural lands owned by federal, state, or local governments.
On 10 January 1940, Chester Skrok joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in Fort Dix, New Jersey. On his application he expressed the reason “to aid family financially.” As he served, his mother in Buffalo, New York received an allotment of $22 a month, equivalent to approximately $452 in 2022.
After his training period in New Jersey was over, Chester was assigned to Camp Paradise in Paradise Valley, Humboldt, Nevada, and then Camp F-1 in Lamoille, Elko, Nevada.
The United States Forest Service Bureau of Land Management published a booklet about the Civilian Conservation Corps in Northern Nevada.
Chester Skrok re-enrolled in the CCC in July, 1940. He was transferred to the Dalton Wells Civilian Conservation Corps Camp G-32, in Grand County, 13 miles north of Moab, Utah.
After the CCC Camp was closed, the abandoned Dalton Wells CCC Camp was converted to the Moab Relocation Center for the incarceration of Japanese American citizens. Dalton Wells is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Dalton Wells area is an important dinosaur bone-bed paleontology site, and the place where the fossils of the Utahraptor and other dinosaur bones of the Early Cretaceous period were discovered.
World War II
Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 to begin World War II. Like many others of the civilian population, in 1940 young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps were registered for the military draft.
Chester J. Skrok was discharged from the Civilian Conservation Corps from Fort Moore in Sea Girt, New Jersey on December 29, 1940, and was transported home to Buffalo, New York.
On 11 February 1941, Chester J. Skrok was inducted into the United States Army at the Fort Niagara Reception Center, arriving from the Custom House Induction Station in Buffalo, New York. He served in the Army throughout the war in Africa and Europe. Germany unconditionally surrendered its military forces to the Allies on 8 May 1945, my mother’s 14th birthday. May 8th is still celebrated as Victory in Europe, or V-E Day. Sergeant Chester J. Skrok was reported wounded in Europe on 15 May 1945 and was released from the Army as a disabled veteran on 29 June 1945. Although I do not know the details, for the remainder of his life he no longer regarded churches as places of sanctuary.
- Chester S. Skrok, Civilian Conservation Corps Enrollee, National Archives and Records Administration, SSN/SN: ******236, Request Number 2-26389788080, received 25 Apr 2022.
- Civilian Conservation Corps in Northern Nevada, United States Forest Service Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of Agriculture, (stelprdb5421404.pdf : accessed 10 May 2022 ).
- File:Dalton wells ccc camp in grand county utah.jpg, Created: 25 June 2011, Location: 38° 42′ 46″ N, 109° 41′ 58″ W, By NoeHill – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15694432.
- New York State, Department of Health, Vital Records Index, Birth, Certificate Number: 65967, Czeslaw J. Skrok, 25 September 1919, Albany, New York.
- 1930 Federal Census, New York, population schedule, Buffalo, New York, enumeration district (ED) 65, Household ID: 358, ; digital images, (online : accessed ); Fifteenth Census of the United States.
- “Access to Archival Databases (AAD),” data, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (aad.archives.gov : accessed 28 December 2019), Chester John Skrok, 122107236.
- National Archives, “World War II Draft Registration Cards,” database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 April 2021), Chester John Skrok.
- 1940 Federal Census, New York, population schedule, Buffalo, New York, enumeration district (ED) 64-119, 7B, Agnes Skrok; digital images, (online : accessed December 2014); Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940.
- “Enlistment Record,'” Chester Skrok, United States, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
- “United States Department of Veterans Affairs,” database online, (online : accessed 14 August 2015), Chester Skrok, 122107236.
- “Sixth Service Call to Draw 8000 Men In New York State,” Buffalo Evening News, Buffalo, New York, 11 February 1941, page 16, column 2.
- Chester J. Skrok, Buffalo Courier Express, Buffalo, New York, 15 May 1945, page 18 column 2.
- “Additional Casualties”, Buffalo Evening News, Buffalo, New York, 15 May 1945, page 10 • Local News, column 3. Wounded in Europe – SKROK, Chester J., Technician Fourth Grade.