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CPS Camp # 114

CPS Camp No. 114               Mt. Weather  Virginia          Weather Bureau

Compiled by Anne M. Yoder, Archivist at Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA for the CPS Memorial Website.  Received January 21, 2011.

 

MT. WEATHER, VIRGINIA (CAMP #114)

In operation September 1943 - June 19, 1946

Administered by the Brethren Service Committee

Approved quota = 75; actual number of men in camp in March 1944 = 68, in April 1944 = 75, in Dec. 1944 = 70

Director = Leonard B. Corwin (from the Weather Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce), 1943-

Assistant Director = Homer Bonivert; 1943- ; Allen R. Kaynor, ____; Ned. B. Carmean, 1946 (Jan.-June)

Lewis Beckford, a Methodist and graduate of Clarke College, was director of the camp chorus

 

Mss. article “G.T. Weather” by D. Ned Linegar, Dec. 10, 1943:

“The development of the repair work is slow, organized by rather inefficient caretakers. Hot water was available only last week, no laundry facilities are yet developed, so if cleanliness is next to Godliness, it doesn’t speak well for this unit of religious objectors. At first certain assignees who were characterized as capable were given the responsibility of fixing this plumbing, but after little action, the director made some changes. Only ten of the men have been assigned to the project as such, and their reaction is that it consists of much pencil and paper work. The plan is to develop world weather maps from the statistics of all countries for the past ten or so years, from which patterns of weather can be discovered and predictions made on the basis of certain combinations. Thus, any person using the card file to be developed can predict the weather conditions in any part of the world, even though he is no meteorologist. Thus, the government is will keep weather on file.

 

The men have come to Mt. Weather for a variety of reasons. Some have desired a government camp operated under ideal conditions, some have wanted an opportunity to receive maintenance and some spending money, some have been attracted by the work, and some have been disillusioned with Civilian Public Service. At the beginning of the camp, the Director wanted the campers to organize a House Committee and a Leaves and Furlough Committee, but some of the campers expressed themselves as ‘fed up’ with self-government and urged the Director to make the rules and they would obey. As one fellow expressed it, ‘if we try to get certain privileges, we shall be sure to abuse them, and then they’ll be taken away from us. We want to be told what to do.’ Thus, there has been little interest also in a cooperative store…. There is no Camp Council. Certain practices, slightly ludicrous, yet indicative of a frame of mind, have developed. For example, instead of saying grace at meal time, some of the men bow their heads and say ‘Grace.’ It will be a struggle to develop the foundation of community living at Mt. Weather.

 

[The Director] is not overly strict about abiding by all the rules and regulations of Selective Service, but he is anxious to abide by the ‘special rules’ promulgated by Colonel Kosch. Some of these special restrictions are: (1) there shall be no drinking at Mt. Weather; (2) unless it is an accepted religious practice in a man’s denomination, he cannot grow a beard; (3) there must be a soup-pot of bones on the stove (which is at a present unnecessary, for the meat is purchased retail and not wholesale).”        

[In Box 21e of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection

 

 

Report of visit by J.N. Weaver, Dec. 30, 1943 – Jan. 1, 1944:

“Twenty assignees were engaged on regular project duty while we were there. These men are comfortably provided with chairs and tables and a well-heated room where they transcribe weather notes from various sources of weather data uniformly on data sheets which enable the drawing of weather maps. The present job is being financed by Navy funds…. The weather data has been secured from the Australian, Philippine, and Indian governments, as well as Ship Logs…. Mr. Thom assured us the balance of this program, which comprises the compiling of seven years of weather data, will have equal commercial and military value…

 

Subsequent weather projects will not be financed by Navy appropriations. It is probable that the next project will be of a hydrological nature.

 

The work is confining and somewhat monotonous…. There was…some complaint among the men regarding this aspect. In our opinion, sufficient information was available to each assignee which made the nature of the project work quite obvious. The assignees in this unit were all volunteers and the project was forced upon no one.

 

If [Mr. Corwin] would regard the assignees more as employees rather than as special and peculiar individuals, we believe many of the administrative problems could be overcome.”

[In Box 132 of Section 1, Series C,1, Center on Conscience and War Records (DG 025), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]

 

Report of inspection trip by Robert Thom, Jan. 6, 1944:

Of the 68 campers, “16 were engaged in coding of synoptic data for the South West Pacific Maps, and the balance detailed to various other overhead and rehabilitation projects.”

 

On the first floor of the Administration Building: “The original living room…is somewhat over-crowded, particularly with straight chairs and office tables…. We found the library also crowded, though much more in demand. The book selection is somewhat limited…. There are many and varied types of popular magazines and pamphlets, and also a generous collection of religious articles….

 

There are two dining rooms…equipped with six tables with benches attached…. Meals are being served family style…. Rooms on the second and third floors are utilized entirely for living quarters….

 

Other than a Glee Club formed by several of the men there is no integrated recreational program for evenings, Sundays or holidays. Action must be taken immediately to provide further recreation. Mr. Corwin objected to the establishment of a chapel in the Balloon Shed but this was overridden….”

[In Box 132 of Section 1, Series C,1, Center on Conscience and War Records (DG 025), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]

 

Mss. article by Bill Wallace, March 7, 1944:

“The sixty-odd men at Mt. Weather come from eighteen states and represent twenty-one denominations. The average age is twenty-five, and the median education is three and a half years of college…. Project at present consists of a little craft work in the course of rehabilitating the directors living quarters, and renovating the Camp buildings; and much copying of certain weather data from original forms or facsimilies on to tabulating sheets of more suitable format for the machine statistician’s use. There is the usual proportion of earnest, nominal, and slack workers among the conscientious objectors…. One most [must?] factor to take care of the incentive phase because our ‘allowance’ is $15.00 per month, less a fixed sum for insurance, and a pro-rated amount for each day of furlough taken. As in all C.P.S. camps of which I am aware, there is a more or less immediate value in the work done or the reason for one’s presence, though copying quickly becomes routine.

 

The main building of the ‘campus’ is a three story masonry structure in which nearly all the men are housed, fed, and hospitalized as necessary. The ‘edifice’ was constructed in the first decade of this century, but in the grand manner. There are six rooms on each of the two upper floors and four tiled bathrooms per floor. The contemplated population density is five men per room. Some of the baths are being rebuilt into shower rooms and others in[to] latrines and wash rooms. The infirmary, kitchen, living and dining rooms and the library are on the first floor…. In as much as we have steam heat and plenty of fuel, our bodily comfort is well taken care of…

 

This is one camp [where] morale is not entirely dependent on the outward situation. Most of the men came here with their eyes open and as someone has put it with reference to marriage, they keep them shut afterwards and make the best of the situation….

 

One does not seek Utopia in C.P.S., especially after the first two or three shocks upon entering. There are opportunities for growth in every situation. The prospect to the west in the Shenandoah Valley and to the east on the Piedmont is certainly pleasing. Perhaps only man is vile.”

[In Box 21e of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]

Report “Civilian Public Service, Unit 114, Mount Weather, Bluemont, Va.,” April 1, 1944:

“Public relations are most satisfactory. The isolation of the camp prohibits local misunderstandings, and the reception in nearby towns is unusually cordial. Several of the churches are openly friendly and in Winchester two have cooperated to provide cots for C.P.S. men who wish to stay there overnight while on leave….

 

The pattern of camp life is quite similar to that in regular C.P.S. camps. A committee on religious activities initiates weekly services on Sundays and on Tuesday evenings. Near-by ministers are frequently invited in to lead the services. For several months a chorus has been actively rehearsing and has already started giving concerts….

 

There is a small library in the dormitory, and the Percellville, Va. travelling library has established a station here.  They have a remarkable selection for so small a town, and regularly leaves 70-80 books for periods of a month or more. The unit receives the Washington Post, and recent issues of many periodicals are always available in the library. A credit union and a co-op store have been organized…. The recreation committee has fixed up a volley-ball court in the balloon shed, and evening football is a regular thing.

The unit is now filled up to its quota of 75 men, and it is not expected that there will be changes in personnel.”

[In Box 21e of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]

 

Article in the Gospel Messenger, Oct. 14, 1944:

“After-work activities consist of meteorology study, glee club, baseball, study of co-operatives and a Russian language class. The Weather Bureau provides a church trip to town on Sunday mornings. Occasionally a local minister preaches at special weekday services.

 

The first job of the unit when it opened in September was to recondition the building. Project work started in November…. Project work was divided into two main phases: (1) preparing the data, and (2) plotting maps.

 

The two main buildings which comprise Mt. Weather are quite imposing for a C.P.S. camp. There is the three-story brick dormitory with pillared front porch [article includes a photo], and a stone laboratory of equal size where the project rooms, offices and recreation rooms are located…. These buildings were erected about thirty-five years ago to make Mt. Weather a…station when kites were used for upper air observation.”

[In Box 132 of Section 1, Series C,1, Center on Conscience and War Records (DG 025), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]

 

Report by Lt. Col. Franklin A. McLean, Dec. 26, 1944:

 “Three large rooms on the first floor are used for recreation and reading. This is to be supplemented by the use of the balloon shed when it can be heated. There is space here for basket ball and other active games….”

[In Box 132 of Section 1, Series C,1, Center on Conscience and War Records (DG 025), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]

 

Letter from Walt Neave, Dec. 15, 1945:

“….Mt. Weather and I are getting on very well. The project is entirely different from anything I ever did before but it might be useful later to know how to use office machines. We check over weather data from all parts of the world, correct mistakes in computed figures and send the papers on to Washington.

One very attractive feature of the project is the advantage of living and working in steam-heated buildings; but there are less attractive sides too. There are sarcastic comments about this being ‘work of national importance’ here too, and the general opinion seems to be that three months of this is about all one person can take without getting sour.

 

But the Weather bureau seems to be a little more lenient in the matter of juggling work days to fit holidays conveniently, and that sort of thing, so we are really pretty lucky in some respects….”

[In Box 7 of Series II, CPS Personal Papers & Misc. Materials (DG 056), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]