Roots and Fruit
No. 7    Spring 2001

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Civilian Public Service--One Phase

Charles W. Baker

I was not a part of the semi-starvation unit. CPS-115-Minneapolis included two groups of CPS men. One group of 36 was involved in studies dealing with starvation. The other group(12 of us) was part of an experiment studying Thiamin (VitaminB-1). Both groups ran concurrently under the direction of Ancil Keys. The Thiamin experiment was primarily a study of stress as it related to certain levels of B-1 take. These stresses included

Both units and the lab were below the University of Minnesota Stadium. The semi-starvation and Thiamine units were quartered together so we were well acquainted with each other. As they sank into the depths of food deprivation and we in the misery of stress it was a toss up as to who was suffering more.

If this differs from Experiments in Nutrition remember that the whole thing happened nearly 50 years ago. Also the 1948 college piece lacks credit by way of quotes in two or three instances which I now regret.

Why did I go to a guinea pig unit? Because I saw it as a new experience. I had been in Forest Service Camps, National Park Service camps and "privy" building projects with the Florida State Board of Health. This was something very different.

Medical experimenting was not a life changer, no more than the whole CPS experience was. When I left for camp I departed from a job on an assembly line making telephone equipment, Western Electric Co., In Baltimore. At that time I had 1 1/2 years of high school. If I had stayed there, I probably would have completed 40-45 years and had the "grateful" thanks of AT&T for my faithful service!

CPS enlarged my vision of life and the world. The 51 months I spent in incarceration did much for me in spite of the power of the state to control my life.

First big thing I did when I was discharged on December 20, 1945 was to get married. Second agenda item was to start college as a freshman after completing high school by way of G.E.D. texts.

Civilian Public Service 10/8/44-12/20/45

April 1992

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Civilian Public Service Work Strike

Samuel R. Tyson

Missing from the general lore of Civilian Public Service (CPS) is the Glendora work strike of 1946.


CPS #2 San Dimas (Tanbark Flat) opened in June, 1941 and was the sole camp in California until Camino opened in April 1942. As a result CPS #2 had Brethren, Mennonite Friend and Russian Molokan plus the larger assortment of church affiliations. San Dimas CPS’s project was a watershed management study of Little Dalton Canyon in the Angeles National Forest Service. The area encompassed from front country to 5000’ with Tanbark Flat a little less than 3000’. Facilities were those left from Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) days.

Project work included CPS maintenance, Forest Service, jobs on trails and fire suppression and the Lab. This last had a Botany Section, instrument room and a section devoted to soils and water penetration. Field work of the Lab included plant growth, measurement, rain gauge trails at 1000’ elevations from 2000’ and stream flow gauges on the small watersheds which constituted Little Dalton. Also, Dry Lake at 5000’ was the wood cutting camp as well as a site for Lab work

Civilian Public Service started on the basis of work of national significance under civilian direction. In fact the Selective Service System (SSS) of World War II made the regulations which the American Friend’s Service Committee (AFSC) carried out. At that time the AFSC seemed to be people from Whittier, Ca. AFSC-San Francisco did not open until the issue of the internment of the Japanese became fact in 1942.

Basic work in CPS initially and for most was that left by the CCC as it went to war. The CCC was a stop gap of the Depression Years for poorly educated people. In contrast CPS had lots of college educated inmates who were placed in work spots well below their academic training. The Washington Post ran an editorial on Don DeVault, a trained scientist in CPS - a waste of talent. Don spent his time in the unpleasant facilities SSS opened for those refusing church regulation, an SSS run unit.

The early atmosphere was initial euphoria (before (December 7, 1941),we were to do good work. The time came for disillusionment. There were no detached service (non Forest Service) units in California because of the pressures of the American Legion. Remember California had a long history of racism and anti people policies.

In January, 1943 CPS#2 became CPS 76, Glendora at the low hills of Little Dalton because barracks became available. More room was available for people to be sent West to fill the bunks to fight fires. Office work for Forest Service was added to that done out of Tanbark Flat. It was still California Forest and Range Experiment Station, U.S. Forest Service.

In April, 1940 Earl Kepler and John Mills were burned in a cabin explosion from a wood stove. As the accident was at the 5000’ Dry Lake Camp it meant too long a ride down to Tanbark in an open stake side truck- just what was not needed in a burn case. Then at Tan bark there was a discussion as to whether an ambulance was needed. Even at the best speed down the lower road it was another fifteen minutes to Glendora barracks. Town meant more time gone.

Both men died, part of the 34 CPS deaths.

Discharge from CPS as with the military was done on a point system. Age years drafted, marital status and I believe points were given for medical guinea pig projects. Drafted September 12, 1941, my release came December 6, l945. All along CPS discharges lagged those of the military. Two, three or four year men did not take this discrimination easily.

The American Friends Service Committee administered CPS 2/76 under SSS rules from June 1941 until they withdrew after my release. Four different Friends acted as unit directors over this period.

In the Spring of 1946 a number of Glendora inmates went on a work strike. The war was over, they were still held. They had been paid nothing for years. They were discriminated against though they had followed the law. From my own experience come these comments as an extension of prior knowledge and what one could pick up at the time.

Dozens of those stuck in CPS 76 brought the spirit of revolution to bear. CPS 76 was no longer run by the AFSC but by Selective Service System. It was not just a few involved as shown on the front page of Dwight MacDonald’s Politics for that Spring, 1996, Ed Behre, Richard Stenhouse, etc. The group to be on the positive side solicited money and began sending out CARE packages. Earlier in SSS run units the Conscientious Objector learned how to work all day and achieve nothing. CPS #76 Glendora strikers chose to work on post war hunger as their work project.

Dozens of arrest led to a Federal Court appearance in Los Angeles. A. L. Wirin and a Japanese-American were the defendant attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union. I cut class at U.S.C. to sit in on the trial and watched Col Kosch verbally attacked by Wirin. The Court admonished that Kosch was not on trial, or was he a Col then. All this bang up activity, then silence. I told a prof at U.S.C. why I cut class. Response: " I knew you had a good reason."

Being jailed in 1946 was not like being put away in the 1960’s. A high light must have been to hear coming down the aisles the singing of the Russian Molokans. How eerie and also heartening sound behind the bars. Spirit reigns, Molokans, had been transferring into CPS 76 because they were there from the start and it was closer to home, Fresno area, Phoenix, Los Angeles.

Final outcome of all the arrests, nothing. It was an unusual kind of nothing. In Nevada August 1957 sentencing was delayed for a year, equivalent to a year’s probation. For the Work Strikers of Glendora there was no end. The case was not carried nor was it dropped. For all these strikers there is no release date in the CPS directory. They have functionally been on probation ever since.

Those who were never released from CPS night include partial alphabet as a sample

Dale Anderson, Theodore Anderson, John Atherton, Harry Bailey, Edward Behre, Peter Berokoff, William Berkoff, Earl Blocker, Paul Blocker,

Morris Dolmatoff, John Eropkein, Richard Stenhouse. It is a computer job to pull out all the Conscientious Objectors with no release date from CPS who were in CPS #76. CPS 2/76 was the longest operating Conscientious Objector camp. It gasped it’s last December 1946 under federal government operation, Selective Service System.

The federal government was in an improbable situation. The dilemma was how could people be sentenced for not working when paid nothing for years-shades of the Soviet Union.

Solution- - - - - -Leave Them in limbo.

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Statements on Vietnam

Stanislaus County Citizens Committee


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Lives That Made A Difference

Samuel R. Tyson

Tolstoy, Gandhi, King, Day and Chavez are part of a continuum.

In a Friends high school in the 1930s I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Hugo’s Les Miserables. It was not an assignment for eleventh grade English. At any rate, the books stuck.

Leo Tolstoy(1828-1910) was very much upper crust who read the Bible and tried to practice Christianity. Russia of the Czars was Greek Orthodox, at least quasi state religion. Tolstoy was more rural than urban. War and Peace(1865-68) is an epic about Russian imperialism and the clash with Napoleon’s France. Having been part of the Crimean campaign, war was part of Tolstoy’s early background. Writers of the period created their work as serial pieces and so they were paid piece meal. In more modern times the Saturday Evening Post, a weekly, regularly published novels in segments.

Part of the hassle for writers was to find someone who would print and then try to get payment. Mostly fees were modest as it was a marginal business. Charles Dickens was published in the same fashion in England and was a favorite of Tolstoy the writer.

As a country gentlemen, the count tried to integrate belief from reading the Bible with practice by starting a school on the estate. Education was generally unavailable for the serf. Why did they need tÝo be able to read? As Tolstoy got older he tried more and more radical ways of living. Trying to give up book royalties brought his family down on him. He tried to live with/like the serfs after an upper class life and marriage. His wife could not accept so much change.

Such early influence on top of my Friends background made a Tolstoyan of me, designated by others as a Christian anarchist. One could try to practice Christianity but at a cost.

Tolstoy, the writer/reformer, became an institution of national pride. The state could not put him aside despite his continual writing antithetical to what the state was. Tolstoy himself could not be touched except through censorship of his writings which got printed in England instead. Though the writer himself was relatively immune, his followers were not. Tolstoyan followers, Molokans, left Russia to relocate in the southern San Joaquin Valley (Fresno), Los Angeles and Arizona. The Molokans, an obscure sect, as non-war people were a part of Civilian Public Service (Conscientious Objectors) during World War II. Of the approximate 12,000 inducted into CPS there were 76 Molokans, who over time transferred into CPS 2/76(San Dimas/Glendora) and so closer to home. Some of these were an important part of the work strike in the Spring, 1946 at the Glendora facility. In fact a John Tolstoy was one of the persons who died in CPS.

War and Peace and Anna Karenina came prior Tolstoy’s immersion in the Sermon on the Mount with particular emphasis on "resist not evil." His views were similar to those of Russian Prince Kropotkin’s "Mutual Aid" anarchist/communist. Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman carried the Kopotkin message to the United States. Tolstoy was eventually excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church for his denial of the Trinity, deity of Jesus, etc. 1901. Later works show the change in approach and belief in a gospel of social service

What The People Live By
Where Love is, There Also is God
The Kingdom of God is Within You
The Fruits of Enlightenment
Master and Servant

Tolstoy was familiar with the Religious Society of Friends as well as Dickens and as importantly, Henry David Thoreau who was briefly jailed in 1841 upon his refusal to pay taxes to government which was involved with slavery and war. Out of this experience came Thoreau’s essay on Civil Disobedience of which Tolstoy knew. I had not seen the essay until CPS days, it was a reinforcer of belief. The essay starts out more or less in this vein That government is best which governs least...Thoreau’s essay was also a link for Gandhi in his efforts to free Indians. Interestingly the essay is not listed as an item of Thoreau’s work in the Columbia Encyclopedia, 1954 edition.

For some reason Dickens's Dombey and Son spoke to Tolstoy as a relative to his belief. The Bible, Thoreau, Friends and Dickens all played a role but Tolstoy developed intellectually his own philosophy. Implementation of his ideas in his society was another matter. He could be censored and was, but he could not be shut up. There was just too much international prestige associated with his name. Even in the time of the Soviets his work was not banned though if it had been anyone else it would have been the gulag or worse.

Mohandas Gandhi(1869-1948) was upper class Indian as evidenced by his going abroad for education. This was standard form for his class

--only England could educate. Gandhi’s Rosa Parks epiphany came in South Africa where he was put off a train as a "colored." He awoke and decided to stay in South Africa and help the local Indian population originally brought in as laborers. The Indian was not white nor black and was a special class of its own and treated differently but not as poorly as blacks.

After leaving South Africa Gandhi slowly took on Indian Nationalism. He encouraged cooperation with the English during WWI because it seemed unfair to take advantage of the war upheaval to press for freedom from the British. Development of his non-violent philosophy took much trial and error. In order to speak consonant with the mass of people he went down the scale of simplicity. His needs became little food, clothing or shelter. Low level consumption was the lot of most people, that was the reality of India.

Always in the background was difference in religion as well as the issue of untouchability. Somehow Gandhi had to create bridges to include all. His way was less that of political power than being part of the people. In fact, what he did was very political but he did not choose the fruit of politics. His long time friend and co-worker Nehru did accept political power. In the process Nehru abandoned non-violence and India became a nation state with nuclear weapons after Nehru’s time.

Gandhi’s base was the village economy where he tried to instill hope by example his spinning, his simple way of living striving for non-violence. Part of his hope was to foster a less fratricidal religious community. He paid the price of assassination in January, 1948.

Martin Luther King had a short life because he dared. He was raised middle class black who went north to be educated. King was a creature of the 1950’s and 1960’s from McCarthy to Vietnam. A black preacher of the south was a special creature using hype, adulation, operating similarly to others but going along their own path. King’s father was a well known preacher. MLK came to preach at Montgomery Alabama. King is easier to understand as he is a modern. What do we know of Czarist Russia or the mass population of the sub-continent of Indian and it’s culture.

Martin is of our time and place even though it was in a south of lynchings, black poverty, racial separation. King’s wake up call was Rosa Parks, who refused to move to the back ins a city bus. She had been to the Highlander Folk school where democracy was encouraged. The Montgomery bus boycott was a happening rather than a planned program. Of course, once into it there were regular planning sessions. Lots of people were involved, sacrifice became the order of the day. Even so, differences of strategy arose as some did not really want to tangle with the established order, even if it was demeaning to accept racial inferiority.

Martin Luther King struggled with having to be leader. The time consumption is deadly for family life if nothing else.

All through the struggle freedom for blacks crashed up against the wall of the FBI (J. Edgar Hoover), the Kennedys and President Johnson. The problems of blacks were not just that important when it came to a choice between politics and Vietnam as active counter balances.

As King looks at the larger world he had to move further onto the national stage. Many were upset that his non-violence extended to the Asian struggle of Vietnam. As time went on he had to act in northern cities and the final act. He in turn got down closer to the less advantaged as did Tolstoy and Gandhi before him as he fostered and implemented non violence in his actions.

Who killed King remains on hold. Certainly the government had its role. Why was not the James Earl Ray gun tested ballistically? Ray maintained his innocence to the end. King was a political threat to the established order, caput.

Dorothy Day is a much different story. A very free wheeling person whose contact with Peter Maurin changed her life. She converted to Catholicism and stayed one the rest of her life. The Catholic Worker movement was based on service to the poor. No wonder her favorite Charles Dickens was Little Dorrit , a novel dedicated to service. Dorothy Day could seem quite arbitrary but she lived the life, not just talking about the poor.

The classic photo of Dorothy Day by Bob Fitch has her seated on a folding chair surrounded by beefy deputy sheriffs on a farm workers picket line. Here is plainly a case of speaking truth to power merely by a presence. Dorothy Day was not a prolific writer, she inspired by her being. Try reading  A Long Loneliness.

Cesar Chavez is our fifth propounder of non-violence. He grew up poor, in the fields. More than one attempt had been made to organize farm labor but all floundered. The refugees from Oklahoma/Arkansas could more easily become part of society in the second generation. By Chavez’s time farm labor was largely Spanish speaking dark skinned. For them it was less easy to merge into the rest of society. Regularly the force of law came down on the side of the property owner. Police brutality was not a sometimes thing but to be expected.

Chavez adopted the idea that farm labor could overcome despite the challenges from the money society. The concept was fleshed out by using churches as a base of support. Much of the early organizing in urban areas was done by Protestant church groups. It broadened the stage for passing on the message of farm workers right to organize themselves. The great campaigns were based on farm workers picketing, marching, organizing to gain greater support.

Chavez was great at getting the message out but was less comfortable delegating the necessary on going organizational work. Chavez was limited by his field experience when young. He never forgave nor did he let go the residual antipathy and so categorized all farmers as agri-business. There were lots of small farmers who did not choose to be placed in the agri-business stereotype. The farm workers union lives but does not flourish. The main competition now is the American corporation in Mexico using far cheaper labor than that north of the border.

From No Man Is An Island

Here lies a dead man who made an idol of indifference.
His prayer did not enkindle, it extinguished his flame.
His silence listened to nothing and, therefore, heard nothing and had nothing to say.
Let the swallows come and build their nests in his history
and teach their young to fly about in the desert which he made of his soul, 
and thus he will not remain unprofitable forever.

Thomas Merton

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Tuolumne Co-Op Farm

Samuel R. Tyson

Periodically there is a move from urban to rural realities. There was a great surge in 1830-40 R. Owens Fourier New Harmony Oneida etc. All this preceded the great upheaval caused by the Civil War.

It’s mitigation came with the expansion westward with the railroad development, land grant colleges the settling of the West Coast.

Presently there is a back to land move, often labeled organic. In the Vietnam period young people became disgusted with their families, politics of the day, the ever present crass consumerism. Such disillusionment led to attempts to form rural intentional communities.

Post World War II there was a similar move away from the politics of killing by moving into the country. An overt approach was an emphasis on growing rather than the destruction caused by nationalistic clashes.

The 1940s and 1950s produced the Rural Life Conference of similar minded small land based pacifists. Started by John and Alice Way of Temple City, at the time there were pacifist groups or people in Reedley (Lohans), Oakhurst (Washburns), Fresno (Mitchells), Modesto(TCF), Gridley (Crites), Cambria, etc. Each summer a general gather was held with some group hosting. As well as the pacifist attitude a large interest in growing things naturally (organic) was a natural response to the falsity of urban life.

Tuolumne Co-op Farm (TCF) of Illinois Ave. became a focal point for the Peace Community to meet. There was the Church of the Brethren on Sierra behind Modesto High School and the monthly Fellowship of Reconciliation potluck which met there. Newly released conscientious objectors to War II gravitated to the location to share. Not surprisingly folks like John/Marietta Downing, Gordon/Helen Knutson, Gale/Ann Knutson, Andrew Noda, Pat Noda, Rudy/June Potochnik, Phyllis/Home Harvey, Howard/Ruby TenBrink, Sam/Carol Tyson came together. Many of the men had been in Civilian Public Service in the early 1940s.

TCF added a different group to the mix. Started by George Burcham and Wendell Kramer (both Methodist Ministers) very sandy riverside land was purchased for farming purposes. Mostly the parcel was not well developed. There were some old walnuts on the place, Wilson Wonder-a large walnut with a small proportion of meat. What eventuated was a goat dairy but the market for goat milk was limited with few buyers of the raw product.

Burchell Nursery donated some freestone peaches. I pruned them when young but someone else came along and butchered them. In the 1950s there was a good market for canned freestone peaches. No longer.

At one point Carol and I discussed joining TCF as I was doing farm work at Koiakanians, north of Modesto. Our decision came down on the side of freedom; we were unlikely persons to be subordinated.

TCF must have lasted ten years or so before it gave up. Observing the community idea in general-it is hard to do. Failure seems to be with personalities, capital, and labor skills. Boot strapping is a tough go. Once in a while with a charismatic leader such as with Clarence Jordan in Koinonia (Americus, Georgia) a group will last for years. Koinonia gave rise to Habitat for Humanity.

For the years TCF operated the local peace community had Wendell/Ruth Kramer, Ken/Dottie Stevens, Ted/Vi Klaseen, Don Noble, George Burleson. Don had been a Korean war resister. Delta Friends Meeting was formed in part so Don and George with their intended, could join Friends. They chose the Bruderhof instead and stayed there.

TCF hosted the Rural Life Conference more than once, a not inconsiderable crowd. That far back in history a small family had three children, the larger five. There was never any question about a future generation. The FOR potluck planned for families, lots and lots of children. The potluck food usually seemed to balance out. All families had to bring plenty. Sadly, the FOR decided to close it’s offices except for New York. Since we lost this Speaker source, program was more difficult. TCF itself closed. The 1960s found the people scattered to the Friends, Methodists, some still Brethren and later the Congregational Church and Unitarian Fellowship. People no longer met freely together.

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This is a very meager account of a number of years and varied activities.


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from Roots and Fruits, a publication of the Stanislaus Peace-Life Center and the Stanislaus Safe Energy Committee

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