When I ask readers for information, it's a safe bet they'll provide it.
A few days ago, a reader asked who was pitching for Washington when Mickey Mantle hit his classic home run. I said I thought it was Chuck Stobbs. Donald G. Plavnick of Alexandria immediately informed me:
"You are correct in stating that Chuck Stobbs was the pitcher. The date was April 17, 1953. It was a day game played before 4,206 fans. It happened in the fifth inning, with New York leading 2 to 1. Yogi Berra was on first base. The count on Mantle, a switch-hitter batting right-handed against lefty Stobbs, was 1 ball and no strikes. Mantle hit the next pitch, a letter-high fastball, over the left field wall and over 32 rows of bleachers. It struck 55 feet up on the football scoreboard and bounded into a lot across 5th Street, 108 feet behind the stadium wall."
That's what I call a detailed reply.
Another recent question was: In the Civilian Conservation Corps camps of Depression days, did the boy in camp keep $5 of his $30-a-month wage and send the other $25 home to his parents or did he keep $25 and send home $5?
You have no idea how many readers answered that one from first-hand knowledge. "I was there, man," was a theme that ran through 95 percent of the responses I received.
First to reach me was Bill Boyd of Vienna. "We had to send home $25, and kept only $5 for ourselves," he told me. "But $5 was plently. Our housing, clothes and food were furnished free, and boy, did we eat!We did useful conservation work and built some fences that are still standing today. I'd say the money we cost the taxpayers was well-spent. We didn't waste a time."
Of the many others to whom I am indebted for responses, Dean Atlee Snyder of Alexandria probably had the best overview of CCC. He was in charge of national enrollee selection as an official of the Labor Department.
"At first," he wrote, "each CCC enrollee was selected from eligible applicants aged 18 to 25. Later this was changed to the 17 to 23 age group. Pay was $30 a month, the same pay an Army private received in those days. Originally, each young man was required to allot $25 of his pay to his family. Later the allotment requirement was changed to $22 a month, leaving $3 to the enrollee for his incidental spending money. There were more than 2,500 camps, and peak enrollment was 519,000. Nearly 3 million young men had work experience in the camps over a span of seven years. It was said at the time (and retrospect emphasizes) that the CCC Corps was undoubtedly the most successful of all the New Deal unemployment programs."
Yes. Many people have suggested that modern lads would benefit from a revival of the CCC camps, and they probably would. These days we would have to give young women as equal opportunity to join up, and I suspect there are thousands of city girls who would love to discover the joys of country livin' for themselves.