In a search covering several months and 11 states, The Post located 24 -- roughly one third -- of the boys who went to the nation's first Job Corps center at Camp Catoctin, Md.Most are married and have children, seven went to Vietnam, 21 are employed, 17 have returned to their original towns and cities.
Harvey (Pug) Perryman, 34, son of a Baltimore groundskeeper and one of Catoctin's first 30, dropped out after a month and now is a brakeman and freight conductor for Consolidated Railroad. He lives in suburban Baltimore.
Donald Ray Absher from Norton, Va., entered Catoctin in February 1965, and went home in two weeks, complaining of homesickness. Now, "he sort of drifts," his mother says. She said she does not know what he does for a living, and hears from him infrequently.
Oliver Little, 32, one of 10 children of a Premium, Ky., coal miner and a third-grade dropout, stayed at Catoctin for a month. "I thought it might give me a trade where I didn't have no education," he says. "But none of that happened. Looking back, I guess the Bible's learned me more than anything."
He runs a shell car for a coal mine at $9.15 an hour, and lives with his wife, Myrtline, 22, and their four children in a small trailer in Premium, Ky.
Milton Heard, 32, a 10th grade dropout from New Haven, Conn., who had spent a year in a boys' reformatory, came to Catctin in February 1965, hoping to learn to operate heavey equipment. He was expelled in five weeks after being accused of stealing typewriters. Now, he operates machinery for Pratt and Whitney in New Haven, earning a little over $6 an hour.
Steve Banks, 33, one of 12 children of an Eastern Kentucky coal miner and one of the first 30, spent most of his time in physical fitness training with Marine Corps Sgt. Sam Griffiths, the former Mr. Physical Fitness of America and the national fitness director for Job Corps. Banks stayed four months in the program, and left soon after being transferred to the Kilmer Job Corps Center in Newark, because of racial and urban-rural tension. A Vietnam veteran, he is now a construction laborer in New Albany, Ind.
Kenny Fleming, 34, of Dorton, Ky., dropped out of high school in 11th grade and planned to drive a carload of friends to Detroit, where they wanted jobs in auto factories. "My car broke down -- it was a 1947 Pontiac I'd fixed up -- so I went and enlisted in Job Corps instead," says Fleming left after four months, shortly after being transferred to the Kilmer Job Corps Center in Newark. He now lives in Dorton, Ky., and operates heavy equipment on a highway construction project.
George Wilson, 33, one of the first 30 from Baltimore's Sandtown neighborhood, was expelled after three months, allegedly for picking fights. Now a roofer, he has served two prison terms, one for arson and the second for assault.
Pete Herron, one of the first 30 from Big Stone Gap, Va., dropped out of Catoctin in June 1965, saying he needed to return home because his parents were "always drunk," according to old Job Corps records. He later tried to get readmitted, but was rejected because he had a "bad attitude," the records say. A one-year-later report said, however, that Herron had "graduated" from the program. He now is a private detective in Chicago.
Ray Martin, 34, a coal miner's son and one of the first 30, dropped out of the Job Corps after six months, chased away by the violence at Kilmer, where he was transferred from Catoctin. Now an equipment operator for a mining company, he lives in a trailer in Isom, Ky., with his wife, Phyllis, and five children.
Wayne Holbrook, 32, now maintenance manager of Big G Trailer Court in his home town of Wise, Va., left Catoctin after five months because "I couldn't get along with the coloreds. They beat up the whites. I was sort of prejudiced." A Vietnam veteran, he earned his high school degree in the Army and later took some junior college courses. He since has managed a few convenience stores, worked construction and recently gotten into the used clothing business. He says Job Corps "showed me I had to work instead of running the street."
Danny Adams, 33, of Sergent, Ky., one of seven children of a Letcher County Coal miner, spent five months at Catoctin and, like several other boys from his county, went home soon after being transferred to the Kilmer center in Newark. Now a union coal miner, he makes $10.56 1/2 an hour, operating a bolt machine. "It's the best job I've ever had," he says. "It gets in your blood."
Billy Noble, 32, a coal miner's son who grew up in mining company housing in the hollows of Thornton, Ky., stayed five months in the Winslow, Ariz., center after being transferred from Catoctin in the first weeks. He learned to be a leader even though he did not complete the program, he says. "Now, anytime I'm faced with something that frightens me, I say, 'I did it when I was 16 in Job Corps,'" he says. Noble owns and drives an 18-wheel tractor-trailer, and lives with his wife and children in a double-wide trailer in Neon, Ky.
Clifford Orlando Mullins, 36, an electrician-repairman for a large Letcher County lumber company, still works hard at staying in touch with the outside world that he encountered during his seven months in Job Corps. From the small house that he built for his family off a gravel road near Mayking, Ky., he follows national and local affairs, and invests whenever possible in property that seems in the path of development.
The son of a coal miner-turned-lumberer, he says he has gotten where he is today because of his personal initiative. But Job Corps helped awaken his drive to succeed, he says. "They taught me, 'It's out there. All you gotta do is go get it. Nobody's going to give it to you.' I might've learned that anyway six or seven years later, but that's six or seven years I'd have been bumming," he says.
At the Winslow center, where he was transferred soon after arriving at Catoctin, Mullins earned his high school degree, plus several certificates in the operation of heavy equipment. Job Corps officials there found him a job with an Arizona construction company, but he turned it down to take a job back home. He likes his present job, but fears a slowdown in the lumber industry. "I'm always looking for something that has a future," he says. "I guess if we stay in the area, it'll be the mines for me."
Robert J. Collier, 32, one of six children of a Big Stone Gap, Va., coal miner, learned a good bit about operating payloaders at Catoctin, but left after six months because, he says, he was bored with the program and uncomfortable in an integrated setting.
A Vietnam veteran, he says he probably would have been better off if he had gone to Indiana with friends who were seeking factory jobs in 1965, rather than going to Catoctin. "They got good jobs -- all if 'em," he says. "I got one friend who has him a brick home and two Cadillacs and a two-car garage in Gary." Collier now is a truckdriver, earing $4 an hour, facing layoffs because of slow business.
Donny Mullins, 34, a Neon, Ky., coal miner who hunts coon in his spare time, went to Catoctin at age 19 hoping to find a vocational school. He spent most of his time working as a bookkeeper in the Catoctin office, but says he didn't learn anything he didn't already know. He left after seven months, and now is a coal miner, living in his own house in Deane, Ky., with his wife and two children.
Chester Maggard, 33, a union truck driver based in Reading, Pa., was one of Catoctin's first 30, but was transferred in the first month to Winslow, Ariz. There he earned his high school degree and certificates in several kinds of heavy equipment operation, then was sent to work for six months in OEO headquarters in Washington as part of a special program for the most promising recruits. But, he says, "I couldn't stand to be in an office all day."
A Vietnam veteran, he has worked several blue collar jobs and now earns $731 a week driving between Reading and Columbus, Ohio. "I like it. You can be on your own," he says. "I never could be happy being tied down to eight hours a day in an office."
Tommy Duran, 34, from Beckley, W. Va., hoped to learn to be an electrician so that he could do something other than coal mining. He stayed at the center 14 months, and learned "a little bit" about the trade, but not enough to get a job in it. He asked several times to be transferred to a center where he could learn more, but repeatedly was turned down. "I thought they'd help us get a trade, but they didn't," he says.
After coming home, Duran took what jobs were available -- he worked at a local restaurant, and then on the housekeeping staff of a local hospital. Then, in 1974, he became a coal miner, a job he expects to keep for the foreseeable future. He now lives with his parents in Beckley, his hometown.
"You make money in the mines now," he says. "But you pay in other ways. You get black lung. You face danger. If I had a son, I sure wouldn't want him to have to do this." His mother, Mary Duran, had the same feelings when her son went to Job Corps. "It made me mad," she says. "They spent all that money and then they didn't even do what they promised."
David Fortune, 36, stayed at Catoctin 15 months and is now a National Park Service truck driver.
Augustus Jones, learned mechanics and is now a machinist for the Boeing Co. plant in Wichita, Kan.
Robert Dandridge, who was transferred from Catoctin to a Pleasanton, Calif., Job Corps center, stayed for more than a year and earned a certificate in typewriter repair. However, when he returned to his Baltimore neighborhood of Sandtown, he could not find work in his trade. He soon turned to selling drugs, he says, and has since served two prison terms for manslaughter. He now unemployed.
Richard Sherrill, 32, an eighth grade dropout in a Baltimore family of 13, is now a machinist with a high school degree and some college and technical school education. He is not sure how much he owes Job Corps, but he does believe it helped him change his life.
Kicked out of Catoctin for fighting, he was readmitted later in 1965 to the Kilmer center in Newark. As a veteran of the inner city streets, he says, he knew how to handle the violence there; besides, he recalls, much of it bypassed him since it was antiwhite. He remained at Kilmer for more than a year, and learned to be a cook.
He since has climbed steadily upward through what he calls an inbred drive to succeed. He went to Vietnam as a Marine combat engineer, and was badly wounded in a minesweep accident that blew seven men to bits before his eyes. He returned home, later to go to technical school on the GI bill and become a machinist. He has worked for eight years on the Maryland Dry Dock in Baltimore, and now lives with his parents in a transitional, middle-class neighborhood in West Baltimore, saving up to buy them a house in the suburbs.
"It kept you off the street. And the streets could be bad," he says of Job Corps. "Anything you can think of to survive, by dealing with those streets, you'd do it . . . If a person don't have a job and he can't find one, he's gonna relate to those streets. That's the biggest problem in the U.S. If these people had jobs, they wouldn't stay in the streets.
Gregory Ratliffe, from Baltimore's Sandtown, stayed more than a year in Job Corps, with five months at Catoctin. He learned cooking, carpentry, masonry and clerical work, then returned home without a job. He soon heard from a neighbor about an opening for a sweeper at a large popcorn factory, and now is the factory foreman. He lives with his wife and four children in a large house in West Baltimore.
Billy Tucker, a sixth grade dropout from Coeburn, Va., spent 20 months at Catoctin, learning typing and a variety of construction skills. He now is an autoworker on the Ford Motor Co. assembly line in Sandusky, Ohio.
Henry Epps, 32, stayed at Catoctin for 22 months -- longer than any of the other 29 boys who arrived at the center on opening day. He learned to be an electrician there and was one of only two Job Corps recruits from among the sample located by The Post who was placed in a job when he left the program.
He has stayed with his trade ever since, and now earns $6 an hour from a small construction firm.