Wednesday, December 28, 2011

License and Registration, Please

It’s amazing how the loose ends of research can sometimes tie together nicely and, perhaps not such a surprise when the loose ends don’t tie together so well. Then, there are those times when the loose ends come tantalizingly close to tying together nicely, but not quite.

Some time ago I purchased a neat 8 by 10 inch black and white photo of a CCC foreman standing beside a pickup truck that bears a CCC license plate. The photo was taken at an unnamed CCC camp in Arizona – at least that’s the story. I made a half-hearted attempt to track down the camp but to little avail.

More recently, I happened to jump over to the James F. Justin Civilian Conservation Corps Museum and scrolled through the photo collection. While there I came upon a series of photos from Company 340, Camp DG-46-A near Kingman, Arizona. One in particular, of a civilian boss, "Cowboy" on a horse, caught my eye because it shows the front end of a pick-up truck with a clear view of the CCC license plate. My heart jumped! The terrain is nearly exactly the same as the terrain in my photo of a CCC foreman beside the pickup truck. Could it be the same truck? I couldn’t check the facts right away, but got around to it the very first chance I got.

Close, really close; but no cigar.

Turns out the license plate on the truck in the picture from the James Justin site is numbered “75549.” Clearly the little truck has seen better days- you can tell just from the condition of the front grill. The license plate sits askew and it appears that a piece of wire has been strung across the front to hold the grill in place.  The license plate on the pick-up truck in my photo is “75569.”

While I’m disappointed to find the two pictures are of different trucks, I can at least draw some inferences from them. It now seems clear that my 8x10 photo is indeed an image from an Arizona CCC camp – how else can you explain the fact that the license plate numbers are just twenty digits apart numerically? Add in the fact that the terrain in each photo is nearly identical and I’d venture that the trucks may very likely have been assigned to the same camp. I suspect there are records held somewhere that will list the license plate numbers for each vehicle by camp, but I’m hard pressed to say where those records might be. The only documents I have encountered that include vehicle license numbers from the CCC are accident reports submitted following vehicle crashes. Perhaps there is something to be explored along those lines but in the meantime, I’ll have to be content to know I haven’t quite tied these loose ends together, but it sure made for some interesting research.