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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Great Underwear Heist of 1940

Government theft and fraud cases scream out in many of today's TV news shows and newspaper headlines. We sometimes think that it is something new due to a falling of our national moral values, but that may not be the case. I've heard it said that human nature doesn't change and, the following may be a case in point.

A CCC Camp was run at the Bass River State Forest in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Its purpose was to provide jobs and constructive work for the nation's unemployed. It was part of Roosevelt's New Deal.

Men lining up at the Mess Hall at the Bass River CCC Camp
(Photo courtesy of John Nisky)

The Bass River CCC Mess Hall
(Photo courtesy of John Nisky)

Inside the Bass River CCC barracks
(Photo courtesy of John Nisky)

Men came to the Bass River CCC Camp from all over the Atlantic region. City types were mixed with country and farm boys making Bass River a little melting pot as the newcomers interacted with New Gretna locals. It was generally, a positive situation as much could be learned in this mixed cultural environment; however, what I said previously about human nature, is illustrated in the following February 22, 1940 article from the Trenton Times.

The stakes, clearly, aren't as big as today's $900 toilet seat type thievery used by today's modern era, sophisticated crooks, but the motive is the same .   .   . GREED!

Seems that a certain Preston Hoyt, a CCC employee, likely a city boy, sold some CCC property to Towers Loveland, a local boy, to make a few bucks. The caper was somehow uncovered, and the matter went to court.


The case untimately boiled down to a pair of Long Johns. 



Judge Forman, evidently mindful of the value of the pilfered goods versus the cost of the operation of the justice system,  dismissed the case.

Did justice prevail? I don't think so. Somehow, I believe the case could have been better served by Judge Judy. She'd never be caught with her shorts down!

Pete S

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