Oral History Interview
“The Wrong Way”
Mark Madison and Lynn Greenwalt
June 26, 1999
Mark Madison: Hi I am Mark Madison the Historian, here at the National
Conservation Training Center, in Shepardstown, West Virginia. And today
we have former Fish and Wildlife Service Director, Lynn Greenwalt, with
us, to do an oral history.
Lynn for the first sect…first question, I’d like to ask you what was it was
like in the 1930’s, growing up on a refuge in Oklahoma, with the Civilian
Conservation Corp, boys all around. What experiences do you remember
Lynn Greenwalt: Well I remember it was particularly interesting for
someone who had never had very many people around him, having come
from a much more remote place. Here were these young men who to me
were adults, and indeed they were. Who were working very hard, doing
things like building roads and picnic tables and, even buildings. Very skillful
operating out of three, CCC camps on the refuge. Two of them were quite
active, one was in the process of closing down, when we moved there they
simply took the camp and moved it to another place. It was an interesting
time because these people, these young people were never out of, out from
under the control of the military. Because they lived there and they learned
there, my mother taught English and Reading classes to one of the camps not
far away. They had, among there things, at that camp, a remarkable device
for that time and place, a motion picture projector. Once a week there were
movies, to which everybody came. People were invited who could get there,
this was in the middle of the depression, who could get there could come to
the movies, and we’d see first run motion pictures, as long as the electricity
held up and something didn’t go wrong with the projector. For me as a
small boy, that was a remarkable thing. I suspect in looking back it may
have been remarkable thing for some of those boys as well. They were
taken from abject poverty into the camps and trained, some even learned to
read, they were well fed, they were given healthcare, and in a sort of ironic
sense they were conditioned, prepared to become soldiers as the second
world war came on just a few years after that. But here were these young
fellows, the trucks and the tractors, and all of the activity, and for me it was
just kind of a delightful thing to see, because my father often went out to see
how the work was going on, and he’d take me along and I would get to see
the bulldozers, and the graters, and the people doing things. Obviously at
the time didn’t appreciate what it meant, but in retrospect that was a high
water mark in the lives of a lot of those people, an undertaking by
bureaucrats, in the positive sense of that word, that changed peoples lives. A
remarkable, delightful time to be a young man watching these things happen.
M.M.: That’s a fascinating story. You mentioned World War
II, and the CCC. What changed when WWII, came to the refuge.
L.G.: Well the first thing that happened was that a lot of the people who
worked there went away to do different things…
M.M.: When was WWII again?
L.G.: WWII was ….
M.M.: What years were those again?
L.G.: WWII were between 1941 and 1945,…
M.M.: oh ,OK.
L.G. : and this left a void in the operation of the refuge, which my father…
M.M.: and the refuge was?
L.G.: Ah. Yes, the refuge was Wichita Mountains.
M.M.: yeah, yeah,
L.G.: and I’ve lost my train of thought.
M.M.: Well that’s ok lets just go on to the next question. We’ve done
enough with that? Ah…, so, so Lynn you were Director of the Bureau of
Fisheries from 1963 to 1970.
L.G.: Not quite, it was not the Bureau of Fisheries and it was not between
1960 and not 1970. It was something else and perhaps I ought to explain to
you again what it was.
M.M.: Please go ahead explain what the position was, and the year.
L.G.: The position was in the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, and it
was from the period of 1973 to 19, the end of 1980.
M.M.: So you were the Director of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and
Wildlife from 1973 to 1980?
L.G.: That’s correct, yes.
M.M.: So in 1973 and 1980, that means you served under Richard Nixon,
and I’m kind of wondering how could you even stand to serve under
somebody like that, in fact you served under a lot of presidents, lot of
different parties and views, and did you really have to give up all your own
ethics and your own beliefs to work with so many shady characters?
L.G.: Well I’m wondering if that really is a valid question, because these
were after all Presidents of the United States and I am not sure that I
appreciate the implication you are making here, and it seems to me you may
want to shorten this interview a whole lot more than we had originally
M.M.: Obviously your being a little sensitive, on this topic, let switch gears
a bit… Are you out there, come on out here. Thanks have a seat.
Speaker Unknown: Hi..
M.M.: So what was it like to work with Lynn?
S.U.: Well, it was always a pleasure and an honor, Lynn was a great
Director, he had a great tenure with the Service before he was Director. We
all appreciate what he did before and during his Directorship.
M.M.: Well thanks a lot, that really clarifies things and kind of gives a
different perspective we were lacking here. Let me go on to the next
question. Shoot… I have spilt something over my sheet. would you mind
going to get a dust buster,
S.U.: yeah, let me go get sure…no problem.
M.M.: While she’s doing that, I will just move on to the next question…
Lynn, I wonder if you have any secrets you would be interested in sharing
now, divulging now,
S.U.: excuse me let me just get this real quick…
M.M.: now that your out of the Service. That you
haven’t been able to tell us before…
S.U.: did that help
M.M.: No, no there is still some more here.
L.G.: Well…I think there may be a secret that will change
the world, if I reveal it and I’m a bout to do so…but it’s to noisy.
M.M.: Well, Lynn thanks for this oral History interview here I thinks it’s
going to be of great use to prosperity, and we’ll be sending out a transcript to
you soon for your final revision, I appreciate your time and your helping us
with this experiment.
L.G.: Thank you I appreciate it very much…
M.M.: That was fun…..
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