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Potato Bug. Franklin Roosevelt and his late, trusted Secretary Louis McHenry Howe knew Robert Fechner in World War days when he represented his machinists' union in negotiations with Assistant Secretary of the Navy Roosevelt. Their friendship continued, and on his 57th birthday (March 22, 1933) Mr. Fechner got a telephone call from Louis Howe suggesting a quick trip to Washington. Tied up with union business and unaware that CCC legislation had been introduced, he put off going for a week. When he did visit the White House, he saw there the original (and largely unchanged) chart for a CCC, based not on conscription but on voluntary enrollment.

Among the swarming professional Brain Trusters, CCC's director was as a potato bug among dragonflies. "Why, most of my clerks are better educated than I am," Robert Fechner used to say. He quit school when he was 16, worked in a railroad machine shop, then wandered to Mexico, Central and South America and back again as an itinerant machinist. He fought through a losing general strike in 1901 for the 9-hour day, was elected in 1913 to the general executive board of the A. F. of L. machinists' union. He sandwiched in a year's schooling at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, later lectured on labor relations at Harvard, Brown and Dartmouth. Still an officer of his union, he got his biggest vote for re-election after he took leave to go with CCC.

Director Fechner still wears high-topped, hooked shoes as he did in Georgia 30 years ago. For fun he reads newspapers and magazines, occasionally sees a movie, plays a feeble hand of poker. With his closest friend and right-hand man at CCC, James J. McEntee, he lives at the modestly priced Burlington Hotel in Washington. (Mrs. Fechner spends the winters with him, the rest of the time at their home in Wollaston, Mass.) He is definitely not a military sort of man.

But in 1936 Happy Days reported that Major General George Van Horn Moseley (now retired) had advocated "expansion of the CCC to take in every 18-year-old youth in the country for a six-month course in work, education and military training." Happy Days mused: ". . . The teaching of boys to use their fists ... is recognized, even by our religious organizations, as a good and reasonable thing. But to teach a man military training! 'No! No! No! No!'. . ."

Robert Fechner himself has never specifically agreed to militarizing his boys. But when a move is afoot to cut down on CCC appropriations or to thwart his ambition to make it a permanent agency, he may stress the corps' present military values. Once he was quoted as saying that after the regular six-month CCC enrollment a graduate was "85% prepared for military life." His publicity man says a reporter put the figure in his mouth; he meant 50%. Army officers consider three months' intensive training the minimum necessary to turn a green man into a conscript fighter, thinks CCCers may be useful after a month of drill & discipline. Other military potentials of CCC: the permanent, continuously up-to-date list of CCC names kept at the Army's nine Corps Area headquarters; a reservoir of air corps mechanics.

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