Bill Summers, Camp Mercer Project Superintendent, 1933-1942
Beloved by CCC enrollees, project superintendent Bill Summers (second from the left) boosted company morale, even in winter.
Before the camp store or post exchange (PX) served beer, beer runs allowed enrollees to celebrate in their barracks.
Summers demanded and rewarded excellence in his men. He held popular "performance celebrations" to encourage hard work. These merry gatherings took place just past the dynamite shack in an area now available as a canoe campsite along the Camp Mercer trail.
Scandalous embezzlement of monies from the mess hall was reported by Bill Summers to Army leadership at Sparta District Headquarters. The next day, Major Roberts arrived at Camp Mercer and removed the offending officer. He asked Summers, a civilian, who should run Camp Mercer. Surprisingly, Summers suggested a junior officer, R.E. Ermentrout (left), as the best leader.
Camp Mercer Commander R.A. Ermentrout and his highly regarded book on the history of the CCC, Forgotten Men.
I have personal knowledge of one camp superintendent who invariably gave a holiday and a barrel or two of 3.2 beer to crews who completed a project satisfactorily ahead of schedule. I became aware of this superintendent's incentive ploy when he asked me for a barrel of 3.2 beer for a picnic on a certain hidden lake, a real fisherman's paradise. I got the beer. He had already made arrangements with the mess steward for food. There were no shirks even by new enrollees after the first days on the job. This man was not only a talented forester, he was a superb leader of men. There were many like him but not enough, unfortunately. He deserves memorialization: William Summers, Camp Mercer, 660th CCC Company, Manitowish, Wisconsin.
Timber Cruiser Axe awarded to Bill Summers for exemplary service to the CCC.