Appalachia Profiles of Mountain People

Forgy And The Bear

Today’s guestpost was written by Charles Fletcher.

Bear at ccc camp smokemont


John Forgy And The Bear written by Charles Fletcher

My friend and camp buddy, John Forgy was the fire watchman at CCC camp 411 in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. His job was at night. He usually slept during the daytime. John could go to the Mess Hall whenever he wanted to eat and the cooks would feed him.

One day while at the mess hall eating, he heard a lot of noise out back. Being the watchman he would always check to find out what was going. It didn’t take John Forgy long to locate where the noise was from. There were several black bears eating out of the garbage cans. One of the smaller bears was inside an overturned can. Forgy took the lid off a nearby can, shoved the bear inside, put the lid on, and sat on the top.

“Go get the captain! Go get the captain!” Forgy hollered.

Someone told the captain that Forgy needed to see him out behind the mess hall. The captain walked out back and saw Forgy sitting on top of the garbage can.

“What do you want?” he asked Forgy.

“Cap, I’ve got a bear in this can. Take your gun and shoot through the side and kill him. I’ll skin him, and Clarence the cook will cook him, and we’ll have bear for dinner tomorrow.” He said to the Captain.

“Clarence lived over in Haywood County and has plenty of experience at bear cooking. Him and his dad killed a bear every fall and canned it to eat in the winter time.” Forgy said.

“Get off that garbage can and let that bear go.” ordered the captain. “If we are caught here by one of the park Rangers we both will be in jail over in Bryson City” the Captain said.

“But bear meat is really good eating, and I haven’t had any since I left home,” Forgy pleaded to the Captain.

“Get” said the Captain.

Forgy got off the can slowly, and the bear jumped out and headed for higher ground. Forgy returned to his eating.

The captain headed back to his quarters with a smile on his face wondering if there would be other meetings with his friend John Forgy, the fire watchman.


Note: This is a true story and it happened to one of the most liked boys in CCC camp 411 up at Smokmont near Cherokee, NC. Not only was John Forgy a big mountain boy in size, he had a heart and love for his fellow man just as big. I don’t know where John Forgy was from, but it was easy to see he was a true mountain boy. Over the many years that have passed since John and me were together in the CCCs I have tried to find out where he came from and what happened to him after we left the camp. If any one has any information about John Forgy or any of his relatives please contact me.

Charles Fletcher


I hope you enjoyed Charles’s guest post as much as I did-I can just see Forgy sitting on that trash can!



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  • Reply
    Roger Greene
    January 24, 2019 at 7:13 am

    My father, Earl Greene, was at Smokemont Camp 411 in 1934. He also told some great stories about that year.

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    January 30, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Tried me some Bear meat once,, not bad. Good Story,,hope you find John Forgy…

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    January 30, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    and Charles…Great story! Canned bear! Yummmm! I’ve eaten bear and other than the wild tinge, not bad when your hungry. Shore need a big pot to cook a bear roast in..and it is purty meat…
    I’d say it would be safer to eat than that there Deviled meat or potted meat…When things get bad hits back to “potted meat and light bread”….
    Does anyone remember back in the day when there were no signs about “Do not feed the bears”?
    Everytime we would go to Grannies, the cars (tourists) would be lined up like they’d run into the end of the road! Take there young’ns out and traispe those kids right up to the bear with a camera…People started gettin’ injured left and right and finally “Do not feed bear” signs were put up…One time while stopped in the middle of the road, waiting for the cars to move..we saw a guy holdin’ marshmellows in his mouth for the bear to get it and look like in the picture, his wife was about to take, that the bear was kissin’ him…About that time a Ranger came along…Shooed off the people, gave them a good scolding, got the folks to walk back down to there car. The wagon train started moving again…The Ranger was shakin’ his head, while motioning traffic to move and said to us, “Its a wonder that bear didn’t take his head off!
    Thanks Charles and Tipper for the Bear story…I was always afraid of bears…I know how vicious they can be…But, they taste pretty good!

  • Reply
    January 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Thank you Charles, for a delightful little story! I hope you find your friend John Forgy.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2013 at 12:46 pm


  • Reply
    January 30, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Wonderful story! Really enjoyed this

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    January 30, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Mr Fletcher: Your story is delightful and I will share it with some WILD SMOKEY MOUNTAIN HIKERS! Actually they are fairly smart and just might know of your long ago CCC friend.
    Fondly, Eva Nell Mull Wike (Clay County, NC)

  • Reply
    jose luis
    January 30, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Hello Tipper
    Very interesting this story of John and the little bear in the can.
    The translated and read to my granddaughter, and she understood rejoicing by the attitude of the Captain, who told John, that can get up and leave the child with their parents!, And the bear ran into the woods.
    I take my hat off to the men of the CCC, all the parks and forests, USA and worldwide.
    With warm regards Appalachian friends, Jose Luis from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
    God bless you.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    January 30, 2013 at 10:28 am

    My father was also in the CCC and he talked about it the rest of his life. I don’t have it, but understand that all CCC records are available to the public on a special web site for just the purpose Charles has. Good luck

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 30, 2013 at 9:55 am

    We often forget the values the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) rendered at a time when our country was in a deep financial depression. President Franklin Roosevelt was known for his “Alphabet Soup” of social services to try to lift our country out of the depression. The CCC enlisted young men and placed them in work camps. They were boarded, fed and paid. They received maybe $5 of their salary and the remainder (usually $25 a month) was sent home to help their families with expenses. Besides the financial help, the CCC “boys” built roads, fire towers, dams, lakes and made multiple contributions to the country’s infrastructure strength. Then when World War II came and an “army” was needed, the CCC boys became a very strong force in our military branches.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2013 at 9:26 am

    It’s always entertaining to read a
    story of Mr. Fletcher, especially
    those of real life in the CCC camps. I’ve Deer Hunted the
    beautiful Rainbow Springs mountains above Nantahala Lake much of my life, and you can look
    down on those CCC Camps that were
    established before I was born…Ken

  • Reply
    January 30, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I think he was a bit brave to even sit on top of the garbage can. Anyway, I liked the story of happenings in the mountains. Good story!

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    January 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Bear is good eating, but a bear small enough to fit in a garbage can ain’t but a cub. Good thing the boss had restraint!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 30, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Orininal multi-tasking… watching, bear hunting, and feeding the multitudes!
    Thanks Charles!

  • Reply
    January 30, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I enjoyed Charles story this morning. My dad was in the CCC camp when he was a boy too. He used to tell us lots of stories about those days. He would often tell us about friends that he had made and would wonder where they were now and what had happened to them. This organization helped many families and young people during the depression and made a lifetime impression on some many young men’s lives.

  • Reply
    Ben Thayer II
    January 30, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Great little story Charles. You know we hear a lot about people being eaten by bears but hardly anything about the vastly greater number of bears eaten by people. I’ve tried if myself. It don’t taste nothing like chicken.
    PS-Mine came from right off 441 just above the ranger station on the Tennessee side of the park.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 30, 2013 at 6:51 am

    You can always count on a good ‘un when Charles is doing the telling!

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