I was not aware that the gym was a WPA project, but if you compare it to the other projects around the county it makes perfect sense. I've blogged before about prisoners of war being housed there, but I thought I would repeat the information today for new readers.
The Caddo Herald
January 20, 1939
Preliminary Work is Started on Auditorium in Caddo Wednesday
Wednesday morning preliminary work started on the auditorium and gymnasium at the high school.
Guy Maxey is supervisor, Jas. M. Goddard is foreman, and Ray Pace is timekeeper. Each of these men are experienced in the work they’re to do and Maxey and Goddard have built several school buildings under the W.P.A. in the county.
The building will be of native rock and will be located south of the high school building. Lines are already run and machinery and tools for the work are being assembled. It is the belief that WPA workmen will go to work by Friday (today).
The building will not be ready for use until next term of school in the fall of this year, if then.
The building will supply a long felt need in our school equipment.
The Caddo Herald
July 1, 1943
German War Prisoners Quartered in Caddo to Help Farmers in Crops
Sixty German war prisoners are now quartered in the gymnasium of Caddo High School, from Stringtown prison camp, to be used in helping farmers glean their crops around Caddo.
They are sent out sixteen in a group, the farmers pay $1.50 a day each; men are paid 80c per day of this but only 10c for present use, the remainder credited to each to be paid when the war is over.
The prisoners are mostly young fellows in their teens, have been captured in submarines, and North Africa. They seem cheerful, but perhaps are lonely and homesick. None are compelled to work, except do chores waiting on themselves.
Curiosity seekers should stay at a distance from the gymnasium, as it is against the rules of war to subject prisoners of war to curiosity seekers, and it might be dangerous as soldier guards are likely to shoot at any attempt to escape.
People are warned to stay away from the grounds at all times.
Lt. Williams, in charge of the men, says people are welcome to visit near the grounds, but not to come inside the fence, do not bring any Kodaks or cameras and do not try to talk to the men.
Col. Palmer, who is in charge of the prisoners at Stringtown, is doing this to make it possible for farmers to get this help at less cost, otherwise the farmers would have to provide transportation to and from prison base each day.
These prisoners are not criminals, but soldiers captured in battle, who were doing what they were told to do, and are like our own boys who are in German prison camps.
Any farmer who
desires to have any of this prisoner labor can get it by applying to Mr. E. L.
Whitehead, county agent at Durant. They may he had for all sorts of farm work:
cotton hoeing, hay baling, or other farm work.
July 15, 1943
County Agent Notes
War prisoners at Caddo did much farm work in three weeks. They moved back to Stringtown today.
More prisoners may be brought to the county in the fall if a place for them to stay can be found.
War Prisoners Taken Back to Stringtown as School Needs Building
The 70 German war prisoners in Caddo are being taken back to the subprison at Stringtown today.
Farmers who employed them are satisfied with the work done fro the hands were new at this kind of work. One thing local farmers are not in favor of is the eight hours a day put in, for in harvest and crop growing season farmers are accustomed to eight hours in the morning and eight hours in the afternoon of farm work, as time is an important element in growing all farm crops.The prisoners gave no trouble at all; no untoward incidents are reported. The soldiers under Lieut. Williams gave no unlovely incidents, having mingled freely with people of the town and behaved nicely at all times. Lieut. Williams had a good word for Caddo people in the treatment of soldier and prisoners. On several occasions the prisoners were taken to Powell Lake for an afternoon swim. One time Arvin Ellis gave a special showing of the picture, “Tahiti Honey” to the war prisoners, which they appreciated a great deal. While still steeped in the Nazi doctrine, these prisoners are beginning to doubt the wisdom and word of their leaders. They’re a healthy lot, nice physiques, some good musicians among them and they amused themselves in their off hours with music, hand ball, and singing, as well as listening to the radio. The news they heard this and last week was not very good for their side.