German POWs and the Third Base Line

First ride of the year today.
Lots of families out here.
Lots of kids riding what appeared to be brand-new Christmas bikes.

A couple of strange pictures for you today. Strange, until I explain them.
First, a picture off the back of Winfrey Point. I’ve shared dozens of pictures with you of the western view; the lake and downtown beyond. But I don’t think I’ve ever before posted this back view.

And, even more strange until I explain it in a moment, a second picture…of a fire hydrant.

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In the 1930s, the site of these ball fields included a series of barracks-like buildings. Those buildings housed young men in President Roosevelt’s “Civilian Conservation Corp.” This was a New Deal program at the height of the Great Depression. Young men got room, board, and a small salary to build many of the enduring structures that make White Rock Lake what it is today.
That program eventually ended and the barracks-like buildings would end life, in the 1950s, as student housing for SMU men back from World War II before they were eventually torn down.

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Statue Honoring the CCC Workers at Sunset Bay

But it’s the history of this site during World War II that most fascinates me. Right here on this site, 300 non-combatant German POWs from Africa were housed. The site wasn’t a prison at first, so they had to build their own fence first. Historians tell us they were bused every day over to Fair Park, where they repaired Army uniforms and small equipment for soldiers.
But they were housed right here, within a stones throw of the beautiful jewel of White Rock Lake.

The only remnant left of the camp is this oddly placed fire hydrant.
All the rest is washed away into history. Several million people enjoy the park each year…heck, I whiz past this site several time a week on my bike…and never know that history. But it just fascinates me.

I Wonder…

…what those POWs thought of Dallas?
…what young kids, coming to fish the lake in those years, thought of them?
…if any of the parents and kids who play ball today know this story?
…if they realize the third base line is where German POWs slept?
…if they realize German prisoners gazed on the same hydrant they now never give a second thought?

Kinda boggles the mind, the history of it all….

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Winfrey Point Plaque That Tells This Story

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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