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.
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.
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.
…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….