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Summer of '43 at Paris, Texas

Basic training was at the “Jap Trap,” Camp Maxey TX, in the summer of 1943. I never had been to Texas before, having grown up in Kansas and Oklahoma.

The first few weeks were spent in a barbed wire enclosure built for Japanese prisoners. The housing was “hutments,” 16x16-feet of plywood. The lower four feet was fixed plywood and the upper four feet was pivoted plywood and screen. The roof was pyramid-shaped plywood.

You get the picture – plywood.

There was a trough outside, with four faucets to wash and brush. There was a GI can, with lid, for urination. Hand the lid to the next arrival. A two-holer was built of wood four feet off the ground and did have a door and walls. For modesty? GI cans beneath. I never had the duty to empty to them. No showers, as I recall.

Later in the 12-week stay we moved to barracks and had a shower room with a coal-fired boiler. Remember the two “farm boys” who wouldn’t take a shower? I remember firing the boiler and having to let off steam at three o’clock in the afternoon before the whole thing would blow. I had never seen coal before. The time for dismissal from training normally was at 5 p.m.

Does anyone remember this encampment, how long we were there and where the mess hall was? Did we do KP? Did we have cots or bunks? How many boys to a hutment? Did we go to town during basic? No air conditioning, naturally. Seems cruel to keep prisoners there (they never did), let alone recruits.

Gilbert Clift
4514 Live Oak Dr.
Mesquite TX 75150

Last modified Dec. 17, 2008

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