Thursday, April 03, 2008

All Wright

The new Outpost has not one, not two, but three columns dealing with the Jeremiah Wright controversy.

And, in a rare conjunction of my German teaching and my Outpost work, here's a piece about some letters from German prisoners of war here that recently turned up.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did you translate the letters for the museum?

This was an interesting story!

David said...

The museum contacted the MSU Billings modern language department about translating the letters. By the time the message got to me and I got back to the museum, someone else already had agreed to do it. But the museum was kind enough to forward the letters to me so I could do my own translation.

Kirk Dooley said...

A little German POW story from here in the Sonoran Desert:

Papago Park sits on the border between Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe, and today has a municipal golf course, the Phoenix Zoo, the Desert Botanical Gardens, and several buttes. There's an irrigation canal that serves as the park's eastern border.

During WW II, there was actually distance between the three communities, so the War Department (as the Department of Defense was then called) built a POW camp in the park's northeast corner.

In 1944, several members of a captured U-Boat crew found themselves guests at this "hotel," and, using spoons, dug a tunnel to get out, bringing along a makeshift raft they had built to float down the canal. They had in their possession a map that said there was a river running just a few miles to the south -- the Salt River, to be exact. The plan was to float down the Salt to the Gila River, then down the Gila to the Colorado, and then down the Colorado to Mexico and freedom.

The plan would've worked except the maps didn't mention that the Salt River is usually dry most of the time (all the water upstream is diverted into the many irrigation canals). Several of the escapees were caught within a day or two, but the captain managed to elude capture for a couple of weeks until he finally gave up and turned himself in to a farmer west of Gila Bend.

The kicker in all of this is that three or four of these gentlemen after the war, instead of going back to the Fatherland, decided to stay in Arizona -- dry river and all.