It was the Summer of War in 1944
One thing that happened in the summer of 1944 when I was 6 years old. I bet you remember being 6 or maybe you are 6 now. Both my parents worked so I would spend my summertime living in Attica, New York with my grandmother and my uncle Reece. World War 2 was going on. We all had brothers, fathers, and uncles fighting for our country in both Europe and the Pacific. My Uncle Reece said to me, “I hear you want to see some prisoners of war. (I did not know I wanted to see prisoners of war.) Come with me, he said.” We both got into his blue Plymouth car and spent hours and hours traveling. It was a very long trip. We finally came to a place where there were lots and lots of plain buildings surrounded by a wire fence with barb wire around the top. I looked for what I thought were going to be captured German soldiers who were prisoners of war. I had a hard time adjusting my thoughts to what my eyes were seeing. I was seeing children with their mothers and fathers as prisoners. They were the prisoners behind barbed wire.
Not everything you experience in life makes the sense right away. It took me years to figure out where my uncle took me. It was many years later when I was in my 70’s and on my way back from a candy convention in the state of Maine that I finally figured it out.
At the convention Patrica and I met Amy and Paul. Their candy shop is called Man in the Moon Candy. We made arrangements to stop at Man in the Moon that is located in Oswego, New York. The next day Paul took Patrica and me to Fort Ontario. What I learned there was amazing. The Paul took us to one more place at Fort Ontario that answered the puzzle I told you about. The last place he took us to was that fort’s Jewish Holding facility during World War 2.
When I saw this display. It hit me like a ton of bricks. My Uncle Reece took me to Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York to see “prisoners of war” (Do some math to figure out how many state stars are on this flag. It will tell you how many states we had in America during World War 2.)
The following is a quote from an article in The New York Times. Paul Lear was interviewed for the article.
“The the camp was made up of nearly 200 buildings. Army barracks had been converted into two-story dormitories partitioned with slats of paperboard so families could live together, according to Paul Lear, a historian and superintendent of the Fort Ontario State Historic Site”.
Here is a link to the article.
The Secret History of America’s Only WWII Refugee Camp