Chet and the Prisoners - 12
Now on these days when it is getting warmer and the snow is mostly gone, the guys are
playing softball on every opportunity they can. I like the game, and when I have my break to have a cigarette, I wander over to see what is going on.
Kurt is usually there, and always happy to talk. He asked if I knew all the problems
they had getting any medical people to help out here? I knew they had a problem, or else I wouldn't be getting such good pay.
Here's what he told me.
“First of all, no qualified medical doctor could be found among us to assist the lame-duck army medical staff at Fort Lincoln, forcing the commander at the time, A. S. Hudson, to try for part-time contracts in Bismarck or Mandan. However, apparently the Medical Association tried to keep its members out as they have a long standing feud with government people. As a result, Hudson had just a single drugstore owner in tow by midsummer, to dispense drugs. St. Alexis Hospital in Bismarck agreed to admit detainees, but only with paying the going rate and without priority. Only Hudson’s coaxing and subsequent intervention by the state medical association broke the impasse. He got an Austrian doctor who speaks German of course, who is highly qualified to come here, called Ludovicko Borovicka. He was detained in a camp in Montana since January of last year, but they had enough medical staff there.
“Is he a good doctor? Does he have a specialty?” I asked.
“He has loads of experience and has done research into venereal diseases, tuberculosis, cancer, and tropical diseases. He took over the medical service here from last July. The German Government soon rewarded him with a detainee officer’s pay of $2.50 per week.”
“He was a prisoner but made more money probably than most of the medical people here,” I put in.
“By September last year, the locals decided to play ball and signed part time contracts
with physicians, drug stores, and local hospitals. I guess officially we are under the auspices of the United States Public Health Service and they are picking up the bill for
sanitation, immunizations, and isolation facilities.”
“So did that put your German doctor out of a job?”
“Yes, he and Dr. Moyer didn't get along so he got kicked out. By December they finally
decided that the USPHS would supply the medical personnel and all medical expertise while the Army Group would provide overall administration and pay the bills.”
“My friends Dr. Moyer and Orr both started here in January, and I came here in February when the first lot of Japs arrived,” I said. “Len Moyer told me that he was a reserve office in the Army Medical corps, but their age limit was 37, and he's 36, so he was pleased to get the job here.”
“So what else is new here?” I asked.
Kurt said they had a surprise present this last week from some girls from the Grover
Cleveland High School in Elizabeth New Jersey. These girls obviously thought they wanted to do some thing to help soldier morale, and baked some cookies. Then they didn't know where to send it, so picked out Fort Lincoln at random from a map. When they arrived, the soft ball leader Guether Schultz took charge, and distributed them amongst the softball teams on both sides, and then sent a thank you note. The girls were puzzled when they received it because on the outside it was marked, “enemy mail.”
I met another German called Wolfgang Thomas. He's been here since late December.
With him was Eddie Friedman, who said that he had written to Eleanor Roosevelt asking for her help to get him released. He said, “As you are in a position to help people in distress, more than anybody else in the country, I would like to ask if it would be possible to bring about an early released.”
Boy I wonder what she thought when she read that.
I heard a funny story when I was at work. Apparenlty the people who were most
resented in both groups of internees were the snorers. So it was decided to take them all out of their individual barracks, and put them all together. McCoy said, “Snoring perhaps causes more trouble than any other single thing in camp.”
But the snorers then complained about each other. It was said the one who got to sleep
first had advantage. One night a man was accused of faking sleep and pretend snoring so he could drop off first. Guards had to pull the accuser off the accused, after he nearly choked him to death.