Porter, Bob

About | Abstract

About

Recounts memories of the prisoners of war who were incarcerated during World War II in Hatch, New Mexico. The prisoners of war worked on his father's farm near Salem during the cotton harvest.

Interviewee Bob Porter, male, born in 1929
Date Range 1943-1945
Date & Location June 15, 2000, Consultant's Home, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Project Prisoners of War in New Mexico Agriculture
Region Southwest New Mexico
Number of Tapes 1
Transcribed July 7, 2000
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Abstract

Tape 1, Side A

Consultant was born in 1929. During World War II, he resided on his parents' farm near Salem, New Mexico. They produced cotton and alfalfa on farmland that was cleared of native growth (bosque).

Discusses cotton harvesting before WWII and during the early years of the war. Harvesters then included migrant laborers (families) from Texas and Oklahoma, school children, women, and, of course, family labor. After a prisoner of war camp was established in Hatch, New Mexico, his father utilized German prisoners of war (POWs) to harvest cotton.

He recalls the German POWs as being cooperative and "very pleasant" to work with. His father, as an inducement, would provide the POWs with rolls or bread. The POWs seemed healthy to the consultant. He does not remember working alongside the POWs, who were under guard, but recalls letting one take a ride on his horse. The guard cautioned him not to do that again.

The consultant also relates one occasion when he observed the POWs being held under guard on the high school's football field. He states they were on "strike," but the strike did not last long, as they were held outside in the hot sun.

Porter did not have any negative feelings about the POWs. He feels that their use as agricultural laborers was good not only for the farmers, but also for the prisoners' mental well-being.