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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Who's Snooty Now?

All was not sweetness and light when an enormous Army cantonment opened near the small town of Medford, Oregon in 1942.


The Camp White Problem
    While on the subject of local moral conditions, there have been many complaints received at this office recently, regarding the soldiers at Camp White.
    A person not familiar with actual conditions, reading over these protests, might conclude Uncle Sam had sent nothing but a gang of potential Al Capones and Baby-Face Nelsons, to train for this tremendous global conflict.
    It is really too bad. For all these complaints--or practically all of them--are based upon a completely fallacious assumption, namely:
    That a community of American soldiers should be essentially different from a community of American civilians.
    Just why this should be expected we have been unable to determine. For, as the Mail Tribune pointed out several months ago, eventually in Camp White Medford will have a neighboring city, built up overnight so to speak, with a population that will soon equal Medford's and eventually surpass it.
    Now, it is just as reasonable to assume this new city would have no undesirables, as to assume the same thing for Medford. It is just as reasonable also to assume the new city will be composed entirely of saints and angels as to assume the same for Medford.
    The point IS--and we fail to see why everyone in the community can't realize it:--
    The boys at Camp White are drawn from all parts of the country and represent all possible types--as fair an American cross-section probably as anyone could secure--good, bad, wise, foolish, large, small, all shapes, colors and sizes.
    They are neither better than the average, nor worse, but just AVERAGE!
    Then why should there be any surprise or disposition to complain, because in this average community to the north conditions should prevail which prevail in any other average community in the country, including this one.
    We have in Medford our undesirables, our law-breakers, our no-goods, and we have to have our police and law enforcement officers to take care of them.
    Well, so has Camp White. However, we should say, from fairly close observation that all in all, the general type of citizenship in both Medford and Camp White is considerably above the national average.
    In other words, there is no more reason for our agitated communicants to expect no undesirables in Camp White than to expect none in this or any other community of from five to 35,000 population.
    So let's hold our horses a bit, and not shoot until we see the whites of their eyes, as far as this particular problem is concerned.   
    We don't deny there is a problem, and a serious one, but as we see it no more serious than anticipated or expected, and for the proper control of which ever reasonable preparation has been made.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 21, 1942, page 2

JUST 'AVERAGE' BUT GOOD AVERAGE
To the editor:
    I was glad to see that editorial about Camp White--it expressed my idea exactly, although you could have stressed the fact somewhat more that while Camp White is a representative community of many thousand people with good, bad and indifferent, like all typical U.S. communities, the good far outweigh the others. But the undesirable minority--and it's a decided minority out there--sometimes are given a prominence they don't deserve, and the camp a reputation it doesn't deserve.
    There is also the strange fact you mention that there are many people in Medford--too many--who fail to grasp the essentials of the situation, and conclude every time a doughboy goes A.W.O.L. the moral walls of the world are falling down, and there should be nothing but heroes and plaster saints out there.
    In short the situation is precisely what everyone informed concerning war and army camps near small communities should expect--all in all I think rather better than should be expected--but it's a new experience for Medford and a new one for the soldiers too, so misunderstandings develop which are unfortunate and which your paper can do more to correct than anyone else.
    As you say, let's hold our horses and not shoot until we see the whites of their eyes. There is nothing wrong out there nor here in the town--all we need is to realize a certain amount of mutual adjustment is necessary and set about with patience and good will to bring about such adjustments as rapidly as possible and with the minimum of friction.
            EDGAR T. SMITH
            Medford, Ore., Sept. 23
Medford Mail Tribune, September 23, 1942, page 6


PRIVATE J.W. SHOOTS THE WORKS
To the editor:
    I read your editorial anent the "morals" of the Camp White soldiers with a good deal of interest. It was a good editorial, as far as it went. Unfortunately, however, you bogged down on the all-important question "Why?" and, of course, the answer.
    We soldiers have a side in this "beef"--and believe me we are buzzing about it.
    Let me ask the question and then you, and those who have complained about us to you, try and answer it.
    (1) Why are the professional patriots of Medford (the majority) profiteering at our expense?
    (2) Why are the prices in restaurants, hotels, bars, clothing, jewelry, refreshment, entertainment and practically all other establishments so high that a soldier has no recourse but to roam the streets or stand in front of the USO and whistle at the girls?
    (3) Why have all these prices been jerked up, in some cases nearly 50 percent, since the soldiers moved in?
    (4) Why are less than two percent of the people of Medford doing most of the USO and other work and the majority of your citizenry professing either an active dislike or a cold indifference for our welfare?
    (5) Why did the theatres raise their prices for both soldier and civilian admission since we moved in?
    (6) Why did the bartenders get together and try to prohibit the sale of a certain beer which only sells for 10 cents so that they could sell a more expensive beer?
    (7) Why do the proprietors of bars keep on selling liquor to soldiers even when said soldiers are so staggering drunk they cannot stand on their feet?
    (8) Why do soldiers have to pay 30 cents admission to the high school football games when men in uniform are now admitted free to college games in other parts of the country?
    (9) Why do most of the soldiers in this camp prefer to go to Ashland or Grants Pass rather than Medford? The answer: "We are treated like human beings in Ashland and Grants Pass. The people seem to like us and the prices are reasonable."
    (10) The people of Medford also do not seem to realize that we are the sons of good, respectable parents. That their sons in other camps are probably being clipped as we are. If they did realize this they might change their tune.
    (11) Why is it that at the present time 90 percent of the soldiers at Camp White would give their eye teeth to be transferred someplace else--anyplace else, even Alaska?
    (12) Why is it that many soldiers stand on the road and highways waiting for a lift--and sometimes stand for quite a while before a Medfordite condescends to pick us up?
    There are a few other "Whys" I could include in this letter--but time is short--and words mean little. Tell the people of Medford to get off the dime and to treat us as they would want their own sons to be treated. Tell them to remember that we only get $50 monthly and that a good part of that goes for war bonds. Tell them to put their own house in order before throwing stones at ours.
            PRIVATE J. W.
            (Name on file)
Medford Mail Tribune, September 23, 1942, page 6


MEDFORD C. OF C. ANSWERS PRIVATE J.W.
To the editor:
    The Chamber of Commerce has noted with considerable regret Private J. W.'s letter, published in your paper of September 23. While the Chamber of Commerce does not wish to enter into an argument with Private J. W., and therefore will not answer every one of the 12 questions specifically, it does wish to reply on the basis that it believes that Private J. W. did not express the general opinion of the soldiers of Camp White.
    There is some lack of understanding on the part of Private J. W. as to the basic reasons for increased cost of commodities. It appears that he contends that the business men of this town are discriminating against the soldiers of Camp White. This is not true since all citizens of the city of Medford and those people that are doing business in Medford are subject to the same prices that are charged to the soldiers. These prices are a result of increased costs not only in the items that are sold but in the service required to put them in the hands of the consumer. Private J. W. can easily learn that the increased cost in Medford is in conformity with increased cost everywhere in the United States and that the increase in this town is not out of proportion to the increased cost in any other community in the United States where similar conditions exist.
    The Chamber of Commerce believes that many of the soldiers feel that the citizens of Medford have gone to great expense to make the temporary residence of soldiers in this community as pleasant as it can be made under the existing conditions. It must be remembered that Medford is not a large city which can suddenly absorb such an increased population as that which resulted from Camp White, and provide all the facilities needed to meet the full expectations of all the individual soldiers. The people of Medford, including the citizens in business and those that are not, have gone to great personal expense to provide the soldiers with proper entertainment, and this does not seem to be recognized by Private J. W
    The citizens of Medford are not profiteers at the expense of the soldiers or its own residents. There is no discrimination between the soldier and the civilian as regards to prices charged. We fear that Private J. W. has been sadly misinformed, and we also feel that the majority of the soldiers will vouch for this statement. The Chamber of Commerce has exerted extreme effort to make the soldiers' visit of Medford a happy and pleasant one, and it will continue to do so up to the limit.
            Medford Chamber of Commerce
            Per Frank Hull, Mn'gr.
            Medford, Sept. 24.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 24, 1942, page 7


SOLDIER HAS CAUSTIC IDEA OF MEDFORD SPIRIT
Speaks Straight Relative to Prices Charged in Nearby City and Compliments Ashland
    A soldier, a private, at Camp White "spoke his piece" and spoke it straight from the shoulder when he contributed this article to the Medford newspaper in reply to an editorial which had appeared in that newspaper previously relative to the "morals of the Camp White soldiers":
To the editor:
    I read your editorial anent the "morals" of the Camp White soldiers with a good deal of interest. It was a good editorial, as far as it went. Unfortunately, however, you bogged down on the all-important question "Why?" and, of course, the answer.
    We soldiers have a side in this "beef"--and believe me we are buzzing about it.
    Let me ask the question and then you, and those who have complained about us to you, try and answer it.
    (1) Why are the professional patriots of Medford (the majority) profiteering at our expense?
    (2) Why are the prices in restaurants, hotels, bars, clothing, jewelry, refreshment, entertainment and practically all other establishments so high that a soldier has no recourse but to roam the streets or stand in front of the USO and whistle at the girls?
    (3) Why have all these prices been jerked up, in some cases nearly 50 percent, since the soldiers moved in?
    (4) Why are less than two percent of the people of Medford doing most of the USO and other work and the majority of your citizenry professing either an active dislike or a cold indifference for our welfare?
    (5) Why did the theatres raise their prices for both soldier and civilian admission since we moved in?
    (6) Why did the bartenders get together and try to prohibit the sale of a certain beer which only sells for 10 cents so that they could sell a more expensive beer?
    (7) Why do the proprietors of bars keep on selling liquor to soldiers even when said soldiers are so staggering drunk they cannot stand on their feet?
    (8) Why do soldiers have to pay 30 cents admission to the high school football games when men in uniform are now admitted free to college games in other parts of the country?
    (9) Why do most of the soldiers in this camp prefer to go to Ashland or Grants Pass rather than Medford? The answer: "We are treated like human beings in Ashland and Grants Pass. The people seem to like us and the prices are reasonable."
    (10) The people of Medford also do not seem to realize that we are the sons of good, respectable parents. That their sons in other camps are probably being clipped as we are. If they did realize this they might change their tune.
    (11) Why is it that at the present time 90 percent of the soldiers at Camp White would give their eye teeth to be transferred someplace else--anyplace else, even Alaska?
    (12) Why is it that many soldiers stand on the road and highways waiting for a lift--and sometimes stand for quite a while before a Medfordite condescends to pick us up?
    There are a few other "Whys" I could include in this letter--but time is short--and words mean little. Tell the people of Medford to get off the dime and to treat us as they would want their own sons to be treated. Tell them to remember that we only get $50 monthly and that a good part of that goes for war bonds. Tell them to put their own house in order before throwing stones at ours.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 25, 1942, page 3



AS OTHERS SEE US!
To the editor:
    I read with great interest Private J. W.'s letter in Wednesday's paper. J. W. does not know all there is to know about Medford.
    I came here 10 months ago. On my way here I had occasion to talk with people on buses and other places. Without exception they all said: "Don't go to Medford, it is the unfriendliest town in southern Oregon." One young Navy man begged me to go to Ashland. His parents lived there. He told me it was a town of friendly people and wanted me to go there and look around before deciding to settle in Medford. I didn't do it and I am sorry now. I am a friendly soul and have never had difficulty in making acquaintances, but in Medford I confess I'm stumped. Medford people don't want strangers coming into their town. They resent us.
    I go to church regularly. Nobody notices me or pays any attention to my presence. I have made one friend since coming here but even their limitations are apparent. I have a good education, dress well and make a good appearance. In other places where I've lived, I have always gone with the best society, but in Medford I cannot, simply cannot, become acquainted. It is a cold, unfriendly town, without sense of humor, without charity or kindliness. It is aloof and barely tolerant of strangers. I've talked with many of the Camp White contractors, their wives and their employees and not one has voiced a good word for Medford. One man to whom I talked only last Sunday told me: "My firm spent thousands and thousands of dollars in Medford and got the worst gypping we've ever taken anywhere. Doctors upped their prices from 10 to 20 dollars for maternity cases to our people and from 25 to 50 dollars for operations. Many of our workers had to borrow money to get out of town on. Medford has not given itself a good name over the country by her treatment of strangers within her gates the past eight months."
    It is the most coldly indifferent place I've ever been. The snobbiest, snootiest, and I'm going to "pull up stakes" and move to a friendlier town just as soon as I can let loose of what I've acquired here. I'm going to get Medford people freeze of their own temperatures henceforth. I've developed a first-class hate for the place and can hardly wait until I can get out.
    I don't suppose you'll print this letter, but I think it is about time that Medford people wake up and begin to realize what awful snobs they are down here with their cliques.
    A girl in Grants Pass told me not long ago that she was sent here by her company, which is a large one, as a relief woman. She was here three months. She said: "I never got acquainted with a single person while here except the people I worked with and I never made friends with any of those."
            MRS. B. H.
            (Name on file by request)
            Medford, Sept. 25.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 25, 1942, page 8


WHO IS SNOOTY NOW?
To the editor:
    What's the matter with the folks of Medford?
    They've got the "Inferiority Complex." When they see a high-hatter or a frigid stuffed shirt or a silk-appareled dame with the superior air of a Queen, they feel abashed and humbly keep silence in the presence of such pedestally inclined topknots.
    Look at some of our supposedly "snooty" or high class or wealthy citizens, notice Mrs. C., Mrs. R's., Mrs. T., Mrs. D., and a lot more like them.
    Who has been more zealous in making life more pleasant for the soldiers and for the people in the various trailer camps? Who has invited the Negro soldiers to owners' home grounds and bathing pools? Who has done more to elevate our city pride in making welcome the stranger and the humble colored and white soldiers to our city and vicinity than the lady "snobs" and "snooties" who have done all that could be done to keep Medford on the map as a real little city and metropolis of Southern Oregon.
    The recent lady critic of our people must have got into the wrong church--if she should park around a while longer and visit a few of our 40 or 50 churches and their people I am sure she can find her equals in one or more of the many denominations.
    If one puts one's self up on a superior plane and expects others to kowtow and scrape before their highmightiness, then such are sure-up for a fall--and that hurts.
    So "Beware of the Bighead!"
    This is sound advice, so I think.
            W. W. T.
            Medford, Sept. 26.
            (Name on file.)
Medford Mail Tribune, September 27, 1942, page 8


As Others See Us
    A  subscriber inquires why the Mail Tribune is printing "these letters so unfairly attacking the people of this community, obviously written by people who don't like Medford only because Medford don't like them."
    Well, for two reasons:
    (1) The communications were signed, discussed a subject of genuine importance, and it is a long-established practice of this paper to give space to communicants requesting same, who don't violate the police regulations or the law of libel, whether their views coincide with the views of the paper or don't.
    (2) We believe it is often salutary for a community, or an individual, to see themselves as others see them--particularly for the former to get the lowdown from strangers in their midst. These critical communications in fact were not printed so much for the benefit of the writers as for the benefit of the people of this community--with the belief they will tend to clear the local atmosphere, lead to some beneficial self-examination, and ultimately do good.
    Yes, where there is so much smoke, there must be some fire. And the two critical offerings published only represent a small portion of those recently received at this office, most of them, however, anonymous.
- - - -
IN OTHER WORDS we have no doubt that among many of our newcomers, both civilian and military, there is at the present time a strong feeling of hostility toward this community, on the grounds that we have fallen down on our job as hosts.
    We don't agree with that view--naturally, perhaps!
    We also believe this hostility represents a decided minority. And finally we think with communities as with individuals, the REAL character of either should not be left to new acquaintances or casual ones; but to those who have known them longest and best. And from that angle we know Medford needs no defense, and as far as we are concerned in this controversy is going to get none.
- - - -
ON THE OTHER HAND we do believe this is a very opportune time for the people of this community to "stop, look and listen"--spend a few moments in sober contemplation and introspection, so to speak.
    Haven't we, as a community, grown a bit too self-satisfied and complacent? Aren't we as a whole and in our social groups, rather too SELF-sufficient? DO we give the stranger the cordial welcome to which he is entitled, whether he be soldier, sailor, civilian, male, female, or whatnot?
- - - -
THE ANSWER to this question has not been so important in the past, but at the present time and even more in the future with the influx of new people steadily increasing, it is going to be EXTREMELY important.
    So, instead of resenting these criticisms, which justified or unjustified we believe are entirely sincere, let us give them very careful consideration, see if there may not be a "mote" somewhere about, and if possible determine just how much fire there really is in all this smoke, and if much, consider ways and means of putting it out.
- - - -
IT IS THE BELIEF of the Mail Tribune that considering ALL the circumstances--the terrific increase of this small community's population and responsibilities in a very few months--Medford to date has done a good job. Whether this is true or isn't, there is NO DOUBT of THIS--
    (1) The job certainly hasn't been perfect. (2) There is PLENTY of room for improvement.
    So let us as a community profit from this frank talk from some of our dissatisfied guests, by taking our bearings regarding the entire host problem, and then concentrating upon making all possible progress on that second count!
Medford Mail Tribune, September 27, 1942, page 8


COMPLAINS OF BUSINESS METHODS
To the editor:
    Your printing of the letters of Private J. W. and Mrs. B. H. indicates that you are doing your part in overcoming the complaints against this beautiful western town.
    However, it would appear that a BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU is needed here as well as a good newspaper.
    We have been here such a short time that we cannot complain so far about the friendliness of the people we've met, although there has been little time to become intimate or form an opinion, with the exception of one particular grocery store.
    It would appear from our experience that J. W. hit the nail right squarely on the head when he mentioned higher prices for a man in ARMY UNIFORM. My husband stopped to get a quart of milk in a certain store on his way home from camp and that quart cost him exactly thirty-six cents. He was told it was eighteen cents for the milk and deposit of eighteen cents on the bottle. Naturally, we thought the price ridiculous so I made sure not to wash off their label when I cleaned the bottle. When I returned it they told me my husband made a mistake but we both knew otherwise. The price should have been thirteen cents for the milk and ten cents for the bottle. The evidence proves one thing: One price for civilians and a HIGHER ONE FOR ONE IN ARMY UNIFORM.
    We came here recently from the friendly, hospitable South, where our only complaint was the climate. We welcomed with great joy the opportunity to come back to our own part of the country, which we fondly called "God's country." Therefore, it grieves us more than words can tell to have one little town in this beautiful, friendly Northwest deliberately spoil the grand reputation this section has enjoyed for so long.
    I just hope that Mrs. B. H. doesn't speak with a Southern accent and may be unconsciously still fighting the Civil War as some Southerners are still doing, but at least they have the decency, courtesy and good manners to be friendly, hospitable and FAIR IN BUSINESS DEALINGS so far as we know to the soldiers who have pledged their lives for the well-being of all.
    P.S. Naturally, it's not the money but the PRINCIPLE involved.
            MRS. R. H. SNEED
            911 West 11th, Medford.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 28, 1942, page 4


THIS STRANGER LIKES MEDFORD
To the editor:
    I have been reading studiously the letters in your communications column concerning the friendliness of Medford and the stranger within her gates.
    When I left my home to journey with my husband into strange surroundings I expected to be lonely sometimes, but did not think it would be the fault of the people in whose town I happened to be.
    I have been treated well considering the time I have been here.
    I have not had the opportunity yet to be in church as much as I would like.
    The times I have managed to be there I have been treated nicely.
    The place to become acquainted with folks through the church is the Sunday school hour.
    There is not much time for folks to be friendly at the close of a Sunday morning service, for everyone is anxious to get home for lunch.
    I have found the real Christians almost always meet you halfway, if you go the other half.
    The people in commercial establishments have gone of their way to be nice.
    After all, why worry whether Medford people like or dislike us.
    I am too busy to think or care whether they like me or not.
    Probably that is the reason I have made friends here. I have met them on a friendly basis and been met that way in return.
    We should remember we are fighting a war. Petty shortcomings should not disturb us.
    Happiness lies within ourselves, not in the folks of Medford or any other town we happen to be in. A town cannot be judged by a few who like to snub others.
    So let all the strangers here remember we are all good Americans fighting a war, "not Medford," and go onward with that thought.
    To be as happy as we can and not be too critical for the duration of our stay here.
H. M. K.
(Name on file)
Medford Mail Tribune, September 29, 1942, page 4


MRS. B. H. IS INVITED TO CHURCH
To the editor:
    Dear Mrs. B. H.--I read with interest the article in Friday's Tribune, printed over your initials. Are you still glad you wrote it? I'd rather feel you were sorry by now. Sometimes when we think we are revealing the other fellow we are verily self-revealing.
    You must have gotten into the wrong church. I am sure there are a half-dozen churches in this town where you would have received a warm welcome.
    I enjoy attending the Full Gospel Church, 11 South Newtown, and if you would come there you would be made to feel at home. May we see you there soon? I do hope you become happier before you leave Medford.
    Very sincerely,
Miss Gertie J. Sullivan
819 N. Columbus Ave.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 29, 1942, page 4


SHE DOESN'T LIKE "MRS. W. W. T."
To the editor:
    I am a bride recently arrived from Texas. If Mrs. W. W. T. is a sample of Medford women, I don't want to know any of them.
Mrs. Minnie Lee Reynolds
Medford
Medford Mail Tribune, September 30, 1942, page 6


IT'S CERTAINLY WORTH TRYING
To the editor:
    I have become amused over letters appearing in your column from civilians complaining of the way they have been treated in Medford. We naturally would all like to know the reason for this attitude, but here is a suggestion:
    It seems to me that the rule "you get out of a thing only what you put into it" would apply in this case. No one can expect the people of Medford or any other place to greet with open arms a person with a face half a yardstick in length and as sour as a gooseberry in December.
    Quit "singing the blues," meet the people half way and we will find most of them meeting us on equal terms.
    Thank heaven our sense of humor nor our smiles need not be rationed yet. By developing and using a little more of both it is easy to worm our way into any crowd and more enjoyable for everyone concerned when we get there.
                            Doris Ensele
                            Talent
Medford Mail Tribune, September 30, 1942, page 6


Medford Minority Only at Fault
To the editor:
    The spirit that prompted me to write a letter of complaint is exactly the same spirit with which you publish such letters, namely to let the unpatriotic, selfish, money-grabbing minority in our midst know that they aren't pulling the wool over anyone's eyes and that we resent the reflection their methods cast on the whole community. If I had realized the reading public would see my letter, with the libel part omitted, I would have
made my views plainer. Thus this second letter:
    Now, I know that Medford is not one bit worse than any other town despite these complaints, but the idea is to clamp down, so to speak, on the small number who are responsible.
    One of my first observations was the unusual selection and variety of merchandise offered here and far surpassing some places of much larger size. Let me also say that it is a pleasure to shop in most of the Medford stores because the real brand of western friendliness is prevalent among the salespeople.
    There is a tendency toward narrow mindedness on the part of many people, no matter where one goes. Have you ever heard such remarks as: "Oh, teachers are this and that: I knew a teacher once who did such and such!" People have been known to make similar remarks about nurses, doctors, or almost any organization you can mention. In other words, this unwelcome minority cast a bad reflection on the innocent as well as themselves in the minds of some.
    Now, some people in Medford may be taking this same narrow-minded view toward our soldiers. If a few soldiers ever indulge in liquor or in some other form of offense which the Army didn't teach them, is that any reason why every soldier at Camp White should be judged likewise and put under the same label? And just where do so many civilians get the idea that army people are rich?
    While in the West I have never deemed it necessary to either count my change or expect anything but a square business deal. The policy has always been to trust every stranger until he proves himself unworthy of our trust and then treat him accordingly. Just why the presence of a new army camp should change that policy with this minority I complain about, I can't understand. Do they consider this of all times the opportunity to "get rich quickly; soldiers have so much money, here's my chance to grab off some extra cash for myself!" In peace times a town near an army post is the most reasonable priced place for merchandise. (Fewer soldiers, of course.) Just why all this gluttonous, selfish, unfairness at a time like this when our country is at war, or do these certain individuals realize that? Not only in Medford, mind you, but any place that is guilty of the same offense against a community or a nation that in times like these should be united as one people for one worthy cause: Victory against just such oppressors in other countries! Just why some people should consider wartime the time to get richer for their own personal benefit at the expense of the soldiers who are defending their interests for them is something that is difficult to understand. Could this type of person actually consider himself a good American? I'd say he belongs with his fellow breed, the Nazis or the sneaky Japs.
    Too bad their names can't be printed. We'd clean them up in a hurry. Keep the good work, Mr. Editor. More power to you! Let's make this town set a good example.
Mrs. Richard H. Sneed
911 W. 11th St., Medford
Medford Mail Tribune, October 1, 1942, page 8


LET'S FORGET THE CONTROVERSY
To the editor:
    Being neither a newcomer nor a native Medfordite, I risk having both sides of the present "hospitality controversy" throw cabbages at my head by making a few suggestions myself.
    When I first came to Medford I thought it a pretty difficult place to become known and to feel at home. I began attending the church to which I had belonged in another town, but found no response in its members. Probably I was too shy, too. But after a time I changed churches, and in my present church home I am happy and contented. There the stranger is always made to feel one of us, if he will, and we have with us some splendid people from other states, newcomers among us practically every morning, and what lovely people they are!
    I do believe that a lot of the oldtimers of Medford have grown up together, they have their old friends, their homes and their business to take up their time, and perhaps in years past they have not thought sufficiently about the strangers among them, but I am sure it was not their intention to snub or slight others. Probably the newcomers who find Medford difficult would have been judged about the same way by newcomers in their own towns, had not this war upset the nation and made many "strangers in a foreign land."
    I think Mrs. H. M. K., whose letter appeared in Tuesday's paper, must be a lovely person, and I should like to know her. I believe she is typical of most of our newcomers, but, of course, in any large group we will find those who like us and want us to like them, and a few who yearn for home and the old friends to such an extent that they have no room in their hearts for the people here. Neither all Medford people nor all people in ANY town can be considered friendly nor desirable companions.
    On the other hand, I feel sorry for Mrs. W. W. T. because of the storm of protest her letter brought. I feel that she only meant to be loyal to the fine people of Medford who HAVE gone all out to make the strangers welcome, and being hurt by some of the accusations, she accidentally got on the wrong side. Surely, though, it should not be said that "she is no lady" nor that "she wears her fingernails a foot long." Probably she, herself, has met with some unfortunate experience at the hand of some newcomer who was too shy or too lonely, possibly even a haughty person, who did not wish friends here.
    Let us all forget the controversy, for by continuing it we only widen the unfortunate gap which seems to
be felt by some, and we are wasting valuable time when we might be profiting by wonderful new contacts with lovely people.
            L. P. B.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 2, 1942


SHE LIKES MEDFORD FINE
To the editor:
    Reading the communication by Mrs. B. H. September 25 is hard for me to understand when my experience was so decidedly the opposite, making me feel truly sorry for anyone so unfortunate.
    Would be glad to meet Mrs. B. H., and if she would call at 611 West 8th Street perhaps in an exchange of experience we have had might be able to convince her there are many very friendly kindhearted people ready to be just that way to those more recent arrivals.
    Have traveled around and through every state in the U.S. and attended services in that many different churches and can truthfully say never once have I come out of a service without feeling I had been meeting friendly people, making me feel glad to be there.
    And, still another thing is that we always come home feeling Medford was just one of the best of all.
    We had reverses, yes, aplenty, but never once did I feel it was caused by anything but our own misjudgment or management.
    Sincerely hoping Mrs. B. H. and others of similar views will, before leaving, find there is a majority in Medford of good, kind, friendly people, if given the opportunity.
            E. M. Y.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 2, 1942


Is Medford Popular or Unpopular?
Mrs. Ruby Rusque, Newcomer, Analyzes the Problem
Created by Coming of Cantonment
By Mrs. Ruby Ellis Rusque
707 Sherman St., Medford

    Let me offer my congratulations, Mr. Editor, for being so fair-minded in the controversy that is being carried on in your paper. I wish to add my bit, because there is a similarity between Mrs. B. H.'s experience here in Medford and my own.
    First I wish to say in answer to "W.W.T.": Because we are decent, respectable people here in Medford with a great deal of regard for the amenities, we would not think of insulting guests, even though these same strangers are themselves insulting; it is our mark of gentility not to do so.
    I did not find in Mrs. B. H.'s letter anything that would justify the terms "high-hatter, frigid, stuff-shirt, silk-appareled dame" that Mrs. (or Mr. ) W. W. T. resorted to in her (or his) answer. I do not think name-calling will get any of us anywhere in this matter except to create more bitterness.
    When Mrs. B. H. wrote: "I have a good education, speak way above average, dress well, etc." I did not construe the statement as a longing to brag but that she wished to intimate that there was no reason why she had not been accepted socially here in Medford. While understanding that hurt, I do not sympathize with it.
    As for the term "silk-appareled dame" is there any woman in the city who has not some few pieces of silk clothing, hose, undergarments, perhaps a dress of 1935 vintage? Does "W. W. T." know Mrs. B. H.? If not, how does she (or he) come by her conclusion that Mrs. B. H. has the "superior air of a queen"? To me, Mrs. B. H.'s letter did not indicate that she had that air. To me her letter sounded hurt--hurt to the quick, and driven to word-retaliation.
Entertaining Colored Soldiers
    As for the lady who entertained the negro soldiers, I think that was one of the finest things I have ever known, but that was a "group" charity, hardly to be compared to the case of the lonely women in Medford. All of us are trying to do our part in this war.
    Unfortunately some of us have only our different and varied and very humble talents upon which to draw. If those who have the means to entertain on a large scale do so, we should all be most thankful that a fellow townsman did it. Those who have only their capacity and energy for hard work are no less to be commended, however.
Here Less Than a Year
    I came to Medford a little less than a year ago and bought a house here with the intention of making it my future home. I came unheralded and unsung, as I take it Mrs. B. H. did. Five months after I moved into my house a neighbor called. I returned the call.
    But such is my nature that I now carry on an "over-the-fence" neighborliness with most of the rest of them. Several new neighbors have moved into our block, and I have promptly made an excuse to go to the door or call to them from my yard with the result that we feel we know each other and chat whenever it is convenient. It happens that I am quite busy in my home, and the state of my health precludes much walking, so that I could not have returned calls had all the women in Medford come, or only a dozen.
The Church Problem
    Like Mrs. B. H. I have attended church. Three months after my first attendance there was a visiting minister whose sermon I enjoyed so much that I lingered and went down front to tell him so. For the first time a few people shook hands with me, and believe it or not they were all aghast when I told them I had been attending their church weekly for three months. Since then I have met a number of nice people in the church. One woman called. I am sure the coming winter will open up new avenues of enjoyment through church activities.
    W. W. T.'s suggestion that one should "shop around" for a church would not suit me at all. I like to go to "my church." Perhaps Mrs. B. H. feels the same about hers.
    As I said, I came here less than a year ago. I also was told that I would not like it. It happened that I came up from Klamath Falls on a bus whose driver I had traveled with on a two days' journey some months before. He advised me to go to Grants Pass, which he said was a much friendlier city than Medford. Because of that he had purchased a home in that city and moved his family there. He told me that the bus drivers avoided staying the night in Medford whenever they could because they do not like the city.
Is Medford a Friendly City?
    I would not say that Medford is a friendly city, at least not to the stranger coming as I did without a scrip or scrap in the way of vouchers. I did not expect to be accepted immediately. Some people do not get acquainted easily; it requires weeks and months for them to become trusting friends, but when they do they are usually the forever-and-ever kind. I wonder if towns are not that way too. I lived in a town in Idaho that was known as a friendly town, while another place only twenty miles distant was known far and wide as an unfriendly town.
    I had occasion to stay several months in a California city that was perhaps three times larger than Medford. The first time I walked downtown I was struck with the town's friendliness. People smiled and many of them spoke, especially the older people, but many of the younger ones also. The clerks gave the impression that you were extending a special favor by letting them wait upon you. They seemed to always be ready to "pull a smile."
    I spoke to the manager of one of the larger food stores about this smile habit of clerks. He told me: "That is the first thing we teach our clerks. If we run across the unfortunate person--and we sometimes do--who cannot smile easily, we do not keep them." He explained that to smile is such a simple thing--such a lovely simple thing, and so contagious that it spreads like ripples when a stone is cast into a pool. A smile is as contagious as a yawn. I don't know why people in Medford are so unsmiling, but the fact is that it was one of the first things I noticed after I came here. Every time I've witnessed a parade I have been struck anew by the unsmiling paraders and the equally unsmiling spectators. Both acted as though a funeral was in progress.
Don't Forget the War
    Mrs. B. H. should remember that this is the year 1942, that there is a war in progress, that everyone is busy or should be, that nearly everyone has some loved one in military service and is worried beyond anything they've ever known and busier than they've ever been before. I would suggest that she call upon any one of the agencies for the promotion of the war effort and offer her services. If she will do that I am sure she will become so engrossed in her work that she will not know loneliness.
    In her work she is bound to meet others who may be lonely too; in fact she might seek them out and form a "clique" of her own. If she feels that she cannot do any of these things, that she cannot adjust herself to life here in Medford, then she will have to bear her loneliness with what fortitude she possesses or follow her threat to "pull up stakes."
The Medford Cliques
    I would hate to condemn Medford because I have not found a general air of friendliness here. I am sure that time will remedy the situation. As for the existence of "cliques" here I have heard them mentioned with disparity [disparagement?] several times, cliques into whose sacred circles one has to wait for a member to be stricken, die, move away or resign. In that connection, I would say that if there are such cliques and they do not want me to join them I am sure I would return the sentiment with interest, not caring whether they want to know me or not.
    I do not like to be much with those whose social eminence puts such a terrific strain on my eyebrows. If they are--as some have suggested--so consumed with their own importance that they wish to know only the gilt-edged among the strangers who come, they are, in my opinion, not worth knowing anyway and Mrs. B. H. should realize it. Any person who can be happy only when up among the Gottrockses is to be pitied. There is no recipe for friendliness among such people. I have never cared for society, as such.
    I am sorry that Mrs. B. H. felt driven to the recourse she took. In writing her letter too frankly she blundered, and the hardest tumble a person can take is to fall over his own blunder. I don't believe this controversy will stand too much kicking around. Such a matter spreads like a grass fire in a stiff wind. It is nearly impossible to open one's mouth without running athwart someone's prejudices. I don't believe organized friendliness is the solution to the problem of the lonely woman in Medford, yet how else can it be solved?
One Good Friend Is a Lot
    Mrs. B. H. says she has made one friend in Medford. Believe me, that is an accomplishment in these days, Mrs. B. H. You are fortunate. I would rather have one good friend than a nodding acquaintance with dozens of society people, and it would make little difference to me whether that person had no more standing in society than a clove of garlic if they were my kind of person--interesting, likable, decent.
    Private J. W. has my sympathy because I feel that he was justified in saying some of the things he did. His mistake lay in employing rancor in saying them. Lastly it is to be regretted that W. W. T. forgot for the moment the old biblical admonition that a soft answer turneth away wrath. All three should have given more thought to what they were saying instead of saying what they were thinking. An injurious truth has no merit over an injurious lie; neither should ever be spoken.
    I am usually too busy with my own self-analysis to wonder if the other person is perfect or not. I feel very humble about my friendships,
"And since I have no gold to give,
 And love alone must make amends,
 My only prayer is, while I live,
 God make me worthy of my friends."
Medford Mail Tribune, October 4, 1942, page 6


    This living in the shadow of a great army camp brings many interesting things into one's life. We meet many new faces and make friends with many people from distant places. Yet we find that these folks are just Americans like the rest of us, after all. They have the same interests, the same thoughts, the same feelings. This writer has met folks from all over the country--from New Jersey to Texas; from Minnesota to Florida. And we have found that while there are some differences in speech; some differences in habits of life, yet in the final analysis we have much in common.
    But there is one thing we want to bring to the attention of our readers which we think cannot be emphasized too strongly. And that is the matter of welcoming into our homes and daily life the many young army wives who have come among us. Most of these are young married folks, just starting the big job of establishing a new family. They are far from their old friends and family, and are not finding the going any too easy. And a helping hand costs so little, after all.
    Oh Yeah! you say. They knew the way in, and it's the same way out. They didn't have to come to Southern Oregon just because their new husband was stationed there. Maybe they didn't, but just put yourself in their place for a moment. Since time immemorial wives have followed their husbands into far and forbidden places, to try to make life just a little easier for the man they love. That is the way new homes and new families have always been established. And in war time, who can blame the young wife for wanting to be near their man for the short time before he must leave for the battle front, perhaps never to return?
    There are so many little ways one can help. Maybe the young wife never lived where wood was the principal fuel. What does she know of how to order wood, or the best kind? For instance, we had a young wife in our home who had never burned anything but gas in her life and was bound to speak of firewood as "lumber." She had quite a time making the fuel dealer understand what she was talking about. Just think how you would act if you were dumped down in a strange climate among strange people, and had to establish even a temporary home.
    How many of you people have ever gone away from home and friends for even a short time without feeling homesick? And didn't you enjoy having some friendly soul show  a little interest in your welfare? Of course you did. And you'll find these young people just as appreciative as you would be. So when you can, put yourself out just a bit to lend a hand to the brave, but lonesome, young girls who have come to live among you.
Arthur E. Powell, "Musings," Central Point American, October 7, 1943, page 1


    There doesn't seem to be any letup in the demand for living quarters for soldiers' wives. Last November when the 91st Division left, and for a time we had women from that outfit still here, as well as women from the 104th, which was [thought to be] coming here and from the 96th, which did come, the situation was awful, with women and children sleeping in hotel lobbies by the dozen. At that time the city of Medford and the county court [of commissioners] made an arrangement with the Salvation Army USO to establish a central rent bureau and hire a full-time staff to handle it. This plan has worked very well, and although the emergency caused by the confusion as to which division was to locate here has passed, yet there seems to be a  very great need for this service to continue. The central renting bureau at the West Side USO is still a very busy place. New men are continuously being assigned to Camp White and are bringing their wives with them. Thus the need for apartments and rooms continues.
Arthur E. Powell, "Musings," Central Point American, February 3, 1944, page 1


Last revised August 13, 2012