|Barbara Washler Curry|
This is an interesting question that was posed to former Poston camp III high school teacher Barbara Washler Curry at the Poston camp III reunion held at San Diego, in April 2008.
The former Miss Washler was kind enough to allow us to record her oral history. Former CRIT Department of Education employee, Dr. J. Cravath had the privilege to interview this very popular, former camp III high school teacher and I recently completed transcribing the interview.
Miss Washler, as she was called then, was only about five years older than most of her students. She came from a rural Kansas family with her father being her inspiration as he was a high school teacher and later a superintendent of schools.
Miss Washler's first teaching job after completing her education credits at Park College in Missouri was at Poston camp III. Dr. Arthur Harris, Director of Education at Poston and Park College alumni, wrote a letter to the head of the Education Department at Park College, announcing the need for teachers at Poston. Apparently, the description of the physical environment and conditions at the Poston "relocation center" (term used by the federal government) intrigued Miss Washler's interest. It seems that Miss Washler wanted some adventure and something new to experience in her life from her first job.
Well adventure Miss Washler did experience on that train ride from Kansas City to Parker, Arizona. It seems that when the Santa Fe train approached the Oklahoma state border, there was some seat changing in the train among the passengers. No, this was not "musical chairs". This was Miss Washler's first experience with segregation.
Miss Washler was the advisor for a girls group or club. Can anyone recall the name of that club?
Miss Washler was also advisor for a group of Girl Scouts in Poston III. Hiking down to the Colorado River, having cook outs, staying overnight by the river, and even getting her foot wet in the river, were just some of her precious memories with those girls.
But the things that made her teaching job the most enjoyable was that, "the students' were clean, punctual, and had an attitude of wanting to learn." Miss Washler's only disappointment was that she could not communicate with the children's parents, due to the language barrier.
After the Poston III school finally closed in 1945, Miss Washler did not leave Poston. She was hired as a Relocation Agent to help families who needed jobs relocate to New Jersey or Arkansas with some of the large agricultural businesses. Of course, there were the few who were the very last to leave the camp, who she had the unfortunate job of ushering them out and return to California.
When she was asked why does she attend the Poston III reunions, she told us that she attended the very first one and all the following ones that she was able to attend. The reasons, "It was a wonderful part of my life" and "I LOVE TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THEM."
~Thank You ~Domo arigato~ Barbara Washler Curry