Does Anyone Remember PAAF?

Harry Foster, Jr.
Yes Ray, I certainly remember PAAF, the Pecos Army Air Field. My brother, Frank, and I along with our parents moved to Pecos in September 1942. Dad, Harry Sr., helped the PX restaurant get started and stayed there until he couldn't get along with the army brass. I'm sure it was all their fault. He worked in Pyote for a short time at that air base, then got the opportunity to go in the restaurant business. It seems that the man who owned the little café across from the high school had the option to either clean it up or close it up, by orders from the PAAF health officer. He chose it sell it. So Dad and another man bought it and spent the first week getting it clean enough to pass inspection. He started feeding G.I.'s and high school kids, and it eventually turned into a fairly good business. And, it is a shame to see the condition Pecos is in now. We go back occasionally to see friends and are appalled at the town. Almost makes you want to cry. But when we look back, we thank God that he allowed us to grow up in PECOS, TEXAS. We were blessed to have that atmosphere, that education, and that discipline.

Patsy Douglas
Ray, I, too have memories of the airbase. My family moved to Pecos in 1944, just 6 weeks into first grade. We couldn't find a place to live, so we had to stay at Camp Baird until my mother got a job at the base and we got to move into a BRAND NEW apartment in the base housing. I can remember it so well, especially the ice box. I remember when the ice block was replaced. I think we got our first refrigerator when we moved from the base to Adams Street.

My grandparents and her daughter, Lynette Douglas Lasater (married Frank Lasater), and another aunt moved there and also lived at the base. My mother has great memories of the soldiers.

I have many stories of the adventures our class, and many others I am sure, had at the base.

I also remember all the planes at Pyote that were stored outside. It was like a sea of planes. I wish I had a picture of that.

Thanks again for being the storer of our memories.

Lexie Morgan Dunn Christian
Ray, after the Pecos Air Base closed, my dad was transferred to the Pyote Air Base, which was called the "Rattlesnake Bomber Base of the West". There were rows and rows of the huge B-29 bombers, as far as the eye could see. I, too, wish I had pictures of those bombers. My parents moved to Monahans that year and I went to Draughan's Business College in Lubbock, and married John Paul the following year while he was in the Marines, l946.

I certainly do remember Wayne Joplin. He was two years older than me and I had a big crush on him when I was about 14. In fact, I still have the cameo ring he gave me for Christmas, before I started dating John Paul. I have his email address beside my computer but have never gotten up the nerve to get in touch after all these years! Would love to hear from him and his wife, Hilde. That would be very interesting.

I received an email from Lola Faye quite some time ago but have misplaced it. I think she was known as "Scratch". Please jog my memory. I have forgotten just how to retrieve your listing of PHS grads. What is her last name and email address? Would love to hear anything you know about George and Margaret Breen. We were such close friends at Pecos and later during our years together at Abilene Christian College l946-1949. 

Patsy Douglas Marguet
Hello Ray & Wayne, I visited Pecos again 2 years ago and, like you, was not impressed by the town. Everyone that I can remember really worked at having a tree or two (alive), and all the green grass we could manage. There were some caliche fields, but overall the town wasn't bad. Now there is hardly any grass anywhere. There is just packed dirt. It is sad. I got a note from Bettye Zell Harris (Ronnie's older sister) and she said there is only one grocery store there. We definitely had the best of Pecos. Good schools, plenty of freedom, but no crime. I don't remember any locked doors and we knew everyone. We were lucky. We had horrible dust storms when the farmers were plowing, but mostly we had a nice life.

Ray Mack Thompson
Now I get to tell MY story about PAAF! We lived on our cantaloupe farm west of town (just south of Halley Bryan’s, across the road from the Harold Wendt's and cat-e-cornered from old man Brook's farm).

I remember mother and dad meeting several soldiers, at church and at Rotary, I believe. One of them was a Mr. Cherry, and he was in charge of the stockade at the base.

Cherry visited our farm and was introduced to Pecos cantaloupes. Dad told him we had "culls" that were plenty good to each but too ripe to ship and that we sometimes had to feed them to the hogs. (Granddad Todd would now allow the the culls to be peddled in the local stores...ONLY the really good ones!) He asked Neil (dad) if he would give them to the PAAF mess hall. We carried a load out on a test run, unloading them in a tent beside the mess hall...

The next day, Cherry called to say that the soldiers had raided the tent and the melons never go into the mess hall! We took several loads of carefully selected culls after that. (These overripe melons were REALLY the best tasting ones...)

Later, Mr. Cherry asked Neil if he had any work his prisoners in the stockade could do on our farm. He said he needed to get them out in the fresh air, and that 99% of them were good kids that just had minor infractions (getting drunk in town!).

Sure enough, on several occasions he brought these young soldiers out to a ditch bank where we needed old Salt Cedar trees grubbed out. THEY LOVED IT! We feed them cantaloupes and they jumped in the irrigation ditch and splash water on each other just like the kids that they were. They sent guards along, with shotguns, but Daddy said he insisted they could NOT be loaded.

Anyway, as a 10-12 year old, it was a real experience... fond memories!

C Wayne Joplin
Ray, it seems that your in-box has become the unofficial meeting place for us "old" Pecosites. I would like to thank you for this. I have read messages from people I haven't heard from, or even thought about in years.

As Cousin Wailand wrote a few days ago, we were the war-time children. Those who were scattered to the four corners of the earth by World War II and Korea. Most of us men, or maybe I should say kids, went into the military service and received those taxpayer paid trips to foreign and exotic places courtesy of Uncle Sam. Many of the girls met and married airmen from PAAF Base, then moved to hubby"s hometown when he returned to civilian life. So, we lost touch with each other. My graduating class, '43, did not even have a reunion for 39 years.

Again, thanks to Ray for passing these messages on, and a big "Hi" to you Lexie.

Hi Ray Mack, again. After scanning PS to Pecos I found that our Pecos air base was known as Pecos Army Air Field... PAAF. and Pecos was referred to as a village...strange... I also tried to find Moran K. in the AOL directory, but he wasn't listed. Do you have his e-mail address? I remember him in school.. don't think he was in my class of '48, rather in yours, '47. Several months ago I found an out of print bookseller on the web had PS to Pecos in stock! I almost bought it; can't remember the price, but I ought to have snapped it up just for old times sake. I'd love to know whose house the Kuykendalls rented in the 1400 block of 4th street. My folks became acquainted with a Sgt. and his wife who lived in the 700 block of Hackberry. He is dead now, but Florence is still alive and I hear from her every Christmas, as well as her daughter who was born in Pecos and now lives in Austin. Amazing stuff we can dredge up.....

Lola Faye
Here I am again remembering more, Ray... I remember Moran Kuykendall, Otie Bud, and that whole crew. Howard Samuels' Dad was also stationed at the base. Howard had horses. Harriet Currier's Dad was also there.

Thanks for Jack Lyle's address. I do remember him. When we were living in Pa., there was an article in the Sunday Magazine Section of the Philadelphia Enquirer written by Dr. Jack Lyle when he was teaching at Stamford.

Thanks for keeping all us so well informed.

Lola Faye
Ray, I remember the air base. One of my friends' Dad was stationed there. Her name was Margie Mullen. I used to visit her more than often I even had a pass her Mom arranged for me, because I was there so often. That way I didn't have to get off the bus at the guard gate. One of my teachers called my mother and told her that I was going out to the airbase under an assumed name. She had found my pass in my wallet which read: Lola Faye Mullen. Margie and I are still in touch with each other. We email frequently, and my husband and I have visited them in Miss. and they visited us when we lived in Miss., and have visited here. She and her husband have been married about 54 years, and still live in Columbus, Miss.

I am forwarding something that forwarded to me by OLD McCamey friends. I still do Email with them. I started to school there. Janet (Pauley) Owens have been friends since we were 4 and 5 years old. She is still one my dearest friends. I feel so blessed by old friends, and it is fun to keep in touch.

Marie Otto
Ray, I read your emails with interest, although I don't have as many memories as Bob would have had.

The recent ones about the Pecos Air Base were especially interesting to me because my father, Lillard Davis, enlisted in the civilian Corps of Engineers right after Pearl Harbor. He was 40 at the time–too old to be drafted, but he wanted to be part of the war effort.

He was sent to Pecos where he became an engineer for the building of the Pecos Air Base in the summer of '42. He was 41 by then. I remember Dad's telling us that they averaged 96 rattlesnakes a day while building the air base.

Mother and I joined him that summer, living in a two-story house on Oleander that had been made into three apartments by the Pruitt family. They lived next door. Tommy Pruitt was near my own age, and we played together, often climbing the huge salt cedar tree that was in our front.

We lived just a few blocks from the Ottos, but I didn't meet Bob until we were both students at Sul-Ross. He wouldn't have been interested in me anyway. I was 11 at the time, and he had already joined the Navy. Later on, his naval uniforms were used in a production of "Mister Roberts" that we did at Sul-Ross. Dan Blocker was the director.

In the fall of '42, Mother and I went back to our home in Breckenridge so I could start school. Dad received a commission and became a Major in the Army Corps of Engineers. He was stationed at Ft. Brown in Brownsville, and Mother and I joined him at Christmas that year. We spent a couple of years there before being transferred to Greenwood, Mississippi. Then he was sent "overseas,” which was Alaska (not a state at that time) and became the engineer in charge of keeping the Alkan Highway open.

Mother and I went back to Breckenridge, where I graduated from BHS in 1947. I then went to TCU (with Jim Lucas and Frank Medinich) for a couple of years before transferring to Sul-Ross.

So, you now know more than you wanted to know about the Pecos Air Base!

I wish Bob could have been the one to tell you this story...

Ray Mack
Marie, so glad the subject of PAB triggered your memories! It happens to me all the time, and Avalyn sort of rolls her eyes when I start telling something...which she of course doesn't remember at all! Hi! That's when I find some excuse to type to my old Pecos friends... Thanks for writing and I know YOUR memories will trigger more in others.

Authella and Wailand
Marie, we were glad to get your memories of those times in Pecos that mean so much to all of us who were trying to get through the youth stage of life in the midst of a consuming war. Pecos Air Force Base figured in those transition times for many of us. In my case (Wailand), I had a post-HS job riding shotgun on a Coca Cola delivery truck to the newly opened base. This was a fill-in as I waited for my enlistment in the USMC. In my rounds at the base to fill Coke machines, I was recruited to serve as gofer in the Adjutant's office. I was there for about six months before departing for El Paso to enlist.

My parents at Boulder Courts opened their hearts in full West Texas hospitality to the young airmen and their (mostly) new brides who were there for flight training. Couples who lived off-base often took up residence in motels to make up for sparse housing in Pecos. Mother corresponded for years with some of those folks.

Odie Finley
Ray: Moran was in Pecos during WW2. His dad was the executive officer at the base from 43 to 45 . The Kuykendalls were from Temple. They were a pioneer ranch family and owned the Cadillac Olds dealership,started by Moran's Grandfather, one of the first in Texas. Moran 's Mother was the author of that infamous book, which was not a big hit in Pecos. Compared to the Temple area , Pecos was not the prettiest place in the country. I guess those of us who were born there saw it differently than the soldiers and their wives. Interestingly, Moran loved Pecos and has spent some time there at the museum and Balmorhea State Park. He had a ranch south of Marfa several years ago. He stays in touch with a number of people in far west Texas. He is on the internet on AOL.

Ray Mack
Odie Bud, thanks for the new address. And, thanks for the update on the Kuykendall family. I remember those years when the Pecos air base was open fairly well, and THINK I remember Moran. I believe Zorene knew Lucy some... I just now checked, and sure enough mother's copy of "P.S. to Pecos” that I now have is signed: Lucy Roundtree Kuykendall, and mother has saved a clipping from the Pecos Enterprise dated November 30, 1945!

[Moran! I don't know if you remember me? We lived on a farm west of Pecos and raised Pecos cantaloupes. If you have visited the Pecos Museum you may have seen the State Marker in front, honoring my Grandparents, Madison and Julia Todd, as the founders of the Pecos Cantaloupe industry. I would enjoy hearing from you and your family, as would other on my "PHS Friends List"!]

PAAF On the Word Wide Web

The internet is an AMAZING LIBRARY! I did a search on Google for PAAF and found these links:

Letter to Enterprise from Moran Kuykendall (scroll down):

"P.S. to Pecos" Still Available! (scroll down):

Neat page on Pecos, with mention of PAAF:
PAAF Vets Return to Pecos
West Texas Historical Association Year Book Cumulative Table of Contents Vol. 1--1925 to Vol. 73--1997 West Texas Historical Association Year Book Cumulative Table of Contents Vol. 1--1925 to Vol. 73--1997 "Wings Over West Texas: Pecos Army Air Field in World War II": vol. 63: 42. James L. Colwell