The story behind the paintings.
My father Arlie Willis Johnston passed away in 2011 at the age of 93. Arlie was a very talkative guy and loved people but he did not talk a lot about the war due to all the sad memories. He served as a scout in the 65th Div, 261st Infantry. When the war ended, Arlie was reassigned as a guard in the Mooseburg Internment Camp. He always said most of the German prisoners were tired of fighting and he got along with them. The apparently liked him well enough to give him some of their art work
One of the paintings is my father with some of his badges and medals underneath. He would have been 27 years old in 1945. The other watercolor paintings are of the camp and scenes from what we presume to be the surrounding town. Each painting was painted on scraps of paper, wall paper, letters about the sale of a pallet truck, and even partial prints of what appear to be machinery part drawings. The train is made of a post from a bed and buttons from uniforms. The word Meade is painted on the side of the train. Meade was the town where my father lived before the war. My father seemed to have an understanding with the German prisoners and when the was war over I think genuinely felt sorry for them.
My father had forgotten the name of the town and the paintings remained in storage until I began to track down and archive our family history. The paintings are of amazing quality and in excellent condition. Only one of the paintings shows guards on watch, the rest have the gates open with no guards. My father pointed this out and we always assumed that’s how they wished it would be. Our family is very pleased to present these scans to your museum. We think they are a very special look into that time.
Patrick A. Johnston