Camp Howze is remembered in a multitude of ways. One way the legacy of Camp Howze is preserved, indefinitely, through numerous media outlets such as poetry, books, academic publications, and the theatre. Whether the camp is the main focus of the book or is showcased briefly, the authors contribute to the memorization of the soldiers at Camp Howze who trained and died for this nation.
Poetry captures the emotional and vulnerable aspects associated with the camp. It provides the reader with an intimate connection to the history and memories of Camp Howze. Books and academic publications provide an in-depth analysis of the camp in order to educate readers on a multitude of subjects regarding Camp Howze. This encourages students and academics alike to research the camp and preserve Camp Howze's legacy. The theatre productions that are based on the camp are used to entertain the public, while also educating the younger generations. Sparking the interests of the community through poetry, books, academic publications, and the theatre ensures the memory of Camp Howze will never fade.
Two separate musical revues presented by the Butterfield Stage Players Community Theatre of Gainesville in the 1990s and early 2000s captured the spirit of Camp Howze through song and dialogue.
The first, "Camp Howze Canteen," was the debut production for the Butterfield Stage Players' 1991-1992 season. The production premiered in conjunction with "Camp Howze Days," a three-day long event hosted by the Gainesville community, commemorating the memory of Camp Howze and the veterans that served in World War II.
Leading up to "Camp Howze Days," the event was advertised in the Gainesville Daily Register, to ensure that everyone in the community could take part in the commemorative events. The newspaper included a detailed schedule that illustrated the numerous affairs planned, which included a special exhibit at the Morton Museum, a guided tour of downtown Gainesville, and a parade honoring former Camp Howze soldiers, among other activities.
In 2002, "Camp Howze Christmas" was another musical revue presented alongside a day-long event, "Camp Howze Holidays," that was hosted by the city of Gainesville. In addition to featuring songs from the WWII era, "Camp Howze Christmas" included a brief play based on the lived experiences of civilians, soldiers, and German prisoners of war at Camp Howze during WWII.
According to Sandy Geyer, who came up with the idea for the musical revue and worked closely with Thom Talbott to create the outline and character descriptions, she drew her inspiration from a discussion she had with the board of directors about finding a show to do around Christmas time. Knowing that an anniversary celebration was scheduled during the holidays for Camp Howze, and in an effort to incorporate the community, the idea of "Camp Howze Christmas" was born.
To ensure the show was historically accurate and properly portrayed the experiences of people involved at Camp Howze, Geyer read the local historical information available, as well as Poker Games, Pillow Shams, and Parched Prairies by Betty Stephenson. "Camp Howze Christmas" had several story lines derived from tales in Stephenson's book, character names were replaced by family and friends' names to appeal to the audience.
Leading up to this grandiose event, the Gainesville Daily Register ran advertisements for "Camp Howze Holidays," and "Camp Howze Christmas." The audience that attended the musical revue was given a program, along with a brochure to commemorate the event. This production was made possible by a $10,000 grant provided by The National Endowment for the Arts, in an effort to cultivate and celebrate the artistic heritage in various communities across Texas.
While there has not been extensive historical literature written about Camp Howze, the army training camp has been the subject of two master's level theses from varying academic disciplines.
In 1984, Barbara Burns penned the thesis, “World War II and Camp Howze: The Impact Upon Gainesville and Cooke County, Texas,” for her master's degree in history from Texas Woman's University. The academic work offers a comprehensive look at the relationship between the army training camp and the surrounding community, showing how one influenced the other. Burns argues that Camp Howze brought many social and economic impacts to Cooke County. In some cases, the effects were telling in the numbers such as the population boom and the housing shortages brought by the influx of people. But, other changes in the county were evident in people and their shared experiences such as the connections local residents formed with people from diverse backgrounds.
Decades later, David Scheidecker wrote, “The Western Front in the Backyard: The Archaeological Survey of Camp Howze, Texas,” for his master’s degree in anthropology from Texas Tech University in 2014. Scheidecker focused more on the built environment and the remnants of Camp Howze had left on the land long after its deactivation. His survey of the land uncovered a collection of screws and nails of varying sizes, shrapnel pieces, and glass soda bottles, including one that could be dated back to 1943, among many other artifacts. In some cases, land used for farming before World War II had to be converted to cattle raising pastures after the war due to the presence of concrete piers. Scheidecker noted that his study highlighted only a fraction of what could be uncovered in more extensive archeological surveys of the acres once occupied by Camp Howze.
Camp Howze has been featured in a few printed materials and received mentions in many more.
The first known book it was the subject of, A Camera Trip Through Camp Howze, was printed in 1943, while the training camp was still active. A July 13, 1943 news brief in the Gainesville Daily Register announced sales of the books put together by the camp's public relations office. As its titled, suggests, the book’s pages are filled with images showing activities and happenings at the camp.
Report After Action: The Story of the 103rd Infantry Division, a book about the 103rd Infantry Division produced during the war, features Camp Howze for its role training the division's newest recruits. Hand-drawn illustrations such as depictions of the exterior and interior of the Camp Howze barracks, offer a look into the everyday experiences of soldiers.
In the years and decades following the war's end, the camp has most often come up in the published memoirs and memories of former soldiers and those who lived in the area. Some of these works include, No Way Out: The War Story of a WWII Black Buffalo Soldier by Dr. Rothacker Childs Smith, My WWII as I Recall by Carl Reed, The Lifetime Memories of Evie Felderhoff by Evie Felderhoff, and Poker Games, Pillow Shams, and Parched Prairies by Betty Stephenson.
One of the most recent appearances of Camp Howze in literature comes from 2012 Texas Poet Laureate Jan Seale. The University of North Texas alumna lived in Gainesville as a kid and would tag along to Camp Howze with her father who served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gainesville in the 1940s.
In her 2021 poem, “Camp Howze, Texas 1944,” as part of the COVID-19 pandemic-prompted Texas Poetry Assignment, Seale recounted an early memory of being at the camp while her father held a religious ceremony for soldiers. Read Seale’s “Camp Howze, Texas 1944” poem below.
“I chose to write the poem as a villanelle, a French form with a repeated line much like the refrain of a song,” Seale said. “I didn't want the poem to be an elaborate adult-type explanation of the circumstances; I wanted it to be almost childlike, reflecting the impression of the five-year-old.”
Seale’s father would officiate weddings for the soldiers in the family’s home.
“My sister and I would peek through the French doors of the dining room to witness the ceremony,” Seale said. “Little did we know that the groom might be back in three weeks in a casket. My sister, three years older than I, told me recently that dad had taken her several times to the train station when a soldier’s body was being returned for burial. She said she had never forgotten those times.”
Seale shared more of her memories of that time in the “On the Homefront” chapter of her 2017 book of short stories and essays, Ordinary Charms.