Interview with Paul Foster

Interview with Paul Foster

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Paul Foster:


"I was raised on a dairy farm a mile and a half from the university. Everybody knew everybody including the professors at the university. We went to the First Christian Church every Sunday, and the kids attended Sunday school. We learned all about the Bible, the Ten Commandments, and the rules for proper living. The church was not a peace church. They didn’t teach anything about war or not going to war. When I entered high school, there was a book called All Quiet on the Western Front. It was a history of World War I full of graphic pictures of death, destruction, and how nations wasted their resources fighting one another. The book was written and put out in hopes that people would learn that war was a waste of time and resources. We had several neighbors that were in World War I. Those men sure did suffer. By the time I graduated and entered college in the fall of 1941, a new line of thinking had begun to enter the university. For one thing, they took out Bible study as an accredited course. The freshman in the university had to take ROTC for two years. Since I was studying music, I played in the band, and the band members belonged to the ROTC band. I was glad when I did not have to take anymore ROTC courses. They put in the draft, and I had read that you could register as a conscientious objector. When it came my turn to register, that is the way I registered. My draft board tried to get me not to register that way. They said I would be the laughing stock of Norman, but I stuck to my beliefs and registered that way. My minister called me in and tried to talk me out of registering as a conscientious objector. I asked him if he could take the New Testament and find anywhere in there that war was biblically right. He could not. There is an example in there that says you should obey your superiors, but do violence unto nobody. I asked him how you could destroy things, shoot people, and not be doing violence. He had no answers. I stuck with my guns. Eventually, I was drafted and sent to a CPS camp in Magnolia, Arkansas."

"We were out one day on work duty, and we had a boy fall off the side of the mountain. He fell about twenty feet and he had a spinal cord injury of some sort. We got him in a truck, and they called into the ranger station. They didn’t answer the phone. We called Bill McReynolds and he said I could take him to the doctor down in Florence, which we did, and the doctor looked at him and said keep him in bed a few days and see if his injury straightens out. Weldy was quite mad that we had taken the truck and taken this boy down to the doctor. Well, the boy got better and he would go out and work. He would blackout, because of his spinal cord injury. They wouldn’t send him back to the main camp. They wouldn’t let us keep him in the camp. They said he had to show up for work. That is when I decided to write Selective Service and walk out of camp. I told some of the people there in Mapleton I was going to walk out of the camp and why. I walked out of camp, wrote Selective Service why I walked out and where I was going. I would come back when they either discharged this boy or got him some medical attention. After all, he was hurt on the job. In the meantime, one of the boys at the main camp had gotten killed by falling snags. I included his name. I felt he should be sent home for burial. The government would not send his body home. I included him in my protest when I walked out."


--Taken from Siuslaw National Forest and Portland State University History Department. "Camp 56: An Oral History Project." p64-8.

For more of the interview see <>