Reflections from Vance Geier

Reflections from Vance Geier

The following is taken from a questionnaire sent to CPS men by Paul A. Wilhelm and compiled in 1990. This excerpt is Vance E.A. Geier's response to the section asking the men to list major events from their CPS experience:


One evening in a dorm bull session on a variety of topics, it was mentioned that the camp's Recreation Director, Olcutt Sanders, was a Phi Beta Kappa. The conversation wound down, lights were turned off, there was silence for a few moments. In the dark silence, a new inductee exclaimed, "Say, I thought Sanders was a Methodist!"

COs on furlough were often asked "Why aren't you in uniform?" One discovered a way to turn off the inquiry; he would reply, "I'm not at liberty to divulge that information."

Alone one night on the second floor of the Admissions Ward at Norwich (CT) State Hospital, I tried to get two young checker-playing patients to retire. They refused. Inadvertantly, I pushed one of them. He turned on me and began to fight. I warded off his blows as non-violently as I could, retreating for quite a while until the Supervisor downstairs heard the disturbance and separated us. After he left, the young man came at me again. Again the Supervisor appeared; this time he locked the young man in his room. (The next morning he said he didn't remember a thing about all this.)

Meanwhile the keys had fallen out of my pocket, the other young man had snapped them up and left the building. Apparently to complain about the terrible treatment at our institution he went to the Police Station. The police promptly returned him to the hospital. Later, while I was "logging" the day, I felt a hand around my neck. It was the second young man, threatening with bottle in his other hand, demanding that I give him the keys. Instinctively, I grabbed his wrists and struggled. We turned over the desk, sending the glass cover crashing to the floor. When that strong six-footer pinned me down, I decided to negotiate, offering the keys for the bottle. He grabbed the keys and fled--only to be intercepted at the exit door by the Supervisor.

Shortly afterward, my confidence was restored when I was able to restrain and get back to the ward a patient who had struck an attendant without provocation during a communion service.


--Taken from Wilhelm, Paul A. Civilian Public Servants: A Report on 210 World War II Conscientious Objectors. Washington, D.C.: National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors, 1990.