Memories of Camp Cody Weblog

October 20, 2018

The Cody Theatre: Deming’s Playhouse Beautiful – Part 3 of 3

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 9:37 pm

By C. A. Gustafson

The intense garage flames, aided by a west wind, carried across the narrow alley to the rear of the Cody theater. The Deming Fire Department made a valiant effort to save the show place but soon gave this up in order to contain the fire to one block. Camp Cody sent their fire truck to assist. Private Frank Munier was overcome by the heat and was taken to the army hospital. After about two hours the fire was under control and it was almost completely out by 4 pm.

The shops in the theater building on Pine Street were not badly damaged due to the brick wall of the movie house. The fire was still burning when Scoot’s Sign Shop placed a notice over its door. “Open for Business.” On Copper street north of Pine, Mrs. DeLauny’s Dining Room and the Russel dwelling, used as a rooming house, were severely gutted. The Deming Public Library, on the northeast corner of Copper and Pine, was only slightly singed due to a 50 foot open space to the east and favorable winds. The library’s 3,500 books were unharmed.

Not so fortunate was Sam Watkins, whose car agency lost twelve new Buick and Dodge cars. Watkins estimated his lost at $25,000 over insurance. The total damage for the fire was thought to be over $100,000. The diligent work of firefighters from Deming and Camp Cody prevented the conflagration from spreading to the Foxworth-Galbraith lumber yard on North Gold. A grateful H. G. Bush later presented the Deming Fire Department with a check for $100 and a similar about to Camp Cody athletic fund.

Manager Sol Carragien estimated the loss of the Cody Theater amounted to between $15,000 and $20,000. He said his insurance was only $2,000. The fire insurance companies regarded the affected block as a hazardous risk and the consequent high premiums discouraged many in the area from carrying adequate coverage.

After the fire, Carragien said he planned to rebuild at once. “We will be operating again in forty days,” he stated. That optimistic prediction never materialized. Possibly there were financial problems, or the fact that the war was winding down made the rebuilding impractical.

The Cody Theater was said to be the finest in New Mexico and one of the most outstanding in the southwest. Like a celestial comet, the “Playhouse Beautiful” flashed acrossed the entertainment skies of Deming for 208 nights (plus matinees), only to be terminated by a premature fiery final. – Desert Winds Magazine – July 1990



October 14, 2018

The cody Theatre: Deming’s Playhouse Beautiful – Part 2 of 3

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 4:02 am

By C. A. Gustafson

A series of stage attractions followed, including Princess Lani and her Hawaiian troop with a real hula-hula dance. In February 1918, a young English comedian by the name of Stan Laurel appeared with his partner, May Laurel. The vaudeville queen Eva Tangua made her screen debut in “The Wild Girl” in February also. The war influence was felt in such film presentations as “Over The Top” and “The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin” in June, 1918. Admission prices varied from as low as 10 cents to as high as $1.50, depending on the nature of the presentation. Generally the price ranged around a half dollar. Carragien claimed to have paid as high as $2,500 for one of the initial stage presentation.

It was evident that in mid-1918 the Cody Theater was gradually shifting the major part of its entertainment to motion pictures. A new organ, costing between $6,000 and $7,000 was installed, this constituting the audio accompaniment to the silent pictures.

The silent motion picture era was one of the most fascinating and revolutionary in entertainment history. It was the supreme illusion. Actually, moving picture is a misnomer. The pictures did not move and only appeared to do so. The illusion of movement is achieved by sliding a succession of still pictures before a lens in rapid fashion with a black insertion between each frame. Due to persistence of vision, whereby the eye retina retains an image for a fraction of a second, the effect is that the picture “moves.” Film has been described as “stillness in motion.”

Thomas Edison held his first public performance of the new film projections in 1896 in a New York music hall. Gradually the Nickelodeons made their appearance in old storerooms, vacant halls, and various enclosures that could simulate a theater. The pictures were usually one-reelers and lasted about 10 minutes. The Nickelodeons gradually gave way to theaters that were built specifically to present movies. The one-reelers expanded to two and then to a half dozen and more. The first movie palaces began to appear about 1914.

The movie patron could check his/her cares and worries at the box office and pass through magic portals into another world, one that exuded mystery, romance and adventure. Seated comfortably in a darkened auditorium, the move goer focused attention on that rectangular image at the front of the theater, the silver screen. This was like a huge magic carpet, albeit vertical, that carried the viewers to the exotic corners of the earth.

The magic world of fantasy, and reality, came to an abrupt end for Cody Theater patrons on the afternoon of July 11, 1918. About 1 pm., a fire broke out in the Deming Garage on Pine street, west of the theater. The garage was owned by Roy Baker. There were a couple versions as to the origin of the fire. Baker claimed a worker threw a cigarette on some oil-soaked waste. Pete Measday had an older brother who was employed at the garage that summer. Cyril Measday, now deceased, related to Pete that gasoline had been used to clean the repair shop, creating a volatile atmosphere for a flame or spark. The wooden floors were oil-soaked from the cars that frequently leaked. There is the possibility that a car was driven into the garage enclosure, rife with gas vapors, and a flash fire resulted. Baker was severely burned about the head. His foreman, Walter Dusire, required hospital treatment for burns. – Desert Winds Magazine – July 1990


October 7, 2018

The cody Theatre: Deming’s Playhouse Beautiful – Part 1 of 3

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 2:34 pm

By C. A. Gustafson

Deming has been the site of numerous architectural landmark in its 109 years. May are only memories and some still grace the local landscape. One of the notable missing and shortest in duration, was the Cody Theatre over 70 years ago.

The year 1917 was an eventful one for the nation and the Village of Deming. The United States declared war on Germany on April 6 and the first Americans troops landed in France three months later. A site north west of Deming was approved in July for the location of Camp Cody, one of 32 to be established across the country. Construction of the cantonment was begun immediately and employed around 3000 workers to complete the basic building before the year end.

In Deming, records showed that permits for permanent buildings were in excess of $200,000 the latter part of the year. The Cody Amusement Company, organized by local people, leased three lots on the northwest corner of Gold and Pine from the Deming National Bank. Plans were revealed for the immediate erection of a $25,000 theater. Ground was broken on October 22 by Jolly and Morris, the El Paso contractors who had just completed the Teal Theater the previous month. This plush palace of entertainment was to be named the Cody Theater. (The spelling “theatre” derived from Middle English, was commonly used with playhouses in the era of this story. However, the Americanized version “theater” will be utilized in this article.)

The Cody was built of brick and cement. The front faced Gold Avenue and consisted of a round arch facade that architecturally simulated the triumphal arches in Paris and Rome. It height was 30 feet and extended 75 feet north on Gold. There were a half dozen 10-foot shops on this south side.

The auditorium measured 60×100 feet with the seats facing west and pitched to permit a clear view of the stage from any one of the 1000 capacity. The lighting was indirect and a vacuum system insured clean air. The stage in the west end had a 24-foot opening and ran 75 feet from wall to wall. The projection booth above the balcony on the east end housed two number 6B Power machines for the film shows.

While construction of the Cody Theater was underway, the Princess movie house featured D. W. Griffith’s extravaganza, “The Birth of a Nation.” This picture had opened in New York in 1915 and would gross $18,000,000 by 1939. It was the first movie to be screened at the White House for President Wilson. On November 2, there was a mild public reaction when the postal department raised first class mail a penny to 3 cents an ounce.

In December, the Cody Theater, aptly termed “The Playhouse Beautiful,” was completed and ready to open for business. An original intent to premiere on December 14 was abandoned because of the Friday superstition. The following day, Manager Sol Carragien opened the Cody with the presentation of the Audra Alden Company in “17 Past” on the stage. This play enjoyed successful runs in New York and San Diego before coming to Deming. The screen attraction was “Camille” in five reels. Admission for this initial attraction was 35 cents. Both Saturday and Sunday performances were sellouts and many people were turned away. – Desert Winds Magazine – July 1990


U.S. Ammunition Wagon In Deming, New Mexico

September 30, 2018

Camp Cody Will Have 35 Men and Seven Buildings in Army Y.M.C.A.

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 2:35 pm

E. F. Denison of Omaha, Nebraska has been elected as general camp secretary of the Army Y.M.C.A. for Deming, and will arrive within the next couple of weeks to begin work on the installation of the association buildings in Camp Cody.

Deming is to have five Y.M.C.A buildings, a commissary, and a general Y.M.C.A headquarters are to be much more substantial than those erected last year on the border, and are to be 40 feet longer. Each building will have an auditorium 40×80 feet, and will have a large moving picture show and entertainment. Nine educational class rooms, a private correspondence room, and library, together with living quarters for the secretaries will be including in each building.

Each building will be under the supervision of a building sectary, and assistant and three departmental secretaries. There will also be a number of men employed in the general office and commissary, which will make an employed force of approximately 35 men for the Army Y.M.C.A in Deming.
Hardly had the American troops arrived in France when the Y.M.C.A officials were there ready with their “huts” and equipment to meet the needs of the men. Hundreds of thousands of sheets of paper and envelopes were distributed among the men; base ball games were played, the Victrolas furnished some familiar tunes, while the checkers, moving pictures and entertainment were all receiving a large patronage.

The Y.M.C.A has already sent 30 secretaries abroad. A large shipment of supplies were recently sent to France on board the ship Kanson, which was sunk costing the Y.M.C.A over $18,000. This shipment is being duplicated in New York and will be started off again within the next week or ten days.

The program of the Y.M.C.A does not only call for the work such as will be done in the mobilization camp in Deming, but will be there to meet them in their training camps in the prisons, hospitals, and in the trenches. The secretaries are all trained men, and men who are experience in welfare work. – Deming Graphic Newspaper – Date Unknown


September 22, 2018

Remount Will Remain at Camp Cody

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 8:20 pm

Rated as Healthiest Depot for Army Animals in Entire Country

It is stated in military circles that it is now quite probable the remount depot at Camp Cody will be retained as a permanent place for the purpose for which it was built. The reason why the war department may so retain this depot is that in the past 18 months it has proved to be the most healthful remount depot in the entire United States. There have been about 25,000 horses and mules handled there during that time, and the loss has been about 800 from all causes, hardly 1 ½ per cent. This is the lowest rate of loss of all the remount depots, as stated.

The commander of the Camp Cody remount depot is Major Frank G. Brewer, who made or rather modified the plans of handling stock, as he had learned them after long experience and observation at the best of the big stockyard in cities like Kansas City and Chicago. This depot can accommodate 7,000 head at one time. – El Paso Herald Newspaper – Feb 14, 1919 – (The Remount Depot was closed down shortly after the end of the war)


September 16, 2018

Camp Cody Sergeants to Train Better

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 3:37 pm

Will Be Expected to Fill Gaps in Ranks Made by Casualties

In pursuance of recommendations made by General Pershing, the adjutant general of the army has sent out a letter changing the status of non-commissioned officers. This letter has been posted as a memorandum order in the 34th division. It is as follows:

“1. The commanding general, American expeditionary forces, has recommended that more stress be laid upon the responsibility in the training of sergeants. They will be imbued with the habit of command and will be given schooling and prestige to enable them to replace the casualties among commissioned officers. With this end in view, the secretary of war directs:”

Will Separate Sergeants.

“a) Division and other commanders will bring to the attention of organization commanders the great importance of improving the status of non commissioned officers, particularly of sergeants, and of perfecting their training to the highest possible degree.”

“b) In as far as is consistent with facilities available, arrangements will be made to separate sergeants from other enlisted men in quarters and mess.”

“(c) Sergeants will be extended special privileges whenever possible.”

“(d) Their duties and responsibilities will be thoroughly represented to them, by means of lectures, school course with their immediate commanders.”

Encourage to Study.

“(e) They will be encouraged to study all subjects connected with their profession, and, in order to accomplish the desired ends, officers will assist them in every possible way.”

“(f) It is desired to make the sergeant realize that his position is a responsible one, and to inculcate in him the habit of command. He should be encouraged to vie his ideas freely when called upon to do so by his officers.”

“(g) Intimate association between non-commissioned officers and privates will not be tolerated. Orders will be issued in all organizations for bidding non-commissioned officers, and particularly sergeants, from being on terms of familiarity with privates and other enlisted men.”

Orders Further Explained

“Regimental and separate organization commanders will take the action necessary to insure that the requirements of this order are strictly observed.”

“Company, troop and battery commanders are especially charged with providing for the changes required under (b) and (g). These commanders will also be charged chiefly with the provisions of (a), (c), (e) and (f): but under (c) no deviation from pass and furlough privileges prescribed by division orders will be authorized.”

“In furtherance of (a) and (d), provision will shortly be made from division headquarters for courses of advanced instruction for sergeants, including tactical walks or rides, platoon leading, etc.”

Camp Cody- Trench And Camp Newspaper – Date Unknown


September 8, 2018

Oh! You Sandstorm Division

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 2:52 pm

By Robert J. Meeker – Ordnance Depot.

We’ve trained in the desert; we’ve eaten our pound
Of the sand – and perhaps some to boot;
But month after month we’ve been stepping around,
Learning drill, and the best way to shoot;
Till we’re ready and waiting and anxious to go
To the place that is nearest the Rhine –
Then we’ll show them the men old Camp Cody produced.
While we make them a new boundary line.

When the last notes of recall have sounded the news
That the battle of death has been won,
When we’ve captured Berlin and the kaiser is dead
And a guard is behind every Hun;
When divisions victorious number their dead,
And medals are given to men;
In short, when the Glory is handed around,
You’ll hear from the Thirty-Fourth then.

Camp Cody- Trench And Camp Newspaper


September 2, 2018

Camp Cody, Deming, New Mexico by April Seybert

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 2:37 am

Deming High School Student writes about Historical Landmark in 1988

Camp Cody was a WW1 training camp. It was built in July 1917 in October. On December 5, 1918 it was ordered to be demobilized. The camp was sold to the Deming Chamber of Commerce and then donated to the Sisters of the Holy Cross. The information on this camp was given to me by the public library with the help of Fred Darby and the Sawers family.

The camp was located in the health zone which extended northwest of Deming, in an irregular shape, for about one and a quarter miles north and south. It covered approximately 1,800 acres when completed.

The camp was established to train soldiers for WW1 and was laid out in regular military fashion. All of the streets were graded and topped with a three-inch dressing of gravel.

There were nearly 200 mess houses with the capacity of 250 men. More than 1,200 shower bath houses were built, one at the end of each company street. Eleven enormous warehouses were scattered across the camp. They stored food, clothing and other necessities for a army of 36,000 men, enough to maintain a camp for 30 days. There also was one post office and five large YMCA’s located throughout the camp. They YMCA’s held recreation activities for the soldiers.

When the camp was first built, there was a regimental hospital with the capacity of 12 beds. After the camp was completed, another hospital was built with a 600 bed capacity.

The men were housed in tents, 6,000 were provided. They were floored, framed and equipped for electrical lights and for heating during cold weather. There was also a gigantic remount station that cared for 10,000 mules and horses. They also had loading platforms, corrals and a complete equipped vet hospital.

The one and only school in the camp taught the arts of horseshoeing, care of animals, pack train and pack wagon procedures.

The government built over five miles of railroad. Every warehouse was supplied with track on two sides.

Two million gallons of water was needed daily. The entire water supply was carried in two enormous wooden tanks, each with a capacity of 100,000 gallons.

Fire plugs were placed every 400 feet throughout the camp. Eighteen hose carts each with 500 feet of four-inch hose, were place in the four fire districts.

The young soldiers were mostly from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and North and South Dakota. They only way to keep in touch with their families was to write. A writing utensil, paper, envelope and a two-cent stamp were all they was needed to mail a letter.

The YMCA was a good way for the trainees not to feel homesick. There they could practice boxing. Other sports included track meets, baseball and swimming in the company pool. Another form of recreation was the “Chautauqua” which was held under a huge tent. Excellent programs could be seen for only ten cents.

Camp Cody had a very good health rate. The only thing that hurt the camp was an epidemic of pneumonia. It killed many soldiers before they had a chance to go to war.

The Victory Health Creed given to the Camp Cody boys had strict rules to obey. It included that they shall:

1. Not cough or sneeze in one’s face or on food.

2. Not spit on the floor.

3. Not require or seek to go on “sick report.”

4. Brush teeth after meals and bedtime.

5. Not pick nose with fingers.

6. Dusty hikes should place handkerchief over nose and mouth.
7. Wash hands before meals or in mouth.

8. Not adopt strange dogs or pet one.

9. Not eat food exposed on public stands.

10. Not wet fingers when dealing cards.

11. Not put pencil in mouth to wet it.

12. Keep skin clean with soap and water.

13. Not wash clothes in dirty water.

14. Not use towel or toilet articles of others.

15. Not rub eyes with dirty hands.

16. Not have pictures tattooed on skin.

Desert Winds Magazine – July 1988


August 25, 2018

Vestige of Camp Cody by C. A. Gustafson – Part 4 of 4

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 5:45 pm

John C. O’Leary will long be known in Deming annals as the one who coined the phrase “Kingdom of the Sun”. In 1918, he was covering the news of the town and camp for the Associated Press. He received word by wire at 1:15 a. m. Monday, November 11 that the armistice was signed.

J. C. rushed to the fire house to arouse the custodians on duty. Soon the fire siren was shattering the midnight silence. Engines in the railroad yard added their blast to the bedlam. The few automobiles on the street joined in the din.

The jubilation gathered momentum as half-clad citizens filled the streets, shouting, laughing, crying and waving flags. Before noon, town officials declared a half holiday. A parade formed about 3 p. m. Jack Adams of the telephone company sported a car overflowing with pretty girls, while the Harvey House hastily produced a decorative float that was drawn by a black horse.

A group of young muscle men took a truck to the Catholic church under construction on South Ruby and confiscated the huge bell that awaited hanging. Its deep tones added to the jubilant atmosphere.

A crowd gathered at Pine and Gold about 4 p.m. to listen to Brigadier General James Lindsay, commander of Camp Cody. He was more prophetic that those who hailed World War One as the “War to end war.” The general said, “This is not the last war, nor will nations cease to make war as long as human passions endure. Until the end of time when diplomacy fails, resort must be had to arms.”

So ended a propitious and prosperous chapter in the history of Deming. Although not verified by census count, it was a time when the town was likely, for a short period, the most populous in New Mexico.


Six Camp Cody Soldiers In The Desert

August 18, 2018

Vestige of Camp Cody by C. A. Gustafson – Part 3 of 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael Kromeke @ 2:29 pm

Five ditching machines were engaged in the undertaking. Major Fred Simonds, contracting quartermaster, recruited Mexican labor at twenty-five cents an hour for an eight-hour day. A ten-hour shift yielded time and a half for two hours.

The camp’s water requirements amounted to two million gallons daily. In the event of fire, an auxiliary plant was utilized to pump heavy quantities for short periods. Storage of water was contained in two huge wooden tanks, each with a capacity of 100,000 gallons.

As the 34th division was building itself to full strength in mid 1918, downtown Deming was peaking in its wartime prosperity. There were eight theaters in the traditional business section. A proliferation of billiard parlors, soft-drink establishments, lunch counters and novelty stores dotted the area. Watermelon stands offered the ripe-red fruit, packed in ice. A nickel bought a U-EAR-UM pie with a scoop of ice cream.

War is mankind’s most wasteful enterprise. It is lavish in its execution; it is wasteful in it aftermath. The half-million dollar sewer system in Camp Cody was hardly finished when World War One ended. Orders were issued to disconnect and abandon the network.

Today, the spillway remains in formidable condition after ninety-plus years. As it lies on private property, anyone considering a visit to it is advised to request permission from the owners. Guard dogs keep a watchful eye on the area.

Another viable relic of the Camp Cody days lies a little west of North Eighth Street. It is a swimming pool that was used by the soldiers. Only the skeletal ruins remain, also on private property. (The pool was removed in January of 2018.)


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