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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

Information sought on photo taken by camera soldier

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

(Photo)
Recognize this image? The photo above was snapped by Jim Stephens, a soldier stationed at Camp Crowder near Neosho, outside Cassville in the fall of 1943. Charlie Brown, owner of The Computer Shoppe in Cassville, is seeking information on the house and boys who appear in the photo.
Charlie Brown, owner of The Computer Shoppe in Cassville, would like to find information about the house and boys who appear in the photo accompanying this story. The photo was snapped by Jim Stephens, a "camera soldier" stationed at Camp Crowder near Neosho.

Stephens said the photo was taken sometime in late fall of 1943.

"I was a member of a five-man Army combat photo team awaiting orders to go to the Pacific War," said Stephens. "A fellow cameraman, who later served with Patton's Third Army in Europe, and I took advantage of a weekend pass to get away from all things military at Camp Crowder by just hitchhiking to wherever our thumbs might take us."

The two men discovered Cassville, which Stephens said "seemed untouched by the war."

"Friendly people, welcoming smiles and delicious food in a tiny restaurant," said Stephens. "I think our steak dinner cost $1.25. A motherly lady put us up in her home overnight for a dollar, which included Sunday breakfast, bacon, eggs and coffee."

After breakfast, the men strolled around Cassville and the surrounding residential area "savoring life without bugle calls and bellowing sergeants, and recalling what life was like before the war," said Stephens.

On a hill near the edge of Cassville, Stephens noticed an old home that he found very beautiful.

"There were a couple of bicycles lying at the foot of the front steps," said Stephens. "I was struck by the peace of the scene. 'That's what we're fighting for,' I thought."

As Stephens raised his camera to take a photo of the home, two boys rushed from the front door and down the steps. Stephens took the photo.

"I've often wondered about those kids," said Stephens. "If they're still alive, they must be in their mid-70s. I hope they had a good life. A big thank you to the people of Cassville for a memorable weekend."

Stephens, who is now 91, lives with his wife of 70 years in the state of Washington. He has a doctorate degree in education and served in the field for over 30 years.

Brown met Stephens in 2005 when Brown was serving as park director of the Newton County Historical Park Complex. Stephens contacted Brown in hopes of receiving information on businesses, food costs and entertainment in Neosho from 1940 to 1945. Stephens was researching for his book "Camera Soldiers."

Community members with information on the house or boys in the photo are invited to call the Cassville Democrat at 847-2610 or email editor@cassville-democrat.com.



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