Goroskop Maia 2012
People and Their Stories

The stories of people and their connections to Davids Island deepen our appreciation of the place. Learning these stories adds meaning to the physical remnants of Fort Slocum’s buildings, ruins and archeological deposits.


The 378th Army Service Forces Band at Fort Slocum in 1942.Rivka Olley (right) and two friends standing by the Parade Ground in their Easter finery, ca. 1958.An oral history interview.  Tetra Tech cultural resource specialist Rob Jacoby (right) interviews Michael Cavanaugh on Davids Island in 2007.Ken Rought circa 1940.


Over the centuries tens of thousands of people, including many men and some women and children, crossed the island’s shores to live, work, serve, wait, visit or play. Each person experienced the island differently. For some Davids Island was no more than a brief and transient destination, quickly lost in the cloudscape of memory. Others experienced the island intimately and deeply, and it remained part of them for the rest of their lives.


Some stories of Davids Island are captured in vivid detail through letters and postcards, diary entries, period news accounts and official reports, and memoirs and biographies. Others can be reconstructed in broad outline from the material traces of times past, as when an archeologist interprets the history of a group of artifacts. Many stories of Davids Island are, however, forever lost, never written down and gone from faded memory.

Documentation of former Fort Slocum used many kinds of historical sources to help illuminate the island’s past and the historical significance of its buildings, ruins and archeological deposits. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also gathered new human stories and recorded many unfamiliar historical details during its work on the island. These stories were collected during two dozen oral history interviews with former Army personnel, civilian employees, dependents and others associated with the post at one time or another from the 1920s onward.


I hope something of the island can be preserved… There’s lots of memories and lots of history. And I hope we can figure out how to keep some of it.”

-John Pardon, attended the Army Information School at Fort Slocum in 1962 as a 24-year-old recruit (interviewed 2007).