All photos from this booklet are by Fred Gildersleeve. From the Gildersleeve-Conger Collection at The Texas Collection, Baylor University. These photos were contributed by Mark Randolph/City of Waco.
History of Post Exchange
The Post Exchange of the Base Hospital, Camp MacArthur, was organized under the supervision of Lt. Col. S.W. French. On September 18, 1917, Lt. Col. French appointed 1st Lt. J.W. Henry Post Exchange officer—and gave him permission to start the “canteen”. He started it with two clerks and a very small stock. The counter space was only eight feet. Having a patronage of from 300 to 600 corps men and four to eight hundred patients, it was soon seen that the stock was too small and also counter space. The stock at that time was about $500 to $600 with few varieties of merchandise. The sales at that time amounted to approximately $200 per day. In November, 1917, the counter space was enlarged to twice the former size and two more clerks added. The stock was increased, with more variety, amounting to about $3,000. The daily sales increased accordingly to about $350.00.
On January 25, 1918, Captain Otto W. Koch succeeded Lt. J.W. Henry as post exchange officer. In February Capt. Koch, with the approval of Lt. Col. French, built a new building alongside the old one, increasing the capacity of the exchange to twice its former size. A modern six-chair barber shop was installed, six pool tables; the counter space was increased to fifty feet. The stock was increased, carrying a full line of everything useful to a soldier.
A news stand was installed, and the city newspaper boys were prohibited selling papers on the reservation, putting all this in the hands of the Post Exchange.
The stock at the present time exceeds $6,000.00 and the daily sales amount to about $500.00.
A tailor shop was installed in connection with the Exchange. Now, laundry and tailor work can be done through the Post Exchange, making everything convenient for the boys.
From the funds of the Post Exchange a swimming pool (one of the finest in Texas) was built, costing about $10,000.00. It has all the modern equipment and conveniences of a swimming pool. It’s at the disposal of the officers, nurses, and enlisted men of the Hospital. Something to be proud of.
The instruments of our twenty-six piece band was bought from this fund. The best small band in Camp MacArthur and excelled by few anywhere. These instruments cost about $2000.00.
On March 11, 1918, Lt. C.T. Olcott succeeded Capt. Otto W. Koch as Post Exchange officer. He was succeeded by J.H. Mullin on April 15, 1918.
The success of the Post Exchange is to be credited to the food management of the efficient officers in charge and the Post Exchange Steward, Sgt. H.W. Gillespie and Bookkeeper Sgt. H.F. Helwig, who are business men of ability.
It is the ambition of Lt. Col. French to give every convenience possible to the officers, nurses, and enlisted men in his command and the Post Exchange is the best asset he has to draw from and with a future as successful as the past the Base Hospital of Camp MacArthur need not want for finances for entertainments and luxuries for the comfort of all on duty here.
(From Page 41 of this Souvenir Booklet)