CLENT BREEDLOVE
CIVILIAN PILOT TRAINING PROGRAM
PRE-FLIGHTS PROGRAM
1939-1945

Plainview PGS Article 53



Glider Pilots at Finney Field Spread Christmas Goodwill Year Round in Plainview


By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 53rd article about Clent Breedlove’s Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field.

Many stories have been reported about the glider pilots who trained six miles north of Plainview, Texas at Finney Field during the war, and most of them very good.

Another heart-warming story about the kindness of Clent Breedlove’s student pilots comes from the Plainview Evening Herald in 1942.

Although their days were busy training in Piper Cub L-4’s or taking lessons in the classroom at the airfield, the glider pilots still found the time to help the homeless, four-legged pooches wandering the streets of Plainview.

In the September 20, 1942 edition of the Evening Herald, an article appeared entitled “There’s a Haven for Homeless Dogs in Hearts of Glider Students Here.”

The article told the story of how glider pilots came to the rescue of homeless and hungry dogs wandering the streets of Plainview.

“Canine street waifs pull the heartstrings of Plainview’s men in khaki.  About all a dog needs to qualify for a place in their affections is a hurt, hungry, look in his eyes and ribs pitifully devoid of padding.  That’s all.”

“When one of these little lost dogs trots up beside one of the men in khaki and gazes with longing eyes – well, that’s just about all it takes.”

“When he assumes a hopeful mien with a wag or two of a stubby tail, that’s all it takes.”

The Evening Herald continued by saying that the glider pilot himself might be hungry, too.

“He might be looking forward to consuming something that will stick to his ribs; but when he sees the little dog, hungry and bereft of friends, his appetite leaves.  He just can’t eat a thing until he bundles the little dog up and takes him off for a square meal.”

Pretty soon, the adopted dog is happy again having lost his forlorn look now that a glider pilot is his new best friend.  The pooch is hanging around other glider pilots and their adopted four-legged friends.  After a few days, his once protruding ribs are now not so prominent anymore, said the Herald.

“The little dog regains some of its lost self respect.  It frolics and plays.  It really belongs.”

“Sometimes when the men are marching the little dogs may be seen hard at their heels.  Often they stop for a romp with their beloved khaki-clad men in front of the hotel where the men stay.”

“And, sometimes, the little four-footed frisks get an extra special thrill when they are allowed to scramble aboard a jeep, a peep, or whatever the snub-nosed thing is called, and ride to the training field north of town.”

One of the pet dogs is named “Mabel”.  Mabel is a little brunette dog with a white collar.

Mabel and her fellow former melancholy canines are not living a “dog’s life” anymore, ended the Herald article.

However, such kindness and feeding of these homeless pooches may have inadvertently led to their over-population in Plainview; thus resulting in a real problem for the police department.

By February 1943, just as the last of the glider pilots were completing their training and preparing to depart Finney Field for good, a notice appeared in the February 21, 1943 edition of the Plainview Evening Herald.  The notice was from the chief of police, Hoyt Curry, Sr., and it warned dog owners to keep their canines at home, or else.

“Dogs must be kept on private property or be killed when reported as nuisance,” the notice stated.

Things had not improved much over a year later.

In the February 27, 1944 edition of the Herald, another notice appeared warning dog owners to keep their canines home and added that any loose female dogs would be killed.

Then, on May 4, 1944, an article appeared in the Herald detailing the on-going problems that Chief Curry was having with all of the homeless dogs in the city.

“A dog that killed a calf and mauled a cow on the northeast edge of the city was shot this morning, along with several other stray canines,” the article started.

“Police Chief Hoyt Curry shot the large calf-killing dog several times but when last seen the dog was still running,” reported the Herald.

“Police have issued warnings that all dogs not tied or which are allowed to stray from their owners’ premises are subject to being shot.”

The article went on to explain that police officers were taking such drastic steps to reduce the population of stray dogs as a precaution against the spread of rabies.

“Curry said he saw ten dogs bedded down along several hundred yards of fence row on the north edge of town this morning.  When Curry fired on one, the others fled.”

During a recent interview, more light was shed on who Hoyt Curry, Sr. was by his son, Bill, who also provided a photo of his dad wearing his police uniform.  Bill Curry thinks that the photo was probably taken in the 1930s.

Hoyt Curry, Sr. was born in Aubrey, Texas near Denton in 1900, his son Bill explained.

Curry joined the Plainview police force in 1932.  He served as Chief of Police from 1938 until 1956.

He was never a police officer before coming to Plainview, explained Bill Curry.

“He worked in a bank, the First National Bank; and then the Great Depression hit.  He was a teller at the bank, before that, and then he joined the police.  He was a victim of the Depression.”

“I think he became a deputy sheriff about 1930, if I’m not mistaken; and he became a police officer for the city of Plainview in 1932.”

Bill Curry thinks that his dad was about 20 years old when he moved to Plainview by himself, leaving his family behind in Denton.

“His guns from the police days are at the West Texas State University museum.”

“He had a pearl-handled .45 automatic that he had all the time.  I don’t think he ever fired it, in the line of duty,” Curry chuckled.

Bill Curry thinks that his dad put his guns at the WTSU museum in Canyon because his wife, Ruby J Curry, went to college there in 1922.

Hoyt Curry later became director of Health and Public Safety in Plainview in 1956 and retired in 1971.  He died in February 1989.

Given the warmth shown by the glider pilots to the homeless dogs of Plainview, it is no surprise that during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in 1942 so many residents opened their homes to the glider pilots to help them enjoy a real, old-fashioned holiday time.

More about the history of Finney Field during WWII will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are asked to visit the Silent Wings Museum website at www.silentwingsmuseum.com for more details about the glider program of WWII.

Anyone with information about the Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field should contact John McCullough at (806)793-4448 or email johnmc@breedlove-cptp.org