Interned in a camp at Hereford in the Texas panhandle, more than 3,000Italian POWs spent the last years of World War II an ocean away from theirfamily and friends. In the last year of the war, the prisoners suffered a siegeof hunger dictated by government-ordered cutbacks in rations. The men calledthis episode la fame and found it difficult to supplement their meager meals.
A handful of men in camp were artists, and it was this small group ofprisoners who struck a deal with the priest of a nearby Catholic church. Inexchange for a home-cooked meal each noon, the artists agreed to decoratethe plain church with murals and carvings reminiscent of the Renaissance. Thiscompassionate story of courage and kindliness is as enduring as the artworkthat still graces the walls of a modest Catholic church in a tiny Texas town.
Donald Mace Williams lives in Canyon, Texas. A former newspaper writerand editor, he is also the author of Timberline, U.S.A.: High-Country Encounters from California to Maine, Black Tuesday's Child, The Sparrow and the Hall, and Wolfe and Other Poems. In addition, Williams has had poems published in Barrow Street, Iron Horse Literary Review, Western Humanities Review, South Dakota Review, Westview, Concho River Review, and other magazines.