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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Letter from Catherine Katopes to brother Charlie, 13 August 1942

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Object ID: WV0122.4.016

Description: Katopes discusses the details of her physical exam at Fort Ontario, New York, and its inefficiencies; waiting to be sworn in to the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, the American Legion convention in town, and her motivation to join the WAAC.

Creator: Catherine Katopes

Biographical Info:

Catherine G. Katopes (1912-1979) served in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and the Women's Army Corps from 1942 to late 1945.

Collection: Catherine G. Katopes Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Full Text: Dear Charlie:

I got as far as heading this letter and that was all. It is now a quarter after three and I have been to lunch, read your letter and that funny article, and have come back to work this afternoon.

It occurred to me when I arrived in Oswego yesterday that when I wrote to you about going to Ft. Niagara, I meant to say Fort Ontario.

Well, I went and I never saw anything done in a more lackadaisical fashion than the physical I took. In the first place I arrived there at high noon and no one at the Station Hospital works if possible during that lunch hour. Everything stops for lunch. I waited until one o’clock. I was supposed to see a Capt. Britt. Meanwhile, one private started me on the way to Capt. Britt’s office. The girl there filled out a form and from there I went back to where I started from. Then a corporal showed me the way down to the laboratory, where a young man in white took a tubeful of my blood. They all asked me “Nurse or Waac” and when I said WAAC, they would all grin. I believe all the men in the army think the women’s division is really whacky.

Then I went upstairs and some other young man took me in tow and we went to the Dentist’s, the Eye, Ear and Nose. Then the nurse finally got around to her job and she took me in tow. She gave me a robe and told me to undress, which I did. She was rather nice, and only two weeks in the Army. Came from New York. So then a Lieutenant examined me with a stethescope (I believe that is spelled incorrectly). Before he examined me the nurse weighed me, took my height and measured me for expiration and inhalation, if you know what I mean. My posture was good, so said the Lieutenant.

After the Lieutenant was through I went to have an X-ray of my chest and that was the works. When the nurse first took me in tow, she took or rather had me give her a sample of urin[e] in a jar, which she took down to the lab for a urinalysis.

Finally, I wind up seeing Dr. Britt, who took my blood pressure and signed the completed medical form, and I was through at almost three o’clock. If they had gone at that physical systematically, it wouldn’t have taken more than forty-five minutes.

Everything was ok, and the Lieutenant and the Lieutenant Nurse marveled at my very dark tan, especially the middle of my back.

So I caught the bus back to Syracuse arriving here about 4:15 and came on to the office. I was away since 9:30 but I took part of the time as my afternoon off and I stayed until 7:30 to make up the rest of the time.

No one is wise yet but Lieut. Wilson at the U.S. Army Recruiting Office said he would let me know when to come in to the sworn in, which will be after they receive the physical report, I suppose. Then after that, I am on reserve and may leave in one month or in two months.

Perhaps I am doing a fool thing but the only way to find out is to do it. After all, what good is money today? And I am fed up with the office here in a way. So what if I am doing the same type of work for $21.00 a month. At least I will be doing my part in this War Effort and probably acquire a novel experience, in the bargain.

I am enclosing a picture of a fellow in a recent Hellenic paper. Dena asked that you look him up, if you don’t already know him. We don’t know him from Adam but his people come from the same town our people did! So--o--

The Legionnaires are in town and they sure are going to town. I don’t know why they have a convention. Most of them seem to be foolin’ around all day & night.

Tonight is the parade.

Goldie said today, “I wonder what you have to be to get in the WAAC’s and said if her husband ever went in the Army she would like to join something like that. Then she looked at me with a look that seemed to say “Why don’t you join it? You are just the type. No responsibilities, no cares, etc. I forestalled it by saying “I’ll bet Dena would have a fit if I joined them.”

As I told you, they are very choosy about candidates, picking from the list of candidates that didn’t make the officer’s list.

Well, so long for now. May go to Loew’s tonight to see Friendly Enemies and Shirley Temple in Annie Rooney.

Love from us all, Cathy