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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Letter from Catherine Katopes to Dena and Jimmie, 3 March 1943

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Object ID: WV0122.4.018

Description: Katopes describes Fort Oglethorpe at length, including details of the barracks, food, the public relations office to which she has been assigned, the daily schedule, and reuniting with acquaintances from Fort Des Moines.

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 Dena and Jimmie:

Am sitting in the PX hairdresser’s waiting room, waiting for my hair to be washed and set.

Just finished a letter to Contillo & George.

I was assigned to Public Relations office and find myself secretary to the Public Relations Officer, a Lt. Madeline Hawes, who comes from Lynn, Mass. Her father is a doctor there. How do I know? I filled out her Bond form today.

She already is well pleased with my work and I have only been there two days. One of the other officers told me so, but I could tell anyway.

After all, sometimes an office calls up Classification for a girl and they never know how capable she will be.

It’s a nice informal office. For instance the Lt. in charge of the Radio Section, who is short and chubby was trying on one of the Sgt’s overcoats (we have three soldiers in the office) and we all howled. It was down to her ankles and when she saluted it really was funny. So after she took the coat off and we stopped talking about our wearing these coats, she said “All right girls, now we have had some fun, you may go back to your loafing.” She is always making cracks--funny ones.

One of the soldiers reminds me of Billy of Newark. He looks a little like him and talks with the same type of accent.

This fort is a very big one and across the way from our barracks there is a high fence. It seems they were building a concentration camp for Jap prisoners. They have evidently given up the idea though.

So far I have only seen the South side of the Post and not much of it. This South side is the “Boom Town” of this Post. The North Side is the older section. This also was a Cavalry Post at one time, just like Fort Des Moines.

I have run into several girls I know already, and about 50 of the girls who graduated in my O.C. class are down here. They were glad to see me and have been pretty nice. Some girls just because of the bars might have been a little superior but not any that I have met so far. Several have asked us to drop in at their barracks to see them.

One girl saw me and yelled “Catherine” twice before I realized she was calling me and I turned around and ran back. Such undignified things to be doing for an officer, ---- calling for me from a porch and I was almost half a block away.

They really have their hands full as officers. They are so very short of officers and down here they allow but two to a company--and they have to do the teaching in classrooms also. Each night they have to gather their materials for a lecture or rather several lectures the next day.

Who knows--maybe I am better off as I am. One girl yesterday came up to me and hugged me--She was one that had been in my company at the Savery. An awfully nice girl. I asked her how come she hadn’t tried for O.C. School and she said nothing doing. After she saw the girls coming down here that didn’t make it, she thought she wouldn’t even attempt it. Besides she said they have to work nearly all day & night and never have time for any fun.

She is secretary to the Commandant of this post. The Commandant is head of the Training Center here and she and others say he is swell.

The food here isn’t as nicely cooked as it was in Des Moines. At least it isn’t in our Mess Hall. I suppose the other Mess Halls may have better cooks. But the food is all right in its way.

One meal a day, they don’t serve butter. And here they don’t have jars of jam or peanut butter on the table all the time.

At that we were pretty spoiled at Des Moines. Especially me. At the Savery Hotel I had a room and private bath. At O.C. School, we were served the best food on the post and plenty of it. (O.C.’s need it because of the strain they live under for six weeks. Besides all that food three times a day, we ate chocolate bars and cookies in between meals.) We had plenty of laundry space and plenty of showers and 4 bathtubs. We had to wait for hot water sometimes.

Down here the latrines (bathrooms to you) are small and aren’t a bit private. There are no shower curtains and no tubs at all. About six wash bowls and one laundry tub in our barracks.

But we will manage okay.

I am finished this letter under the dryer. The operator gave me a good shampoo. She put soap on 3 times and rubbed my head good and hard. The water down here is nice and soft so it will take the dirt out okay.

Today is or rather has been quite cold. Especially for down here. I hated to get up this morning. Finally the girl who sleeps in the upper bunk, pulled the covers away from me and Cutting asked how would I like a cold glass of water. I said, “What for--to drink?”

After I was exposed to the cool air, I didn’t mind getting up. We get up at six and have Reveille at 6:30. Eat at 6:45. Then clean our barracks and go off to work at 8:00 o’clock. Stop work at 11:30 and go back at 1:00 P.M. and work until 4:30. Last night I went back and worked a couple of hours. I imagine I will be working all kinds of hours there, if it is anything like the Des Moines office. One of the girls I know works there and she worked late almost every night.

The office is like a newspaper office. Something going on all the time and it is very informal. One officer is from Rochester, N.Y., a Lt. Meyer and she said to me “That’s a Greek name isn’t it? I said yes. I asked her how she knew and she said she had many Greek friends in Rochester.

One of the girls who went to work there the same day I did is from Schenectady and she used to work in Syracuse at the same Radio Station as Les Bolley. I believe he was on WFBL.

She just finished Basic Training in Des Moines and she was sent down here along with us. She wants to go to OC School and is waiting to hear how she made out in her interview, which she had the day before she left Des Moines.

I haven’t received any mail since we came here. It takes time for it to be forwarded I guess.

Well this is all for now. Regards to all.

Love, Cathy

P.S. I am enclosing my pass book and you can deposit the money order Charlie sent me.

Just made up my income tax and I have to pay $97.00. I shall pay it in quarterly installments.

About the small insurance, I left 3.00 in an envelope in the little drawer for my share which pays me up to Mar 30, 1943. Johnny was to send his, which I gather he did, and Charlie’s you can draw out of his account. Okay?