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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Letter from Catherine Katopes to family, 1943

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Object ID: WV0122.4.026

Description: Katopes discusses the relaxed atmosphere of her new base in Memphis; male soldier's response to WACs; the layout of the base hospital; and the patients.

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, Dean and Jimmie, and Johnny:

As I walk along the walks here on this post, I wonder if Fate actually takes a hand in our lives. I know that the camp at Oregon couldn't possibly begin to compare with this place. This place as one soldier put it to me is a “Boy Scout Camp” or rather run like one. He said that compared to the soldier's life in the field, the comparison was like night is to day. And I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he isn't right.

The place is full and overflowing with “brass”. Dean, that means commissioned officers. Many of these are medical men who have had very little military training and who usually are surprised to see a WAC salute them. My gosh, but the majors and captains that you run into. Second louie's are just insignificant around here. And as for military atmosphere there isn't too much of it—perhaps because almost everything here can be accomplished by staying indoors, and when indoors you don't salute.

When the Classification Officers at Ft. Oglethorpe said I was “damn lucky” to go out into a field job to a company being activated, she didn't know how lucky I was. To get a nice C.O., to be in this lovely place. You know how I like fresh air. Well we are about ten miles from town and about three miles from the airport. The air is exhilarating.

I am still excited about the whole thing—you know that feeling you get—like butterflies in your tummy. Maybe I shouldn't be happy about the thing because then something might happen and I might not be here, etc. Like the Chinese, I should say “it's all right” when I actually mean It's grand.

This hospital is beautifully laid out. There are two sections. You can go anywhere in each section without going outdoors. And oh everything is so clean. And the food! They feed us here on garrison rations. Dean and Jimmie this means that the Mess Officer can buy his own food, and doesn't have to take what Washington sends him. I guess they have to buy their own food because they have all kinds of patients to feed and they have to have particular diets.

There are as I may have mentioned many patients here, enlisted men and officers, and almost all from overseas duties. Also some of the men in the Medical Detachment that would around the post have seen service at Guadacanal.

We are being treated so nice, and my only bugbear is that maybe one WAC might spoil it for the rest of them. I'll break her neck if I ever catch one that will. Of course I won't but I'm in favor of clamping down on the first girl that makes a break to spoil it for the rest.

The first day I was here as I came along the walk, I saw a lovely bluebird, and such a pretty color. Who was it that said the bluebird signified happiness or something? Anyway I am sure I am glad that I didn't go to Oregon.

I love you and wish you all a happy new year and may peace be the only thing that people wish for.

Love, Cathy