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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Letter from Constance Phillips to parents, 1945.

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Object ID: WV0082.4.001

Description: Phillips describes her train trip from North Carolina to basic training in Des Moines. She writes of the schedule of her first two days, various tests they are taking including IQ and mechanical aptitude tests, and the DPT shots they were required to take. She describes her life as hectic and is finding she is tougher than she thought.

Creator: Constance Cline Phillips

Biographical Info: Constance Phillips (b. 1924) of Concord, North Carolina, was an X-ray technician in the Women’s Army Corps from 1945 to 1946.

Collection: Constance Cline Phillips 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:

Well, just don't quite know where to begin this little epistle. I know that you must have gotten some of my notes by this time. We had a strange trip up. Rode up in day coach to Asheville - soot and all. Then we got into a pullman about 8 and had a fairly quiet time. I enjoyed that part of it as much as you said I would. I wiggled all right as I slept in a lower with another would be WAC. She's the Barnhardt girl from Concord, 20 years old, worked in Cannon Mills and nice. Gerry, the girl that sat by you, mother, and said that that was a wild bunch for me to be in went with us. The girl, Morrison, that I knew was coming was another. Joyner, the fifth member of our crew was in charge of us. She's around 35, married, lived in Charlotte until she went to Rocky Mt. after she got married. Her husband is 4F, she has no children, and she's what would be North Union at home. We were a somewhat motley crew. But the nicest bunch that came in, if I do say so. Well, I got off track.

When we got in to Cincinnati we got off the pullman and back on to a day coach. There was no time to see anything, but I looked, any how. There were more WAC's on that train. One was very drunk and put on a big exhibition. But we sat quietly and I played cards with a nice little boy that had been in 4 months and was going to Calif. Then we got into Chicago about 4 - we discovered that we were to go on the Rocket, but had to have reservations. Charlotte office had said none necessary, but they were sadly mistaken. Joyner went in and came out with reservations on the Rocket for the ladies lounge. Incidentally we went in one of your Parmalee taxis when we changed stations. Then we got on and rode very comfortably out here. Crossed the Mississippi too late to see it. That, and not seeing Ky, was my only two disappointments. (Grammar has deserted me - also spelling) By that time we'd picked up Smith, a music teacher from Charleston. She's also around 35, very nice.

Well, we got into Des Moines and I wired you. That was some time around 11. Then we waited quite a while and they sent trucks for us. Had a quick trip out and came in and got in bed around 1. Next morning at 5:30 we woke up, dressing, making beds up, and tired,- to put it very nicely. I have more reserve energy than I thought, and never having been exhausted in my life, I was a little amazed that I could go on - and it can be done.

That first day (Saturday) is a slight blur. In the morning we took an IQ test, a mechanical aptitude, typing, etc. Got to lunch ate (tell you about the food later) went back to the barracks and started out again, no time to even wash. I did stop the promenade once. In the middle of the IQ test nature took over and I got special permission to leave. Held up the whole business. After that we marched back and had an orientation talk about who to salute and where to go to church. Then we took our first shots. Diphtheria, typhoid, and tetanus. I asked about tetanus as directed and the doctor said it was toxoid and to go on and take it, which I did. So far no reaction. We take two more typhoid and two more tetanus. At the same time we had a blood test. It's the most beautiful slide technique that I've ever seen. No pain, and with much speed. Then we marched back and had more orientation. Had chow again, demonstration on how to make a brown bed, then we were free. I took my first bath since Wednesday. It felt plenty good. Then we went into the day room and I started this letter but I got sleepy, so at 9:30 I went to bed. Lights go out here at 9:00, and I'm plenty glad. This morning we got up at 6:00. Special Sunday concession. We dressed, made our beds, had chow, demonstration on how to lift weights with an explanation that WAC's do all their own work, came back and filled out some more papers. Then chow again and orientation until 4. Rest period, chow and we were free for the first time. Went to the PX and had a Coke. Came back undressed and started writing. They mail these letters Tuesday afternoon for us.

I took out 10,000 insurance, and $25 war bond, and asked them to send the receipt home to you. That's the story to now. Except for chow, which is excellent, we have much better food than at school. Variety and preparation is better too. We have milk and butter and no limitation. "Eat it, or rub it in your hair" works here too.

Tomorrow we get clothes and move to our permanent barracks. Then it begins in earnest.

Now I guess I've reported enough. I'm enjoying it very much so far. The weather has been good, no snow, and things thaw in the middle of the day. We were issued galoshes, caps, and overcoat immediately. When we get to basic, we return our civilian clothes.

This is a hectic life, but I have a feeling I'll like it. And I'm a great deal tougher then I thought. It's nice consolation. Fact, I may grow up. Will be glad to get GI clothes. Day after tomorrow we have our first inspection. Head of the post and all. We'll spend all tomorrow night scrubbing.

Lights go out in 7 minutes. I must bathe my face and get ready. Your child is prospering.

Love, Babe