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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: WV0082.4.010

Description: Phillips has moved to Camp Atterbury for x-ray school. She notes getting new uniforms, the improved KP duty, her classes, and requests money from her furlough fund to purchase textbooks.

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: Dear Folks -

Well, this is before class time, so I'm loafing and writing to you. Yesterday, as you heard, I went on K.P. and discovered that what I'd been doing at Des Moines was slave labor. Don't think I'd ever told you about KP, as it was rather a touchy subject. But now that I'm out of it, don't mind. We went on at 10:15 am and got off around 9:00 pm. Next morning got up at 5 and worked until 10:15, without break. For a week after we were all whipped. Now we go on at 5:00 am and get off around 6:30 pm, with 1 1/2 hr. breaks in the morning and afternoon. It's much better. In fact it's heavenly. We sunbathed our whole time during breaks, and it was heavenly. Our little x ray literature says that we should spend two afternoons per week in the sun, so I'm going to pray for K.P. The only draw back is the fact that I missed the first of the physics lectures. But last night I was so rested that I was able to copy all the notes, bathe, and get ready for this morning.

It's almost class time but I think I'll start to tell you a little of the camp organization (as much as I know. There are two parts, the camp and the hospital. WACs are not allowed on the camp. We have a men's barracks across the street, and the mess halls are quite close. It's really quite convenient.

Wrote those last two jumbled sentences after the bell rang - I meant the fact that the mess halls are close and convenient. Well, went to my first real class this morning. They really pour it to us. I shall, for the first time, keep completely up, if possible. You know how I've always wanted Physics. Now I'm getting it with both barrels. Not to mention anatomy, and Roentgenographical terminology. Your daughter will emerge from her books, once a month to look at the world. That will probably be to go to the movie or church. I'm a little afraid of these boys. Most of them are straight from overseas and we were warned. Anyway, the first month of x ray is class time, then after that is lab. So I shall stay inside until the first month is up.

I'm much afraid that I shall have to have part of my furlough fund back, as we have several recommended x-ray books, and as long as I'm going to be doing this, it might as well be "whole hog" - so if you'll ship me $10, I'll be pleased,

To show you how we go about the business, I've taken 15 pages of notes in 2 days. When they day that we cover a lot of material in a few months, they're not joking. It's going to be concentrated and streamlined, but the instructors are good, and they know how to make it interesting. I'm very glad to that I got x ray. It's going to be fun when we really get into it. I'm pleased that you saw fit to let your child join the Army. Now that I'm out of basic, there's not so much hurry, and not so much emotional up & down. Being back in school is a good feeling, because I know how to study. Whistle! Here they use whistle signals for falling out.

Now we're waiting for class to begin & roll is being called, so I'll see you -

Later, the same night - We're sitting in the library and I've given my notes a good going over. Now for relaxation I'll tell you what we study. So far we have had classes in Anatomy (learned labeling for my left arm bones, but didn't think I could do it on the right one) and studied terms, most of which were familiar from home or zoology; and shadow formation, and general stuff and Physics. Did you realize that in four months your little daughter will be handling 120,000 volts of electricity? Or, as we pseudo-roentgenologists [sic] would say 120 KV (kilovolts, to the layman). However, from the way they talk, with all the anti-shock equipment, nothing will ever happen to us. As far as protection, eventually we get classes in that. So far it's foundation stuff, but the physics keeps me jumping. I'm sitting with my mouth open every time they start a discussion of electricity. And learning much. Today we had eight hrs. class (everyday, 1/2 of drill, then two hours study hall in the library, which is where I am now. I remember yelling about having 7 hrs. class at school. Now I'm not dead after 10 1/2. And the more one does, the more one can do. Tonight I ventured up to the PX. Two boys asked me for a cigarette, but otherwise I went unmolested. So maybe it's not the guys.

This afternoon we got our first issue of the blue uniform. We're supposed to wear them to class all the time. It will sure save PT dresses and I'm not going to send anything to the laundry this month for many reasons. We have PW's working all over the camp and they run the laundry. The shirts that I have seen are not too beautiful, so I guess I'll learn the gentle art. Then next mo., I'll spend $1.80. That's mighty inexpensive laundry, incidentally.

On third thought, you'd better send me $15 as sis' birthday comes up before pay day. Thank you for acting as a bank. Unfortunately, I cannot save as much money as I once could. I miss the income that photography once provided. Also, I can't just walk into "Mr. Ephrahams" and pick up the things like I used to.

It's been very warm here. We don't get into summer clothes until May 15th and by that time we'll all be ready, no doubt. We get two tropical blouses and skirts, a summer off-duty dress, three khaki skirts, and hats to match, so your daughter will be well clothed.

Now I must get back to physics. After all I want a rating of excellent in this course, and if studying will get it, I Cline will be there.

Parents, behave yourself and so shall I.

Love, Babe