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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Letter from Catherine Katopes to Dean and Jimmie, 1943

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Object ID: WV0122.4.009

Description: Katopes describes life at Fort Oglethorpe to her sister and brother-in-law, including her improved living quarters and bathroom facilities, listening to the marching band practice next door to where she works, and a WAAC receiving a disability discharge. Katopes describes the tedious process of processing furloughs, and explains that her responsibilities as first sergeant have kept her from writing.

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 Dean and Jimmie:

I received your letter and it must have crossed mine in the mail explaining why I had not written.

Am still very busy but I took the time off to come and get my hair washed and set.

I now am living in a Cadre room by myself. They just partitioned it off the big squad room and we now have a nice laundry room. Also the latrines are much improved and so are the showers. In fact I am getting to like it here.

I don't remember if I told you that our showers at first were a public affair. One girl could be taking a shower on one side and another on the other side. If you were very modest, you had to wait until it was quiet and take a solitary shower. It happened that when I wanted a shower, I was always there alone except once and then it was convenient in a way because the other girl scrubbed my back and I scrubbed hers. I wish I could remember half the things that happen that are funny--

The weather here has been grand ever since I wrote and said we had rain every day. It has been quite dry.

As soon as I get my work down to a system that is organized, I will be able to enjoy things more down here.

We have a parade every day here when the Trainees (same thing as Basics) go to class in the morning and at noon. They all pass in review before Col. Brown, the commandant of this post and it really is a sight to see.

These kids at first wear their civilian clothes except for their shoes, stockings and wear no hats. Most of them have sport clothes on and they really look quite colorful as they march along.

Today I felt sorry for one WAAC. How she ever got by the physical to get into the Army is beyond me but she had been in an automobile accident about 3 years ago and was all stitched up around her tummy and once in a while she had adhesions whatever they may be but it is something to do with her operations. So she was in the hospital and they have given her a C.D.D. which means Certificate of Disability.

When she was in the barracks of an evening she would gripe about little things and I have heard her say she would get out if she could but now that they can't use her in the WAAC, she doesn't want to go. She is an awfully nice kid, too.

To get back to the band, and the marching, the band lives right next door to our orderly room.

So the band practices most of the day. I don't mind their playing at all except when they come to a part they have to do over and over again.

Am under the drier now and it sure is hot--

Had a letter from our Johnny and one from Georgie Conkis who likes the Army now. He didn't like it at first.

The sketch above is to give you an idea of where I work and live and eat. The food is a whole lot better than the first few days when we got here. Maybe it wasn't the food then but my reaction to a new post.

I have a company clerk who is quite competent which pleases me because I would be sunk if I had one like the girl I had in Des Moines.

By the way she is down here now and her company's first sergeant told me she is in and out of the hospital, especially after doing K.P. I think most of it is in her mind and that she naturally is very lazy (and dirty) and likes to be waited on. I guess she never will get anywhere.

Yesterday we received a girl, who was in my basic company. We call her "Stony" - her name is Stonestreet and she wanted a furlough. So because she wasn't assigned to anything yet we rushed one thru for her and got her off last night. She was so happy. I think she would have hugged me if it wasn't for the fact I was in the office. She kept say Oh Gee Oh Gosh--My I got a furlough.

She was in Motor Transport so when she came to Ft. Oglethorpe after she finished Motor Transport School, they put her and a few other Motor Transport girls into a Hospital Unit. At that time they didn't need Motor Transport girls down here and so they put them where they needed them most.

So she helped to hold the kids arms and swabbed them when they were getting shots etc. She is the prettiest thing too. You have no idea how much time it takes to put thru a furlough. First you have to get their Section's Chief's okay that they can go at that time. Then Battalion Headquarters have to sign the Request for furlough; then it goes to WAAC Headquarters; then to Personnel where it finally is typed up.

Thank goodness all these offices are near us otherwise we couldn't put them thru in a hurry.

One of our cooks, who got her furlough last week, said to me on the day she left, "My mother sure will bless you. She will be glad to see me." She figured that I was responsible for pushing it thru. I suppose I was in a way because I could have let it wait and say I didn't know if it would be thru or not and let things run their normal course, but I did a bit of telephoning and I had Lt. Owen calling one person after another and that night we got three cooks off on furlough.

I'm afraid I won't make a tough first sergeant. Although I did put a couple of girls in their places in a very convincing manner.

I certainly learn a little each day though. This is enough for one letter--Haven't written you a long one since I took this job.

Give my best regards to all.

Love, Cathy

P.S. Tell me when the holidays are, will you? I haven't had a chance to locate a Greek Church. Tried to find a Candy or Ice Cream Shoppe on the main street of Chattanooga but all they had was Legget's and that's all. What a town.