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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Letter from Catherine Katopes to family, 20 Nov 1943

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Object ID: WV0122.4.011

Description: Katopes writes that Washington still has not assigned her anywhere, and mentions several things she hopes for in her next assignment. She provides Johnny with advice on being promoted in the Army, and notes that some stripes are earned while others are not. She inquires after Charlie who is stationed in Africa. She describes the USO show she attended as being geared more towards male audience members.

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:

Letter #13

Dear Charlie, Dean and Jimmie, and Johnnie:

Isn't this wonderful? I wrote two letters yesterday and here's another today. Next one will probably be written on Monday.

Am still around unassigned. Maybe one of these days, Washington will shake its head and wake up and assign me. I really kind of look forward to where I might be sent. A few thinks that I hope for and one is that my C.O. will be someone I know and like, that I might know some of the girls there, that it will not be located in the southeast. Just a few things but I really don't care. Wherever I go, I will be too busy to mind about anything except a C.O. who might not be to my liking. However, I have learned beautifully to keep my own ideas to myself in the long time I have been First Sergeant. You see, I can't go around voicing my opinions of officers if I don't approve of them--it wouldn't be good for the morale of my company. Therefore, I just don't say anything or if I do talk, I say a lot of words with nothing behind them.

However, the girls weren't too hesitant about telling me what they thought of the officers, which come to think of it, shows they trusted me because there are some people who would run and tell anything like that out of pure meanness.

Well, Johnny, have you received that Corporal rating yet? I wouldn't mind so much about it if I were you. I don't know how you go about your work but here are pieces of advice that I have learned from observing WACs at work. They are just the same as soldiers and their minds work in the same way.

One, is that a little griping is only natural to a soldier. In your griping, however, never make fun of anyone or belittle them. If you have to, make fun of yourself. Do whatever job you have with willingness and immediately. Be alert about it. You may not think so but it is all noticed. If you don't like the work you are doing, do it well. It is the quickest way to get out of doing that job. This may sound funny because you would say that if you did such a job well, the officer in charge would like to keep you because he was satisfied with the work. That may be so but when an officer is so well satisfied and likes you, he will be the first one to recommend you for something that you might have set your heart on. Remember one thing. If you do happen to stay a Pfc for the duration plus, you will be a lot happier as a soldier than you would as a civilian. What is there to do as a civilian except work in a defense plant and make a lot of money, which you have to turn around and spend most of it in order to live, especially with taxes, etc, taken out. So if your rating doesn't come through by the first of December, just forget about it and make a resolution to do the best you can regardless of the stripes on your arm. If I could, I would be glad to give you a couple of mine because I really think you deserve them in the work you are doing, but the Army never figures things our the way we want it to. Continued.

Hello again.

My but I am long-winded. Well, Johnny, that's all I can offer in the way of advice but I have seen how and why they hand out stripes. I have even recommended in an unofficial way stripes for a girl or two who seemed to be working away awfully hard at her job and no recognition made of it. I always believe in a fair deal. Here in the WAC we have girls who used to get ratings that many of us believed didn't actually deserve them but you have that too in the men's Army. That cannot be helped. There are people in the Army wearing stripes that should be wearing bars. While I feel so full of advice, here's another bit. Act as you think a person with stripes should act (none of this pulling rank business either) and before you know it, you might find yourself with some.

Well, Charlie, is T/Sgt the highest you can go in your field. I kind of think that is the highest you can go in Supply. You never have told me what you are still doing in Africa so it must be a deep dark secret. Well, never you mind, the more you don't write about, the more we will have to talk about when we meet, though who will want to talk about the war after it is over except when G.I. meets G.I. is beyond me.

It is Saturday and almost noon. The Officer Candidates have just left the theatre across the street. Rather the graduating class did. They looked so nice in their pink skirts, etc.

Last night we were at a USO show and my gosh were some of the jokes raw. I guess the program was worked out for a male audience. One joke was pretty bad and it would have been all right except some moron of a WAC (there were soldiers, male, in the theatre, too) kept laughing hilariously, and so the actor kept emphasizing the joke. I bet there were some red faces in the audience. We never would have gone to the show but the C.O. of the company where we live requested that we go. Otherwise the USO show wouldn't have much of an audience I am afraid. They just don't appeal to the girls on this post for one reason or other. And to top it all, we know that a C.O. has no right whatsoever to make recreation compulsory, but we went nevertheless. There were five of us and we had more fun being together than the show's offering. There was one pretty blonde girl who did a tap dance that was really good. She was a bit shy and she was sweet looking--not a bit the theatrical type. I guess the fact that she did such a good dancing is what got her the job.

Must go home to lunch, so au revoir,

Love, Cathy