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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Margaret Marian Smith, 1999

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Object ID: WV0036.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Margaret Marion Smith’s service with the War Department and Marine Corps Women’s Reserve from 1943 to 1947 and work at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) from 1963 through circa 1994.

Summary:

Smith primarily discusses her experiences as an aide in the Pentagon from 1943 to 1947. She recalls her assignment to the U.S. War Department and her duties with its Department of Civilian Retirement Records. She then describes basic training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, especially the drilling, marching, weather, classes, clothing, and the death of Franklin Roosevelt while she was stationed there.

Smith describes her work at the Pentagon in detail, including her impressions of Marine Commandant Gen. Alexander Archer Vandegriftt, her duties for him, Pentagon security and its Map Room, and life in the Marine barracks at Henderson Hall. Of particular interest are Smith’s many run-ins with famous people; this includes meeting Eleanor and Elliot Roosevelt at the White House as an errand, having dinner at the home of famous socialite and owner of the Hope diamond Evalyn Walsh McLean, and bobsledding with actor Jimmy Stewart in Pennsylvania while he was on leave. Smith also recalls attending the 1945 New York City Easter Parade and the VE and VJ Day celebrations in Washington, DC. Other significant war-related topics include the Marine uniform and post-war fashion, Smith’s experience as a model for uniforms and recruiting posters, attitudes toward women in the military, and the experiences of her husband, Mays Smith, as a POW in Germany during WWII.

Smith also discusses her experiences working at UNCG from 1963 through the early 1990s. She compares her impressions of chancellors Otis Singletary, James Ferguson, and William Moran and her work with the Office of the Chancellor and the School of Business. Other notable topics include protests and social unrest during the 1960s, a facilities shortage, “adopting” UNCG students, and lingering attitudes towards the college going coed in 1963.

Creator: Margaret Marian Smith Smith

Biographical Info: Margaret Marian Smith (b. 1925) of Anderson, South Carolina, worked in the War Department from 1943 to 1945, and then served as an aide to General Alexander Archer Vandegriftt, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, as a member of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve from 1945 to 1946. Smith later worked for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) from 1963 to 1994 as an assistant to the chancellor.

Collection: Margaret Marian Smith 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:

HT:

Today is February 11, 1999. I'm at the home of Margaret Smith in Greensboro, North Carolina, to conduct an interview for the Women Veterans Collection. Mrs. Smith, if you would say a couple of words to make sure this is working properly. If you'll give me your maiden name, the branch of the service that you served in in World War II, and your service dates?

MS:

My maiden name was Smith. I was Margaret Marian Smith, and I enlisted in the Marine Corps on the 13th of February 1945, and served until 19th of June in 1946.

HT:

Thank you.

[tape paused]

HT:

Mrs. Smith, thank you so much for meeting with me this afternoon. I really appreciate it. Could you tell me where you were born and where you grew up and where you attended high school?

MS:

I was born in Anderson County, South Carolina, in 1925, and went to school in Anderson County. My parents lived in the country and I was raised on a farm in a wonderful community, and grew up learning about the service from visitors that came to visit my mother since she was an army nurse in World War I.

HT:

Could you tell me a little bit about your mother, who served in World War I?

MS:

She was a nurse and enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in World War I and was assigned to the Army Air Force. She served at Call Field [El Paso] and Love Field [Dallas], both in Texas, and we had doctors and nurses who came and sat on the big front porch at our house and talked, and that brought about an interest in me in the camaraderie that service people developed.

HT:

Do you recall any particular stories that your mother told you about her time in service, where did she serve, and the type of work she did?

MS:

It's hard to remember some of those things, but they had—Most of the people who were at Call Field and Love Field were there for only a short period of time, except the staff. Soldiers coming through were not there for very long at a time, so I think the staff became closer because they were the only ones who they got to know really well. And just the usual. There were very few real crises, a lot of shots and a lot of just normal illnesses that they had. But my mother was a very dedicated nurse all of her life. She did not have a job at a hospital or a doctor's office when I was little, but many nights I remember a car coming in in the middle of the night, and we knew Mother would not be there for breakfast the next morning and we'd have to shuffle on our own, because so many people came to get her. She was always very much in demand because she was a caring person.

HT:

So was she a nurse prior to World War I, and then afterwards as well?

MS:

Yes, she was trained at Scott and White Sanitarium/Sanitorium, I'm not sure which, in Temple, Texas, and worked for a number of years in Dallas at the hospital, and as a private-duty nurse, and then enlisted when World War I came along.

HT:

I can't remember, did you tell me where you went to high school?

MS:

I went to high school in Anderson County, South Carolina.

HT:

What was the name of the school?

MS:

Lebanon, L-e-b-a-n-o-n, High School.

HT:

And did you go to college after that?

MS:

Yes, I went to Anderson College.

HT:

And that was in South Carolina as well?

MS:

In Anderson, South Carolina.

HT: And what type of courses did you take there?
MS:

World War II started in December of my freshman year, and that changed everybody's thinking so much that I changed my major. I had started out in liberal arts, but I changed to a business program after that and completed the business program.

HT:

And then after—?

MS:

And after that? Well, almost everybody took a Civil Service Exam. That was almost routine in those days to take a Civil Service Exam after graduation, and I was appointed to the War Department in Washington [D.C.], and went there in June of 1943.

HT:

And what type of work did you do there?

MS:

I worked for the Department of Civilian Retirement Records, probably the dullest job anybody could ever have. But I made a game of competing with this bookkeeping machine, a huge thing, and won a commendation from General [James] Ulio for production because I worked at that machine so diligently. [chuckling] But that made it bearable for me. But that branch, fortunately, was transferred to St. Louis, Missouri, and I did not want to go with that branch, so I was transferred to Decorations and Awards Branch [of the War Department].

HT:

And was that job better than the other one?

MS:

It was. Certainly more interesting. And I was secretary to the department head. One of the most interesting aspects of it was a general, General Emmett Adams, who had been recalled to active duty and served as president of the Decorations Board. He had had a daughter who had not lived, I think she died when she was nineteen, and I was about that age at the time, and somehow—I was tall, and reminded him of his daughter. And each time we had a medal that had to be engraved in a big rush, he'd slip in and ask me if I'd like to ride over town. We kept a bus pass, and I would take the medal and I would shop at Woodward and Lothrop while the engraver just behind Woodward and Lothrop engraved the medal, then I'd pick it up and go back. Which was an interesting thing. And during the war, foreign delegations who came to this country were given a Legion of Merit or something each time they came. Before they left, that was just something that had to be done, and usually they had to be engraved. Some very unusual names that I had to very carefully verify before I took them over. General Adams wrote a recommendation for me, unsolicited, when I decided to enlist in the Marine Corps. And that may have had something to do with the assignment that I had once I finished boot camp and went back to Washington.

HT:

When you worked for General Adams, in which building was this?

MS:

This was in—well, we started in Munitions Building, but then that whole department was transferred to the Pentagon. And of course the Pentagon was new.

HT:

How was the Pentagon in those days, do you recall?

MS:

It was a very interesting place to be. The most confusing—Everybody got lost when they first went there. But once you learned the system and how to read the—If you had the office number, the key to it was all there; and once you learned how, then you never got lost again.

HT:

I understand it's just a massive building.

MS:

Oh, it is, it is. Five rings, five floors, a basement and a sub-basement. But once you learned how all that was keyed, then you could make it fine. But it was a terribly interesting place. I remember once I was sent to General [George C.] Marshall's office, who was chief of staff, for a signature on something that had to be done. And to my amazement, they ushered me into his office. Most of the time someone would take it, take it in and get it signed. But they ushered me in, and that was—Of course I saw him at times in the building, but that was my only official contact with General Marshall. [chuckling]

HT:

So you actually got to meet him?

MS:

Yes, I did.

HT:

Did you shake hands with him or anything?

MS:

I did, I did. He was a very grandfatherly fellow, to me, since I was quite young.

HT:

I imagine it was quite thrilling.

MS:

It was

.
HT:

In those days, where did you live in Washington?

MS:

I lived in Arlington [Virginia].

HT:

So commuting was not a problem?

MS:

It was not. You know, there was so much public transportation then, and since the Pentagon was in Arlington, that made it very nice. And then after—Well, I'm getting ahead of myself perhaps.

HT:

Well, you said you worked with General Adams. What made you decide to join one of the services, and what made you pick the Marine Corps?

MS:

You know, that's a hard question because I was truly not interested in any of the other services. That one just was an interesting one to me. I had wanted to enlist, but since I was not old enough until I was twenty—And amazingly, at the age of twenty women had to have parents' permission. My parents weren't too keen at first, but since Mother had been in service they came across and did sign. I was twenty on the 17th of January in '45, and then was able to enlist the 13th of February that year.

HT:

So you did not have your parents' signature? You didn't need it then?

MS:

I did. No, I had to have it. You had to be twenty to have parents' signature, and I was twenty in January and enlisted in February.

HT:

I see. And you said your parents were not so keen at first. But your mother had been in the service, so she probably—You probably won her over first. What about your dad?

MS:

Went along with my mom. [laughter]

HT:

What did your friends and siblings and co-workers think about you joining?

MS:

The only comment I remember is that I had always been an independent, and liked to do things that were maybe a little different. But I didn't consider it to be daring. I really felt, being in Washington, I knew there was a great need for replacements, because nearly every woman in service who was assigned to Washington actually released a man who could go overseas.

HT:

So you think that's one of the reasons you probably went?

MS:

That had a great deal to do with it.

HT:

Did you have any bad feelings about possibly sending a man into combat and possibly being killed?

MS:

Well, we all were concerned about casualties, and particularly since I had been in Decorations and Awards I was very aware of casualties. We had so many posthumous awards and all, but it was a war that had to be won. I think I would have been perfectly willing to go overseas if women could have done so. Now they did send women overseas, even in the Marine Corps, but the last group that went over, that I knew some of the girls, went to Hawaii. And the war ended so quickly that—So they sent only very few after I enlisted overseas. I felt a great deal of patriotic duty, and I had no brothers, so—

HT:

So were you the only child then?

MS:

No, I had two sisters.

HT:

Two sisters? But they did not join?

MS:

No, neither one in service.

HT:

Do you remember anything in particular about your first day in boot camp?

MS:

I remember the trip from Union Station in Washington down to Camp Lejeune [North Carolina] very vividly. We did not leave Washington until almost night, and the train stopped in Richmond [Virginia] and we were given hot cocoa and doughnuts by the Red Cross. [laughter] But when we got to—The trains were horribly slow. They had to get off on a siding in order to let troop trains through, even though this was a troop train. But I was on the top bunk because I was tall. You go up, and the crack in the top of the car, there was a crack you could see the stars through, and it shifted all night long and kind of rubbed together, and cinders fell in my face. When I got up the next morning and went in and could see what I looked like, I could not wash my face fast enough. And when we got to Camp Lejeune—Well, actually we got off the train in Warsaw, North Carolina, and had to ride buses on to Camp Lejeune. And all I could think of was a shower and wash my hair, because it was just so full of cinders. I was miserable! [chuckling] But the day finally ended and we were able to get the showers and the hair washed.

The first thing we did was have just a battery of tests, and that was to determine where we would eventually—where our interests were and so forth. Boot camp was very interesting. Of course, we didn't have the same type of boot camp that they had, but we did have to learn to march and to drill. And what a straggly bunch we were until we finally got uniforms. [chuckling] The first two weeks we had no sign of a uniform, the second two weeks we had hats only. We still were a bedraggled bunch! But then the last two weeks of our six-weeks boot camp we had full uniforms and we began to look like a group that could march and look decent. But I was so tall and thin that I did not get a trench coat until just before I left. So I got wet several times because I didn't have a trench coat. But I was a size 10 extra-extra-tall, and they had to special-order a trench coat for me.

HT:

And what about boots? Did you have boots during all that marching?

MS:

No, we were instructed before we left to purchase brown leather walking shoes and brown leather pumps, and that's what we wore, the walking shoes, for all of our marching and so forth.

HT:

Did you ever have drills with guns and that sort of thing?

MS:

No. We did in boot camp go out in a Higgins boat.

HT:

And what is that?

MS:

That was a flat-bottomed boat that you probably have seen in movies that moved and the whole front drops down and everybody gets out. We did go across New River and had to get out of that boat, and here is when I really missed that trench coat that I didn't have.

HT:

And did you have full battle gear on?

MS:

No, we didn't have—They were all wearing—Most of them were wearing—This was in the last two weeks of camp and the others were wearing their trench coats, and I simply didn't have one. I had a jacket that was somewhat waterproof of my own, and they permitted me to put that around me. But our hats had the covers over them. This was just to give us some idea of what the guys went through. But we had classes the entire time.

HT:

Oh, did you?

MS:

Yes.

HT:

And you marched to classes, I guess, and that sort of thing?

MS:

We did, we marched everywhere.

HT:

Did you ever have any spare time?

MS:

Very little, really. It was, of course, not mandatory, but we did go to church service, most of us, on Sunday morning, and of course it was interdenominational. And we marched to church and we marched back. And a little free time on Sunday afternoon, and usually that time was spent writing letters. We didn't get much news, but [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt died while I was in boot camp.

HT:

And how did everyone take it, do you recall?

MS:

I don't think there was a dry eye in the barracks that night. We had all had shots in each arm that day, and we were aching, and then we got that news, and it was—it was difficult. We really felt—everybody wondered, “Who is [President] Harry Truman?” We felt that we knew very little about the man. I guess that was the most significant thing that happened while I was in boot camp that made a really great impression. But we did not have radios, so the only news we got is if some of our officers in the company passed along some news. And usually that was done when we were standing in formation before we left the barracks to march to the mess hall.

HT:

Speaking of officers, did you have all female officers, or was it a mix?

MS:

Yes, we had male drill instructors, but other than that it was female.

HT:

And were the female officers as tough as the male officers?

MS:

They tried to be.

HT:

Because the Marines, of course, are noted for being tough.

MS:

Yeah. They tried pretty hard, and some of them were able to carry it off. Others it was not normal for them, and you could tell. But it was a good experience for me. A number of girls didn't make it, for various reasons. If you dropped below eighty-five pounds they sent you home. I know one young lady—and her name was Roberta Rice—who had difficulty with dexterity, so that she was not able—when we were out with calisthenics and other things, she was really not able to manage. And I don't think I've ever felt any sorrier for anybody than I did for her when they told her that they were going to have to send her home. She was heartbroken. She really wanted to be in service. So a few people did have to leave. I was one of the three tallest in our company and so I was a squad leader. You were assigned the tallest, and the shortest was at the end of the line. I wasn't too happy about that. There was more responsibility. I had to listen to instructions of the drill sergeants. The others could kind of follow, but it was—But you know, it was just one of those things.

HT:

Do you recall what the food was like?

MS:

We were always so hungry that it was pretty good. But there was no time, there were no—really not much opportunity for snacks of any kind, so that at mealtime you were truly hungry. You got up early and—We thought the food was pretty good.

HT:

What was a typical day like, and what time did you get up and what time did you go to bed?

MS:

In boot camp, I believe we were up and had to be at the mess hall at 6:00. And then we had barracks duty, you know, clean the barracks, and our shoes had to all be tied, and every button buttoned. Even the lockers that we had were inspected, so everything had to be in its place. Then by eight o'clock we started classes, and all manner of classes. Some of them on the military, Marine Corps in particular, just accounting—Most of us knew something about—We already typed, but there were girls who took typing who never learned to type. You know, for a period of time they learned what they could. We had business English, many things for those of us who they thought—And then some of the girls who had an interest in mechanics and other things, who eventually were in the Transportation Corps, they had those types of classes. So there were all sorts of things going on.

HT:

And after you left boot camp, where were you stationed next?

MS:

I was sent directly back to Washington.

HT:

And where did you work?

MS:

Interesting.

HT:

Are you allowed to tell?

MS:

Yes. The contingent of us, part of the group was sent to Camp Pendleton [California] and the rest of us were all sent back to Washington. We assembled after we got there in an auditorium at Henderson Hall [Arlington, Virginia], which was across from the Navy Annex [Building], within sight of the Pentagon almost. They assembled us in the auditorium and told us they had one job they were going to fill first, and they called out thirty names, of which mine was one of them, for interviews. After those interviews, they took ten of us across the street to Navy Annex, which was the headquarters, where the office of headquarters was, and we were interviewed there by the commandant's secretary, Colonel Burger. And I got the job. I didn't know what—I was not told anything about it until after we'd met Colonel Burger. I was assigned to the commandant's office, and the commandant was General Alexander Archer Vandegriftt.

HT:

He was commandant of the Marine Corps?

MS:

The Marine Corps.

HT:

The top man?

MS:

Yes.

HT:

How did that make you feel?

MS:

[chuckling] Bewildered. Very.

HT:

And so you were his aide and secretary, I guess?

MS:

We were—Actually, I guess the best word was the liaison office. Every piece of mail, every newspaper, every magazine that went into his office was logged into a permanent log. And I have legible handwriting, and that probably had as much to do with my being assigned that job as anything else. But it was a very interesting and wonderful assignment, really. I met people who came to the office. We had three girls in our office, and one of them was actually—She moved the mail from one desk to each—The commandant had a number of aides, he had a military aide and a—There were junior and senior aides, associate commandant, a number of generals in the office. One of the—well, a junior aide, was Colonel John Masters from Anderson County, South Carolina, and he was quite short. And since I was so tall, we took a lot of ribbing about [chuckling] the differences in our height. But he would laugh and say he was from Mountain Creek [South Carolina] and I was from Sandy Springs [South Carolina], which was a little place not too far from where I lived. We were teased a lot, but it was fun. He was a nice fellow. My husband had gone to high school with his brother. Of course he was not my husband at that time, but there were a lot of connections we could make.

HT:

And how long did you work in that office?

MS:

The entire time I was in the Marine Corps.

HT:

And you said you met some interesting people. Do you recall anyone specifically?

MS:

Generals from the field who would come in. The Map Room was a part of the commandant's complex, and the pictures that came in on the wire, I remember seeing the Iwo Jima picture when it was really new. Of course, I was not—I had no reason to go in there just impromptu, but there were times that I needed to go in when there was a meeting going on, to take something or to give a message or something of that nature. But I think one of the most interesting things that was in the commandant's office at that time was a signature machine.

HT:

What is that?

MS:

General Vandegriftt actually sat down at this machine and signed his name with a device that could copy it.

HT:

And he would make multiple signatures at one time?

MS:

Well, that machine was—There was a sergeant, Mary Chuick, who was in charge—C-h-u-i-c-k—and this was her responsibility, where there were many, many copies of things that needed an original signature. The only thing was, each one was exactly alike. You know, you could have put one over the other. The device actually used ink to sign. That was the forerunner of some of the other things, because we didn't have copy machines and things back then. I'm sure there were others in Washington who had those, but that's the only one I ever had any experience with. Now, most letters he signed individually, but there were many, many things that were sent in to Mary from him.

HT:

I guess the quantity was just so huge that he would have gotten writer's cramp if he tried to sign all those.

MS:

Oh yes, he was a busy, busy fellow. One of the things that we had to do when I first went to the office was there was no dining room for the Marine officers. If they went to the dining room, they had to go to the Navy Department, the admirals' dining room. So, rather than leave—because it was a time when people worked very long hours and they didn't leave their desk for a meal a great deal of the time. So each day one of us would go in and find out what they wanted from the dining room, and we actually went to the admirals dining room, to the kitchen area, and they prepared the order for the Marine officers and we took it back then and they ate at their desks. But while I was there, they assigned a Marine cook, someone who had some experience, and actually set up a dining area. So we were glad to be relieved of that particular chore.

HT:

Now, you were in the Marines toward the end of the war, so I guess that was a very, very hectic time.

MS:

It was, it was very hectic. Of course, the war in Europe ended very shortly after I got there. In fact, I don't think I was assigned to a job when the war in Europe ended. It didn't mean a great deal to me, but they said “open liberty.” I mean, you didn't have to be in by midnight the day that the war ended in Europe. And everybody went to downtown Washington. The buses couldn't move because of the multitude of people. [chuckling] It was quite a celebration.

HT:

Was it a bigger celebration than VJ [Victory in Japan] Day, or do you recall?

MS:

Not bigger, but it was almost the same, as I saw it. The multitude of people, everybody just celebrating, just really getting out and—The pictures that you saw in Life magazine of the guys kissing the girls—believe me, that happened. Everybody was just so happy, it made no difference who it was. [laughter]

HT:

Did anything special happen to you?

MS:

I can't remember. It was just a celebration like I never saw before, except for the two, VE [Victory in Europe] Day and VJ Day. I'm sure young people now wouldn't—they couldn't visualize that. I've often thought about the fact that I was in Washington, and I wasn't uneasy about being out. It was a time when you were not afraid. I'm sorry that time is not still with us.

HT:

And where did you live when you worked for the commandant of the Marine Corps?

MS:

Across the street, in Henderson Hall, which was women's Marine barracks.

HT:

Oh, it was a barracks?

MS:

Yeah.

HT:

Anything exciting happen while you were there?

MS:

I had no barracks duty, by order of the secretary to the Marine Corps, because I had to go in in the mornings. It was part of my duty to go in at 7:00, and the normal office hours began at 8:00. But nobody went in the commandant's office to clean unless there was a staff person there, so that was my job.

HT:

So you sort of oversaw that?

MS:

Yeah.

HT:

Make sure it was done properly?

MS:

Yeah, they could not go in until 7:00 in the morning when I got there.

HT:

And so what was a typical day like?

MS:

Well, we had a lot of telephone—The telephone was a big portion of what we did. We had a lot of calls from members of Congress, inquiring about letters that they had sent, status of things that the commandant had that he was studying, and requests from them from constituents in their home areas, and so our office was—We could tell from our logs where things were, because we kept a running list of where things were, what status, and when they were finally signed, then the date was put in that it was signed. So that was a big portion of it, was the contact with—And it was usually the congressmen themselves who called, not someone in their office, so I talked to many, many congressmen in that time. And of course being very careful that things were logged and kept up-to-date, that was an imperative thing. And we tried to do the best that we could to make sure that things were. And I cannot remember any—I'm sure mistakes were made, but I can't remember any real glitches that happened.

HT:

Were you able to leave at five o'clock, or was there quite a bit of overtime?

MS:

As a general rule I was able to leave by 6:00, some at 5:00, but usually my day would go—We usually did not leave until the office staff left. And one thing that was different in our office was we were—if there was going to be a change of uniform, we were told the night before. In other words, General Vandegrift, I remember specifically, gave the graduation address at the Naval Academy. So on that day he wore whites. Well, everybody in his office had to wear white when he was wearing whites.

HT:

Why was that?

MS:

Just military custom. So all of us were told the day before that we should wear dress uniform. Now in the winter we wore the same. Now, the men had dress uniforms, women did not. But during the war, wintertime dress uniforms were only used for parade or a very rare occasion. Of course, now you see the dress uniforms in a lot of recruiting posters and other things, the men's dress uniforms. But we had seersuckers that we wore in the summers, and whites.

HT:

And what was the color of the winter uniform?

MS:

It was the olive.

HT:

Olive? Very much like the WAC [Women's Army Corps] and the army?

MS:

The men. Well, ours was greener.

HT:

Greener?

MS:

Yeah, just a little bit more green than the army. The army's was browner. But we wore red wool scarves, and of course khaki shirts, as the men did. Now, we did not wear shirts. Our uniform blouse was a short-sleeved blouse, and we had solid green hats—the overseas as well as the billed hats—and we had brown shoulder bags, and for the summer we had green covers and straps. We were really dressed up in whites. [laughter] It was kind of fun, but it was hard to keep them clean.

HT:

I imagine it was.

MS:

That was just an occasional thing, but it did happen, and we always stuck out like a sore thumb when we had to wear whites, and others in the building, of course, weren't wearing whites, so you felt a little uneasy, some of the looks you got. [chuckling] And foreign dignitaries who came over—Of course, we were visited by members of Congress and occasionally prominent people in the country, from Hollywood occasionally, for some reason would come. And the word always go around. Of course, they didn't always come to the commandant's office, but wherever they were, we usually heard about it. But it was a time that I look back on and I enjoyed it.

HT:

It sounds like you really did.

MS:

It was not a long enough time to be—I knew some girls who had been in so long they were really tired. They were tired of being in one place, you know? My son was that way when he was in Coast Guard. He didn't like the fact that he was there and he couldn't leave and go where he wanted to go. So some of them had that feeling, and some of them got awfully tired of wearing the uniform. But I had it long enough, I thoroughly enjoyed it. As long as it was clean, you felt well-dressed.

HT:

I know the navy uniforms were designed by a fashion designer out of New York. Were your uniforms designed by anybody famous, or—?

MS:

You know, I've forgotten who it is. They were, but I have forgotten.

HT:

I've talked to several WACs and they said their uniforms were not as fashionable as the WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service—Navy] uniform—

[End Tape 1, Side A—Begin Tape 1, Side B]

HT:

How many different types of uniforms did you have, do you recall? You mentioned a summer uniform earlier and a winter uniform.

MS:

We had the green and white striped seersucker, which was a routine uniform, and the whites for dress; and in the wintertime we had the wool skirt and jacket and khaki shirts, and we had the wool pants, and could buy field jackets, which were khaki, zipper jackets, a lot like the men wore. But that was not a requirement, it was available. But we usually wore that because we were not supposed to be out of uniform at any time.

HT:

So you could not wear civilian clothes?

MS:

No, were not supposed to.

HT:

Even on a date or something like?

MS:

No. No, you were supposed to wear a uniform at all times.

HT:

Twenty-four hours a day?

MS:

Well, not twenty-four hours a day, but—[laughter] Except when we were sleeping. But one interesting thing about the uniforms, occasionally, usually after the uniform changed—and everybody changed from winter to summer at the same time—and when I left boot camp we had changed to summer uniforms. I got to Washington and they were still in winter uniforms, so I had to switch back. And then when they changed, then I changed again. But usually within a week or so after a uniform change they'd have a—in Washington anyway, they'd have a fashion show at the auditorium where we all assembled. And Garfinkles in Washington—

HT:

Is that a department store?

MS:

A department store. They would come out and they would bring some clothes that were fashionable of the day and let some of the girls model those. But I was always picked to wear the uniform in the right way. And the lady from Garfinkles would have some of them dress up in really outrageous combinations of things as a uniform, as the wrong way, but she invariably had me wear mine the right way. [laughter] But it was fun to see, to see how she operated and how they did.

Interestingly enough, when the last time that they had one of those that I was there, she knew that several of us were being discharged, and we were each given a dress from Garfinkles.

HT:

A civilian dress?

MS:

Yes, because we were going to be discharged. Because we had usually helped with the—I'm not sure how I ever got on the list to work with those things, but somehow I was included in the group. It was kind of fun to do.

HT:

So you were a runway model.

MS:

Sort of, yes. [laughter] That had me a bit interested in modeling, and I noticed on some of these papers that I had here it said that I was interested in business but also interested in modeling when I was discharged. [chuckling] And that was where that came from.

HT:

I think I mentioned earlier that it sounded like you really enjoyed your work. Do you think you were treated equally with men in the same position as you? Or were there any men in that position?

MS:

There were no men there when I was there. In that particular office there had been men. As far as I felt, I never felt that I was in any way not treated well. General Vandegrift always had some difficulty. He was so accustomed to having men, and sometimes his language was not as pure as—[chuckling] And then when he realized there were women around, he was always embarrassed. I know I had a friend in the Navy who used to kid me a lot, and he said, “Well, you know the [U.S.] Army's got its mule and the [U.S.] Navy's got its Marines.” [laughter] But General Vandegrift was just not—he was accustomed to being around men. It was hard for him. But he was very gracious, very gracious, and I enjoyed knowing him.

HT:

Did you ever run across any kind of discrimination because you were a woman, in your duties?

MS:

You know, women's lib[eration] was way in the future from then. I didn't feel uncomfortable in any way, and I don't supposed it really occurred to me to compare at the time. I thoroughly enjoyed my association with the people that I did. I never had any problem of being harassed. It was just good duty, as far as I was concerned.

HT:

Did you ever have any embarrassing moments, or they could be funny, hilarious—?

MS:

I'm sure there were. We had a general who came to headquarters from the South Pacific, and he had an aide who hung around in my office quite a lot. And somehow we got the hair-brained notion that maybe we could hop a Marine flight somewhere, and when they discovered us they'd make us come back. But we got caught. I guess that was my most embarrassing thing.

HT:

Where were you trying to go?

MS:

Wherever that plane went. I don't remember at the time. [laughter]

HT:

So you never made it?

MS:

No, we didn't make it. [laughter] Another gal and I were going to try this, but it didn't work.

HT:

You weren't going to try to go AWOL [absent without leave], were you?

MS:

[chuckling] No, we had some time off. We were going to try to go somewhere on a navy plane. We had heard that that could be done, but not for us. It didn't work. But I remember that general's aide. He's the one who put that hair-brained idea in our head. He was an interesting fellow. But I can't remember any particularly funny things that happened.

We had a little girl who carried the mail, moved the mail from one desk to another, and she was always so awed by the commandant that every morning his desk would have to be moved just a little bit back to where the indentation was in the carpet, because she'd bump it. She'd just get so flustered she'd bump that desk. [chuckling]

HT:

Was she in the military?

MS:

Yeah, she was in the Marine Corps.

HT:

So everybody in your office was a Marine, there were no civilians at all?

MS:

Oh yes. No, no civilians, not attached to the commandant's office. They were all military.

HT:

What was the hardest thing you ever had to do physically?

MS:

I never had any really difficult things. Perhaps in boot camp the tremendous amount of marching that we had to do was a drain at times, because we marched everywhere. My hair was quite long when I enlisted, and I kept cutting it and cutting it. And after I got to boot camp, every time they came for an inspection they said it needed to be cut some more. So they'd send me over to a Marine beauty shop. That was about the only time I ever went on my own somewhere. Occasionally we could go—We had a little time on Saturday when we could go to the post office, but most things were mailed. If we needed to pick up a package or mail a package or buy stamps, we'd go to the post office. There were just very, very few places that we went on our own. We marched as a group. And that way you learned to march. And I'm sure we would not have if we had not had so much practice. There was a thrill to me that was just something I'll never forget: when we learned to march and we marched to a Marine band and they played the patriotic songs. To be marching by a reviewing stand, that was a thrill, a real thrill to me. You knew you finally had it right. [chuckling] It gave me a thrill that I will never ever forget.

HT:

What was the hardest thing you ever had to do emotionally?

MS:

I can't remember any emotionally difficult things. Perhaps the death of Roosevelt. That was the time that I remember most. I was not homesick. I had been away from home long enough that—I knew a number of the girls who really were. They really suffered from homesickness. I did not have that problem. But when we got the word that Roosevelt had died was probably the most emotional time that I had.

HT:

Were you ever afraid or in physical danger?

MS:

No, never.

HT:

You mentioned earlier that you felt quite safe walking around Washington, D.C., which you could not do today.

MS:

Right.

HT:

So that was a different time, though.

MS:

It was a very different time. I remember after I was out of service I went back to the War Department and worked there until they began to release employees that they simply did not need anymore. So I was there another year, I guess, before I left Washington after I got out of service. And the only place that we—We didn't go out to Uline Arena [Washington, D.C.]. That was a bad section of town that you—

HT:

What was that again?

MS:

Uline Arena. It was a sports complex, and that section of town, you know, we learned that that was not the safest thing to go by yourself. It was okay to go, but usually you went with somebody else. But other than that—I did have one experience as a civilian where I—Before I enlisted in the Marine Corps we had to work ten-hour days, and I didn't—Everybody who worked for the War Department in those days went to work at nine o'clock in the morning. The Navy Department went to work at eight, and this was to stagger it so not everybody was on the bus at the same time, to help transportation problems. And so a ten-hour day meant that I didn't get off work until 7:00, so it was dark. And in going from the bus stop to where I lived, somebody stepped out from between two buildings that were fairly close together and tried to grab my bag, and I outran him. I outran him, literally. So my days of playing basketball paid off. I got to my building and got inside. Of course, he did not follow me inside. But that's when I was a civilian.

As a Marine, I went to New York with a group of other Marines over an Easter weekend, and I've never been treated as royally as we were treated in New York. Because they had a lot fewer servicewomen in New York, so we were an oddity. I know we went to Jack Dempsey's for lunch, and we ordered lunch and were waiting for our bill, and the waiter came over and told us that there would be no bill since we were servicewomen. I can remember someone in the group saying, “Why didn't they tell us that to begin with? We would have ordered something that was a little bit more expensive than we ordered.” [chuckling] But they really were very kind. I think I went maybe twice, but that Easter weekend we had a little longer time because we had Good Friday off. We went up, and one of our friends was from New Jersey, right across from New York City, and we stayed with her family and went into New York. So it was a fun trip. We went to Fifth Avenue for the Easter parade. Even with the war they still had the Easter parade in New York.

HT:

I'm not really quite familiar with the Easter parade. Would people just walk up and down Fifth Avenue, and that's all?

MS:

Right, all dressed up in their Easter finery.

HT:

Just like in the movie [Easter Parade, 1948]?

MS:

Right. I don't know that they do that now, [chuckling] but then they were doing it still then, and that was very interesting. Of course, we were in our nice little uniforms.

HT:

Well, what else did you ladies do for fun? Did you have any kind of social life, either in Washington or—

MS:

The most interesting thing that I had an opportunity to do was that Evelyn Walsh McLean, as her bit for the war effort, she would have a sheet posted at different military bases and invite service people out to Friendship [McLean's home] in northwest Washington, which was a fabulous place, for dinner. What they did at the Marine Corps is they posted a notice over at Eighth and I [Streets], which was the headquarters Marine Corps barracks—I mean Washington barracks for men was at Eighth and I, and of course Henderson Hall was for women, so they had the two. And I signed up, because being from the Carolinas I knew something about Evelyn Walsh McLean. She was the owner of the Hope Diamond. And I'm not sure whether it was the original or the paste, but we were permitted to each one of us hold it, because that was the thing. She was a very interesting lady, very—It was hard for her to socialize with such a wide range, because there would usually be about twenty would go because her table would seat twenty, and it was full [unclear].

HT:

This was in her private home?

MS:

Yeah. And others did things of that nature, but that was the one time that stands out in my mind of something that was very—You know, there's no other way I would have ever been permitted [chuckling] to go to her home or anything. But it was a wonderful meal, of course. We just wondered which was the right fork and so forth, but we got through.

HT:

And were you picked up by a chauffeur?

MS:

Yes, we were picked up. We were told where we would be picked up. In fact, two cars came to get the girls from Henderson Hall.

HT:

So was it a mixed bunch of both men and women at the dinner?

MS:

Yes, there were men and women. There were more women than there were men, but there were guys from Eighth and I and Henderson Hall at the same time. I know she did that on a regular basis with different groups. But that was quite a place.

HT:

Do you recall what your favorite songs, movies, and dances were from those days?

MS:

Begin the Beguine I think probably was one of the things that we listened to quite a lot. The movie that White Christmas was in, Holiday Inn, I believe it was called, that was about that time, and of course most anything that had Esther Williams. [chuckling] The musicals, I think, I enjoyed. And of course during the war there were a lot of very good musicals. And I think there was a reason for that. People needed something that was happy and—

HT:

To lift the spirits.

MS:

Yes.

HT:

You said you went in the military in 1945 and got out in 1946, is that correct?

MS:

The summer of '46.

HT:

Did you ever think of making it a career?

MS:

We really did not have that option. When I was in boot camp, because of scores, I was interviewed for OCS [officer candidate school]. And finally an interview was set up with a captain. She opened my folder and started looking, and she said, “Child, why didn't they notice that you were only twenty years old before you got this far?” You were not permitted to go to OCS until you were twenty-one. And I didn't know that. So by the time I was twenty-one, of course, then everything was beginning to—They were not taking any women into OCS right at that particular time. They did later, but at that time there really was not the option. I might have if there had been, but I really did not seriously think about it because it was not—We were discharged according to the points. There was a point system, a point for each month, depending on duty and so forth. So when you had enough points—and I don't remember what that was right now—but when that came, then you were notified that you'd be discharged.

HT:

How did you feel about being discharged?

MS:

I was a little sad. I really was. I had enjoyed it, and it meant a change, and I was not sure that—I knew we were supposed to be offered the job back that we left. That was something that had been told when we left, that we would be—I think there was a law that required them to at least offer you the job back. So I went to South Carolina to my parents' for a visit when I was discharged, and got a phone call from the War Department saying that my job was available. So I went back and worked there another year, a little more than a year, and then I did resign because things were changing so rapidly. I had lived in an apartment with girls, and several of them had been released from their jobs and left, and it was a matter of hunting roommates, and so much changed that I decided to go home, and went home. My sister worked for a textile plant as secretary to the general manager, and they needed someone to work for the superintendent of the textile plant, La France Industries, and I went to work there and worked there until after I married.

My husband-to-be at that time lived about six miles—We'd always known each other. He had been in the army and a prisoner of war in Germany and was home and teaching school. He had been back to Clemson [University]. He went to Clemson for a year and a half, and then when he was in service he had a semester at Purdue [University], and then went back and graduated from Clemson. And he had just gone to work teaching school. When we were in high school he was short and heavy, and I was always tall and thin, so I had no interest in him. But he grew. [laughter] He was about six-four by the time he got out of the service. He grew even after he was in service. When he came home, very few people recognized him. They couldn't make this tall slender guy the chubby short fellow who was in high school. [chuckling]

But he would come home on weekends, and I know he was teaching in Clinton, South Carolina, and I noticed he had [the initials] M-M-S, and that appeared more and more on all of his belongings, even the side of his little car that he had finally been able to get after the war was over. They teased him so much over at Clinton, because when he'd get out of school on Friday he headed out of town. And they said, “There must be a girl over there.” He said, “The only person I love is M. M. Smith.” And he had such a great time when he finally got me over to Clinton so he could introduce M. M. Smith to everybody over there, since that was my name too. [laughter] He had the last laugh on all of them. But he was a super guy. He was really special. He loved the Lord and lived a life of service. He was a good guy.

HT:

You said he was a schoolteacher?

MS:

Yeah, he started teaching school, and then later worked for the Department of Agriculture, and then went to work for Swift and Company and he was with them for sixteen years. We had been in Greensboro, and Swift transferred us down to eastern North Carolina. Morgan Poultry here really kept contacting him, and finally he left Swift and came back and worked the remainder of his working career at Morgan and Sons Poultry. But health problems really—He did not work after he was fifty-eight because of his health problems. But he lived to seventy-three, so—

HT:

You had mentioned earlier that he was a POW [prisoner of war] in Germany during the Second World War. Can you tell a little bit about that period of time?

MS:

Yes, he was with a group that was very hard hit. There were only about five or six left in his platoon when he was captured. He was in a prisoner of war camp at Mooseberg and Limberg [Germany], I'm not sure which one was first, but Stalag VII-A and XII-A. Of course the treatment wasn't good, but he always said that he felt that the Lord had looked after him and he knew he was all right, and he was more concerned about his parents and their not knowing where he was. He did write some letters home, but most of them were so altered, blacked out and cut out, that there wasn't much news in the ones that his parents were able to get, other than to see that it was his writing and to know that he was alive. But he lost a lot of weight, and when he was—He was working on a farm detail for several months before he was liberated, and a group of prisoners, one other American—There were French and Polish and a Russian woman were all billeted in a barn together at night, but then each was sent to the farms they were assigned to during the day. And the morning they were liberated, the door that they had to open to go down a ladder that was attached to the wall was not locked. So they wondered what's going on, and no guard. And so as they sort of were wondering, “What do we do now?” a truckload of Americans came through and had a radio and they said, “Stay right where you are. Somebody will pick you up shortly.” So that truck was moving on through, and then they were picked up and he was carried back to Camp Lucky Strike in France.

And for about two weeks they were examined and started to eat, which they could not do at first. Food just absolutely would come back. Their stomachs were not capable of any rich food of any kind because they'd had very, very little to eat. And it took about two weeks. He was just beginning to get where he could eat. He said he had dreamed so long about milk particularly, and the first thing he ordered was a milkshake. And he got so sick. But after the two weeks he was able—So he came back on the Marine Panther, was the name of the ship, and he volunteered for duty in the hold. And he said that when they didn't have him actually working, he was looking for food, things that he hadn't seen or thought of in a long time. And he just found all kinds of things. So he gained twenty-one pounds in twelve days coming back on the Marine Panther. So he wasn't as thin when he got back as he was over in Europe, but he still was much taller and thinner than his family was accustomed to.

His sister worked for the company that I later worked for, and one of the favorite stories the people there had to tell me was that they would say, “Mrs. [Anna Ruth] Shirley, what is it you say you're going to do when your brother comes home?”

And she would say, “I'm going to get my coat and leave this place.” And her supervisor got a call, and they said, “Tell her that her brother was at home.” He used to tell me, “I went out and said, 'Mrs. Shirley, what is it you said you were going to do when your brother gets home?' She said, 'Get my coat and leave this place.'” He said, “Well, get your coat, he's home.” [laughter] And they loved to tell that. But he was the youngest in the family, and of course it was hard for all of them. There were four boys all in service and two sons-in-law in service, so their family had quite a lot.

HT:

Did everybody come back?

MS:

Yes, they all came back.

HT:

That's wonderful.

MS:

Yes, they surely did. He was the only one who was a prisoner.

HT:

What unit was he attached to when he was a prisoner, do you recall?

MS:

80th Infantry.

HT:

So he was in the army?

MS:

Yes.

HT:

And do you know where he was captured?

MS:

In Germany. One of the funny things he used to tell about, they had just gotten into Germany and there were a lot of cabbage fields and a lot of grapevines. One night they were dug in in a cabbage field, and he said the artillery was just really raining in right on them. He had gotten a package from his sister, his oldest sister, that had been brought up during the day, and in that package there was a jar of Mum [deodorant]. And he said he hadn't had a bath in about two weeks, and of course Mum is a deodorant that at that time was one of the main ones that was on the market. And he said he threw that jar as far as he could, hoping he would hit a German with it. And also in the package was a little testament that he put in his pocket, and a box of peanut brittle. And he said he would tear off some of the wax paper that was in the box of brittle and throw to a foxhole that he thought he could throw it to, to some of his buddies, to share with them. And he said they just didn't dare get up because the artillery fire was so heavy. And he said finally he had thrown as much of it as he could to the others, and he thought, “Well, I don't want some German getting this,” so he ate all of it himself. And he said the next morning he was so mad at himself because he had no peanut brittle left and he was still there. [laughter] But the testament that he put in his pocket ended up with a bullet in it.

HT:

That saved him?

MS:

Yes, yes, it did not go all the way through.

HT:

That's amazing.

MS:

It penetrated it. And when he would mention that, the few times he did mention it around his sister, she'd say, “Don't talk about it.” She would not let him talk about it because it was—And he had another one that his other sister had sent him, and I gave it to my grandson because he—

HT:

What happened to the one with the bullet in it?

MS:

He brought it home but he didn't keep it. I don't know whether his mother kept it or—Anyway, we did not have that one.

HT:

That's an amazing story.

MS:

Yeah. But he said he just automatically put it in his shirt pocket. He did have a bullet that just went through the fleshy part of his arm, and he had frostbitten feet, and those were the major injuries that he had.

HT:

So he must have been captured in late '44? Because you said something about [unclear].

MS:

Yes, because he was out—Yeah, it had to have been '44.

HT:

So it was the winter of '44.

MS:

I've probably got the exact date in his file, but that would have been about right because he came back in '45.

HT:

Do you recall what the mood or the feeling or the climate of the country was in general during the war years?

MS:

Patriotic—very. People complained about rationing, but it was not—It was just a problem that everybody dealt with, and they talked about, “I wish I had enough sugar to make jam,” or whatever, and many times they did not. And just discomforts people mildly complained about, but they were not mad at the government about it. Everybody understood that we were in it together.

HT:

But there was enough food to eat.

MS:

There was enough food to eat. It might not have been exactly what you wanted. Sugar, shortening, leather goods, those were the things that were harder to get because they were used in the war effort.

HT:

And everybody was issued ration stamps, I guess?

MS:

Yes.

HT:

So therefore you could get a little bit of everything.

MS:

Right, right, if the stores had it. And of course gasoline rationing, which didn't affect us because we did not have transportation, those of us in Washington.

HT:

Because you used public transportation?

MS:

Public transportation all the time. But it was difficult. I know it was difficult for my dad on the farm. He was a county member of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, and worked in the office in Anderson, which was about six miles; and to have enough gasoline to go into his job, he had to apply for more occasionally. But it was considered an essential job. And of course using it on the farm for tractors and things, there were times they couldn't use them because they didn't have enough gasoline. But Daddy had horses, he always had horses, and they used the horses. Got out some of the old hay rakes and things that they still had but hadn't used a lot, and used those during the war. Of course, Daddy planted more grain and less cotton during the war because it was needed. It affected every aspect of life, it truly did.

I know my youngest sister went to Texas with a first cousin who had been on the East Coast with her husband before he went overseas, and she asked Mother and Dad to let my sister, who was still in high school, ride back with her so she wouldn't be alone. But then she put Norma [Smith] on a bus to come back home by herself. She was probably fourteen, fifteen, and she had to stand on the bus for so long that when my mom and dad met her they were so upset. Her feet were so swollen and black and blue that they were just really terribly upset. But transportation for anybody who was—Now, military people were put on troop trains and so forth, but when I'd go home—I remember one time standing on the train from Greenville, South Carolina, to Lynchburg, Virginia, because there was not room.

HT:

You couldn't even sit down on your suitcase?

MS:

Not a seat, no. There was not room enough to turn my feet so I could sit down on my suitcase.

HT:

That's unbelievable. I did talk to a lady the other day and she said that she—I think it was between Boston and New York, had to stand all the time. It was not uncommon to have to stand up.

MS:

Right. I know one time my sister found a place to sit in the ladies' bathroom, the powder area, and she rode—Somewhere she was going on the train, and that's where she had to sit. But she did find a place to sit in there. But my younger sister will never forget that bus trip that was so difficult.

HT:

Were her legs and feet all right after that?

MS:

Yes, my mother being a nurse, she immediately started—You know, got her home and got her with her feet raised and started trying to get the swelling out and so forth. I was not at home so I didn't really see it, but I've heard them talk about it many times.

HT:

Well, do you feel you made a contribution to the war effort?

MS:

I do. It was certainly minor compared to many of the men and the things they did, but I did feel it was a contribution.

HT:

We had touched a little bit earlier about Franklin D. Roosevelt, him dying while you were in boot camp, I think you said.

MS:

Yes.

HT:

What did you think of Mrs. [Eleanor] Roosevelt?

MS:

I think that we all admired the stand that she took on human rights.

[End Tape 1, Side B—Begin Tape 2, Side A]

HT:

—about when the tape cut off, and you were getting ready to tell me about your feelings about her [Eleanor Roosevelt].

MS:

She was so active, in not just Washington but in the whole country. And I know I often wondered how she had the energy to do all the things that she did, because she certainly was an energetic lady. I don't know of anybody who didn't respect the job she did for people in this country. The only time I ever saw her, met her, and it was certainly a very casual meeting, but when I was working for Decorations and Awards Branch, Elliott Roosevelt was getting ready to go overseas and he had just married Faye Emerson, who was from Hollywood, and he was having a new uniform tailored. And Mr. Dondero, D-o-n-d-e-r-o, was the tailor for most of the military hierarchy, and he would call Decorations and Awards and say [to] research the medals that whoever it was was eligible for, and then we would have to put together all the fruit salad, as they called it, that went on the uniform. So when we got all of it together for Elliott Roosevelt's uniform, we called Mr. Dondero's shop. And I was instructed to take it to the White House, that he was there for a fitting. So I met Mrs. Roosevelt and Faye Emerson, as well as Elliott Roosevelt, when I went to the White House that particular time. But that was the only time I ever went in the White House, except the public tour.

There was always security, you know, in the Pentagon and in the White House and many places; but even so, I don't think it was probably as vast as it is now. My younger sister came to Washington when I was working in the—when I went back after being in the Marine Corps, went back to the Pentagon to work, and my younger sister came to visit me in Washington. And the guys knew who I was, and I just pinned my badge on my sister and took her in. And you know they never caught it! [laughter] I don't know what they would have done with me. But I knew they knew who I was, and so I got her in the Pentagon.

HT:

So even in those days people had to have badges?

MS:

Yeah.

HT:

Were there photographs on the badges, just like photo IDs?

MS:

Yeah, but they didn't really look [like you]. They knew who I was. Usually it was some guy that was flirting anyway, so they—She had a badge, so we went in. And she still says, “I don't know about security in Washington in those days.” [laughter]

But I have lots of friends—One of the girls that roomed with us lives in Philadelphia, or out from Philadelphia, and she married one of the Marines that we knew in Washington. But last fall, Maxine [Robbins] called me and asked me where Guilford College [Greensboro, North Carolina] was in relation to where I lived, and I said, “Just down the street.” And she said, “Well, my granddaughter has just started school there.” So they have visited me, and Loren [Reedy] has—She and I have been out to eat a couple of times. So I'm so glad to have Loren at Guilford College, and Max and Marty [Martorelli] will get back, I'm sure. Unfortunately, a lot of people that I knew are no longer living. Since I was one of the younger ones, a number of them are gone.

HT:

Do you recall who your heroes and heroines were from those days?

MS:

Jimmy Stewart. When I was in the Marine Corps, I went to Indiana, Pennsylvania, with a friend who had a sister there, and Jimmy Stewart was home and had just had his picture on the front of Life magazine, and went bobsled riding with him, he and his sister, my friend, and a number of us. And I'll never forget, I had on my wool slacks, and in the Marine Corps we had kid gloves, and Jimmy Stewart said, “We've got to go back by Ruth's house and get some wool gloves. Her hands are going to freeze.” So we went back by his sister—He had a sister there, and of course his dad lived in Indiana, and we went by his sister's house and got some wool gloves for me to wear. And I didn't want to give those gloves back. [laughter] But he was certainly a hero back in that time, and getting to meet him was special.

HT:

Right. Was he home on leave, because I think he—

MS:

Yes, he was home on leave.

HT:

I think he flew in England.

MS:

Right, right. The last few times that I saw him on television before he died, he looked so old it really made me feel old. [chuckling] Of course, he was a number of years older than I was at the time. Of course, I think all of us enjoyed Esther Williams. We went to a lot of movies, but I was not—I don't remember anybody in particular.

HT:

You got out in 1946. What impact do you think the military had on your life immediately after getting out, and in the long term?

MS:

Well, probably the hardest thing was styles had changed drastically.

HT:

Fashion?

MS:

Yes. And things I had were no longer appropriate. And I didn't get a lot of mustering-out pay, and it was difficult to assemble clothes. I had to do a lot of altering and so forth to have appropriate clothes to go back to work.

HT:

By that time, had the clothes gotten longer?

MS:

Shorter.

HT:

Shorter?

MS:

Yeah.

HT:

Okay.

MS:

Yeah, we wore short skirts. And then later, of course—Of course they're always changing, but I see things now and it makes me think. Because I know one suit that I had, the skirt was just to the knee, but the jacket was almost as long as the skirt. It was supposed to be like three-quarter length, but it was a belted suit. That was one of the things that I bought that was in style, and within a couple of years the skirts got longer. And I had altered it by taking up side seams, and I was able to let them out and take the top of another skirt that was under that jacket to make that skirt longer so I could wear that suit longer. But not having enough money to—Because I had not saved any money.

HT:

Well, speaking of money, how were you paid in the military compared to your civilian pay? Was it equal or less?

MS:

Thirty-three dollars a month, as a corporal! [laughter]

HT:

I'm assuming you earned a little bit more than that as a civilian.

MS:

Yes, yes, but I had absolutely no money, except mustering-out pay. It seems like I probably got about two hundred dollars mustering-out pay, and that's it.

HT:

That's not a great deal to start over with, is it?

MS:

No, it was not. I wore my Marine Corps uniform skirt with a civilian-type blouse. I didn't wear the jacket, but a sweater or something with it, but I know I had to make use of it. The brown pumps that I had worn in the Marine Corps I wore as a civilian. They were very simple. But that was the most difficult thing was lack of money.

HT:

Would you do it again?

MS:

Oh yes. Yes, I would do it again under the circumstances that we had then. You know, I think about the Gulf War and some of the things when some of our young people had to go, and I'm sure it must be very difficult when the whole country is not behind something. But at that particular time, I don't think there was a question in anybody's mind but that it was something that had to be done.

HT:

We had touched on this earlier in our conversation, you said you consider yourself to be an independent person.

MS:

Yes.

HT:

Do you think the military made you that way, or have you always been somewhat independent?

MS:

I've always been somewhat independent, and the Marine Corps just enhanced it, I suppose. Recently I drove to Florida, mid-January, and all three of my children were very concerned. They really—

HT:

You drove by yourself?

MS:

Yes. And my son-in-law said—because Nancy [Smith Waters], my oldest daughter, she was really concerned. She didn't say as much to me as she did to her other sister and brother, but her husband finally said, “Listen, she was in the Marine Corps, and you've just got to remember when she makes up her mind she's going to do something, she's going to do it. Let her alone!” [chuckling] So that's still—

HT:

That never has left you, has it? [laughter]

MS:

I suppose not. But I drove to Texas once by myself. My youngest daughter and her family were living in Texas and she had a new baby, and my husband really did not want to go. And at that time he could still manage on his own, and so he said, “Just go on.” So I did. And I didn't think anything about it. Our minister said, “You mean you let her go by herself?” And Mays [Smith] say, “If I thought she couldn't have made it, I wouldn't have let her go.” [chuckling] But I've really been very independent.

One thing we have not talked about, and that is that after we moved to Greensboro I decided that I needed to get away from my little three-year-old, who just was so attached to me. I found out there were some jobs at UNCG [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro] that were half-time nine months. So I went to work at UNCG on a part-time job. They needed somebody to help out in Dr. [Otis] Singletary's office when he was chancellor, and they asked me if I would be willing to work some extra and help out in that office. So, after I finished my half-time in Sociology—At that time it was Sociology and Anthropology. I'm not sure that the two are together anymore. But anyway, I'd go over and work in Dr. Singletary's office. And then he asked me to come and work for him full-time. My little one by then was in first grade and she went to Page Private School, and they would let her stay there until I got off work. So they had [unclear]. So I started working for him. And then when he left, Dr. [James] Ferguson [chancellor] came in and I worked for him. And left that office to go to the School of Business when they were building that new building, and I went as administrative assistant to David Shelton, and then of course David Shelton stepped down and Phil Friedman was dean. Then when Mr. [William] Moran [chancellor] came, there was an opening there, and my husband was not working, and it was one step up from what I was doing. And since I needed to make as much as I could, I applied for the job and went back to work for Mr. Moran, and worked there the last five years.

HT:

So when did you start at UNCG?

MS:

In 1965.

HT:

And you left—?

MS:

Well, I had a break in service because we were transferred to Wallace and moved down to Wallace, North Carolina, in 1970, and came back in June of '71. I went back to UNCG, not immediately when we moved back here because my father was ill and I was making a number of trips down to help my mom. So it must have been late in 1972 before I went back to UNCG. But then I went back to the chancellor's office. Dr. Ferguson was still chancellor at that time. So, in total, with the part-time that I had, I had twenty-five years. So I retired with twenty-five years of service.

HT:

What was it like working in the chancellor's office in those days?

MS:

All three of them were so very different. I've learned that all of the chancellors have been wonderful people, but in very different ways. Dr. Singletary was very charismatic. I mean, he came in and there was just an electricity in the air. And you always knew where you stood with him. If you typed a letter and it didn't look exactly like he would like it to look, he had the kindest way of letting you know exactly what he wanted. And I loved that.

Dr. Ferguson was just the dearest man in the world, but he wouldn't make you change—unless it was a mistake—but I never felt that I quite knew if he was pleased about things because he was just such a gentle, kind man. But wonderful. He came in my office one day and sat down with this twinkle in his eye and he said, “There's something I've been wanting to ask you.” And I said, “Well, please do.” And he said, “Was your picture ever on a Marine Corps recruiting poster?” And it was. And he remembered it. He remembered this.

HT:

Where had he seen this?

MS:

I don't know where he had seen it, but it was amazing to me that his memory was that good. But he had a fantastic memory. He remembered people, and he was such a good—Everybody liked his—He was a historian, and Southern history was his specialty, and he was just a super, super guy.

And back to the business, Emily Herman over in the vice chancellor for administration's office remembered that story about Dr. Ferguson remembering me and my picture being on a Marine Corps recruiting poster, and wrote me a note, which I've still got in here, and sent me the little article out of the Carolinian [UNCG student newspaper] about the library's project. [reading] “Jackson Library to Honor Women Veterans.” She said she remembered—Let's see, how did she say that? “I remember that Chancellor Ferguson recognized you from your poster.” [chuckling] So, anyway, she told [University Archivist] Betty Carter about that.

But I never was interested in getting one of the posters for the simple reason at one time I was riding on a bus somewhere, in Arlington or Alexandria one, and there was a poster in front of one of the buildings, probably a post office, and somebody had drawn a mustache on it. And I never wanted one. [chuckling] Ruined it for me. But in those days you didn't know. I mean, if they had a picture of you, they did not—Now you have to sign a release, but in those days—Somebody told me that they'd seen it, but I didn't see it for a while.

HT:

Well, how was it working at the School of Business, in comparison to the chancellor's office?

MS:

I really liked it. I really liked it. I think that was probably my favorite place. The chancellor's office is not a place that everybody wants to go to, students particularly. Somehow they just—

HT:

Feel intimidated perhaps?

MS:

I guess, I don't know. But there was more contact with students in the School of Business, and I really liked what I was doing, and I went and applied for the job in Mr. Moran's office with mixed feelings because I did enjoy what I was doing over there very much. And I still—Jim Weeks is one of my dearest friends. Jerry Hershey and many of the others in the School of Business are really special, and it was in the process of growing so at the time. It was a great place to be. But, you know, the chancellor's office has many different roles that I enjoyed, but I had—

My last couple of years were difficult because of Mays' health problems. He became such a brittle diabetic that it was very hard. I was anxious about him a lot of the time, and I was so glad when I could retire. But in the last few years, he had a malignancy in his stomach and they had to remove a good portion of his stomach, which made his diabetic condition much, much more difficult to control. So it was not easy, but he always told the children, “Don't worry about your mama, she's tough.” [chuckling]

HT:

She's a tough Marine.

MS:

But he was special. He was one of a kind, a very special man.

HT:

How was it working for Dr. Moran, in comparison to the other two chancellors?

MS:

One-on-one he was just very warm, and I found him to be very supportive of—My job in his office was—His administrative assistants are sort of the office manager, and anything that we needed that was out of the ordinary, I always found him to be very supportive. Of course, I always tried to have all the information and I didn't go in just cold, but I always found him to be very supportive. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it. But he was different. He did not relate to large groups as well as certainly Dr. Singletary. He was very outgoing and almost gregarious, and the students would go to his house in droves and they invited them in. They were three very different types, but all of them good men.

I think during the sixties when Dr. Ferguson was chancellor was probably the most difficult time that the campus had, when there was unrest. One morning the students went in and filled the halls of the Foust Building. And Dr. Ferguson was such a calm, thoughtful man, and Mr. Friday, William Friday, was the same way. So the two of them, with their kind and considerate, thoughtful things that—they were able to get through that without having any really serious, serious problems.

HT:

This was the student unrest period in the late sixties you're talking about, protesting Vietnam and that sort of thing?

MS:

Right, right, and you know it didn't take much. They had cafeteria problems at Duke [University, in Durham, North Carolina], and for some reason students on other campuses took up the cause. It was just a time of unrest. I know the head of campus police came over, Roy Alexander, and he said, “What'll we do?” since they had more or less occupied Foust Building. And Dr. Ferguson said, “Let them stay. Just see that they don't block doors, so that people can get in and out.” I think the police chief was ready to arrest them all, but calmer heads prevailed.

And then we had some very, very serious ice storms when Dr. Ferguson was there, and I remember once—At that time we worked on Saturday, and one Saturday morning the ice was so heavy that it sounded like gunshots all over campus with the ice breaking the big limbs on trees. I remember Mr. Bell—

HT:

Is that Charles Bell?

MS:

Charles Bell came in the office and he said, “You know, it's going to take us twenty years or more to recover from the damage from the storm.” The ice was just unreal. But I was always expected to be at work, no matter what happened. And in the chancellor's office we always had somebody who had a steep driveway, or their husband wouldn't let them drive, or—Mays always helped me, too. He got my car warm and said, “Now watch the other fellow and drive carefully.” That was my help. [laughter] But I seemed to always manage to get there. And I kept thinking, “One of these days the snow will come and I'll sit here and just gloat.” And you know the two times we had snow after I retired, the first few years we were in Florida, [chuckling] so I missed out on that. Now it doesn't matter.

HT:

Were you on campus when the school became coeducational, in the early sixties?

MS:

The fall I went, it was '63 that I went to work there because Emily was three—yes, she was born in '60—that was the first year that it was UNCG. So I didn't have the problem that all the other secretaries had of WC [Woman's College of the University of North Carolina, now UNCG] and having to think of changing the name.

HT:

But you still saw a tremendous amount of change in the sixties.

MS:

Oh yes, oh yes.

HT:

Can you give me some feeling about what that was like, men coming on campus for the first time, integration starting, the change of administrations constantly, and that sort of thing?

MS:

Well, when I think back to that, we worked on Saturdays, half a day on Saturday. Nobody had telephones in the offices, except the department head. There were no telephones. And our equipment was antiquated. We had to use those old purple ditto things for copies. As the campus grew, things had to change. But we had always had less budget, comparatively, than [The University of North Carolina at] Chapel Hill or State [North Carolina State University], and they had complained very little and we had made do. We had wonderful faculty and very, very few teaching assistants. So that's one reason the education was so good at UNCG, because you had a lot of times a full professor teaching freshmen, and at some of the bigger campuses it—Of course, that has changed somewhat since they have graduate programs.

But the integration problem did rear its head occasionally, and we would occasionally have a student that was particularly militant and angry. But I really think that we got through most of it with grace, and mainly because we had good, level-headed people at the helm.

But shortage of classrooms, shortage of faculty offices was, for a good while, very, very difficult. We had so many old buildings on campus that we had to use for offices. There used to be what at one time was the infirmary that was situated between Elliott and the library, and it was a big old building stained very dark brown, and we had people from a lot of different departments in one building, so that they were not with their own department. But when they would get a new position, you had to have a place for them, to put them, and I worked a lot with the first vice chancellor for administration finding space for people. And all along there was a row of houses, which you may remember, where the School of Business is, and Yum Yum [Ice Cream Shop] was on the corner. Well, we had people in most of those houses. They'd tell us, “We need more space for this one and that one.” The big buildings that were where the Curry Building—the Ferguson Building is, and we had offices in a number of those houses and up McIver Street. The Jackson House and others were full of faculty folks. So all those were growing pains, no doubt about it, and caused a lot of concern of finding a spot for people.

HT:

Well, it sounds like it was a challenge that you met real well, though.

MS:

Well, you know, I think we did. We tried to be as innovative as we could to find spots for people. But it's so good to see the wonderful buildings that have gone up since I first went there. The McIver Building then was fairly new when I first went there, and that was about the only new building at that time. Of course then we didn't have the School of Business, and the School of Nursing was new, and that building was built after I went there. Many, many of them went up.

But our church used to adopt girls who went to UNCG, because we used to go to College Park [Baptist Church], which is on the corner of Walker and Aycock. We still have dear friends that we adopted as college daughters, and we've been “Mom” and “Pop” to many of them. There's one in Saint Augustine, Florida, that sends me an e-mail every few days. Her roommate was half-Japanese and she did not have support from home, and so we adopted her too. They would eat lunch with us on Sunday. If they were in town, they ate lunch at our house. They came to church and came home with us for lunch, and then we'd take them back to campus when they were ready to go. I guess the first we had was in 1965, Janice Gross, and she lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia, now. We have any number that are scattered around. Joyce [Blevins], who lives in Pulaski, Virginia, now, went to Alaska, and they have seven children.

HT:

This is one of your adopted daughters?

MS:

Yes. She wanted my husband to give her away when she got married. We had her wedding in our church, and Mays said, “You have brothers.” She said, “Pop, we've talked it over and we've decided, and we want you to give me away.” So he did, and we had the wedding and a little reception afterwards. The guy she married was going to the University of Colorado. He was out here at summer school at Guilford and met her. After they graduated, he worked in Boulder [Colorado] for a couple of years, and then they went to Alaska. They had gone to visit and decided to stay. He bought a fishing boat and a fishing license, which, you know, is very expensive because it's a lifetime thing. Then later they made a lot of money, and they bought a farm in Pulaski, Virginia, and they're back in Virginia. He still goes to Alaska in the summer and fishes, but he teaches there, and she just is busy with all those children, six girls and one boy. My husband used to laugh. They'd come to visit occasionally and we'd take them to J&S [Cafeteria]. He said one time I think we had three in high chairs that we were rolling down through the line, and Mays said J&S would never be the same after all that group. [laughter]

But our connection to UNCG through those girls has been a blessing to us, really, a real blessing. When Mays died, we had so many of them that came, and I had no idea they'd get here. I really didn't—Some of them contacted some of the others. It was terrific.

We have one grandson who's at UNC-Wilmington, and he wrote an essay for his English class about his visit to York Minster Castle [England] and his thoughts. He had planned that trip—He actually went with teachers and guidance counselors, and he was the only young fellow that went, but he did not want to go with his class to New York. He just wasn't comfortable with the plans they had, so he didn't go, and was invited to go with this tour group. And his thoughts about his grandfather who had died ten days earlier are absolutely fantastic. He made an A in the course. [chuckling] But his granddaddy was pretty special to him.

HT:

I just have a couple more questions about the military. We've been talking quite some time and I don't want to wear you out. And I think we sort of touched on this briefly earlier, but do you consider yourself to be a pioneer or a trailblazer or a trendsetter when you entered the military?

MS:

I didn't consider myself so. Perhaps I was, but I didn't consider myself so.

HT:

What about looking back now do you consider yourself?

MS:

Well, yes, in a way I guess I do, because I've met so few people—Until this group got together, there were so many that—Because they don't talk about it and it's—

HT:

Do you have any idea why that is? You can sort of understand why some men—I know your husband didn't talk much about it, and my father didn't talk about it. It was so traumatic for them. But the women who went in were a little bit different, in that they had somewhat ordinary jobs. I mean, they weren't in combat and that sort of thing.

MS:

Right, right.

HT:

I think they were all proud of it.

MS:

Yes, yes, because I really did feel like that, particularly as the casualties mounted. More men were needed, and that was the theme that was relayed: “If you join, you release a man who can go.” Certainly some of the things I did I would not have done as a civilian, simply because I was in a spot where it was required to be strictly military. But as I look back now and as I meet people, and of course there were people that I had no idea that had been in service who were at the luncheon that you had—But my husband was always very proud of the fact that I was in the Marine Corps, and he would tell people when I did not mention it. And the children had mixed feeling about it because at school they would say, “My mama was in the Marines,” and they'd say, “You mean your dad?”[chuckling] They wondered if I was supposed—You know, that made it a problem for them, in a way. But they're pleased. And they were so pleased that the recognition of service and—And I'm glad, I'm very glad that I was, and I do think it was worthwhile.

HT:

Well, do you think that you and the other ladies who joined the military were forerunners of what we today call the women's movement?

MS:

Certainly not consciously.

HT:

But perhaps paved the way?

MS:

Maybe so, maybe so. But that had nothing really to do with—that I can remember, any thoughts in that way when I enlisted. That part wasn't it. I believe in rights for everybody, but I've never been a very active member of the women's movement. You know, I believe in rights for everybody, is my feeling. But it perhaps did set some minds to thinking in that direction. Rightfully so, I guess.

HT:

Do you recall what the perception of women who joined the military was during the war years?

MS:

Some guys resented it, they really did. They didn't think women should be in the military. And I was aware of that. That had nothing to do with whether I would or would not go in. But even after I was in, I know one fellow that I had known wrote and said he had heard that I had joined the military. The letter was forwarded to me from a former address, and he really didn't—he couldn't believe that. And when I wrote him and told him I was, I never heard from him again. So, you know, there were people who simply did not like women in the military and didn't think that was the thing to do. But that never troubled me very much.

HT:

I think the ladies in the army had worse problems with that than the other branches, for some reason.

MS:

Oh, I think so, I think so, very probably. And it could have been that my duty assignment, I was not subjected to very much of any resentment. In fact, there was one young man that worked in the mail area, which our office had a lot—You know, we had a lot of communication with them. And he'd come up and shine my shoes for me. [laughter] He was from Connecticut and he was always willing to do something like that. I'm afraid I used—let him do it and egged him on, but—

HT:

And he was in the military?

MS:

Yeah, he was in the Marine Corps. A very nice young man, and he spent a lot of time shining my shoes and doing things he thought that I would like. But I really had more contact with officers, and they were all—

There was one general in the office who, when you'd walk in, he wore his glasses way down and he'd look at you and he'd follow you across. But he was a man of very few words. And he told me to instruct the girls that when he rang for one of us, if there was fifteen cents on the corner of the desk, that meant he wanted whatever kind of pipe tobacco it was he smoked, and that for lunch every day he wanted a cup of hot water and a pack of saltine crackers. And he had bouillon—

[End Tape 2, Side A—Begin Tape 2, Side B>]

HT:

Before the tape ran out, you were talking about this general in your office who—He wasn't resentful against women, I assume?

MS:

No, I think he just was—What am I trying to say? He had his time. He did not waste time with anything. He told me one time what his signal would mean and he didn't want to have to tell me again, and I was, of course, to instruct the messengers that worked in our office as to what he wanted. He was just a man of few words. He worked, was at his desk and working, and of course had meetings. I'm sure he talked there, but he just didn't—And I never felt that it was because we were women. But he was interesting.

We had people from everywhere, you know, within the office. One of the—The legal aide had a woman officer who worked with him. She was like a law clerk who worked with him. She was a lieutenant, and I always got along very well with her.

The only person I ever had any problem was a red-headed company commander in the barracks, and she resented terribly that I had no barracks duty. She did not like that at all. And made no bones about it. But I didn't comment. You know, it was done for me. The instructions were called over not of my doing. It was one of the commandant's aides who called and said I was to be relieved of all barracks duty because I had to report at 7:00. And she just plain didn't like having somebody who she couldn't put on the roster for barracks duty. I don't know why, but—

HT:

Those things do happen, don't they?

MS:

Yes, they do, and it probably had something to do with maybe feeling that her authority was undermined a little bit. She couldn't say anything to the man across the street, but she could make life difficult for me sometimes. [laughter]

HT:

What were some of the things she did?

MS:

Oh, she saw me with a bracelet on one time and said that I was out of uniform, and I was restricted to the barracks for like three days because I had on a bracelet that she said was not—Other people occasionally wore a piece of jewelry, and so it was sort a nitpicky sort of thing.

HT:

So to be in uniform, you could not wear jewelry as such? Or could you wear a wristwatch?

MS:

Yeah, we wore a wristwatch, and others wore—And it wasn't anything big and gaudy. It was just a bracelet. Matter of fact, it was my sister's and I had picked it up. The catch was broken, and I was going into town and she asked me to pick it up. And I picked it up and I put it on, and she happened to see me with it on and she said, “You're out of uniform.” [laughter] But, you know, you learn to live with those things and not let it get you down. It was interesting.

HT:

And to be restricted to barracks meant that you—Of course, you would go to work?

MS:

Yes, but at night you couldn't leave.

HT:

But at night you had to be there.

MS:

Yeah.

HT:

Did you have to do anything, special guard duty or anything like that while you were restricted?

MS:

No, since they had ordered that I was not to have barracks duties. [chuckling] She could make me stay in, but she couldn't make me work. [laughter] And that probably was galling to her, too. Oh, mercy!

HT:

Just a few last questions. Have any of your children ever been in the military?

MS:

Well, yes, David [Smith] was in the Coast Guard.

HT:

And I think you mentioned you had a couple of daughters.

MS:

Yes.

HT:

But you never encouraged them to go in the military, because you had been in and their grandmother had been in—?

MS:

No, Nancy [Smith Waters] is a nurse and Emily [Smith Bozovich] graduated from Chapel Hill with a degree in therapeutic recreation. They neither one have had any thoughts, that I know of, of going in service. And David was not terribly happy. He was too tall for sea duty, and that's really what he wanted. He liked the helping part of Coast Guard, rescue and that sort of thing. He went out on one tour of duty in the North Atlantic, and he was too tall to have duty below deck so they had to put him up on deck, and then they marked his records “ineligible for sea duty.” They sent him to Great Lakes Naval Training Station, and he was a—When he graduated from that, he went to the Coast Guard Academy as a trainer for the athletic department and spent the rest of his tour there. And since then he has gotten into commercial nuclear power in actually the health physics end of that, and has done that for a lot of years. As of January first of this year, he is now sales and marketing director for a company that has a division that works with commercial nuclear, but he also is doing other things too: robots. They sell robots to big outfits that have like breweries and they have tanks to be cleaned and so forth. These robots do that. So he's traveling all over the country.

HT:

A very interesting job.

MS:

He was in Sacramento Monday night when that storm blew in. He's based in Tulsa [Oklahoma] now, and he got into Tulsa, and he said yesterday that Tulsa was—the temperature was 72 but they were expecting snow last night. Of course, Tulsa is—that part of the country is renowned for very drastic weather changes. And then he was flying last night to Atlanta, so he said, “I guess that storm will follow me all the way across the country.” [laughter] But he goes to Toronto a lot. He has got a nuclear plant up there that he had—But he still bids on contracts in his marketing capacity, but he is no longer staffing and things that he did before. He's done well.

And Nancy, the nurse—Mother didn't encourage any of us to be nurses, but Nancy never wanted to do anything else. And she's a good nurse. But she teaches in high school, health occupations, and she's found that very rewarding, in eastern North Carolina.

HT:

And your daughter Emily, does she live here in North Carolina?

MS:

She lives in Mebane. She has two little girls and they're in a charter school in Orange County [North Carolina], doing very well. They're almost eleven, be eleven next month, and seven. Emily works a lot at the school. She doesn't have a job. She worked at the library at UNCG for years. After she graduated she ended up working in the library at UNCG.

HT:

In which department, do you recall?

MS:

She was in the Reserve Section until they went—Well, when she had Anna [Bozovich] she had planned to go back, but she and her husband had talked about doing some full-time work for the Lord, and they went to a ministry in Texas for four and a half years, and then decided it was time to go back. But they'll always be doing something wherever they are with the church. But they are good kids.

HT:

I think I have one more question for you and then I'm going to get out of here so you can—because we have talked for three hours. I know you must be worn-out.

MS:

I didn't realize it had been that long.

HT:

I'm sorry. I do apologize.

MS:

That's all right.

HT:

How do you feel about women in combat positions? You know, recently women flew combat in Iraq.

MS:

Yes.

HT:

Do you approve of that sort of thing?

MS:

I'm not sure that I do. As a general rule, the mother instinct is in so many women that it would be very difficult, I think. You know, there is a distance in the makeup of men and women that I think would make it somewhat difficult. Now, I realize that some of the fighter pilots are women, and I've often thought that if there had been the opportunity for women to fly when I was growing up, I probably would have done that.

HT:

But that was never an option for you, I guess.

MS:

No, it was not, not at all. But it would have been something that, if it had been an option, I would have been, very probably, very interested in it. And as a pilot, we are—you know, I think it's a little more impersonal. But ground combat, where you're actually seeing people, I think would be hard for women. Maybe not all of them, but knowing how internally I feel, it would have been very hard. But probably that was true—Well, there were men who felt that way who did not fight. But there is a big question mark in my mind about women in combat.

HT:

Is there anything else you'd like to add about your military service? We've covered a number of areas, so I'll leave the last thing up to you if there's anything you'd like to add.

MS:

Only that it was a very good experience that I remember very fondly and I'm glad I did. It pleased me that my husband was proud of what I did.

HT:

Is there anything that you'd like to add about your life since the military, the UNCG years?

MS:

Well, they were great years, and the people I met there will be dear in my heart always. It was an excellent work setting and I just really enjoyed my years there. Since I did need to work, I was so glad I was there. Because after Mays' health got to the point that he couldn't, we would have had a very difficult time if I had not had that to fall back on until I could retire. And I'm grateful to the university and to the state that I was able to do it, and felt like I did certainly a presentable job, one that I was happy to have had.

HT:

Well, thank you so much for talking with me this afternoon. It has been a pleasure.

MS:

Well, I've enjoyed it too. I've enjoyed it.

HT:

Thank you.

[End of Interview]