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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Charlesanna L. Fox, 1999

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Object ID: WV0049.5.001

Description: Charlesanna Fox primarily discusses her time at the North Carolina College for Women (NCCW) in the late 1920s and her work at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in the Navy Library Service from 1942 until 1947.

Summary:

Fox discusses her family background in North Carolina, including her mother’s experiences at the State Normal and Industrial College (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) with Charles McIver at the turn of the twentieth century. Fox also discusses her own time at NCCW, especially Dr. Wade Brown, the Dikean Society, her studies, campus activities, and dormitory life.

Topics related to her time at Camp Lejeune include the layout of the camp, including Tent Camp and Hadnot Point; the men’s reactions to having women on base; the organization of the camp libraries; creating a library for Dutch Marines who came to North Carolina for training; VJ Day; the Camp Council; and Armed Services Editions. Concerning her time at Pearl Harbor, Fox recalls traveling from San Francisco on the USS Lurline; getting help transporting magazines; admiration of the Roosevelts; working with enlisted men; post-war downsizing of Pearl Harbor; monthly book shipments sent to ships and stations; and the organization of the Navy Library Service. Post-war recollections include her work with the UNCG Alumnae Association and Friends of the Library, and the Randolph County Library.

Creator: Charlesanna Lousie Fox

Biographical Info: Charlesanna L. Fox of Asheboro, North Carolina, served in the Navy Library Service from 1942 to 1947.

Collection: Charlesanna L. Fox 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:

EE:

Good afternoon, Miss Fox, this is Eric Elliott with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro [UNCG]. We're here today interviewing Charlesanna Fox in coordination with the Women Veterans Oral History Project at the university. Thank you for having us here today. Could you say a few words just to make sure we can get your—

CF:

Well, I'm glad to have you here. I hope what I have to say will be some help.

EE:

Thank you. I'm sure it will be.

[Recorder paused]

EE:

Well, Miss Fox, we wanted to talk to you about your military service today, but before we get there, I just want you to share with us a few things about life before working with the navy. Where were you born?

CF:

Asheboro, North Carolina.

EE:

And you grew up in Asheboro?

CF:

Yes. Then I went to UNCG and graduated in 1930. I was a history major, history and English. Then I taught four years after that at Maxton, North Carolina, which is close to Lumberton.

EE:

Yes, Maxton, down on [Highway] 74, right?

CF:

M-a-x-t-o-n. Then I went to Washington, D.C., and took a business course, thinking—This was in the middle of the Depression, and I decided that I—I liked working with the young people but I didn't like the class work, so I went to Washington, took a business course, and they sent me to the library to work, the D.C. library. And I worked there three years and then I came home and went to library school. I worked as a secretary. Then I came back to North Carolina and went to the UNC [University of North Carolina at] Chapel Hill library school.

EE:

So you were an undergraduate at UNC-Greensboro.

CF:

Yes.

EE:

Did you go to high school in Asheboro, too?

CF:

Yes.

EE:

Now at that time it wasn't called UNC Greensboro, was it?

CF:

No, it was North Carolina College for Women.

EE:

What kind of factors made you choose that place?

CF:

People don't know what you mean when you say that now, so you—

EE:

That's right.

CF:

I just simplify it by saying UNCG.

EE:

Well, there are some of our folks who went there when it was Woman's College, which was a little bit later, they changed the name.

CF:

Yeah, but that was later.

EE:

So had other folks in your family gone to college?

CF:

Yes, my mother went to State Normal and Industrial School and took a commercial course back in 1900.

EE:

State Normal and Industrial School? What did that become?

CF:

That was what it was first called. She worked in High Point, [North Carolina], five years with the Southern Streetcar Company. That's now Thomas Bus Company. They quit making streetcars and sold out to Mr. Thomas.

EE:

Right, who makes school buses now.

CF:

That's right, thousands of them.

EE:

Good. Well, now is that where she met your dad?

CF:

No, he was a pharmacist and he had gone to UNC-Chapel Hill for his pharmacy course degree and then he came to Asheboro to work. He was from Randleman, [North Carolina], and they met there.

EE:

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

CF:

I have three brothers, younger. One is a forester, he's a graduate of State [North Carolina State University], and the other two are pharmacists. One has died, and I live with the third one. He's the youngest. He and his wife, I live with them. We moved over here together.

EE:

Well, now you say you were a history major when you went to UNCG?

CF:

Yes, I taught history for four years, from 1930 to 1934.

EE:

Do you remember any personalities at the university, any professors or folks who stick out in your [mind]?

CF:

Oh yes, Dr. [Walter Clinton] Jackson, Dr. [Benjamin] Kendrick, Dr. [Clarence] Johns, Miss [Vera] Largent.

EE:

Did you have Dr. Jackson for a course?

CF:

Yes, and he was my advisor as well.

EE:

I know advisors do different things at different times in university history. Did you all meet on a pretty regular basis?

CF:

Well, he advised us about courses to take and about what to do when we left school. He was a remarkable person.

EE:

What dorm did you stay in when you were on campus?

CF:

In Cotton and Bailey [dormitories].

EE:

Anything you remember about dorm life?

CF:

I was house president of Bailey my senior year. I was also a marshal.

EE:

A marshal, meaning for graduation?

CF:

No, for a whole year. We marshaled at every—We ushered at every occasion in the auditorium. I started with commencement the year before.

EE:

Do you have any remembrance of social life back then? Being an all-women's college, it's different than—

CF:

Well, we couldn't dance with men until my senior year.

EE:

So seniors were allowed to dance?

CF:

By the time I was a senior, all girls could.

EE:

Well now, you said you left school and you went on and taught, then went to D.C. So how did you get from the D.C. library to working with the navy?

CF:

Well, after I got my library degree I worked in Winston-Salem, [North Carolina], and Knoxville, Tennessee. And I was working there when the war started.

EE:

You were working in Winston or Knoxville?

CF:

Knoxville. And I thought that I should be doing something for the war effort, so I took the government exam—civilian.

EE:

Civil service exam?

CF:

In May of '42, and then Miss [Isabel] DuBois from the Naval Library Service wrote me soon afterwards.

EE:

What's her name again, DeForest?

CF:

Isabel DuBois, D-u-B-o-i-s. She wrote to me immediately and asked me to come to work for the navy. And I had known her when I lived in Washington, so—

EE:

She knew you from your work with the library up there?

CF:

Yes.

EE:

What were you doing with the library in D.C.?

CF:

I was a secretary to the assistant librarian.

EE:

Each of the services, I guess, had their own library division?

CF:

Yes.

EE:

So she knew you from D.C. and called you up to recruit. So for you it wasn't anything like recruiting posters or a sense of—

CF:

No, I didn't want to go into the WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service—Navy] because I'm so tall.

EE:

Did they have height restrictions back then? I know they do for some branches of the service, I guess, because you can't be on ships or whatnot.

CF:

Well, the WAVES weren't at that time anyway, but you have to drill and you have to do other things that I'm too tall for. So I decided I'd rather do what I had been prepared to do, and I knew they had a library service, so I took the exam and passed and was called.

EE:

Now you were recruited to go for a job. Did you think that you were going to be going overseas or just to Washington, or where did—?

CF:

Well, what I wanted to do, I had heard about Camp Lejeune [Jacksonville, North Carolina] being started on the North Carolina coast. I wanted to stay in the state. So Miss DuBois asked me to come to Washington, and I went there for three months and then she sent me to Camp Lejeune.

EE:

And your job in Washington, I guess, was training to learn about what the navy library did?

CF:

Well, the first job they gave me was to pick out the books for the ships and stations of the navy, the monthly shipment.

EE:

So this would have been the reading material to keep everybody on ship happy?

CF:

Well, you see, they had a basic library to begin with, and then they were sent monthly shipments to update it. The Washington office selected the books and had them sent to the depots at Norfolk, [Virginia], and at Oakland, California. And then the office in Washington would choose which books would go to which ship and which station, and send those orders to Oakland and to Norfolk, and they would ship the books out.

EE:

So each ship could select some from what you had already pre—selected to go to those depots.

CF:

That's right.

EE:

Okay. Well now, how did your folks feel about you—You were back home in North Carolina, what did they think about you signing up for military or working with the navy at this time?

CF:

Well, see, all my brothers went too. So it was all of us. They thought it was all right.

EE:

Do you think that probably factored into your deciding you wanted to join, too?

CF:

It didn't bother them.

EE:

They just said go ahead? So you came back to Camp Lejeune. The three months in Washington—came back to Camp Lejeune. What were you doing at Camp Lejeune?

CF:

I was the camp librarian, I was the first one there, and it was a brand-new place and all of the libraries had to be established.

EE:

How many women were at Camp Lejeune at that time?

CF:

No women reserves. They came about six months later.

EE:

So when you came it was fall of '42?

CF:

Fall of '42, November. We got there just in time for Christmas, and by Christmas there were five of us there. There were supposed to be eighteen on the staff, but they all came at different times, and came and went, so it was always fluctuating.

EE:

How long were you at Camp Lejeune?

CF:

Three years.

EE:

What was your interaction at that base? Were you working with the enlisted men or the staff who were there?

CF:

The navy provides chaplains and librarians and hospital staff, doctors, and construction for the Marine Corps. So we were assigned to the Chaplains Office, but we worked with the Marine Corps recreation officer and with the commanding officers of each one of the units. So we worked with all of them.

EE:

But it was mainly supporting the staff who worked at the base, as opposed to the people who were coming through?

CF:

No, all of them. Camp Lejeune was set up in areas. I mean, we worked first at Tent Camp, which was on the south side of the river. It covered one hundred eighty square miles on both sides of the New River. That's what it was first called, New River, and then it was given the name for General Lejeune. We went first to Tent City, Tent Camp, on the south side of the river toward Wilmington, [North Carolina], and that was set up like a tent camp would be overseas. It would have all tents, as it says, for the men, and the other buildings were built out of wood because that's what they would use overseas. Nothing would be brick. And they had a hospital, they had the headquarters, of course, and a mess hall, and the recreation building, which had two libraries—it had two sides—and in the middle it had a movie hall. So we were set up first. There was a library already there which was run by Marines. There were two Marines assigned to it under the , but they were just there until we got there, you see. But they stayed for quite a while because—

EE:

Well, now it sounds like for a lot of the people, the WAVES—There was actually a recruiting campaign, you know: “Join to help free a man to go to service.”

CF: t's right.

EE:

It sounds like sort of what happened to you.

CF:

We would do that. You see, those men were assigned for about three months after we got there, to give us time. Because, you see, we had thirty thousand books waiting for us to get ready for the libraries at Hadnot Point. Hadnot Point was the permanent part of the camp, and it was on the other side of the river.

EE:

And that's literally spelled “had not”, isn't it?

CF:

It was at least twenty—five miles from where we were. And there were going to be six libraries opening by June, and we started on this in December. The quartermaster got for us some old typewriters, Royals.

EE:

I can hear them now in the background. [chuckling]

CF:

It was peck, peck, peck. And we just devised the simplest form that we could think of to get those books ready. So the Marines who were already looking after the one that was established kept on doing that until they had other orders because we were so busy getting things ready for Hadnot.

EE:

Now were the folks who you relieved—the Marines—were they going to go on and go back into active duty infantry, or they were going to go to other library assignments, or how did that work?

CF:

No, one of them went to Officer [Candidate] School, and one—I don't know what Smitty was assigned to. I don't remember, but he went out to Okinawa, he was sent out there, and they went in for other training.

EE:

Well, '43, that was—So this was through June of '43. You had till then to get everything set up at Hadnot?

CF:

We had six libraries to get ready by then, and we had ten in all, so we didn't play.

EE:

Some folks have said that they had felt a little guilty about sending an enlisted fellow off to fight. How did they all talk about that?

CF:

Well, we didn't see it that way.

EE:

How did you?

CF:

Well, that's what the war was about. We hated to see them go, but you have to be in a war situation before you realize how it is.

EE:

You said your brothers joined the service?

CF:

One was in the ir force, he was at Brookley Field in Alabama; one of them went in the army, and he was at New Caledonia for a while; and the other one was a forester and he was exempt. He worked at the navy yard. Well, it was the navy yard in Wilmington. They made ships.

EE:

Wilmington, North Carolina?

CF:

Yes. And then he was in forestry in South Carolina.

EE:

So did you keep in contact with your brothers during the war then? Were you able to keep in contact with your brothers, the ones who were in the service?

CF:

Yes, pretty well.

EE:

Good. Well, now did people treat you all differently or special because you were women coming in? If there were not that many women on the base, I would imagine you had a different experience.

CF:

[chuckling] When the first five of us got there they didn't know what to do with us. There was a big New Year's dance and they sent a bus—They read the table of organization and thought there were eighteen of us—they didn't find out who was there—and there were five of us in that great big bus.

EE:

So they sent a bus for five? [chuckling] Well, now did you all live on the base?

CF:

Another time we were passing a platoon of Marines, and the sergeant thought he would have some fun with us. So he motioned to them to run right into us, and we had to jump the ditch to get away from them. I mean at first they just didn't know how to treat us. But it wasn't long until the women Marines came, and then they didn't know what to do with them. [chuckling]

EE:

So you were no longer the distraction? It was the women in the uniforms that got the—How did the civilian women on base interact with the women Marines? Was there any difference?

CF:

We felt very close to them. I mean, some of them worked in the library—were assigned to the library, especially in their area because they had their own area. See, Hadnot Point was these different areas, and each one was complete in itself. One was for the women Marines, two was for Officer Candidate School, three was the Signal Corps, four was Cooks and Bakers [School], and five was artillery. And they set those units up so that they had a mess hall, they had the barracks, they had their recreation area and their classrooms. See, what they did was to send the men from boot camp to Lejeune for more schooling. That's when they got their special training, some artillery, some cooks and bakers, some signal, and others.

EE:

Now was that the same case when the women Marines' boot camp was elsewhere and they came to Lejeune for special training?

CF:

No, eventually they set up boot training there. All training for women Marines was at Lejeune eventually. Now we also had the black soldiers—I mean Marines.

EE:

They had their own separate—?

CF:

They were at another point. They were at Montford Point, and we had a library there.

EE:

So you had separate staffing for the black Marines and the—Did the women have a separate library? Were they kept apart from them?

CF:

They didn't bring black women in.

EE:

But did the women Marines have a separate library from the—?

CF:

Yes.

EE:

Okay, so you had three different libraries you had to run, three different geographic locations on that base?

CF:

We had to have two people for every library, and we never had that many, so we had all kinds of things to do. As somebody said, we had to be creative to cover all these spots. We saw almost immediately that we needed one big library, but that's not the way they had planned it. And when we complained about it, it was too late, because the war had to be won first.

EE:

Well, and keeping those things separate—I mean the women in the military—they did not want them to be officially part of the military. A lot of resistance. I know in '43—I think it was the army, the WAC [Women's Army Corps] —there was a smear campaign. They didn't want them.

CF:

It was not like it is today. They had their own training, but they were trained to take the place in an office or in something, maybe cooks and bakers, but anyway something they could do, mostly office work. We had some women assigned to us in transportation, so they were assigned to transportation for one thing, and then there were others.

EE:

How did the navy end up being in charge of Marine libraries?

CF:

It's been that way from the beginning.

EE:

So there's not a separate unit?

CF:

You see, they provide for the Marine Corps certain services. One is the chaplains, one is the library, one is the medical staff—

EE:

The navy does all that for them.

CF:

One is the construction. So the Marine Corps doesn't have that separate—The Marine Corps has been part of the navy since it was founded.

EE:

Well now, of your time there, you spent three years at Lejeune?

CF:

Exactly three years, almost to the day.

EE:

So you were there—

CF:

Throughout the war.

EE:

VE [Victory in Europe] Day and VJ [Victory in Japan] Day?

CF:

Yes. Now at the last, the Dutch Marines were sent in to us. You know, after Holland was rid of Hitler, the Dutch Marines were free to come and they were sent over to us for more training, and they were sent to Lejeune. We had six thousand at one time. And when VE Day came, I can still see those Dutch Marines, twelve or twenty abreast—I've forgotten how many—marching around in a circle singing their songs and all so excited, and it was just a wonderful thing. You see, we had spent the whole war in the Pacific. Our Marines left Lejeune, went to Norfolk, got on a ship and went to the Pacific. So we thought entirely of the Pacific because we were concerned about those men we knew, or whether we knew them or not. We would follow their island-hopping, from Guadalcanal all the way to Japan, and we didn't have much contact with the war in Europe. You forget how isolated you can be when there's a war on and you don't hear everything. We didn't hear very much outside of—We didn't hear much of what was going on in the Pacific, but we knew our men were there. So our touch with the Dutch Marines was quite interesting to us.

EE:

You didn't have to furnish a library in Dutch now while they were there, did you? [chuckling]

CF:

My job was to buy some books in Dutch and French and German. I mean, I couldn't get that many Dutch, so I got French and German, English, and some Italian for them. And then when they left, they left soon after that—Not after June, they left about November, to go to Indonesia. Holland, the Netherlands, still owned Indonesia, and so they were on their way there, and we just gave them their whole library to take with them because—

EE:

You weren't going to use it afterwards. [chuckling]

CF:

It didn't mean too much to us. They took over Camp Davis because there were so many of them. Camp Davis had been an Army post, but it had been decommissioned and so they put the Dutch Marines there—part of them. But some of them had been with us from the early days, from the day I went there. There were a few Dutch Marines who were there down at Courthouse Bay, one of our stations, who were on ships or at embassies around the world, and they were free to come, but nobody could come from the Netherlands during the war. But these were men who were not at home, and couldn't go home, so they came to us. And those men when they first came, they had lived by their own wits during those four years until they were released, they were hard to control. Their own officers had difficulty disciplining them and arranging them into battalions because they were independent. And they also had never seen—For four years they had not seen anything like our PXes [post exchanges], which were full of everything, so they bought them all out. They just cleaned them out! And the American Marines were furious because they wanted something too. But those men were sending things home to their girlfriends and their mothers and their sisters and everybody else in their family. They hadn't had anything!

EE:

Now did you actually live on the base when you worked there?

CF:

We lived in the civilian area. They had an area called Midway Park, named for the Battle of Midway, for noncom[missioned] officers who had families, and the privates, private Marines and PFCs [private first class], had to live in a trailer park

EE:

Were you able to go home to see your folks on a regular basis during the war?

CF:

Well, you know we had gas rationing. I told you the size of the base, more than a hundred eighty square miles, and when I needed to get around, I sometimes couldn't get transportation. So my father found an old Chevrolet for me, and I had it, but we were rationed as to gas —A— stamps, and I went home once in a while. When I left I had three months of leave coming to me, which the federal government paid you for. But that's how little I took during the five years.

EE

What's your best memory about that time at Camp Lejeune?

CF:

I don't know, I'd have to think about that.

EE:

You left Lejeune in '45?

CF:

I left in November of '45. The war was over in August. I was asked to go to Pearl Harbor in the spring, but the war was over so suddenly because of the atom bomb that things had to be sort of shaken down again and I didn't go until November.

EE:

You were supposed to go in the spring of '45 then?

CF:

Yes, before the war was over.

EE:

Right. So you were actually at the camp when VJ Day happened, and that's the one that had the most—

CF:

That's right.

EE:

How was that at the camp?

CF:

That was exciting, too. And I was there when [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt died. It was a sad day, for everybody. And then it was jubilant when VJ Day came. It was just like a—What I remember most was trying to get service to the men who needed it. You see, men left Lejeune to go on shipboard to battle. They were all replacing some—By the time we got there, the men had been to Guadalcanal and some of them had come back. Some of them were sent to Australia to be cured of those wounds and the awful—jungle rot, they called it. But some of them came to Lejeune and we saw them. We always knew them because their feet were painted purple, you know, to try to cure those places. The nurses told us that they would scream out in the middle of the night because they couldn't sleep. It was just a horrible time.

But we worked so hard to get books that they could take with them, especially after the Armed Services Editions became available. You know, the publishers gave the military thousands—millions, I guess—of those paperbacks. They called them the Armed Services Editions. They opened up this way instead of this way. They were horizontal instead of vertical, those little paperback editions.

EE:

Why did they do that?

CF:

You all were too young to have seen any of them. But if we could get those—I mean, they would send men out from Lejeune, a hundred at a time, and they would call us and see if they could get some of them to take with them. You see, a Marine in his casuals had eight pockets and he could put one of those books in at least one of them. That means they would have a hundred books with them. They could take them that way. They couldn't take them any other way because they didn't have room.

EE:

So everybody traded titles around.

CF:

They'd at least have something that they could read, when they could read. You know, you've heard in wartime “hurry up and wait a while”?

EE:

Yes.

CF:

Well, they nearly all had times when they had to wait and wait and wait, and there's nothing more boring. They would send us those Armed Services Editions, fifty in a package with a string tied around them, all the same title. Well, you can't hand that to a group of men. They wouldn't tell us they were leaving until the night before. So we would go down and sort those out so that the men would have something to take with them.

EE:

When you got to Pearl Harbor finally, was that a similar kind of work, or what kind of work did you do out there?

CF:

Well, it was just the opposite of what I had done at Camp Lejeune. I was the 14th Naval District Librarian. And what our job was when I got there—you see, the war was over, they were beginning to reduce everything, and so our duty—The biggest thing we had to do then was to decommission the ships and the stations that were going to be decommissioned. They decommissioned a lot of ships and reduced the others. They really couldn't get much done. It took that much time to backtrack, until July of 1946. See, I went in December—I got there in November 1945, just in time for Christmas again.

EE:

What did you do—leave out of Norfolk on a ship to go to Pearl Harbor?

CF:

I went on the train to San Francisco and waited for a ship going to Hawaii. It turned out to be the [USS] Lurline, which was one of the Matson Line ships that had been taken over by the Navy. It was still a troop ship. It had hammocks in all the ballrooms, it had no deck chairs—We were in a cabin for two, and we had fourteen bunks in it. That's the way it was. It had not been changed.

EE:

You didn't have to share it with fourteen people, did you?

CF:

Seven.

EE:

Seven? Oh, okay. [chuckling]

CF:

There weren't that many going out. But that was enough. It was about like the passage over there by my bed. You had to go single-file to get through.

EE:

So you haven't been on many cruises since, I take it? [chuckling]

CF:

That was not a cruise. But the dining room—the officers' mess was open, and they let the women on board—there weren't very many of us—eat with them. And we had delicious food. But we left in a storm, and they sighted mines. They still had mines on the water around San Francisco, so we had to be careful. I mean, it was still wartime. I mean, they hadn't—Well, it was impossible to get everything done. And when I got to Hawaii, there was still barbed wire on the beaches, some of them. The people in Hawaii had had to gear up to do the things that they needed to do to get the war over and now to start cleaning up things for themselves.

EE:

How long were you at Pearl Harbor?

CF:

I was there a year and a half.

EE:

So you came back mid-'47?

CF:

June '47.

EE:

What do you remember about that time, as far as—You said you joined out of a patriotic feeling. Is that the biggest thing you remember about that time, as far as the mood of the country? You were working in a—

CF:

Well, everybody was patriotic. I didn't know but half a dozen people who were not. I ran into a few men who said that it should never have happened, not Marines, people when I went off the base. I know one man said that people were just making money out of the war and we shouldn't be in it. He may have been one who was, I don't know. But I didn't talk to a half a dozen people who didn't want to do everything they could. It was just a different atmosphere. You have to have been in it, I think, to realize just how it was.

EE:

Did the world get smaller because of the war?

CF:

Of course the world was smaller. We learned about places in the Pacific when the Marines went there that we never would have heard of. We never would have known about those little islands there in the Pacific: Pelileu, Tarawa, Okinawa. We don't hear those words mentioned even now. But the Marines knew them, and we did too.

EE:

Who were some of the interesting folks you remembered? Are there personalities you remember from your interaction with the military personnel? Are there characters that stand out in your mind, individuals you met that you remember something [about]?

CF:

One day a Marine Corps officer, a colonel, he was a colonel, he was later made a general. He called me and laid me out, all the words you've ever heard of, or haven't heard, he used. And I said, “Well, Colonel Fenton, I don't know a thing about what you're talking about.” And he said, “You sound like a nice person. I'm going to come over to see you.” So in about ten minutes he showed up, this great big Marine. And when he came in we had all these sacks of magazines around. We had 150 Saturday Evening Posts, we had 150 Lifes, we had 150—all these things. He said, “Well, that's where my magazines came.” And we were delivering them to all of our libraries, you see. But those sacks of mail, we couldn't lift them. And we were on the second floor of a building. They put my office on the second floor of a theater building. And he got to be one of our best friends. He was just a very nice person, but he didn't start off that way.

EE:

He helped you lift those sacks of magazines upstairs?

CF:

He got us some transportation so that we didn't have to handle them. The way we would do it is we'd open the sacks on the ground floor and then carry a handful up. See, we couldn't manage them all.

EE:

Do you remember when you first saw that Iwo Jima picture, about the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima?

CF:

I don't know where I was.

EE:

I just wondered if you remember that, because of course that's meant so much to Marines.

CF:

Yes, I remember the picture but I don't remember where I was.

EE:

Who were your heroes from that time? Who did you admire—heroes and heroines, for that matter? Was Eleanor Roosevelt someone you—

CF:

Yes, I admired her very much. And Roosevelt. I thought they were both doing all that they could. I didn't have time to have heroes. [chuckling]

EE:

That's a good point. After '47 what happened? You came back?

CF:

I went back to Knoxville. I stayed two years.

EE:

You were no longer in the service there?

CF:

I went out of the service in June.

EE:

So you were an employee of the navy, and yet the public—the library division was not officially part of the Department of Navy? It was sort of a civilian—?

CF:

Oh no, it was the Library Section of the Bureau of Naval Personnel of the Navy Department. So we had navy officers in charge.

EE:

Navy officers were your supervisors, and yet they had civilian personnel?

CF:

Well, the library had civilian personnel, from the head of the office on down. Miss DuBois was not navy.

EE:

She was not military.

CF:

She was a navy employee. But her office was part of a navy bureau, Bureau of Naval Personnel. They were the ones who—it was like a Bureau of Navy Welfare. They took care of all the needs of the personnel—

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

EE:

Okay. So how was it that you ended up leaving Hawaii? You just decided you wanted a new job?

CF:

No, they asked me to go back as district librarian, as I had been—come home for leave and then go back. But I wanted to be home. I had been gone five years and I thought it was time to go home.

EE:

Had your brothers come home from service by then?

CF:

Yes, they were all home.

EE:

So everybody came back—

CF:

So I wanted to come home, too. And I went back to Knoxville, stayed two years, and then my parents became ill, so I went home to see about them. And didn't intend to stay there, but the job was open in Asheboro, and had been for a year and a half, and I saw that they needed somebody, so I stayed. Then I got so involved with all the things that we were doing that I stayed thirty years. I never did leave.

EE:

On the way to something else. [chuckling]

CF:

I never did leave. [chuckling]

EE:

Do you think being in the military helped you get that job?

CF:

No, that was not what—The chairman of the board knew me, knew my family, and I was the only one available. I mean, they had no choice. [chuckling]

EE:

So there was a labor shortage.

CF:

There was a labor shortage, so that's the reason I got the job. But it helped me in the job. We had to organize things so fast, and we had to—I supervised all that time, so—We eventually had a staff in Asheboro too, you see, so it helped me.

EE:

So the organizational skills of your experience—you had a lot more on—the—job training than you would have gotten from just library school then?

CF:

I'm sure.

EE:

You think, if you had the chance to do that time over again, you'd pick the same?

CF:

I think I would, under the same circumstances.

EE:

Did you think of yourself as sort of an independent person? Are you kind of independent that way?

CF:

I've always been.

EE:

So it wasn't anything unusual?

CF:

No. [chuckling] No, I've always been independent.

EE:

A lot of the folks we're talking with—and you know from your own experience—people consider the women who were active with our servicemen trailblazers, pioneers. Do you feel that way about yourself, being where you were?

CF:

Somewhat. Somewhat. Now the Navy Library Service started during World War I, and Miss DuBois was one of those librarians, and she stayed on and became head of the section. They served only hospital patients, though. It was only hospital service. And after the war they extended it to ships and stations because they saw how valuable it was. And it was even more necessary in World War II than it had been in World War I because of different things.

EE:

Just so many more places and so many people in the service, I would think.

CF:

That's right. It was a bigger situation. And Miss DuBois had set some rules to go by, that navy librarians would not wear uniforms. We did not wear uniforms. If you were in uniform you were either an enlisted man or an officer, and she wanted us to serve both. Which we did. But you couldn't have done that.

EE:

If you were an officer or had that look.

CF:

If you were either one. And we were not to be given privileges at the PXes. We had to go downtown. We had to go ten miles into town to get food, and by the time we could get there after six o'clock, there was no food left. We'd just have to do the best we can.

EE:

Was it always six o'clock? It sounds like with all the last-minute troops leaving out, you may not have always gotten out at six o'clock, did you?

CF:

We didn't always. And we didn't have telephones between the libraries. I worked from 9:00 until 6:00 on my own schedule, and then all of the other librarians came in to talk to me afterwards, after they got off work, and they worked from 1:00 to 9:00. So you know how long my day was. I gained fifteen pounds after the war was over because I just didn't have pressure. [chuckling]

EE:

You finally had time to eat! [chuckling]

CF:

I didn't have that pressure. Also, she set down the rules—You see, her having been there that long meant that she saw what needed to be done. She was an excellent supervisor. The plan was to have one book per man. If a battleship had a quota of two thousand men, then they would have two thousand books in their basic library. Then they would get these monthly shipments we were talking about, and those little war tugs, which were weather tugs [relayed weather information], not the ones that carry ships in and out of ports, but they were the weather tugs—they'd go out in the ocean. You see, now we have radar and goodness knows what else, and then they didn't have anything. They went out and sat for a month in the Pacific, where they had been told to sit—

EE:

Just to relay weather information?

CF:

To relay what the weather was.

EE:

Like you had the floating lighthouse outside here?

CF:

So they'd come to us for books, and we would steal a few and add to what they were supposed to get because this was terrible duty. It was small, they were cramped. They had a few games they could play, but you get tired of that and everything else, so we always slipped them a few. See, our headquarters at Pearl Harbor—we had a library there. We were right outside the main gate to the navy yard, and we had a library there for the people in that area. By the way, the trucks that came from the pineapple fields into the factories ran right—just as close as we are here to our building, and they'd go by clickety-clack, so much noise. And there was a little 35—gauge railroad, and I would say, “How fast do you think those trains are going by here?” And one of the men would say, “Oh, thirty—five miles an hour.” Well, it sounded like a hundred. And then on the other side of the railroad track was Hickam Field, and those big bombers would go right over our building. So we had noise.

EE:

That was a huge complex, wasn't it? You said it was one hundred eighty square miles down at Camp Lejeune, but Pearl Harbor was a huge complex.

CF:

It's a huge base. There were several installations there on Oahu. You see, Pearl Harbor is built like a small navy. Just about everything the navy has has something at Pearl Harbor. It's the Pacific outpost. They had the shipyard, they had a beautiful harbor where ships could come and go. That's one of the deepest, loveliest harbors. They have naval air stations, they have Marine Corps air stations, they have a receiving station, of course, and they have a headquarters for the district, and they have the Fleet Marine Force. And during the war they have the Coast Guard because during the war the Coast Guard is attached to the navy. It's under the navy because they need it. And they have a hospital.

EE:

You had the same three sets of libraries at Pearl Harbor?

CF:

We had sixteen libraries at Pearl Harbor, each one of these stations. By that time the women were assigned to these different places. They were not separate. So if they worked in an office, then they did whatever they could right there, you see. They used those libraries. But there were sixteen libraries, and only one of them was decommissioned, but they were all reduced. We lost our library staff. There were only two of us left after July of '46. And what we did was to take those sixteen places and divide them up. And Mrs. Thompson, who was the other librarian, took eight of them and I took eight, and we'd go to see them or we'd have their men come in. We had to use enlisted men, and they—

EE:

So you were the supervisor of the enlisted men who worked with it?

CF:

Yes. And we'd have them come in once a month so that we could train them. [chuckling] They were all the way from a college student who was good to a man who hardly knew his alphabet. I have a letter from him. He could write and he could spell to a certain extent, but he had the hardest time with the alphabet in filing books on the shelf. So we worked with all of them and tried to do the best we could.

EE:

How did they feel about working in the library?

CF:

They liked it. The only library they discontinued was the library for civilian housing. Civilians had been there to help with the building and other things, and they closed that. But they kept all the others and just reduced them.

EE:

Now you were only handling book materials. A library now has got so many other—audiovisual, tapes—Did you have music and tapes like that?

CF:

We didn't have any audiovisuals. This was before their day. It's a world apart.

EE:

So there was nobody with a record player? You didn't service those kind of things?

CF:

We had record players in some of the libraries but not all, and we had magazines, lots of magazines.

EE:

I remember this is the day of the pinup girl, as I recall. You didn't have magazines that had things to cut out of them like they do nowadays, did you?

CF:

Oh yes. Not quite as revealing. [laughter]

EE:

Who was the woman who's the million-dollar legs? Was it Betty Grable?

CF:

Betty Grable.

EE:

Yes. Could you tell from damage to the library materials then what was the most popular? [chuckling]

CF:

No, I don't think we could.

EE:

Maybe more gentlemen.

CF:

They got things like that from other sources. [laughter]

EE:

[laughter] That's good, that's good.

CF:

To go back to Camp Lejeune, the libraries at Hadnot Point were in the recreation building. On the bottom floor you had the pool hall and the bowling alley and the beer hall, and upstairs they had the library. No doors. And we complained about that, and they said that the American Library Association approved these plans. And I thought, “I don't quite see that.” And I wondered about the men, but you know they came. They had so much noise in their barracks that this didn't bother them. They came up to the library and sat there oblivious to all that noise from downstairs.

EE:

You were talking about Miss DuBois, and is it B-o-i-s?

CF:

B-o-i-s.

EE:

Did she actually come down and do inspections for your facilities?

CF:

Well, you know, can you imagine, I've forgotten how many stations there were throughout the country—

EE:

I just wondered, because you were a brand—new facility when you got first got there.

CF:

We were one of the first to be established, and then we were asked to send four of our staff to new places that were opening in California. And they were opening them all the time, you see. They left in 1944. There were I don't know how many navy stations in North Carolina. See, most of them were in the South because they could be open all—training could be all year. There were some in the north but not as many. Miss DuBois retired in 1946. I've written all this out, but I need your help on that because I don't type anymore. And I wrote this out, but if somebody could just type that up. It's only nine pages. I didn't put all this in, but part of it.

EE:

Okay. That would be great. We'd love to have that.

CF:

And then there's another envelope that has a newspaper article that explains all this, a lot of this.

EE:

About how the service was organized?

CF:

It was a big newspaper sheet and I've cut it up. I've ordered some material to take the backing off of it and it hasn't come, but I'm sure you have something.

EE:

We've got some people who will deal with that.

CF:

You can fix those two things. But the other things, I've got some pictures and some—all that correspondence during the war. It's just hard to explain it because we're so sedate now compared with the way things were.

EE:

That's right. We have had a long peacetime stretch. When you think about it, we have been very blessed. You came back and you worked in Asheboro, and that was—?

CF:

Thirty years, and I've been retired twenty.

EE:

But you've been active in Woman's College and then UNCG for a long time after the war. When did you start coming back as an alumna? When did you get involved back with the university?

CF:

I've never been out. All during the war I sent my dues. I've been a member ever since I graduated.

EE:

So you read the alumni magazine during the—Did they have an alumni magazine then?

CF:

Yes, I even sent an article to Miss [Clara Booth] Bird [Alumnae Secretary]. I've got that in there, too. I can't find the printed article.

EE:

Do you keep up with classmates of yours? How were your connections with the university? Was it friends or just the alumni association? How did that work?

CF:

Well, I can't go anymore, so it's not a matter of going. But I still am a member of the Friends of the Library, I still am a member of the Alumnae Association. I was given an alumnae award one year. And I certainly have contributed all this time whether I could go or not.

EE:

What do you think about the changes that have happened to the school? The big one, I guess, is when it went from being a women's college to coed.

CF:

That was the biggest.

EE:

What do you think about that change?

CF:

I don't know where I was then. I guess I was at home.

HT:

That was in 1963.

CF:

I was in Asheboro.

EE:

How did you feel about that?

CF:

Well, I thought the school had lost something, because it could no longer be a close association, but I thought it had gained something too. You can't have it both ways.

EE:

I guess you learned that working—a county employee having to argue budgets for thirty years. [chuckling]

CF:

You know, people have wondered how it was working with the military. We had never had anybody in the military in our family except one uncle in World War I, and I had no idea how I would be treated. It was just like a whole new world, and I've never been treated with more respect than I was by the Marines. And the budgets were simple compared with those that I had to fight for in my county office for thirty years.

EE:

Do you miss the organization?

CF:

At least they were not disagreeable. Well, most of the things were just on a routine scale anyway. But when we asked for something special, and we had a good reason for it, they would grant it. I know we needed extra money for extra books because the navy sent just so many. You know, they were not prepared to send us all that we needed for a place the size of Lejeune. We had—well, you can't tell what the population was because it fluctuated so. Men would be there and then they would be gone, and then they would come back and then they'd be gone. So at times there were fifty thousand people there, which is like a small city, and we never had enough funds. So I would appear before the Camp Council. And if I had a reasonable request, they always granted it. And General Marston when he came—they were already making money in their PXes and they couldn't—They had to use it somehow for the men, so—

EE:

So the budget you had to do on the base was determined by this Camp Council then? It wasn't through the national—?

CF:

No, it's for extra things, the Camp Council. The navy supplied the routine things. But they were very sensible. Well, I didn't go to them with anything outlandish, in the first place. If I could present something that was needed and they had it, they would grant it. Like the Dutch Marines who needed some extra materials, they understood that. When we asked for a thousand dollars a month for extra books because we needed them, and that was granted from the PX funds.

EE:

In your time at Asheboro, tell me about just a few things. What was memorable in your work career when you got back to Asheboro? What are some of the things you think that—

CF:

Well, we had five libraries in five towns, and oh, so much needed to be done. You see, they had started in the Depression and in the war years, three during the Depression and two during the war years, and they couldn't do anything.

EE:

Were they started like this Carnegie Endowment Library?

CF:

Oh no. They just had a few hundred books and a limited place to be in, rented places or donated places. One was in the city hall—the Asheboro Library was just a room in the city hall—and so everything had to be done.

EE:

So you had to learn about building buildings?

CF:

And it took us fourteen years to get the new library building, and then we built four new libraries. It took us fourteen years to get the one in Asheboro, and our libraries in Randolph are built by the towns. The county supplies the services but the towns own the buildings. It's a cooperative program, and a very sensible one. So we built those libraries and then later we added two more. So, with the bookmobile service and the county headquarters, you have—I don't know how many. [chuckling] About nine, eight or nine. But it's a cooperative program. It's entirely different from the Guilford system. We've been a county program from the beginning. You see, there are no large towns.

EE:

Asheboro is the biggest.

CF:

Asheboro is the largest.

EE:

Well, you have Ramseur, Randleman—

CF:

Liberty, Trinity, Archdale, Seagrove, Franklinville. But Asheboro is the largest one. And from the beginning, the girls who started—The library was started by a group of women in Asheboro, and so was the one in Ramseur, during the Depression. And from the beginning they called it the Randolph Library, so it's been county-wide from the beginning.

EE:

What's your favorite book?

CF:

Hmm.

EE:

A woman who spent her whole life around books, I'd be curious to know.

CF:

I don't have a favorite. I have too many.

EE:

Do you like fiction or nonfiction?

CF:

Nonfiction. I like biography and travel and history. I don't care too much for fiction.

EE:

What kind of history did you study? American history?

CF:

Well, when I came along you studied everything, and I taught everything, ancient, modern European, American, two classes of civics a day, and one of English. So I had six preparations every day. There were 150 students in the high school.

EE:

So you taught in the high school?

CF:

In high school.

EE:

Can you think of any other questions?

HT:

The only question I can really think of is one going back to your days at college. What was college life like in the late 1920s?

CF:

Well, we were all women, of course. I don't know how many were in our graduating class. It was just a good experience for me. I wanted to know about other things, I was always interested, and I didn't get enough in my high school days, and college was just an opening for me. I enjoyed every bit of it. It was hard work. We had such a poor high school. We had some extra difficulties my senior year, so my freshman year at UNCG I had to do my high school and my freshman year all at once, so that was mostly work. But my sophomore year I began to realize I had caught up, and so it was an interesting time. And then my junior year it began to open up some more. Really, Dr. Wade Brown—I don't know whether you've ever heard of him or not—in the Music Department, brought such wonderful things to the campus, that we were treated to things—Well, they have things now, but I don't think students are required to go. We were not required, but we were given tickets to go.

HT:

Was this part of the Concert/Lecture Series?

CF:

Yes.

HT:

That's what it's called today.

CF:

Yes, it's the pre-runner of that. I've been to several of those things when I lived in Asheboro. We had opera, our first taste of opera, and our first taste of big orchestras, and singers. We heard Fritz Kreisler. We had the very best. Dr. Brown saw to it that we had the very best of entertainment brought to us, and so there were wonderful things to do in addition to your class work. And then my senior year I was a marshal and a house president, and—

EE:

Did the women stay mostly on campus?

CF:

I stayed on campus all the time. I don't think you get much out of college unless you do.

HT:

I guess there were very few day students. There were very few students who didn't stay on campus in those days.

CF:

That's right. Nobody had a car. Nobody. Maybe some town students. I mean people who lived in Greensboro did, but I didn't know of anyone who owned one who stayed in a dormitory.

HT:

What do you remember about the traditions on campus, like the Daisy Chain and May Day?

CF:

Well, I was part of the Daisy Chain my sophomore year, and we had—not sororities but—What were they called?

HT:

Were they called societies?

CF:

Societies. We had four societies that we were automatically part of. I was a Dikean and I was a Dikean marshal. The societies elected the marshals. And we had meetings. And the Playlikers were excellent. They put on plays, two or three a year. It was part of their training.

HT:

Were you involved in any of the plays? Did you participate?

CF:

No, I was never part of those, but I did sing with some choirs. We had music at Christmas and I remember performing in one of those. But Dr. Brown was an excellent head of the department. And we had housemothers. That's unheard—of now, I guess. But each dormitory was assigned a person, who didn't really look after us but she was there if we needed her. And we had to keep our rooms clean, which is unheard—of now. We had inspection once a week, and that's unheard-of.

HT:

It is unheard-of. [chuckling]

CF:

I went in one dormitory room recently, maybe ten years ago, and I said, “I'm never going in another one,” because I'd never seen such filth.

EE:

Could you cook in the rooms? I know some people have talked about—you know, they were worried about the wiring in those old dormitories?

CF:

Well, we had a hot plate and we could make cocoa after hours. We were supposed to be in bed, and we could have been chastised, but we made hot chocolate.

HT:

I talked to another lady who became an Army dietician, and they took sugar and the rinds from oranges and grapefruits and made candy in the dorm rooms.

CF:

We never did do that. We made hot chocolate. And sneaked around and visited. But we did have to keep our rooms clean.

HT:

I talked to a lady the other day who graduated in 1930. Her name was Nina Greenlee. She lives up in Old Fort, [North Carolina]. Do you know her?

CF:

Oh, I know her well! Did you talk with her about her foreign service?

EE:

She was in finance. Yes, she was stationed in Italy for a little while. I talked to her last week.

CF:

Yes, and in Spain, she was in Spain. Yes, I knew her. She was in my class.

HT:

How about Daphine Doster? She was the class of '27. She was in music—a music major.

CF:

Who?

HT:

Daphine Doster.

CF:

No, I didn't know her. You were more or less confined to the people who were in your dormitory or in your classes. If somebody took music or home ec[onomics], I seldom saw them because—or physical education. I seldom saw them because they were busy and I was busy. I spent most of my time in the library.

HT:

When you were there the library was in what's now the Forney Building, I guess.

CF:

Yes, the library was in the Forney Building. Mother was one of Mr. Forney's students, so that name is very familiar to me. She was always quoting what Mr. Forney said to her. [chuckling]

HT:

The library burned at one time.

CF:

That's right.

HT:

Do you remember when that was?

CF:

No, I don't.

HT:

I think it was in the late twenties or early thirties, I can't remember exactly when, but I know it was rebuilt in the thirties. It might have been after you graduated. I can't remember right now.

CF:

I'm sure it was. It was not while I was there. I must have been in Maxton when it happened. Now my aunt, Mother's sister, was there when the dormitory burned—in 1902?

HT:

That sounds about right.

CF:

Nineteen one or two.

EE:

That's when they decided to put Spencer [Residence Hall] on the low level.

HT:

What was your mother's maiden name, so we can look her up?

CF:

Spencer.

HT:

She was a Spencer?

CF:

Lizzie—Elizabeth Spencer.

HT:

Spencer, okay. And your aunt?

CF:

Clara Spencer.

HT:

We'll look that up.

CF:

Now, did you ever know Marjorie Hood?

HT:

I've heard the name.

CF:

Well, Marjorie was a friend of mine. She was not in my class, but we were friends in the Library Association. She worked in the UNCG Library. She sent me some letters that Mother had written to Mr. [Charles] McIver, President McIver, saying that she'd have to be late for some reason or other. But I mean they corresponded with Mr. McIver in her day.

HT:

That's wonderful. Do you still have those letters, by any chance?

CF:

The college was only eight years old. She made copies of the things that are in the archives.

EE:

They're already in the archives there?

CF:

They're in the archives.

EE:

Okay, we'll probably check his collection.

CF:

I don't know how you have these things arranged. I left them just the way I found them. I mean, I brought them home with me. Maybe you'd like to look at what I have.

EE:

Well, we'll close this for now. Thank you for this interview, and we'll get back with you.

[End of interview]