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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Julia Hill Gunn, 1999

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Object ID: WV0060.5.001

Description: Documents Julia H. Gunn’s life during the Depression; her time at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) in the early 1940s; her service in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) from 1945 to 1947; and her post-war employment.

Summary:

Gunn recalls family life during the Depression, including her father’s frequent unemployment and subsequent relocations for new jobs. She shares the story of traveling to visit her family in Washington State while she was in high school.

Most discussion focuses on Gunn’s time at Woman’s College during World War II. She recalls living in Gray dorm; the science department and Florence Schaefer; political science instructor Louise Alexander; her coursework and class registration; knitting for the soldiers; restrictions on dating; having ORD (Overseas Replacement Depot) servicemen living on campus; and her extensive efforts as stage manager for the Playlikers drama troupe. Gunn also recalls her experiences on campus following the attack on Pearl Harbor; on VE Day; and on hearing about President Roosevelt’s death.

Gunn discusses her time serving in the WAVES from 1945 to 1947. She remembers her parents’ reaction to her desire to enlist and subsequent basic training at Hunter College, including her drill instructor, VJ Day celebration, and getting a tour of a German submarine. She talks about being an aerographer’s mate at Lakehurst, New Jersey; working at the Navy Weather Central; the monotonous process of doing weather observations; bonding with her bunkmate; sightseeing and social activities in New York City and Washington, D.C.; and attempting to transfer to another base. Service discussion ends with Gunn recalling missing the window to sign on for another two years while waiting for a transfer to Banana River, Florida.

Post-service topics include a trip across the country with her bunkmate to a Colorado dude ranch during her final leave; working at North Carolina State in the chemistry department; meeting and marrying her husband; and working odd jobs before retiring.

Creator: Julia Hill Gunn

Biographical Info: Julia Hill Gunn of Lexington, North Carolina, was an aerographer's mate in the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) from 1945 to 1947.

Collection: Julia Hill Gunn 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:

My name is Eric Elliott and I'm with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro [UNCG], and I'm here today in—Your mailing address says Reidsville, Mrs. Gunn, but it's actually, from what I can tell, Wentworth.

JG:

Well, we are still on a Reidsville route. Wentworth has recently been incorporated, and we hope to get our rural routes back shortly. It will change to Wentworth sometime in the next few years, but I'll still live on Gunn Town Road.

EE:

You'll still live on Gunn Town Road and will be there. This is the home of Julia Gunn. And thank you for having us today, Mrs. Gunn. This is for the Women Veterans Oral History Collection, part of the Women Veterans History Project at UNCG. I'm going to start off, as I said, asking you today about the same kind of questions that we ask everyone, but the first set of questions are going to be basically about you, where you were born and where you grew up.

JG:

I was born in Lexington, North Carolina, over in Davidson County. I lived there for about the first ten years, during the Depression and all that, and when the mills closed, my dad, who had been a mill manager, of course didn't have a job for some time. He finally began working for the state, so we moved several times to get more in the area that he was working as a cotton inspector. We moved from Lexington, I think when I was about ten or eleven, spent two years in Lenoir [North Carolina], because of their—at that time one of the top bands in the state. And my brother was a clarinetist, and so we moved there so he could be in this good band. And then after he graduated from high school, we ended up at Montreat, North Carolina. It's a Presbyterian center, although we're not Presbyterians, but we were familiar with it, and I loved living there. I finished my high school in the high school department at Montreat College. By that time, my dad had gotten a job with DuPont as a construction engineer. This was in 1941, when they were beginning to gear up for war. We weren't in it yet, but they were doing it. So, at the time I went to WC [Woman's College, now UNCG] in 1941, my dad had already moved to Indiana. So Mother saw me off to college and then they left.

EE:

You just have the one brother?

JG:

One brother, who's four years older than I.

EE:

And what did your mom do?

JG:

Well, she was a housewife mostly, but when Dad lost his job when everything closed down, she did various and sundry jobs. She was a dental technician, a saleslady part-time, whatever we could get to get money to live on. That's the way it was back in the 1930s. [chuckling] And he picked up a few little things here and there, but nobody needed a mill manager at that point, or a construction engineer or anything else, until some of the military—Well, the buildings that Daddy did during the war mostly were things like smokeless powder plants. He ended up building quite a few of the nuclear facilities. Nobody knew what they were.

EE:

Was he over at Oak Ridge [Tennessee]?

JG:

He ended up at Oak Ridge twice. He was in Morgantown, West Virginia. See, every vacation from WC I went to a different state. [chuckling]

EE:

Just go find your family. [chuckling]

JG:

Yeah, I had a great time. We were in Morgantown, West Virginia, and that was where they developed the trigger for the bomb. One summer he was out in Washington state building at Hanford. I don't know what all they did out there. I think that was making the heavy water for it, but it was something in the nuclear processing. And I didn't expect to get out there, but during the summer between my junior and senior year as I worked at the scout camp that my roommate had been in the previous year, I just needed something to do that summer, although I could stay with my aunt in Lexington in between times. But shortly before—Well, two weeks before school was to start, my mother wired me. I've got a lot of telegrams from that period because that's the way you communicated. You didn't call, you sent wires, and it didn't take as long or cost as much. So, “Come on out.” So I left Lexington—No, I was in Winston-Salem [North Carolina] with my roommate, visiting her family. So Mr. Burke put me on a bus, and he didn't approve of this at all, and sent me to Washington State. I got on the bus in Winston at noon on Monday, and Mother and Daddy met me in Walla Walla, Washington, at noon on Saturday. And this was day and night bus travel.

EE:

See the U.S.A. [chuckling]

JG:

Yeah, I saw the U.S.A.

EE:

A big swath of the U.S.A.

JG:

Yeah, I really did. I had a great time.

EE:

You had a young enough body to take a six-day bus trip. [chuckling]

JG:

Well, you wouldn't dare do anything like that, even ten years later. But along about Louisville, Kentucky, I got up with a girl who was going out to see her fiancé. Well, they were going to get married before he went overseas in San Francisco. So she and I bummed together from Louisville as far as Salt Lake City. It just gave you somebody to be with and talk with. The buses were full of soldiers. Usually, particularly when we got out in the Midwest, there would be four busloads out each leg of the trip. We got to one place, I've forgotten now where it was—in Colorado—which must have been Denver, and they only had one bus going out, and so the other three busloads—it wasn't Denver, it wasn't that big. It was in Wyoming, Cheyenne, Wyoming—it wasn't all that big a place then. So the other three busloads of us, who by that time pretty much everybody was acquainted with everybody else, so we walked down the street to a nearby movie theater and went in and slept until they called us, when they finally got three more buses in. So then we all went back and hopped on the bus and continued our trip. So I had three days at home, and then along about Tuesday they put me on a bus in Walla Walla, and I got back to Greensboro the following Monday, went out to WC and registered for my senior year, and then I took a bus over to my aunt's in Lexington and slept for two days before I came back for my first class.

EE:

So your two weeks to go out there and back, and you had three days there.

JG:

And three days at home. I wouldn't have missed it for anything in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was safer then. The bus drivers looked after you. The soldiers that were on the buses with you, most of them had girlfriends at home or were traveling to see them before they had to go overseas. And occasionally where we might have missed a bus, a couple of them would say—You know, because they always put the soldiers on first, and a couple of them would say, “Come on, you're with us.” Of course the bus drivers knew better, but as long as the soldiers—So we'd get on, and the guys would sit where they were and this other girl and I would sit together. The girls mostly paired up like that on trips like this. But it was no problem, no big deal, we just had a great time.

EE:

Well, let me ask you a little-You say you graduated from high school in Montreat?

JG:

Montreat.

EE:

In '41?

JG:

Yes.

EE:

Did you like school? Your brother obviously was into music big time. That's why you moved to Lenoir. What were your favorite subjects in school?

JG:

Oh, in high school it was mostly math. But I didn't want to be a teacher, so I didn't know what I was going to take in college. I had chemistry my last year of high school, and loved that, so that's what I wanted to get into in college. I don't know really how I got to WC. Mother and Daddy more or less engineered that. I don't remember thinking that much about it. In those days you didn't have to plan so far ahead to get into a college.

EE:

Yeah, you didn't have to have your entire life savings devoted to it. [chuckling]

JG:

No, you didn't. And that might have been one thing—Well, they knew I was good in math and science, and WC—well, it has a good reputation for everything, but it was one of the best for women to take math and science courses. So they pretty much set that up, which suited me fine. So I came to WC, not knowing anybody or anything about it, from a high school class that—My senior class had, I think, twenty-eight people in it. But we had the advantage there. Our high school teachers also taught in the junior college, so I think I was a little better prepared for college-level work than a lot of high school seniors. I didn't have all that many extracurricular stuff because the girls—Montreat was a girls' school at that time, totally, and it was kind of self-contained. There were no intramural sports or anything—anyway, with other teams. We just stayed amongst ourselves more or less. But the training I got there was unusually good, I found out later from my roommate and some of my friends who had been to the big high schools in Winston and Charlotte and all that. I got along just as—well, actually better, in a way, than a lot of them.

EE:

The fall when you went off to school, was that the first time you'd been away from home for any long period of time?

JG:

Yeah.

EE:

Of course, you were getting close, but your dad still had family in Lexington.

JG:

Yeah.

EE:

So you had some people nearby.

JG:

Yeah, I knew people in Lexington. That was about as close as they were. But back then you didn't leave campus till Christmas. Well, the freshmen were not even allowed to leave for—I think the first six weeks, but even after that you just didn't take any extended times away. You didn't live off campus or anything like that, you lived in the dorms.

EE:

Freshmen had to live on campus. Did everybody else have to live on campus, too?

JG:

I don't know that they had to, but most of them did.

EE:

What was your dorm then?

JG:

I was in Gray Dorm the first year. And this might have had something to do with it. The counselor in Gray Dorm was a Mrs. Hunter, and she had been my mother's Girl Guide leader back in the Dark Ages when they camped out and climbed Mount Mitchell and all those kind of things like that. And Mother and Mrs. Hunter had kept in touch over the years, and she knew she was a freshman dorm counselor, so she put me in Mrs. Hunter's dorm so I would be looked after. [chuckling] I didn't particularly like that idea, but it was all right.

EE:

So she told you in advance, “Now Mrs. Hunter will take care of you,” that kind of thing? [chuckling]

JG:

Yeah. Well, I didn't know they were that close, but anyway—Well, she did. She picked my roommate among the ones that were in—you know, for the room assignments. And she knew this Mary Burke because Mary's older sister had been in her dorm and I think maybe had been a junior counselor in the dorm, whatever they called them at that time, and so it worked out fine. Mary and I roomed together all four years, which was something of a record, I think.

EE:

Yeah, that's rare.

JG:

And kept in touch until her death a few years ago. She lived in Washington State. I never got to see her after she moved out there, but—

EE:

That's great, though, to keep in contact. You're going off in '41, this is before Pearl Harbor.

JG:

Yeah.

EE:

But you said your dad had gotten this job right as you're starting school with DuPont because they are gearing up for war.

JG:

Yes. His first thing was at a smokeless powder plant, is the first thing he worked on for them.

EE:

As a teenager, were you that worried about the war over in Europe or about Hitler or any of those things, or was that just another world to you?

JG:

I knew it was there, but I didn't know anything about it. I guess I was as naïve, or even more so than a lot of people, because we were isolated in Montreat. In the summertime the place overran with people, and I usually spent more time with my aunt, the one I mentioned I lived with some in Lexington. It was my mother's only sister. Her husband was a Presbyterian minister, and I spent a lot of my vacations with them. You asked if I had been away from home. The only places I had been away from home would be visiting relatives. Either my Aunt Martha and Uncle Bill, wherever he was preaching at the time—We spent all our Christmases there. The whole family went to their place for Christmas. Or I'd come back to Lexington to visit some of my dad's folks in Lexington.

EE:

What was your brother doing at that time when you went off? Was he still with the band?

JG:

No, when he finished Davidson [College]—Let's see, he was a senior at Davidson when I was a freshman at WC. I didn't like him because he never came to visit me. He always sent me a wire saying, “I'm broke and I can't come this weekend,” after I had planned to see him. He graduated from Davidson the same time after my freshman year at WC, and we were living in New Albany, Indiana, at the time. Okay, he came home from Davidson. And his eyesight is extremely poor, he's had bad eyesight all his life. He wears those thick glasses that are so thick on the side and thin in the middle.

EE:

Coke bottle lenses?

JG:

Yeah, definitely. So he couldn't get a job at that time, even in '41, unless you were rated 4-F. So he took his little bag of overnight—whatever he had to have, and went over to the recruiting office, expecting to be tested and sent right back home so he could get a job. That evening he called and said, “They took me. I'm going to Fort Benjamin Harrison at Indianapolis.” [chuckling] So he was in the army. Very unexpected.

EE:

Right there, as soon as you're starting school, he's going off to the army.

JG:

Yeah, by my sophomore year. That was '42, see, when they were getting—He graduated in '42 and wanted to get a job. He was a math and music major. He's an excellent mathematician, went into accounting, all that kind of stuff later. So he ended up in the army [chuckling], although no one expected that. With his math—I was behind him in school, and it was really unfortunate because he was-Well, he was brilliant. His IQ was so high back in those days it was off the charts. They couldn't read it. They didn't know what it was. And I had to come along three years later and, “Oh, you're Bob Hill's sister.” [chuckling] “Yeah.” I didn't have that much trouble in school because I knew I had to study, I knew it was expected of me. My parents expected me to go to school and go to college and do well. And if I didn't do well, then I studied till I did do well. I mean, it was just a given then.

EE:

When you got to WC, how did you like it?

JG:

I was lonesome, of course, the first few weeks. That was why I was mad at Bob, because he was supposed to come up that first weekend and he didn't, and I was a little upset. My roommate's family came over from Winston to see her. Well, her mother was dead, but an aunt had raised her. Her father and aunt came over, and she had an older sister that had just graduated from there, and they all came over. Well, I think that first weekend I wasn't even allowed to go off campus. I don't think any of us were allowed off campus, even with family. I'm not sure. But anyway I was staying there expecting my brother, and that's why I got mad at him. After that we stayed too busy. I mean, weekends we were catching up and studying. There were a lot of things to do around campus.

EE:

Music programs and social—Did you have dances back then on a regular basis? I know some of the—what was it, the Adelphians?

JG:

Yeah, ORD base was established there—Overseas Replacement Depot, I think it was.

EE:

Right.

JG:

Later they did. I wasn't much into dancing. I was a tomboy. We could go over to the gym and work out or swim or play tennis, something like that. But mostly by the time of the weekend we were either sleeping or studying. We were tired, because they worked you.

EE:

Any particular professors or courses stand out in your mind from those times?

JG:

Yeah, my biology professor was my advisor the first two years, a Dr. Ritchie, Dr. Lawrence Ritchie. I went in planning to be a lab tech and take all of those more biological sciences. When I got to bacteriology and realized that those classmates of mine were going to be sticking my arm to draw blood, I decided I didn't want to be a lab tech. I decided to go for straight chemistry. So I did not take that second bacteriology. Of course, the head of the chemistry department, Florence Schaefer, was incredible. She's one of the most brilliant teachers I've ever had that could get down on-I was fortunate to have her as a freshman. She could get down on our freshman level and teach us—I mean really teach, not just—

EE:

Some of the most brilliant people are terrible teachers.

JG:

That's what I found out over the years. I mean, if they are too smart in their own field they can't teach it. But she was wonderful. I had her for most of my chemistry courses, all that she taught in the department I took and I had, right on through to the senior chemistry. Oh, there were a lot of different teachers in there. I did not like history and English, but I had to take them. See, I don't have a B.S. [bachelor of science degree] in a science. They would not let women get B.S.'s in things like science and math. You had to have an A.B. [bachelor of arts] degree so you would have the general knowledge. This goes back to the founding days when “educate a woman and you educate a family.” We had to have all that basic English and history and all the various social studies and foreign language. I ended up with three years of French. I'd had French in high school. And I don't even remember the first two years names, but the third year was conversational French with Monsieur Hardrée. I liked him, he was hard, because my southern accent didn't fit French too well. [chuckling] But I had met him over at the—He did take part in some of the Playlikers [drama group] plays over at the auditorium, and I had met him there, so I tolerated him while I got my extra year.

Since they would not let me take all the sciences I wanted, I ended up with a whole long list of one-semester courses just picked up here, there, and yonder, which is the reason for the extra year of French. And I had an extra year of political science that I didn't need for my social studies thing because they wouldn't let me take the science courses. My roommate was a home ec[onomics] major, and one of my one—semester courses was just called “General Home Ec for Non-Home Ec Majors.” This was long about my junior or senior year or something, and when I'd come back to the room and tell Mary what we had been taught that day, she just hollered every time. Because she was, of course, going into it in depth. She went in for dietary. She got work as a hospital dietitian after she graduated. And all these little things that the home ec teachers were trying to teach us non-home ec majors that we weren't interested in, but we had to have some credits—It was fun. I don't remember—Well, there were several other teachers, but my science teachers are the ones that stood out mostly.

EE:

Were you looking to get employed as a chemist at that time?

JG:

That's right.

EE:

Did you have some connections through the school who were going to help you get that kind of work, or did they give you some suggestions on where to—?

JG:

Oh, I think people came—Companies sent people to the campus for interviews. I really don't remember all that much, because by my senior year I was focusing on wanting to join the WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service—U.S. Navy].

EE:

What made that switch?

JG:

I don't know where I came up with that. Maybe I was fascinated by uniforms, I don't know. But, see, that was the year of '43 to '44. I mean, the war was ever-present. We went through all the ration book bits. I think you've probably heard of that from some others. When you went home on vacation, you took your ration books with you. When you came back from vacation, you had to bring a certain number of those meat and canned goods and everything, sugar stamps—They let you know which ones you had to bring back. You couldn't leave them home for your family to use.

EE:

So everybody's rations would help contribute to the school being able to feed everybody, in other words.

JG:

Yeah, they had to have the ration books there for the—It was canned goods and meats and sugar and—it seems to me there was something else in the way of food.

EE:

Actually, most of the people we've interviewed have graduated before that actually hit the campus, so there's not much—But I can imagine that. And with everybody having to be on campus—And this was what, you'd turn in your ration stamps to the cafeteria staff, then enable you to get your food for that day, or how did it work?

JG:

We turned them in when we got back to campus. They just took them up as you registered, and then they cooked from them. I don't know how they were able to get extra food, if they needed more than what our ration books allowed them to buy, because I know at home you really were careful about using your books.

EE:

How often did you get a ration book?

JG:

That I'm not sure.

EE:

It came through the mail? Did you have to go down and sign up for them?

JG:

Mother did, I guess. I don't know how that was set up. They were issued, I think, to your home. The family had to sign up for it and get it. I don't know whether they were mailed or whether—They were probably picked up by the local office of whatever it was.

EE:

I could see mail fraud happening big time. If it was through the mail, someone would be tempted to take the coupons.

JG:

Well, they might have, but I don't remember that there was a big problem with that kind of crime in those days. It was a totally different world before 1940. Everybody was helping everybody because everybody needed help.

EE:

You were focused on the WAVES, you never had any thought about entering any of the other branches of service, the WACs [Women's Army Corps] or the—?

JG:

No, because my brother, who was in the Philippines at the time, said, “If you join the WACs, I'll come home and wring your neck.” I don't know, I guess he had been around a lot of them. I don't know, but anyway—No, I was more interested in the WAVES. I believe by that time this uncle I mentioned, the Presbyterian minister, was in the navy as a chaplain, and he was in the Pacific with the Marine battalions. He was over age but he pulled a few strings, and he wasn't satisfied just being in the [U.S.] Navy, he had to be with the Marine raider battalions. And at one time he was the most decorated, and also probably the most wounded, chaplain that the navy had. He was in all the beachhead—you know, going in with his Marine company, with nothing to save him but a helmet. [chuckling]

EE:

What was his name?

JG:

McCorkle, William McCorkle, M-c-C-o-r-k-l-e. That might have influenced me some, that he was in the navy, because he was my favorite uncle, uncle-in-law.

EE:

Did the fact that—who was it? I think McAfee, Lieutenant Commander [Mildred] McAfee, I think she eventually got an R.N. [registered nurse] degree from WC [sic, McAfee did not receive a degree from Woman's College], and she spoke at WC. Were you there when she spoke at WC?

JG:

I don't recall that.

EE:

What about the fact that Miss [Harriet] Elliott from the school was up in Washington?

JG:

She was in Washington. Of course, she wasn't in the military. She was in the president's something or other. [chuckling]

EE:

Were you aware of that then?

JG:

Oh yes, because she had been on campus the first year or two and then she was gone working. On campus we had all the—you know, rolling bandages and—I don't know, we won't call the war games exactly, but on freshman initiation day if you [were] an upperclassman, you'd catch a freshman and yell out, “Divebomber!” they had to hit the dirt. We usually tried to pick a mud puddle for them to hit. And that kind of stuff. They tried to organize groups for awareness. I think a lot of it was meetings about— Well, I guess about the only thing they did was rolling bandages. Oh, and knitting. My roommate was an excellent knitter, and so she was always knitting. She could do sweaters. For the soldiers. They provided the khaki yarn, and any of the girls that could knit would knit sweaters and scarves or mittens and things like that. I've never been any good with any kind of needlework, but Mary convinced me I should at least do a scarf, which is just across and turn over and across. I couldn't even do that right. She had to finish it for me. Then, of course, the soldiers were on campus. They were strict enough anyway, but they got much stricter when ORD moved in. Because there were a lot of soldiers on campus, the dorms were very strict about where they could go. I'm shocked when I go over there now and there's men and women wandering all over everywhere and rooming side-by-side.

EE:

That's right, it used to be just in the parlor down in the—

JG:

Yeah, you came in the parlor, and unless you had parents' permission and you were dating somebody, you had to date in the parlor. You didn't go out with somebody without your parents' permission.

EE:

Oh, so you weren't allowed to leave the dormitory. You had to stay there.

JG:

Yeah, at first. They loosened up a little bit after, but generally I think still only after parents' permission. I wasn't into dating all that much. I was too busy with—See, I had at least four and sometimes five labs a week, three-hour labs, plus the other courses I had to take. I did then and still do a lot of reading, for fun. That big thick book behind your head there is mine. I'm working my way through.

EE:

Oh yes, he's got a few big thick books.

JG:

Yeah, I like Tom Clancy books, but he wanders too much, like I'm doing.

EE:

See, what you're telling me is—A lot of the folks that I've talked to, I think, entered the service in '42 and '43—in '43 a lot of them had gone in. But that's when you were on campus making the decision, '43-44, between your junior and senior year. Now, at that time did you not have to have parental permission? What did your parents think about joining?

JG:

If you were under twenty-one you had to have the parents' permission. My birthday's in August, and I was only nineteen at the end of my junior year. They made a deal, said, “If you will go for your senior year, we will let you go in a few months early, in June when you're still twenty, a couple of months ahead of your twenty-first birthday.”

EE:

They just wanted you to finish and get the degree.

JG:

Yeah, they wanted me to finish, which was wise. I didn't argue too much when I was elected to be the stage manager for the Playlikers. I had been working at the auditorium on the stage crew probably from my sophomore year— That's where I spent a lot of my weekends and nights when I could get out of the dorm. I did the stage construction work. I didn't want to act on stage, anything like that, and I was nothing on costuming or makeup or any of that. The construction of the scenery is what I thoroughly enjoyed. In the last of my junior year then I was elected to the Playlikers and I became the stage manager for my senior year. So I didn't object too much to staying over an extra year after that. Old Aycock Auditorium was my second home. I have a note from my roommate in my scrapbook I found the other day, “Why aren't you ever at home? I never see you anymore.” So they were busy days. I enjoyed it. Dormitory life is fine for me. Military life suited me fine. I had no objection.

EE:

You finished in June of '45.

JG:

Yes.

EE:

But now, a lot of things were happening in your senior year. So let's talk about the world and how you view military service. Because when you're thinking you're making this deal with your folks, I assume the war has turned with the D-Day invasion in June of '44.

JG:

That's right.

EE:

So things are looking a lot better because we're actually moving back in and reclaiming lost territory in Europe, and we're definitely on the offensive rather than the defensive. So your goal then is to—Is your brother overseas during this time?

JG:

Yes. He was never in combat because of his eyes, but he went in—Once a place was secure, he was an army housing officer in the Philippines after they had already been secured. I don't remember exactly the dateline on that. The VE [Victory in Europe] Day was in, what, May of '45? April or May of '45? So the war in Europe was over before I could actually get in. And I don't remember the details of having signed up and, you know, all the—They took care of everything. I don't remember all those details. Anyway, the hardest thing for me to do was to go to Miss Schaefer, who was by then my faculty advisor, and tell her, “I don't want this job I've been offered.” [chuckling] I don't remember the name of the company now, but it was a chemistry job. You know, “I don't want this, I want to go in the navy.” And she was very gracious. I needed a reference from her. I don't know whether she thought I was too young and immature to do a job like I should have and I needed the extra time in the military, but anyway she was very gracious. And I stopped back by campus several times when I was still in uniform, and I saw her many times afterwards, and she remembered me. I don't know whether that's good or bad, but she remembered me.

EE:

What was it like to be on campus? Were you on campus, I guess, when VE Day happened?

JG:

Yeah, I must have been. I really don't recall that as much as I recall Pearl Harbor Day.

EE:

Well, tell me about Pearl Harbor Day.

JG:

Okay, that Sunday, December 7th, my parents had come back from Indiana, for whatever reason I don't know. But anyway they were in the area, and we had gone to visit my dad's aunt out at Guilford College, Dr. Virginia Ragsdale. We were there that Sunday, with no radios, no nothing, we just had a good family visit. And they brought me back to campus, and when we got on campus it looked like they'd stirred up an anthill. Everybody was running everywhere and was excited. We didn't know what under the sun was going on. We found out and were very concerned because one of Mother's cousins and her family were at Pearl Harbor. Oh, actually they were on the army base, Hickam Field. And we didn't know for months who and how many of them had even survived because the communications were down. You couldn't get information like you do nowadays. So that day stands out because we didn't know, and then Mother and Daddy had to go on and they still didn't know whether Aunt Pat and Uncle Hi[?] were there and whether their children were there. As it turned out, none of them were hurt. But their children were scattered over the base spending Saturday night with friends, and they didn't know for several days whether their whole family was still alive after the attack.

But now jumping forward to VE Day, I remember some celebrations on campus. I really don't remember that much about it. Now, the day that [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt died I remember because I was taking political science and our political science teacher, who had been a great fan of his, was so broken up over it that she couldn't even hold class for about a week. We'd go to class and she'd come in weeping and, “I'm sorry, I can't say anything,” and leave. Other than that, I don't know. We were in our own little worlds, we had our own things doing. Senior year you're busy with everything.

EE:

The adults were out there following what information they could get through the paper, because information, like you say, was not instant.

JG:

No.

EE:

And folks that were getting letters from people across the seas, the V-mail was blacked-out so you didn't know where your loved ones were exactly.

JG:

That's right.

EE:

But were you following on campus what was going on pretty closely? Or was it sort of a separate—like you say, sort of a—?

JG:

I wasn't. I wasn't into— If I'd been in some of the history classes— Now, I was in a political science class, but she was a world unto herself, [chuckling] Miss [Louise B.] Alexander. She was great. I thoroughly enjoyed her. Miss Schaefer had gotten me into her class to keep me from having to go back as a junior and take freshman chemistry. See, I had two sciences the first year. I didn't take freshman history, which was world history. The second year I took U.S. history with all of my friends. So the third year the registration office said I had to go back and take world history. And Miss Schaefer got into the catalog and called over there and said, “This catalog says six hours of social studies,” or twelve hours—Anyway, I had to take U.S. history; the other, it didn't specify what the rest was. So she said, “I want this student in Miss Alexander's political science classes.” So I took political science, I never had world history. It's a good thing, I didn't like history anyway. I thoroughly enjoyed political science. After the first semester—I think I took four semesters under Miss Alex[ander]. We learned there was no point in buying the book because she never used the book. She taught from her own experience. She had been in Washington, she was in the forefront of women's right to vote, all that, the suffrage movement, all that kind of stuff. A little bitty woman. I'd say my most vivid memory was when Roosevelt died. It just tore her up something terrible. But everything was happening along about then. We had that, we had the—I knew a little of what was going on, but I didn't read the papers and I wasn't in a class other than Miss Alex that really discussed current matters.

EE:

I guess the recruiting posters were all out, “Free a Man to Fight,” that kind of stuff?

JG:

Yeah.

EE:

Was there a lot of folks in your class who went on and joined the service?

JG:

I don't know of any right offhand. I mean, I know there were some, but they're not closely acquainted with me.

EE:

So there was not on campus a heavy recruiting effort, say with people sitting up at the student center?

JG:

No.

EE:

It was pretty much everybody on their own?

JG:

I don't think they were on campus with it at all. I believe I had to go downtown to get my information and to sign up, and then I had to come back and get my references and be sure they had all my records and everything.

EE:

Tell me a second, because you can tell me something that I have not heard from other people about the—You talk about the ORD moving there and the impact of having the soldiers on campus from a social perspective. You say there were women from the campus who then went to their base for dances and things like that, or did it work?

JG:

No, they brought them to the gym for dances. And whichever ones arrived first—And then the busloads came in, and then the guys had to stay in the gym until the girls got back to the dorms, that kind of thing.

EE:

Right, everybody would sort of get a lockdown and then be moved.

JG:

Yeah, that's it.

EE:

There's a woman I talked to who was near Fort Bragg when she was in high school or something and she has a button that says, “I Danced For Defense.” [chuckling]

JG:

Yeah, we had those buttons. I don't think I went to but one or two dances. My roommate and several of my friends there went to several of them and finally talked me into it. My roommate met one of the soldiers and eventually married him, raised a family of I think four children and a whole bunch of grandchildren. And I double-dated with Mary and her fiancé. I think it was partly because it was still—the dorm counselors still kept some control, even up through our junior and senior years.

EE:

You had counselors who knew about you as a student and personally what was going on, which is different.

JG:

Yes, and you had to sign in and out. At that time the dorms were locked at eleven o'clock at night. Frequently I was late at the auditorium, but I had to get special permission if we were finishing up a play. But I felt no problem about—Well, there were several of us together walking from Aycock. By then, the last three years, I was in New Guilford Dorm. I think it still goes by the name of New Guilford. I'm not sure.

EE:

Right across from Mary Foust?

JG:

Yeah.

EE:

You're graduating, the war in Europe is over, but everybody is gearing up toward invading Japan.

JG:

The Pacific, yeah. Mother and Daddy were down for graduation. I don't know whether it was May or June, whenever it was. They went back—At that time, they were living in Louisville, Kentucky. They had been to all these different states through those four years I was in school, but then he had come back—I think maybe to the same plant, at least to the same area, but they were living in Louisville, Kentucky, at the time. So they went back to Louisville, and I took a train to Atlanta to be sworn in. Well, to be tested, run the tests. They'd done preliminary tests, but the final test and physical and swearing in was done in Atlanta. And that was around the first of June somewhere, maybe in the first week of June, I'm not sure. Then I was to report to Hunter College I believe early July. I had about a month at home. Well, home then was an apartment in Louisville. My home changed. At one time at WC when I went to register, this was long about my junior year, they looked at my home address and said, “You're down here as a North Carolina student. Why are your parents in Washington,” or Minnesota, or wherever they were at the time. So I explained, and so from then, the last year, I used my aunt's address in Lexington. My uncle, the chaplain uncle, was overseas and she moved back to Lexington. Her mother was living with her and their young son. So I had to use her address in Lexington just to be a state student and get the tuition break.

EE:

So you were headed to Hunter. So were you going in as a—Hunter's in the Bronx, right?

JG:

Yes.

EE:

Did you know anybody else who was from school who was going up there with you?

JG:

No soul.

EE:

So you get on a train in Atlanta?

JG:

Well, from Atlanta I went back to Louisville, to my home. Okay, then I had my travel orders, and tickets and all that were sent to me. I traveled from Louisville to New York City. I didn't know a soul. I think they met us at Grand Central Station and put us on— Well, they told us which subway to ride and where to get off, and somebody was there. I had never been in New York City before, but it was interesting.

[Interview interrupted, recorder paused]

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

JG:

—twenty years up here.

EE:

Yeah, and you're filling me in on some details about the campus life, which I have not heard before, so I appreciate that. Now, some WC folks went into the WAVES and they ended up going to officers' school at Smith [College]. Did you have any interest in being an officer?

JG:

I really didn't. If the war had not ended and if I'd stayed in, I probably would have bowed to family pressure since I was a college graduate and all that kind of stuff. I wasn't interested—

[Interview interrupted by JG's husband Larry Gunn]

LG:

I think you need to put this in your interview.

EE:

What's that?

LG:

If she hadn't entered the navy she wouldn't have met me, she'd have met somebody else.

EE:

Okay, the most important result is—

JG:

Right.

LG:

We didn't meet in the navy, but if she hadn't gone in she'd have gone some other way or another.

JG:

Yeah, I'd have been somewhere else. I think by the time I actually got into it they had already closed out officer school for the WAVES.

EE:

They were closing down the operation, yeah.

JG:

They were coming down, yeah. See, I got to Hunter in July, and VJ [Victory in Japan] Day was in August. It occurred during our sixth week of boot training. I think everybody had to go through some sort of boot training, and then they may have gone to officer [training school] or not. But I did not have that option, and at the time I was kind of glad, I didn't really want to be an officer. The sixth week, we were in our work-week work duty then, and my best friend in my platoon there and I were assigned to the gate, you know, the guard duty, where we were mostly just messengers. And so I don't know how many of our bunch, probably our whole— We had like a two-day liberty celebrating VJ Day, and we spent it on Times Square. I don't remember that famous picture of the sailor with the nurse, but we were down there. I mean it was a madhouse.

EE:

So he wasn't the only one dipping a nurse then? [chuckling]

JG:

No, it was going on all over town. There were just crowds. Everybody was just ecstatic. So that was my sixth week out of my eight weeks at boot training. When we went in I was in good physical shape, because at WC I had taken gymnastics. Now don't think of gymnastics like they are today. I had just taken my PE [physical education] course, one of them was gymnastics, and I liked it. We were required to go to the annual gym meet that they had every year, and so the girl that I worked with, we did some double travel on the rings, and double exercises and things like that. I've forgotten what she majored in, but I was a chemistry major, she was not a—I believe she might have been a PE major. But each year Bobbie and I got together and entered the gym meet. And between times I did play tennis, of course we did a lot of walking. A lot of the work I did over at the auditorium required a lot of strength and endurance [chuckling] building those flats and painting and erecting the scenery and things, so I was in good physical shape, and the training, the boot training, did not bother me at all.

EE:

Were most of your instructors men or women?

JG:

Women. And I was extremely fortunate—

EE:

Your drill instructor was a woman, too?

JG:

Yeah. The one in charge of our platoon was, I guess, considered our drill instructor, too. She was called a specialist, of what I don't know. But we were fortunate, she had been with the Red Cross in the Pacific and engaged to a pilot, and he was killed, and she was so broken-up they sent her home—kind of for rehab now, I guess you'd call it—and she entered the WAVES. And I think that experience helped to mellow her a little or something. She wasn't lenient, she was strict like she had to be, but she wasn't—cruel, I guess you could say, with the WAVES that were under her. Some of the other specialists with their platoons, I've talked to the girls, and some of them had a real rough time. But we were particularly—I think her name was Roberts, I've forgotten now. She was good. Tough, but—because she knew what we needed to do, and be able to do, but she didn't go out of her way to make it rough on us. And I was just very fortunate, I feel, in that.

EE:

When you finished your training, where were you assigned?

JG:

When I went for classification, I was interested in control tower operator. My classification officer was from somewhere up north, and I couldn't understand her, and I didn't realize I had that much of a southern accent, but when I said what I wanted to do she said, “With that accent?” So I couldn't get assigned anything that would involve radio communications because my voice would not do well over the radio, at least the ones they had at that time. But I got the closest thing I could to it, which was in the weather, aerographer, a-e-r-o-g-r-a-p-h-e-r, aerographer's mate. Of course, after VJ Day we expected we'd all be sent home. But they didn't. They needed us to replace the WAVES that were there. They needed to replace the ones that were ready to get out, had been serving during the actual hostilities. So sometimes I feel like I didn't do all that much because there was no—Of course, WAVES didn't go overseas anyway, except Hawaii.

EE:

Yeah, Hawaii and Alaska I think they finally allowed them in '44.

JG:

Yeah, so we were not exposed to any combat or anything like that, or combat situations. But the war was over by the time I got out in it. But they only assigned five of our WAVE class to the weather school at Lakehurst.

EE:

Is this the same Lakehurst where the zeppelin—

JG:

Lakehurst, New Jersey, where the—

EE:

Where the Hindenburg crashed?

JG:

Yeah, and they still had a few dirigibles there at that time, small ones. Oh yeah, the tower that the Hindenburg was trying to hook up to when it burned, I think, was still there. But after we finished, then we had two weeks to wait for the next class of WAVES to finish, and they were going to assign five from there, and we ten were going to Lakehurst when they started a new class. And it must have been during that time—I think one memory that comes back to me, my uncle who had been chaplain in the Pacific was back and assigned to Annapolis [Maryland]. He didn't like the assignment. He wanted to be with his marines in combat, he didn't want to be with the cadets at Annapolis. But during that two-week period, those of us that were staying on Hunter College grounds waiting to be assigned had some time off. So I spent a weekend with them at Annapolis, and that was great. Here I was, a little seaman second class, and Uncle Bill was a lieutenant commander at the time, and here was all this whole campus full of cadets.

EE:

And you walking around.

JG:

Yeah, and they had to salute him, and he had to return it, and I just got to walk around there. I think on Saturday night he and my aunt took me to the officers club. I really felt like nothing then, because here were all these captains and admirals and all this gold braid around, and here I was still in my little seaman second class stripes. [chuckling] But at that time—you remember the Germans usually scuttled all of their submarines before they were captured? They had managed to capture one submarine of the newer type that Germany had, and it was tied up at Annapolis Naval Base at that time, and so Uncle Bill took me—I never even got on an American submarine, but I got to see the German submarine. The captain of the submarine was a friend of his, and of course he had a pass to go in anyway, so he took me along and we went through that German submarine. And it was an eye-opener. Of course all the instructions were in German, and they had to put English on them so the American guys would know how to run it, because they had traveled some, but at that time it was tied up. And it was interesting. I enjoyed looking out the torpedo tubes and all that sort of stuff.

Then after our two weeks—We finished the training at Hunter, then I had that two weeks just to sit around, I believe one of the others that was staying over with me—We were still assigned kind of as messengers. We wore those SP—shore patrol— bands for whatever reason, but we were mainly messengers from the main gate to whatever, or escorting visitors, things like that. Then the ten of us that they put together went to Lakehurst. I was put in charge of the ten, for their travel arrangements and all that.

Backing up, I was one of the two platoon leaders we had because one other girl and I were the only ones that admitted to ever having any marching experience. Way back in Lenoir, when my brother was in the band, I was also in the band.

EE:

So you could do a pinwheel and—

JG:

I knew how to march. We were a good concert band but we were also a good marching band. We did a lot of appearances and parades and things like that. So one other and I were the only ones—You know, they say never volunteer for anything, but we did admit to knowing how to march. So she and I took turns as platoon leader for marching, and I think that's what generated the idea of putting me in charge of these other nine WAVES to go to Lakehurst. And we get there—For a while, moving around on the grounds there—

See, there were nine of them and they were in columns of threes. Well, you can box that column of three any way you want to. So, as long as there was another class of WAVES there still on campus, they were a month ahead of us in the schooling, we had to march kind of at the tail end of their long column. Well, once they graduated a month later, the powers that be looked at us one time—We weren't doing column marches, we were doing abrupt left turns, because you turned left and you still had three by three by three. So they finally decided that it looked stupid. So we didn't have to march from class to class like all the others had had to do, we just walked in a group. But we didn't have to do marching because it looked kind of crazy. We were the last class of WAVES that went through weather school at that time. They probably brought women into it later when they went into the regular navy, but we were the last WAVES that went through there. It was, I believe, a three-month school.

EE:

This school was also in the same location where regular men naval personnel would go?

JG:

Yeah, our classes were a mixture of— Well, most of them appeared to be coast guard. There were some sailors, some coast guard. We were housed in different barracks. Well, I think we ended up finally with just us ten. We were just on one floor of a barracks, and then—

EE:

Were any SPARS [Coast Guard Women's Reserve, from the motto “Sempar Paratus-Always Ready”] there?

JG:

I don't remember. No, we were the only women on base, except for a few officers they had to keep around. Some of our instructors were women in the weather. It turns out, I think, that the detail of doing weather maps was—women were better at it. [chuckling] I don't know, the tediousness—

EE:

They didn't have these computer plot-generated things.

JG:

Oh law, no. [chuckling] I could guess at the weather better before I went to weather school. I never have been able to predict the weather since then, not without a weather map. And in those days the weather maps were not all that good anyway. You had no satellites, you had no computers, you had no—

EE:

Very dependent on observations that people would—

JG:

Strictly.

EE:

Where would you get those, over the teletype or something? Or how did you get information?

JG:

Well, we learned both. Well, mostly there, of course, we learned to do the observations. There was some plane traffic in and out. It was not just a dirigible field, but there was some air traffic, a small field there. I don't know who it was, really. But we were trained in the regular weather station at—We had our classes, but then we did our observations up on the roof, where you let the balloons go and then track them by whatever you call those instruments, [unclear], to see how fast they went up and how far they moved at different levels. You know, talk about the jet stream. I don't remember even hearing that word then. It was just “upper air levels,” and you'd track to see the balloon got to so many thousand feet and all of a sudden it scooted off that way. And that was the only way you could tell which way the winds were blowing up in those areas, which way the—now what they call the jet stream was moving. So it was just pure basic weather observations.

EE:

And you were going to be from this assigned to relieve other WAVES who had been doing similar work at naval air stations and things around the country?

JG:

We had hoped to get to naval air stations. It didn't work that way. [chuckling]

EE:

All right, what happened?

JG:

All ten of us were assigned to Navy Weather Central in Washington, D.C. It was good duty, in a way, but we wanted to be on naval air stations—you know, with the pilots. That didn't work.

EE:

Your husband just walked in now, so—[chuckling]

JG:

Yeah, he's heard a lot of this before. Well, I mean, look, I'm twenty-one years old. I'm away from home. [chuckling]

EE:

That's true, that's true. Okay, I have to put myself back in position. All right, you're twenty-one years old, you're in Washington, D.C., and all of you stay in the same apartment, the same dorm? Where did you stay? You're working in a big federal building? Is that what it was?

JG:

No, that was why we were fortunate. The navy had a small office in the Civilian Weather Bureau Building up at Sixteenth and M Street. They had about three or four little rooms in this one big old building, and the rest of the building was civilian—you know, the National Weather Service. So, when the weather maps were done daily, one of them had to be carried, hand-carried down to Main Navy [Building] down in the central part of Washington. And we always drew straws, and whoever lost was the one that had to take it, because we didn't want to go down there. Our office was very small. We worked three shifts round-the-clock, with about five or six enlisted personnel on each shift. There were chiefs in charge of each shift, and the forecasting was supposed to be done by—Well, most of them were lieutenants, male lieutenants in the office.

EE:

So there was a pretty clear division of labor between what the women were allowed to do and what the men did?

JG:

Well, no, between what the enlisted and the officers were allowed to do. The women and the enlisted sailors that were working on the same shift with us all did the same work. Even the chiefs had to do some of the map work. Some of them just sat back with their feet on a desk, particularly when we were on the night shift. But we did have one WAVE officer. I guess she was a lieutenant, because our commanding officer in our little unit was a lieutenant commander, male, and there was a lieutenant who was a WAVE. I don't really know what she did, but she had to be there because there were WAVES in the office. I think that was part of the—

EE:

That they had to have their own command structure within it?

JG:

Yeah, what they had to have. Yeah, she was over the WAVES. And I don't remember her doing much, but she was there if we needed her. But we were kind of a little thing to ourselves. We worked shifts, and we would work six days on one shift, have two days off, and change to the next shift. You never got your sleeping straightened out. When you were off during the day, generally we were either going to plays or going to concerts or sightseeing or—Well, mostly my bunk mate and I, we'd go out to either the army or navy airfield and catch a flight to wherever they were going, and then we'd get there and eat lunch and catch a flight back. If there was an empty seat on a plane going anywhere, you know, you could get on. We flew—not far. We went down to Norfolk [Virginia] a few times, we'd fly just from Washington to Philadelphia, New York if we had three days off. One of the shift changes gave you a seventy-two-hour break, and many times we'd go to New York, take in a play, eat dinner, and fly back. You know, get back out to the air base at New York, wherever the military planes were based—That I don't even recall.

EE:

It's sounding like not the worst kind of work in the world.

JG:

It wasn't. It really wasn't. But we weren't doing weather observations that we'd been trained to do. It was strictly take it off the teletype, put it on a map. We frequently complained, “Oh, I could do this in my sleep,”and one night I proved that. We had, I think, like a twelve o'clock map that we did around—it began coming in after 12:00 on the teletypes. You pretty much finished it up by three o'clock. Around about 4:00 or so, a correction came in for the four stations in Florida, four or five stations in Florida. I didn't remember doing them. I had done the map that night. I said, “Well, you know, I just—” They called them corrections, but I never—So I went over to the map and looked, and I had done them. And I went back and got the first thing, and I had done them correctly the way they had come in. I have no recollection of it. I was sleepy that night. I mean, it was just purely automatic stuff. WAVES were not allowed to request transfers for six months after they were on active duty, and immediately my bunk mate and I began requesting transfers, anywhere, and we didn't get them. [chuckling] We stayed in Washington for a year and a half. You asked about housing. We lived at first in barracks out near the National Cathedral.

EE:

Just north of the Georgetown area?

JG:

I guess so. It's in the western part somewhere. We weren't there long, I don't remember just how long, but they were closing those barracks down and moved us to the barracks that were right between the Potomac River and the reflecting pool near the Lincoln Memorial. We were down there most of the time.

EE:

So you had the same job for a year and a half?

JG:

Yes.

EE:

The same people working with [you], pretty much, or was there a lot of turnover?

JG:

More or less. There was a little turnover. Some of the officers were getting out.

EE:

Had some of these folks been doing this job throughout the entire war?

JG:

Yes, some of them. Most of the officers who were there, they were supposed to be the ones to do the forecasting off of the maps that the enlisted personnel did. There was one that, when he was on night shift, he was consistently too drunk to do a forecast, so we—you know, the chiefs or we did it whenever. Whoever did it, we figured we could do them as good as they could. Washington is a particularly difficult place to forecast for because the mountains and hills just to the west will either stop a front or split a front going around. You just never know. The best officer we had had come up through the ranks. He had been, I think in the Pacific. Well, he'd been in through the whole war, and had finally gone to officer school kind of toward the end of the war and then he was stationed there. He was the easiest to get along with because he knew what it was like. [chuckling]

EE:

You were there from—? When did you start that job? You went through the sixth week of—I'm just trying to get the timetable right. You were at Hunter College through the end of August?

JG:

The end of August.

EE:

And then you had to wait around for a couple weeks, and then about mid-September you started this school at Lakehurst. How long were you at Lakehurst?

JG:

Three months.

EE:

Three months. So you're there—

JG:

It took us right up till about Christmas. I think I got some time off that Christmas. I think we had a break before we had to report to Washington. I don't believe I reported to Washington until along about the first of '46, I guess.

EE:

When did you see your brother, the first time after he was overseas? Was it that Christmas? Did he come home?

JG:

No, I didn't see—He was in California for a long time. I probably didn't see him until after—when I was on leave, sometime in like '47, and he was out and back and living in Charlotte then. I'm sorry, '46. It would have been sometime during '46, whenever I had some leave time. And I'm not sure—probably the fall of '46.

EE:

So you start—Basically at the beginning of '46 is when you're back in D.C. doing this work.

JG:

Yeah.

EE:

What do you think of [President] Harry Truman?

JG:

I like him. I think he stepped into an extremely difficult job and did a good job of it. I think he was outstanding.

EE:

I remember somebody saying that her most frightening time during this was realizing that after Roosevelt was dead, “Who is Harry Truman?”

JG:

Well, that was—See, I was still on campus at that point. Yeah, that was the question. But the last couple of months of senior year, you don't know what's going on out there. I was finishing up the chemistry comprehensive exam, which was murder, turning my job at the Playlikers over, training in my replacement for the next year, finishing all my other— Our wonderful biochemistry teacher, about six weeks before the end of our senior year, came into class one day and began writing what was obviously research titles on the board. She wrote five of them. And we were sitting back there saying, “Well, I think I'll write on so and so.” And she turns around and wants three pages on each of the five titles. So we spent quite a few nights in Jackson Library—well, not Jackson, whatever it was then, because W.C. Jackson was head of the school while we were there. We were in the old library, and a couple times we managed to hide out in the stacks because we couldn't get our work done during the day and still make it to class. We knew Roosevelt died, we knew Truman came in. We wished him the best of luck because we figured he was going to have a rough time. And then during boot training we heard about the atomic bomb. But again you're in your own little world. We weren't that politically oriented. The military, they didn't teach us all that was going out there; they had too much to teach us about being military.

EE:

That's right, and they didn't want you to be distracted by a lot of things. They wanted your attention focused.

JG:

No, and there was a lot to learn.

EE:

You're at this job for a year and a half in Washington, which takes you through when, about the summer of '47? When did you switch? When did you [unclear] that position?

JG:

No, it was around June of '47 is when I was—By then I was Aerographer's Mate Second Class. See, my roommate and I had attempted to get transferred to a navy base, a naval air station anywhere. We finally, somewhere along about April, there was a deadline coming up where we could sign over for another two years—I think it was a two-year hitch—or take our discharge. And we didn't want to stay in Washington another two years. We'd had it with these rotating things and teletypes. I mean, it wasn't what we were trained to do. We were interested in—She had had a private pilot's license before she—She had been a former math teacher, my roommate. So we picked out a station that we thought nobody wants to go to. They said it was a good duty station, but it was way out in the middle of nowhere. So we picked out one and decided, well, we'll try for that. If we get a transfer, then we will sign over for two years. If we don't get it, we don't want to be stuck here so we won't sign over. So the deadline for signing over came and went. We had not heard. We didn't want Washington, so we did not sign over. Two days later we got the transfer. We couldn't take it because we hadn't signed over.

Now, Larry said if I hadn't been in the military I wouldn't have met him. My whole life would have been entirely different, except for that two-day time frame in there, because the station that we had picked out was Banana River, Florida. It was so far out in the middle of nowhere that they had good on-grounds recreation, on-base I guess it is, recreation. That is now Cape Kennedy, Cape Canaveral. So if we had gotten transferred, if we had been able to take the transfer, I probably would be a resident of Florida now, or have been quite a bit of the time. I think I probably would have stayed there as it went from military to civilian. If I could have stayed there, if they would have kept me there, I would have stayed probably and gotten into the space program.

EE:

When you originally signed on then in '45, it was for a—till the end of the war was your original commitment, or was it a two-year tour?

JG:

I think it was a two-year.

EE:

Two years? So that's why the anniversary date was coming up in June.

JG:

Right, it was right at two years.

EE:

Okay. So had you had two days' notice, had that come two days earlier, you would have not met— So the word comes. When do you get processed out? This is when this trip takes place, I guess, that you're—that's in the alumni news?

JG:

Yeah.

EE:

So this is you and the same woman that you were—

JG:

Yeah.

EE:

What was her name?

JG:

Helen Bladykas, B-l-a-d-y-k-a-s. She was from Buffalo, New York. A little short girl, real cute, real nice.

EE:

And this is when you [unclear]?

JG:

She was a help to me. She was older. I don't know whether she had her master's degree in math and had taught a few years, and then for some reason ended up in the navy. We met, I think, at weather school. I don't believe I was in the—I was not in her platoon in boot. She might have been in the class behind me, I don't know, but we met at weather school and roomed there, and then we roomed together. We were on the same shift in Washington, so we just bunked together.

EE:

So, had you gotten the right assignment—You know, you say you'd have stayed in Florida. You weren't really planning on making military life a career for you?

JG:

Not really. I hadn't planned on it.

EE:

But in '47 were you thinking, “Well, I'll go back and be a chemist now”?

JG:

Yes, “See if I can get a job now.”

EE:

And that's when you take the trip that's [unclear]?

JG:

Yeah, we took the last couple of weeks—We had a terminal leave, it was called, and we had already written to—I never had ridden all that much, Helen hadn't either, but we got the notion we wanted to go to a dude ranch in Colorado. So we found brochures or ads in magazines or something and wrote to several places, and picked out a dude ranch. I don't even remember where it was, out from—Well, it was right on the Colorado-Wyoming border—I think actually Cheyenne, Wyoming, was closer to it than Denver—and we wanted to fly as near there as we could. And it was easier for WAVES to get rides on army planes than it was on navy planes. The army treated us better on these free ride things. But when we got out there— See, the war was over. The active military personnel got preference. They were replacing the people that had been in all these years. They were bringing them home and sending others out. And when we got to the army base, we found that we could not get a direct flight, like out to Denver, Colorado. So we ended up, as I described in that thing, we flew in the nose of a B-25 from Washington to Miami, Florida, spent the night there with the crew, and flew on over to Louisiana. There was a major who was checking out somebody, another officer, on instrument flying. So we came in over the Miami coastline after dark, sitting in the bombardier's seat in the front, the nose of a B-25, and that was fascinating.

Then from Louisiana we got a—The only thing heading out west, I think it was a base out from Baton Rouge somewhere, the only thing heading out west was a torpedo bomber, and it was just the pilot and co-pilot were flying, and they had seats for the torpedo man and the radioman. Well, Helen sat in the radioman's seat because she had her pilot's license and knew what they were talking about, and I was down back in the middle of it somewhere where the torpedoman would have been if they were going to do bombing. We got that to El Paso [Texas], and then had to wait around a day or two for a C-47. It came in from San Francisco with a bunch of brass for some kind of meeting, and there was a whole planeload. There hadn't been any planes going out, and there was a whole planeload of civilians that were with the military and military personnel wanting to get to the West Coast. So we loaded up on this old C-47—you know the kind, you look out the windows and the wings are kind of flapping a little bit—sitting in what they call bucket seats along the sides. But the biggest advantage of that was that all the brass that flew over—It had been real rough weather, and they had packed all these wonderful box lunches, and they were all too sick to eat. So we got their box lunches to eat on the way back to San Francisco. [chuckling] But from San Francisco then, again we ran into the people from the Pacific coming in, you know, still on active duty, heading east, and we couldn't get a flight out. And about that time they found out we were on our terminal leave anyway, our time was about up, so they wouldn't do it anyhow. So we just had to take a bus across to Denver—well, to Cheyenne—and met the guys from the ranch.

We spent two weeks at a dude ranch. By the way we went there, we were a little late getting there, but we were the only—We were early for the dude ranch season, and it was a real working ranch, and so we lived in the ranch house itself, ate with the family, they saddled horses for us, we went out with their son and their one cowboy that they hired to round up—bring in the work horses for the season, check the cows. We just rode—There were no planned activities.

EE:

So after a year and a half of being in an office instead of being out enjoying the weather, you finally get out and enjoy Mother Nature.

JG:

Oh, we were in it. [chuckling]

EE:

Yeah, that's great.

JG:

And we thoroughly enjoyed that.

EE:

I spent two summers in Colorado and I know what you're talking about. It's beautiful country out there.

JG:

It is. It was different country from any I'd ever seen.

EE:

That was the first time you'd been out west, that big trip?

JG:

Except for the bus trip. I think I went through Denver then, but I believe it was at night. [chuckling]

EE:

Yeah, kind of a blur, I'm sure.

JG:

Well, on that long a bus trip back in '44, you know, you got on the bus, you slept till the next stop. And then you got off and you either—There were so many of us, you ate at one stop and you went to the bathroom at the next stop, and then you ate at the next stop, like that. But I enjoyed seeing that. Then after our weeks there, Helen and I came back to St. Louis. My uncle, the former chaplain, was preaching at a church in St. Louis, Missouri then, and so Helen and I stayed there for a few days. Then she took a train on back to Buffalo, and I visited for about a week before I came on back to—I don't know where my family was then. I think they were back in Lexington by then. Daddy had gotten a job back at the mill that he had worked with—you know, that closed in the Depression. He came back, and we were back there for the summer.

EE:

How did you get the ag[riculture] job?

JG:

You know, I've thought about that. I really don't know. I was at the scout camp, Girl Scout camp down in eastern Carolina, down near Little Washington, and I came back to the campus. I don't know how I got a line on it. It's a total blank. I don't understand that, but it was in the agronomy lab. I remember interviewing with Dr. Collins—I'm not sure about that. But how I got a line on it I'm really not sure.

EE:

Had you met your future husband by then?

JG:

No. One of my good friends from WC lived in Raleigh. She had grown up with my roommate in Winston-Salem, and their family had moved to Raleigh.

EE:

This was the Burkes?

JG:

No, Burke, that was my roommate in Winston-Salem. This was [Mary Wilmoth] Barber. Mr. and Mrs. Barber had an old home near Five Points in Raleigh, and their daughter Mary Wilmoth and I—I was back there then working, and the Barbers had rented out two of their upstairs rooms to other girls that worked in Raleigh, one of them we had been close to in WC also, Rebecca West. So when I moved back there and got the job at [North Carolina] State [University], then I moved in. It was to be a temporary arrangement till I could find a room somewhere, but it worked out fine. I was in the room upstairs at Mrs. Barber's with her daughter Mary Wilmoth and then the two other girls. Mrs. Barber fed us breakfast, and then we ate—We could eat dinner there if we wanted to on the weekend, paid extra for that, but generally we just ate out. I ate out with some of the lab folks or would come back and get with these other girls in the house there.

Well, Larry was a cousin of the Barbers, a distant cousin, and he had gotten out of the army and worked in Ohio and had come back to finish at State. He was about a year shy of graduating from State. I believe he stayed at the house, too, till he could get into the dorm just a few days. We both got to the Barbers' about the same time, and then he finally went into a dorm out at State. I'd see him at the Barbers. She'd invite him over for a meal occasionally. For a while they were trying to throw us together, I believe, but we were having nothing to do with each other. I had been engaged to a sailor, but that broke up. And he had been engaged to somebody in Ohio and that broke up about the same time, so they were trying to get us together. We went out a little, but we weren't really all that interested in each other until they quit trying to push us together. Then we got interested. So we were married then the following year. We were married in '48.

EE:

In Raleigh, when you were still—?

JG:

I was working in Raleigh and he was finishing at State. Well, we were married in Lexington, my home, I came back there. He stayed on to get his master's and I worked in the agronomy lab with analytical chemistry, which I loved doing that too. Unfortunately, anywhere he got a job as an agriculture teacher didn't need a chemist. I was not a teacher. I would not have taught. That was not my thing. I did not take—I think I was the only chemistry major at WC that did not take education courses, because I knew I was not cut out to be a teacher. I enjoy being around the schools. I've worked in a lot of capacities in the schools that Larry has taught in, you know, secretary and treasurer, I've done a little substituting, I've worked as cashier and at games and all that kind of stuff. But since then—Let's see, we met, he finished his master's, and then actually we only moved about thirty miles away down to Selma. But back then, this was '48—no, this was 1950—even men did not commute thirty miles to a job. They usually moved to a job. And the idea of a woman commuting thirty miles just to keep a job—I mean, even then most women when they got married, they quit anyway.

EE:

That's right.

JG:

And there was no way I was going to be commuting thirty miles to a job. So I never did go back to do any chemistry work. I've picked up odd jobs here and there, many connected with the schools, which was great because our vacations hit at the same time. But I guess I've worked longer at doing income tax than anything else. I started with H&R Block in Greensboro, opened a couple of their offices here in the county as manager. [I] did not like to manage people. That goes back—I didn't want to be an officer. I didn't want to be in charge of people. [chuckling] So I finally got out of there and just worked a pretty good tax business. But I'm tired, I'm getting older, I'm ready to slow down and just loaf.

EE:

Let me ask you just some general questions about that time period. Have you got any favorite songs or movies or books that come back from those times?

JG:

Oh, the movie stars I most remember would be—in high school and college days, Errol Flynn and Clark Gable. I guess Tyrone Power was my favorite. All men, of course. Now, Voyager was my favorite movie, with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid. [chuckling] Again that was college. I don't remember even—Now, we went to plays in New York right much. There was the acting couple, Lundt and Fontaine, Alfred Lundt and Lynn Fontaine. Anytime they were in a play that we could get tickets for when we had time off we would go, whatever the play was. They were excellent. The most fun I had came from being in a navy uniform. Frederic March, I don't know whether you ever heard of him or not, an excellent actor, he was older by then, too, was playing—

EE:

He was in Inherit the Wind, I believe, with Spencer Tracy.

JG:

Yeah, I believe he was. He was in the play A Bell for Adano, and I went with four or five other WAVES, and we were sitting out in the audience, and I was fascinated by the scenery change—I was more fascinated by scenery because that's what I had done. I loved the plays, but something about the scenery that was there was fascinating me. And so between acts I said, “I'm going to go back and see if I can get in and find out how they do that.” And nobody would go with me. “You can't get in back stage. They don't let anybody in back stage.” So I went to the stage door and asked—

EE:

You had on your uniform?

JG:

Yeah, I had on my uniform. And asked would it be possible to talk to the technical guy, I was interested in their scenery changes. I mean, they looked at me like they thought I was crazy, but they let me in. And he took me backstage during this break. It was the long break, the—

EE:

The intermission?

JG:

Yeah, and showed me how they had done this and why they had done so and so, and how they'd done all that and everything. And then as we were standing there talking, then Frederic March came up. It turns out he had a niece in the WAVES, and that was the reason I got through the door in the first place. They thought I wanted—you know, even to talk to the man, because they thought I had some connection with his niece. So he was most gracious. He signed my program and—

EE:

And everybody else went, “You got what?!” [chuckling]

JG:

Yes. It was wonderful meeting him. It was just very brief and everything. But the technical director had—Really, I thoroughly enjoyed the technical aspect of it. And so I went back out front and I said, “Look!” And they said, “Oh, that's not it.” They said, “You didn't even get in back there.” So I described what the next scene was going to be when the curtain went up, and it was, and so they finally believed me. Then they could have kicked themselves. I mean, then you just did crazy things. It was just a whole different world.

EE:

But I've had several people say that having that uniform on didn't hurt, that people did treat you different because of your uniform.

JG:

During that first year or two, anything you wanted was yours. We hardly ever had to pay for tickets to these plays we went to. Now this was during '46 mainly. When we'd get to New York, if we'd go to a ticket outlet to try to get a play, usually somebody in there would buy a ticket and give it to us, if we were in uniform. And we stayed in uniform. I think for a long time we were not allowed civilian dress, even—Well, strictly leisure time you could, but generally everybody wore their uniforms.

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

EE:

I was just asking you about if you continued to work your plays, and you told me that you had. But you were getting ready to tell me a story about a play you did about nurses in Bataan at WC. What was that?

JG:

Yeah, one of the plays that we put on at WC was on nurses in Bataan. The name was Cry Havoc. It was made into a movie, I think, with Paulette Goddard in the lead. It was an all-female cast and it took place in their bunker where they lived. It did not have any of the operating room or any of that kind of stuff. But it was the nurses, as they discussed what was going on the Japs were moving in. And the play ends with the Japanese overrunning the camp in which these nurses are, and as they are forced to come out, and you could hear them screaming in the background and all this. It was a most emotional type play, and I think one of the best we had done up to that point. This was probably done in my junior year, so again I was thinking military. And I enjoyed military life.

EE:

It's a play that ends with people being dragged off?

JG:

Yes.

EE:

Is that a way to recruit people to join the nurses, or is that scary?

JG:

No, but there's a sense of—

EE:

Patriotism that comes into that?

JG:

Yeah.

EE:

People who would sacrifice—?

JG:

That's gotten a bad name now, but patriotism was the guiding force that we had back then, I think. You wanted to do something for the country: “Okay, so they killed all these people? We need to go out and get back at them.”

EE:

Well, I think this is the thing that's hard, you know, even today we were talking about the military action in Kosovo. Don't we stand for something more than just ourselves individually?

JG:

Yeah. Well, part of the idea was [to] keep the war over there so it won't get over here. And that was a big thing then. When they attacked Pearl Harbor, the next stop was San Francisco.

EE:

Well, [unclear] they moved the Japanese away, put them in the camps. I've heard tales about you'd go down to the beach and you'd see globs of oil where the subs were off the coast and had been sunk.

JG:

Occasionally some floating mines would end up on the coast, things like that, even on the East Coast. We were aware of all that, but still it was a patriotic time—that this country has lost badly.

EE:

What is the hardest thing, either emotionally or physically, that you remember having to do during your time in service?

JG:

Hmm, that's a hard one because I can't come up with anything in particular. If we had moved about a lot, transferred about, I think just making friends and leaving friends. I kept up with some of my friends from boot training for a while, but that fell by the wayside. The ones on my watch shift and the ones who went through weather school I did keep up. You know, we were all in the same office, maybe not on the same shift. I think just going into strange situations [and] different places was difficult, but I didn't worry about it. It didn't bother me.

EE:

Well, that's funny, because you said you did not want to be in charge of people, and that [unclear]. But, you know, in the military life you are forced into situations where you have to accommodate with new people and new personalities on a regular basis.

JG:

Yeah, but I only had those three, you know, into boot, into weather school, and into the weather bureau.

EE:

Maybe the most difficult thing may have been the aggravation of not ever getting a transfer. That may have been the most difficult thing.

JG:

Yeah. We really didn't have problems.

EE:

Did you get to come home a lot during the time you were there?

JG:

No. Well, I didn't have that much time off. I don't remember one leave when I actually came back to North Carolina.

EE:

You were not in a position, it sounds like, where you were ever in physical danger or had to be afraid.

JG:

No.

EE:

Do you remember an embarrassing moment from your time in the service? Maybe not that happened to you personally, but some humorous story from—?

JG:

I can't remember anything. Some of the girls were upset over the physical exams that they had in boot training.

EE:

Now did they make you guys stand for the photographs about your posture, like someone has told me about, like they did for officers?

JG:

Yeah.

EE:

There was some rumor about some of these pictures were being gone through at a later time and for less than honorable purposes.

JG:

Yeah, I've heard about that. I didn't think about it. I came from physical exams at WC and whatever, and medical exams, and that just didn't bother me. As I said, I guess I was still young, very naïve. I was not interested in dating and I had not done a lot of dating in high school. In high school I was in a girls' school mostly, and we were in Montreat. There's nobody there in Montreat except the college in the wintertime. I don't know, I dated occasionally when I visited my aunt and uncle. Not often, I wasn't interested. I was a tomboy and I enjoyed my activities, whatever I was doing. I played some tennis, some softball, that type of thing. And in the navy we went out, but as a group. Our watch section would go out.

Now that's where I learned to dance. The guy—well, he wasn't a chief but he was more or less head of our section, he was a first-class aerographer's mate, was an excellent dancer. And we would go over to— The WAVES officer would have a party every now and then, and she would start it early enough so the people from all three shifts had a chance to get there. She would start it early and keep it late, so even the evening people, if they got off at 11:00, they could come to her party. The ones that had to go in at 11:00 could come early, of course the day shift stayed the whole time. And a lot of them danced. I don't remember the particular dances we had back then, the jitterbugs and all that kind of stuff. And this guy Mike whatever was an excellent dancer and he insisted that Helen and I were going to learn how to dance. And so he taught us, and we did great. She didn't particularly care for dancing either, but we'd go to some of the little clubs in Washington. You know, they had those so-called postage stamp dance floors, and one time Mike and I actually cleared the floor. Everybody just stood back and watched us. That was a high point, I reckon, because I've never been a dancer. My back has given me a lot of trouble. Even then it was stiff, but the navy didn't care. And probably I was a little swaybacked then, but I got by all the physical exams. As to embarrassing situations or uncomfortable situations, I don't—You just took them as they came.

EE:

That's right. I've heard a lot of people say that Washington was a very—outside of whatever the nine-to-five workday was like, or whatever the shift was, Washington was not a bad place to be because there was so much going on.

JG:

That's right.

EE:

And it was not the unsafe town with the unsafe reputation that it is today.

JG:

No. They gave us tokens to ride the buses to and from work, since we weren't at Main Navy, which was in walking distance of the barracks. But we didn't use them. We usually walked to and from work, even eleven o'clock at night going to or from.

EE:

Which you wouldn't think of doing today.

JG:

But it was several of us, a bunch of us. But we still walked all the way from the river up to Sixteenth Street, or M Street, whichever was the farthest away. Then we used our tokens going other places. But there were concerts in the Museum of Modern Art, concerts here and there. There were outdoor band concerts. We took in a lot of that. I didn't do a lot of sightseeing till just the last few months. I realized, hey, I'm in Washington, I haven't seen all these things. But we rode bicycles on the paths around, you know, along the Potomac River. I don't know, we stayed busy when we weren't sleeping or working. But our shift changes really—We weren't required to do any barracks duty because we were on shifts, which was a plus. And being in a small office, more informal than it would have been in Main Navy.

EE:

You said a minute ago that it really was a different time, in terms of patriotism, that everybody was motivated by patriotism. Was there ever a time, and you may have been oblivious to it being on campus, was there a time that people were afraid? I mean, was fear part of it, too, part of the motivation of the country?

JG:

Fear?

EE:

Was that part of the climate of the country, or was it more determination?

JG:

I don't think it was fear. It was—Well, determination is a good word. It was, well, somewhat of an obligation. I felt it. Now, not many of my class apparently went into the armed forces, because the war was ending by the time we got out. We were resolved to keep anything from happening here. That's what I feel now. Back then I don't know that I even thought about it.

EE:

When you were going in, of course, and when you signed up the war was still going on and you were looking forward, I think, to contributing to that war effort.

JG:

Yes.

EE:

Do you feel you made a contribution to the country and to service?

JG:

Yeah, I guess so. Not what I would have expected, because I didn't stay in long enough. They were not the desperate times that were earlier. If I could have gotten in earlier, I would have liked to have gotten in earlier. But my age was—

EE:

It's funny, the different—you're right there at the cusp, and it was frustrating, I think.

JG:

Yes, it was.

EE:

Every generation has a different set of tasks, and you just, it sounds like, just missed the challenge of the war.

JG:

I straddled both of them. [chuckling]

EE:

Each generation has different challenges in front of it, and the involvement of women in the military changes as the generations change. Do you have kids?

JG:

We have two adopted sons.

EE:

Two adopted sons. Having been a woman in the military, would you tell women—would you tell grandbabies to join the military, it's good for your girls? What would your opinion be?

JG:

I would hesitate. It would depend a lot on the personality of the girl. I remember my dad saying, probably about the time I wanted to go into the navy, that he had raised both me and my brother to be independent, but he didn't want us to be that independent. But anyway he let us go. The regimentation was no problem with me, it was with a lot of the girls. They got into boot training and they wanted out immediately. I know two that pulled all these crazy stunts just to get a medical discharge before they were even finished in boot training, which was ridiculous. I don't know, I would have to think hard before I would recommend the military now.

EE:

You told me that your life, two days in your military career changed your life.

JG:

That's right.

EE:

But other than how you ended up getting back to where you were in the same neighborhood as your future husband, has your life been different because of your military experience? I mean, what kind of impact did it have on you long-term or short-term? Or did it have much of an impact, do you think?

JG:

No, not really, because I went back to being a chemist as I had trained. I couldn't stick with that because of marrying and moving. I guess I enjoyed the band when I was in high school, I enjoyed some of the regimentation we had at WC because of military—I mean, we were thinking in military terms. I don't think then they gave us in the boot training quite the physical workout that the men were getting. They were still acknowledging that women were the weaker sex—physically. That's the only thing we acknowledge. We felt that we were freeing up men from jobs that we could do just as well. Well, the navy—the WAVES song—

EE:

Right, free a man to fight.

JG:

Yeah, free a man to fight. Of course the fighting was over by the time I got there mostly, but it still had a lot of mopping up to be done.

EE:

Tell me, do you remember the tune to a song I've only read the lyrics for, and that is “I don't need a man, except to tie my tie,” or something like that.

JG:

No, I don't remember.

EE:

Do you know the song I'm talking about?

JG:

I don't remember that one.

EE:

Well, this is some WAVES song that some people have shown me in their literature.

JG:

Well, that was difficult, to get the tie tied right.

EE:

Yes, but for anything else I don't need a man, just as long as he shows me how to tie the tie, I'm okay, I'm an independent woman. And you said your dad didn't want you that independent, but do you think that the military made you more of an independent person than you would have been otherwise?

JG:

I don't think so, because I did not get—I was a little—I won't say shy, a little leery of going on to—That's why I don't know whether I would have gone to officer school if I'd had a chance. If I had stayed in and had a chance, I probably would have, but I don't know whether I would have enjoyed it. The responsibility, I don't want to be responsible for other people.

EE:

Of course there's a bazillion things in life if you had a chance you might do things differently. Would you do it over again if you could join the military? Was that something that you [unclear]—?

JG:

Yeah, given more or less the same circumstances, yes, I would.

EE:

A lot of the people who look at just generally the impact of women joining the military and what that did to society, you had support from your family—

JG:

Yes.

EE:

Some people have talked about that, the support in their home communities and from other people on the street. A woman in uniform was noticed, and that got you some benefits when it came to getting plays or getting tickets. It didn't always get you admiration, especially from other women, did it?

JG:

No. Well, I don't know, not admiration particularly. Well, at first it did, I think, because there were a lot of them that had been afraid to cut loose. Because of course the women were strictly volunteers, they weren't drafted. Some of them, I think, had wanted to go in but were afraid to. I don't guess I thought about it, being afraid. It was just something I thought I would enjoy doing or would like to do, and the physical and mental side of it was not all that difficult for me. I enjoyed the life.

EE:

Well, do you consider yourself a trailblazer? Some people have said this is really the active start of—You had women fighting for suffrage in Miss Alexander's day. You guys were really the forefront of the women's lib[eration] movement, some would say, because you showed women could do the same job as men in a male environment.

JG:

I don't feel like I'm a trailblazer. I just felt like some jobs in the military women can do better than men. And tedious jobs, like doing maps, I think we—Now the men did it, they did it fine, they did a good job, but it didn't bother us as much as it did the guys.

EE:

Three months ago, or four months ago I guess now, we sent for the first time—the U.S. sent women combat pilots into action in Iraq. What do you think of that?

JG:

If they're capable and mentally tough enough to do it, I think it's fine. I always wanted to fly, but never got around to it. I couldn't during the Depression. So I've thought about that myself. I greatly admired the military women that did the ferrying of the planes and that kind of stuff, non-combat.

EE:

The WASPs [Women Air Service Pilots], right.

JG:

I don't know that women—It would depend again strictly on the woman. Most women—

EE:

But you don't think there should be a policy that says women are not allowed to—just women shouldn't be in combat?

JG:

No, but I think they'd need to take an awful close look at the women that they were planning to send into combat situations. Some women, I don't think, would be equipped to handle it.

EE:

So you're not as concerned about what women in combat would do to men in combat, but just whether or not the individual woman is up to the combat.

JG:

That's right. The physical training that they have nowadays—I have a niece who was in the army, and I couldn't have done physically what she did. I mean, we couldn't have done physically what the men did.

EE:

You said you have two adopted sons. Did either of them go to the military?

JG:

One had signed up for National Guard, the year he was headed for State college, but he was diagnosed as a diabetic and could not. I did not discourage him. I think it would have been good. I would not have liked for him to go to Desert Storm, if he had been in this unit here which did go. But there's nothing wrong with military training as it was, as I know. Now there may be a lot of things now—I don't know how they're trained now, but I think military training would help a person if they are of that mind bent to begin with. Now a lot of people couldn't take it. But if they are inclined that way, I certainly would not discourage anybody. If a granddaughter, if I ever have a granddaughter, would want to get into it, I would not discourage her, depending on her personality. There are just some women that are not suited for that type of life.

EE:

Who are your heroes or heroines from that time period? Do you have any?

JG:

When?

EE:

Back in the forties. Do you have any heroes or heroines from that time?

JG:

No, the only one that comes to mind now, of course, is someone like Jimmy Doolittle who flew over to Tokyo. There were military people. The only ones I recall, well, [General Dwight D.] Eisenhower—I don't know, I hadn't thought particularly about heroes. The big names of the day are the ones that ran the war and got us out of it—got us through it, I guess I should say.

EE:

Well, we have covered a lot of ground, and I appreciate your patience and your details. It's been fascinating to hear about, because you give us an insight to a time, especially life on the campus, which I had not heard from anybody else before and I think—

JG:

See, there were so few of us that went through those years. We weren't old enough to join until when I did, which was the end of the war, and by then most of them were—Well, all my other chemistry major friends went and worked for chemists or taught chemistry, and I never got around to it. [chuckling]

EE:

Well, it's a time that I think societally, you're trying to look for what's the next challenge, and that takes a while as a country for us to figure out.

JG:

The only thing bad that came out of the war is that women did get out of the home and into business and into military and into all these things, and I think it disrupted the family. Families are not as close—I think that's still—The sixties came along, and the sevennties. I think that still—a lot of our problem stems from the fact that we were not just stay-at-home women that took care of the house and the family. I still don't like to take care of it. [chuckling] I'm not a housekeeper and a cook. I do it, but that's not my mind set. I'm a better tax preparer or weather person or something.

EE:

Anything else that we haven't talked about that you want to share with us today?

JG:

Oh, we've covered a whole lot more, I think.

EE:

We have covered a lot, haven't we? Well, thank you very much for this.

JG:

I enjoyed it.

EE:

Did you say you had some stuff, a scrapbook that you had found and looked through? Did you get a chance to get anything for this?

JG:

Well, my college scrapbook. I didn't keep a scrapbook in the navy, and I don't even have very many pictures of navy time.

EE:

Was there a special insignia for an aerographer?

JG:

Aerographer's mate? Yes.

EE:

What was it? I've seen the supply officers have two seahorses, which I can't figure—

JG:

Okay, this is the—I think it's got the wings and the arrow. I can bring you a patch. I can show you that.

EE:

Okay.

[End of the Interview]