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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Andree Fifield, 1999

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Object ID: WV0070.5.001

Description:

Interview documents Andrée B. Fifield’s early life; secretarial work in the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II, and her marriage to Donald Fifield.

Summary:

Fifield describes her life before the war, including being an only child to a single mother and a first generation French-American; her mother finding her foster family; working her way through high school and college as a waitress; and meeting her husband at Bryant College. She also discusses her extended family in eastern France; listening to the radio with her future husband during the attack on Pearl Harbor; and going with him to enlist in the navy.

Fifield’s discussion of her navy service includes being one of the first classes of WAVES at Cedar Falls, Iowa; basic training experiences such as getting shots, drills, and taking tests; working at the National Archives while waiting for security clearance; secretarial work for the Office of National Intelligence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of the President; living in an apartment next to the White House with six other girls; and regretting not making the navy a career. Other topics from the war include popular songs, meeting President Truman, and failed plans to invite Eleanor Roosevelt to their apartment.

Fifield also talks about her husband’s service and career. She recalls keeping in touch with him during the war; marriage after they were both discharged; and moving frequently for his schooling and career.

Creator:

Biographical Info:

Collection: Andree Fifield 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 today is April 26, 1999. I'm in Pinehurst, North Carolina, at the home of Andrée Fifield today, and thank you for having us here, Mrs. Fifield. This is an interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the university. I'm going to ask you a tough question which I start out with everybody, so I hope you pass. Where were you born and where did you grow up?

AF:

I was born in New York City. I grew up—oh, gosh. I grew up in New York, I grew up in France, I grew up in Michigan.

EE:

Ask a simple question here.

AF:

That's the hardest question.

EE:

Why were you moving to all these places, New York, France, and Michigan? Is Michigan where you graduated from high school?

AF:

I graduated from junior high school there. I graduated from grammar school in Brooklyn. I graduated from high school in Sayville, Long Island. I graduated from college in Providence, Rhode Island. I attended grammar school in France for four years.

EE:

And the cause for this transcontinental, trans-world travel from elementary school days?

AF:

I guess it was because my mother was a single parent and I just got bounced around, really.

EE:

Did you have any brothers or sisters?

AF:

No.

EE:

What did your mom do? Was she living with other relatives? Did she have a job? What was she doing?

AF:

My mother worked for Schrafft's in New York.

EE:

What kind of business do they do?

AF:

Schrafft's Restaurants. Before that she was a governess for the Woolworth family.

EE:

Okay. This was in the city?

AF:

My mother was born in France.

EE:

Was this F.W. [Woolworth], or his sons, or—?

AF:

Not F.W. himself. There were several families.

EE:

Right, but part of the Woolworths.

AF:

Barbara Hutton was one of her charges. She spoke impeccable French, and that's all she had to do was speak French. They had nursemaids that took care of them.

EE:

So your mother's job was to be the French instructor for the children?

AF:

She spoke only French with them and she went everywhere they went. Now that's good duty.

EE:

That is. So it was basically just a running commentary, you can speak anything as long as you get exposed—immersed in French.

AF:

They wanted their children to learn French, think French, and speak French.

EE:

So, parlez-vous français?

AF:

There was a time when I completely forgot all my English. I came back, and I had only spoken French, and I didn't know a word of English.

EE:

So you might have been a casualty of the immersion program. [chuckling]

AF:

Yes, I could have been easily.

EE:

It sounds like an exciting life. Did you all live with the Woolworth family when she was doing this? When was she doing this job?

AF:

No, because that was before I was born.

EE:

Before you were born. And then after you were born, she switched and worked for the restaurant?

AF:

She worked for Schrafft's for probably thirty or forty years.

EE:

So how, doing that job, did she end up getting to go to France?

AF:

She sent me to France to live with my grandmother.

EE:

Ah! So your family is ethnically then French?

AF:

French, yeah.

EE:

Okay. So your mother was a first-generation American?

AF:

No, I'm the first-generation American.

EE:

You're the first-generation, that's right. And Wetzler was their family name?

AF:

No, her family name was Sircoulomb.

EE:

We'll have to spell that one afterwards, but Sircoulomb.

AF:

S-i-r-c-o-u-l-o-m-b.

EE:

So your mother comes to the States. Was she hired by the Woolworth family in France or something?

AF:

No, no, she came over here. Her two sisters were here and she came over. I guess they got her the job or she went to an employment agency. I don't know how she got the job.

EE:

And your name, Andrée, is I guess the French for Andrea, or how is that?

AF:

No, Andrée with two Es is the feminine for André with one E, which is the masculine. It's just like René and Renée, Michael and Michelle.

EE:

Great. That's a fascinating story. And then she's with Schrafft's when you moved to Michigan?

AF:

No, I was sent out there to live with somebody else. [chuckling] I was a foster child—

EE:

I was going to say, I'm going to have to put a suitcase in your hand to at least through college, it looks like. Tell me, you're in France for four years, you come back and you're living with relatives, friends in Michigan?

AF:

No. Well, I'll just tell you how it happened. When I was a baby she had me in a child care place. The city came and closed it—I guess it didn't pass some kind of inspection—and there was a sign on the door, “If you're looking for your child, they're at the orphanage.” And there I was, and she had to find a place for me. And the funny thing is, she never bought a newspaper, because if you're in Schrafft's everybody leaves their newspaper. She had a New York Times that was six weeks old, and in that New York Times was an ad for a couple that were looking for a child to take care of. She had just had a baby and the baby had died, and she felt this was her way to heal herself. Six weeks later they still didn't have anyone to take care of. And the reason for that was because she had a picture in her mind of the child she wanted. She wanted a brown-eyed auburn-haired child to look after. This is the truth, so help me. And my mother calls, they make an appointment. They lived in Queens Village, Long Island—you took the Long Island Railroad out there—and they came and met me at the station. And I took one look at that man and I ran to him like he was my father. And they really raised me.

EE:

How old were you?

AF:

I was about eighteen months old then, so I was walking and I was running. And they were my family all my life. They were the most wonderful people in the world.

EE:

What were their names?

AF:

Gibson.

EE:

That's great. And so those were the ones that took you to Michigan?

AF:

Yeah. I lived with her brother there. The whole family has just taken me right under their wing. They have been a wonderful, wonderful family.

EE:

That's great. And then you say you graduated from high school in Sayville, Long Island. That's back with the Gibsons?

AF:

No, I was working at that time. I worked—I hate to tell some of these things. My mother kicked me out. I was sixteen years old. That summer I'd had a job as a junior counselor in a camp on Long Island, and it was a place that was a summer and winter resort. It was called Peace Haven. It was run by metaphysicians. So when I got kicked out, I went and asked them if they knew somebody where I could work in child care or something and be allowed to go to school during the day, and they offered me a job there and I was a waitress. So I worked my way through high school as a waitress there, and I graduated there.

EE:

When did you graduate? What year was that?

AF:

Nineteen forty.

EE:

In North Carolina we were slow, we still had eleven-year high schools back then. Was it an eleven- or twelve-year high school? Twelve years of high school?

AF:

Four years of high school.

EE:

Well, twelve years of schooling, I guess. A four-year school.

AF:

Oh yes. But I also went to high school in Brooklyn, so—Erasmus Hall there.

EE:

Right, but you got your degree from Sayville. Erasmus Hall. What did you do after you graduated?

AF:

From high school? I went to college in Providence, Rhode Island.

EE:

This is at Providence [College]?

AF:

Bryant College.

EE:

At Bryant College, okay. Was that a denominationally-affiliated school, or what was it?

AF:

No, it was a two-year business administration college.

EE:

What was it that you were planning on doing after that?

AF:

Executive secretarial.

EE:

Was that something where you had a dormitory you lived in, or you had to fend for yourself?

AF:

Yes.

EE:

Okay, so you were with other women who were doing this. And I guess you were probably working, continuing to work while you were in college, I would think, to pay for that.

AF:

Yeah, I waited on tables in the dormitory for my room and board.

EE:

You started out working. I mean you really hit the ground running, it sounds like.

AF:

Yeah, I did. I've never told my life history to anyone like this.

EE:

Well, it plays into this.

AF:

I didn't know that anybody was interested.

EE:

Well, what happens is that it plays into how later events that everybody shares in the military are affected differently. If you've never been away from home and the first thing you do is get thrown into a room with people from all over the world or all over the states and different backgrounds, that's one experience. If you've been a self-starter and had to make it through the world on your own for half a dozen years, it's not the same experience, and it won't be the same experience for you.

AF:

That's right.

EE:

You finish at Bryant—Well, let's see, you finished high school in '40, you said, right?

AF:

Yes.

EE:

How aware are you of what's going on in the world at that time, like things in Europe and the possibility that—The spring you graduate, France has fallen.

AF:

Yes.

EE:

You've got relatives in France. What are you hearing? Did you have any contact with what's going on there?

AF:

Oh yes, I was sending packages to them, care packages whenever I could. Because I didn't have any money at that point. That was before—Even when I worked, I didn't have much money; like seven dollars a week was all I ever made. But oh yeah, we were in touch with them. But I had no siblings that were in the war. They were all too young and the others were all too old. My uncles were from World War I, and their children were not old enough for World War II.

EE:

Was your family that was in France, were they in the area that was eventually occupied by the Nazis, or were they in southern—?

AF:

Yes, they were in the eastern part of France, near Alsace.

EE:

When did you stop keeping in contact with them? Or were you able to do that throughout the war?

AF:

I have always kept in contact with them.

EE:

So, even during the time that they were occupied, you were able to get stuff through?

AF:

Well, at the time they were occupied I was in school, and then I was in college.

EE:

So you were sort of distracted?

AF:

Yeah, I think so. I just knew how they were, and I wasn't in a position—Like where I worked I had a room. I had no place where I could wrap packages or gather things together. And I don't think my mother did very much to send them anything.

EE:

You finish up at Bryant, and while you're at Bryant, Pearl Harbor happens. Do you remember where you were on Pearl Harbor Day?

AF:

Indeed I do.

EE:

What were you doing?

AF:

I was with him in our dormitory, after church, listening to Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye, when they came on and announced Pearl Harbor. I heard the whole thing.

EE:

Him, for the benefit of the transcriber, is your husband, Donald.

AF:

That's my husband, yes, Donald.

EE:

You met him while you were—?

AF:

Right.

EE:

Was he in business school, too?

AF:

Yeah, he was in school. He was one of the school—

EE:

And he just wanted to get his two-year degree, and so—Were there many male students at the school?

AF:

Oh yes.

EE:

A lot of them?

AF:

Oh yeah.

EE:

Okay. So you two struck up a relationship?

AF:

This was more like a college than a—Bryant College is a well-recognized college now, even more than it was. It was a school that went eleven months out of the year, and you didn't have any breaks, so the course was really more intensified than any other.

EE:

You two, when you heard the news, did you know what that was going to mean?

AF:

Oh sure, because I went to Boston with him when he enlisted. He enlisted—See, that was '42. We graduated in '42, so he went and enlisted, and as soon as he graduated he reported for duty, and I went to Boston with him when he enlisted.

EE:

What branch of the service did he join?

AF:

Navy.

EE:

What were you planning on doing? Going back, getting a job, and writing letters?

AF:

I had no plans. Yes, I was just going to go about my life and—

EE:

Something changed, because that's not what happened. You went back, and a year later you were in the service as well.

AF:

Yeah, but I did, I went to York, Pennsylvania—that's where the family, the Gibsons, were living—and I was secretary to the office manager at York Safe and Lock Company.

EE:

When Donald left, how serious were you? Were you looking long-term or were you just friendly then?

AF:

Oh yeah.

EE:

So you knew that was the one?

AF:

Yeah. We didn't get engaged at that time. We did before he went overseas, but—

EE:

It's funny, I had one of the women I talked to said she had her boyfriend, later husband, go overseas, and I asked her that. She said, “Well, I knew he was the one. He was going to have to wait a couple years to discover that about me, but I knew.” [chuckling]

AF:

Well, it was the reverse with us.

EE:

He was keen on you.

AF:

He knew and I wasn't—I kept telling him I was too young.

EE:

Is he just a couple years older than you then?

AF:

Really, he's less than a year older than I am.

EE:

When you're young, that seems like a big difference.

AF:

Yeah. I was too young to get married.

EE:

So you're back in York and you're actually doing what you said you wanted to do, being an executive secretary at this—

AF:

It really wasn't what I wanted to do, but it was the only way I could get any education, because I didn't have any money in a short period of time. I didn't have the benefit of guidance counselors or anybody. I didn't know where to go. Because I only went to school—When I lived on Long Island, I only went to school in the mornings, because I had enough credits so that I could work.

EE:

You must have done pretty well in school.

AF:

Pretty good, yeah.

EE:

But it's always hard to work at the same time you're going to school. So you had to be focused on your work.

AF:

Oh yeah, especially if you go to a school like Erasmus Hall High School where there's seven thousand students.

EE:

It's hard to be noticed if you're in that crowd. [chuckling] You were in York. You stayed there until you joined the service, at that job in York? Were you living with the Gibsons?

AF:

Yes, I was living with them, and then we all moved to Chicago.

EE:

Okay. And what were you doing in Chicago?

AF:

I worked for the government, for the Salary Stabilization Unit, and that's where I joined the navy.

EE:

How was it that you ended up with the idea of joining the service? Was it [that] you heard stories of other women?

AF:

Because they had no sons to send to the service, so I thought they should send me.

EE:

Really?

AF:

Really. I really did. That's the only thing I can think of. And—I call him Daddy, he had been in the navy.

EE:

He was proud that you made that decision?

AF:

Yes, he was. He was very proud.

EE:

Because not every father was supportive.

AF:

No, he was very supportive. He was a wonderful man, a wonderful man.

EE:

Now how old were you? Did you have to have a parental [signature]?

AF:

Yes, I did.

EE:

So he signed as your guardian for you?

AF:

Yes.

EE:

That was nice.

AF:

Yeah.

EE:

What about his wife? What did she think about it? Did you have anybody who gave you any negatives about joining?

AF:

No.

EE:

That's good.

AF:

I don't remember any negativeness from her at all. I guess they just figured I was old enough to—

EE:

To do that. So you were—

AF:

I'd made all the decisions all my life anyway, so one more wasn't—[chuckling]

EE:

Right, you'd had to make decisions—You were six years into making decisions for yourself.

AF:

Maybe they were glad to unload me, I don't know. [chuckling]

EE:

You went down to the recruiting station in Chicago, I guess?

AF:

Yes.

EE:

This would have been what time in '43? Spring, winter, summer?

AF:

Well, I went in in March [13, 1943]. I was active duty, so I must have—It must have been either January, December or January, because it took a while.

EE:

Okay. Did you go in as an enlisted or officers, or how were you—?

AF:

No, I went in as an enlisted. You had to take a test, and once I took that test I wasn't worried about getting in because I'd never pass that test. I thought it was hard, difficult, tough. So I was very surprised when I was accepted.

EE:

What kind of questions? Was it like math questions?

AF:

All kinds. It was a standard test. I think it took at least two or three hours. I remember it as a long time, and I thought, “I'll never pass that.”

EE:

So you went home thinking you're not going to be in the service. You've told everybody to look forward to it, and now you've got to disappoint them and—

AF:

No, I don't think I talked about it that much.

EE:

The job at Salary Stabilization, was that a secretarial position as well?

AF:

Yes.

EE:

So you didn't have any great qualms about leaving that work to go join the service?

AF:

No.

EE:

When you went down to sign up, did you have a particular kind of job in mind that you asked to do?

AF:

No.

EE:

You just said, “I want to help, sign me up”?

AF:

No, they just enlisted you and took you to—sent you to boot camp.

EE:

For some women, being enlisted meant they got more money, because it wasn't bad pay. Do you remember that factoring into your decision at all?

AF:

No. If I had, I would have thought—You know, secretaries were at a premium during the war. I could have made big money.

EE:

Really?

AF:

It dawned on me years later. I could have gone somewhere and gotten really big money working as a secretary, because they were in great demand, but that wasn't—That did not even enter my head.

EE:

He's [Donald's] joined the navy, did you have any inkling of doing any other branch of service or trying for it?

AF:

No.

EE:

Was that because of his connections or Mr. Gibson's connections?

AF:

My father's really, yeah. No, because if he had gone in the army, I still would have gone in the navy. [chuckling]

EE:

Just because it was something personal that took you. Some of the recruiting posters back then had the slogan “Free a Man to Fight.” Did that ever enter into your thinking?

AF:

Yeah.

EE:

And that was another incentive.

AF:

It was, because they needed them.

EE:

You entered in Chicago. So you went to Des Moines [Iowa]?

AF:

Cedar Falls.

EE:

Cedar Falls?

AF:

Cedar Falls, Iowa.

EE:

I think Des Moines was WACs [Women's Army Corps]. Cedar Falls. And that was, I guess, for training in the Midwest. Or was it from all over?

AF:

I think we were either the—We may have been the first, we may have been the second class not to go to Hunter College. Everybody went to Hunter College before that.

EE:

Right. Was this at a school at Cedar Falls, a campus, or was—

AF:

A state teachers college, Cedar Falls, Iowa.

EE:

Okay. Yeah, because everybody I've talked to before had been to Hunter.

AF:

We were either the first or second class to go.

EE:

Did you get a sense that folks were kind of making up the routine as you were there because you were the first or second class?

AF:

Yes, I did, because when we arrived there, shortly after we had been there they asked anyone who could type or take shorthand, at whatever the speed was they mentioned, to please raise their hand. And I thought about it and I said, “I'm not going to raise my hand. I don't know what they want. I'm going to wait and find out what it's all about.” So I didn't raise my hand. Well, come to find out, those who did either didn't pass the test or they didn't have enough of them—I don't know if I ever really knew—so they made everybody take it—everybody—after dinner one night. And we'd just had our shots and I was sick. I was feeling terrible, so I went to bed. I thought, “Well, I'll go to bed early and I'll wake up and feel better in the morning.” And you had to get up and you had to get dressed. We had our uniforms by then, so we had been there at least a while. And they took us into this room with typewriters and shorthand. I couldn't push the—We didn't have electric carriages then, you know. I couldn't push the carriage back. I had to type and push with my right hand. I couldn't do it with my left hand. So I wasn't worried about that either, because I certainly couldn't pass that feeling the way I did. But they took—I think there were twenty of us, and we went through boot training and yeoman training—I have a letter but it's up north, but I'll get it for you if you want it, like a letter of commendation, that said you did this, you accomplished that. And they put us—We went from eight o'clock in the morning till ten o'clock at night, our training was.

EE:

So you got kind of a fast track to do this kind of work?

AF:

Oh, we sure did. We sure did.

EE:

This wasn't supply school. What was this? Was this just—?

AF:

This was boot training. And then they would give you yeoman training. And yeoman training just shows you how the forms go and how they do things in the navy, the navy way of doing it.

EE:

The navy way of filing and—How many carbons for everything? How many copies?

AF:

Seven, I think, but I don't know. I don't remember.

EE:

My goodness. You wonder sometimes. I wonder, when I'm standing in line to get things photocopied, how life happened before the photocopier.

AF:

Carbon paper.

EE:

Boot training, what do you remember about that? Were you in one big common barracks?

AF:

No, we were in dormitories.

EE:

And you had lived in a dormitory, I guess, before at Bryant.

AF:

Oh yeah.

EE:

So you had had that experience.

AF:

Oh yeah. Bryant had big old homes for dormitories. They were old mansions that they turned into dormitories. These were regular school dormitories, as you think of them. I really don't remember much about them. I do remember the food was delicious. Farm cooking. It was wonderful. We had a lot of Southern gals there.

EE:

You did? That surprises me.

AF:

And I remember very, very well going into breakfasts and they were all saying, “You got any grits? Do you have any grits?” [chuckling] I didn't know what grits were, but I found out. Lots of Southern gals.

EE:

What was a typical day like for you at Cedar Falls?

AF:

It was just classroom after classroom after classroom. And marching. You marched everywhere, so that's how you learned your drilling.

EE:

Were your instructors male or female?

AF:

I don't know. I don't remember. I think one day was just—You know, ten o'clock at night, I must have been exhausted. You'd go to bed and you wake up and you start in all over again. But I do remember drilling, and they had me march the platoon to class. I didn't know anything about marching. Instead of going, “Hup, two, three, four,” I go, “Hup, one, two, three, four.” [chuckling] That's how much I knew.

EE:

Well, it's kind of hard to stay on the rhythm that way. [chuckling]

AF:

Yes, it is. I learned.

EE:

So you were there eight weeks? How long were you at Cedar Falls?

AF:

I'd have to look at that letter. We were there—

EE:

You started in March, you say?

AF:

Yeah, I don't think we were there more than three weeks. I think it was three weeks that we had boot and yeoman training.

EE:

Okay, then where did you go from there?

AF:

Washington, D.C.

EE:

Our nation's capital.

AF:

That's because we successfully completed that course, and we graduated. We could pick any station we wanted to go to. So you could sign up. I had never been to California, so I signed up for California. And everybody went to Washington. [chuckling]

EE:

We'll give you a choice, provided everybody chooses Washington. Is that it? [chuckling]

AF:

That's what it amounted to. But that's okay, I loved it.

EE:

What did you do when you were in D.C.?

AF:

I was a secretary.

EE:

In what area?

AF:

They didn't even have rooms for us there. You've been to Washington?

EE:

Yes.

AF:

There used to be, when you came out of the train station, the whole circle was full of hotels there to the right of the station. We were all berthed in the hotels there. And then I reported for duty to the Naval Operations, and I was handed my assignment. And I looked at it and it said ONI. I said, “Oh, Office of Naval Inspection. I wonder what I'm going to do in the Office of Naval Inspection?” Wrong. It was the Office of Naval Intelligence. So, before you could report to duty, you have to be reinvestigated if you're going into the intelligence, and I was sent to the National Archives. Ever been to the National Archives?

EE:

Yes, I have.

AF:

You ever been in those stacks?

EE:

Not in the back, no. I've just seen—That's where they have the Constitution on display, is it not?

AF:

Yeah, but the stacks up above, they had elevators that were like Buck Rogers elevators. They open from the middle up and down and you just travel up in those stacks. And I worked for a World War I yeomanette.

EE:

What was the work that you did?

AF:

I was working on Civil War papers. [chuckling]

EE:

Wait a second, this is too bizarre. You're spending the Second World War looking up stuff on the Civil War?

AF:

Yeah, filing and—

EE:

Were they hoping to gather some military insights from this, or what is—?

AF:

No, they just gave you—just to keep you busy until your investigation came through.

EE:

Oh, okay, so this was your temporary assignment.

AF:

Yeah.

EE:

But the World War I yeomanette, this was her regular job?

AF:

That was her regular job, bless her heart.

EE:

Great. How long were you then at the National Archives waiting for a security clearance?

AF:

I don't know. I thought I was going to be there forever, it just seemed like. I don't know how long I was there. I'd have to—

EE:

But then you did get security clearance eventually?

AF:

Yeah. When you asked if they knew what they were doing, I went over to the personnel office for probably something to do with insurance, I don't know, and they said, “We've been wondering where you were!” They lost me. They truly did. And then they brought me back. Everything had come through and I got clearance.

EE:

It amazes me that they didn't lose more people, considering how much everybody was moving in the war.

AF:

They lost him.

EE:

Did they?

AF:

Yes.

EE:

As long as they track you for paying the benefits eventually, that's the main thing. [chuckling] So you're moved out of the Archives. Where did you go to work after that?

AF:

I was working for the chief of naval operations at ONI, Lieutenant Commander Elliott Earl. He was on special assignment to Admiral [Ellis M.] Zacharias, and this is his book about him. If you want to see his name, there it is. And Elliott Earl was—

EE:

Great. Tell me the kind of work that you were doing. I'll want to take a look at this afterwards.

AF:

It was so secretive I don't even remember.

EE:

Really?

AF:

Yes, I'm serious.

EE:

This would have been in '43?

AF:

Yes.

EE:

Was it confined to one specific theatre of the war, or was it—

AF:

Yeah. Admiral Zacharias was—he's the one that spoke to the Japanese in their own language and they thought it was their own people. Like Tokyo Rose type of thing? Well, he did that with them. And then he was sent back on special assignment from Japan. And I couldn't swear to anything that I did there, but I was busy and I was working.

EE:

So you were handling all the correspondence that was going back and forth between—It was a secretarial position, doing this kind of work?

AF:

Yeah, for the man that was on special assignment to him.

EE:

So he was like his adjutant or assistant in the office.

AF:

Yeah.

EE:

And Elliott Earl was—

AF:

Elliott Earl was very, very fussy. He had interviewed a lot of people for this job, and finally I came along. I guess they found me and they sent me there, and he gave me dictation and transcription and he took me.

EE:

Is that Elliott with two Ls and two Ts, or—?

AF:

Yeah. And he wrote a book, of which I have a copy, but I donated it—He was from New Hampshire, from Wolfboro, New Hampshire, and I've been trying to find out ever since—I took it up there to see if anybody knew him. I thought I could donate it to the historical society or something there. And I did put it on loan, in case anything came along that I thought would be of more benefit to it, to a man that has opened up a museum that covers more than that. I can't even think of the name of it at the moment. That's what I did with it.

EE:

Did you stay at that job until the end of the war?

AF:

Oh no. [chuckling]

EE:

Tell me more. The suitcase is ready to be in your hand again?

AF:

No, I was in Washington. I had great duty. I really did. Every job I had was—That's why I could have applied for Officer's Candidate School, but I knew that I would be a lowly ensign in a great big pool. And I just loved everything I was doing. I wasn't the least bit interested in being an officer. Because all of the officers were graduates of four-year academic colleges, and there's no way I'm going to get a good assignment. I could sign for papers that those people were allowed to walk around with, so I just stayed right there.

EE:

What was your rank when you were doing this job?

AF:

As a result of going through this course in those three weeks, I was a yeoman third class, and I was discharged as a yeoman first class, Y1C.

EE:

I guess in the fall of '43 is when you were doing this work?

AF:

Yeah.

EE:

How long before you switched to something else, and what was that next job?

AF:

Well, I don't remember when I went from—It's too bad I didn't keep a diary. Let's see, I was married in '45. Oh, I must have done that for at least a year for them, and then I was secretary—I was another secretary to the guy who—I wonder if Donald could remember what Lieutenant [James] Campbell was. I had another secretarial job.

EE:

Was it in the Office of Naval Intelligence?

AF:

Oh yes, it was always in Naval Intelligence. I never got out of that.

EE:

Okay, so another job within the Office of Naval Intelligence. How many other positions did you have till you got out of service in '45?

AF:

Well, then I only had really one other. Then I went to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon Building. And I can't tell you anything about my job there either. I think we were trained to forget what we did, I really do, because as busy as I was—But there we had everybody. We had the Australians and—

EE:

Are there some famous people that you recall meeting during your course of work?

AF:

No, not really famous, but well-known in the Naval Intelligence circles, I guess.

EE:

And if those people are famous, they're not really doing their job as intelligence, are they? [chuckling]

AF:

No, I did have another assignment. I worked for two civilians who were from the Office of the President, and their name was Schwarzwalder and Cooper.

EE:

What were they doing?

AF:

I don't know. They were on special assignment from the Office of the President. [chuckling]

EE:

This whole time, with all these different jobs at ONI, then Joint Chiefs of Staff, you were living in the hotels next to the—

AF:

No, no, no, no, we only stayed in there for a brief period of time.

EE:

Were you housed in barracks?

AF:

No. They had built a brand-new building at 1809 G Street, which is one block from the White House, brand-new.

EE:

That's where all the personnel was housed?

AF:

Well, that's where some of us were housed. Most of them were over in Arlington [Virginia] and—

EE:

So you had a plum location.

AF:

Oh, it was wonderful. These were apartments.

EE:

So you had privacy, you had a little—

AF:

Well, there were six of us in a room.

EE:

Okay, comparative privacy. You got along well with your roommates?

AF:

Oh yeah.

EE:

What did you do for a social life? He's overseas, did you have a social life? Did you hang out with the girls?

AF:

Yeah, I hung out with the girls and—I dated some, because when I agreed to marry him I said, “Don't expect me to sit in a room 365 nights.”

EE:

When was it that you agreed to marry him? Did he write to you and ask?

AF:

It was just before he went overseas. And that would have been in 1943.

EE:

Okay, so he joined in '42 after he finished college, but apparently was still stateside. Then did you get to see each other during the course of that year before he left?

AF:

Yeah, he was stationed in Elkton, Maryland.

EE:

And then he was sent overseas. And that's when he said, “Well, let's do it when I get back, okay?”

AF:

Oh yeah.

EE:

But you said, “Fine, but I'm not going to sit around [unclear]”?

AF:

Well, I said, “If I have an opportunity to go out and do something I would like to do, something I can enjoy, I'm going to go.”

EE:

Right, that makes sense. You're all of what, twenty—You're in the early twenties anyway.

AF:

Twenty-one, twenty-two. We didn't even have an easy chair. No television. [chuckling]

EE:

I've heard many people say Washington was a great place to be for after hours, because there's always something going on.

AF:

It was.

EE:

Whether it's to go hear bands play or concerts or movies, what did you do?

AF:

No, I had a lot of friends that came to visit. I used to live in York, Pennsylvania, and some of my friends would come down to visit on weekends. We had a lot of nice rooming houses around, you could get an inexpensive room for them and they would come down. I guess I did things with my roommates. My bosses fixed me up on dates a few times. I met some nice people.

EE:

Good. Pleasant times, pleasant memories then.

AF:

Yeah.

EE:

One of the things that's I guess one of the reasons that this story has been slow to come out maybe about the women's role in all this is that many people have somehow felt a little bit of guilt about things, because women have said that these were some of the best years in their lives, and they knew that for those they loved that were overseas it was the worst time.

AF:

Well, I don't know. When you've got a job to do, you just do it. I don't think I dwelled on whether it was good times or—That was the way my life went. You had to do it, so you just did it.

EE:

You didn't have time—much times in your life for reflection.

AF:

No.

EE:

Somebody told you, “Go here, go there,” and then later you were forced by circumstances to go here and there. So you were adaptable from the get-go.

AF:

Yes. My whole life was like that.

EE:

And this is military life, which for many people is jarring in its hurry up, wait, get an assignment and go. That was not a jar for you, to be switched around.

AF:

No, that was a way of life.

EE:

It sounds like you might have slowed down by the time you got to the military, it sounds like.

AF:

That was a way of life for me. Because even when I lived in France, I lived in Paris, I lived in Nice, I lived in a small town, Seloncourt. I was like a gypsy, I guess, almost.

EE:

So your experience with the military from that perspective is different than many folks.

AF:

But there's so much to do in Washington. The museums were great—

EE:

I made reference to this kind of question earlier. With your work, your COs [commanding officers], it sounds like, were always men in these positions?

AF:

Yes, I didn't work for any women.

EE:

So you didn't work around actually many other women, it doesn't sound like either, did you? Or was the secretarial pool—Was there some interaction among the secretaries?

AF:

I've forgotten the names of the titles, but he was head of the—He wasn't chief of naval operations, because that's the big high muckety-muck, but he was head of that—And then his assistant, I was secretary to him. So it would just be his secretary and me in the office, and the two, the commander and the lieutenant. I never worked in a pool. I never had to work communications. You know, they were on shifts all the time.

EE:

So it sounds like you had—compared to a lot of folks, you had a pretty good job.

AF:

I did.

EE:

With the kind of work you were doing, I've heard some people talk about, you know, having to work basically eight-day weeks, where they worked seven days and then have a rotating day off.

AF:

Oh yeah, and they worked in the mail room and they worked in communications and—

EE:

But yours was probably more of a 9:00 to 5:00 because of the—the people you were secretaries to were high up the ladder enough that their schedules were regular, and yours mimicked theirs.

AF:

And that's why some of us were not so popular either, because the men we replaced liked their duty.

EE:

Sure.

AF:

They had all their freedom, they didn't have to live in—

EE:

Did the man you replaced train you for your position?

AF:

No.

EE:

So you didn't know, but you knew of him?

AF:

No, I don't know who he was.

EE:

Do you know if that person went off and was [unclear]?

AF:

I have no idea who he was.

EE:

Okay, so you don't know—

AF:

Well, as a matter of fact, I think the first position I had, the one with Commander Earl there, that was a special created position for a special assignment. Because he'd left. He went back to a ship. See, all these guys—Oh, I forgot another one. My first assignment was over in Arlington. I should have thought this out, shouldn't I? I should have made notes. I worked for a captain there who had been a submarine captain. Almost everyone I worked for was a seagoing—

EE:

And so their time may have been limited back in Washington. That's when you switched. When those people went back out, you got a new assignment.

AF:

Yeah.

EE:

Did the men always treat you professionally?

AF:

Yes.

EE:

You never had any problems about being a woman navy personnel? I mean, this is a new experience because you're replacing men who had been doing this job. But they didn't give you any flak about things?

AF:

No.

EE:

But you did say you might have had some resentment from other WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service—U.S. Navy] who were a little distraught that you had such a nice job?

AF:

Not that I know of.

EE:

Did you ever think about making the military a career?

AF:

That's the one regret I have, that I didn't consider it. No. Most of us, all of those that I knew, went in for the duration and six months. That was what was on your mind. I was eligible for discharge early because I had points, enough points that I could get out. But they would offer you an immediate chief. I could have been chief immediately if I had stayed on. But I had a mind set for the duration and six months, and I didn't consider it. And that's one of my regrets in life, that I didn't consider it.

EE:

What about Donald, did he stay in?

AF:

No. He went in Naval Reserve, though.

EE:

When did you get married?

AF:

We were married in June of '45, when he came back from overseas.

EE:

Was he in the Atlantic then, I guess?

AF:

No, he was in the Pacific. He thought he was going to the Atlantic, though. Really! We were out one night—It was one New Year's Eve and we were out, and we were at this restaurant. There was somebody else at a table up above us and he was on a ship that took troops back and forth from Europe to the United States. He said, “That sounds like pretty good duty.” The guy said, “Yeah, it is. It's really good,” and he told him. And he said, “I think I'd like that.” I wish he'd come in so he could help me with this. So he decided to apply—

[End Side A—Begin Side B]

EE:

So he applied for this position, and you said there was a ship that was being—

AF:

And there was a ship being commissioned in Brooklyn. And he got the job—I went down for the commissioning—and he thought he was going to be going back and forth to Europe, and his first stop was at the Panama Canal on his way to Japan. [chuckling]

EE:

When you got married in June '45, he was not out of the service, was he?

AF:

No, no.

EE:

Was he thinking he'd be called back? I mean June '45, the war in Europe was over, but he thought he'd be going back to Japan.

AF:

He had been in all those invasions over there, and they came back for repairs and—

EE:

Was he looking to get assigned back out to go to Japan, though?

AF:

Oh yeah, they were going to be in for sixty days for repairs. So he—

EE:

Then you got the news about the A-bomb?

AF:

That was afterwards.

EE:

Afterwards. So he had already shipped back out again?

AF:

No, it was while he was here.

EE:

And was he told to stand down and not to worry about coming back?

AF:

No, no, he went back. He went back.

EE:

How long did he serve after that time?

AF:

I got out in October and he got out in November.

EE:

Okay, so it wasn't very long.

AF:

No, because of all the points he had for being married.

EE:

That helped. So after you got married, you went back and continued to work in your job at Naval Intelligence. Let me ask you about a few things and then we'll pick up just general things about the war experience, and then we'll pick up again with kind of the life story after you're out of the service. What was the hardest thing you had to do during the time you were in the military, either physically or emotionally?

AF:

I don't think things are hard for me. I never thought of it that way. I don't know what was hard. Nothing.

EE:

It sounds like you enjoyed your time in service.

AF:

Yeah.

EE:

You were never in a position, it sounds like, of being afraid or being in physical danger. That wasn't a problem in your tour of duty, it doesn't sound like.

AF:

No.

EE:

And of course Washington is quite a different place to be out at night then than it is now.

AF:

Well, I probably was more streetwise than some of those little gals that came.

EE:

Who were asking for grits. [chuckling]

AF:

I don't know. [chuckling] I guess, I don't know.

EE:

Well, if it doesn't come to you that way, then don't worry about it. You have an outlook on life which my sense is you probably have an answer for this question: Do you remember an embarrassing moment, either for yourself personally or something that just makes you laugh when you think about it now?

AF:

I do have, but I can't think what it is at the moment. I do.

EE:

Are there some characters, personalities from your experience, people that you met along the way in service that to this day you think of?

AF:

Yeah, Chief Pete Lane. He was an old-time navy man, and I think he was in the supply division of Naval Intelligence. Admirals walked up to see that man. They never asked him to come to them. He was right across the hall from us. He knew everything there was to know, and he took care of everybody, including people like me. He was an old-time—Pete Lane. There's got to be people out there that still remember him. Like when I got out of the service, I didn't return to Chicago. I went up to Boston because that's where he was going to be, and he told me what to do. And I didn't think—I didn't know how to do it or I didn't think that was right, but he was right. He knew everything there was to know. A super, super guy.

EE:

What about any of the women that you—Are there people that you've kept in contact with over the years?

AF:

Yeah. I had five roommates, there were six of us, and since 1945 we have had a round robin going nonstop.

EE:

That's wonderful.

AF:

If it got lost, whoever was expecting to get it would restart it. I've seen most of them, but there are only three of us left.

EE:

Whereabouts from the country are those, originally, and where are they now?

AF:

Well, one of them was originally from the Boston area, and she's in Florida; another one was from Minnesota, and she's back in Minnesota; another one was from Wheeling, West Virginia. She married a man from Pennsylvania. She was tragically killed, hit by an automobile, taking a walk one night. Another one was from Illinois, and she married a boy and they lived in the Rochester, New York, area. Another one was a New Yorker and she remained a New Yorker. Is that five?

EE:

Yes.

AF:

That's all of them. And we just kept in touch.

EE:

Do you have from that time period—That's the time you were in service, it's the time that you fell in love, do you have some favorite songs or movies or things that when you hear it takes you back?

AF:

Kiss Me Once, then Kiss Me Twice, then Kiss me Once Again. It's Been a Long, Long Time. Yeah, lots of them. Lots. All of them, all the Golden Oldies. Mack the Knife. God, I danced to that till I couldn't—I couldn't begin to do it now.

EE:

He's never revealed quite why, but my dad has a gleam in his eye every time he hears Begin the Beguine. [chuckling]

AF:

Yeah, that's another one. Oh gee, I wish I'd known these things. Because we used to go see the big bands when we were in school.

EE:

Who were some of your favorites?

AF:

Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller. I don't know if you ever heard of Norumbega Park in Boston or not, but that was—That's probably the most beautiful dance place I've ever been to. Everything is in tiers going up with little lanterns on the side, and then this dance floor, nice music and well-run.

EE:

It was classy, it sounds like.

AF:

I don't even think there was a bar there. Maybe there was, I don't know.

EE:

When you think about that time, are there folks who are heroes or heroines to you?

AF:

Heroes or heroines? I'm going to regret it because I didn't—Those things will all come back to me as I think of it later.

EE:

Well, for example, what did you think of the Roosevelts [Franklin D. and Eleanor]?

AF:

Oh, I stood at attention at his funeral. I was one of those that, as the cortege went by, I was right there saluting.

EE:

Did you hear about it at work? Where were you when you heard about his passing?

AF:

Yeah. I'll tell you who we thought a lot of was Eleanor Roosevelt. And I wanted to invite her to come to dinner at our quarters, and we were going to, and I don't know what happened, why we didn't, because she only lived next door to us. And she was that kind of person. I was sure she would come. Either my roommates didn't give me the go-ahead or—for some reason I—It was about the time when she was interested in getting black women in—

EE:

In the service?

AF:

And I said, “If she's that interested in everything, she should come and see how we live.” And I said, “I think she'd be interested in it.” But we didn't do it. I don't know why.

EE:

Was she the one front and center on that? Did she say, “We need to have integration happen in the service”?

AF:

Yeah, there was something about it. Oh, and I met [President Harry S.] Truman and his daughter [Margaret].

EE:

For a walk? Going for a walk?

AF:

Yeah, I did meet some—

EE:

How did you meet them?

AF:

He was at a USO [United Service Organizations] that had just opened. He helped have the grand opening of a new USO. And I had gone to the movies with my roommate. We didn't go downtown. We went to like a local neighborhood movie, and we were hungry when we got out, but there wasn't anyplace handy because it wasn't that kind of a neighborhood. She said, “I know where we can go!” And she takes me to it. I said, “I don't want to go to the USO!” But we went in and we had a wonderful time. He played the piano, and Margaret played, and they all sang. Yeah, I did meet him.

EE:

She was supposed to have a career as a singer, wasn't she?

AF:

Yeah. You know, she gave a concert in Pinehurst.

EE:

Really?

AF:

Yeah. If you go downtown to the theater building, what was the theater building—you can't miss it—her picture is there and it's got the program that she gave.

EE:

Oh, my goodness. She actually became a pretty famous novelist, didn't she? I think she was a better novelist—

AF:

Yes. I know her husband was a newspaperman.

EE:

Right, right. You're living next door to the White House, did you ever peek out the window and see what's going on? Did you notice heavy traffic or what's going on?

AF:

[chuckling] No, because they were on the same side of the street as we were.

EE:

Okay, so you couldn't really get a glimpse of it that way.

AF:

And during the war you didn't get in very easily.

EE:

Well, you were in D.C. on VE [Victory in Europe] Day, right after Roosevelt dies.

AF:

Yeah.

EE:

Were you worried when Truman took over? Did you know anything about him?

AF:

Oh, I met [Dwight D.] Eisenhower too! When he [Donald] came back from overseas—Let's see, we were married in June, so that must have been like May or the first part of June when Eisenhower came back. I had gotten him a room at the hotel downtown, and Eisenhower was staying there. And he comes out of his room, he says, and there were all these people! And they were waiting for Eisenhower, but he had snuck out the back way. But he didn't know. So that was at the same time.

EE:

What was the celebration like for VE Day?

AF:

I had gotten special leave to go to Portland, Oregon, where his ship was docked, because they had a new directive out that any WAVE whose husband came back from overseas could get as much leave as her husband got. So he had come east, we'd gotten married, he'd gone back to Portland, and I read this directive and I put in for it, and I got it and I was out in Oregon with him. And his ship had left then to go back to the Pacific, and I was up in the air coming home. That's where I spent VE Day. I was flying back.

EE:

Did they announce it over the PA [public address] system or something?

AF:

No. I found out when I got—

EE:

Got home. By the way, the war is over.

AF:

Yeah.

EE:

Did somebody greet you with a kiss? You know, they have all these photos, I guess, from Times Square and everything else.

AF:

I remember them, yeah. [chuckling] That was VJ [Victory in Japan] Day, that one, wasn't it?

EE:

Was that VJ Day? Well, where were you for that celebration? Or was that VJ Day?

AF:

When was VJ Day?

EE:

VJ Day is in August. You were already married?

AF:

That's where I was, up in the air for VJ Day.

EE:

Now VE Day was back in May, before Eisenhower came back.

AF:

I don't remember.

EE:

So you weren't part of any—I know there's a couple women who talked about they were in Washington, and one of them said, “We had to hurry to go to the local bar and grab the last bottle of liquor before the soldiers got in and took the rest of it.” [chuckling] They were wanting to celebrate.

AF:

I'm going to have to write my roommates and ask them what we did.

EE:

I have a feeling, if you were there, you all probably went out and celebrated.

AF:

I would have remembered. I don't remember. You think I'd remember! I'm going to ask them.

EE:

Well, it's hard to just put a timetable on everything. Let me ask you a question. I could give you an answer, but let me get your answer. Do you feel you contributed to the war effort?

AF:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I was theirs. They could do anything they wanted to with me, send me anywhere, ask me to do anything, and I had to do it.

EE:

You left in October, your husband in November, and then you went to Boston, you said.

AF:

Well, that's where he was discharged.

EE:

Discharged in Boston. So there was a month or so after you got out that you just stayed in—Did you go back to York to visit the Gibsons, or—?

AF:

No, they no longer lived there. They lived in Chicago at the time.

EE:

Okay. So you stayed in Washington until he came back?

AF:

No, no, I left Washington before and went to Boston.

EE:

Waiting on him?

AF:

And then when he got discharged we went to Vermont, where he's from, to visit his parents. And then I remember that Thanksgiving—

EE:

Where were you married?

AF:

Where? Washington, D.C.

EE:

Did his folks get down for the wedding?

AF:

His mother and his aunts did.

EE:

Great. What did you do after? Did you settle in Boston? Where did you end up settling?

AF:

We settled in Chicago. He went to Chicago to go to school, to go to the University of Chicago. And he went there for a year, and he worked. He took courses at night and he worked. And then he decided that he would go to the University of Vermont, because he could get into there very easily and it's a good school and he would be in Vermont. So he went back to register and he came back and I was pregnant, and so he gave up that idea. And we stayed there—Oh, he got a job with the Campbell Soup Company, and then they transferred us to Boston. His mother was very ill and he requested a transfer. We felt they needed us, and that's when we came back to Boston.

EE:

And how long were you there?

AF:

We got to Boston in '48, we left there in '55. We went to Albany, New York, and we stayed there until '58. And then we went to Syracuse, New York, and lived in a little town called Skaneateles. We lived there twenty-two years.

EE:

Then you—?

AF:

Then we went to New Hampshire.

EE:

All these moves were with Campbell's?

AF:

Business, yeah. No, not all with Campbell's.

EE:

He switched?

AF:

He had left Campbell Soup and he was working for a company that was owned by RCA, it was Banquet Foods, and they transferred him to New Hampshire.

EE:

And did you get back in the workforce or did you stay with the kids, or what did you end up doing?

AF:

No, I have worked.

EE:

What did you end up doing?

AF:

Well, mainly I worked for Sears Roebuck. I was a decorator.

EE:

How many children did you have?

AF:

Two.

EE:

Boy? Girl?

AF:

Both, one of each.

EE:

So did either of your children join the military?

AF:

No, neither one.

EE:

Never expressed—? Would you have encouraged—Your daughter, would you have encouraged her if she wanted to join?

AF:

I would have if she'd wanted to, but she never expressed any interest.

EE:

Just a couple months ago, for the first time the U.S. sent a woman into a combat mission. She was a pilot bombing Iraq in December. What do you think about that? Do you think there are certain things that women ought not to be doing in the military, or are you okay with that?

AF:

I wouldn't say they ought not to be doing it, because I think women have proven that they can do as well. But personally I think there are some things that men can do a lot better, and that would be one of them.

EE:

Some people have expressed, I think, ambivalence about women being captured and that kind of stuff.

AF:

I think men are more stable than women.

EE:

What impact do you think the military experience had on your life longterm?

AF:

None.

EE:

Absolutely none?

AF:

Well, I don't say absolutely. No, my friendships have kept up.

EE:

Friendships have stayed, but it didn't alter appreciably who you were?

AF:

Oh, it delayed everything. You delay getting married, you delay success that you might have had in a profession or a job, it delayed you probably having—raising a family, and all those things that you would have been doing in that three-year period, which is, I think, an important period in your life. Because then you've got another three years you've got to try to catch up and do that.

EE:

The one consolation probably for your generation is that everybody else was being delayed as well.

AF:

Of course.

EE:

So you didn't lose anything, in a comparative sense. Everybody had that stall.

AF:

Well, if I'd stayed home and been Rosie the Riveter, I could have been working towards those things. If I lived in Pinehurst, North Carolina, I could have said, “Oh, now let's see, I'm going to make sure that we have a nice house when we get back, and I'm going to start looking where we might like to live.” But I don't think I would have done it anyway.

EE:

And yet if you had it to do over again, would you?

AF:

Oh yes. I wouldn't change a thing, as far as that goes, as far as the service goes.

EE:

I think we might have talked about this. Did the military make you more of an independent person than you were before you entered? You were pretty independent before you entered.

AF:

Probably, yeah.

EE:

Some people have looked at the experience in the forties of women entering not just the military but the workforce and male jobs, whether it's Rosie the Riveter or any number of positions, and said that that really was the start of what would become the women's liberation movement, equal pay for equal work. Do you think that probably is a true statement?

AF:

Possibly, yeah.

EE:

Do you feel personally as some sort of trailblazer in that regard? You replaced a man.

AF:

Well, my whole life, I feel, is like that. I worked most of our married life. There was maybe a year when we were in transit somewhere that I didn't have a full-time job, and my husband was always interested in my career or my work, so I feel like I—I was working full-time when a lot of my friends weren't. You know, people we were—

EE:

That's true. You started out a lot earlier with the workforce than a lot of people did. We've gone over a lot—

AF:

Bainbridge, Maryland, that's where he was stationed.

EE:

Okay.

AF:

I said Elkton, but it's near Elkton. That's the naval base. That was a boot camp. He never went to boot camp.

EE:

He didn't? How did he manage that?

AF:

He was sent right to duty on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts.

EE:

How did he manage that?

AF:

They needed him.

EE:

Shore Patrol? What was it?

AF:

No, he was the only navy man on the island that was in the Intelligence Office. He was in Naval Intelligence.

EE:

Right from the start?

AF:

Right from the start. And I've got to tell you something. He was stationed on the U.S.S. Knox—I don't know why I forgot this—when I worked at the Navy Annex, his reports came across my desk. I could not tell him that I was getting his reports.

EE:

Because that would have been classified.

AF:

Of course, we had sort of—He'd say, “If I mention a word or something, it would indicate that I'm in Japan or—”little signals that we were going to try to—

EE:

Otherwise your V-mail would have been X'd out or whatever.

AF:

Exactly, exactly.

EE:

Did you have any V-mail between you guys?

AF:

Oh yes. Oh yeah, lots of it. I don't think we saved them either. Maybe. I don't think so. But his reports would come across my desk. And he couldn't tell me where he was, and I knew where he was, and I couldn't tell him that I knew where he was. But that was something when I first saw the U.S.S. Knox reports.

EE:

That's great. Is there anything that I haven't asked you about that you'd like to share with us? That's an open-ended question, but—

AF:

I don't know. I can't think of anything.

EE:

Does Donald have anything that he wants to add here? [chuckling]

AF:

Donald, when I worked for Lieutenant Campbell, Mary Jane and I were in the same office together. Do you remember what office that was?

DF:

Wasn't it ONI?

AF:

Yeah, but he was head of the division.

DF:

Who? Schwarzwalder?

AF:

No, no, those were civilians, Schwarzwalder and Cooper.

DF:

I don't know.

AF:

And it's funny, I just heard from her, this gal. She was a civilian secretary.

DF:

You mean a division of ONI?

AF:

Yeah.

DF:

Something about—wasn't it dissemination?

AF:

No.

DF:

No? I don't know.

AF:

Isn't that funny? I just got a letter from her today. She was a civilian in the navy, and she was the commander's secretary and I was the lieutenant commander's secretary.

EE:

How often did you all correspond?

AF:

Oh, constantly. I'm sure I was writing all the time. I don't really remember.

EE:

Sending cookies and Camels [cigarettes] and all that other stuff?

AF:

I don't remember sending a lot of cookies, but there was something I was going to say and I just forgot it. That's why I have to interrupt, my mind doesn't hold everything. [chuckling]

EE:

Well, if there are other things that you think of—

AF:

Oh, I know what I was going to say. I have pictures, for instance, of the signing of the peace treaty on the—U.S.S. Missouri? Is that where it was signed?

EE:

Right.

AF:

Is that something of interest, or are those available to them?

EE:

Is this something that you—

AF:

They're official navy pictures.

EE:

Official navy pictures we probably have, if it's official. Something that's of personal—

AF:

No, no, these are official, because I knew all the—I also have pictures that you might not have, when the WAVES had their first anniversary, they were one year old.

EE:

I have heard people who were there, but if you think that would be good—

AF:

And they paraded through the streets of Washington.

EE:

You were in that parade?

AF:

I was in that parade, and I have pictures of them marching out of the building that we lived and marching down Pennsylvania Avenue.

EE:

Past where you were? Well, I guess that was the other side of the White House, on G Street.

AF:

Yeah, that was down the street.

EE:

That's great. I know a number of people talked about they worked in the—I guess there was a series of temporary buildings down by the Tidal Basin at the end of the Mall.

AF:

Yeah, that was the Navy Department. They were temporary buildings, I think from World War I.

EE:

That's what somebody was saying.

AF:

The regular Navy Department was there, if you can believe it.

EE:

Everybody had to make do with what they could find, I guess.

AF:

Oh, yeah.

EE:

Well, again, thank you for taking the time to do this today.

[Discussion of sending copy of interview to Fifield. Recorder paused.]

EE:

Tell this funny story.

AF:

She was getting married, and she was in communications so she had no time, whereas I was receiving the people from overseas and I was on the telephone constantly. So I said, “I'll help you. I can help you.” So I was trying to get a hotel room, which was my job. I knew how to get hotel rooms when nobody else could get them, but I couldn't get her a hotel room. It was when everything was so busy. So she got married. She was Protestant, he was Catholic, but I stood up with her, but she had to find somebody Catholic that would sign the thing. She went to work right after they got married. We walked her down to the Navy Department, she went to work, and her husband and I walked the streets of Washington to find a hotel room. We found one that if the—They were holding a reservation, if they didn't show up we could have it. So we sat in the lobby and waited. And he registered. And we didn't want to have any problems or any trouble with losing that room, so I went upstairs to the room with him while he took his suitcase in. And then pretty soon we came down. Really.

EE:

[chuckling] Did he sell you as the honeymoon couple?

AF:

Yes, that's what they thought we were.

EE:

So did you look like the blushing bride?

AF:

He took me home and he walked back to the hotel, and the elevator man said to him, “The young lady isn't staying with you?” His wife had to come back to the quarters, and it's like six o'clock in the morning, or six-thirty, I don't know what, maybe seven—“Andrée, where am I staying?” So I gave her the name of the hotel, gave her the room number. “Do I turn right or left when I get off the elevator?” She wanted to act like she knew where she was going. [chuckling] And I miss her and I don't know where she is and I don't know how to find her.

EE:

Well, I'll bet you confused the bellboy that day. On the honeymoon, and yet the man has two women up at the hotel. Okay, well—[chuckling]

AF:

Yeah, that was fun. Margie. Margie was my buddy, and here I've lost her. I can't remember to save my soul.

EE:

Well, thank you for sharing your memories with us today.

[End of the Interview]