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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Jane Heins Escher, 1999

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Object ID: WV0080.5.001

Description:

Interview primarily includes discussion of Jane Escher’s childhood in North Carolina and her service as a cryptographer in the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during the Korean War.

Summary:

Escher recalls moments from her childhood including the start of World War II; VJ Day; Roosevelt visiting her hometown of Sanford, North Carolina; and older men heading to surrounding camps to help the war effort. She also mentions turning down a college acceptance in order to join the navy.

Escher discusses the influence of her father's World War service in her decision to join the navy. She also describes basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois; the importance of making the grade in training school; working with newer decoding machines than the ones used in World War II; and the secrecy involved in being a cryptographer. Escher also discusses the rotation of shifts; the entertainment of the time; working with and building friendships with servicemen; and meeting her husband, Don Kowell, in her department.

Post-service discussion centers on Escher’s travels due to her husband’s military career. She also mentions raising two daughters, one of whom she influenced to join the military, and current political and military events.

Creator: Jane Heins Kowell Escher

Biographical Info: Jane Heins Kowell Escher of Sanford, North Carolina, was a cryptographer in the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) from 1951 to 1953.

Collection: Jane Heins Escher 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:

Well, today is May the 20th—it's moving on—1999. Two days before wedding day here in Sanford, North Carolina. I'm at the home of Jane Escher today. Mrs. Escher, thank you for having us in here. This is an interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Of all the questions I've got, hopefully the first one, Ms. Escher, is not very complicated, although I get worried if folks have trouble with it. That is, where were your born, where did you grow up?

JE:

I was born here in Sanford, Lee County, North Carolina, and grew up here, went all through school here, graduated from Sanford High School in 1949.

EE:

Did you have any brothers and sisters?

JE:

One brother, younger.

EE:

Is he still living close by?

JE:

Well, he does. He has a residence in Sanford, but he stays at Topsail Beach most of the time.

EE:

Sounds like a smart man.

JE:

Yes.

EE:

What did your folks do?

JE:

Telephone industry. My grandfather built the telephone exchange in Sanford. It was Heins Telephone Company. He had four sons, and all four sons had a part of the telephone and worked in the telephone company. Each one had a separate chore or job to do, and that's what they did.

EE:

Because it was local, that probably was some advantage that your dad may not have had to travel as much as some folks who worked for—

JE:

Never knew him to travel a day in my life.

EE:

Well, that's great. That's great.

JE:

Stayed right here.

EE:

Would your mom stay at home?

JE:

Was a housewife.

EE:

You somebody who liked school?

JE:

No. [Laughter]

EE:

Nothing like brutal honesty. That's good.

JE:

I did not. I loved school; I didn't like the studying part.

EE:

Now, you're like my sister on that one.

JE:

I loved the basketball team and the cheerleading and the ball games and the teenage club and the Friday night dances, but I hated school.

EE:

You, I guess, entered high school at about the time the war ended, did you not?

JE:

I was in high school when the war was ended. I think I was in the tenth grade. I distinctly remember VJ [Victory in Japan] Day, because we had a big VJ Day parade here, and there was a fellow in town, big family of Millers who lived here. My cousin ran the florist, and I was at the florist helping my cousin. And Johnny came running down to the florist and said, “Come quick. They're having a parade and they're having a jitterbug contest and we've got to get in it.” And we got in to the jitterbug contest and won. I had to lock the door on the florist. The whole time I was gone, I was scared to death. But I didn't get in any trouble for it. My cousin didn't disown me or anything. We won twenty dollars.

EE:

That was big money back then.

JE:

That was a lot of money.

EE:

So you must have been practicing a little bit in high school.

JE:

Practicing jitterbugging, yes. Anything but the books.

EE:

Did you have any relatives that were overseas in the war or in service?

JE:

Yes, this cousin that had the florist was in New Guinea during right much of the war.

EE:

So it was an exciting time to be in high school, in a sense, because everybody was upbeat. We had done it after all that time.

JE:

That's right, that's right. I will never forget the day there was victory over Japan. It was wild around here. The traffic lights might as well have been cut off. [Telephone interruption.]

EE:

Do you have any other memories of before the wartime? What's your earliest memory about that war?

JE:

About World War II, my earliest memory was coming home from church and Mother telling me that we were at war. And the only thing that really concerned me was my brother was maybe—let's see, in '41 I was ten, so he was about a year old, maybe a year and a half. I didn't understand really what war was and I wondered if Chan was going to have to go to war. That was my first thought of war, and then I remember thinking maybe Daddy wouldn't be home. But then, you know, I guess after the first day or two, being a ten-year-old, nine or ten years old, it just kind of became, you know, well, we're at war.

EE:

It was like, the sky's cloudy today.

JE:

Yes, yes. It's going to rain tomorrow.

EE:

Because for a school-age kid, you just went on about school.

JE:

Yes, yes. I think probably I was nine.

EE:

Did y'all do anything in the schools? I know they had lots of rallies for war bonds and things like that. Did you do anything?

JE:

Yes. We brought a quarter or a dime, I forgot how much it was, and we had cards. And you put a dime in each week and when you got enough, you bought a coupon or something. I don't remember exactly what it was. I do remember those cards, though. I had an awful hard time keeping the dime in the card. I always wanted to go uptown and spend the dime.

EE:

A dime would have gotten you into the movie, wouldn't it?

JE:

It did, yes. Exactly.

EE:

My dad talks about having a good old time with a quarter on Saturdays. You get into a couple movies, get lots of penny candy and all that stuff.

JE:

Oh, yes, yes. [Telephone interruption.]

EE:

Do you have any memories about President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt?

JE:

Yes. He came through Sanford. I have no idea what year it was, but I distinctly remember exactly where I was standing. He came down Hawkins Avenue, which at that time was U.S. 1 South, and then through Carthage Street. The railroad tracks went right across. I was standing on this side of Carthage Street at the railroad tracks, and he was in a big old convertible automobile. And he had that long cigarette holder in his mouth and he just waved to everybody, you know. Oh, it was really a big day. Everybody who was left in town at that time was there. You see, a lot of the people from around here went to Camp McCall and Maxwell, and a lot of the men that were too old to fight in the war went to the surrounding camps to work.

EE:

Where was McCall located?

JE:

I believe that one is out toward Holly Ridge, North Carolina.

EE:

And Maxwell, where was that?

JE:

Down close to Raeford, if I recall it correctly. It's been so many years.

EE:

There was a whole bunch of places that came up out of nowhere just for the war.

JE:

Yes, yes.

EE:

And those were places, I guess, where they were doing training for different branches and things like that.

JE:

Yes, and maybe assembling things. I don't even know, but I know one of my best friend's father was in heating and furnaces and stuff like that, and they were at Holly Ridge.

EE:

Was Seymour Johnson [Air Force Base] around then?

JE:

Seymour Johnson was in Goldsboro. But seems like I don't remember anybody going there.

EE:

It would have been developed after the war when the air force was still there.

JE:

Could be, could be. Yes, because there was no [U.S] Air Force.

EE:

Right. It was part of army. That made an impression. Do you remember the day he died?

JE:

Yes, but I don't remember. You know, people say, “Oh, I know exactly what I was doing,” I don't remember what I was doing.

EE:

It wasn't a significant thing for you?

JE:

Yes, I think it was traumatic for me, because I was hearing people saying, “What in the world are we going to do?” But I don't remember what I was doing when I heard it.

EE:

What was it that you wanted to do after getting out of high school? You graduated in '49.

JE:

What I didn't want to do is more important. I didn't want to go to college. I had been accepted at what is now East Carolina, ECTC it was then. And the closer time came to go, the colder my feet got. I was not dumb; I just didn't like to study. And I got this notion in my head about joining the Navy. My Daddy had been in the Navy. And I don't know, I thought their uniforms were kind of sharp. And it meant getting away from home and seeing the world, and I guess maybe the adventure of it is what appealed to me.

EE:

Had you been away from home much growing up?

JE:

Never. The only time I was ever away from home, the family owned a camp down on New River, which is where Camp Lejeune is. They took it over from us, as a matter of fact. We went there every summer, and that was as far as I'd ever been. Now, you know, in high school you travel around, and I'd go to Richmond to visit an aunt and went to New York a couple of times and Myrtle Beach and stuff like that there, but never anywhere.

EE:

And you wanted to be around a bunch of people who were different.

JE:

That's right, that's right.

EE:

It makes a difference. When was your daddy in the navy?

JE:

Second World War.

EE:

He did go off?

JE:

No, First World War. Daddy was First World War.

EE:

Was he in the Mediterranean?

JE:

Spent the whole time in Norfolk, Virginia.

EE:

Ready to go if needed.

JE:

Ready to go. He was a communicator, naturally, being in phone business. But he was the mailman there, and what he did was sort the mail. Then he had a little boat, and every day he'd go to the different ships and take the mail. He had more friends there for a long, long time after that, he would get Christmas cards and things from a lot of these old friends. I remember one year the American Legion had—I think it was the national convention at Carolina Beach. Daddy took Mother and me and we had the best time. And Daddy saw more people he knew. It was a wonderful time.

EE:

He knew everybody because he brought the mail.

JE:

Yes, yes. [Telephone interruption.]

EE:

The mailman then had some good stories about military service. Do you think that factored into your choice of thinking about navy rather than some other branch?

JE:

No, actually my choice, I had a real good friend here in town and we went together. She's still a real good friend of mine. She lives in Blowing Rock now. But we joined the [U.S] Navy together, and we really wanted to go to the Coast Guard, but they had their quota already.

EE:

Were they still called the SPARS [Coast Guard Women's Reserve, from “Sempar Paratus-Always Ready”] back then?

JE:

SPARS. Yes. And so we decided to ride over to Fayetteville and talk to the navy recruiter.

EE:

Did your mom know you were doing this?

JE:

No, no, she didn't.

EE:

Now was this the summer you graduated?

JE:

No, no. See, I couldn't go till I was twenty. I compromised with Momma and Daddy. I said, “Let me work at the telephone company. I'm not ready to go to school. Let me work at the telephone company for a year until I decide what I want to do.” So during that year is when Mary and I went to Fayetteville and talked to them and found out Mary was already old enough. And they said, “No, you can go June the 13th, 1951.” So we were real quiet about it until, oh, probably, the middle of April. Then we started talking about it again, and Mother just kind of brushed it off, like more big talk. And the closer it came to June, I said, “Daddy, I've signed the papers to go in the navy. How about signing them for me.”

“I'll sign them if your mother will.” So finally Mother—I think she realized I wasn't going to let up until I did it.

EE:

What was Mary's last name?

JE:

The Mary I joined with, her name was Mary Briggs. She's Mary Shuford[?] now.

EE:

Was your momma's name Mary?

JE:

Yes.

EE:

So your mom finally relented.

JE:

She finally did, but she was never happy with it. I shouldn't say “never happy.” She was happy because after I met Don and married him, Mother was crazy about my husband. She really liked him. She didn't live long after we were married. She died with a heart attack in 1955. But she was crazy about Don, so that kind of made up for everything.

EE:

Well, that's good. When you signed on in '51, for how long were you signed up for?

JE:

I signed up for four years.

EE:

Korea had started, had it not?

JE:

Yes, I guess it had. I don't remember. See, I was in Service School Command for a year and a half. We had to go to school. I was selected to go into the secret service, communications. They called us CTs. And we went all through radioman school and through teleman school and then we went to security group school, which at that time we couldn't tell what we did, but they taught us cryptography and a little bit of Russian language. And for a girl who didn't want to study, I learned how to do it fast, because I had a year and a half. When they said they had selected me for the security group, I didn't have a clue what that was all about.

EE:

Tell me about your process, because it's different for the different branches of service and it's different at different times. Was the navy—was it called still the WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service—U.S. Navy]?

JE:

Yes.

EE:

And you went down to Fayetteville to talk. Where did you actually enlist?

JE:

Well, I enlisted in Fayetteville, I guess you'd say, but then I had to go to Raleigh, because that's where a WAVE recruiter was. But the chief in Fayetteville got credit for the recruitments. At that time, recruitments were quotas, I think, because it was a big to-do over who would get credit for our recruitment.

EE:

You had to go somewhere for basic, I guess.

JE:

I went to Great Lakes, Illinois. Seemed like it was for sixteen weeks.

EE:

Sixteen. That's double what it was in World War II time.

JE:

Yes.

EE:

Were the WAVES part of the regular navy when you were in?

JE:

Yes.

EE:

I think in '48 they had an integration bill.

JE:

Yes.

EE:

Basically integrating more fully into the service.

JE:

Yes, I was regular navy at that time.

EE:

So you went up there with Mary.

JE:

Yes.

EE:

So probably as soon as you got there, y'all went in different parts of the—

JE:

We went to the same boot camp company, all through boot camp.

EE:

Well, that's pretty nice.

JE:

Well, you see at that time they only started one company a week or maybe a month.

EE:

Probably a month, I would guess.

JE:

Maybe so. We were Company 1551. The 15th company of 1951, and we were there in June, so maybe two or more.

EE:

Two weeks. How many were in your company?

JE:

I would say seventy-five. I've got an old WAVES book here from boot camp.

EE:

What was a typical day like for you? They'd issue uniforms to you right off the bat?

JE:

Oh, immediately, probably the second day.

EE:

[Referring to sounds of birds.] That's one of those Audubon clocks, transcriber. Don't get worried.

JE:

That was a joke from my brother, and he thought I wouldn't put it up, so I put it up. We got our uniforms, it seems to me, like within a week.

EE:

Women tell me in World War II when they had everybody report up to Connecticut, I guess it was, was where the WAVES would train, and they would have everybody line up for posture photographs. Basically, they'd have to strip down, take a picture to check their posture, and there was some scandal about some of these posture photographs getting into the wrong hands.

JE:

We didn't have to go through that, no.

EE:

Maybe that was something that evolved afterwards, they straightened out a little bit. So you all got your uniforms. What was a typical day like for you?

JE:

Up before dawn, of course. Then we went to chow and then we started classes. Just the same thing the men did, the same routine. Bluejackets Manual went everywhere we went. We had swimming classes. You had to pass that. There were big, high platforms that some of the girls had a real hard time getting off of.

EE:

Were you a pretty good swimmer?

JE:

Yes, I was a good swimmer, and I didn't have a bit of trouble with any of that. I was what they called an ACPA. No, that's not what. I was the acting—oh, I forget what they call it now. But anyway, I was the one that took the company, got them in formation, and took them wherever we had to go.

EE:

Did y'all drill?

JE:

Yes, oh, yes. I was not the drill person; I just got the company where the drill person did the drill.

EE:

You took them from barracks to the parade grounds.

JE:

Right. Wherever they had to go. But I have not got a good sense of direction, and they all teased me all through boot camp. The second or third day we got to the mess hall, and just as I had them to turn the corner, there was another company right there. I couldn't remember the word to get them to stop, halt, so I just said, “Stop, y'all.” [chuckles] And that followed me all through boot camp. “Stop, y'all.”

EE:

I'll bet there were some merciless types—

JE:

There were two Southerners in that company, and I, of course, was one of them.

EE:

Oh, goodness. Well, I've never got somebody from New Jersey who claimed to have an accent. It's different types, different types. Did y'all have weekends off? How did it work?

JE:

No, no. We had liberty maybe every three weeks, but you didn't have the whole weekend. You had a day. We went to Madison [Wisconsin] one time—and you didn't even get that until after you'd been at boot camp like eight weeks. But I remember taking liberty one time and going into Madison, and twice we went into Chicago, but only for the day.

EE:

Still, this is new country for you.

JE:

Oh, yes.

EE:

Different part of the world. So I'm sure you enjoyed and got an eyeful whenever you went out.

JE:

I did. I sure did.

EE:

I know when they first got started with the services, they kept talking, as part of their recruitment, “free a man to fight.” Do you remember why and what was the pitch to get women into the services?

JE:

Well, no, I really don't. “Free a man to fight” sounds familiar.

EE:

Were they still using that?

JE:

“Relieve a man for sea duty.” I seem to recall that being bandied around.

EE:

When did they make this decision that you were going to become the CT?

JE:

At boot camp. You take aptitude tests, and there were two from my boot camp company. Seemed to me like there were maybe a hundred in my boot camp company, as I said, and two of us were selected for the security group. Some of it, and part of this aptitude test—you know, it's hard remembering all this stuff, but you did four or five Morse code things. I guess if you remembered them all, because that was a big part of it, it was radio school. And we had to take Morse code and I think general communications skills maybe, too, and probably language skills, because we did do a little foreign language work.

EE:

Were you coming in to work with other women or were you replacing men when you did this kind of job?

JE:

On a watch, I would say there would be forty people that went to Naval Security Group in Washington, D.C. I was on Charlie watch, and there were probably thirty. I would say of the thirty, five were WAVES. We did the same thing the guys did. There were no WAVE materiel men. That was the electronics men who kept the gear in working order. There were no WAVES in the Mat Shack, it was called. But there were WAVE communicator technician operators.

EE:

I've talked to some woman who had worked with cryptography in the war, and she said that what she and all the women there, basically they would get these coded messages and their job was simply to type it on a little running strip, almost like teletype.

JE:

Perforated tape.

EE:

Yes. Just type in what was going on.

JE:

Was she in World War II?

EE:

Yes.

JE:

Well, you see, when I came along, we had what we called reperf bank, and they spewed out this tape already done. So we took the tape and put it into another machine and it came out the message.

EE:

So the decoding and encoding was done by the machine.

JE:

Exactly, exactly. There were different things that you had to do to get the different messages to decode.

EE:

Did they inform you about how the code worked, or were you privy to that kind of information?

JE:

We didn't want to know how that thing worked. What we did was undo it and immediately send it. There was a room with a little swinging thing about that big, and you shoved them through there just as fast as you could, because we had been trained so in security. In San Diego when we were in school, they had FBI guys that would try to get us to talk. [Telephone interruption]

EE:

Let me fill in a few details about how you got from boot camp to working in D.C. You gave us some hints at it and everybody does have—the details of different people's experiences is quite amazing, the variety. You were about four weeks at Great Lakes.

JE:

No, I was sixteen weeks at Great Lakes.

EE:

Excuse me, four months, is what I mean, at Great Lakes.

JE:

Yes.

EE:

Are they giving you choices of different services at different times? The military sort of limited what they'd let women do. They started off with things like cooks and baker school, supply stuff.

JE:

They told me where I was going.

EE:

They told you, but did they tell you when you signed up the different options of the kind of work?

JE:

No, they did not. They just said, when I joined the navy and they got my scores, they said, “You will qualify for one of the navy schools.” And it seems to me like after I qualified further in boot camp for the security group school, I believe we did have to sign a paper that if we were selected, we would go. Because, see, at that time they had the FBI cleared for top secret.

EE:

Well, and the time you're going in is the time that the country was very concerned about communist infiltration and everybody's wondering where the spies are. Was that a big concern in your group?

JE:

Oh, yes, it sure was. Oh, yes. You know, I read now in the paper about all these spies and everything. That couldn't have happened then. It could not have happened, because things were so disjointed that this end didn't know what this end was doing. You were taught this job and you did it, and then you passed it on to the next person. And so by the time the messages that I was decoding were completely reassembled as a message, they were in another building.

EE:

You just got bits and pieces.

JE:

That's right.

EE:

Then passed it on to somebody else to put together.

JE:

Exactly, exactly.

EE:

You got your scores and you went to San Diego from Great Lakes, is that where you went?

JE:

I went to San Diego for service school training.

EE:

What was the name of the base you were at in San Diego?

JE:

Naval Training Center. That's where Service School Command was.

EE:

How many women were in that training program?

JE:

Two.

EE:

From your group?

JE:

Yes.

EE:

How many from anywhere else? Were you a big class as you went through this together?

JE:

The class that I was in was maybe forty. We started out with forty. By the time we ended up, I think we had sixteen. They washed out. Every week when test grades were posted, somebody would wash out.

EE:

What was your rank when you got done with basic?

JE:

Seaman.

EE:

What about when you got through with this Service School Command, still the same?

JE:

Still a seaman. At that time you had to stay in your rating for, I believe it was a year before you could take your test for advancement.

EE:

All this training was for WAVES?

JE:

No, we were in a class with—there were probably forty guys and two WAVES in one class. And it seems like to me at that time a class went through—there may have been three classes at one time in the same school. We went to radioman school. You see, there would be other classes, but they would have guys who were going to be radiomen, not CTs. And then maybe two classes of us, seemed like maybe twenty to a class, twenty to a room. But, see, we were all in the same class, but one class would be taking this subject and one class would be taking this subject.

EE:

And yet this is interesting, because right off the bat you're competing against men in your scores, are you not?

JE:

Well, yes and no. None of us were competing, because we all were wanting to pass and make our rating. So it wasn't like there were three seats and four people vying for them.

EE:

Everybody could have got a spot if they made the grade.

JE:

That's right, that's right. All you had to do was make grade.

EE:

So it wasn't that I didn't care if you had three points higher than me, as long as we were both over the line, we were both in.

JE:

Exactly.

EE:

So the goal was to help everybody make that grade.

JE:

Exactly. And after we got down to CT school, we couldn't take any book out of the school, and frequently we had to study, some of us would be there studying at midnight. And the guys were very protective of the WAVES that were in their class. We never had to worry about walking home alone. Somebody always took us to barracks.

EE:

At Great Lakes you were in a women's barracks?

JE:

Yes. The WAVES training center was separate.

EE:

How many people were in that housing complex?

JE:

Oh, there was probably—oh, gosh, maybe ten WAVES barracks, and each housed a company of WAVES.

EE:

It just seems strange to me that you all are going to the West Coast for this training and you're going to Great Lakes, when four or five years earlier, I think all the WAVES from around here would have gone to Hunter College up in the Bronx. But was Great Lakes the place to go then?

JE:

It was then. They then closed down the WAVES training center in Great Lakes and moved it to Aberdeen, Maryland, and then they closed it down in Aberdeen, Maryland, and moved it to Orlando, Florida. Whether it's still in Orlando or not, I don't know.

EE:

It basically was one training facility?

JE:

One station, yes. You went in the WAVES, you went to Great Lakes.

EE:

So there was not a large number of women joining at the time, sounds like. Fifteen companies of seventy-five, through the middle of the year in 1951.

JE:

Yes.

EE:

Thirty by the end of the year would have been about, what, twenty-one hundred or something like that? More than that, twenty-five hundred.

JE:

That sounds about right. But, you know, my memory could be—I could be way off. It's been years.

EE:

It's interesting to me, just the location, about where you get your training and apparently for CT school that was the one place where everybody went for CT.

JE:

Yes, yes.

EE:

How long were you in that program?

JE:

A year and a half, in the school. And then I went to Washington, D.C., to work it.

EE:

What was your rank when you came out of CT school?

JE:

Third class.

EE:

You had to hit the books pretty hard out there.

JE:

You had to study like a dog.

EE:

Five days a week? Then the weekends did you have time off, or did you have to actually work and study?

JE:

Well, I did both, yes. You see, we had barracks duty, too. You may go to school all day and study half the night and have to hurry home if you were on watch from two in the morning until six in the morning. So we had to pull barracks duty and go to school at the same time.

EE:

You were in a different part of the country, however.

JE:

Yes.

EE:

How was that?

JE:

I loved California. I loved it.

EE:

It is quite different from North Carolina, isn't it?

JE:

It is. It sure is. We would go to school in the morning with our overcoats on and come home in the afternoon fanning. We were out in the desert a lot of the times. After we finished one section of schooling in San Diego, they moved the security group WAVES to barracks out in what was at that time called Elliott Annex, and I don't know why they did that. But it was hot out there. Of course, the barracks weren't air-conditioned and everything. But then when we left there, we went to North Island and lived at North Island, where we finished our schooling. All of it was in the San Diego area.

EE:

They were moving different parts of the service.

JE:

They kept us moving.

EE:

Was that for security reasons?

JE:

I think so. They never told us.

EE:

I'm just trying to think. I think the [Senator Joseph] McCarthy hearings were about '50, '51, or maybe into '52, just before the election. That was obviously something that was of concern. Would the FBI come in and tell you we've been watching you?

JE:

No. No, what they would do, they appeared places where we would go for liberty, like on weekends when we'd all go into town. They'd come and dance with you, and say, “What is your striker patch?” You know, your emblem. And we had been told to tell them that we were yeomen working with the radiomen, because the emblem was a bolt of lightning with a quill through it. So we told them that we were yeomen working with radiomen. They would ask you a lot of questions.

But the funniest thing about the FBI happened to my mother. They were working on my clearance and they came to Sanford. At that time, people didn't get in the car and drive to the grocery store. You lived close to town and you walked to the grocery store. Mother had been to the grocery store and had a sack of groceries in her arms, and this man approached her and said, “Are you a Sanford woman?”

And she said, “Yes, I am.”

And he flashed his badge at her and he said, “I am doing a security check on someone in the service from Sanford. Would you mind answering some questions?”

And Mother says, “No, I don't mind at all.”

And he said, “Do you know a Jane Heins?”

And Mother said she dropped the groceries, and she said, “Oh, my God! What's she done now?” [laughs]

But they did come and you gave them references. They went to see my Daddy's good friend, who was Joe Lazarus, who ran the drugstore here, and they went to the telephone office. Of course, as soon as they found it was family, they left there right quick. And then they stopped Mother on the street, and I think that probably cured that poor man. He probably got in his car and left Sanford.

EE:

That's funny. Your mama.

JE:

Of all people.

EE:

You went to classes with men, your job when you got to D.C. was with men. Do you think you were treated professionally by them? You never had any problem with resentment about “What's a girl doing here?” or that kind of thing?

JE:

Never. Never. I was never subjected to profanity or harassment of any kind. I was treated with dignity and fairness. I never had any problems at all in the navy. I loved every minute of it. And if I hadn't gotten pregnant when Donny and I had gotten married, I would probably have retired from the navy. I loved every minute of it.

EE:

When did you meet Don?

JE:

I met him when I reported for duty in Washington, D.C.

EE:

Which would have been '53?

JE:

Early, early '53.

EE:

What was he doing in D.C.?

JE:

He was in the navy, too.

EE:

The same branch?

JE:

Yes. He was in the materiel department. He was in electronics. He didn't pay me much attention, so just I started breaking my machine all the time and got his attention.

EE:

So y'all got to be friendly. When was it that you decided to get out? Was it later than '53?

JE:

Yes. Isn't it funny. I don't remember the months. I don't remember the dates really.

EE:

When did y'all finally get married?

JE:

'52, I think. Yes. No, we got married in '53.

EE:

So you just got married and then you left right after you got married?

JE:

Yes, yes, because I got pregnant right after I got married.

EE:

The fall of that year, then?

JE:

Yes, it sure was. Got married in October. I hope I'm giving you some of these dates right.

EE:

I just wondered, because what's going on in the service, in '49 when you're getting out, we don't have a war going on. I was listening to somebody on the radio coming in over here who said we never did call Korea a war, although really that's what it was. We did everything to avoid calling it a war.

JE:

They called it a conflict. “Korean Conflict” was what we had been told.

EE:

I think everybody was with kid gloves because with the Communist Chinese coming in as strong as they did, we could have been looking at World War III right fast.

JE:

Yes.

EE:

What do you remember thinking about that conflict and your thoughts about it? Remember when [General Douglas] MacArthur was let go by [President Harry S.] Truman? What did you think about MacArthur?

JE:

I liked Truman, and I really didn't think he could do anything wrong. I figured if he let MacArthur go, MacArthur must have asked for it. And being military, I didn't think he showed the commander-in-chief the respect he should have.

EE:

He forgot the one big rule.

JE:

That's right.

EE:

“You're not in charge, son.” [laughter]

JE:

That's right, that's right.

EE:

Even the generals have to learn they're not in charge.

JE:

You know, by the same token, I was also very disappointed in [Dwight D.] Eisenhower as a president. He didn't do a thing for service people.

EE:

That's surprising. It's just hard to tell, you know. Was he working with NATO when he decided to run? He was president of Columbia [University] for a while. He did a lot of different things before he decided to run.

JE:

I was so disappointed in him. Of course, as my grandmother said, I shouldn't have been; he was a Republican.

EE:

My wife's on that side a lot, and I am, too. We won't get into politics here. I'll just nod favorably.

You didn't perceive any harassment from men. You think that men went out of their way to keep from saying profanity and to be nice around you? Do you think maybe you got some preferred treatment?

JE:

Without being snobbish or anything, I think the men that were in the security group were really real nice guys and that was not a way of life for them. It was not like a boatswain's mate.

EE:

But were most of them about your age?

JE:

Yes, I think so.

EE:

What about your COs [commanding officers]? They were all men, I guess.

JE:

Yes.

EE:

Would they have had a little more experience in the navy?

JE:

Yes. Most of them were lieutenants and lieutenant commanders, and they were all just as nice as they could be. Some of them, of course, you liked better than others. I cannot recall one single incident where I thought I was mistreated.

EE:

Where did you live when you were in D.C.? Did you have an apartment?

JE:

Quarters K.

EE:

This was in the temporary buildings down at the end of the Mall?

JE:

There was no Mall there. It was right across the street from the cemetery. It's gone.

EE:

I know they had built some temporary buildings for the navy between the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. This was on the other side.

JE:

No, we were up on the hill. We were in Arlington, Virginia. Quarters K.

EE:

Was that where the operation was, too?

JE:

No, the operation was over on Nebraska Avenue. We were bused over every day.

EE:

So they must have kept a pretty close tight watch on you even then.

JE:

They knew exactly where we were. When we got there, we had badges and we showed the badges. We had to go through at least three gates to get into our working area.

EE:

Were you ever afraid or concerned, with all this talk of spying or how secret things were? Could you even tell your folks what you were doing?

JE:

No.

EE:

Were you worried somebody might try to—

JE:

No, because I couldn't tell them anything. I knew how to do the cryptography, but I didn't know what the end result was. I didn't know what the letters said.

EE:

They could have been recipes for all you know.

JE:

Exactly, exactly. They could have been weather reports. The one thing that we did do that maybe somebody could have wanted us to tell them about was a procedure called direction finding. If a spy was sending a code or sending a message from this point to this point, and someone else was sending a message from this point to this point, there would be an interceptor. That was what they called direction finding. It crossed, and you found out who they were. You knew where the message was being sent from.

[Begin Tape 1, Side 2]

JE:

We came home and put on civilian clothes if we went into town for anything.

EE:

So you didn't have to wear the uniform all the time.

JE:

No, no.

EE:

That's a little different. I know a lot of folks I talked to about the Second World War, they said they wore the uniform everywhere, because everywhere they went, people would give them free dinner or movie pass or whatnot. You didn't have that luxury, did you?

JE:

No. Nobody ever gave us anything free. Certainly not in Washington, D.C.

EE:

Did you feel safe in Washington, D.C.?

JE:

Yes, yes.

EE:

So it was a little different town now than then.

JE:

Yes. I tell you the truth, I may be dumb, but I've never really been afraid anywhere. I guess because I never planned to hurt anybody, I just presumed that they never plan to hurt me.

EE:

When you were out in San Diego, did y'all pal around as a group when you went out on the town?

JE:

Oh, yes, oh, yes. Really and truly, we partied together, we worked together, we studied together. And as I said, when we stayed at school to study at night, there was never a problem where I'd have to call the SP [shore patrol] to come get me to take me back to the barracks. There was never a problem. There was always one of the guys that would say, “Study as long as you want to. I'll wait and walk you home from school.”

I still keep up with right many of them. There's one, he was really one of my best friends. He was the only married guy in the class. His name's Don Long, lives in Sparks, Nevada. He's coming to Washington, D.C., the 26th of May, and he's going to come down to see me.

EE:

That's great.

JE:

And I met him in Las Vegas, oh, gosh, about seven years ago. His son is the stage manager at MGM. I called Don and told him I was coming to Vegas, and he said, “I'll call Barry right away.” And Smokey Robinson was there.

EE:

So you got in to see Smokey.

JE:

We went in, got to meet Smokey, went backstage and talked to him, and had ringside seats to see his show.

EE:

That brings me to a different point. I asked folks is there songs or movies that when you think of or hear them or see them on TV, that take you back to that time?

JE:

Absolutely. Johnnie Ray and that Talk to Her [Please], Mr. Sun. What was that? I believe that was it. Mr. Sun, I think that was the name of it. Yes, sir, we used to play that song all the time.

EE:

Could a jitterbugger still make it in 1951?

JE:

Oh, yes.

EE:

Rock and roll wasn't quite on the scene.

JE:

No.

EE:

Tony Bennett was even a little bit later, too, wasn't he?

JE:

I believe so.

EE:

Frank Sinatra was doing pretty well.

JE:

Out at Elliott Annex we got a lot of big names that came out and put on shows for us. Ella Fitzgerald came. Nat King Cole came. Frankie Carle or Carlisle or something like that. A lot of bit names came out there to entertain us.

EE:

And was this a USO [United Service Organizations] thing?

JE:

I don't know.

EE:

Or just because you were in California, you got the entertainment?

JE:

I couldn't tell you. But there was a big theater there, and there were a lot of sailors there, so we all just came over.

EE:

How active was that area in regards to Korea? Was that a big area for training folks going over to Korea?

JE:

I have no idea.

EE:

That wasn't even part of your—

JE:

No. The Marines were over at Camp Miramar, and they were pilots over there. Now they may have been—that was another cute thing. Our barracks had a big high fence in the backyard, and in the afternoons of the summer when some of the girls would go out there to take a sunbath, frequently the telephone would ring and one of the pilots would say, “Can I speak to the girl in the backyard in the blue-and-white-striped bathing suit?” [laughs]

EE:

Would they fly over and take a picture?

JE:

They'd fly over and pick somebody out. That was fun. I don't remember any of them ever going out with one, but they talked to them on the phone.

EE:

But y'all pretty much hung out together. Did the women go together in groups? Did you date a lot of the folks you were in school with?

JE:

No, we went out with them; we didn't date them.

EE:

You were like buddies going out.

JE:

We were one of the guys, kind of, you know.

EE:

That's a very unusual time and transition you're talking about, because you really were part of the team, it sounds like, which is neat.

JE:

Like I say, I still keep up with several of them. There's one named George Pulliam who's a psychologist now in Virginia. They're just real good friends. They're some of my oldest friends.

EE:

That's great. How long were you in D.C. before you started messing up your machine just to get Don's attention? It must not have been very long.

JE:

Well, I hadn't been there long. I hadn't been there long at all. He came from Adak, Alaska, for duty there. It seems like it was really real soon, but I don't remember. It's been fifty years.

EE:

That's right. So y'all worked together and yet went out socially. Was he a non-com[missioned officer]? There was the no-fraternization policy.

JE:

Oh, yes. You didn't do that. He was first-class petty officer.

EE:

Did y'all have a service club or something you could go to?

JE:

Yes, we did, and we went there. But there were a lot of places in D.C. We worked such strange hours. If you had the day shift, you worked from seven to three. At three o'clock, the eve watch came on and then worked from three to twelve. And then the night watch came on, the mid-watch, we called it, and worked from twelve to seven. So, you see, we were getting off and on at such strange times that lots of times the on-base clubs weren't open when we were ready to party.

EE:

And y'all rotated shifts?

JE:

Yes.

EE:

So you worked the same shift for seven or fourteen days, take a couple days off?

JE:

Six.

EE:

Six days and then have a day or two off?

JE:

After the day watch, we had two days off. After the eve watch, we had two days off. And after the mid-watch, we had three days off.

EE:

And you were on the same watch as Don?

JE:

Yes.

EE:

And what was Don's last name?

JE:

Kowell, K-o-w-e-l-l.

EE:

Where was he from originally?

JE:

Rockford, Illinois.

EE:

You set the stage for doing lots of traveling in your life.

JE:

Oh, yes.

EE:

What was the hardest thing you had to do during your time in the service, either physically or emotionally?

JE:

Field day. Field run. I am a clean nut, and I hate for my hands to be dirty. And when we finished cleaning up the barracks for field day, you didn't go in somebody's head after they scrubbed it. It was secured. And you'd go to bed with liquid wax all over your hands and get up the next morning and dress and not be able to brush your teeth because those girls had secured the head. I just lived for the day that the captain would hurry up and come on in and go through the barracks so we could use the bathrooms.

EE:

This was during basic?

JE:

That was during basic. That was the hardest part to me, was having dirty hands. That happened once a week.

EE:

And then they did the old white-glove test, I suppose.

JE:

Oh, boy, did they ever. I told my mother I cleaned things up there in boot camp that shouldn't have ever been there to begin with.

EE:

What was it like for you living in a big communal dormitory like that, or barracks?

JE:

I had a good time. I liked it.

EE:

Some people are kind of skittish about that lack of privacy.

JE:

I know, I know. Really, I loved the whole experience.

EE:

Did you have a particularly embarrassing or funny moment that pops out in your mind when you think about those days?

JE:

Well, there were a lot of funny things that happened, but I don't recall any in particular. I guess the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me was at captain's inspection. The captain winked at me, and I didn't know what to do about it. And so the next month when he was inspecting the troops, I winked back at him. [Laughter] And he just laughed. And I remember his name, isn't that funny? His name was Captain Ladd. And why that name sticks in my mind, but he started at my head and worked his way all the way down and came back up and when he finished, he looked me right in the eye and went— [demonstrates]. I don't know, I wanted to laugh, I was embarrassed. I thought, “What to do?”

EE:

“How many people saw this?” [Laughter]

JE:

Yes. So the next month when he inspected the troops, he got right to me and he started that business again, and when he looked me in the eye, I winked at him before he could wink at me. And he got tickled and moved right on to the next person.

EE:

And where was this, in D.C.?

JE:

Yes. But he wrote me up for a haircut. When he winked at me, he wrote me up for a haircut, said I needed a haircut.

EE:

I think Alan Ladd was popular in the movies then. Maybe that had something to do with it.

JE:

Could be. I don't know.

EE:

Do you remember, was it '53 that we dropped the H-bomb? It was the start of the Cold War when you were in there. Was that a concern to you?

JE:

Well, we probably had a lot of traffic if I was still in at that time, because you could tell when something big was happening, because it would just be alive. When things were quiet, of course, things were quiet. So you always knew if there was a big offensive or a lot of ship movement someplace or troop movement, because we monitored it all.

EE:

When you were on a ship, there wasn't a lot of downtime, it doesn't sound like.

JE:

No, not unless the weather was bad. See, atmospherics controlled how much you got, too. So if, for instance, Alaska was having a big storm, we got no traffic from Alaska. So atmospherics played a big part in it.

EE:

We talked about the resistance that your mom particularly gave you when you went in. How did other folks think about you, your friends and relatives, how did they think about you joining the service and being part of the navy?

JE:

Well, my grandmother didn't like it a bit, but it was not because I was going to be a part of the navy; it was because I was going too far away. She had a right many grandsons around here. This was my grandmother on my mother's side of the family, had a right many grandsons, but I was the only granddaughter around here, and we were always real close. And she didn't like it too much. But she, too, loved Don, so you know, that kind of made it all right.

EE:

What did you end up doing after you got out of the service? Did you come back to this area, or where did you go?

JE:

He was in the military. Well, it was kind of unfortunate, because we went to Puerto Rico for duty and we had been there less than a week when my mother died of a heart attack and my father had just had both legs amputated. My brother was fourteen years old, so my baby and I came back home to take care of Daddy.

EE:

This was '53?

JE:

'55, I believe, was when Mama died. Days I remember. Years slip by.

EE:

I'm forcing you to put things in a chronological order, and, in fact, people remember by emotion what was important.

JE:

Yes.

EE:

Not every day has the same value as any other day.

JE:

Exactly. Well, I'm pretty sure she died in '55. So I came back home and stayed for the better part of a year. Then went back to Puerto Rico and stayed for a couple of months. Then I came back and Don went for duty in San Francisco, and then we went to Washington, D.C. Then he went to Guam, and I came back here and stayed with Daddy and took care of him again. My bridge club never got anybody to take my place, because I was in and out so much. [Telephone interruption.]

EE:

Your husband was over there. When did he pass away?

JE:

He died in '80.

EE:

In '80. So he was a career, retired military?

JE:

Yes. Retired from the navy.

EE:

So after Guam he went to where?

JE:

Let's see. After Guam, he went to sea. He went aboard the USS Oxford, which was an intelligence ship. They were called out for the Cuban blockade. So that was during that time period. Then, let's see. After that, we went to Scotland for three years for duty. While we were in Scotland, Daddy had a stroke, so when we left Scotland, we came back home. Don was stationed in Chesapeake, Virginia, and he retired from there.

EE:

So he retired in the sixties.

JE:

No, he retired in 1969.

EE:

So you must have been a big help to your dad.

JE:

Yes, yes.

EE:

How many children did you have?

JE:

Two.

EE:

Boy and girl?

JE:

Two girls.

EE:

How far apart are they?

JE:

Four years.

EE:

My two boys are four years apart. You can tell me off the tape how good that is. [Laughter]

JE:

Oh, gosh. Do they have boxing gloves? [Laughter]

EE:

Don't tell me that. The younger one is getting real good at talking and talking back to the older one now. That's my problem. One's eight and one's four, so I can just see they're going to have just enough in common to hate each other's guts.

JE:

That's right.

EE:

You ended your official service in 1953, but you kept in the military life by virtue of having your husband, and you stayed connected.

JE:

That's right.

EE:

Do you think the military experience made you more of an independent person than you would have been otherwise?

JE:

Oh, no question about it. After what I've been through and all, I don't think you could throw anything at me that I couldn't handle, because they taught you to be self-sufficient. I'm not sure they do today, but they did then.

EE:

Today it seems as if they expect you to come in for four years and then go get your degree and do what you want, as opposed to train for the career military person these days. So I don't know if they're scaling back in the services or whatnot. You told me before we started taping this that you had actually encouraged one of your daughters to join the military.

JE:

Yes. She's a nurse.

EE:

Did you think that would be a good experience for a woman to join the service?

JE:

Yes, I think even more so when she came along. I don't know how it is today. I read all these things about security being breached and everything. I think the young people today—I think there's a lot to the young people today. I know my grandchildren are very worthwhile young people. I really don't know whether there's enough discipline in the military today. I don't think there's enough discipline anywhere today, to tell you the truth. I certainly think the military has slacked off in the discipline area.

EE:

That's maybe the price of an all-volunteer army.

JE:

Could be. You know, I had an interesting happenstance. You're probably not one bit interested in this, but there was a girl from Sanford named Janette Kelly. She married a Chief Forrest in the navy. When I reported in to Nebraska Avenue to work, he came over and said, “You're Heins from Sanford.”

I said yes.

He said, “My wife was Jenny Kelly. Do you remember her?”

I said, “I certainly do.”

He said, “You're working the position that she worked when she was in the service.”

Then about five years ago, Patricia Hickey moved down the street from me here, and she was a lieutenant. She comes up and swims with me in the afternoons. One afternoon she said, “Jane, what did you do in the navy?” We both knew that we were in the navy. Our daughters were debutantes together and we got to know each other then.

And I told her where I worked, and she said, “What part of that building did you work in?”

And I told her, and she said, “Were you in such-and-such a division?”

I said yes.

She said, “I worked that same division.” So of the three women that I know of around here, all three of us worked in the same area.

EE:

They must have a Sanford Memorial Chair up there or something. [Laughter]

JE:

Pat was from Connecticut, so she wouldn't qualify for that Sanford corner.

EE:

But you were doing a job with men and you were treated professionally doing it. In December, we had, as a country, for the first time a woman flying a combat mission, had a combat pilot in Iraq. Do you think there's some jobs in the military that women shouldn't be allowed to do, or how do you feel about that?

JE:

I'm not even sure that I think women should go to sea. I think they can handle the job, but I think—

EE:

Putting them on an aircraft carrier with men may be too—

JE:

It's asking too much of both, of either sex.

EE:

Too much distraction, too much—

JE:

I think so. I sure do. I think there's a time and a place for everything, and I'm just not sure sea duty is the right time or the right place for men and women.

EE:

Well, you, as a military spouse, had to go through long periods apart from your husband because of that sea duty, and yet that's still your opinion, that you say that's part of the job and you ought to expect that?

JE:

Listen, if my husband was still at sea duty, I would feel even more that way. I wouldn't want him isolated for months at a time with women aboard.

EE:

It makes good sense to me.

We were talking about MacArthur and other public figures. Are there some other public figures from the time of your experience with the military, whether it's MacArthur or Truman or Eisenhower or Adlai Stevenson? He was on a battleship carrier in '52 and '56. What did you think about him?

JE:

I liked him.

EE:

Did he come down to Sanford and talk?

JE:

Well, see, his sister lived in Southern Pines. She sure did. I know her name. Buffy Ides. And he was down there a lot, but I didn't—you know, number one, I was too busy with a baby and a daddy that just had both legs amputated.

EE:

Diabetes?

JE:

No, he had arteriosclerosis. And then a fourteen-year-old brother I was trying to keep up with. So, really, I didn't care what Adlai Stevenson did. [laughter]

EE:

You were running a roost.

JE:

Yes, I really was. I really was.

EE:

I guess his brother was handling the phone company. When did the family sell the phone company?

JE:

They were all long gone. This generation, my generation got merged with Alltel about ten years ago.

EE:

Alltel's doing good business now. They've got the cell phone market around here cornered, that's for sure.

JE:

They sure do.

EE:

It's hard for me to imagine how you could answer this question, because the question is, has your life been different because of the military. Your life would have been totally different, because the military runs through a lot of things.

JE:

That's right. It sure did.

EE:

Husband, trip around the world, seeing folks. You say your husband died in '80. You remarried again in—

JE:

'87.

EE:

—'87. Was the second husband a military person as well?

JE:

Well, yes, he'd been in the Marine Corps, but we didn't tell people that unless we had to.

EE:

Family secrets. [chuckles]

JE:

Oh, yes. I told John the only thing I was used to the Marine Corps doing was opening the gate. [chuckles]

That navy sticker on the car is a cute story, too. There's a real good friend of mine at Carolina Trace, his name is Fred Stewart. He a retired navy captain. Fred was trying to form the Carolina Blue Squadron, which is navy flyers, retired or ex-navy flyers. And he wanted a woman in it. And I said, “Fred, I had absolutely nothing to do with the air division.” He said, “Doesn't matter. I need you anyway.” So for about two years-and I talked Pat Hickey into going with me. I said, “If I'm going, you're going, too.”

EE:

You've got most of the same qualifications. ]

JE:

That's right. So we were members of the Blue Squadron down at Carolina Trace for about two years. We're both out of it now. We told Fred he had it going and we were through. But that's what that sticker's all about.

EE:

Well, we've gone through a few of these questions this afternoon. Is there anything else about the military experience that I haven't asked you about, that you think is important to share with folks? You're at a different time than some of the people that I've talked with, and it's instructive to me to hear the transitions, because you're still treated differently, and yet inclusively. Of course, the military will eventually say there's no difference at all, even if there are differences between men and women, and will try to incorporate them and yet maybe take away some of the gentility and the respect between the genders that you enjoyed.

JE:

Well, I don't see how it can go any other way and get treated alike. In a way, it needs to be that way. If you go get the same pay and do the same job, you need to arrive at it the same way, but you're still a man, a male and a female. And a female can't do calisthenics like a man can. And if you send them all out there on—I forget what you call them things when they go out and hang from bars.

EE:

Obstacle course.

JE:

Obstacle course. If they send them all out there together and you expect them all to do the same thing, that's ridiculous, because a woman can't climb over those things like a man can. So I don't know what they are going to achieve, but they didn't ask me. I'd have straightened them out in the beginning if they had.

EE:

What do you think of today's military?

JE:

Well—

EE:

We've only got fifteen minutes. [chuckles]

JE:

Well, the ones I have seen, I have not really been impressed with the sharp dressing. I've seen several WAVES when I've been in bigger towns, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Their hair is hanging over their collar.

EE:

That was a big thing, hair off the collar?

JE:

Oh, your hair did not touch your collar. Their shoes need shining. Well, you could read a—my shoes shined in the dark. It was kind of a badge of courage to have a neat-looking uniform. You took pride in your uniform. And I don't see that as much. When I used to go down to Fort Bragg, some of the women in the army, some of them didn't look clean to me.

EE:

You hit on something about pride in the military. I heard a statement on the Discovery Channel or History Channel or probably CNBC, they were talking about today's standards towards the military versus fifty years ago. Back in World War II, everybody was patriotic. Everybody was patriotic. And yet you talk about the fact that wearing the uniform didn't get you anything. It could have been after all that stuff with the military and everybody affected by it, you're sort of in a transition where people are saying, “Okay, that's fine, we did that already.”

JE:

Well, it didn't get me anything for nothing. But by the same token, there was no adverse—

EE:

There wasn't hostility.

JE:

That's right, that's right. I mean, it was business as usual, but if we went into a nightclub or bar for a drink in a uniform, we paid the same thing anybody else did. During the war and right afterward, if you wore that uniform in, it was on the house.

EE:

I appreciate you sitting down with me to do this this afternoon. It's been fun. Been fun.

JE:

I hope I've helped you. There he goes again. [Referring to the clock.]

EE:

A tufted titmouse calls out the time.

JE:

Yes, yes.

EE:

I've watched the mice come to the feeder at my house, and I hadn't heard a one of them sound like that yet, but I'll be listening intently.

JE:

You know, talking, though, about the military, one time in Sanford, the Herald took pictures of people in their uniform and said, “Can you name these people?” And they gave little clues at the bottom. They had a picture of Daddy in his uniform and me in my uniform and my brother in his uniform and said, “Can you name this man and his two navy children?” And it was a giveaway, because there was so few women in town that went in the military.

EE:

Did they find out a big thing about you joining the—

JE:

Oh, gosh, yes. Yes. And the Raleigh paper, too. But it wasn't because it was me; it was because there were two of us that went in together.

EE:

I want to ask you another question because your family did stay in the military. I was really too young. I was nine in '69. I remember the Vietnam War ended and everybody being happy. I was in North Carolina. It wasn't Berkeley. We didn't have anti-war protests in the street. And yet you had to experience, as you went through your life, change in public attitudes about the military. What was it like having a spouse in the services during the Vietnam experience?

JE:

Well, you see, I was in in the beginning of the Vietnam experience, so, to me, he was still just doing his job. That's what it was to me. Don was doing a job. He wore a uniform to do it.

EE:

That's just where the work was.

JE:

That' right. And I have prayed every day for any of the 'Nam boys. I love them all. They did a mean, nasty job that they got two-timed by their own government to do.

EE:

And then hung out to dry.

JE:

That's right. They sure did. And I didn't appreciate one bit Lyndon Johnson or any of the rest of them, the way they treated them. I will say that although I can't forgive [Secretary of Defense Robert S.] McNamara, I do think it took a mighty big man to come out publicly all these years later and say, “I was part of the wrongdoing.”

EE:

He was the big pusher for it.

JE:

He sure was. But then he said, “I did the wrong thing.” But there a lot of boys six feet under because of that. I don't know how he goes to sleep at night. I just don't.

EE:

That's maybe why he's stepped out.

JE:

Could be. In Sanford, the 'Nam boys were just veterans like anybody else. If we had that kind of feeling here about it, I was not aware.

EE:

North Carolina, because so many of the boys came through here, so many bases, I think the population is much more understanding of the military way.

JE:

Maybe that's what it is, with Fort Bragg so close.

EE:

Yes. You have some pockets around the colleges, but generally, the folks who live out in the country, they support what's going on with the military.

JE:

Well, it was our duty. And the kids—I have a real good friend who said, “If my son gets drafted, we will send him to Canada.” I thought that was awful, because she's willing to stay here and accept all the good things that America presents her with, but she's not willing to pay for it. To me that's like eating dinner and thinking it's going to be on the house. You've got to take the bad with the good.

EE:

My folks told me they were willing to go to Brazil or Australia if it kept on going. It went from the time I was three until the time whatever. It was a long time.

JE:

I didn't agree with the war, but our country said we're in it, so.

EE:

It's like right now in Kosovo [Serbia].

JE:

Exactly.

EE:

I'm not sure it was the brightest thing to get involved in a thousand-year-old war, because that's what it is, turf war, but we're in it and we need to finish up our little part of it and not half do it.

JE:

But you know, by the same token—and this has nothing to do with anything. I know I'm keeping you.

EE:

That's all right.

JE:

But if we hadn't done something when Hitler was annihilating the Jews, where would we be? We wouldn't be here. It would have been right over here annihilating.

EE:

We took a long time getting into it.

JE:

We sure did.

EE:

Because it was two years going as a war in Europe, the Brits were getting bombed on a regular basis, and it took Pearl Harbor for us to say, “Okay, I guess it's our war, too.”

JE:

That's right. So you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. If we'd gotten into Vietnam, we should have let the boys win the war and come on home. And they should do the same thing over here. If they're going to go to Kosovo, go, get it over with.

EE:

If they're going to spend so much money on the bombs and everything else.

Well, transcriber, thank you for putting up with us while we're rambling here about life in general and philosophy, but it's pleasant out here on the porch, and that's why we're doing it. So thank you.

[End of interview]