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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Henrietta Clodfelter Lucke, 1999

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Object ID: WV0085.5.001

Description:

Primarily details Lucke’s experiences as a town student at the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro); her training at St. Albans Naval Hospital; and working in the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) at Fort Detrick and Treasure Island during World War II.

Summary:

Lucke discusses her parents’ backgrounds; enduring hardship during the Depression; and her schooling in Greensboro. Topics related to Woman’s College (WC) include her decision to attend; the limited social life of a town student at WC; memorable professors, including Dr. Archie Shaftesbury and Miss Lila Belle Love; first hearing about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and working in the bacteriology department.

Topics related to the WAVES include the uniform; drilling in the summer heat; corps school and medical lab training at St. Albans Naval Hospital; being required to view an autopsy; taking a blood sample from famed boxer Barney Ross; recruiting at Rockefeller Center; seeing Judy Garland and Jimmy Durante while at Hunter College; and friends she made in the service. Discussion of her time at Camp Detrick includes riding from the train station to Frederick, Maryland, with the mailman; living quarters; working with famous scientists like Gail Dack and Joshua Lederberg; low morale among WAVES; special uniforms; and the reasons for developing biological weapons. Other topics include her long train ride to Oakland, California; working with a German prisoner of war; the chaos of Treasure Island after the war; and her post-war education on the GI bill.

Creator: Henrietta Clodfelter Lucke

Biographical Info: Henrietta Clodfelter Lucke of Greensboro, North Carolina, worked in the biological warfare lab at Camp Detrick, Maryland, as a member of the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) Hospital Corps from June 1943 to April 1946.

Collection: Henrietta Clodfelter Lucke 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:

Today is May 27, 1999. I'm in Alexandria, Virginia, this morning, at the home of Henrietta Lucke. Thank you, Ms. Lucke, for having us this morning. This is going to be an interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro [UNCG]. There's about thirty-odd questions that we ask everybody, Ms. Lucke, and the first one, hopefully, won't be the hardest. Hopefully, there are not going to be any of them that are hard. Where were you born and where did you grow up?

HL:

Lexington, North Carolina.

EE:

Davidson County.

HL:

Yes.

EE:

Home of good barbecue.

HL:

Absolutely, the world's best.

EE:

Where could you find a good barbecue up here? Can you?

HL:

There is one or two places that make North Carolina barbecue.

EE:

Excellent.

HL:

But they're hard to find, hard to get to.

EE:

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

HL:

Yes, I have one sister who's a year younger than I am, and a brother younger than that, and then three years is skipped, and then another brother. Two brothers, one sister.

EE:

Great. So you lead the pack?

HL:

All still living.

EE:

Wonderful. Wonderful. Are they still in North Carolina or where are they?

HL:

Yes.

EE:

Oh, my, you hear about it.

HL:

One went to Guilford [College in Greensboro], one went to Morrisville, [State College, New York] and Duke [University], and my sister went one year at WC [Women's College of the University of North Carolina, now UNGC], and up to Madison—George Madison.

EE:

Great.

HL:

That's not right. James Madison [University, in Virginia].

EE:

James Madison, right. Okay. What about your folks, what did they do?

HL:

My father grew up right outside of Lexington in a farming family. My mother's family was in Lexington and he was the owner of the hardware store. Hardware was big in those days.

EE:

So he owned his own business. They got married—

HL:

My father—I have to say this—he grew up in a farming family, and his father died when he was about ten or somewhere between ten and twelve years old. My father was in a family of twelve children, six girls, six boys. He was the only one that went to college, and he went to [North Carolina] State [University]. This is a big item in our family, because when I went to WC, 99 percent of everybody there rooted for UNC [the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill].

EE:

Right.

HL:

You were pretty lonely if you rooted for State, but we held out. [chuckles]

EE:

Well, I'm one of those few Carolina [UNC] grads who will admit to going to the State basketball camp in the seventies. [chuckles]

HL:

He was an engineer.

EE:

Wonderful. Wonderful. So your dad, he grew up on the farm and then came back?

HL:

He worked his way through State.

EE:

This would have been in the teens, twenties, when was he at State?

HL:

It was before World War I. I have to tell you this, because it follows along, it's in keeping with how I came to a Woman's College. No one ever pushed us, the four children, to go to college. In fact, we suffered mightily during the Depression, like everyone. From the time I was three until I went into the WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service—U.S. Navy], I had lived in Greensboro. I mean, in or outside of Greensboro. During the Depression we had to move, because we could no longer pay the rent in Greensboro. It was very, very difficult times. Although Carolina Steel and Iron Company did employ my father, everyone, for a few days every week, during the worst time. But one thing my mother hung on the living room wall was my father's sheepskin diploma. Everywhere we moved that diploma was on the wall. No one ever mentioned that, children, you must go to college, and no one ever pushed education down our throat, but that diploma was on the wall. [chuckles]

EE:

Hovering over your childhood.

HL:

Against terrible odds we all went to college, because we all went to college—except my brother that went to Guilford College—went prior to World War II. We didn't really recover from the Depression until World War II started, then things shifted in the whole country.

EE:

Did your mom have to take a job outside the house, too?

HL:

She was mother in the home. My mother was the spice of life. My father was the rock of Gibraltar. Two great contrasts. [chuckles] The four of us have often reflected that we feel like regardless of being deprived of many things that money could buy, we had the best of all worlds.

EE:

That's nice.

HL:

I really do believe we did.

EE:

Where did you end up graduating from high school?

HL:

Jamestown, Jamestown. I went to Glenwood School in Greensboro for first grade, and then I went over to Clara J. Peck [Elementary School], if you've heard any of these names.

EE:

Still there, I believe.

HL:

Yes, I think it is. At that time it was two through—wait a minute, I went there second grade and the third grade, then came back over to Glenwood for fourth and fifth. I was very uninhibited by the time I got to the fourth and fifth grade. But after the fifth grade, that's when the family had to move near Sedgefield, outside of Greensboro. My father and uncle literally built a house around us. My father did everything he could for himself. We really had an example set for us, I'll tell you. But being at Sedgefield was difficult, because we always felt like we were at the low end of the totem pole. I don't know how to tell you. This was a Depression move. I spent six and seventh grade at Sedgefield [Elementary School], and then went to Jamestown for the last four years. Jamestown was only eleven years. So when I went to WC it is a miracle that I got in, because Jamestown in 1939 had one typewriter in the whole school. This was before. That was the total machine in the whole school, and that was in the principal's office. Need I say more? When you went to school, I rode two buses to get to Jamestown. When you left at night there was no way you could get back, because we lived just outside the city limits of Greensboro, and some people came to Jamestown from just outside of High Point, [North Carolina], and they converged in the middle. Once you left on Friday after school, you didn't see the school until Monday morning, because gasoline was beginning to be rationed and the last—no it wasn't, either. But we only had one car. No one had two cars.

EE:

You sound like you were kind of far apart from your school friends, then, in some sense?

HL:

Yes and no. They spent the weekend. We spent weekends with each other. That was wonderful.

EE:

Yes.

HL:

I still have those friends. So you worked it out.

EE:

Right. Were you somebody who liked school? Did you have any favorite subjects?

HL:

I didn't dislike it, but I always felt like I want to be a scholar and I'm still reaching for the ring. [chuckles] I have since been to Elderhostels where I've learned a lot. Last spring I went to one at Gallaudet [University in Washington, D.C.] Are you familiar with Gallaudet?

EE:

Right here. That's the school—

HL:

Stop me if you want me to get back to your question.

EE:

All right. I'm getting there. This is a school for the deaf.

HL:

Gallaudet's a school for the deaf, because I'm experiencing a real problem in hearing now. I wanted to go to Mecca to find out what to do about this. It was a marvelous Elderhostel. But I also learned that I probably have had a hearing deficiency. Now, what did he call it? He had a word for it. I've had it probably even before I got to high school. I was a person who, even though the teacher explained things, wrote things on the board and I listened attentively, I didn't get it all. I thought, “I'm not concentrating. What's the matter with me? I'm daydreaming. My mind is wandering.” But I really wasn't. I was concentrating. Well, I learned at Gallaudet this is—what did they call it—visual, you are a visual learner. I said, “Visual learner? That would mean that I would instantly get all that.” He says, “No, you have to go back to the books and get it all from the books.” That was exactly what I did through WC. It's a miracle I got through WC. I was seventy-five when I learned that this was something I'd had all this time. I've never heard anybody address that problem.

EE:

My son has the opposite now. He's just turned nine, and he just discovered he's had a vision problem the last year. So something he can't get is because he's not seeing. [chuckles]

HL:

Well, now I didn't wear glasses. It wasn't vision. It was I didn't get it when people were talking to me and demonstrating, because I couldn't stop, take my mind off what they were saying, and I was trying to hear to write down notes. I don't know.

EE:

When you finished high school what did you want to do when you grew up? Did you have an idea?

HL:

Of all things I thought I wanted to go into the medical field, and I shot for the highest thing, but of course, after a while I realized that there wasn't going to be money for that, and I probably wasn't going to have the grades for that. Are we moving to WC now?

EE:

Yes. How did you pick WC as opposed to—

HL:

Money.

EE:

Because you could stay in town and go to school?

HL:

My choice, my hope was to go to Catawba [College in Salisbury, North Carolina], because it was our church-sponsored college at that time. Now, Catawba and Elon [University, Elon, North Carolina], and maybe some others, because there have been some church mergers, but at that time my dream was to go to Catawba. It probably made a great difference in my life, because Catawba was co-educational and WC was not. The fact that at that time, I being the oldest child and there were three behind me, and after I got through the first college year every year after that there would be two children in college—for my father—it was unbelievable.

EE:

Right. That's a long time.

HL:

So it was obvious that going away to school was out of the question. So WC was the least expensive. As luck turned out, it probably was the best school I could have gone to. I found this out when I got to the WAVES. I'll tell you—may mention it later on—several places, particularly when I got to the hospital in the WAVES, I compared myself—you just do, you don't do it deliberately it just happens—to other people. I knew that the chemistry department and the biology department, etc., at WC, everything was top notch. Here was this school, when I went there, at least a third of the people there were from out of state. It was a good deal for them, because they must have been getting good vibes north of the Mason-Dixon [Line] that here was this school down South, very good, low tuition and low board and room.

EE:

That's how North Carolina's attracted folks in state for many years. We do the low dollar option, but it's true.

HL:

When I got there we had to take everyone going in that would be picking up French and English had to take a test, and I failed the test for English. French was no problem, because I'd taken Latin in high school thinking that I could use it in the medical field, and I did. But that was a negative to overcome as a freshman. But in hindsight, looking back, and my sister had to do the same thing the next year when she came into the freshman class, it was one of the best courses we took at WC. It was great. I've forgotten the name of the woman, but she and her husband both taught in the English course, and she was very nice to us, didn't treat us like dumb bunnies. [chuckles] The class was filled because there were a lot of North Carolina—we were all North Carolina people.

EE:

North Carolina was making the change from eleven-year to twelve-year high schools, weren't they? Did you go to school there with anybody that you knew or were you—

HL:

No, I was all by myself. Only one from Jamestown.

EE:

But you lived at home. You were a town student.

HL:

Yes, I lived at home.

EE:

Did that kind of make you feel a little less connected to this school, do you think?

HL:

It made all the difference in the world. There were town students who—most of the town students went to Greensboro High School. That was the big high school. I don't think there were any other high schools in Greensboro at that time.

EE:

That later became Grimsley [High School], I think.

HL:

I don't know, maybe. My youngest brother, the last one in the family, he did go to Greensboro High School. But by that time where we lived was incorporated in the city limits and he was eligible. Also my father had owned part interest in a grocery store and so that entitled my brother to go. But the rest of us all came through Jamestown with just eleven years. So I took some freshman English, and that put me half a year behind in English. So my father let me go to summer school to make up that difference. But going back to your question about feeling different. The first year, it was such work, work, work. It was work all the time, because I thought I was going to major in biology. I mean, I carried out that plan.

EE:

That was something that you were thinking in terms of the medical field, that was one you thought would be a good major.

HL:

Yes. That required labs. When you have labs—I came in with my father on his way to work, got out at the administration building, and they had in the basement of the administration building—they have a town student's room. During the day the town student's room flowed back and forth with traffic of mainly girls who were Greensboro city girls who had gone to Greensboro High School, and bridge games were going on all the time. By and large, these were students who had no labs unless it was business lab of some kind. You never saw any home economics students or chemistry or, like me, pre-med, or whatever. Because we were in labs all day long.

EE:

Correct.

HL:

I think I'd do the same thing again, but I might not. I mean, I might be better adapted to something else.

EE:

Did you get plugged in any part of the social life as far as with the music or dances?

HL:

No, not really. We made our own. By the time I was a sophomore I had met quite a few girls who were in home economics. There were about five of them and all of them except one, the one being—she was a Greensboro High School graduate and she lived in the city—but all the rest of us lived either in Summerfield or out towards Kernersville, or like me, just outside the city limits. We realized that we needed a place to eat lunch, and we didn't play bridge, and it was also so smoky in there you didn't feel like you wanted to eat lunch there.

EE:

Right.

HL:

As I've told Betty this, somewhere in our sophomore year, and that included one girl whose sister came, Marsha Gilchrist, and my sister was at WC then, plus some other girls we knew, we would all bring our lunch and we, I might say I, found a place over in the old student's building. In the bottom of the student's building was a post office and the bookstore. If you can imagine. Probably requires ten times that space now. Above that was the social halls for the four societies. Also, all of us were automatically put into a society. If you lived out of town you couldn't participate in anything like that. We could not participate in anything on campus. By my senior year I did come to some meetings of the—there was a science club, I've forgotten what it was called. Those were night meetings, but my father would come back and pick me up. But that was just not in the early days at all.

EE:

Right.

HL:

Unless you met someone in your class, and I did quite a few, meet quite a few people. One time I even spent the night with them, because I had to do something for Dr. [Archie] Schaftsbury. Did anybody ever mention him?

EE:

Yes.

HL:

I don't know whether I should mention it here or not. But he should have—let's say he was in his tenure and he should not have been there. Many people complained, and there were girls that actually had breakdowns in his class. See, if you had pre-med you had to take embryology, unless you went somewhere in summer school and took it. You had to take it from him. I rest my case, I'm not going to say anything, but it was agony. [chuckles]

EE:

Yes.

HL:

He was not hard, he just was—

EE:

Cruel.

HL:

Yes. Many people complained to the head of the department. We used to go down and talk to our bacteriology teacher about it. She understood, but I think their hands were tied.

EE:

Yes. That's the nature of the system, I'm afraid. There's a lot of things that's going on, most of the time folks college-age are sort of been in their own world, whatever in the world was happening. Yet when you were at WC there's a lot of big changes going on in the world. You come in in '39, and September Hitler invades Poland and starts a war. Did that seep into your family consciousness, and were people getting worried about the war even as soon as you started?

HL:

Well, by the time I was—I can remember, like everyone else that was living then, I can remember exactly where I was on Pearl Harbor Day.

EE:

Yes. Where were you?

HL:

I was in Durham, in a house outside the city limits. My family had gone there on that Sunday for Sunday dinner, and I happened to be in the living room by myself listening to a radio and doing some homework. [chuckles] Here comes this announcement through the—the music stops, or whatever, and here comes this announcement. I had to go tell the rest of the family. We couldn't put it all together. It's unbelievable. At some time after that we read about the WAACs [Women's Army Auxiliary Corps] being formed, and then I don't know how many months after that, or whether it was a half a year or what, the WAVES were formed. Then marines and SPARs [Coast Guard Women's Reserve, from “Sempar Paratus-Always Ready”]and all the others. I knew that there would not be enough money, even if I could get into medical school, which I was beginning to doubt, there wouldn't be any money I could get to go. Also, this may be difficult for some people to really understand, I mean, really understand, but everyone was patriotic in the fullest sense of the word. We couldn't believe that this island that was not a state, but one of our possessions, I guess you would say, had been attacked. As we put it all together, and then went to war, the entire country was mobilized down to the last toothpick. You cannot imagine anything like that here, because we have never had anything like that.

EE:

Command total war since [unclear].

HL:

There's never been a war since that had the whole country behind it. It didn't matter whether you later went off into a uniform and were in the armed services, everybody helped.

EE:

Your younger brothers were in school, or had they started school, or just the one that's three years behind might have not, were they thinking of joining the war? Were they drafted?

HL:

My brother that was three and a half, say, years behind me, or a little bit more, maybe, he was in World War II, and he has a fantastic story. [chuckles] But I'm not here to tell his.

EE:

So was he already in by the time you got thinking seriously about joining?

HL:

No. No, no.

EE:

So you were the first person?

HL:

I was the first one.

EE:

So this is—you graduate in—

HL:

Forty-three.

EE:

Forty-three. What made you think about the WAVES, as opposed to the other branches of service?

HL:

Well, I selected the WAVES because I wanted to be in the hospital corps. What I ended up doing at WC was I got the pre-med requirements, but I didn't think grade-wise they would get me in anywhere, even though a lot of men had gone off to war, there was no money. So what else? I could translate that and go into nursing or medical technology. So my last two years at Woman's College I concentrated on bacteriology in the bacteriology department. In fact, I was a student assistant in there. I mean, I didn't do anything teaching, I did glassware and stuff. [chuckles]

EE:

Right, right.

HL:

We had a wonderful teacher. There were not a whole lot of teachers I could really relate to, and think back as people who were real people that helped me. But Miss [Lila Belle] Love—I don't think she was had a doctorate at that time—anyway, she was wonderful to all the bacteriology students. She did go somewhere, I think, for my last year that I was there. I think she must have gone back for graduate school to do some more work, because another lady took her place and she was from Smith College, [in Northampton, Massachusetts], and she had never taught. I did not—it was a case of not understanding what she was talking about half the time. [chuckles]

EE:

Did the WAVES then specifically advertise that medical positions, hospital positions, would be open, as opposed to the others, or sort of word of mouth?

HL:

I'm not sure whether I saw anything or heard anything like that, but I found out all I could about what my chances were of getting into a medical unit and work in a lab as a WAAC. I did the same research for the WAVES. In the army, the chances of me going straight from having a degree in a—the biology department gave BA's [bacholor of arts], not BS's [bachelor of scince]—a BA, was extremely iffy. But in the navy, I think you had a better chance of getting what you wanted. You had an opportunity to say where did you want to go. That absolutely meant nothing of anything once you got into a uniform. [chuckles]

EE:

Once you got in, you were at their beck and call, right.

HL:

But you have to hedge your bets, and I thought that that would be—then I thought, well, golly, why don't I use this—I've got my degree, but if you wanted to get in the hospital corps in the navy, and more than likely sent to a lab to work, you had to have two years of experience. I could never understand this, because you could have two years of college, and then two years of experience, and then you were qualified to go into the hospital corps in the U.S. Navy as an officer. But if you had four years of college in one of the sciences, and no experience, you were qualified only as an enlisted person. But weighing all the options, I decided to go in as an enlisted person and take my chances that they'd put me in the hospital corps. Best thing I ever did. If I'd gone in there any other way, and I'm telling you this because I get this flack from my children, “Mother, why weren't you an officer?” Well, if I had gone in as an officer I probably would have been put in charge of a dormitory somewhere. Can you imagine this unsophisticated girl from the county, and I lived a very sheltered life, being in charge of—

EE:

You had not, unlike a lot of folks who had had the dormitory experience, you had not experienced the group living outside of home.

HL:

No, no way.

EE:

So this really was a big transition for you.

HL:

So, that's how I entered the hospital corps.

EE:

How did your folks feel about you joining the service?

HL:

That was in my little prologue. [chuckles] After I took the entrance test I went home and told my parents. They knew I was thinking about it. I can just see my mother now. We had in this house—it was heated by a Heatrola. Do you know what a Heatrola is? It's a stove that people used to put in their living room.

EE:

Kerosene?

HL:

This was before central heating. We didn't have that in our house.

EE:

Was it kerosene?

HL:

No, we used coal.

EE:

Oh, okay.

HL:

Coal. I was standing more or less aside from the Heatrola, and my parents were there, and my mother started crying. I know she thought I was going straight to the front. She cried and cried and cried.

EE:

Did you tell her that WAVES couldn't go to the front?

HL:

She knew that. But there was a mix of a lot of things. Also, they had to sign for me because I wasn't twenty-one. When I graduated from college I was twenty. See, I didn't have that twelfth year of high school, so I was—I'll tell you, it's a miracle I got through WC. Also, one thing I wanted to tell you here in this part was that in those days, at this time women, many people out in the countryside, out in the world beyond, still had, the idea of women going into the service was suspect. I'm trying to give you a climate now. This was a daring thing for Henrietta to do. I don't know how these other women felt, but it was a rather daring thing, because women in uniform, little bit shady. I mean, what's their background? Why are they doing this thing? What are they throwing themselves into with all these men? [chuckles] But I guess the very fact that I went to WC was a bit daring. The very fact that I went into the world of uniforms was a bit daring, but I mean, what were the options?

EE:

Right.

HL:

So they signed the papers and I went down to the Guilford County Courthouse and—

EE:

Swore.

HL:

—swore myself in. I thought that there would be a good, reasonably long waiting period until they called me. Well, I got the word the week of graduation.

EE:

So you had signed up before you graduated?

HL:

Well, let me put it this way, yes. Yes, I did, because I got a letter from the medical officer in charge that gave all the U.S. Navy physicals from Raleigh, [North Carolina], and said you are to report to us for your physical. Also they sent me the train tickets and the vouchers for food, etc. The day I was to report was the day of graduation. They had a standing rule at WC—is you had to be there for your graduation, and if you couldn't, you had to get up off your death bed and go see Dean [Walter Clinton] Jackson. Now, in the four years I had been there I probably had seen Dean Jack—well, I saw him at all the convocations. In those days we had convocation either once a week or every two weeks in Aycock Auditorium. I don't know whether they still do that or not. Probably not, the world has changed.

EE:

Right.

HL:

Well, I had to make an appointment and go see him. Of course, his secretary wanted to know why I wanted to see him. When I told her, she ushered me right in. [chuckles] So I went in and I explained—I was awed by this man, because I'd been there four years and never spoken to him. Now, this is how far removed town students, let's say county townies, were removed from the center of action at Woman's College. He listened to my story, and he said, “This will not do.” He says, “Who is this man down in Raleigh?” I showed him the letter, and he asked his secretary to get this doctor on the phone. The whole thing was, I imagine, like two CEOs [chief executive officers] talking to each other. I thought this is the world at the top.

EE:

Right.

HL:

So he called that man direct, explained the situation to him, and I could just see that doctor down there in Raleigh bending over, “Oh, she can come in anytime.” [chuckles]

EE:

Had you tried it you wouldn't have gotten anywhere, but he called and made a difference.

HL:

Oh, my goodness. So the whole thing was changed and they made another appointment for me and I graduated.

EE:

Good. Then the next day, that's when you went down.

HL:

Yes, well, whenever it was I passed the physical.

EE:

This was May of '43.

HL:

That was the first time since I was three years old and had an operation that I—I'm sure they did a physical then, but that was the first time in my memory I had a complete thorough examination, because the armed services do a thorough job. Let's just say that. Then I came home and waited to be called, and then, that's the next chapter.

EE:

Let me ask you, did they give any thought to you, or you were going to do a job, I assume the job you were doing was one that had been held by a man before you came, before they put women into—were you freeing a man to fight, in your work?

HL:

I'm sure that there were several times that I did, but I never knew of a person before me. But I went to several schools, so there was a lot before I got to that step.

EE:

Right. You left from Greens—did you take the train to go to Hunter [College, New York City]?

HL:

Yes. You want me to talk a little bit about that?

EE:

Yes.

HL:

Well, I hadn't been on a train since the day I went to Raleigh—for years. [chuckles] So with fear and trembling I got on with just the clothes I had on my back. That's all they told us to bring, just one change of clothes, maybe. I went up there. I guess we went into Union Station. I have no idea what kind of transportation we had from Union Station out to Hunter. Hunter's in the Bronx and ordinarily you would take the subway, which passes Yankee Stadium. I never did get to Yankee Stadium.

EE:

You were there about what, six weeks?

HL:

No, probably four. Here's the—well, you want me to say it. But I went there June the twenty-ninth and by July the twenty-sixth I was moved.

EE:

Okay. Maybe I'll just use this to help ask—just kind of to route things.

HL:

Okay.

EE:

This is your first time in a dormitory, or in a barracks with other women.

HL:

Well, it was a little bit different than that. In the Bronx there's no such thing as a dormitory.

EE:

Did you live in an apartment?

HL:

They cleared a lot of apartment houses out that were around Hunter's. It's stretching the mind to call it a campus, because it's nothing like a campus we're used to. But they had one large building out there in the Bronx. It looked like about the vintage of what you would find at WC. We ate in that building and we had classes in the building. There was a large armory nearby. When we came from Union Station, and a lot of people were to get—a lot of WAVES-to-be were to gather, and we were taken to the armory first. One thing they assigned us there was our serial number, which we had to know before we left that building. I thought I would never forget it, and right now I couldn't tell you what it is, but I got all that information somewhere. I carry around in my purse an ID that has it on there. But I really should have had Betty photograph that, because the way the serial number—it's about seven letters—but it starts with your regiment, goes down to your this, that and the other.

EE:

This is what's on the dog tags, I guess.

HL:

Yes, you know where you stand. It all makes sense to the person who made it out for you. So we got that and we had to commit that, go into a little cell somewhere with ourselves and memorize it before we got out. Also, they issued us one of those little pork-pie hats, and we had to wear it everywhere before we got our uniforms.

EE:

Right. You were wearing just your clothes from home. They told you generally what to wear. You're going in the summertime, so I imagine it's kind of hot, too, isn't it?

HL:

I'm going to tell you about it. [chuckles] So through the days, or the first couple of weeks, we were periodically issued shoes, stockings, a blue serge uniform, and the summer uniform, and I have to tell you about these. The blue serge uniform, I don't know whether anyone's told you before, but it was designed by a French designer, Mainbocher. It was beautiful, just absolutely beautiful. I never saw a WAVE of any shape that didn't look good in that. It was exquisitely tailored. I don't know what company in the United States made them. I don't know who wove the cloth, but it was the finest blue serge you could ever put your hands on. I mean, and it was beautifully made. We were issued three kinds of shirts, a white, almost a long short-sleeved shirt, softest cotton. It would be equivalent to what Liberty Long is. Liberty Long is the finest cotton in the world. It's made in Great Britain. But I don't know where this cotton came from.

EE:

Right.

HL:

Probably from our own mills. Then we had a blue, a little bit lighter than your shirt, sort of, but not that blue.

EE:

Yes.

HL:

I can't see a blue like it at the moment. But it was beautiful.

EE:

Not Carolina blue?

HL:

I'm not sure what Carolina—oh, well, no, no. It wasn't Carolina blue.

EE:

A little darker than that.

HL:

It was a beautiful blue, and all blue-eyed people wearing it looked good, so that was my favorite shirt. That was long-sleeved. That was a dress winter shirt, but you could wear the white anytime of the year, but it was mainly used in the summer. Then the work winter shirt felt like what people call Fuji silk now, but it was a cotton, and it may have had some rayon in it. It was the color of navy, the color of your suit jacket.

EE:

Now all this you got issued—

HL:

Got it issued—

EE:

—you got all your uniforms issued even though it was right in the summer?

HL:

Plus ties. The ties in those days did not button on like they seem to do now.

EE:

Right.

HL:

The last ties that people issued were buttoned and pre-tied, as though we couldn't tie our own tie. But we had a long silky-type thing that tied.

EE:

Let me ask you a question. You mentioned ties. I've talked to several WAVES, and I have seen from the literature, that there was a song that you all learned, or was in the WAVES, called I Don't Need A Man Except To Tie My Tie. Do you know this song?

HL:

No. Must have been—

EE:

I'm trying to find someone who remembers the tune. Some people say, “Oh, yes, I know this.”

HL:

No, I think I heard about that at that luncheon, but I never was exposed to that.

EE:

What was a typical day like for you at—I assume they get you up early and drill.

HL:

Oh, yes.

EE:

Were your instructors mainly women or men, or how were they?

HL:

Well, I wanted to tell you about that. We had classes on ship identification, and basic things you needed to know, because you were in the navy. A lot of it was probably paper-type work, that I can't even remember. We had calisthenics, but where we had them I don't know. Probably in the lobby of the apartment house. Oh, I didn't tell you about the apartment houses. I had about three roommates, and we had bunk beds in the bedroom area. There were probably two bedrooms to an apartment.

EE:

So a little more privacy than what some people had staying on base.

HL:

Yes. We would come down, I think, in the morning when a whistle or a gong or something went off, maybe a bell, and meet in the lobby, and then we'd march. You had to march everywhere. We would march off to the cafeteria to eat. This, of course, was the same cafeteria that we'd confiscated from the Hunter students. They were nowhere around. This was all WAVES when I was there. What do I have on there, July—we were there—

EE:

Right.

HL:

—July.

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

EE:

You were saying that you all actually drilled out on the street, then?

HL:

Yes. Where the apartment houses were was sort of across the street on an area near the school buildings. The only satisfactory place they could find, apparently, for drilling had to be a street that was confiscated, and also it was a street that was sort of in front of the apartment houses. So what they had done was cordon off a whole area belonging to the navy, as well as I can remember. Well, the heat from the street would come up and hit you. We wore the summer uniform then. I didn't—

EE:

The seersucker.

HL:

No, that was next year. When I went in in '43, the summer uniform was a navy blue, the best way I can describe it is canvas or buckram, or some fabric that should have been used for those sling-back lawn chairs that people have. It was strong fabric. It had no pliability. As they describe when you're looking at fabric, no hand.

EE:

Right.

HL:

I mean, when you marched it buckled in between your legs. [chuckles]

EE:

I can see why they changed the uniform.

HL:

Oh, my goodness, you could not march anywhere with that thing staying straight down. There was no way you could look.

EE:

So as good as the one uniform was, that one was—[chuckles]

HL:

This was the summer uniform. They did away with it next year. That's the only year we wore it. It was hot, because you wore a—I guess they wore that white shirt under it. We drilled in full uniform, hat, gloves. Gloves.

EE:

In the middle of summer.

HL:

Gloves, the whole works. Oh, I haven't told you all. Now, we wore the shoes that were issued to us we called old-ladies' comforts, and that's exactly what they were. They looked awful, and they made us look ten years older than we were, but they were comfortable, and you could march in them. Some people held onto them the entire time they were in the WAVES, because they were afraid to let a comfortable pair of shoes go by.

EE:

Really.

HL:

The stockings they issued us, now remember, when I went into the WAVES nylon stockings had just come in. I remember people dashing down, from WC they would dash down to Belk's whenever they would hear, or Myers or Elstone's[?], any of those stores, because they heard that a box of nylons had come in. I never even owned a pair of nylons. I mention this, because later on I'm going to say something about nylons. But what they issued us were cotton lisle stockings. So here we were and all this fantastically hot summer and all I can remember is drill. I can't remember all these other courses, because it was so unbelievable. Fully dressed, fully clothed, perspiring underneath all this stuff, buckets. This sergeant was a Marine who had been busted. You could see that his stripes were gone on the shirt. [chuckles] He was mad and he took it all out on us, we were sure that he did. He would march us up and down the street, back and forth and with no relief. At one end of the street there was a trough as long as this room, maybe longer, it's like a trough that you would take horses to for water. Over the trough were all these water spigots, only they were opened full throttle and the water was running down. He would go a whole hour and never let us have water. Some of the women would pass out. I hoped that I never would pass out. I managed to get through and didn't. But it was ghastly.

EE:

Where were your roommates from? Were they from all over the country?

HL:

Oh, my roommates, one was Ruth [unclear]. I can't remember the other one. We were all compatible. But anyway, one was from Georgia. Now, the whole time I was in the WAVES people talked to me about, Henrietta, you and your Southern accent. I could not understand this woman, the girl from Georgia. [chuckles] I could not. When I listened to her I thought, my word, and I think I have a Southern accent. If people could hear my roommate. She was a lovely person, and I'm sure she went off and thrilled everybody.

EE:

Why it is that a lot of folks, it seems like, they're the only Southerner. I don't know what it is. Nobody from New Jersey ever has an accent. But Southerners are picked out.

HL:

Oh, my word. Do they ever.

EE:

You've given me a list, and I want to, because everybody's career's different, just kind of go over the changes. You leave and you apparently have a, it looks like, maybe four months training, or close to four months training at St. Albans [Naval Hospital in New York].

HL:

No.

EE:

What are you doing at St. Albans?

HL:

No. Okay.

EE:

Here is says apprentice corpsman and then pharmacist mate at St. Albans in short order. This is part of your training.

HL:

When I first went, quite a few of us went from boot camp to St. Albans, but not everybody. They were assigned all over, because not everybody had any intention or hospital—

EE:

But it sounds like they gave you maybe what you asked for.

HL:

But they sent me to St. Albans Naval Hospital, and I was sent there for corps school training. Let's see, I was apprentice seaman, second class, when I left boot. At this point I want to say that I was assigned to several classes coming up. Everything seemed to be escalated. The time I went in, I have looked back on it many times, I think we had reached the crest of the wave. I don't know how else to discuss it.

EE:

You [unclear] the enlistment, right?

HL:

The preparation of getting all these reserves together and organization and everything, from then on the wave kind of must have tapered off a little bit. The reason why I say that, all the classes for everything, including boot, including corps school, and including lab tech school, they were all shortened. For corps school, normally today, if you were in the WAVES and going to it, my guess is it would be probably somewhere between six weeks and three months.

EE:

You were there for four weeks.

HL:

I was in corps school one month. This is really escalating. Then I was in—

EE:

Tech school.

HL:

—I was in medical technology. Normally it would be a year, but I think I was there nine months in that school.

EE:

This here says that you started that in August of '43. Then you got your orders for Camp Detrick [Frederick, Maryland], which is where you left St. Albans, the following May. So that would have been right, that's right at nine months. The training there, you were all training for the same kind of work? What was that kind of work going to be?

HL:

Okay. There are two schools, and I need to tell you a little bit about the others, and that will give you an idea of what we did there.

EE:

Okay.

HL:

How is your time going?

EE:

I wanted to get you to Camp Detrick.

HL:

Oh, absolutely.

EE:

To your work.

HL:

Wonder why you want to get me there. [chuckles] The corps school was about one month. They taught us how the navy does things in the hospital corps. They told us how things were done on the ward. Not all wards had a nurse, a navy nurse, as a supervisor, although she might have had more than one ward there. But there was always a senior corpsman there. They taught us all these things. Normally, in peacetime we would have had liberty probably every weekend, but during wartime we didn't. We set up wards. This was a fairly new hospital at that time, and they were still setting up wards, if you can believe it. The big hospitals at that time were in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston, [South Carolina].

EE:

Was this a general hospital with all different kinds of patients, or was it specialized?

HL:

Yes, I'm going to tell you. And Jacksonville. These were training grounds for corpsmen. Our class was just WAVE corpsmen-to-be, although they did have a class going on there for men, for corpsmen. In addition to learning the hospital ways, we still had calisthenics, and we still had basketball, and all the other things. They never gave up on the physical part of it. Then after corps school—Oh, there was one thing there I wanted to tell you about. I could describe the dormitories, but I want to tell you that somewhere during that month the captain in charge of the hospital made it mandatory for all the WAVE corpsmen in this corps school training class to attend an autopsy. You cannot imagine how many WAVES were shocked at this. I had the experience of taking anatomy and physiology and working on animals—

EE:

You had done dissection before.

HL:

—but never an autopsy of a human being. I'd never—never experienced that. Many people did not want to go, but it was a requirement. At the time the general feeling among the WAVES was that the captain was a mean man and he did not want WAVES on his turf.

EE:

He was trying to scare you out.

HL:

Yes. Well, he probably knew what he was doing. But anyway, we went. I would say at least between thirty, around thirty-five girls were all around this big table in the autopsy room. It was a sailor who had drowned off of Long Island, [New York], sometime during the weekend. This was August now, and it was extremely hot, and you can just imagine a sailor jumping into the water.

EE:

Oh, yes.

HL:

He probably got caught in a current or something. But to begin with, there was a sadness of this whole thing. We all stood around—

EE:

Probably somebody about your own age then, wasn't he?

HL:

Yes. Yes. I would venture to say that the majority, I would say probably 90 percent of that room had never seen a male without clothes on. It was a shock. No one said anything, not even the pathologist who did the autopsy, the whole time we were in there. So it was kind of an experience to end all experiences. Even when we came back to our rooms after it, nobody talked about it. It was just like you were trying to put this whole thing in your head, the depth of it. I don't know how to tell you, but it just hit everybody. The way our dormitory was set up there will be a cubicle here and a cubicle opposite it, and cubicles all the way down this long room. In each cubicle there are two bunk beds. So that means four people on one side, four over here. On that side opposite, where I was on this side, but on that side there was one girl who, it was too much for her. They had to—there was a word for it, but I'll say mustered out. She was sent home. It was beyond something she could take.

EE:

Was he doing this because you all were going to be—would be working around people who—

HL:

We can only guess

EE:

—might be.

HL:

We don't know. He had his reasons. Perhaps they were doing it all over the country, I don't know.

EE:

You're there for nine months. Did you know, as you were training, that you were going to be training to do a specific job?

HL:

Yes.

EE:

Or is it like most of the military, where you have to hurry up and wait to find out.

HL:

Yes. After graduating from corps school, some of the WAVES were stationed there, and some went off to other places. I was sent into the lab school at the same hospital. I was training to be, I've forgotten whether they called it a medical laboratory technician, or whether the navy had some other way of distinguishing it. But it would be equivalent to a medical technologist now, except the Board of Registry was not involved. It is now. But normally this would be a year school, and it was an accelerated program. At this time, I was promoted, I jumped two grades, and I know it was because I had a degree. Everybody who had a degree at this point—

EE:

Jumped up.

HL:

—was in that corps class, became pharmacist mate second class. That was the great thing they did for me. That was great. They rotated us through the disciplines, a month in serology, a month in hematology, and pathology, and urology, and chemistry. All these areas. Then sometimes we would go back and repeat, not because of necessity, but because they needed help there. I spent a lot of time in serology. I loved that course. I loved it. This is the only job, I've liked many jobs that I've had in my life, some of have been quite wonderful, but this one I could not wait to get up in the morning to go to. I hated to come home from it, and I couldn't wait to get there the next morning. It was exciting from the beginning to the end, because you were learning all the time. You had some interface with patients.

EE:

Were you actually taking the blood samples?

HL:

Most samples and material specimens were brought up to the lab, but not all of them. I wanted to tell you that, because there were three things that defined St. Albans. Every hospital can be a little different. St. Albans took all kinds of cases you would normally find in any hospital. The emergency room cases, broken legs, everything. Then people who were just sick and had to stay a while. But the other two things that defined that hospital were malaria cases from the Pacific, and burn cases from the Atlantic. I want to tell you about two, because I think they're most interesting. Well, most of the time slides were sent up to the lab of patients who had malaria. Sometimes when they were not having a malaria attack, and sometimes when they were. When I worked in hematology I got so that I could—there were three kinds of malaria and I could tell them all by looking at the slide. You see, you concentrate for a whole month on one thing, you learn a lot. That's the way it was and we had it there in spades.

EE:

How hard is it to find that organism? Is it really throughout the blood system, or do you have to hunt for it?

HL:

In the case of malaria I think it's—I've forgotten a little bit, but I think as the fever approaches it reaches probably a crescendo sort of thing, and all these organisms, malaria organisms, are growing inside of a blood cell. When they burst that's when you have the attack. Attack doesn't sound right. There must be another word for the malaria—chills, chills.

EE:

Right.

HL:

That's when you have the chills, when the cells break. Well, they're all over in your bloodstream, all over your body. It's agonizing. But I had never seen it and we had lots of malaria patients that had been sent there. It turned out, as I could tell later on, that probably they were people who came from the East Coast originally, so they were near their hometown, but not necessarily. It depends upon whether hospitals were filled on the West Coast, or the middle of the country, and so on. I don't know exactly how they did it. But one day I was asked to go down to a ward and to make a slide and get a specimen, I believe, from a patient named Barney Ross. Have you ever heard of Barney Ross?

EE:

Yes.

HL:

Barney Ross was a big prizefighter. A biggie. So I went down there and, oh, was he full of himself. He was out in the hall just flashing his—I don't know whether he had one stripe here, but he thought he was the king of that ward. So maybe the corpsmen didn't even want to handle him, maybe they wanted a WAVE to handle him, and that's why they sent a WAVE down from hematology. So I did what I came for, and then I left thinking, “That man is unbelievable. He is just a spoiled whatever.” It's hard to imagine—and he was a Marine! [chuckles]

EE:

Bad combination.

HL:

Well, it was probably a couple weeks later, got the same thing, the same request from the same ward for the same patient and I was sent down. Now that time I may have been the only one around to go. It could have been a weekend. But I went down to do it. When I got there, I changed my mind completely. He was having a chill, and I had never seen anyone have a malarial chill. That man must have been full of malaria. It was agony just to watch him. I mean, I immediately—whatever I thought of him as being a pompous something another, well, I changed my mind. He had a full-blown case of malaria, and my heart wept for him, but there was nothing I could do. They had to hold him down on the bed. Quite often somebody like a prizefighter doesn't want a prick in the finger, anything like that. But I was exposed to someone having a real chill. Changed my—I mean, you have to see some things to believe them. The other thing was one day I got a request when I was in serology, I think. Everybody had to have a blood specimen. It's just like now. When you're admitted to a hospital, you have to have it. It was a burn patient. So I took that one, and when I got there I had never seen anything like it. See, we didn't always get down on the wards, and so when you—because in, for some cases in some wards the nurses, or the doctors, or the senior corpsmen, would get the specimens and send them up to the lab. We went to class all morning. We worked in the lab all afternoon, or however they apportioned it out.

EE:

Right.

HL:

Might have been the reverse, classes in the afternoon. But when I saw that burn patient he was, he had, well let's just say his body was charred from head to foot, and he had a tent built over him. The odor would knock you over. He couldn't help it. I mean, that's the part of the problem—

EE:

That's the burn [unclear].

HL:

—of the complication. I knew immediately nobody wanted to take blood from him. I thought it was a disgrace to even ask for it. The only place to take it was from the jugular vein. That's the only time I refused to do something.

EE:

Which vein was it?

HL:

The jugular vein, from the neck. I couldn't see how the hospital would even require such a thing. But maybe they wanted to have it on the books that they had this many people say no or something, I don't know. But I left there and I was just—I didn't cry, because you—well, I can't think of the word now, but you just don't do things like that.

EE:

The way you talk about how you had this idea that you wanted to do medicine. Is this experience in St. Albans the first time you ever worked in a hospital?

HL:

Yes. But I don't think it would have put me off. I mean, I think you work through those things.

EE:

Sure. Sure. You're there through May. You graduate, you've made pharmacist mate second class.

HL:

Well, I want—there—go ahead.

EE:

I was going to say, you're transferred to Fort Detrick or Camp Detrick.

HL:

Yes. I know you want to get to Camp Detrick. But I have to tell you something, and it's important to the entire thing about being at St. Albans.

EE:

Okay.

HL:

While I was there I had two weeks recruiting duty at Rockefeller Center. They took a whole bunch of us from the lab and we went to Rockefeller Center.

EE:

This is generally for the WAVES?

HL:

Yes, it was a WAVE recruiting exhibit. We were, I don't know, eighth floor or someplace like that. We lived downtown in a women's type—it wasn't strictly a USO [United Service Organization], but it was a canteen-type place—that had a place for women to sleep, and we stayed there for two weeks, and we slept on bunk beds. Sometimes we ate there. We had vouchers to eat. During the day we ate all over the place. I have to tell you that that is the world's greatest liberty town. I saw New York from stem to stern. I saw Jamaica out on Long Island. I did everything. I saw all the stage shows, lots of plays. We never stopped. When we had the two-week recruiting duty we would go and visit the USOs and get free passes. Everything was free.

EE:

You're always in your uniform, I guess.

HL:

Oh, yes. It was just marvelous. I had some wonderful experiences. I've forgotten to tell you that Judy Garland and Jimmy Durante came to the Bronx when I was in boot. The stage wasn't very far from where I was sitting. She was a very tiny person. He brought his own piano. They were the only entertainers we had there. While I was at St. Albans, Glenn Miller came twice, but each time I was in school and we couldn't leave the dorm at night. He is the only big band, his band was the only big band I did not see. All I had to do was walk from here to the street, but I would have gotten demerits and I didn't do it. I kick my—

EE:

So you saw Artie Shaw?

HL:

Yes. Artie Shaw, all of them. Guy Lombardo. You can't name a one—Kay Kaiser. All of them. I also went to the Paramount and saw Frank Sinatra when he was thin as a reed.

EE:

Right.

HL:

In fact, the microphone was on a stand, and you stood in front of the stand, and you could hardly see him on the other side of the stand. It is true that the girls in the audience cried, squealed, yelled—it was nauseating. [chuckles]

EE:

So you'd see the talent then on the weekends? You'd get weekend passes? What was your work schedule? Was it five days?

HL:

Yes, but in lab school we had to work on weekends sometimes. But whenever we had the weekend off a group of us would always go down.

EE:

Is there a particular song or music that you, when you hear, you think of that time?

HL:

Oh, well, there were a lot of them. When I get to Detrick, it's Don't Fence Me In. That was the big song there. That was Bing Crosby's song. Oh, they'll come to me, but there were lots of them. When I get to San Francisco, there were a lot more. [chuckles] But it was a whirl of unbelievable liberty, but it was simply because I was in New York. Had I been in another place it would have been entirely different. They did an awful lot for the patients at St. Albans, but only we—mainly the Red Cross took care of entertaining them.

EE:

Right. We've got about an hour left, and I wanted to get us to—you've got Detrick and San Francisco—it looks like at the end of '45—

HL:

I know!

EE:

You had happened to you what a lot of folks had happen, which means you got shipped and transferred everywhere before they figured out that they just sent you home.

HL:

That's right. I have to tell you one more thing about liberty in New York. One day we got some tickets to Carnegie Hall, and never having been there I went, and Arturo Toscanini was going to be the performer.

EE:

He's with the NBC Radio Orchestra, I think, at this time.

HL:

Well, maybe. That's Toscanini, right?

EE:

Yes.

HL:

Well, no, Arthur Rubinstein was a pianist.

EE:

Oh, Rubenstein.

HL:

Okay. So we went, and when we got there to pick up our tickets at the box office, the lady said, “You'll have to go around to the back door.” [chuckles] We thought, “Oh, they don't want the people in uniform to be seen there,” whatever. So we went around to the back door and they ushered us around, across the stage, and sat us behind the piano, on the stage. Arthur Rubinstein came out, and here about eighteen or so people in uniform sitting there on the stage beside this great pianist. [chuckles]

EE:

That's great.

HL:

These things happened all the time. Finally we get word that we're going to Camp Detrick, and we had heard of Camp Detrick, but we didn't really know what it was. But we knew some of the people from St. Albans had been sent there about a month before us.

EE:

Right.

HL:

My friend Lena Oaff, O-a-f-f—one more thing I have to tell you about St. Albans, because so many things happened there. The people there were terrifically interesting and I made friends there I've had for life. But one lady, who was the pathologist, he runs the lab and he has to have a histologist. She came from the Museum of Natural History. You cannot imagine what contacts these were later in my life. I can't believe my luck, and if I had been an officer I would never have met these people.

EE:

Right.

HL:

This is why it was such a wonderful thing. All these people that I went to labs—WAVES that I went to lab school, had had some experience in laboratory work from a school they came from. My friend that I went to Camp Detrick with had gone to the girl's college that—like WC is to UNC and State—her New Jersey women's college was to Rutgers [University]. She had an excellent background. She later in life goes back to civilian life and gets a Ph.D. in bacteriology under the man who discovered streptomycin. She is the most modest person—you would never ever know it. One day in the lab at St. Albans—and everybody there was interesting. [chuckles]

EE:

Right. Right.

HL:

There was one fellow there that ran the storeroom. His name was Joshua Lederberg, and I'll show you his picture. There's his picture. He was an odd sort of person, but he loved to talk to the WAVES. So we would just josh along with Josh. He had to keep the storeroom the way the navy said he had to keep it, but he also had his own filing system, which he showed Lee and I one day. All I could think of was that this man must have something. So years and years later, one day out of the blue, Lee, my friend Lee Pugh, calls me and says, “Henrietta, guess what? Joshua just became a Nobel Laureate.” [chuckles]

EE:

Good gracious.

HL:

That blew my mind.

EE:

How old was he when he was working there? Must have been very young.

HL:

He wasn't actually in the lab school. He was a holdover going—they were going to send him to medical school, I think. I think he topped all the charts on everything, and the navy just put him aside. He was like a V-7 or V-9 category. He was like in a holding bin until they could place him.

EE:

Right.

HL:

We thought he was being held over to go to medical school. Which they may have—he does have a medical degree and a Ph.D. and no telling what all. But anyway, this is the kind of people I ran into there. Now, Lee and I get our orders and we head off for Camp Detrick. They put us on a train. It was an overnight to Camp Detrick, and they gave us only one berth. First of all, we wondered why they put us on the train. But in those days they had to divide up all transportation between buses, trains, planes, etc. So we got on this train, and we have to get out of the aisle, so two of us squeezed into one berth. They let us off at Point of Rocks, Maryland. You would know that if you were a Civil War buff. But it's on the edge of the Potomac, it's south of Frederick by about, I imagine, thirty miles or something. It's nowhere near walking distance with your big sack. [chuckles]

So we got off there at Point of Rocks, Maryland. We got off the train there, and we were way out in the boondocks. We did not know what to do. There was no one in the station. It's a beautiful, beautiful old Victorian—well, it goes back to probably Ulysses S. Grant's time—station. In fact, it is so historical that the Smithsonian has it in their collection of screen pictures, lithographs or something, to sell to tourists. It's in their collection there for them to buy, and it's beautiful, and it was beautiful then. Anyway, we were mightily impressed with this place, but there was no man there and all the windows were open. We stood around and pretty soon this fellow came to hook something up on the side of the tracks so the next train could come through and switch it off.

We asked him about transportation to Camp Detrick. He didn't know about Camp Detrick. People in the country weren't—and Camp Detrick was very, very secret then. People in Frederick knew that something was going on out at Camp Detrick, but nobody else around there knew anything about it. It was extremely hush-hush. He didn't know how we could get to Frederick. There were no cars. There was no gasoline. It was all rationed. He said the only way I know that you all could possibly get out is to ride with the mailman, but he won't be here until two o'clock. This was early in the morning. We sat there without food, without anything, which is nothing when you think about the men going to war, and we kept reminding ourselves of this. But at two o'clock the mailman came, and he had one seat in his car and all the rest of the room in that car was used for bags of mail. He let us sit on the bags of mail and put our luggage in there, and we rode with him, and he stopped at every mailbox between there and Frederick. [chuckles] There were little post offices about half as big as this table. He would stop at those and pass the time of day. Finally, we got to Frederick and he left us off at a little canteen run by the town. Somebody from Detrick came. Well, there's almost nothing I could tell you about the work at Camp Detrick. It was, as everybody knows today, biological warfare. Most of the things that you hear about on the news are things we were exposed to and worked on. We worked on probably every exotic organism in the world, and all the very serious ones and, yes, some people did get sick. Although we weren't on the front, it was an area where there were hazards and we were in—

EE:

But you were doing largely lab assistant work. You can't tell me the details about what you were working on, but that was the kind of work you were doing.

HL:

Yes.

EE:

Were there a lot of women at that post?

HL:

Yes, I'll tell you. The post was run by the army. It was an army post, so this was called a JANFU operation, “Joint Army-Navy Foul-Up.” [chuckles] No, “Joint Army-Navy something or other.” The army belt was responsible for the maintenance of all the buildings, from building the buildings, I suppose, by a consensus of how to build the labs. All the labs were isolated. The one building would be one big lab, and another building would be another big lab. There were various units. I happened to be assigned to one called safety, and we were responsible for everything, to maintain as much safety as—I don't mean security from foreign eyes. I mean safety from—

EE:

Contamination.

HL:

Right. From anything like that, from anybody getting contaminated and whatever. So my job, I worked with about one WAC and one, at least one or two other WAVES and a corpsman, and over us was a man who was head of the entire safety unit. The days that we gave inoculations and took specimens on the whole—

EE:

Staff.

HL:

—staff, if you worked in an area that was a danger area, by that I mean a dangerous organism, if there was a vaccine you were forced to take it. If they were developing a vaccine and it was safe, like it was dead organisms or something, you were expected to take that. So when I got there, there were two large barracks. Now here we don't live in dormitories. The army has one room, with maybe twenty-four beds in it. There's no privacy. At the front of the building there will be two single rooms. They're called cadre rooms. Usually the ranking WAVE gets one of them, and the other one might be used for a WAVE who was not a member of the hospital corps, but just a regular WAVE coming up through the enlisted ranks, and she manages the barracks. Well, we had one large room full of WAVES, and then there was one on the other side.

So altogether, I suppose, we had at least forty-eight enlisted WAVES there, and the WACs probably had at least that number, who were scientific personnel. But I didn't really work with any WAC scientific personnel. The one that I mentioned that came weekly, or biweekly, to these safety appointments for inoculations, she was in the administrative side of it. A good portion of the army personnel were all administrative, but a lot of the officers were in research. Now, the man who was head of the safety division, I want to mention him, because he was civilian, and he was probably the foremost bacteriologist in the country. I mean, and here I am working for this man. He was from the University of Chicago and his name was Dr. [Gail M.] Dack. A lot of his former students were there, too, probably carrying on—well, just, I guess, still doing things for him. There were a lot of people there. There were foreign people that came and went all the time, foreign people in uniform. We had nothing at all to them. We had one WAVE officer, who also happened to be a graduate of Woman's College.

EE:

We'll run into those every now and then.

HL:

She was from Raleigh and her name was Gifford, I think. Clifford. Clifford. Maybe it was Rachel Clifford, but she had red hair, and all the girls except me called her Red Wing. I couldn't bring myself—she was very good to the WAVES, but the morale among the WAVES was rock bottom. First of all, all the WAVES came there, that went into the navy—all of these WAVES went into the navy because they wanted to be in the hospital corps, which meant work in a hospital. They never dreamt that there was such a place as Camp Detrick. Nobody did. In a hospital you're working to make people well. At Camp Detrick you're working to kill—

[Begin Tape 2, Side 1]

HL:

—Mildred McAfee—

EE:

You say McAfee was asked to come out by Commander Clifford, because she was concerned about your morale.

HL:

Yes. Yes, she requested her to come. Now, Mildred McAfee was head of all the WAVES in all the country, and so she did come to see us. That was just water over the dam. She could not have possibly have known how we felt, even though people tried to tell her. She didn't know and she didn't know how we worked.

EE:

Did this feeling get—

HL:

Has anyone else on your list told you about Detrick?

EE:

No, but I've had other people who've worked at places where they did top secret stuff, and one of the annoying things was that they could not talk about their work with anybody else.

HL:

Exactly. Exactly. You absolutely couldn't talk about what you were doing to anybody in town. So the only people you could talk to were—the only people I could talk to about my work were people I went to the lab with and they worked right beside me. I couldn't talk to the people who worked in the next building over. It was like a big place you go to and you're just one little cog in the wheel, and all you know is how to turn your little cog.

EE:

Is part of the problem is that they say, well, don't talk, because we've got FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] people watching you, and we'll make sure you don't talk?

HL:

No, but we knew it was top secret and that's probably why it took—we had to go through investigation. I don't know what they did to find out that we were pure. [chuckles]

EE:

You probably were investigated while you were still at St. Albans, my guess is, before getting the assignment.

HL:

Probably. Probably. Who knows where the die was cast, maybe even before then. Maybe—

EE:

From the notes that you've left here, there's something that happens in addition to the regular work, because apparently you take a test in June of '44 for pharmacist mate first class.

HL:

Yes. When I was at the hospital during any extra time I had I decided to go ahead and try to make the next level. You were required in the navy to fill out books and charts and study and then take tests. So I took the test, the written test, but not the oral, at St. Albans for pharmacist mate first class. There's a period of time you have to wait between every stripe, you just can't slap them on there.

EE:

Right.

HL:

So I passed part of it before I got to Detrick. At Detrick the liberty was quite different, and what there was out there to go to in the time that you had—

EE:

Nonexistent.

HL:

—was quite different. So I had a lot of time, and I worked toward taking the next step, which was the oral. When they could get around to it at Detrick I took the oral test and I made first class. There was only one first class WAVE at Detrick who had had hers longer than I, before I did, and she was a real pharmacist from Georgia. So she had one cadre room and they assigned me the other one, and I shared it with the girl who managed the barracks. She was an extremely interesting little person. She was from Denver and she had worked in a perfume shop. [chuckles] They come from all walks in life.

EE:

Really?

HL:

I learned a lot about Mary Chess.

EE:

Perfume shop to Nobel Prize winner, yes.

HL:

Mary Chess perfume. She raved about them. Well, it is a good perfume. I don't know whether it's still made or not. The name was Latchen, L-a-t-c-h-e-n. But anyway, so there were only two first class pharmacist WAVES—first class pharmacist mate WAVES there.

EE:

You're doing this work through '45, and although the kind of work for you seems to be pretty steady throughout the time, as far as your job throughout your time at Detrick, is in the safety division, monitoring the safety of the staff.

HL:

Well—

EE:

But the paces of war changes dramatically, well, from the time you start there—

HL:

Oh, my, yes.

EE:

—D-Day's a month after you get there.

HL:

Oh, wait until I get to that. I must get to that.

EE:

Yes.

HL:

So there's not a whole lot I can tell you about Detrick, except the morale was very low. So when we first heard that WAVES could go to Hawaii I thought there'd be a flood tide of people who would sign up. But only a handful did, but I was one of them. But it was months and months before they took anyone from Detrick, would let them leave. It seems they couldn't replace them, because you had to have some kind of super clearance to get in there. I would like to say that while I was there, when we went into a building we had to take off our regulation clothes, our regular smocks and everything, and put on clothes that were washed at the end of the day by somebody. They had to be decontaminated. So we had something we put over our head. We even had to change underwear and they issued us WAC underwear. It was a very interesting sight. They had a room on one side, the entrance was in the middle, and they had a dressing room and stuff over there for men, and a dressing room over here for women. Then when you took off and put in a locker your street clothes, you would take out from wherever the clean things were, you'd put them on, even on your feet. Then you would go into the building. A certain part of safety's work was after you inoculated somebody for X pathogen, then you had to determine whether or not they were developing any immunity. So periodically you would have to take venepunctures, get some specimens and take those samples back to the lab and run a titer on them to see what the serology was, if any immunity had developed. Of course, you had to inoculate live animals. We used mice. We did this week after week after week for a number of things. So you couldn't do that for all organisms, because all organisms are not the same. Sometimes you inoculate on the surface. I will mention one that you have seen in the paper many times and that's anthrax. They were trying to develop a vaccine like you would use for, say, smallpox or something. I don't think we ran titers on that, but I'm not sure.

EE:

Titers, what's that?

HL:

Titer. Oh, t-i-t-e-r. When you read the result of the level of immunity, that's the titer.

EE:

Okay.

HL:

But we did it for other things, and some of those other things we did—see, even today I don't even like to mention these organisms because when we left, for—

EE:

Well, anthrax is still one that's biological warfare. Iraq's still mentioning it.

HL:

I'm sure that no one would come after me if I mentioned any of them, but even when I get together with my friends, we never mention the organisms, unless, well, we had a few friends that came down with something, and although they didn't work in my building, and I can't be sure specifically what it was, they did have an illness that they had for maybe years. One girl had something, and she needed some compensation for it to pay for all the medical bills she racked up after the war. I was not able to help her because I didn't work in the same building and I couldn't say—

EE:

Didn't know what it was.

HL:

—definitely what it was.

EE:

You said that gave everybody concern to have to work on it, because they wanted to help. How do you feel about that today, the fact that we have that kind of facility?

HL:

I think if biologic—if pathogens were let loose anywhere in the world, I cannot imagine anything worse, because I even think of it as being—because I've been so close to it, I think of it as being worse than the atomic bomb, the two bombs that were, the bombs that were dropped on Japan. That killed so many people and left people scarred for life and with radiation. But, you cannot tell where the wind is going to blow.

EE:

The same thing with gas warfare. Once you introduce it you cannot control where it goes.

HL:

Right. It can be in the soil, it can be in the air.

EE:

It can come back to you who released it.

HL:

I just think that—but you see, we were just caught, and I'm sure many people felt trapped and caught, because it was not something morally that they wanted to do, but if you got out of the uniform you were branded for life. I mean, say a person just could not stand it. They could go berserk and get out that way, or they could just go AWOL [Absent Without Official Leave], I suppose. I never knew anyone that did, but maybe somebody did. You would not get an honorable discharge, and if you had a dishonorable discharge after the war, I don't know how people feel about it now since we've had so many wars since, but at that time it would have been catastrophic. I mean, you would have been hampered all through life, probably. A man would. A girl might—

EE:

We were developing, we were using our scientific knowledge to develop other weapons as it came about with the atomic bomb and, of course, now days, and I'm sure then, part of it is, well, we don't know what the other side is doing.

HL:

Right. Right. I'm glad you mentioned that.

EE:

Germany is known as the world power in science.

HL:

Yes.

EE:

In fact, we probably were competitive only because the Germans sent away so many of their Jewish scientists and other immigrants they didn't want.

HL:

Yes.

EE:

So in a sense you have to open Pandora's box, because you're afraid somebody else has opened it.

HL:

Exactly. Yes. That crossed our minds many times. I'm sure it did mine.

EE:

So you're playing defense as much as offense, and you don't want to use the offense, but you have to know the defense. That's why the vaccine. The people that you're working with, your supervisors are all men.

HL:

Not in all the buildings. Mine were. Mine were, but we had a lot of WAVE scientists there. They were officers. Not that some of the enlisted ones were quite as up to par as someone else.

EE:

So there were women scientists working with the men scientists there?

HL:

Yes.

EE:

My sense is that because of the nature of this work and the seriousness of it is that you didn't have the horseplay, or the teasing, or the discrimination being a woman. Everybody treated you professionally, my guess is, this kind of work, this is serious work.

HL:

Mm-hmm.

EE:

You've mentioned the difficulty in just keeping this to yourself. Was that the hardest thing that you had to do in the military, was keeping this kind of work to yourself, or what was the hardest thing about your military work?

HL:

The whole military work is when I get to Treasure Island, [in San Francisco, California]. But I wanted to tell you that while I was at Detrick, [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt died. The man who was head of Detrick, I want to say commandant, but whoever the army man was, he required everyone, he required the entire staff, the whole complement there to do a dirge. A dirge, if you remember [President John F.] Kennedy's funeral, you remember the cadence, the beat of marching down the street with the casket being pulled, that's a dirge.

EE:

That's what you all had to assemble on a parade formation and do?

HL:

Oh, yes, out on the parade ground. Now the parade ground at Detrick was at—I never remember a beautiful grassy sod place. It was either mud or dust. On that day it was dust. So we marched with all that dust coming up over the navy blue uniforms. [chuckles] I don't remember what else, whether it was a hot or cold day. But we did not march in overcoats. But we had a dirge and that was something else.

EE:

What did you think of President Roosevelt?

HL:

Well, I grew up in—my father came from this farm family, and farmers are very independent people. Also it was in the Pilgrim—the church he belonged to was a Pilgrim Reform Church, which is United Church of Christ now, but in that tradition people are very self-sufficient. So we just followed, went along, I guess, with what my father felt. He didn't like Roosevelt. He didn't like handouts, but, of course, he realized that a lot of people didn't have bread to eat and a lot of times we almost didn't. It was tough, but he never took any welfare or anything like that. I mean he was very much opposed to it. So I grew up in a Republican family in a Democratic state. [chuckles]

EE:

You got a triple outsider working here.

HL:

Oh, my goodness. My mother's family was Democrat up to here, up to here. But all these farmers on my father's side, different breed of how they felt about things.

EE:

Were you ever afraid, given the kind of work you were doing at Detrick? Fear of physical danger?

HL:

Not at Detrick. I suppose I just took all the precautions and just bent backward with all the precautions of being careful—

EE:

That may be one of the advantages of being young, too.

HL:

—at my work. And I had excellent training at Woman's College and in that laboratory that I was in over at St. Albans. But anyway, the morale was just so low it was just pathetic. But I did finally leave. [chuckles]

EE:

You were there through VE [Victory in Europe] Day, were you not? You were there when the war—

HL:

For VE Day. But you know, I cannot—

EE:

Did you all have a little celebration there, or did you work straight on through?

HL:

I cannot remember VE Day. Isn't that funny? I can't remember exactly what I did or where I was. I think it was a day like every other day at Detrick. I don't think there was—

EE:

Nothing special about it.

HL:

No. The townspeople in Frederick were very, very nice to us, inviting us out for Sunday dinner. Well, I did that because I went to church, and the people from the church would do it. But they were very kind and so on. Well, I was with a group of other people who were slated to go to Hawaii, and after they gave us home leave then we boarded a train. I suppose it was a troop train, but it didn't look like the pictures in the movies of boxcars. It was a regular train. We were headed to Oakland, California, and it's whenever I say there on the date, July—

EE:

Yes, to Shoemaker, California, in July.

HL:

In July, the thirteenth.

EE:

August 13 is when you leave Camp Detrick for Shoemaker?

HL:

Now as we were going through Omaha, Nebraska, somebody came on the train and said, “VJ [Victory in Japan] Day!” [chuckles] So we had a layover there of about an hour, and we all got off the train and went into this humongous station there in Omaha, and people were just getting started with the celebration. To us it was a thrill in kind of a no-man's land. Then when we went back to get on the train, all these little canteen ladies had little tables out there by the tracks giving apples, donuts and stuff. And this happened in Cheyenne, [Wyoming], and maybe a few other places where we stopped along the way. That's the first I had experienced that kind of thing. I'd read about it, and heard about it, but they were very kind to us through the Midwest. By the time we got to San Francisco, it must have been, I don't know what day it was, but—

EE:

Took you five days looks like to get across the country.

HL:

Well, it was a long time we were on that train, forever and ever. We'd get off and walk around all these towns. Many times we had to pull over on the side track to let another train go by. Anyway, when we got to Oakland they took us, I guess, by bus. That's where the tracks stopped and they took us by bus, I guess, to San Francisco, and they let us off at a big USO in downtown San Francisco. Now this must have been, I'm guessing, two nights after VJ Day. No, this was dawn when we got there. But it was at least forty-eight hours. San Francisco was like a tomb. Here was dawn coming and no one around, not a soul in the street. It looked like the wrath of destruction had hit that city. [chuckles] I think they had partied for forty-eight hours until there was nothing left.

EE:

All just totally exhausted.

HL:

Here come all these WAVES in this strange little bus over to the USO. [chuckles] They didn't know where else to put us, so they put us there. Then after a while a contact came and took us to Shoemaker. Shoemaker was a big embarkation base. Is it embar- or debar-, when you're going someplace?

EE:

Yes. Embar-.

HL:

It was a Marine facility, I think, used for [U.S.] Navy and Marines, and now in addition, WAVES. So they put us up in a place and they did not know what to do with us. We were there quite a number of weeks until we were all reassigned someplace on the west coast. See, we didn't have enough points to get out.

EE:

I guess with VJ Day they froze you from going to Hawaii?

HL:

Yes, but we didn't know that.

EE:

Didn't know that.

HL:

We didn't know. We were all hoping and praying they would still send us to Hawaii.

EE:

Right. It's looks good. Treasure Island—

HL:

But I haven't gotten to Treasure Island yet.

EE:

Okay.

HL:

Well anyway, we stayed at Shoemaker until they decide and then they assign me to dispense to Treasure Island. Treasure Island is a world unto itself. It's the most navy navy place I was ever at. You asked me a while ago was I ever in fear of my life. Yes, I was, on Treasure Island. [chuckles] Do you know where Treasure Island is?

EE:

No. Is it near Alcatraz?

HL:

Yes. If you've been to San Francisco, off of Yerba Buena is the natural island that Oakland Bay Bridge comes down on this and their supports come down on and then they go.

EE:

Right.

HL:

Off of Yerba Buena is a little man-made island. That's Treasure Island. It was built for the San Francisco Exposition, which closed a number of years before the war started. It was immediately taken over by the navy. It had piers, the navy put piers all around it, and small boats like liberty boats, troop boats, not the big carriers or battle ships or big cruisers—they went on down the Bay Area to Alameda—but the little ones with all the people—people would pull up around Treasure Island. When I got there, already people were starting to come back in troop ships to be processed out, according to who had the greatest number of points. There were four dispensaries on Treasure Island, and I was assigned to No. 1, and when I got there I was number one.

I was in charge of the lab. The whole thing I'm going to describe to you here is chaos. It was the most chaotic time I ever lived through, and I want to get on this tape how the end of a war can be chaos. Now if you saw the movie, The English Patient? Well, that was chaotic, a chaotic situation at the end of World—or as the war was coming to a close in Italy. If you read the book then you know how things were all disorganized, everywhere. Just chaotic. People were doing their own thing. They were not even keeping up with their units. Well, this was chaos on a dispensary No. 1. [chuckles]

EE:

Right.

HL:

I never really got to walk around that island, I was so busy the whole time I was there. They had a transportation system. These big tractor-trailer trucks that are Fruehauf, have that German name, Fruehauf.

EE:

Right.

HL:

Okay, that was our bus transportation. WAVES at that time did not have slacks. Now, I know that there's some that people brought to put into the archives department, but that was after my day. Now, to get up on one of these tractor-trailers there was no step. It was ghastly. There was no way you could pull your skirt up to get on there. So I ended up forgetting about transportation on those things, and walking back to my building. I never had time to walk back until night or early morning.

EE:

How many women were on this island?

HL:

I don't know.

EE:

Oh, you never saw any of them. [chuckles]

HL:

I never got the clear picture. When all my other friends went to other—since they were hospital corpsmen, they also went to facilities, labs. Some of them were assigned to a lab that I did later go to. I'll mention that in a minute. Another one went to Balboa Park, which was, and is now, a part of the University of San Francisco, which may be a part of the University of California system. That was another place where mainly WAVES were mustered out. But not WAVES here. [chuckles]

EE:

Right.

HL:

This was all Marines and sailors. Dispensary No. 1 was like a small hospital. It probably had four wards with at least twelve beds in each ward. I don't know whether the other dispensaries were this large or not. I think No. 2 was, but I never had the opportunity to see the others. The day I came in I met maybe one WAVE officer, and I might have met a regular male navy officer, but my memory is vague on that. But what I'm going to try to describe to you is I never knew who my senior officer was there, a person that I could report to, my senior above me, because when I came in, the first day I went to the lab, I saw a doctor. That's the only time I ever saw the doctor. I don't know when he came and went, but I never—and he was the one I would report anything to, because the next time, like the next day, I had several questions, and I tried to approach him at the best possible time for him to get some of these answers like, “Who's in charge here and stuff?” [chuckles] He would have already been on his way to be mustered out and somebody else would be coming in, and I never knew who came in, and it was like that all the time. I never knew if we had a doctor—

EE:

Musical chairs.

HL:

—attending the patients on the ward. I never knew. If we had a doctor he was like Kilroy, he's here and gone.

EE:

Right.

HL:

I could handle the lab part, but we sometimes had to have duty. One night I was on duty, which was a duty station that had charge of what was going on in all four wards. I had never had any duty like that. I had a very nice male corpsman on, but I was senior to him. This senior business comes into play here. [chuckles] I didn't have enough information about who I could go to for higher authority if I needed it. Even though I was a pharmacist mate first class, I had never handled emergencies in the ward. I had never done what the corpsmen had done. My specialty had always been the lab and I still was in the lab here. Well, I went into the lab, and the description of this place was unbelievable. There were three people assigned on that day to the lab. One was a corpsman, who actually left the day after I got there to be mustered out. The other two were a WAVE and a male. I think he was a corpsman. They didn't have a lot of stripes or anything. But during their lunchtime, during their breaks or whatever they had, they had a record player, and—you were talking about music—they played I Want To Buy A Paper Dolly To Call My Own morning, noon and night, morning, noon and night.

EE:

That's an annoying song once. [chuckles]

HL:

But what got me, when I got there I was amazed at racks and racks of urine specimens that were just stacked up all over the counter. I couldn't tell whether they had been processed or not. I couldn't find record-keeping.

EE:

Whose they were?

HL:

Now for a girl who's been trained at WC—[chuckles]

EE:

And at Detrick.

HL:

And at Detrick, but mainly at that hospital—this was beyond the pale. I had already had my brainwashed on proper ways to do things in lab, and this was at the other end of the scale. What I finally decided about those—that that was just glassware that had not been properly cleaned up. But every day we were going to have specimens sent in from the labs, and we had to do all those urine specimens. Now, this is important because all at one time I did, from my barracks—I did get back home to the barracks sometimes to spend the night—but back over there I could see that all along the eastern side of that island at all the piers there were boats lined up. All those people were coming in to our dispensary for their physicals. Sometimes they had to be hospitalized. If they had malaria or venereal disease or anything else, unknown fever, whatever, they had to be hospitalized. The navy—I don't know what the army does, I think they probably have to do the same thing—but in the navy—

EE:

Basically a quarantine, then.

HL:

—every man is given a complete physical before he goes home, just like you did when you came in. They're not going to send you out there and back as a civilian until they have taken care of all your medical needs.

EE:

Right.

HL:

So the wards were filling up with people with venereal disease. The malaria cases probably were moved on to hospitals that handled that specialty. There might have been other things like that. It turned out that a corpsman on one of the wards was coming into the laboratory—and every laboratory has a large refrigerator to keep all the things that have to be in there, and sometimes just other areas in the hospital might use the refrigerator, too. Although I can't imagine a refrigerator not being on the ward. But he came in to get penicillin, but it took me a day or so to figure out who he was and what he was doing going in our refrigerator. Now, sometime during the war, I've forgotten exactly when penicillin was discovered, but civilians couldn't get it by and large. Only people in the service, and only for certain things that penicillin was about the only thing that would take care of it. So it was very, very dear. I needed to know right away, did he have permission? Did he have authority? Am I responsible? There didn't seem to be any way—well, I don't know whether there was a way to lock that refrigerator up or not. But I don't think I ever found the key. My mind's a little bit foggy on that. But I was certainly concerned about this. So from then on I searched every day for my superior officer. [chuckles]

EE:

Tried to get some help.

HL:

There was never any time that I could leave the lab to go talk to any WAVE officer, or get anyone down there, because we were so busy doing the required work on these tests.

EE:

You were there for almost three months it looks like.

HL:

Well, it was like three years. But, anyway, I found out later that he was giving penicillin to—I don't know whether it was plural “patients” or just a patient, but probably plural. He was diagnosing some patients with venereal disease, so probably gonorrhea. I don't think they give that for syphilis, although I'm not sure.

EE:

He didn't want it on their record or wanted to—

HL:

I don't know. That's a puzzle. But I've thought about it many times since then. That fellow was probably a corpsman all by himself on an island somewhere, doing all this on his own. He could have been on a very small ship with no doctor, and he might have been the medical person in charge. For him to come and ask permission from a WAVE probably would have been very galling. But, see, you don't know what to do, and I could never get anyone to help me out on this. I don't remember if it was ever resolved or not. He may have come less as time went on. But that was one thing.

EE:

Well, now, we've only got about fifteen minutes left.

HL:

All right. Okay. You have specific—

EE:

I'm going to have to go for our next thing, but I wanted to—tell me a little bit—that you leave there and then you spend—I guess, they're telling you—you signed on for the duration, I guess, when you signed up.

HL:

Yes.

EE:

Did you ever have any interest in making a military career?

HL:

Yes, but not after my experience with the real navy on Treasure Island. That's where I changed my mind. But, of course, it was the chaos as a war winds down. I want to mention—it was unsafe to walk around at night, because my way to walk from there to the barracks or the cafeteria was not as well lit as it should, and I had seen too many things in the dispensary that made it a little—I thought it would be hazardous. But we finally got things under control in the lab as far as doing the slides and the lab work. Two other people and I did all the urines and it was well we did because many of the sailors came back with albumin and/or sugar levels. The navy would have sent them home with potential problems.

EE:

That experience alone certainly made you more independent—you had nobody to report to. [chuckles]

HL:

Oh, my goodness.

EE:

Did the military experience in general make you more of an independent person you think, than you would have been otherwise?

HL:

Yes. Yes. I traveled—yes, definitely. It's the first time in my life I had any money to manage. So I managed my own money. I traveled everywhere. The only time I didn't feel safe during the entire war was this experience on Treasure Island. I felt safe in the lab, but it was just going back and forth to the building.

EE:

You leave Treasure Island and you're assigned to—

HL:

One other thing I've got to tell you about Treasure Island.

EE:

Okay.

HL:

One day in the midst of all this pandemonium, in comes—I was working at this long lab counter, which had a shelf up here that you could see through, like in a chemistry lab, and a door here and a door there. Somebody came in the door over there and I thought, well, they're wearing—looks like he might be in his pajamas, but I couldn't get a clear view. Then I kind of went around to the end of the shelf and there were horizontal stripes on the outfit. And I turned around to the paper dollies and “What is this?” [chuckles] Well, I had a prisoner of war assigned to the lab. I have since learned that there were prisoners of war all over the United States, including—

EE:

Was it a German POW?

HL:

Yes. A German. He didn't speak any English, or we were told that he didn't. He smiled all the time and he was assigned to the lab to wash glassware. He came about two days a week, but it threw me the first time he got there. Again, there was nobody to ask and nobody told me. Things were just loose. Those two enlisted people could have alerted me to some things, and I didn't go in there like I was Big Boss. I was just pleasant, I thought. [chuckles] But things were just let down. Like war is over—why bother? So anyway, one day I got a notice from headquarters, and on my way over to headquarters, of course, I looked around, there was Alcatraz next door, ships up and down the bay, and ships all around Treasure Island—I didn't know what was coming off. Well, I had gotten orders to go to [the] navy's research unit. What's it called now? I was assigned duty to—

EE:

Medical research.

HL:

Research Unit No. 1, Life Science Building, University of California, Berkeley, California. This is Research Unit No. 1. In civilian life, I—later on in my life—I worked at Research Unit No. 2, which is at Bethesda, [Maryland], in that hospital. I got there because I had friends from Detrick who had been reassigned to that unit and they knew I was floundering over on Treasure Island, and also we liked to do things in the way of liberty. So I was assigned to that unit. It was a world away from Treasure Island. On that beautiful campus—this was the top floor of the Life Sciences Building—we overlooked eucalyptus trees, and over there was—

EE:

Beautiful campus.

HL:

In those days, I don't know what it is now, but it was lovely then.

EE:

Yes.

HL:

It was so different. It was like night and day. It was wonderful. It was from chaos to calmness and great civility. The man who was in charge, Captain Kreuger, was wonderful to the WAVES. Oh, these were all navy people here, no army. One time all the officers—of course, the war was over, maybe they were giving him his farewell birthday party—but they gave him a big birthday party with just the officers. But the captain thought something should be done for the enlisted. So he gave the enlisted men—sent them all out someplace one evening for a big meal, and it was a special place that the corpsmen would have enjoyed. But all the WAVES got to go to Planters Wharf. Now, I don't know how it is today, but in those days he must have spent the mint.

EE:

Right.

HL:

He sent us there and paid for all of our meal and entertainment and the whole works. Now, the captain did this. I don't know, maybe he was a millionaire, but we thought it was wonderful. I did principally the same kind of work there that I did at Detrick. We didn't talk about it, but I worked with a different group of people. Some of them I knew from Detrick.

EE:

But it was still biological warfare type of work.

HL:

Yes, on the West Coast.

EE:

You leave the service in April of '46, and I guess just before you leave your mate, Chief Pharmacist Mate.

HL:

Oh, yes. I have to show you this, but I know you want me to keep talking. Where did I put those things? Over here. I just have to show you this. Sometimes I think more of this than I do—later on I did the GI Bill and I got a master's—and I think more of this than I do my master's. I don't know, this—

EE:

Where'd you get your master's?

HL:

Oh, I'll tell you that in the epilogue.

EE:

Okay. But I don't have much time.

HL:

I know. I've got to hurry.

EE:

I'm sorry—It's hard to compress a life into two hours.

HL:

Oh, I've got four minutes. Well, when—

EE:

You're discharged, do you head back to North Carolina?

HL:

Okay. They gave me this while I was at the Research Unit No. 1. Then the day I got enough points, I went over to Balboa Park and was mustered out, and then I went home on the train by way of Houston and New Orleans. I'd never been to those places. I got off the train and walked around New Orleans at night. Safe as it could be. [chuckles] I don't know what it would—

EE:

Boy, that's a lot different from nowadays.

HL:

But in those days it was lovely. Then I went home. Then the most wonderful thing happened. A grateful nation gave all the people who had been in uniform the GI Bill. The GI Bill I just thought was the most wonderful thing, and I think it has changed this country.

EE:

That's right.

HL:

I'm sure many students have done theses on what a difference it's made all over the country.

EE:

Something a Republican wouldn't like, a giveaway like that. That's a pretty big giveaway.

HL:

Anyway, at that time in my life I thought I would become a registered medical technologist, because we were just on the cutting edge. This was the different—

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

HL:

—need a math course and another chemistry course. I thought, well, it doesn't make any difference where I take them just so long as the school is up to par. I've never been Midwest, I've been through it, but I haven't really been there, so I'll apply to a Midwestern school. [chuckles] The wonderful thing about the GI Bill, a stipend came with it so you could afford to pay rent to wherever you were living, and if you didn't eat too much, there was plenty to eat. I did very well, because I was frugal. I applied to Iowa. Now, almost every school was very kind to veterans. By that I mean, if you wanted to get into their school, they would go the limit in putting you in courses to bring you up to par, to the level, to get you on the road to what you wanted to do.

EE:

Right.

HL:

I had a lot of points and altogether I was out there about two and a half years, because I took the courses, the two courses that I needed, and I was amazed at how well I did at Iowa. I kept comparing myself with WC. I thought WC must be—I mean, I should have gone to Iowa. [chuckles] Maybe I could have got through. [chuckles]

EE:

You could have been a Phi Beta Kappa years ago.

HL:

And Iowa is a first-rate school now—

EE:

Right.

HL:

—and it was, I guess it was, then, too.

EE:

But you had been doing a lot of this work before.

HL:

Well, but chemistry, this was—I took quantitative out there, I think, or qualitative—I took either qualitative or quantitative chemistry and basic math. Also that first year I took a course in Russian history. I don't know why. That was just a throw-in. And I took a course in protozoology and entomology, insects and protozoans. Then I even went over to the botany department and took a course in mycology. Boy, I did pretty good. I mean, I didn't set any—the world on fire, but I was getting along fine. Over in the zoology department the man who was in charge of parasitology said—oh, I also took his course somewhere. Some of these were only half a year. He asked me if I'd ever considered working on a master's. Well, that floored me. Because, you know, no one at WC had—they didn't really talk—

EE:

Graduate education wasn't really in the picture—

HL:

No. No. But nobody talked about what a graduate program was.

EE:

Yes.

HL:

We were in the dark. I was. A person who had a father who taught in a college, knew all about these things. I didn't know the first thing about it, but you learn as you go along. So I came home and I worked in the Public Health Department in Greensboro for the equivalent of a semester. That was very entertaining and very—I can now say I worked for a Public Health Department.

EE:

This would have been '47 or '48 when you came back to do that? How long were you at Iowa?

HL:

Well, I was there a year, and then I came back home and thought about it for half a year, and then I went back and stayed another year and a half while I got the master's.

EE:

Got your master's. Right.

HL:

One year I didn't come home for Christmas. I apprenticed myself, if you want to call it that, to the state lab of Iowa which was in—over on the hospital grounds, and I learned how a state lab was run. And one year I did that when I didn't have a full complement of courses. I did that in the pathology department, because I wanted to learn histological techniques. While I was there I took courses on histology—back in the zoology department—I took courses on histology and all the parasitology courses. My degree was in zoology, but it was all in parasitology, and Iowa being the capital of the pork industry and the corn industry, I did it on trichina, that you find in pigs.

EE:

Trichinosis.

HL:

Because the man I did it for, the one who asked me to consider it, he had done a lot of work. He was a very approachable, wise man—

EE:

When did you meet your husband?

HL:

After I came back from Iowa I worked for two years teaching biology at Catawba.

EE:

Where you wanted to go in the beginning?

HL:

Yes. While I was there for alumni weekend, I think it was the second year I was there—He was an alumnus of that school. He had been there on the GI Bill, but at that time he was working up here in a patent office. He had many things he worked on, many specialties. That's how I met him. He had gone to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My suitemate at Catawba—another lady came the same time I did and they didn't have any apartment to give us, so the end rooms in one of the women's dorms was a suite with a bath between and they had us stay there. This person was a math teacher. She was a real good math teacher. She had gone to UNC and gotten a master's and she knew my husband, Bob, from there, and I met him through her.

EE:

Two questions I ask everybody and we'll—I'm sorry if we're attenuating this because you've got a fascinating story.

HL:

It's not recording, is it?

EE:

Yes, it still is.

HL:

Oh, it is.

EE:

Two questions to ask you and I'll keep this with you and send this copy back so I have an outline.

HL:

I hope that photographs.

EE:

Do you feel that you contributed to the war effort? Not everybody was in a position where they felt that. Do you feel you were in a position to contribute to the war effort?

HL:

I would say so, but it—but they—yes, I guess I did. Yes.

EE:

Yes, you did.

HL:

Being at Detrick, that was—

EE:

I'd say that was pretty—pretty—

HL:

—that was duty beyond the pale.

EE:

Well, and it was probably because it was so far beyond the pale—

HL:

We could have caught something and died.

EE:

That's right. That was very risky stuff.

HL:

We had rumors that two people did die while we were there, but nobody ever asked any questions.

EE:

Nobody said, “I want to leave now.” The other thing I want to as you about was women in service. The role of women in service has changed so much in the last fifty years. Would you recommend a woman to join the military based on your experience?

HL:

I don't think—I did not recommend my daughter. She wanted to join the reserve at one time. One of my daughters, I have two daughters. I guess she was not happy with her government job. She wanted to move along in life. At that time she wasn't married, maybe she wasn't meeting enough people. But I had heard too many things about civilian non-wartime life and civilian life, and the way they were being treated. We were treated like ladies. I did not recommend it to my daughter. She had no idea what it meant to be in a uniform. You were not your own person and they could send you anywhere—as they did—anywhere they wanted to whenever they wanted to. It was very exciting for me, but it was the time. It was the tempo of the time, and the newness of it, and the fact that we were in a war. As I went in because of patriotism, it follows that I would feel like I was contributing. And I was so many places, I know I contributed.

EE:

Well, thank you for sitting down with me this morning. This has been wonderful.

HL:

I'm sorry I talked too much.

EE:

Oh, no, no, no. I'm just sorry that I don't have more time to hear the rest of what happened to your work.

HL:

I think I covered most everything.

EE:

I think you did, too. I just appreciate it on behalf of the school and myself.

[End of the Interview]