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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Rosemary Blakely Zule

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Object ID: WV0149.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Rosemary Blakely Zule’s background and employment history in the 1930s; her service in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II; and her life after the war.

Summary:

Personal topics from her early life include the death of her parents; her education; her career in journalism; teaching math at a business college; the places she lived; working for a newspaper in Washington; and seeing a Japanese-American family taken in for questioning.

Zule chiefly discusses her military service, including many short anecdotes. She describes why she joined the WAC and briefly recalls basic training at Fort Des Moines. Topics related to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, include interviewing Olivia de Havilland; meeting Oveta Culp Hobby; WACs disguising themselves to march with male soldiers; and being punished for packing her toothbrush in her gas mask.

Topics related to Zule’s overseas service in New Guinea and the Philippines include the blackout on the ship to the Pacific and the balloons sent to watch for Japanese submarines; the barracks in Oro, Bay; killing rats; planting a garden; enjoying other girls’ care packages; creating a library on base; saving a soldier from drowning; social activities; and the murder of a soldier in Biak. Topics from her time in the Philippines include creating a library in Manila; cutting down Christmas trees; obtaining a jeep and traveling around the Philippines; finding a bookcase for the library; social activities; American soldiers attempting to rape a Filipino girl; and breaking military rules.

Zule also describes living in the Philippines after her service; her discharge due to pregnancy; pretending to be married; the abuse of her infant son by nurses on the ship; difficulty adjusting back to civilian life; opinions of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and General Douglas MacArthur; and her opinion of women serving in combat. Zule also describes her post-service life, including several jobs, several moves, and life with her two sons.

Creator: Rosemary Blakely Zule

Biographical Info: Rosemary Blakely Zule (1916-2010) of Neodesha, Kansas served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) from 1942 to 1946.

Collection: Rosemary Blakely Zule 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:

HT:

My name is Hermann Trojanowski, and I'm at the home of Rosemary Zule in Durham, North Carolina, to conduct an interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Mrs. Zule, if you'd tell me your name, and we'll use this as a test to see how both of us sound on this tape recorder.

RZ:

Yes. My name is Rosemary Blakely Zule.

HT:

Thank you so much. Mrs. Zule, thank you so much for seeing me today. Could you tell me something about your life before you went in the service, such as where you were born, a little bit about your family, where you grew up, and what you did before you went into—I think you joined the WAC [Women's Army Corps]—

RZ:

Yes.

HT:

—in the forties, so if you could tell me something about your life prior to that, I would appreciate it.

RZ:

I was born in Neodesha, N-e-o-d-e-s-h-a, Kansas. My father was a lumber runner and my mother was an ex-schoolteacher. I lived there till I graduated from high school. My father died when I was six. My mother had the lumberyard for a while, and then she sold it. And we went to Emporia State Teachers—Emporia, Kansas—to the KSTC [Kansas State Teachers College], they called it then; now it's a university—where I went four years. I didn't ever want to be a teacher, but I went there. And that's where I graduated from, the Teachers College, with a French and Spanish major and an English major. I did some writing there, but not terribly much.

Then I went to the University of Kansas at Lawrence, Kansas, for a degree, master's degree, but I didn't earn it. I got about sixteen hours on it, and then I was tired of going to school and wanted to get a job. I didn't want to do it anymore, so I got a job in Topeka, Kansas. It was a commission job. I covered the Mexican fiesta there, and the new homes that they built. I'd sell the ads and take the pictures and things for the Topeka State Journal.

Then I got a job, a salaried job, out in Scott City, Kansas. You don't want me to go through all these, do you?

HT:

Well, sure. That's fine.

RZ:

All right. That was Scott City, Kansas, small town, and I was a reporter and society editor and everything for the newspaper; sold ads, helped with everything. I was there about three months, and my mother and I moved out there, moved all our furniture, our dining room furniture from Neodesha, and every, all the furniture. We had moved to Lawrence and we had moved there.

One day after work, Mr. Epperson, the editor, said, “I'm sorry, but we're going to let you go because we don't have you anymore,” or something. No reason. He didn't give me a reason. He said, “We'll give you a recommendation.” So he and his other editor wrote out a recommendation, and it was about two weeks, but that day I got a job on the other newspaper in town, writing as a roving reporter out in the farm homes of the county, Scott County. I guess it was Scott County. I found out that the reason I was let go was the woman who was head of the local hospital had a daughter who had graduated in journalism, and if her daughter couldn't come, she wouldn't stay. So, I was out.

So we went to Wichita, and my mother had lumps on her leg. We went to Wichita to see what was the matter, and she found out that she had some cancer of the pancreas, and she died just not very long after that. I went back to Neodesha and stayed a little bit, a while. Then an aunt wanted me to go to La Crosse, Wisconsin, with her, where she had just married a man named Lee Toland, who had a business college there, and she thought I could teach mathematics and things.

Now, I don't know anything about mathematics. I knew I'd be a very poor teacher. I didn't want to teach and I wasn't going to teach. But I went there and taught for about six months, and detested it. I couldn't even keep up with the other people in mathematics, the people, the students.

So, I went, I left him a telegram and told him I was going to St. Paul. I went to St. Paul, Minnesota, and I had various small jobs. I worked taking care of two little girls. Their mother was a playground head of St. Paul there, and she had a guy named Bruce Japanier[?] who had a little newspaper, and he said I could help on that. He delivered it to me and sold it to me, for if I'd take the two hundred dollar bill they had. It was a shopper. They put out five thousand every week and I ran it for about ten months, I guess, and enjoyed it, too.

Then I was getting poorer and poorer, though, because it didn't bring in too much money. So I wrote to my brother Bill, my half-brother Bill, Bill Blakely, out in Chehalis, Washington, and said that I was not enjoying living this way. And he sent me a telegram to come out there. He had a job for me on the Chehalis Advocate. So I went out there and liked doing it. I stayed all night in jail one night to write the story, and I went skiing on Mt. Rainier, at Mt. Rainier, and different things, did a lot of different things there that were newsworthy. Enjoyed it. And the war came.

I don't know how much detail you want to hear, but a carload of missionaries, I guess they were, came from Seattle and they were going to Portland and they stopped in Chehalis. They were stopped. Japanese, they were, and they were stopped and taken into the building, and they had a baby. The baby was cold and I said, “You should have a blanket for him.”

She said, “The blanket's in the car and they won't let us go out and get it.”

I said, “Well, I'll go out.” So I went out to the car and got the blanket for the baby. I don't know what they did to them, but they probably went in where they interned all the people from, the American-Japanese in. Then I went to Seattle, Washington, and I worked for Boeing Aircraft.

First I was working on a little newspaper there, but Boeing Aircraft was with the war movement, and I got into that. I was helping build B-17s. I was helping; I was a troubleshooter. I'd go around. They didn't have enough screws or enough bolts or something, I'd go around and find the extra ones and bring them back to the place where they were put in. So that's when I enlisted in the army.

HT:

What made you decide to enlist?

RZ:

Oh, I wanted to be a part of the movement, the war movement.

HT:

Did you recall seeing posters or anything like that? There were quite a few recruiting posters around.

RZ:

First I was going to be a nurse, but I knew I was not nurse possibility. I'm no nurse. I went down to see about that, and no, that wasn't the thing for me. And I thought maybe I'd get to go to England, so that'd be wonderful. So I got into the army.

HT:

Were your parents, was your father military?

RZ:

No. My father was sixty-one when I was born, and my mother was forty-five. I was their only child. He died when I was six, and my mother died when I was twenty-three.

HT:

How did your family feel about you joining? I think you said you had a half-brother?

RZ:

Yes. Well, he was married and had two children and lived out in Washington, and two half-sisters, they were twenty-eight and twenty-six years older than I was. They didn't have anything to say.

HT:

And why did you choose the WACs?

RZ:

I think that was the only thing going around out there.

HT:

That must have been about 1942 then, I guess.

RZ:

Forty-one or '42. I went on a train with about nine or ten girls, on a troop train. Not a troop train, but a train where we—oh, my back's hurting. Little accident. And went to Des Moines, Iowa, for basic training. It was snowing and they took us out on the trucks, and we had women's overcoats, and they were big floppy things and everything. We didn't know how we were going to do.

HT:

Do you recall when this was, exactly, which month, and which year?

RZ:

Forty-two. I got to Fort Sam Houston in December '42. And they set us, when they finally set us down, we were in the stables, they called them, in Des Moines, and we stayed there quite a while.

HT:

So you did your basic training at Des Moines?

RZ:

Yes.

HT:

How long did that last?

RZ:

I don't remember.

HT:

Do you recall anything particular about those days, during basic training, anything outstanding?

RZ:

Well, something kind of funny. I talked in my sleep, and a girl said, “They hear you. You've got to quit talking in your sleep. We can't stand it. Get some medicine to make you stop.” So I went on sick call. I went to the doctor and I said, “I've got to have medicine to take back.” He said, “All right. I'll get you some medicine.” He said, “You tell those girls to take this medicine, and they won't worry any more.” So I took it back.

HT:

So they took the medicine?

RZ:

They took the medicine. I don't know if they used it or not, but I guess they did. I took it back to them. Then we finally got orders to go out. We were the first women sent out in the group, as a group of women, to a post in the United States. We went to Fort Des Moines. Fort Sam Houston.

HT:

That's in Texas.

RZ:

Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Yes. I didn't want to say Fort Des Moines.

HT:

What type of work did you do there?

RZ:

Well, at first they didn't know what to do with me, because I had quite a bit of education and I had—I guess I'm a little—this, I'm not used to it, you know, and I'm not doing very well, maybe.

HT:

You're fine.

RZ:

Anyway, they made me a butcher. I've got an article about this in my Alpha Gamma Delta sorority thing. I'm going to find that for you sometime.

HT:

Okay, good.

RZ:

And tell you about it. Has a picture of me cutting ham. So I was there about five weeks. I sold eggs to Lew Ayres, the movie star. I once looked at the scales. Here was an albino roach in the scales, and he'd go round and round and round and round with it. Other people'd look at it and I'd look at it, and there it was.

Then I got transferred to the paper, and I was the co-editor of the newspaper there, which should have made me very happy, but didn't. I couldn't stand the fellow, the corporal who was working there, with a captain. The captain I didn't even care about.

So they loaned me out to the—I'm not sure if it was the Red Cross or who it was, but anyway, I have had wonderful experiences. I collected—these were my ideas, and they liked them. I collected mayonnaise jars, fifty mayonnaise jars. We put them up for one for each state, and put them on a big stand and they put money in there, the boys did, the people did, with the service club, and collected just scads of money, to see which state ran ahead.

Then I had a lieutenant friend there that carved a little picture out of soap, a little soldier lying down, and there was a tube going up here to a big jar up here, for a blood transfusion, and they'd put money in that. And they were really excited about those. They liked them. So I was still at the post.

HT:

You still were doing newspaper work as well.

RZ:

Yes. I was doing newspaper work as well. I interviewed Melanie from Gone With the Wind.

HT:

Olivia de Havilland.

RZ:

Olivia de Havilland, yes. We were stuck out at the airport for about an hour, with just her driver then, and she was so glad to have somebody there. I had a photographer with me and he took pictures. And her brother had been in Alaska, and he had been in a troop, had been in a lab, anyway, where he was stationed with her brother. Who did I tell you he was?

HT:

You haven't mentioned his name.

RZ:

Well, I don't know about what his name was, but anyway, he was a fellow traveler, and so she had a picture taken with him, and she said she'd like to have a picture. About twenty-five or thirty years later I sent her the picture, and she wrote me back a letter.

So, I wanted to go overseas. They knew I wanted to go to England, so they sent me to New Guinea and the Philippines.

HT:

Backtrack just a minute. Did you meet any other interesting people while you were at Fort Sam Houston?

RZ:

Well, Colonel [Oveta Culp] Hobby was there a couple of times, and Bob Hope.

HT:

Did you meet these people personally, or just in a crowd?

RZ:

Not Bob Hope that time. I met him later, but not then. And Colonel Hobby, I guess I met her.

HT:

What did you think of Colonel Hobby?

RZ:

Oh, I liked her very much. We invited her to our reunions, to come, but she was alive then. She did never get there, but she sent messages, telegrams and things.

So, anyway, I got my orders, finally, to go to—or, I didn't know where I was going. We were in our winter uniforms. Took them with us. We didn't know where we were going. Got on the ship and found out that we were going to New Guinea. We were on the [SS] Lurline going over. That was a big ship.

HT:

Was the name of that ship the New Orleans?

RZ:

Lurline, L-u-r-l-i-n-e. And we were about, I think, two thousand women.

Oh, one of the things I should tell you before I get there, we were to put everything, we were never to put anything in our gas mask. Never. Just the gas mask and that was it, in the container. And there I was going to put out a little paper, a little news sheet, on the boat. And I went to go out and get some paper.

I went out and got some paper and I had to put my toothbrush and toothpaste somewhere, so I put it in my gas mask. And they found them. And that's the only punishment I ever got when I was in the service. They said I had to clean the latrine on the train that we were going on, all the way out to California. And I tell you, that was the cleanest toilet you ever saw in your life. Several girls helped me, and well, we just shined it up. So we went, we got there, finally.

HT:

So you traveled from Fort Sam Houston all the way across country to California to catch the boat.

RZ:

Yes. And got on, and I had the duty to stand duty at night sometimes. You couldn't have a cigarette or a light on the boat at all, because that would be, the submarines could see you. We had a balloon that went over us for a long ways out in the ocean, but then it had to go back.

HT:

I guess that's to watch for Japanese submarines.

RZ:

Yes. We played bridge. We had about two thousand, I think, WACs on the boat.

HT:

Was it all women, or were there men aboard ship as well?

RZ:

Not very many men. I slept in a cabin that was meant for two people. There was nine of us in there, and I was in the third bunk by the top, and the air conditioner came right down on my stomach, and I about froze to death.

HT:

Do you recall how long it took you to get from California to—

RZ:

Long time. I don't know. Several weeks.

HT:

Did you go straight, or did you zigzag across the ocean?

RZ:

I don't know. I'm sorry, I just don't know. So we got over there and we came about six hundred miles from Hawaii, but we didn't go to Hawaii. We got to Finschhafen [Papua New Guinea] and whatever the town was where MacArthur had his headquarters. And we'd throw—the girls would throw oranges and things out in the water, and the GI's would dive in and would go to this dock and try to get them.

We finally got to Oro Bay [Papua New Guinea], and we came down the ladder on the outside of the ship there, what it was, and took us up to our barracks. Our barracks were—I can tell you a lot about this now.

HT:

Okay. Good.

RZ:

The barracks were made of plywood. They're, I guess, plywood, something. And they had a paneling up about so far, about shoulder, about [unclear], and then the screen was there. And they'd left—they were plain ugly things. I went around looking around, and I found this long mirror that was broken. I took back the pieces so that about five or six of my friends there had mirrors.

And every night as I'd go get under the mosquito net, I'd watch this rat. They had a lot of rats. And one on the outside would come up this way, and the one from our inside came up, and then they'd rub noses through the screen. And I thought, “Boy, I'm going to get that rascal.” And I sat there one night with my mosquito net up, and with a shoe in my hand, and when he came I let go, and I'm not a very good pitcher, but I hit him. Fell down and died under somebody's bed who couldn't stand rats. I was made the rat warden.

I was also the company gardener. I planted all kinds of flowers, passion fruit and many kinds of flowers. And the girls gave me seeds and things. We just had everything around, all around the dining room, round the latrine, around everyplace. It was real nice. We had a yard out there. It had old high grass, and so I took the scissors and snipped this grass down, and made it so it was beautiful. Everybody thought it was nice.

And later on in life, I ran into the lieutenant from across the street that was there. I don't remember her name; the same one that I'd known there, and she remembered me doing all that. And I was on the paper. I've got a little thing about the gardener thing. Where is that? I brought that to show you.

[Tape recorder paused]

RZ:

We delivered the papers. She delivered the papers to the colonel and all the people who were in charge of the thing, and one morning I went out there and he was in a tent with the other officers. I knocked on the tent, and you couldn't make any noise knocking on a tent. So I ran around to the back of it and knocked on it there, and here he came right here and said, “What's going on? What's going on here?”

I said, “I'm trying to deliver your paper, sir,” and gave it to him.

HT:

Didn't you work on the local newspaper there as well?

RZ:

Well, it wasn't a local. It was just a—

HT:

Base newspaper.

RZ:

Yes, base newspaper. I didn't work on it. I just—she just wrote me up there that day. I didn't want to have anything to do with that newspaper. The girl did it all. Betty somebody. I worked around, and I was a typist. So I typed for seventeen hours straight, and that was it. I was [unclear] to sleep on the job, because they'd have had me shot, but they didn't. After they came and said, “How would you like to build a library?”

And I said, “Sir, I would love it.”

And so I began with four hundred books, and I ended up with ten thousand. I went to the companies that were leaving to go and be transferred, and they gave me all their books. They brought them all in. And so we made this, we had a big opening house party and everything. We made this place in the pentagon, this area, into a library, and a lot of people dropped in to write. They had lamps and tables and things. It just was wonderful, and it had all those books.

Then I got orders to go to Manila [Philippines]. I've got a thing, “En Route to Manila,” it's called. It's been published and been republished in different places, and I'm going to give you a copy, but I can't find it yet.

HT:

Well, this was at Oro Bay. Is that right?

RZ:

Oro Bay, yes.

HT:

And so you were sort of the unofficial librarian on the base, I guess, it sounds like.

RZ:

I was the official.

HT:

It was official, then.

RZ:

Yes, official.

HT:

Oh, great. Okay.

RZ:

So we had all these books and the officer came one day, a colonel, and he said, “Well, you'll be going to Manila, and you'll have to leave the books behind.”

And as soon as he left we said, “Over our dead body are we going to leave these books.” And we got wooden blocks and put in every other place in the books, and left one book and then put a wooden block, wooden block, wooden block. We loaded up all the books and put them in boxes and put them on MacArthur's boat and sent them to Manila, and when I got there I got them. I went around to the city and hitchhiked and got them.

That was really something. I did a lot of things in the service that I could—I was only a corporal then, and I could have—I was a staff sergeant when I came out. But I guess I could have gotten [unclear]. But they didn't.

HT:

And how long were you stationed at Oro Bay, do you recall? Several months?

RZ:

Nine months, maybe.

HT:

Nine months.

RZ:

Maybe. I think so.

HT:

And then what type of work did you do at Manila?

RZ:

Well, after I got there I will tell you about it, or else we can read about it. I got sick on Biak [Island, West Papua]. That's in New Guinea.

Oh, I didn't tell you about saving the guy's life in New Guinea?

HT:

No. You must tell me that.

RZ:

Well, we went on a picnic up in the mountains, about in Owen Stanley Range of mountains. I had a date with a GI. I didn't even know him, didn't know he couldn't swim. We went into the pools, the mountain stream pools there, and we didn't know there was a drop off, that it went down. So we were out swimming, and suddenly he went down and then I went down.

And I swim, of course. I'm not a great swimmer, but I swim, and I, yes, I reached out and pulled the back of his trunks and hung onto him and pulled him up. And we gasped and went down again. We went down three times, and I thought, “My gosh, we're going to be—” I thought anything. And right then as we got down, we went up the last time, I yelled, “For god's sake, help us!”

And everybody came running from the beaches and they didn't get to us or anything. Our feet hit the higher ground, and we were alright. And the funny thing was the girl that supposedly was the lifeguard, she took credit for having saved this boy. I mean, there I was pushing him out of the water and getting him out home. Well, it didn't matter. And so, I don't know what more detail you want to know about.

I was the company gardener, and I did the hobby club, and I had boxes of flowers that I showed.

HT:

This was all in Oro Bay.

RZ:

Oro Bay, yes.

HT:

Did anything else unusual happen to you while you were at Oro Bay?

RZ:

Probably so.

HT:

Saving a guy's life is pretty spectacular.

RZ:

There was a girl, she was not very much in favor of the army, didn't like it, and she was—the last time I saw her she was carrying a watermelon, coming out. She liked dogs, but she didn't like boys. And she got sent to the, she went crazy. They sent her to a place and everything. She died over there, and they buried her.

HT:

Back to Manila, tell me what life was like on Manila. I'm sure that's a good-sized city compared to Oro Bay.

RZ:

Yes, it's a big city. All the post offices were all gone down, and the bridges were gone, and it was a thing. I went there, and they had about nine books. They wanted to have a library. They had about nine books. And I said, “Well, I can help you.”

So I put on—no, that was in New Guinea that I put on the grass skirt and did a dance. I went outside to [unclear], but that was in New Guinea. Then we got here and I went around and collected all the books I could find around the area, and met a fellow named Carlos Santa Maria. He was the head librarian, but he didn't have any books, didn't have a library, didn't have any bookshelves. So I was set to help out on that. He had two little girls. The bombers had killed his wife and his little boy and little girl, and he had two little girls left, Fe and Laticia. And they were about seven and eight. And so we—I'm still in touch with the little girls.

So, I don't remember what happened. Well, I gathered up all the books I could find that had come in. And then they had books flowing over, and we had eight more librarians assigned, and we didn't have a place. I was going to go see Mrs. MacArthur and see if she'd help us find a place for the library. But then suddenly they got a place at the [unclear] or someplace. The Red Cross had a rest center or something on one of the main streets of Manila, and that's where we were going to be. And that was fine. So we didn't have any bookcases, but we had books. And there we were.

HT:

By this time had you gotten all the books that you had packed up at Oro Bay? Had they come in to you yet?

RZ:

Not in one place. All over the city of Manila. I had hitchhiked. And one time I was hitchhiking. Oh, I can tell you a lot of things about that. One time I was hitchhiking in a jeep with a fellow, and we came to a bridge and he stopped and he came to a salute and he just held it there. I said, “Who was that?”

He said, “That was the big boy, himself.” And there went [General Douglas] MacArthur. I saw his back of his head going down the street in a jeep.

Let me think, now, what else I should tell you. Well, oh yes, one of the main things. I was looking over—I don't know what I was looking there for—this building with a bunch of people, and I saw a big, great big case of books, here and here, like this. And they were glass here, and drawers down here, and together back there. It was an angle, a right angle. So I thought, “Oh, I'm going to get those, if I can borrow them, for the books.”

So I went back to the office and for the first time, and practically the only time when I was over there, I got permission. The other things I just did on my own. I got permission and they said, yes, I could go and get that thing. So I did and I went over there and I said, “I've got to get some help.” So I went down on the street of Manila, and got seven sailors to come up there and say they'd carry the bookcase down. And I said, “All right now. Now, when I say three, you pull. You pull this one out.” And I said, “One, two, three.”

And they pulled and the thing crashed, and the next thing I knew I was looking at a general's stripe, so I figured that his head had gone through the glass. And I said, “Oh my god, I've killed a general.”

And I looked and he said, “No, this old neck's been through stiffer campaigns than this.” And I don't know. They had just come out from Washington, and I was so glad I had permission to do this. Of course, they went there that afternoon and got it, but the secretary was so upset she had to go home, the WAC secretary. And, oh, they just thought that was awful.

HT:

Do you recall what was the name of the base where you were stationed in Manila?

RZ:

Rizal, R-i-z-a-l, Stadium, we were at Rizal Stadium a lot.

HT:

Rizal Stadium?

RZ:

Yes.

HT:

Okay, thanks. And it's where you set up the library.

RZ:

No, no. That was on—I don't remember the name of the street. We'll run into that, I think.

HT:

Okay.

RZ:

It was a service club, great big, six stories or something.

HT:

So did you ever get these bookcases back to where you wanted them?

RZ:

Yes. They sent a crane over that afternoon and took them down. Didn't have the sailors do it. The crane down and they took them to the library.

Am I going too much into detail?

HT:

No, no. This is fine.

RZ:

Well, some of these things, now, I wouldn't like to have you tell anybody at all. Those are all right, but I could have given you some things that are not public knowledge.

HT:

Well, you'll have to tell me, so I'll turn off the tape recorder then.

RZ:

All right. Can't remember where I was.

[Tape recorder paused]

HT:

You were talking about taking down these two bookcases, and they apparently fell over and hit someone.

RZ:

Well, Carlos had a—Well, I had a jeep assigned to me, finally, and we could go a lot of places. And we did go a lot of places, and we did go without permission. So I don't know if you'll need to say that, but we went up to, all around.

He had a friend who was a superintendent of schools up across a river and up about two hundred miles, a hundred miles. So I went, and in this jeep, I went; he went, my friend Amity Purchen, she went along, and the two little girls, seven- and eight-year-old Laticia and Fe, they went along, and Carlos. We were all in the jeep and we were going out to inspect places for books. But we were going to take this trip up to his friend's place, stay all night up there. So we went up and here was the river, and there was no bridge. And we said, “How are we going to get across the river?”

And then people said, “You can't.”

And Carlos said, “Oh, yes, we can. We'll turn two of these small boats upside down and put the jeep on and float across.” The jeep was signed out to me. If it had gone down, it would be I who was going to get court-martialed. And so we went in another boat; the children and I went across, and Carlos sat in the jeep, and it got across. It got across alright, and we spent two days, one day, I guess, and night, at the home of this superintendent, and then we went back.

We went several places like that. Went up to Baggio, which was a rest camp and thing up in the mountains. We wanted to go and get a Christmas tree. This was later on. So all those people, Amity Purchen and the little girls and everybody, we all went up there, and we stayed all night at the camp and told them we were out looking for books for the army. Nobody had given me permission to go, but we went.

We had good quarters and good food and everything, so we went up there. Winding roads, coming down the mountain, like this. The jeep—we got six Christmas trees. Cut them down and took them back. That was just before I got out, and they were reprimanding me and everything else. Two days before I got out, I got my staff sergeant stripes. So, I guess they—

HT:

Now, this was Christmas of which year? Do you recall?

RZ:

Oh, yes, I'm going to think now. Tony was born in '46. This was '45. At that time—this is the part to turn it off on.

[Tape recorder paused]

HT:

So, we were talking about your days in the Philippines. Do you recall when you were discharged from the army?

RZ:

January the second or third, 1946, I guess.

HT:

And that was in the Philippines?

RZ:

In the Philippines, yes. And I decided to stay over there. We had gone to this refrigeration thing, and they gave us a refrigerator, automatic refrigerator, and I put it in Carlos' house until I got a little house out in Kazo[?] City. The air force gave me two of these Dallas huts. Do you know what they are? Well, they're little places you live, and I got two of those. And I lived there at Kazo City on Kabuni[?] Road, and a house girl. She took care of him while I went in town.

I got us a, not a social, but some kind of a job. What am I trying to say? Anyway, I got a job as a radio—I think I've got some of the things I wrote, some of the messages they wrote, or they published in the papers, “Don't drive and drink,” and different things like that. What else do you want to know about that?

HT:

How long did you stay in the Philippines after the war was over?

RZ:

Till Tony was born on August the 16th, 1946, and then when he was six months—and I saw eighteen rats up and around our kitchen here, looking in through the peephole. And I knew one was going to bite the baby if I didn't get out of there, so I got the missionaries [unclear] from a friend of ours there, and I came back.

HT:

So, by this time you were already out of the army.

RZ:

Yes. But when I got back, I joined the reserve.

HT:

Okay.

RZ:

And then they sent me back to duty again, in Chicago, just north of Chicago, at whatever that place is called. I've forgotten. I had to let Tony go to my aunt, to Kansas, because I didn't have—they all thought I was married. I had to go to Kansas, because I couldn't keep him there. There was no nursery school in this town. Fort Sheridan it was; Fort Sheridan, Illinois. So I went there and stayed there and got out and came back, practically went broke. I didn't have any money. I sold World Book, Childcraft and different things, but I didn't have any money for a while.

HT:

If we could kind of skip back for a second to World War II—

RZ:

Am I going in too much detail?

HT:

No, not at all. I just have a couple of questions I wanted to ask you about World War II. Do you recall what the mood the country was during that time, that early forties?

RZ:

Well, we had a lot of Jewish girls in our barracks, and they had all kinds of, every kind of delicacy that you could think of to eat, and they'd spread that out on their trunks at night and we'd have a feast. We did that, and the rats would come, of course, after that. That's when I was rat warden. I wrote home and I said I want them to send me some things.

I met a guy that thought he owned, or said he owned a ranch in California, and all the things he did and everything, and he was a liar the whole way through, although I didn't know it. Jimmy Smith was his name. He helped in the library some. He was a tech sergeant. My mind don't want to remember him even now. What was I telling you then?

HT:

We were talking about the mood of the country.

RZ:

Oh, yes. And I wrote back to my grandmother and my aunt, and told them the things I needed: washcloth, envelopes, and all these foods that I thought they could get from the Stadler Grocery. They had a lot of specialty things. They wrote back and they said, “You must be out of your mind! We're all on—”

HT:

Rationing, I guess.

RZ:

Rationing, yes. “We can't get those things.” And they didn't send me any of them. Some of the girls got things, but I didn't.

HT:

But in general, do you think was there a lot of patriotism at that time? Were people very patriotic?

RZ:

I don't know. Everybody was getting in the service, trying to. I had a cousin that was, several cousins that went in the service. One of them was a paratrooper, and his name was Jerry Dear[?]. And he got up in a plane or something, and fell out of it or jumped out and landed in a tree. And for some reason or other, he got discharged from the thing. I know that was bad.

HT:

Did any of your female friends join any of the services at that time?

RZ:

No, not really. I was about the only WAC from Neodesha.

HT:

All right. We mentioned earlier about basic training or boot camp. Do you recall anything that stands out in your mind from—I guess it was about six weeks that you had that? I've had some women tell me that, of course, they had to do a lot of marching and that sort of thing, that really stood out in their mind.

RZ:

Got you up real early, for reveille. I remember, what did we call it, in the morning. There was snow, and the boys around there [unclear] would take us on sleds over to meet the bus to go downtown, to Des Moines.

HT:

This was Fort Des Moines.

RZ:

Into Des Moines.

HT:

I think I've talked to one other woman who had been there, and she said it was just bitterly cold.

RZ:

Yes, it was.

HT:

Sub-zero all the time.

RZ:

I don't know about that.

HT:

So, anyway. Well, it sounds like you did a variety of work in the various places where you were. Did you, it sounded like you enjoyed most of the work that you did.

RZ:

Oh, I loved the army. I'd have stayed in a long time if I could have.

HT:

And what about the other gals? What did you think of them? Were they a nice group of women, for the most part?

RZ:

Most of them were nice. I made lifelong friends. This Trudy Butler, I kept up with her. She lived in someplace near [unclear] Los Angeles and she sent the baby a wonderful package of all kinds of clothes and everything, and sent the girl that took care of him a ribbon and everything, and it disappeared, that package, never did get it.

And then she came to see us in St. Paul. We lived there. And I was in Fort Sheridan then, and she came. She asked, “Where's Rosemary Zule?”

And they said, “Oh, she's gone back to the army.” And oh, she went and she was so mad, because there she was. She had taken the train there and gotten there, and then I was gone.

And what else, now, do you want to know? Let's see.

HT:

I know I wanted to ask you one thing. Did you ever encounter any kind of discrimination because you were a woman, while you were in the military? Were you treated differently from the men with whom you worked?

RZ:

Well, I'll tell you one thing. We had a girl named Candelle[?]. She broke all the rules and got by with it, and she was from, I don't know where, Akron, someplace in Ohio. She and another girl went on a five-mile march one time with the men. They dressed like men and went along with the men on this five-mile thing, and they took breaks and everything. But anyway, they came back and they found out when they came back that they were women, and they were put on—they had to stay in there and they couldn't leave, on what do you call it?

HT:

Confined to barracks or something like that?

RZ:

Oh, not inside. Outside the barracks. They put a big 'P' on their shirts, for Prisoner. And she was very—I'll have to show you a picture sometime, if I find it of her. She was very, very prominent. She died not very long ago. And she came to all the reunions, and she was the highlight of the reunion. She did a dance and [unclear] that kind of thing. I've spent three hunderd dollars for that one issue of the little paper I put out, and people helped me pay for it. I didn't pay for it myself. But she—it was in color; color picture. Only thing in color I've ever done for the little newsletter.

HT:

Do you recall what the hardest thing you ever had to do, physically, when you were in the military?

RZ:

This is on?

HT:

It is on, yes.

RZ:

Well, I don't know what the hardest thing was. One time I had to count. I was sitting on a chair, but I had to count all the bags of sugar or something that were taken around. This is there between when I was in the meat business and the newspaper business. They gave me this job that I had to sit there and I had to count all of those. And we got to 197 or something. They'd take them down to the trading car, take them around to the wherever they took them, to the PX [post exchange]. It wasn't hard, but that was boring, terrible and boring.

HT:

What about emotionally? What was the hardest thing you ever had to do emotionally? I've talked to some nurses who said it was real hard.

[Begin Tape 1, Side B]

HT:

We were talking about what was the hardest thing you ever had to do emotionally, before the tape recorder stopped.

RZ:

In the service?

HT:

Yes.

RZ:

I suppose keeping a straight face when I was breaking the rules. I can't put that in, but—

HT:

Do you ever recall being afraid while you were in the military, or felt like your life was in danger, or anything like that?

RZ:

Well, one time when I was hitchhiking home from a place where I had been—some Filipino family was out there and we had our [unclear] and everything. And I was hitchhiking home. It was raining and everything and somebody said—I was trying to hitchhike, you know, a ride back. Some big weapons carrier went by me and stopped, and said, “Hey, stop. That's an American girl.” And they came back and picked me up.

And then one time I was hitchhiking and I was with a lieutenant, and our flags flashed on, and here was a girl. She was half-naked and the guys were pulling her one way and pulling her the other, and they were ready to rape her. And she screamed and everything, and the fellow came up with a knife to the lieutenant, and he said, “You get out of here.” And the lieutenant turned around and went away.

HT:

Now, were these Americans, these other people? Or Filipinos?

RZ:

The Americans were going to rape the girl.

HT:

Was she—

RZ:

Screamed.

HT:

Was she a Filipino girl?

RZ:

Yes, a Filipino girl. And then one time I was getting—not Gone With the Wind, but there was another book that was very popular then, risqué, and I can't remember the name of it. They told me it was up in the attic of a place where we went to get books. We'd get them all over, and everything. So I went up steps there to get it, and there was a fellow and a girl up there, making out. And I got down. I got the books, but—

HT:

My next question was, what was your most embarrassing moment?

RZ:

That might have been it.

HT:

That might have been. [laughs] Oh, mercy. Well, can you tell me something about your social life? What was life—

RZ:

Went to lots of dances and everything.

HT:

I guess social life was more difficult at Oro Bay than it was in Manila, because it was just more remote, I guess.

RZ:

Yes. Picnics and things like that.

HT:

What did you ladies do for fun? You had mentioned earlier that you went swimming sometimes, and went to dances.

RZ:

And we used to go over to the room, not a record, but the main room where—what do you call the room where you go?

HT:

Rec room, sometimes.

RZ:

Well, it wasn't really a rec room. It was an office. But anyway, whatever it was, and they'd say, “Well, you have to make a [unclear].” And so we'd lay down on the floor. All of us would, all of us, everybody would stretch down on the floor, and that's the way the beach is. The boys would come, have a date with somebody. They'd come and here the girl came out carrying a blanket. They'd think, “Well, what goes on here?” And they'd go down to the beach, and they'd take the girl.

I'd give my beer bottles. I didn't drink beer. I'd give them to the boys that I did go out with, and they'd bury them in the sand while we're there, and then pretty soon they'd take them out and drink them. We were right on the beach, in Oro Bay. The Base B was down a little bit lower near there.

One time there was a girl—I don't know which company she was from. I don't think ours. And she went out with a fellow upstairs, up on a mountain, and I guess they were having sex and they were open; I mean, they had the blanket spread out and everything. And some Filipino came up and—or no, not Filipino; some black American came up and killed the boy and took the jeep and everything. And finally—no, she took the jeep and went back and got help at the thing, and came up there. She was being sent home. She was at Biak the same time I was. I didn't tell you about Biak.

HT:

No.

RZ:

So anyway, she was there. I can't remember any more about her. I was going to go to Manila from Biak. Well, Biak—I don't know. I did a crazy thing in Biak. I got some aspirins and I had every guy I danced with at this dance swallow an aspirin. This was like the drug pusher, I think I was. They'd think so, wouldn't they now? I remember that. The guys were very shocked. They didn't know what in the world I was giving them an aspirin for. I don't know either. It was something else, something different, I guess.

Anyway, we got to—I was telling you something, now. Oh, I was telling you something. Oh, yes. I got sick and went to, I guess it wasn't Biak. Maybe it was. Anyway, it's a hospital, and I was there for two days with something called coral sickness. I got real sick. I was only a T-4 then, but I had the papers of five corporals with me, and I was supposed to deliver them to the officer when I got up to Manila. And there I was, stranded. The plane went off without me and I was holding those papers, and there I was.

This is really not for the printed thing. I'll show you. I think it's here. I'm going to find it. Anyway, the fourth night a girl named—I don't know her name—a staff sergeant, master sergeant came by and she said, “Blakely,” my name, “Blakely,” she said, “how would you like to hitchhike to Manila?” And I said, well, I never had done anything like that in my life, but I guess I could.

And so I said, “All right. We'll go in the morning.” So we went out, we got on this plane, and it was an army plane with all the guns still there. I sat back where the bomb bay, or whatever you call that thing where you look down and see the ocean, and Trudy [Butler?] sat up with the pilot and other fellow. We went over the water and it was somewhere near where Amelia Earhart went down. We went along and we could look down and see the water.

And we went, we went, we went, and they said if we went straight to Manila we'd go there. And if we went another time thing, we'd go to Peleliu, Peleliu in the Palau Islands. After a while the pilot yelled back. He said, “Well, here we are. Peleliu.” He said, “It's a good thing it didn't happen ninety miles back. We lost the carburetor.” So they'd lost the carburetor. It's a wonder we got there alive. The plane was down and out, but we were all right.

We went on a mail plane the next day to Samar [Philippines]. After Samar and this girl and I—first we stayed in the general's house up in Peleliu, for visiting women, and then we went to Samar. In Samar they had the longest bar in the world, they said. We thought it was heavenly, because we got to take a hot shower. A half an hour every day they had hot water, and they had real Jell-O. We thought that was super.

HT:

Well, speaking of Jell-O, how was the food, in general, that you had while you were in the service?

RZ:

Oh, I never minded it. I always ate it. But the group of girls—back in there where I cut the grass, and the rats and everything, a group of them got outside our barracks and they would say, “Gee, oh, mama, I want to go home. Gee, ma—” Let's see. “[unclear] me the food. Rations in army they say are mighty fine, but one chicken jumped on one and bit a pal of mine. I don't want no more of army life.” [Sings] “Gee, mom, I want to go home.” I'm no singer, but anyway, they sang that. They could have gotten court-martialed or something for doing that, but then they weren't, I guess. I always didn't mind it at all. I didn't mind it.

HT:

So the food was not all that bad.

RZ:

No, not for me.

HT:

Do you recall where you were when you heard about Victory in Europe [VE] Day, which was in May of '45? You were still in the Philippines at that time?

RZ:

I know I remember when the Japanese were conquered.

HT:

Right. VJ Day.

RZ:

I remember VJ Day.

HT:

That was August of '45, I think. Where were you at that time?

RZ:

Waiting for the baby. He was born August sixteenth.

HT:

Oh, that's right. Do you recall when the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan?

RZ:

No, not exactly. I don't know how you can work it in there. I'd like to put in about the baby, but I don't how you can—

HT:

Sure. Really, anything you want to say is fine.

RZ:

I mean, he was the light of my life, and he looked like Mike and everything. One time I was sitting in a little room, in a [unclear], and I was making out names. I knew I couldn't use his name, Z-u-l-l-o, Zullo, because that would be probably breaking the law. So I thought Zuli and Zula and those things, and I came up with Zule. “Wishing you a merry Yule, from Rosemary, Mike, and Tony Zule.” And I sent that out the next Christmas.

And I got all the mule and tool and everything, all these things that rhymed, and you know, all through these years I have never thought of this one word that rhymed with Zule: jewel. And a boy wrote a poem about me, because I helped his mother here at the place where I'm staying, Mill Pond, and he wrote, “Rosemary Blakely is a jewel.” He had a good poem. Really, I'll have to show it to you sometime.

HT:

That was sweet. Now, you said Tony was born in Manila.

RZ:

Yes.

HT:

Now, how did you get back to the States after that?

RZ:

Came back on the [USNS] David C. Shanks.

HT: “Is that a boat?”
RZ:

Yes, a big one. We were going to come on another one, and we didn't get off in time, and so we had to go second place, this.

HT:

Was that a troop carrier?

RZ:

Taking people, all the people over there that were there, home to America from the war. A lot of people were escaping, you know, the survivors and everything, of the thing. Let's see. There's a guy who used to take care of Tony when I'd have to wash clothes or something. He was the only American baby on the boat. I don't know whether you care anything about him or not?

HT:

Anything. Like I said earlier, anything you want to say is fine. I can tell you myself, I came over in 1951 from Germany on a troop carrier when I was five. So, what was life like aboard the ship?

RZ:

Murder. Part of it was murder because they had two nurses assigned to keep him while I went down to eat. He was six months old and he could have sat in a high chair, but they didn't do that. They just told me to leave him up there and everything. So I left him covered up in a lower bunk, thinking the nurse that was watching him, was someplace nearby, and I came up, and as I came up I heard her say, “Shut up, you little brat, or I'll come down there and beat your brains out.” And I thought, my baby; she said that to my baby. There he was crying, and there he was uncovered and wet and cold and everything, and I was, oh, I was furious. I went to—

HT:

Was it an American nurse?

RZ:

Yes. And I went to them and told them, and then they changed it to the other nurse then. Oh, I thought that was terrible of her.

HT:

Now, when you got back, where did you land? San Francisco?

RZ:

San Francisco. Yes. I got up under the bridge. I got up there and held the baby in my arms and [unclear] home, and he was an American citizen because both his parents were. And I never had any trouble writing down that I was Mrs. Mike Zule, and never, never anything.

HT:

Where did you go to live after you came back?

RZ:

I stayed six weeks, I think, in Kansas, in Neodesha, and Amarillo, Texas. My best—no, Wichita, she lived, that's right, Wichita.

HT:

By this time you were already out of the service. Is that correct?

RZ:

Yes.

HT:

What was the transition period like for you? Did you have any difficulty adjusting from being in the military and having to take orders?

RZ:

Yes, not having any clothes, the right clothes.

HT:

But you still had your military uniform. I've talked to some ladies who've said that they would convert their military uniforms into civilian clothes by changing buttons and that sort of thing.

RZ:

Oh, I didn't do that. I gave all my stuff to the museum. John Manguso is the curator of the Army Museum in San Antonio [Fort Sam Houston Museum], and I gave all my things there. I ran across my discharge. I think it's in here.

HT:

You mentioned earlier that you really enjoyed army life. Did you ever think about making it a career?

RZ:

Oh, I had the baby.

HT:

Oh, that's right. In those days if you had a child, you couldn't stay in. It's not like it is today.

RZ:

Can you do it now?

HT:

Yes, you can.

RZ:

I didn't know you could do it now.

HT:

I don't know when that was changed, but it hasn't been that long. I was in the air force from 1968 to '72. At that time, if women had babies, they had to leave the service. You couldn't have children and be in the military, so that's all changed in the last thirty years.

RZ:

Oh. If I'd been around then, I don't know.

HT:

So if you had to do it over again, would you join the military again?

RZ:

Yes, absolutely.

HT:

Because you mentioned earlier that you had a real good time.

RZ:

And I don't think I ever got out, because I've been keeping up with—I'm seventy-nine. I decided we should have a reunion. We'd never had a reunion. I knew where six were. So I called a hundred and fifty people, and I got fifty of them with their names, address and telephone numbers. I've got them. I guess I don't have them with me this time, but I have them. I'll show it to you, that list.

HT:

Okay. Any from North Carolina?

RZ:

Yes. One. And Paul Starling[?] is a blind man who's lived here. I've known him for fifty years. He lives in town. He's going to—this is his place he's going to come to, pretty soon, he and his wife. And his first wife, [unclear] Kathleen, was my best friend in the service, and she slept next to me in barracks at Fort Sam. And she died. When she died, she told him to marry her best girlfriend, and he did. And they lived here, and they invited me to the wedding. Well, I never heard of Durham, North Carolina. I couldn't go there, couldn't care less. I didn't come. I'm sorry I didn't, because he has three or four daughters live here.

HT:

How did you end up living in Durham?

RZ:

Well, Bill had a good job in—my son. He's my second son. I never did go into the details about him. But anyway, he is, and just as unconventional as the first one. His job ran out. The project that was—he was a hippie for nineteen years. He gave me a marijuana cookie. Yes. I lost the words. I'm wordless. Let's see now. My back hurts. Anyway, he—I don't know what he did.

HT:

Well, if you think about it later on, we can talk about it. We were talking earlier about your adjustment to civilian life. Let's see, I think you told me about that. I have a couple more questions here, and we'll finish with the official questions. Do you consider yourself to be an independent person?

RZ:

I live in an independent housing place. I guess so.

<
cite>HT:

Well, do you think, looking back fifty, sixty years, do you think the military made you that way, or do you think you were an independent person before you joined the military?

RZ:

I think I was independent.

HT:

Did you ever consider yourself to be a pioneer or a trailblazer or trendsetter? Because at that time not that many women joined the military, so that's kind of an unusual thing for—

RZ:

I'm the only one, exactly the only one from Neodesha.

HT:

Right. So I would classify you as a trendsetter, or definitely a trailblazer. But do you consider yourself those things?

RZ:

Yes, I do. I don't know how many people follow it, but—

HT:

You had mentioned some well—known people that you had met over the years, earlier in our conversation. But what did you think of President Franklin D. Roosevelt?

RZ:

I went to see him one time at Emporia, where his train came through. And the people yelled, or I guess it was, he came on the railroad train, and he got there and he says, “Where's William Allen White?”

And they'd say, “Here is he,” and they boosted him onto the shoulders and took William Allen White up there with the president.

HT:

Who is William Allen White?

RZ:

William Allen White, you don't know?

HT:

No, I'm sorry, I don't.

RZ:

He's a leading, from Emporia, he's a well-known writer, author, newspaperman.

HT:

Oh, okay. And what about Mrs. Roosevelt? Did you ever have a chance to meet her?

RZ:

Never did.

HT:

What did you think of her?

RZ:

She was a go-afterer, go-getter.

HT:

And you had mentioned Douglas MacArthur earlier, and actually having seen him. What did you think of him?

RZ:

Well, I named my boy William Arthur Zule. He thought I named him for King Arthur, and I was naming him for Douglas MacArthur. I had to tell him.

HT:

Okay. And what about President Harry Truman?

RZ:

We went by his house in Kansas City, near Kansas City. I thought he was alright. I don't think much of Bush.

HT:

Do you recall who your heroes and heroines were from the World War II period of time?

RZ:

Of course, I had met Melanie [Olivia de Havilland]. I mean, I liked her as a movie star. She was my heroine in the movie stars, Olivia de Havilland. I don't know who my—

HT:

That's fine. You say you had two sons. Were either one of them in the military?

RZ:

No. Bill. I mean, Tony was gay, and Bill was sent to prison for—I guess we don't tell about that here either.

HT:

Oh, do I need to turn this off?

RZ:

Yes.

[Tape recorder paused]

HT:

We were talking about the military before I turned the tape recorder off, and you said neither one of your sons joined the military. But let me ask you another military-related question. How do you feel about women in combat positions these days? You know, in the last, in the Gulf War, women flew airplanes and I don't know how involved they were in combat, but do you approve of this sort of thing, that women—

RZ:

Not really.

HT:

And why is that?

RZ:

Well, I was—I mean my personal qualifications and everything, I don't think I'd be very good at it. I don't think I'd like killing somebody else.

HT:

Well, as I mentioned earlier in our conversation, that I watched something on TV last night concerning women in the military, and now women can do just about anything they want in the military.

RZ:

Do you think I could get by with all I've done?

HT:

[Laughs] Well, I don't know. But in your day, during World War II, women were very limited in what they could do in the military. There were a lot of nurses and a lot of clerical work and that sort of thing, but now they can do just about anything, aboard airplanes, aircrafts and that sort of thing. Do you think that's for the better or for the worse?

RZ:

I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

HT:

Well, we've covered a variety of things this afternoon. Can you think of anything that you'd like to add to your interview—

RZ:

Let's see if I go through these [shuffling papers], if I see anything.

HT:

—that we haven't covered. Should I go ahead and turn the tape recorder off while you look through those papers?

[Tape recorder paused]

HT:

Mrs. Zule, before we cut off the tape recorder earlier, we were talking about I guess a variety of things, but anyway, the last thing I wanted to ask you is if you would tell me a little bit about your life after you got out of the service, what you did and where you lived and that sort of thing.

RZ:

Well, I was rugged for a while. I went to school and took printing, handset printing at a school for boys. I was the only woman in St. Paul, Minnesota, and thought I [unclear] newspaper [unclear] but it didn't work out that way. Then I sold Childcraft.

HT:

So you were a typesetter?

RZ:

Yes. And then I sold Childcraft magazine, I mean, books, a set of books for children. Can't think of anything I did. Turn it off a little bit. I'm thinking, trying to.

[Tape recorder paused]

RZ:

I got this job, a hundred people in the town, and we lived up there for a year and I taught English 9, English 10, English 11 and English 12, girl's [unclear] 8, 9, and 10, and was the librarian and study hall person and directed the school plays. And there was just too much for me, with two little boys with me. I just didn't do a success of it at all. I knew I didn't, so I wanted to get just as far away from him. He was trying to get me to go back and be married to him and I was not going to do it, and so I got an approval to sell, to take a job in Florida.

And so I said—I had a new car. I'd bought a new car then, a 1956 Chevrolet, and green and yellow kind of. Oh, it was terrible colors. They brought the wrong one. Anyway, we drove from there to Key West, Florida, and went in and I got the job immediately as assistant librarian, and [unclear], and I stayed a year and then somebody else came along that had more hours than I did in library science, and they gave her the job.

So I came back and went to school. All three of us went to school in Emporia, Teachers College, where I had gone. The boys went to the lab school, and I took library work, and got a job out in Ulysses, Kansas. I stayed there one year, and then so they decided not to have a librarian, just let the art person take care of it.

So I went to Austin, Texas, where Tony, my older boy, was. He was working for a blind school, and so I got a job at the blind school. Bill went to school, but he didn't like it very well, because it was a repeat of the things he had studied and done before. He didn't like that. He wanted to skip it. And they didn't like him very well, because he had long hair down here. He came home one time and he said, “Mother, cut my hair.” And he held up two pieces of hair for me to cut. And he wore a peach seed, that my son made for him, polished and everything, and they were going to kick him out for that. And he just was in trouble there. So—can't remember exactly, after that. I can't remember what happened. Then somehow we got to another town, San Antonio, I believe. Turn it off. Can't even remember what we did in San Antonio.

[Tape recorder paused]

HT:

Well, Mrs. Zule, thank you so much for talking with me this afternoon. I appreciate you seeing me and telling me your very interesting stories about your life in the military. It's just been great listening to you. Thanks again.

[End of interview]