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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Joan Kammer Horton, 2000

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Object ID: WV0155.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Joan R. Kammer Horton's background; her experiences in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in the mid-1950s; and her life after her military service.

Summary:

Horton discusses growing up during the Depression; collecting metal, knitting, and working in defense during World War II; the stigma of a German heritage during World War II; President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death; celebrating the end of World War II; shooting at the Coney Island rifle range; and taking the train to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Topics related to Horton’s military service include her reasons for joining the the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve; her parents’ reactions when she joined; basic training, including the advantages of being older than most of the recruits; uncomfortable regulation shoes; a difficult sergeant; trying to teach Women Marines how to shoot; treatment of women Marines by male Marines; the importance of appearance for Women Marines; and the different summer and winter uniforms.

Horton offers her opinion of compulsory military service; married women in the military; women in combat positions. She also discusses her husband’s experiences in the Marines during World War II; becoming an extrovert during her military service; patriotism; living on an island in the Florida Keys; and her volunteer work.

Creator: Joan R. Kammer Horton

Biographical Info: Joan Kammer Horton of Cincinnati, Ohio, served in the U.S. Marine Corps in San Francisco, California, from 1953 until 1957.

Collection: Joan R. Kammer Horton Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Full Text:

EE:

My name is Eric Elliott. I'm with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is an interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the university. Today is December 20, probably three shopping days till Christmas, or four, depending on if your mall is open. We're today near Mocksville, near Cooleemee, out in the country in Davie County, at the home of Joan Horton this morning.

Mrs. Horton, thank you for sitting down with me for the school to talk about your time in service. The questions I have today are not terribly complicated. Probably the most complicated one is the first one I ask, and that is, where were you born, and where did you grow up?

JH:

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I grew up there, stayed there until I went in the service.

EE:

Did you have any brothers and sisters?

JH:

I had one sister, who was fourteen years older than me, so I was basically an only child.

EE:

What did your folks do?

JH:

My mother was a homemaker, and my father worked for the Cincinnati Gas and Electric Company, sold insurance. During the hard times, he did a lot of things, which I now appreciate. I didn't realize it at the time.

EE:

Well, my folks had similar experiences. When the Depression started, you were young enough, only three or four.

JH:

I didn't even know about it.

EE:

That was just the way things were. It wasn't a big change.

JH:

I think about it now. I always had everything I needed, but I can imagine now. I don't understand that they probably sacrificed a lot to do for us.

EE:

But your childhood memories were pleasant ones, then?

JH:

Oh, yes, wonderful.

EE:

You went to school there in Cincinnati. Where did you graduate from high school?

JH:

Seton High School.

EE:

Were you somebody who liked school a lot?

JH:

Did I like school? No, I didn't like school.

EE:

What did you like to do when you were young?

JH:

I was a musician. That's mostly what I did. We did what all the kids did. We played and went to school.

EE:

Were you into sports?

JH:

No, I never was into sports much.

EE:

What kind of music did you play? Were you a piano player?

JH:

I played piano, I played marimba, and I got into percussion later.

EE:

When you were probably just starting high school, ending middle school, [when] Pearl Harbor happened.

JH:

When I was a freshman.

EE:

What do you remember about that day?

JH:

Not really anything, to tell you the truth. I remember more doing news things every day at school. We had to pick something out of the paper, and they called them “current events,” and everybody had a current event that we had to get up and talk about, out of the paper and radio, in school every day, something that happened, and you were devastated when somebody right before you got up and had the same one. You had to have three or four ready, how many ships were sunk or how many people were killed. That's my main memory of the war.

Of course, we collected things. We had big paper drives, and drives for metal, and all those things at school. We knitted, and we got jobs. We went to work when I was only fifteen, really. It was '41, '42, and all the men were gone. So everybody worked.

EE:

Where did you get a job?

JH:

I got a job at Kroger's. They used to make everything.

EE:

This is before they became the grocery store?

JH:

Oh, yes. Well, see, Kroger's started in Cincinnati. There was a little store right by my house. You could just walk to it and buy an eight or ten-cent loaf of bread. They made all their own food, packaged it all. We made Jell-O, we made marshmallows, we made roasted peanuts. We did the whole thing, packaged and shipped them in boxes. We had a great time.

EE:

You did this while going to high school?

JH:

Yes, we did this after school. I think we were only allowed to work so many hours a week and we worked, I think, till nine o'clock. We'd get on the streetcar in our neighborhood, and went down there. The women that worked there full time didn't like us at all, because this was a lark for us. We had a good time. It wasn't the same for them.

EE:

Did you have any inkling of what you wanted to do when you grew up when you were in school?

JH:

I wanted to be a nurse. When the war came along, I think we all kind of changed our ideas. We got into other things. I found out Latin, biology, and all that was a little hard for me. By the third year, I gave that up and went to secretarial work.

EE:

So did you go to secretary school right out of high school?

JH:

No, got it in school. Got a job in a bank.

EE:

You got that bank job before you graduated?

JH:

When I graduated, yes. I worked in the trucking industry when I quit Kroger's, after that first summer working in marshmallows and all that. It wasn't air conditioned, and we had all this stuff floating in there. It was kind of hard. Jell-O, we had all that sugar and stuff in there, and it wasn't agreeing with me, so I went into trucking, and I stayed in that for—I even had a job in trucking after I got out of the service.

EE:

You graduated spring of '45?

JH:

Forty-five.

EE:

Do you remember when President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt passed away?

JH:

Oh, definitely.

EE:

What was that like? Where were you when you—

JH:

I was working billing at the trucking company, and we got the word, and everybody went home. I remember walking home from the streetcar with another lady that I work with, and how bad we felt about it. It was a real bad day. I remember that part.

I also remember the days that—I was there when the war was over, too. I wanted to go downtown for that. Gee, you couldn't even get a streetcar. Things weren't running. Everybody was stopped. But the day he died, I remember very distinctly, because I was sitting at the typewriter typing, and somebody came and told me. Other than that, I don't remember anything about it.

EE:

Did you have anybody in your immediate family or friends who went off to serve in the war?

JH:

Yes. My brother-in-law. He was older. I don't know how old he was, but I thought he was so old, but I guess he wasn't. He's just one of the later ones they took. I laughed when he came in and said one day, “I'll bet I'm going to have to go.”

We just said, “You?” Here I am a teenager. “They aren't going to want you.” I can remember that.

EE:

“You're too old.”

JH:

I thought he was so old, because my sister, see, was fourteen years older than me, and he was older than her.

EE:

Right.

JH:

So, to me, he was very old.

EE:

When did you start having an interest in shooting?

JH:

When I was a little girl.

EE:

But you're a sea girl. What are you going to shoot?

JH:

At Coney Island. Other kids would be on rides. I'd go over to the rifle range spending my quarters on shooting.

EE:

So they've got a Coney Island in Cincinnati?

JH:

Oh, they've got a big one. It's now the one up in Ohio. Kings Island, yes. But it was on the Ohio River. It was a big one, and you took a big riverboat out of Cincinnati, and I don't know how long it took to get—you were going upriver then, so it took a little longer to get up there, and that was a wonderful ride. It was maybe four or five decks, big boat.

You went up there early in the morning, and you spent the whole day there, and came back late at night. They had dancing. They had bands there at night. It was a wonderful thing. Then many years later, it caught fire up in Pittsburgh and burned, and that was devastating.

But every year the floods would flood all the rides, and they couldn't expand anywhere. So then, that's when they moved it to King's Island. But it's still there. They have a big, big pool, and they still have picnic grounds and small rides, I think. But that was a way of life in the summer.

EE:

So you learned to like to shoot?

JH:

My dad used to—I mean, he had a little air gun out in the yard he let me shoot.

EE:

Had he been in the service?

JH:

No. Apparently not. He wasn't at the right age at the right time or something, I guess.

EE:

When did you get your own gun?

JH:

My girlfriend, after we got out of high school, worked at the foundry office. She called me one day and said, “Gee, the foundry superintendent belongs to a rifle club.” She says, “Would you be interested in going?”

I never heard of a rifle club at the time, and I said, “Well, what do they do?” I said, “Sure.”

So we went, and she didn't know anything about it. She just went—I don't know why she went. But we got into that club, and got really into it then. Of course, I went whole hog. At the time, that would have been '47, maybe, somewhere along in there.

EE:

How unusual was it for the rifle club to have a woman of your age coming in and shooting?

JH:

Well, we had one lady that was probably in her fifties fire. I think maybe one or two of the wives came a little bit.

EE:

This wasn't pistols you were using? What were you using?

JH:

No, at that time, we were doing rifles. This was a rifle club, but some of the fellows did fire a pistol, but I never got into it much until I got in the service, and then I got into that big time, too. We went up to Columbus and fired in the Ohio state matches up there and then up to Camp Perry and fired—

EE:

So you started the competitive right off the bat?

JH:

Yes, because I found out, this is my thing. I was good at it, and I really enjoyed it.

EE:

When you got out of school, you were working first at the bank?

JH:

The bank, yes.

EE:

And then the trucking company?

JH:

Well, I worked at the trucking company all the time I was in high school, too, part time. Sometimes I worked there full time, depending on what I was doing.

EE:

Were you living at the house?

JH:

I stayed at home until I went in the service. Everybody lived at home.

EE:

Well, housing was so tight, too, after the war.

JH:

Whoever heard of not living at home until you got married? You graduated from high school, you got a job, you got married, and that was home. A couple of girls—I think only maybe two girls out of our class went in to be nurses, but everybody else—I don't think anybody went to college in those days.

EE:

Do you remember what you thought or what your folks thought about the new thing in the war for women, of belonging to the services?

JH:

I don't remember. I don't think they were shocked at anything that I came up with in those days.

EE:

But when you were in high school, that wasn't on your selection?

JH:

Oh, no, not during the war. I wish now that, like you say, after the war it was not a thing. I was too young during the war. No, I never thought anything about it.

EE:

I think you had to be twenty-one, didn't you?

JH:

Probably did. Well, no, not when I went in.

EE:

Eighteen for the Marines.

JH:

Eighteen when I went in. But some of them were just out of high school. But see, I was twenty-five at the time.

EE:

You stayed there working at the trucking company. What was the name of the trucking company?

JH:

I worked for Commercial Motor Freight of Ohio.

EE:

Were you working with them through the time that you joined the service?

JH:

No. I was with OK Trucking, but I worked for both of them. Full time at one, part time—I always stayed with Commercial Motor Freight part time for years and years. But I worked for OK Trucking when I went in the service. There was Commercial Motor Freight of Indiana, too. I helped out there, too.

One day I worked for all three of them in one day. But I'm just telling you, I worked at OK all day, and then I went over at night and billed for Ohio, and a friend of mine over at Indiana, which was in another part of town, called. “I don't have a bill clerk. Can you come over when you get done?” When I got done there, I went over and billed at the other place. It was very confusing trying to work at three different companies in one day.

EE:

How did you like that career as it was developing? Did you like the work? Is that something you wanted to stay in? Obviously, at some point, you decided you wanted a change.

JH:

Well, I wasn't going anywhere. You know, I was busy. I was shooting, and I was working. I didn't have any steady boyfriends, anymore. I had a couple, you know, on the way, and I didn't see that I was doing anything.

EE:

Had you traveled much outside of the Ohio area when you were younger?

JH:

No, never went anywhere. No. My cousin and I went to New Orleans a year after I got out of high school, went on the train. I'd never been anywhere. I didn't have a car, so you didn't go anywhere. She hadn't been anywhere either, and her aunt lived down there. So we were going to go down there on our vacation. Wouldn't you know, the morning we were supposed to go, Monday morning at nine o'clock, there was a rail strike. We didn't know what we were going to do. So my dad said, “Well, we'll get you down to the train, and if it goes, it goes. If it don't, it don't.”

So he took us down there and put us on the train, and we sat and waited. Eventually, they called the strike off. I think [Harry S.] Truman was president then, and they called the strike off, said they had to go back to work. So off we went, and that was our first big trip.

Years and years later, after I met my husband—he loved to talk. I wish you could talk to him. He was overseas, back and forth to California, many times back and forth, but at that time, he was in San Francisco. Of course, the strike was there, too, and they needed to run the trains from San Francisco to L.A. and everywhere else. So they were going to put Marines on the trains.

That morning, the same time that the strike was called off, he was sitting in a train. He was going to drive a diesel train—how he was going to do that, I don't know—from San Francisco to L.A. He was sitting there, all ready to go. I was sitting in Cincinnati waiting to go.

EE:

So you both were affected by that—

JH:

I went, but he didn't get to go. But can you imagine the coincidence of that happening? He said he was devastated, because he was going to drive the train.

EE:

He was going to be an engineer, every little boy's dream.

JH:

Driving a diesel train. I don't know if he knew anything about it or not, you know. The Marines, they can do anything, you know.

EE:

Do you remember the impact—you were working at the trucking company when the Korean conflict started in '52.

JH:

I don't remember anything about that. It didn't affect us at all.

EE:

You ended up joining the service in December of '53. What did your folks think about that decision?

JH:

Well, like I said, they kind of went along with anything that I was going to do. I really don't know. They never said much. They came from a German background, and they didn't talk that much. They didn't talk about family. My father had a half-brother that I never even heard of until he died. They just never talked about things.

EE:

How did it feel being a German-American family during the war? Were they concerned about that? Did you have relatives that you kept in contact with overseas?

JH:

No, but my grandmother lived with us. Now, her parents were from Germany, but she was old, at the time, and blind, but she lived with us all my mother and dad's married life. She spoke German. My mother and father spoke German until they were maybe in the fifth grade.

EE:

Cincinnati is a very—

JH:

It's a very German town. They all knew the German, but at the time, everything stopped, and that was a shame, because it just died out, just like that. I think now I could have been fluent at the language, and I had to go to school in later years, not too long ago, when I was going to Germany, to study German. I could have known it. My grandmother used to teach me some of the songs.

EE:

People were afraid if they were heard talking German, they'd think they were Nazi sympathizers.

JH:

There is a big road sign up in a park in Cincinnati talking about how everything changed there. They changed the names of the streets in the town, because see, it was settled, and an awful lot of the streets had German names. I've got a picture of that, of all of the streets that were changed from a German name to an English name. That's a shame, looking back on it now. And to think that so many people were afraid to speak the German. But I can still hear her accent.

EE:

I've talked to a number of people about how it was they made the decision to join the service. For some of them, it's through recruiting posters. For some, it's through a friend. You were telling me before we started this interview a story which is different from a lot of the ones I hear about why people got interested in the service. Tell me about how you got interested in the Marines.

JH:

Well, I went up to the matches at Camp Perry, Ohio.

EE:

As part of the competition at the rifle range?

JH:

Yes. I just wanted to watch it, because we weren't in it.

EE:

What was this? Fifty-two? Fifty-three?

JH:

It was '53.The summer of '53, when I made it to the national matches. All the Marines were running all the pits, you know that—well, you're not a shooter. On [a] big bore competition, you're way out there, I mean, out in the open. You have a pit down underneath all these big targets. Some of these are five hundred feet away, one thousand feet. They're way out there.

Underneath it, it's like a cement pit there, with benches. These big targets are up there. They probably do it different now, but then they were on the chain thing. They ran down, and somebody fired, and you had to pull the thing down, and you covered up the holes that they made. Then they put up a flag telling you what you hit. Your spotter back there could tell you where you hit and what it was, a nine, or a ten, or a five, or whatever. That was the pit crew back there. The Marines did that. I mean, that's a big thing on big bore matches. I don't know about nowadays, but that was a big thing.

The Marines were doing that. The Marines were all the scorekeepers. You had a big chart behind each spot where you shoot, and all the scores were marked. He had to watch your spot out there to see what flag they put up, black things with numbers on them. He had binoculars, and he had to watch, and he'd keep your score for you. It was all Marines, and I was very impressed.

Of course, all the shooters were people from all over the country, from services and civilian. Some were civilian matches. Some were service matches. That impressed me. I thought, “This is what I need to get into.”

EE:

You told me you even sat down and wrote a letter?

JH:

Yes, I wrote to the commandant of the Marine Corps.

EE:

Just on the basis of that day?

JH:

Yes, I told him, what do I do about—I didn't know anything about recruiting.

EE:

Were there any women out there that day?

JH:

I don't remember. Women Marines? No. These were all men from—where were they from? What's over at the coast?

EE:

Quantico? Cherry Point? Lejeune?

JH:

Lejeune. They were all from Lejeune.

EE:

Did the commandant write you back?

JH:

Yes, he wrote me back. Somewhere I've got the letter. He told me how to go about it.

EE:

Was he encouraging?

JH:

Oh, yes. He couldn't promise anything.

EE:

You were wanting to actually shoot as part of the—

JH:

Yes. I had been doing this, and that's what he said. He said he couldn't promise that I would get to do anything. I don't know where that letter is. I've got boxes of stuff. We had such an interesting life. After my husband retired, I've got boxes of stuff I have to do something about.

EE:

This was the summer of '53. You went back. Was there a recruiting station in Cincinnati?

JH:

I didn't know anything about recruiting.

EE:

When you went down to the recruiting station, did you say, “I'm here, and by the way, I want to be a shooter”?

JH:

I don't remember.

EE:

Did they say, “What type of work would you like to do?” Did they give you that kind of option?

JH:

I don't remember. That was '53. I just don't remember.

EE:

But apparently, you did express some preference on where you wanted to be? Or was that after basic?

JH:

I don't think they gave you any choices. You just went. You had to get through that first. We had eight weeks of basic boot camp. Then while we were there, we filled out a paper that said, “What kind of thing would you like to get into?”

The first thing I put on there was the motor pool, because I love to drive, and I thought, “That would get me out, and I could really do something.” But there was nothing in the way of shooting for women at the time, so couldn't put anything like that down. I probably put down there that I wanted to do that. I don't know. But they just wanted to know that.

I put the air wing for the second choice, because I loved airplanes and knew quite a bit about them at the time. I don't remember my third choice.

EE:

But I'll bet you that was on your job description or resume, I guess.

JH:

Right, but of all the places in the Marine Corps, that was the plushiest office job you could get, at the Department of the Pacific in San Francisco. The HQS [Headquarters Marine Corps] in Washington was good, but San Francisco was the best.

EE:

Let me ask you, because basic is something that everybody goes through. You had an older sister, but you were saying it was almost like being an only child because she was so much older than you. You go from that attention of mom and dad and just you to basic, where you're with all sort of new strangers and friends, sharing things, without a lot of privacy. How was basic for you? What did you think of it?

JH:

It was tough. We got there in the middle of the night. We got there on the train. I was the oldest one. I was twenty-five. The other ones were all eighteen, nineteen, twenty. There were just a few of us that were my age in the whole group. I was in charge, when we left Cincinnati, of these girls on the train. We went on a Pullman. I'd never been on a Pullman. I had all the tickets for our lunch. We had to stop off in Savannah, [Georgia,] or somewhere and change trains or something. I had all the lunch tickets. I had to see that they were fed. This was something for me.

EE:

They just gave you the responsibility because you're the oldest? “Here, you take care of this”?

JH:

The oldest one, yes. We got there in the middle of the night, and some man Marine came to pick us up at the train station. He said, “If any of you smoke, do it now, because you're about finished with that,” which I didn't. I can remember him saying that.

They took us over to the recruit depot, took us up to this squad bay. They just had little nightlights on. This was maybe two, three o'clock in the morning. It was a Saturday night. They said, “Find a bunk. Here's some sheets. We'll see you in the morning.”

They gave us a piece of paper with the ten general orders. Do you know what general orders are?

EE:

Rules.

JH:

“Know these by tomorrow.” I don't know them, yet. I don't memorize well at all, but we were supposed to know that by the next day. Well, we were horrified. I mean, you couldn't even see. It was dark. You had to grope around, find an empty bunk. There were two—what do they call them? Double bunks?

EE:

Bunk beds.

JH:

So we threw some sheets on and collapsed there. Then the next morning, like five o'clock, the whistle blew, and everybody jumped up, and the lights came on, and there we were. It was pretty devastating, really. We were just in a fog. Luckily, it was Sunday. That was our only hope that we'll make it through the day. It was rough. It was really rough. A lot of the girls left. They were in tears half of the time, a lot of them. They got out of high school, and they went right down there. Never been—

EE:

So it was a high attrition? A lot of them didn't make it through basic?

JH:

I wouldn't say a lot of them, but there were some that didn't. A lot of them had a very hard time. I could look at it different, because I was a little older. I could see a lot of the reasons why they did a lot of the things that they did, because they had to get you away from home. That was the thing. I wasn't used to being away from home, but I was used to being—you know, I was older, on my own. I'd worked for a long time, and I could look at things a little different.

We were there for Christmas. The reason I went there for Christmas, we were going to fire in the Ohio state matches in February. I should have waited until afterwards. It was a big mistake. I thought, “Well, I'll go in in December, and then by February, I'll be home on leave, and I can fire in the state matches,” because I had a good chance of winning the state championship that year. But being away those two months really ruined it, because I didn't do well. I did go for it, but we were there for Christmas, so that was lucky, because a lot of the DIs [drill instructors] were gone, and we had it a little easier.

New Year's Eve, I guess they thought, “Well, we've got to jack them up somehow,” so they had us clean the barracks that evening after supper. So about nine o'clock or ten—I don't know when it was—they came for inspection. You could have ate off of anything, you know. Had to be clean, and we were cleaning. They came and said, “Everything is filthy dirty in here. Do it over.” Came in with two buckets of sand, and they dumped one down one aisle and one down the other way. “Now, clean it up, and we want to see this place clean this time.” I mean, they were even up on top of the window frames checking to see if there was any dirt or dust. Well, that struck me as hilarious, because all I could think of was, “I wonder which one of them had to go out and get this bucket of sand?” That's all I could think of.

EE:

They worked hard to do this.

JH:

They were probably mad because they had to be there. So some of these young girls, I mean, they just went to pieces. They just went into tears. They just got hysterical. I thought it was hilarious, and they caught me laughing. So I got called on the carpet for that. But they still wanted to know what I thought was so funny. I didn't tell them what I thought, “Which one of you did this?”

But I'll never forget that, the schoolgirls that were so devastated. But what they were doing was trying to keep our minds off of the fact that it was New Year's Eve, and here we were in a barracks.

EE:

There is a lot of mental conditioning. They kind of deter you with the physical work of basic training, but it's mental.

JH:

Oh, it reeks of it. I mean, they have to change your life completely, but when you're eighteen, you don't think of those things. When you're twenty-five, you do.

EE:

What was the toughest part of basic for you? Was being away from home a problem for you?

JH:

No, no. I adjusted to that pretty well. I had a lot of trouble with my feet. They had a lot of shoes that were left over from World War II, and I've got big feet, and apparently, the larger sizes, they had a lot left over. We called them “grandma shoes.” They had about an inch-and-a-half heel on them. They tied up the front, and they looked like grandma shoes. They were just horrible looking.

During the Second World War, they were fine, but in 1953, they weren't. But they had to use those up, and I got some of those, and they did not work with my feet, and I had trouble with my ankles and my heels the whole time I was in. I was over in sick bay a lot.

EE:

You were doing a lot of drill, weren't you?

JH:

Yes, and I love to drill, and that's what did it. Those were the shoes we had to wear when we drill. That was just making it worse. They put me in these whirlpools, and I'd feel good, and then I'd put those shoes back on. I kept telling them, “It's these shoes.” I said, “The other shoes don't hurt my feet. Can't I wear them?”

“No, you have to wear these.”

There were two of us like that, had the same problem. But if this is what you do, this is what you do.

EE:

Right.

JH:

So I had trouble the whole time I was there. I had to have my ankles bandaged up a lot, but I loved to drill.

EE:

Did they teach you about rifles while you were there?

JH:

No.

EE:

Did you go on bivouac?

JH:

No, we didn't do anything like that then. We did office work.

EE:

So you were doing testing for your competency?

JH:

Well, everybody did that. You had to learn how to read all the Marine Corps stuff, and there was all different civilian things. You had to learn all about military justice, what they call JAG now. That's what we had classes on. What does JAG stand for? Judge Advocate General.

EE:

Judge Advocate General.

JH:

Yes, that was something we had to study. I hated that class. That was boring. Of course, to drill. I don't know. We went to class all the time. We learned a lot, things that were all together different. You had to learn to write up the way they do their secretarial work, which is confusing.

EE:

Were your instructors women or men or both?

JH:

Both. Our DI, our drill instructor was a man, and under him was a woman.

EE:

Marine drill instructors have a reputation which has always preceded them.

JH:

They were.

EE:

Were they just as tough on the women as they were on the men?

JH:

Oh, yes, yes.

EE:

Just as flattering in their language and personal—

JH:

Well, their language was okay. There wasn't any bragging about the language, but he made you feel like crumbs all the time, you know, both of them. And she—I don't know the sergeant. Her name was Sergeant Marion, and she was just a—don't print that because you might interview her some day, but she was a sourpuss. That's about the best thing I could call her.

One day, I happened to be walking back from one of these episodes with my feet, and she was coming along, and that was unusual to walk along if you're a DI, you know, and she never smiled. It was about time to graduate, and I had already got my orders for San Francisco. Of course, that didn't mean anything to me, except I was a long ways from home. I think she knew what it was. She knew I was going into something pretty good.

She said, “How are you going?”

I said, “I'm going to drive.”

“You're going to drive? You've got a car?”

I says, “Yeah, I've got a car at home.”

“Well, you don't want to take the car. You don't want to take the car up there at all.” She just thought that was terrible. She said, “Well, you just really need to get rid of that car.”

She was so insistent that I dump that car. I would have been completely lost without that car. I drove with another girl that was from Kentucky. I picked her up, and we drove out there together, went into Southern California. I mean, we went cross country in February, had a wonderful trip, lovely. Went in, went up to San Francisco, never had a bit of trouble. I kept that car until well after I was married, I think.

EE:

You were telling me before where you were stationed, Department of the Pacific, was downtown in a building that used to be the supply depot.

JH:

It was the supply depot.

EE:

And still was used there?

JH:

Oh, yes, but it wasn't as big as it was during the war, of course.

EE:

Because of when you went in in '53, the Korean conflict was over, at least the active part of it for Americans. We had a major peacekeeping force there. It's amazing that thing has taken fifty years to be resolved. Just the last year the two Koreas have—

JH:

Still don't have a side.

EE:

Still don't have a side, but that may be getting there. But that office, one of their main tasks was reassigning Marines coming back from Korea. Was your CO [commanding officer] a man there at that place?

JH:

Yes. I had one woman major, but just what their particular jobs were, I don't know. We had a general. We had a warrant officer who was an adjutant. We had a man colonel. We had a woman major, woman captain. We also had the embarkation center for officers, going back and forth from overseas. That was a big one. That was under us.

EE:

What was the ratio of men to women in that office? Mostly women?

JH:

I'd say it was—I don't know, maybe half and half. Good many of each.

EE:

About how many folks all together?

JH:

Maybe twenty-five.

EE:

In that department where you were working.

JH:

I'm just trying to picture how many little offices we had. Oh, maybe ten. That's just a guess. It was small. It was small. But it was big time, but it was a small place.

EE:

Where was your house then? Did you have your own apartment?

JH:

We were on subs and quarters. We had our own apartments. We were paid extra.

EE:

Subsidy for your housing?

JH:

And we got uniform subsidy, too. So I made out good. Another girl and I had our own apartment together.

EE:

What was the nine-to-five work like for you, typical? What was a typical day like for you when you were there?

JH:

Drove to work, used my car, went down the freeway. Just reported in to work, like you do in a regular office. Of course, we wore uniforms. That was the only difference. Went to lunch, ate at the cafeteria. When the day was over, you went home.

Later—not in the beginning, I don't think, but we had to stand duty in later years. Once in a while, we had to stand duty, but I never did any KP [kitchen police] or anything like that.

EE:

You didn't go on bivouac?

JH:

No, I never did anything like that.

EE:

It's amazing to me some people—

JH:

Well, now they do, maybe. I don't know what they do now.

EE:

Yes, right, they do. Did you ever do any shooting while you were in the service?

JH:

Oh, yes, sure. The first day I got there, naturally, that was my bottom line for me. I checked in one day, checked my papers in and everything. I said, “Have you got a rifle range here?”

“Oh, yeah. It's over in the supply depot.”

So I went down to see where it was, and I came out in charge. The man who turned out to be my husband was away at a match. The warrant officer, who was over the whole thing, had to try to teach a group of women to shoot. They wanted to have a rifle club, .22 rifle club. They had a nice range there, indoor range. Well, boy was he glad to see me.

EE:

Can relate to these women.

JH:

He said, “I can get rid of this job until Carl gets back.” So he put me in charge of the whole operation.

EE:

This is the first day?

JH:

First day I was there. I was in, see. That was all I wanted to do, anyway. I had my foot in. So he wrote to Carl, who was in charge, who was down in Southern California, Camp Matthews, to a match.

EE:

Was Carl the guy who was in charge of this normally?

JH:

Yes, he was the one who was in charge of teaching these women to shoot. So this warrant officer wrote to him and told him, “I got a Woman Marine checked in that's taking over your job.” Why, he was thrilled to death, because he didn't want to do it either.

But these girls didn't know anything about shooting. They thought, “Oh, this will get us in with the fellows.” See, this was the in. “Oh, we'll go down and shoot, and we'll get to meet these guys and all that.” None of them could shoot. It was almost hopeless. I did the best I could.

I was glad then when Carl got back, because he was master sergeant, and he was really in charge. Then after he got back, he took over. So we did it together, and then we started going together and eventually got married. That's how I met him.

EE:

So shooting became very important for you for many, many reasons.

JH:

It's been my whole life for a long, long time, yes. Hated to give it up, but there comes a point after we got out and used up all the ammunition we came home out of the service with. Then you had to start buying it yourself.

We start loading—well, he didn't shoot anymore. I did. I taught all my kids to shoot. My boys and I got into loading our own, but it's still expensive. They had a club over in Winston[-Salem, North Carolina]. They had a kind of nice club. We had an outdoor range, which was over here in Davie County, but in 1973 I just gave it up. It was getting too expensive.

EE:

Do your kids still shoot for fun or for competition?

JH:

My youngest boy still has some guns. I gave my M-1, which I was lucky enough to be able to buy from the government, to my oldest son, just to keep. He don't shoot. The other son did quite a bit of shooting, but I think he sold all his guns. I don't think he does it anymore. But the youngest one still does some. The last thing he did was paint ball [unclear].

EE:

That's a popular thing.

JH:

He went to something not too long ago. It had to do with shooting, too, but they never—

EE:

So when you were in, the Women Marines who were shooting, it was purely as another recreational outlet. Like a softball team, this was a rifle team.

JH:

That's what they were doing it for.

EE:

But they were looking to—

JH:

That's all they did. They never got any further with it.

EE:

If Carl didn't want to, and if nobody else wanted to mess with teaching the women how to shoot, how was the work environment? You had been to an office environment before going into the Marines. What was the treatment by men Marines of Women Marines, in general?

JH:

Oh, fine. I never had a bit of a problem in all the time I was in. I never, ever had a problem with anyone. Most of the time, I traveled with men's teams, but they always looked out for me. I'd go to a lot of these bases where there were no facilities for women. If I had to use the facilities, they took me over there and stood guard at the door, until I came out.

EE:

Sort of like a bunch of brothers, then, wasn't it?

JH:

They looked after me really well, but maybe if it hadn't been for Carl, maybe they wouldn't have. I don't know. But I mean, they really looked after me and really treated me well. I always had all the help I needed carrying my equipment, whatever. They were really good to me.

EE:

So your experience was good with the work. When you were in the service, it doesn't sound like you were ever in a position where you were actually, because of your work, afraid or in danger?

JH:

Not at work.

EE:

So that was a good experience. What was impression of San Francisco and that area?

JH:

Oh, I loved it. That's the place. We went back many years later. It's not the same as it was then, but I really loved it then. Of course, all the troop ships were coming back, and every one that came in had a huge, big roster of men that had to be reassigned, which is what we did.

For every ship that came in, all the Marines—I guess everybody that had to be on it. I guess there were navy people, too. I don't know. But there's a club, or there was then, in downtown San Francisco, Marine Memorial Association. They had a big hotel there, a big, big hotel. They used it for transient families and things. It had a ballroom and dining room. It's a big place. I'm sure it must be still there.

They sponsored a dance for every ship that came in, for all the men. We were expected to go to all these parties. Sometimes we went to parties every night in the week, if there were three or four troop ships came in. But they invited the WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service-U.S. Navy] and the WACs [Women's Army Corps] and women that they could get to go to these parties. But I tell you, we got kind of tired of going.

EE:

Now, that sounds a little bit like a self-fulfilling prophesy, because one of the things, the rumors that went around when they first started the women in the services in World War II, was that they basically were like camp followers, hanging around, women who were looking for men only.

JH:

Maybe there were some. I don't know. I never knew any. I never knew anybody that went in for anything except these girls [that] wanted to shoot because they thought this was going to be a big thing. But other than that, no, I don't think that I knew of anybody that had that in mind.

EE:

When did you make sergeant?

JH:

Oh, I don't know.

EE:

Was it right before your discharge? Or have you been that far along?

JH:

I have to look at my things here, but I don't know when I got it. I've got some of them here. I don't know which one.

EE:

When you were in in the fifties, I think the military was sort of taking the lead, certainly the American society at large, in integrating the services. Were there ever any African American Women Marines when you were in, that you worked with?

JH:

We had one girl that was Indian, American Indian. We had one girl that came from South America. She was Spanish. Now, I don't know how she got in our service. I don't know.

When we got our clothes back, before we came home—of course, we wanted to get back in our civilian clothes and put them on again. Her clothes were so different than mine and ours. She was a big girl, and I took a picture because her clothes were—you know, you wore different stuff down in South America. But I don't know how she got in. I don't know. But I don't remember any black girls.

EE:

There was a strong emphasis on the look as a Woman Marine, wasn't there?

JH:

Oh, yes. Oh, gosh. They sent us to beauty school in San Francisco. All the girls from the supply depot and the girls from the Department of the Pacific, we went downtown, and they signed us up for this course to learn how to put makeup on, how to fix your hair, how to walk with a book on your head, how to walk properly, how to dress.

If you were any overweight, they had exercise machines there. They weren't the kind they have now. They put you on it. We had to do that. We had to go through that whole course.

EE:

Was this just the local office directive, or was this a thing they were putting a lot of the Women Marines through?

JH:

I don't know what they were doing anywhere else. This was in San Francisco for the two departments, Supply Depot and the Department of the Pacific, all of those had to go.

EE:

Was that a good course? Did you learn—

JH:

Oh, it was wonderful. I've still got those papers. They measured you. When you finished up, they kept checking on you to see if you were shaping up the way you were supposed to be, because some of the girls were kind of overweight.

EE:

Was there a regular PT [physical training] requirement where you had to—

JH:

No, no. This was just something. There was some kind of table you went on. They stretched your arm and shifted your muscles somehow. I don't know what it was. But they had all these courses on makeup. Of course, in those years, you didn't make up like they do today. So that was new.

EE:

Wasn't it? I think Revlon had a shade of red for the lipstick that was supposed to be the same color as the braid.

JH:

Yes, yes. You had to wear that same color of lipstick.

[Begin Tape 1, Side B]

JH:

The scarves that we wore with the winter overcoats were also red and were wool and I was allergic to that. The greens and khaki shirts were wool blends so it was a big problem for me. I lined those pieces that touched my neck with silk to match and had to be certain it did not show when worn or when it was put out for inspection. Had it been noticed I would not only have been in trouble I probably would have had to remove it.

We didn't wear our winter uniforms very often. Most of the time in San Francisco you could wear a summer uniform for winter, because our weather there was so different than it was anywhere else. In the middle of summer, you might have your winters on.

EE:

Did you have a seersucker for the summer?

JH:

Those were just going out. I've got them, but those were just going out when I went in. They had just changed over to a new winter uniform and a new summer uniform. The winter uniform—see, I've got double of everything. It's a green with a little green shirt and a little green tie.

But the other one that they had during the Second World War was khaki, and it was a longer jacket. It looked better on me. So I wore that. We had our choice, to wear either one, and I wore that right up to when they said, “You can't wear them anymore,” because it looked better, and it was a khaki tie.

EE:

Better tailored, you mean?

JH:

Yes. Well, the other ones were designed by a designer, but they didn't fit my figure very well. Then a couple of us, the other one fit, and we wore them up to a certain point, and then they said, “You can't wear them anymore,” and then they were out.

EE:

This is the—

JH:

That's when I made sergeant.

EE:

So you made sergeant the first of April of '56. I guess when you sign on, there's a three-year enlistment, is the standard enlistment?

JH:

Three, yes.

EE:

How long had Carl been in?

JH:

Oh, he was in before the war. He was in the CCC. Are you familiar with that?

EE:

Civilian Conservation Corps?

JH:

Arkansas. All his brothers were there, because they didn't have anything out there. Then when the war came along, they went in, and that's how he went in the service. When the war was declared, he was up in Mare Island Naval Shipyard [California], and he went on board ship and went right over to Pearl Harbor then. So he was in in '41, and he was only about sixteen. He lied about his age, which was a mistake, because when he died, the Marine Corps thought he was one age, and the Social Security thinks he's another age, so he was going to be without anything from the government for two years. He died, and I tried to get the Marine Corps to change that, but they wouldn't.

He was a trucker then, and was up in Indiana, and he was sick, and he went into a motel, and he ended up in the hospital. Well, first, he wouldn't let them take him to a hospital, and I think that was why, because this was just a few days—let's see.

His birthday was on the third, and on the first he went in to a different category that he wouldn't be covered. Although his age was right, the Marine Corps didn't think so, you see, and I think that's why he wouldn't let them take him to a hospital, because we were going to have to pay for it, because I wasn't there. If he was here, he'd have been there. He died because he didn't get to the hospital. So that was a shame.

I tried to get the Marine Corps to change the records, but they didn't do it, because some of the funeral expenses and everything could have been paid, but nobody would change anything, so we were kind of stuck on that, and that was a shame, because he'd still be here today, if it hadn't been for that.

EE:

During the time he was in the service that he was working, was he stationed in Hawaii the whole time?

JH:

Oh, no. Of course, during the war, he was out in the Pacific, and he was in Hawaii, and he was back to Camp Pendleton [California]. He was back to Hawaii again, and he was in San Francisco a couple of times, supply depot. He was back and forth.

EE:

You all at some point, during this steady relationship, made the decision that obviously affected whether you would reenlist.

JH:

Yes.

EE:

When did y'all get married?

JH:

We got married August of '57.

[Conversation about home décor omitted.]

EE:

You got married in August of '57?

JH:

They gave me orders. You get them sometime before your enlistment is up. They had me set up to do recruiting duty, and there was a chance there I could have went back home. They will send you home, if they can. But here he had got transferred from San Francisco to Twentynine Palms, [California] which is down in the desert, then up to Seattle. That was going to—

EE:

Take you two apart.

JH:

I would have stayed in and gone up there, because they had one staff sergeant billet that was open, which I was ready to go for staff, and I could have got that, but they just reassigned somebody to it. So I didn't have any choice. There was no billet open up there, and I wasn't going to go on recruiting duty, because that would have got me further away. So that's why I got out.

EE:

So you got out before you two actually decided to get married?

JH:

We had decided, yes.

EE:

So you had set a date?

JH:

But we had some church problems that we had to iron out, that took us a long time. That was the holdup here. So I was up there, then, until—when was that? See, we got engaged in 1954. We got engaged—let's see. When did I meet him? I didn't know him too long, because we started to go together as soon as he came back. On the Marine Corps birthday, the tenth of November.

EE:

Fifty-four?

JH:

1954. See, then, we didn't get married until '57. That was the holdup. After I got up to Seattle, yes, we got married in August. The holdup was between 1954 and 1957. We got things straightened out.

EE:

So unlike a lot of the people I've talked to, where they were maybe socializing with a lot of the other people they worked with, you all sort of knew right off the bat in your experience, that was sort of your social life, was dating? You didn't have a lot of interaction with the other folks, other than the parties—

JH:

Not a whole lot, no. Not a whole lot, because we weren't on the base. I think people on base—

EE:

Had a different environment.

JH:

I went down to Camp Pendleton one time to a match. They put me in a barracks. Well, I didn't have to be out on the range—you know, that next morning at five o'clock, it's just like boot camp. The lights were on, the radios were on, the hair dryers are going, everybody's yelling and screaming. I was used to living in an apartment. I said, “I can't stand this.” So I moved out of there, and I got myself a motel room. I never stayed on the base again at a match. But they sent me all over.

EE:

You were competing against men.

JH:

Yes.

EE:

How did your competitors view you, maybe looking over their shoulder? There's a woman shooting.

JH:

Oh, they got used to it. You meet the same people at all these matches, so they got used to you.

EE:

So you become buddies with them, even though you—

JH:

Oh, yes. I was just another one of the guys. I mean, they just treated me like everybody else. They looked after me, you know. I was a shooter. You're a shooter first, you know. Whatever you've got on, what you are doesn't matter. You're a shooter, and that score up there is what counts.

EE:

Both you and your husband were in service, and today, because of the volunteer army, and the fact we've been largely at peacetime for thirty years, with a few flukes here and there, fewer and fewer families have experience with the military. What would you say is the biggest misconception that nonmilitary folks have about the military?

JH:

I don't know. I guess they think that it's unnecessary, that we don't need it, which I think we do. I think that all young fellows should have to put in at least a year in the service, when they get out of high school. Even if they're going to college, I think military training should be a must.

EE:

For men and women?

JH:

No, not for women. Volunteer for their part. I don't think these days we really need the women at all. I really don't approve of a lot of the things they're doing. We went to a convention over on the coast one year, and I don't know where we were, Savannah or somewhere, and they took us up to Parris Island [South Carolina], and we had a get-together up there, and we went in the first day, and they took us in the auditorium and told us all the things that they were doing.

A captain was up there, a woman captain, just came off of maternity leave. Of course, we were mostly older people, you know. She says, “I know what you're thinking. I can see the looks on your face.” She says, “We even now have maternity uniforms.”

“Ah!” You could hear a gasp. I think that's completely unnecessary. When I was in, I was restricted from doing a lot of things. By all their rules, I couldn't go here and there to shoot, because I was a woman. When I was pregnant and a reserve, I had to get out when my uniform got a little tight. That was just the reserves. I could have done a lot of good, staying in the reserves, you know.

EE:

So that was the reason you got out, was because—

JH:

I had to.

EE:

That was a requirement that you go?

JH:

I had to. The major, one day she says, “I think your uniform's getting a little tight. I think you're just going to have to go out.” Now, I didn't want to do that.

EE:

So you could be married and be in the reserves. During the war, too, if you were married, you had to leave the service as a woman.

JH:

Did you?

EE:

Yes, but here you could stay in, but you went ahead and left—

JH:

Even if you're on active duty and you got pregnant, for any reason, you were out.

EE:

You were out.

JH:

So I didn't want to get out. I would have liked to have stayed in there.

EE:

They have so expanded the roles open to women. Two years ago, we had the first woman combat pilot go to Baghdad [Iraq] on a pilot mission. I guess you're not in favor of women in combat?

JH:

Maybe in those kind of specialized things, where they have to have an awful lot of training, you know, pilots, for instance, maybe. But just foot soldiers and anything like that, I can't see. And I can't see women in the service having babies, getting maternity leave, come back like nothing happened, and then worry about children. That's the big problem, when they go off. What about these children?

A lot of times when the men aren't in service, they have to stay home. I just don't think—I guess I'm too old fashioned. I think women sort of belong at home.

EE:

But it's a real practical problem. Somebody's got to cover the household.

JH:

That's right. Unless it's wartime, then maybe things are different. But I don't think the women are really needed that much now. I don't know.

EE:

You joined, and you say rather than getting to enjoy some of your work part, your work was not different from what you had done as a civilian. If a woman was coming up to you today and said, “I'm thinking about joining the service,” what would your advice to her be?

JH:

It would depend on her age. If she was just a high school kid—my granddaughter decided she was going to join the Marines. Well, she luckily quit that idea, because I don't think she really would have been good at it. But some people are suited for it. It depends on why they want to go in. “Why do you want to be in the service? What is it you want to do?”

Of course, there are some really great people in the service. I'm not putting it down any, but I just don't see the need for combat. That was your original question, combat. But I guess we do need a backup force. It has to go on all the time, so that if we need it, it's not something that has to be started over from scratch or anything like that.

EE:

You all were in Seattle. How long did Carl stay in the service?

JH:

Until he retired in '69.

EE:

So you all moved around a lot with him, then, with his different—

JH:

No, we just went to Seattle, and then we went to Bremerton [Washington] to the shipyard, which is just across the water.

EE:

Right across the water, yes. So you didn't really—

JH:

He retired there. We didn't go very far.

EE:

So you all didn't have to travel, traipsing around the world then?

JH:

No. We just had to move from—I moved from San Francisco to Seattle, and over to Bremerton, and then we moved to Key West [Florida]. I mean, we went as far as you could go.

EE:

After he retired.

JH:

When he retired. When he retired.

EE:

Nice place. How long were you in Key West?

JH:

We weren't in Key West. We were on Pigeon Key. Do you know the keys?

EE:

So how long were you there?

JH:

Nine years. Do you know the little island under the Seven Mile Bridge?

EE:

Yes.

JH:

That's where we lived.

EE:

Oh, my goodness.

JH:

That's why I said, we had a pretty interesting life. So that's another whole box of papers and pictures and another whole story.

EE:

Were the kids grown by then?

JH:

The youngest one was about four when we left there. That was a really interesting life. They had a really nice childhood, very different. Then we moved here.

EE:

Now, how did you—because there's some glamour associated with there. How did you get to—

JH:

Well, we met some people down there that had—

EE:

And this is beautiful country, by the way.

JH:

Oh, yes. I like it here, but I would not come here just to move here. But we met some people that had a shrubbery nursery here, and got to be friends. They liked the kids, and the kids liked them. We, Carl and I, eventually there on the island, worked for the University of Miami. We had a house provided, furniture. I mean, everything was provided for us, plus our wages. He got thinking, you know, we could stay here our whole lives. If we leave here, we're not going to have anything. We're not going to have any property, and I don't know what'll happen. So he got to thinking—

EE:

What kind of work were you doing for Miami?

JH:

The university had a marine field station there, and we operated that. We built the thing, operated it there on what was originally the headquarters for the toll road, what used to be a toll road to Key West, what was a railroad, and this was a—it's such a long—

EE:

So you all were not marine biologists, but you'd take care of the facility.

JH:

We were the caretakers, and they brought students in from all over the world.

EE:

Fascinating.

JH:

Oh, it was. We had to get all these students in and care for them, and I got a motel operation.

EE:

Hotel plus a little den mother, too?

JH:

Oh, we had to do everything. Then he says, you know, “We're not going to have anything, so maybe we ought to look at something else.” I was tired of the hurricanes, really. So these people wanted to retire and wanted to know if we would like to come up here and take over their business. So we decided to do that and did, and found out after six weeks, these were not the people that we wanted to be working in business with. So we quit that, and he went into some trucking.

At that time, the motels were building up in the seventies, and we got into motel supply, and I liked that. When the kids came up here, and they would tell little stories about things, that they did down there, and the kids up here did not believe them, so they stopped talking about it.

EE:

Tall tales?

JH:

Yes, but really true. You wouldn't believe what a bunch of little kids, four little kids, can get into on an island. They knew more about marine biology than a lot of these students that came there, because they lived it all the time. They grew up with it. But I guess they would've went into that, if we'd have stayed there, but we didn't. So that's how that came down. So here we are. Here I am.

EE:

We were talking before about VA work, about working with the Veterans Administration. Did you stay connected with—I guess while he was in the service, you all had friends on the base, at the stations in Seattle and Bremerton. Did you socialize with other military families?

JH:

Oh, yes.

EE:

You kept those contacts up?

JH:

They were both small organizations, but I'm still in contact with some of them.

EE:

When did you start working as a volunteer at a VA?

JH:

After my husband died.

EE:

After '87?

JH:

Yes. I wanted to do it before that, but he was on the road. When he was home, he wanted me to be here. You can't go off and do those things and not be there. After he died, then my time was my own, and I could do what I wanted. So I've been there ever since.

EE:

The VA hospital in Salisbury is what? Thirty minutes from here or less?

JH:

Less.

EE:

What kind of work do you do for them? You were telling me a little bit about the way they organize volunteers.

JH:

I escorted patients from their rooms to their appointments and things in the hospital for about six years. Then I had knee problems, and I had to quit that. I worked in vision research, and I've worked in that ever since, doing secretarial work again.

EE:

There are a lot of women who come to that facility? Or mostly men?

JH:

Mostly men. But see, I don't have any contact with the people coming in, with the patients.

EE:

You're basically a support staff person?

JH:

They don't have too many women. They have small—the only time I know how many women we've got as patients there is at Christmastime, when we make up the Christmas bags for them. I didn't get to go last year when we made the bags, so I don't know how many they've got this year, but there's not too many women.

EE:

When I ask folks this question, it's with a little trepidation. One question I'm supposed to ask people is, what was the most embarrassing thing that happened to them while they were in the service? If you feel free to answer that, great. If not, is there a funny story you can tell me about somebody that happened while you were in the service?

JH:

I didn't expect a question like that. I can't even think.

EE:

Are there some characters that stick out in your mind? You already talked about the drill instructor and the assistant at Parris Island that stuck in your memory.

JH:

Well, yes, that stuck in my memory. That wasn't embarrassing. That stuck in my mind. That's for sure.

In fact, Reminisce magazine—I don't know if you're familiar with that at all—is always asking for little blurbs to put in, and I have a friend I have a mind to write up that for me, and I'll send it in. But the last issue, I do have my family's picture in that. I did manage to get a picture in there. I'm going to try now to get a little article about that story.

Oh, I guess I have a lot of little—I don't know. I can't remember any embarrassing—there's probably one. You know, it was kind of hard, because everywhere I went, I was the only woman. Sometimes, it was a little difficult to get quarters for me in places. That was really embarrassing. A lot of times, when I was out on the rifle range, like I said, there were no facilities for women. Usually, they had one little old restroom out on the range somewhere, and that sometimes was, because then I had to—and then sometimes Carl was not with me when I was with different teams, because I fired on two or three different teams. But they all knew me, and that was kind of embarrassing. I don't want you to print anything like that, you know, that I had to get them to go to the washroom with me, and things like that.

EE:

Obviously, one big change that the service made for you is you found your husband.

JH:

Yes.

EE:

But personally, did the service experience—it may be hard for you to separate your service experience as a Woman Marine from the spouse of a Marine, but how did service life change you?

JH:

Oh, before that, I was very quiet. I didn't talk to anybody. I didn't go out much on dates. I didn't say a word. I mean, I was just real quiet and laid back. I guess I was that way when I got down there, and we were there, like I say, over Christmas. There were two floors to this barracks, and we had a tree, and we were going to be able to get together and bring our presents that were mailed to us to open them on Christmas morning.

The noise was terrible. Everybody was excited and having a good time. The DI sent me in this group of all these women to get them quiet. Me, of all people. I couldn't yell loud enough to make myself heard. I had never yelled at anybody in my whole life. I had a kid do this. I had a terrible time getting them quiet. I had to get some help.

That started me, from there on. Then when I got into doing all these things, I had to get out of my shell, and I changed completely. Now I talk too much.

EE:

Do you think the service made you more of an independent person?

JH:

Oh, yes, because I had never been away from home. There I am out in San Francisco, in a big city, and I had to make do. Yes. But you're able to cope with it, I guess. The training they give you makes you ready for it. So I went right on and never had a problem.

But Carl made a heck of a big difference, because he was always there with everything we did, you know, and he got me in doing things. I was even on television one time, on a program. I've got a picture here that they had taken. They did a lot of publicity pictures. Television wasn't really big in 1954, whenever that was. That was my most embarrassing. Now I remember. That was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me.

I was supposed to go on this TV program. I didn't know anything about TV. We didn't have one at home. So I went down there, and I don't know what the other segments were about, but this one they had three women, three of us. I don't know who the other two were, if they were in the service, or what they were, but they showed us, one of the pictures of me with my rifle.

They showed it on the screen. But they showed part of it, like a puzzle, and they added to the picture that they were showing. I don't remember what it was. But these other two girls, I think, were supposed to say what this picture was. I don't remember how it went. I knew what it was, but I didn't want to say anything. I thought, “That's my picture, and I don't want to say anything. What am I supposed to do?” There were all these cameras there. They didn't know what it was.

EE:

This was live TV.

JH:

Somebody with a rifle, you know. I think finally they weren't getting it, and I didn't know what to do, so I think I finally—and they couldn't prompt you or anything. I think I finally had to say that was me.

I went back, and all the guys—we had a slop shoot. That's what the Marines, anyway, called the bars. All the fellows were down there watching this, and I had to go back down there. I didn't even want to face anybody, because everybody watched it. It wasn't embarrassing for them, but it was for me. I had to say, “Oh, that's my picture,” and then they showed the big picture. I didn't want to go back there and face all those people, but I had to.

Yes, I think that was—now that I think of it. See, you don't remember all this stuff.

Do you want something to drink?

EE:

Oh, I'm fine. I'm fine. You know, it's always kind of a futile effort to try to capsulate a life in an hour or so.

JH:

Yes, it is.

EE:

But if you had to do it over again, which nobody has the option, but if you had to do it over again, would you choose to join the service?

JH:

Oh, yes, but I would have joined sooner.

EE:

Do you think younger women can take a better opportunity, better chances for the opportunity, or at least have a chance to develop a career?

JH:

Oh, I think so, if they don't know what they want to do. But things are so different now. You can't say what people are doing now is what they did when I was young.

EE:

When Carl was working in Seattle and Bremerton, were you staying home, raising the kids?

JH:

Yes, yes. Gee whiz.

EE:

Well, with four, yes. That would give you plenty of work.

JH:

Well, we had two. The youngest one was two when we left there. Then a month after I got to Key West, that area, I had another one. That was a trip, I'll tell you, across country. We had one more down there. So my time was taken up, when you have two little ones. I hadn't known anything about kids. I never babysat or anything in those days, so it was a full-time job.

I was lucky, over the years I never had to go out and work. I worked on the island, did that kind of work, but I never had to go out and work, so I was lucky, I think.

EE:

We've gone through most of these questions that I had for you about your service experience. Is there anything important about what the service has meant for you that we haven't gone over today that folks ought to know about?

JH:

Well, we've met an awful lot of nice people: families, Marines, [U.S.] Navy people. But we're from all over the country. Still correspond with a lot of them. A lot of them have died now, because a lot of them were a lot older than me. It was just a family type, a whole world-wide family.

EE:

Most people, hearing the words “semper fi,” they think in terms maybe of a combat Marine, but it is a family, isn't it?

JH:

Oh, it's a family, yes. I mean, once a Marine, always a Marine. I mean, they're close knit. Of course, there are fewer, I guess, say than the army or the navy. I think the Marines are the best. Of course, you do, you know.

If that had been all navy people up there, maybe I would have went in the navy. I was interested in going in the navy, but at the time, we had just put in a bunch of IBM equipment at work. At the time, when IBM equipment started, it was noisy, very, very noisy. Stuff now that you do on something like that, we had huge, big things. I hated it. I had to work every Monday morning up in the IBM section, catch up on bills from over the weekend. I hated it.

I knew some girls that went into the navy, and they all got put in the IBM. Of course, when they came out, they stayed in that. They got in computers way back in the beginning. It was a good livelihood.

But that was why I didn't go in the navy. I saw all those Marines up there, and I thought, “This is it.” I wasn't even thinking about computers at that time, IBM equipment or anything, because I could have got stuck in that in the Marine Corps, too.

EE:

Did any of your children go into service?

JH:

No.

EE:

But your household, obviously with your experience and your husband's experience—I drove into the front yard today and saw a flag flying.

JH:

Oh, yes.

EE:

This is a patriotic home.

JH:

Oh, yes.

EE:

What do you feel about patriotism in this country?

JH:

I don't think it's what it should be. I think people should be more patriotic. I think they should do more for the veterans to honor them. I think that people ought to learn how to fly their flag correctly. I go around seeing all the tatters, and I see them up at night with no lights on them, which I go out there sometimes, and I forget, and I'm out there in the dark or the rain or something to take my flag down. But I think people don't fly their flag enough. They don't fly it properly when they do.

I've almost stopped in to some people's and told them how to fly their flag. They're all in shreds, and that's not right. So I think there should be more patriotism. But see, if you don't have a war, they duck out. You've got a whole group of people now that don't know what it's like, so they don't really realize what war is, how it is to be in service. I forget what your question was.

EE:

That's it. You served during peacetime, and because you grew up during the war, you sort of had a sense of what it meant from the very beginning.

Well, I've gone through as formal as I can make it, but I do appreciate your sitting down with me this morning and talking about your service life.

JH:

I enjoyed it. I don't have anybody to talk about this to.

EE:

What we're going to do is take a break and go through some of the pictures that Mrs. Horton has. On behalf of the school, thank you very much for sitting down today.

[End of interview]