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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Lenora Nagel, 2001

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Object ID: WV0201.5.001

Description: Documents Lenora I. Nagel’s early life in western North Dakota; her family history; her service with the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1956; and her work teaching overseas as a civilian with the Department of Defense for almost thirty years.

Summary:

Nagel discusses her family and childhood at great length. She remembers her family history in Missouri in the late 1800s and early 1900s; her family life during the Depression in western North Dakota; and her family’s military service during World War II.

Nagel also provides detailed information about her military service. She describes her daily routine; inspections; and living conditions during basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; radio school at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi; and while working as a flight operator at Selfridge Air Force Base in Mount Clemens, Michigan. She also describes her classes; interactions with the men in her integrated unit; and social activities such as drill team and choir.

Nagle discusses racial integration within the military but also cites several incidents of racial discrimination outside of the air force. She also talks about women in combat.

Nagel also provides a detailed description of her work teaching overseas with the Department of Defense. Topics include the application process; how the program functioned; and her assignments in Europe, Iceland, Japan, Bermuda, and Cuba.

Creator: Lenora I. Nagel

Biographical Info: Lenora I. Nagel (b. 1930) of Lawton, North Dakota, served with the Women in the Air Force from 1953 to 1956. She later spent almost thirty years teaching overseas as a civilian with the Department of Defense.

Collection: Lenora I. Nagel 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:

Today is Saturday, February 10, 2001. My name is Hermann Trojanowski, and I'm at the home of Ms. Lenora Nagel in Tampa, Florida. I'm here to conduct an oral history interview for the Women Veterans Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Ms. Nagel, if you could tell me your full name, we'll use that as a test.

LN:

Lenora I. Nagel.

[Tape recorder paused]

HT:

Would you tell me a little bit about yourself, some biographical information such as where you were born and when.

LN:

Okay. I was born in Lawton, North Dakota, which is a small farming community close to, not fifty miles from, the Canadian border. I went to school there all twelve years. It was a very small school. We had what we call not a one-room schoolhouse but three classes in a room.

After high school, I went on to Mayville State Teachers College [now Mayville State University], which was called a normal school at one time. I went through a program they called two years or standard certificate because they were so short on teachers. So after two years of college, I went back and I started to teach. I taught two years in my hometown, and I had a combination class of [grades] one through three. Then I moved to McCluskey, North Dakota, and I taught there for one year. That's in the western part of North Dakota.

It was while I was at McCluskey that I decided that I was going to join the air force. I had wanted to before, and my father wouldn't sign the papers so I had to be twenty-one. When I was there that year, I don't know if I saw something in the paper, but anyway, I got a contact number at Fargo, North Dakota. I went to Fargo, and that's where I was initially interviewed and did some testing, I guess, and all that sort of thing.

HT:

You say you saw something that made you want to join the air force. Did you see posters, or did you talk to someone?

LN:

I think what it was was just an article in the newspaper about people in the service. They needed women, and I had thought my girlfriend from home that I grew up with was going to go with me. She was back in college again that particular year, and she decided then not to go, but I decided I was going to go anyway. So that's basically how I found out about it. I had wanted to join before that.

Now, my sister, see, was not in the military, but she had gone through radio mechanics school at the University of North Dakota, and the government had sent her as a civilian. So that's one of the things that gave me the idea that maybe—and since I wanted to get out of small towns and out of North Dakota, I thought, well, this would be a great way to go. I was wanting to go overseas. I wanted to go to Germany to see if I could find some relatives on my mother's side.

HT:

And your parents would not sign.

LN:

My father wouldn't.

HT:

Your father wouldn't. What about your mother?

LN:

She probably would have, but since she knew that my father didn't want me to, she just decided that if I wanted to go after I got of age, then that was fine. Of course, I was twenty-one at that time.

HT:

So they did not have to sign once you became twenty-one.

LN:

That's right.

HT:

What did your friends and the rest of the family think about you joining?

LN:

Oh, they thought it was great. My friends threw a party for me. I found some pictures of us the other day, and they were all trying to salute. This was from my hometown, not my college friends. This was my hometown.

HT:

And when did you join?

LN:

I joined June fifteenth of 1953.

HT:

So you really came in at the end of the Korean War era.

LN:

Right. It was still the Korean, but it was—yes.

HT:

And did you hear much about Korea on the news and in the newspapers of those days?

LN:

Well, yes. I had a classmate that was in Korea. He had not gone to college. The rest of us, most of us, had gone to college, but he had enlisted in the army. He had spent, I don't know, two years, I believe, in Korea, and he was with the intelligence group. He had gone to school. That was where he learned Russian and he could become an interpreter, whatever you want to call it.

HT:

I need to backtrack just a minute. You need to tell me something about your family. Before we turned the tape recorder on, you mentioned about your looking for family in Germany and something about your mother's parents and that sort of thing. Could you tell me a little bit about that?

LN:

Okay. Now, my mother and father met in Missouri. My mother came from Germany when she was five years old. My grandfather had decided that he did not want to stay there and have his boys go through the mandatory military training. He had fought during the Kaiser War in Russia, between Russia and Germany. They had a sponsor over here, so he sold the farm in Germany. I think there was eight children. The oldest boy would have been just about ready to have to go into the training, and then the next boy was probably a year younger than him. So he knew that it was coming, that they were going to have to. My mother was the sixth one. She had two younger than her, a sister and my youngest uncle, who had to go back in and fight during World War I with us against them [the Germans].

HT:

Do you recall when they came over?

LN:

I can go get the facts.

HT:

We can do that later on.

LN:

Yes. I want to say '89, but that wouldn't have put her five years old. 1891 or 1892. I can get the facts for that. They got there before Ellis Island was opened. So they came through another place. Last year I tried to find out if I could get the records of where they came in. Apparently, where they came was called the Barracks or something like that in New York, and it burned, and most of the records burned with it.

They got on a train there, so they were not delayed anyplace that I know of. They got on their train and rode across country to some place. I think they must have got off at Rolla, Missouri. From there, they had to ride on a wagon drawn by horses to this small town in Missouri. I don't believe it was Houston. I think it was called Raymondville.

Again, I couldn't even find the place when we went back because where my folks had lived, some big hunter had bought up all that land. He had a fence around it so you couldn't get in. The only thing I know that was left was probably the chimney of the house. I have pictures of my grandmother sitting on the porch and that sort of thing.

My father lived in the same area. The county seat was called Houston, and the county itself was Texas County, Missouri. My grandfather, his father, had quite a bit of area there. He had orchards and farmland, and he raised grain and that sort of thing. When my grandfather would go up to North Dakota with the family, I really don't know what he did as a job, but he always went back to the very same place. He must have made the trip three or four times.

The last time, my dad decided—and he was probably fifteen or sixteen—to stay in North Dakota. His two older sisters had married people that they had met up there. So my dad and his brother, Uncle Church, Churchill, stayed there, and they would work as itinerant workers, I guess you would call it, on the farms. In the wintertime, when the farmers didn't need them, they'd go to Minnesota, where my two aunts lived, and they would do lumber work or whatever during the wintertime there in Minnesota.

Then my father went overseas. He joined the army when World War I broke out, and he had two buddies that he convinced to go with him. While he was in France, he would write back to Missouri, and he wrote to my Uncle August. My Uncle August had been drafted, and he had to go over, and he went over, but the war was already finished by that time. He went as the occupation service and lived with German families up in the Bitburg area. I'm not sure exactly what little town, but it was close to Bitburg anyway.

When my father had written, my mother got the card. So she wrote back to him and said that my uncle was in Bitburg. I don't know exactly where in France my father was at that particular point, but then my mother and father started writing back and forth. They had known each other and grown up and went to school together. I guess they went to the fifth grade or sixth grade, and that's as far as they went.

When Dad came back from France, he stopped in Kansas City, where my mother was living at the time working, and the two of them decided to get married. So they got married there and went back up to North Dakota. That's how they ended up in North Dakota.

HT:

Really?

LN:

Yes. So my dad was there and my uncle, and the two of them stayed in North Dakota. The two sisters were living in Minnesota, and then the rest of them were all down in Missouri.

HT:

What type of farming did your family do in North Dakota?

LN:

We didn't farm.

HT:

You did not farm?

LN:

No. My father was a carpenter, and we lived in a little town that had farms all around. My father was a carpenter. He worked for many of the farmers building barns or worked in the houses, built houses and so on. Then, when he couldn't do that in the wintertime, he had a store for a while.

It was like a—oh, I don't know if you would want to call it a convenience store at that time, but it had pool tables and he had like a little lunch counter and candy bars and ice cream and that sort of thing. The men would come in and play cards. There was an area where they could play cards. He was doing that until during the Depression. I mean, just when the banks failed, he had just the night before put a big deposit in, and he was going to have to pay for it because he had just gotten a big shipment so he had deposited the money in the bank. They didn't say anything. The next morning, the banks were closed, and he never got any of that money. So he was stuck with whatever. Eventually, he went back to doing complete carpentry work again.

HT:

Can you tell me something about your childhood, growing up in North Dakota? What was that like?

LN:

[laughs] Nice and cold. [laughter] I didn't mind it at all. There were four of us in my family. I mean four children, and I was the youngest. It was kind of cold winter times.

We had a lot of snow at that time. Many times, we would be completely snowed in and blocked in for months on end. The snowplow would come through, and we'd be all excited and run right out and play and watch the snowplow. It would blow the snow up. We had what they called snow fences. They'd put the fences along the road, and the snow would gather there, then, instead of on the road, but we had so much wind there that it would blow. I lived like a block from school so I could always walk to school.

Most of the time, the only way we could get from place to place was with the small train that came through twice a day. It would go up north in the morning, and in the afternoon, it would go back southward to Devil's Lake, which was our county seat. Like if I needed to go to the dentist, I could get on the train and go up to this small town thirteen miles north of us, go to the dentist, and have a little bit of time to spare, and then get on the train and come back home. That's how my mother and I would go to the dentist. We'd also do the same thing—we could go to our county seat, but we'd have to spend the night because that was the opposite direction. You know, we'd have to wait till the next day to come back.

HT:

Now, you grew up in World War II?

LN:

I grew up in the thirties.

HT:

In the thirties.

LN:

Yes. I mean, I was born in 1930. So I can remember 1942, when Pearl Harbor—I think it was '42.

HT:

Forty-one. December 7, 1941.

LN:

Forty-one?

HT:

Yes.

LN:

Okay. I can remember people making all kinds of noise, neighbors hollering back and forth to each other about the horrors, because, of course, we just had radios. We didn't have any other communication. Our newspaper would come by train, so we would have a paper daily, but it would be late when we would get it. I can remember that, but I don't remember much of World War II as far as—

HT:

Were any of your brothers in World War II?

LN:

My brother was in the navy, and he enlisted. I think my mother must have signed for him because he was seventeen years old. He spent most of the time on a ship in the Pacific.

HT:

That was the only sibling that was in the Second World War?

LN:

Yes. My dad was in the Second World War, too, as well.

HT:

Oh, he was? That was unusual, to have a father and son at the same time.

LN:

This was, I guess, before my brother enlisted, but my father went in, and he was a sergeant. He rode the trains as a military police, the troop trains, as they would go across the state. His run was from Omaha to Provo—I think it's Utah. Yes. That would be his run. He would go that way, and then he'd turn around and come back on the train the next day.

HT:

So he was gone for quite a bit of time, I would imagine.

LN:

Yes, during that time. So both my dad and brother were in World War II at the same time. Now, my brother was in Tokyo Harbor when they signed the papers, but it was not his ship. You know, the [USS] Missouri is where they signed the end of the war, but he was in one of the ships guarding the harbor going in at that time.

HT:

Interesting. Did both your father and brother get out about the same time, out of the service?

LN:

No. I think my father got out first, and then my brother got out. I think his enlistment was for four years, but because the war was over sooner than the four years were up, I think he got discharged before the four years. He was seventeen when he went in, and I don't think he was twenty-one when he came back out.

HT:

In your joining the military, were you influenced by both your father and brother being in the military? Did that influence you, do you think, later on?

LN:

No, I don't think so. It was just the desire to get out of the small town or the state and my desire to find a way to get to Germany. My salary was not paying—like I started teaching with $1,800 a year and that was not going to pay for any kind of a trip to Europe.

HT:

Why did you choose the air force?

LN:

Well, I might have chosen the air force because of my brother-in-law. I don't know. I'm not really sure now. It might have been that the air force is what caught my eye when—

HT:

In that article that you read.

LN:

Right. Yes.

HT:

What was the reputation of women who joined the air force? Did you hear anything about that sort of thing?

LN:

No. I just knew that I didn't want to become an officer. I could have been because I had some college, and I would have had to go through OCS [Officer Candidate School].

HT:

Why?

LN:

Because of the fact that most of the women officers had no friends because there were just so few of them, and the men didn't have anything to do with them. The women nurses had nothing to do with the women that were regular air force officers. So they really were kind of loners.

HT:

Very isolated, I assume.

LN:

Right. Then a lot of them, also, reminded me more of the, well, the big burly type, you know—not the women officers as much as the women sergeants did. I was going to stay in, except that, as I said, I trained as a radio operator, and then when I got to Selfridge Air Force Base [Michigan], there were no jobs for a radio operator. So there were different things.

HT:

When you first enlisted, do you recall if you had to take a written test and a physical and that sort of thing?

LN:

I had the physical. I went to Fargo to do that. I had a friend that was from Fargo that was teaching with me in McCluskey. She was going home that weekend so I went with her and stayed with her. I took a test, and I think I had a physical at that particular time. I'm not real sure. That was in the spring of '53.

Then I know I had to go to, I think, Fort Snelling. I know Minneapolis anyway. Snelling, I know, is army, but I think that was where I had to go for the final things. Then they gave me my orders and my trip ticket down to San Antonio, where I got the train—

HT:

To Lackland [Air Force Base, Texas].

LN:

Yes.

HT:

Do you recall what your first day was like? What was basic training like for you? What are your memories of basic training?

LN:

I remember, first of all, all the shots we had to get. I remember we had to learn how to make the bed. You had to be able to flip a quarter off of it. Invariably, we'd get it tight enough for an inspection, and that night they would call a fire drill. We had to pull the sheets off and blanket and go running out with it all over us.

Then we had to start all over again trying to get that bottom sheet, because if we knew there was an inspection, we didn't sleep in the bed that night. We slept on the floor so that we would have that all ready. [laughs] They would get us up with reveille.

HT:

Was that a white glove inspection?

LN:

Yes. Yes. Everything had to be just in place, and nothing could be out of place. No hair anyplace. One time we got a gig just because a hair happened to be down by our shoes. I remember that it was—when they said “GI party” the first time, I thought, “Oh, boy, we're going to have a party.” [laughs] We came all prepared, and they had mops and buckets and all that sort of thing. I thought, “This is a party?” Most of us were very disappointed, but we soon learned about that. We beautified the area by picking the rock. There was nothing else there in Texas, San Antonio.

We had to go to classes, of course, each day, and we had to parade to and from. We had quite a bit of freedom. Like our mornings were basically all the classes and all the things. In the afternoon, we had our uniforms to do. We could only have like one uniform dirty at a time in our dirty clothes bag or else we could get a gig.

I know our hat, we had a hat, if I remember correctly, that was kind of a blue cotton-type thing, and we had to starch it so that it was very, very stiff. We used to put it over a—you could get from the mess hall these big cans. I don't know if it was a gallon can or what, but it was about this big around so the hat would just fit on it. Then it would dry there so that it would be stiff so that when we would wear it the next day, it would be not sloppy or whatever.

We had to keep everything up. I shared a room with two other people, and we did have a room. It wasn't like an open barracks. There was bunk beds, and there was room for four people in there, but they had only put three of us to a room.

We had no air conditioning. It was very hot in the summertime there, and they had big fans at each end of the hallway. I remember that if you left your door open, then air would circulate in the window that we had in our room. Otherwise, it was very, very hot. We did as many things outside as we could in the shade, if we could find shade, instead of staying in the room.

HT:

What was a typical day like? What time did you have to get up?

LN:

I think the reveille was at five. We were supposed to be ready to go to the chow hall, and we had to march to chow at six. We would have just a very short time after that. Then we would march to class, and we would spend the whole morning in class. We would march back at noon, then we would go to the chow hall to eat. At night, I don't think we had to march to chow. I think at night we could just go over there.

We had quite a bit of leeway in the afternoon to take a nap or whatever we felt like unless they called a special meeting, and then, of course, our first sergeant would always call a meeting in the afternoon. Then we'd all have to meet down in the—we had a big room that we met in.

HT:

Did you have female instructors or male instructors or a combination?

LN:

We had female instructors. We had a female drill sergeant. I don't think I ever had a male until I got to Keesler [Air Force Base, Mississippi]. Then I had some in the radio school. Everything was women where we were. We were segregated from the men.

HT:

Did you eat in separate chow halls, or did you—

LN:

If I remember correctly, I think we did. I'm pretty sure. I don't remember. I know after we got to Keesler, we didn't. I'm sure during basic training, I think, that we were completely separate from the fellows.

HT:

How long did basic last?

LN:

I was in basic for eight weeks.

HT:

Do you recall anything unusual happening to you during basic or anything humorous?

LN:

Not that I can think of except just the horror when I found out a G.I. party wasn't a party. We used to have a lot of watermelon parties, and we'd spit the seeds outside so we had watermelon plants growing around. I can't remember anything really at that point. We did get some leave so that we could go into San Antonio. I remember one time that I had leave coming, and then they canceled it because I had a gig for something. I can't remember what. So I had to stay, and we had extra duty to do.

HT:

Right. Did you have to perform KP [kitchen patrol duty]?

LN:

Oh, yes. We all had KP to do. I would say that I think we each had a solid week of it at a time. I'm not sure exactly how many times we had it during the eight weeks, but yes, we had to do that, scrub the pots and pans and those metal trays that we had and that the food was dumped onto. I can't remember, but I think that we even were on the serving line when we had KP and we had to serve the food, but I'm not real positive. I think we did. I remember scrubbing the pans, those great big things. [laughs] I can also remember the food wasn't that great.

HT:

What did you think of the uniforms they gave you?

LN:

The uniforms, I thought, were very neat. We had a blue-and-white-striped-type thing that was cotton cord, and I don't have any of them anymore. My mother had saved them, but after about forty years, they were kind of getting real yellow and everything. You had to have them starched. They had to be kept up at a certain stiffness. You could wear them once, and if they were wrinkled, you had to re-wash them or at least get the starch out and re-starch so that it would be neat. Our dress hat was, I thought, very neat. Now, when it came to the winter clothes, they were wool, and they were itchy, and they didn't really turn me on too much.

HT:

Did you do your own laundry, or could you send your laundry out to be done?

LN:

No. We had to do our own. We had nothing. I remember my roommate was from New York, and she'd come from a very wealthy family. She had had a maid service. A maid did everything for her. Of course, here she was, she had to learn how to wash those uniforms, how to iron them, how to get them stiff, and she probably came out one of the best. I mean, she industriously worked. She had been accepted at Duke University, and her father had lost—he was in the construction business. Somehow or other something went wrong, and he lost everything because of a suit so he didn't have the money to send her. So she came into the service and spent her time, and then I think she went on the GI Bill like I did, went back to school on the GI Bill.

HT:

You were a few years older than most of the other girls, is that right, because you had been to college?

LN:

Well, I'd been two years to college, and I had taught three years. I was twenty-three years old. Yes. I had my twenty-third birthday while I was in. I would say some were younger than I was, and some were older than I was. It was a mixed group.

HT:

So you got along well with the whole squadron?

LN:

Yes.

HT:

The age didn't matter. Was it an integrated squadron? Did you have a few black women there?

LN:

Yes. I showed you the picture, didn't I? I thought we had more than that, but it looked like we had two black—we had two or three from Hawaii that were sort of Polynesian-Oriental. We had some Puerto Ricans. Most of us were Caucasian, but it was integrated.

HT:

Once basic training was finished, I think you said you went to Keesler next. How did that happen, that you went to—were you selected to go to radio school?

LN:

We had to take tests again, and we had to be able to pass a certain whatever to decide, and we put in a wish list. I did get the radio school, which I had requested, at Keesler. I probably was a little bit influenced by my brother-in-law, although he was not a radio operator, but he had been at Keesler two or three times for different communications schools, and Keesler was a big, big place for communications.

The group of us that went, we all had to have passed certain things. They give you an aptitude test, and that aptitude would say whether you would be good at something like this or that. So that's basically how we—I don't know if they pulled us out of a hat then or what. Who knows? But that's how my orders came, is to Keesler.

HT:

Did you have time to go home before you went to Keesler, or did you go directly from basic?

LN:

That I don't remember. I think we went directly to Keesler, and then from Keesler I went home. Yes. I know that I didn't get home before we went to tech school.

At Christmastime, which would have been like midway between, I got furlough to go up, and that was my first experience on an airplane. I flew out of Jackson, Mississippi.

The fellow that was riding with me was getting off in Omaha, and he had ridden before. So he was holding my hand. We were talking when we took off, and I didn't even know when we took off, so that was fine. I don't know what I would have done without Jimmy. Anyway, that was the first time that I had been home, was at Christmastime. After Keesler, then I had what they would call a regular furlough time. Christmastime, I think I was home for Christmas but not for New Year's. Some of us went for Christmas, some went for New Year's, or something like that.

HT:

Can you tell me a little bit about your training that you received at Keesler? What were the classes like?

LN:

The classes were small, as you can tell by my class there, and it was integrated there. Now, our living quarters were not. We lived in one area on the base, and the men lived in another, what they called the A area. They had beautiful new housing, and we had these crummy old things. We were hoping that a hurricane would come and blow them down. Every time it looked like a hurricane was coming, we'd say, “Oh, please, God, have it blow this building down so we can go up there to the nicer building.”

We had a schedule. Again we marched to classes, but the women all marched as a group. We didn't march as separate classes. You saw the one [photo] where we were in review. We would go up, and then there, of course, we would go to the rooms and the hangar. I remember one time we were marching and some bird got me right on the top of my head and down the front of my uniform. So I had to go back home. So they let me go back to the barracks, change clothes, and then come back to go to class. Thank goodness, I had another—because we were in our dress hats, but you had two or three of those things that you could fasten onto it that fit over. I remember that very clearly.

Again, we would have reveille about five, and by six we would have had breakfast, and we would be in our class by six-thirty, I believe. Anyway, we went to school only in the morning in my class group. Then in the afternoons, we were free. We could go out the gate if we wanted to and go to the beach, which was just right there. There was a bus where we could go off to someplace else to see a little bit of the area.

Our classes were where we had to complete different areas of the Morse Code. We'd have to write it. It was all written. It was nothing with anything else, and it was listening to Morse Code and being able to put it down so fast and so on. So we had different levels that we had to pass before we could graduate.

Some of this had to do with a little bit of mechanics of the radio so if something went wrong—we had the crystals, so we had to set up to the right frequencies and that sort of thing. I did have all my books from radio school, and I don't know what I did with them. If I can find them, these books, you're welcome to them, but I have a feeling that maybe in one of my moves it got lost. I just don't know.

My mother had saved all of that for me when I got out of the service, and I know that I did have those radio books someplace. I couldn't find them this week, and I looked through my original papers, because I had the original papers when I went to Fargo. I had the papers that took me to the place in Minnesota. If it was that Fort Snelling or if it was someplace else just in Minneapolis I can't remember. But I did have that, and I had all the rest. I was going to give it to you, and I couldn't find it. But as I go through, maybe I'll find some more of it.

HT:

That would be great. Now, you said you went to school in the mornings. Did you have to do study in the afternoons or evenings to prepare for the next day?

LN:

We did some studying, yes, because we had the manuals to learn, and we had different classes. Sometimes we were called back for a class in the evening, when it was cooler, but it wouldn't really deal with that. It would have something else to do with being in the military.

HT:

Did you have to do PT [physical training]?

LN:

Oh, yes.

HT:

Every day?

LN:

Yes.

HT:

Even in tech school?

LN:

Right. I also belonged to the drill team. So we would practice the drills in the afternoon sometimes or in the evening, and this was an integrated group. I don't know exactly—I mean, it wouldn't just be my radio group. It would be the group from the squadron that we belonged to. We had to take those salt tablets in basic training and at Keesler.

HT:

Because of the heat.

LN:

Yes. Right.

HT:

No air conditioning, of course.

LN:

That's right. Nothing at all. Now, when we got to Keesler, our rooms—we didn't have a room. We didn't have a door that we could close. It was like you had a doorway and then you had a wall here, and there was empty space up above and an empty space down below so that the air could circulate, and then you had the one window. There were three of us or four of us to one of those little rooms.

To hang our clothes, we'd have a little area like this, but it was not closed in. It was like before our bunk beds and that sort of thing. So we'd have to keep our clothes up again just the same as we did, but at least here we could have some civilian clothes again, too, but not a whole lot of them.

We had curfew, where we had to be in at a certain time with bed check, but if we passed the test—the women would pass in the review. If we got a good grade or whatever, then we could have a delayed bed check till midnight. Otherwise, I think it was nine o'clock, something like that.

HT:

What about weekends?

LN:

Weekends we were basically free to do what we wanted, unless there was a parade on a Saturday morning, which sometimes happened, and we would have to be in the parade. Normally, we went to school just Monday through Friday, and then the weekends would be very free.

I was trying to think. I belonged in a choir, a church choir, and I was wondering. I think it was in Mississippi—maybe I was in the choir in San Antonio. One of the places, I belonged to the chapel choir, and we would have practices, and we would sometimes go out and sing at other churches. So I'm not really sure where that was.

I remember back with our drill team, we were invited to go to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans to be in the parade. Then about, oh, probably two weeks before we were supposed to go, we were told that it could not be an integrated drill team, it had to be all Caucasian. Because we were half and half just about, I believe, we elected not to go. So we turned down the offer and said, “Forget it. We go as a team, the way we are, or we don't come.” So that was that. We never did get there. But there was that problem again of the integration. You would have thought that since this was a parade for a holiday it wouldn't make any difference, but their group would not allow us to go.

HT:

Let me backtrack just a minute about your radio training. Did you have female and male instructors at the radio school?

LN:

I believe they were all men.

HT:

And what was the quality of the instruction?

LN:

You mean were they insisting that we learn what we were supposed to know?

HT:

Right. Were they pretty good instructors?

LN:

Yes. I would say so. Yes.

HT:

So after nine months, you knew what you needed to know?

LN:

Yes. [laughter] I used to be called the latrine queen because one of the instructors was my boyfriend, and we were allowed to date. My other girlfriend was dating the guy that was our instructor in the morning. The instructor that I was dating would come in in the morning, and somebody would say, “Well, the latrines have to be cleaned.” I'd raise my hand. Then I'd go in, and I'd check the latrine very quickly. If it looked like it had toilet paper and everything, I wasn't cleaning it, and I'd go out. I'd turn my name tag over, and they would think I was an instructor out walking around. So my boyfriend and I would just wander around. Then I'd be back in before I was supposed to. Now, I had already passed my level. Otherwise, I would not have been allowed to do it, but I had passed all the levels that I needed for that particular time. There was a certain time. Of course, you still had to keep practicing because you had to keep up with it.

HT:

The instructors were military?

LN:

Oh, yes.

HT:

Sergeants, I'd assume.

LN:

Oh, yes. Right.

HT:

NCOs [non-commissioned officers]. So there were no officers as such, lieutenants and captain instructors?

LN:

No, not as the instructors. Now, there would be the officers that would be in charge overall, but who would do the instructing was sergeants.

HT:

So it wasn't forbidden for instructors to date people in class and that sort of thing? You would think that there might be a little conflict of interest there.

LN:

There was a little bit of conflict, but they didn't really know what we were doing on our out. They were thinking—see, because I had two stripes already by that time, they couldn't tell if I was an instructor or not, because some of the instructors had—and the fellow that I was dating, he was a staff sergeant, and of course, he was an instructor, so his was—but they had given us these name tags. If you turned them the other way and had your name there, you looked just the same thing so that they couldn't really designate between them. Yes. There was not supposed to be any dating. Now, they would have frowned more if I would have been dating an officer.

HT:

That was probably forbidden.

LN:

Yes. That was verboten. Even after I got up to Selfridge Air Force Base, it was.

HT:

Do you recall any unusual things happening to you while you were at Keesler, either during class or after class, other than the bird pooping on you? [laughter]

LN:

No. I can't think of anything, not right there.

HT:

What did you guys do for social functions? Movies? Dances?

LN:

We'd go to movies. The USO [United Service Organizations] at times would have—I know that we heard the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. They came and played at the field, and we were able to get in to hear them. They had roller skating. They had bowling. So there was all of those kinds of sports that you could do. As long as we got our classes in and we did our studying and that sort of thing, then we had sort of a free, I would say, at least five to six hours every afternoon or evening to be free to do whatever we felt like we wanted to do. Again, we had to be careful. We knew our bounds, in other words.

I remember one time that I got a gig for something and so did my roommate. My chore that I was supposed to do was to paint the outside exit, the stairs, the door, and the railing coming down. I'm afraid of heights, and I couldn't do that. So I conned my roommate into doing that, and I would do whatever her job was. We switched jobs, and she said that only way she'd do that was if I came out with the radio and sat and talked with her while she was doing it. So she painted the door up there and then whatever she was standing on, the fire escape thing. Why they wanted it painted was beyond me. It was those weathered woods.

But that was one way of giving you a gig, and I think it was just that my shoes were out of line or something under the bed or else there was a hair in among my things. You couldn't even have a hair in your hairbrush. Once you brushed your hair, you had to make sure the hair was all gone and all that sort of stuff. I remember being able to con her into doing that because I just knew I couldn't paint because I had to hang on with both hands. How was I going to paint it?

HT:

What did you end up doing?

LN:

I don't remember what I did, but it was something down on the ground floor, and nothing—

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

HT:

We were talking about what you had to do to take care of that gig that you'd gotten somehow.

LN:

Yes. I imagine it was either probably cleaning out the common area that we would have, because we would have the common shower rooms, the common day room that would have to be cleaned, the floor probably mopped and waxed or whatever. So I probably did one of those because I knew I wouldn't want to be—that or maybe wash the windows on the first floor. I know it was not upstairs.

HT:

What kind of base was Keesler? Was it purely for instruction, or did they have other things going on there?

LN:

It was basically communications of all kinds. It was like tower people, who worked in towers, radar people who worked that, these friends of mine that—and I can't tell you what they did, but they were in a communications field that was completely separate from what I did—that I had as roommates later on when I was in. So they had any kind of form that was communications. I don't know of anything else, other than, of course, the command that had to be there, that was in charge of all of this.

HT:

After you left Keesler, where was your next duty station?

LN:

I went to Selfridge Air Force Base. First Operations it was called, right outside of Mount Clemens, Michigan.

HT:

What type of work did you do there?

LN:

I worked as a radio operator. It went all right. There were forty of us, all of us with a radio background, and there wasn't a job for us.

HT:

None of you?

LN:

None of us. No. All the positions were filled. Now, once somebody would be moved out, then there'd be a place for somebody. Otherwise, there was just nothing for us to do in the radio. So I ended up as a clerk typist in the MARS station. Now, MARS was called Military Amateur Radio Station. So I supported, say, the sergeant in charge or the officer in charge and typed up the work schedule and so on. It gave me a chance to go in, and I could keep working on the key, the Morse Code and everything, and keep up with that. Of course, we had some oral, too, where we had to learn to speak and send messages orally through a mic[rophone]. I must have done that for, oh, probably two or three months. They kept saying, “Well, next time somebody is transferred out, you'll get that place.” It never happened.

But I would say I got there the first of May. Of all things, I had come from Mississippi, and it was snowing. I couldn't believe it was that cold up there at that time of the year because we'd been swimming in the Gulf. My roommate was from Detroit, and she was fit to be tied because she didn't want to come back to Detroit area. They put her in supply. I don't know where some of the men went that were in radio, but there just wasn't any place for us.

HT:

That was bad planning on somebody's part, wasn't it?

LN:

Right. So then I heard there was somebody, a Captain Joyce up at base operations, that was looking for some of what they called flight operators. He wanted somebody who had at least two years of college, which I had, and communications would be helpful because we were going to be talking on the phone, we'd be talking on all kinds of things. So he was going from area to area because I think he needed eight of us or something.

I ended up there then, in flight operations, where we handled all flight plans. We worked with the weather station next door. We worked with the ground crew down below, who would have to go out and meet the aircraft, because we would get the word that they landed then we contacted them, and they went out and directed them to wherever they were going to go. So I did that for the practically two years that I was at Selfridge Air Force Base. I never got a chance to do the radio except one time on the phone.

HT:

Did you enjoy being a flight operator?

LN:

Yes. It was interesting because we met a lot of people. It was shift work so we had to work around the shift. If you had the midnight shift, it was sometimes very boring because we couldn't go to sleep. We were not allowed to even doze off.

I remember there was a navy station not far from us, and then there was another air force base. Sometimes on the night shift, the other air force base, the fellow up there and I would talk, communicate through the phone. Now, we weren't really supposed to do that, but it wasn't costing anything. It was an open line.

Well, the guy down in the naval station was upset because he could sleep, but because he had to listen in, he would hear all of our conversation so he couldn't sleep. So he'd complain to us, and we'd say, “Well, it's tough. We've got to stay awake. You can sleep. You go sleep.” [laughs]

HT:

So you each had to not only do shift work, you had to do weekend work as well?

LN:

Oh, yes. Yes. We worked weekends. You usually did four on a shift, and then you would have off maybe a day and a half. Then you would go to the next shift. Like if it was day shift, you'd work 4 day shifts, and then you'd be a day and a half off or something, and then you'd start the swing shift for four times. Then you'd do the midnight shift. Then you'd get like four days off or something like that.

HT:

That must have been tough, constantly shifting around. You probably never got used to one specific time you had to be at work.

LN:

Right. You just kind of went with the flow. I'm pretty sure that we—because I know I pulled all shifts, so we had to have done it that way I just explained it, yes. Then we would get the four days off that would be completely free. Then we'd start the shift over unless we got called in because somebody got sick and we had to pull an extra shift.

HT:

Where did you live at Selfridge?

LN:

We lived in apartments on base. Again, it was segregated. First of all, we had a barracks-type thing, and then they moved us into these apartments that were just getting ready to be—and we had to paint them first before we could even live in them. What we had was we'd have two bedrooms and a bath, a kitchen, and sort of like a living/dining area together. Then there'd be a hallway. In the middle of the building, there were many showers. We only had showers. We didn't have bathtubs at all that I remember, but there was what they called the community one because there were eight of us living in those apartments. Did I say two bedroom or three?

HT:

Two.

LN:

No, three bedrooms. I'm sorry, because—

HT:

You had to share a bedroom with someone.

LN:

Yes. You shared a bedroom with one person. There were six of us in there first, and then they moved two more in, and they didn't have any choice, they got the living room. Then we didn't have a living room anymore because that was their bed area, but there was no door there.

Of course, we could cook if we wanted to in the kitchen, but again, we had to do GI parties and clean the area, and we had inspections regularly. We learned that if we wanted something that we didn't want them to know, we'd just wrap it in our uniform and put it in the refrigerator. It looked like we were getting ready to iron it. There might be a can of beer in there or something. We found all different kinds of ways to hide things when we knew that it was time for an inspection crew to come through.

I was in charge of the building I was in, so I would have to conduct the GI parties, and I would have to go and inspect before anybody was free to go. I used to have a black girl that lived upstairs, and I lived downstairs. She would be gone before I got up to inspect.

I'd say, “Okay, can't do that, because you've got to be here when I'm inspecting. Otherwise, if you get a gig, you know what's going to happen, and I have to say that you weren't there when I went up to inspect for it, and I can't be in all six apartments at the same time.” So I said, “When you're finished, you've got to come down and get me to go up and inspect it.” She'd slip out the back door if she could do it.

Then I had problems with Freddie, who was one of the ones in my apartment.

“I just had the latrines. It's not my turn.”

I'd say, “Take a look. It's your turn.”

Jeff would come and say, “Freddie, quit fussing.”

We had three black people in our apartment and three white to start out with, and then there was the other two that were white that came in. It was fairly even, and we didn't seem to have a problem up there. After I left Mississippi, we didn't have any problem at all with the segregation. You didn't see this drinking fountain business or bathroom business or anything.

HT:

But you did see some of that in Mississippi, I'm sure.

LN:

Oh, yes.

HT:

And even in San Antonio.

LN:

Oh, yes. I had a leave to come here to Tampa one long weekend. That was from Keesler. I rode the bus over, but I had to have a plane ticket back so that I would be back in time for bed check there. There was another fellow and I that were sitting in the back of the bus, and there were like four other people that were—and we had to wear uniforms. We weren't allowed to go out on any of these trips without. So there were four—I think they were black fellows. I don't think there was another girl there, but I can't remember.

Anyway, apparently, we were sitting in the black section. The driver wouldn't take off. He made the fellow and I that were sitting—and we were sitting in a comfortable seat—he made us move forward, and we had to sit on the wheel. All night long I sat there. I was furious. I didn't want to move, but we had no choice. He was not going to move because we were sitting in an area—and what we were doing was talking. If we hadn't been talking to the others, and they were classmates of ours, we would have been all right. But he made both of us, because we were white, move forward. That, again, I couldn't believe, because I thought, “Everybody pays the same for a ticket. How can you segregate it?” But that happened to us on that particular trip. This was not in Selfridge when we got there.

Then I moved from that type of an apartment into a smaller type apartment where there was just two bedrooms. We had a kitchen and a living room, and there were four of us in there.

HT:

These are all on base, of course. You always lived on base.

LN:

Yes. No, never could live off base. Four of us then lived in this last apartment that I was in, and we were kind of right on the water there at St. Claire [Shores]. The base was a huge base, and I just can't believe that it's gone, but it was one of those that they closed a number of years ago, and it's just a reserve now.

HT:

Was that your last duty station, or were you stationed elsewhere?

LN:

No. That was my last station. I was supposed to have gotten out in June. My boss kept saying, “Well, go to Officers' Candidate School. Go on. Stay in,” and all this. Now, this was a major that was the head boss. Captain Joyce was kind of under him.

I said, “No. No. I want to enlist directly for Wiesbaden, Germany.”

My friend was doing it that was in the other part of communications. She was one of my roommates. I guess we were both getting out at the same time. You could enlist at that time directly for another base. Now, that didn't mean that they had to take you, but you had a fairly good chance of that. But if I wanted to, I had to change.

I had passed the 5-O under flight operations, but I still was working as a radio operator. You know how you have your job numbers? So we put paperwork in to Washington to change my job description into flight operations and show that I passed the 5-O or the next level up or whatever it was. I extended my enlistment for six months so that I could see if I could do that. Well, it came back and said, “No. We are very short on radio operators. You need to stay in radio, and we cannot change your job description.” So I just got discharged then, December fifteenth of 1956. That gave me three and a half years in as military.

HT:

So you were only signed up for three years originally?

LN:

Right.

HT:

Because I remember signing up for four.

LN:

Yes.

HT:

They must have changed it.

LN:

Yes. Now, whether the women's were different than the men, I don't know. At that time, you enlisted for three. My roommate did enlist directly and got Wiesbaden, Germany. I could have, but if I would have stayed and they put me in radio and I had not worked in radio for how long, I would have been on some hillock way out in the boonies, and I figured, “No, I don't want that.”

HT:

[laughs] What was the hardest thing you ever had to do while you were in the military, physically?

LN:

Physically? Oh, gee. I don't think I really had any really physical jobs that I had to do.

HT:

Nothing other than—I guess the hardest thing, that might have been—

LN:

The GI parties. [laughter]

HT:

Well, painting things high.

LN:

Yes, or painting high. Right. Yes.

HT:

The PT wasn't difficult?

LN:

No. I'd always been very active. No. Now, we were told we had to ride an airplane one time and go see where we were in flight operations. So they flew us up to Massachusetts or someplace and back again, and then they did these touch-and-go's. The pilots were in training, and they were practicing the landing and take off. Well, I was sicker than a dog. That probably was the worst experience I ever had in my life. Here I was, sitting in this plane in these bucket seats, and they had a can there, and I was throwing up like I don't know what.

This guy that was not one of the officers training but he had gone up for the trip to Massachusetts and back said, “Oh, they're only going to do one more.” They came down, and they went up, then they came down again. I said, “I thought you said only one more. I don't think I have anything left in me.” I was really, really ill. I thought, “Boy, if I had to do this on a regular basis, forget it,” because I didn't have to be crew chief.

HT:

What about emotions? Did you ever have to do anything that was difficult emotionally?

LN:

No. I don't think so.

HT:

Do you ever recall being afraid?

LN:

Well, yes. One time on an airplane I was. I was flying from Selfridge Air Force Base to St. Louis. My boss was on there. Both of my bosses were on there, the major and the captain. We had the boss of the tower, the head officer there. We had the head officer, the person that did the scheduling of airplanes on the base, and we had the officer also from the crew chiefs, you know, the ones at maintenance service. They were all getting their training in. I had a weekend pass, so my boss said, “Well, if you'd like to go along, you can go with us to St. Louis.”

I says, “Oh, great. My aunts and uncles live there. I haven't seen one of them that I would love to see.”

I was the only passenger. Everybody else was doing their training, and we were going to be there for the whole weekend. Well, it was a C-119, flying boxcar, and we took off. Everything was fine. We got to St. Louis, and I can't think of the name of the field there that we were landing, but it was the National Guard base, I think, the civilians landed there, too, but I'm not real sure on that. Anyway, we got ready to come down, and the lights were blinking. The wheels were not locked into place. I could hear my boss yelling, “Take it up. Take it up. Take it up. Get it up,” because we were coming down. We flew around, and I was the only one, as I say, back there in the back, strapped into one of those bucket seats. There was all this big whatever it was that we were carrying to St. Louis that we were going to leave there.

The crew chief was busy trying to do something because automatically it didn't work so he was going to try and manually lock the wheels into place. We went by the tower and the tower said, “Your wheels are down,” but this light was still indicating they weren't locked. We flew around and around and around, and they were getting foam on the runway and getting the fire engines and the ambulances and everything like they do when there's an emergency. Finally, everything was in place so they brought the plane down. That light was still on, and the crew chief was still trying manually to do it. Well, it held us up. I mean, they didn't collapse. They were expecting it to collapse.

I was petrified because I was back there by myself, nobody else there. I thought, “They'll get that taken care of.” I got a taxi and went on to my aunt's and spent the weekend enjoying visiting with all of them and my uncles. I was supposed to be out at the field again, Lambert Field was what it was called, and I was supposed to be there by eight o'clock, I think, in the morning. I just assumed that they had that problem taken care of while we were there. We all got on the airplane and everything and took off, no problem.

We got back to Selfridge Air Force Base, and the same thing happened. The light came on again. In the meantime, I was sitting in the crew chief's seat this time instead of back in the back, and I could see him there trying to get this thing going. Again, up we went, around and around. Of course, the people in tower were upset because that was their boss in there. People at flight operations, where I worked, both of their bosses were in there. The crew chief, or maintenance people downstairs, their boss was in there, and they kept thinking, “Boy, if there's an accident and they get injured, we're going to really be in problems.” Of course, it wasn't their fault.

Anyway, at the end, they had to get all that equipment out there, and it ended up again the same thing. Now, whether it was a faulty light or what, but it's scary when you think you're going to land and that could collapse and then what happens? Could be a fire, and that's why the foam and everything. But that was one time that I was really, really scared.

That's the one time I also got to use my radio skills because as we left Selfridge and were flying over Terre Haute, Indiana, I gave the radio message—you have to radio in and give your position, where you are, and contact in. The people were so upset, they were so shocked when they heard a woman's voice, they made me repeat it. They couldn't figure out why—usually the pilot or whatever because they weren't using radio operators at that time. He told me, “Since you were a radio operator, you can give the position report.” So I trotted in. That was the one time that I really got to use my radio skills that I had never been able to use all the other times.

HT:

Do you recall any embarrassing moments?

LN:

Oh, yes. Those two men used to sit on either side of me while I was supposed to be working and tell me dirty jokes. My ears would become redder than red, and I'd try to pretend I didn't know what they were saying. I'd just keep putting my head down. “I'm busy. Why are you bothering me?” [laughs]

I guess a few other embarrassing moments, probably were—well, I know one time, particularly with this trip, apparently my boss had been running around with one of the other WAFs [Women in the Air Force] on his wife, and the air police figured that it was me because my car was parked next to his and both of the cars were there. What I didn't know was that the reason my car was there was my roommate had taken my car out there, and she was making out with somebody in the back seat, and they thought it was me. Of course, I got the word. The APs started giving me the word. Well, I didn't know what they were talking about, but I was thoroughly embarrassed. My friend never got the car again.

HT:

Did she borrow the car from you?

LN:

Yes. See, I was gone, so she had taken my car to go to work instead of walking. She had the key for it. I asked her for the key back again, and I said, “I'm sorry, but you're not going to be able to use my car anymore,” because this was all over base that it was me.

HT:

And your reputation was at stake.

LN:

Yes. Right. Yes. It was embarrassing because I think also, the officer in charge, his wife thought it was me, too, because she heard the stories. She'd always been very friendly, and when I called her one night for some reason, she wasn't friendly at all. All I could think of is it had to be that she had heard the story. It was shortly thereafter that she and her husband split, and he married this other young girl.

HT:

The young woman, was she an officer, or was she an enlisted person?

LN:

She was enlisted.

HT:

I thought that was verboten.

LN:

She got discharged, see, before they got married. But, see, it was supposed to be on the up and up. Now, he was not—that was not him, but they had associated—because his car was there and my car was there, that that was who was in the back seat, and it wasn't. My roommate was in the back seat making out with some fellow that she had met.

HT:

Did this officer get in any kind of trouble because he was seeing an enlisted person?

LN:

They must have done it on the sly completely, because we weren't even aware of it until after he and his wife split. Then she started telling us that they were going to get married as soon as she got out. We were not aware that he was seeing her. I can't imagine where they could have ever gone, because we all lived on base, I mean all of us WAFs. He didn't. He lived off base with his wife. I just don't know how it ever happened.

There was this astronaut. Well, he became an astronaut, but he worked with the reserves. He, at times, was dating the girl that was in scheduling, the WAF, and she was enlisted. They dated, and there was some problems. But they had done it kind of openly. I think he had taken her to the Officers' Club. Now, he was in the reserves, and I guess he figured that didn't make any difference. He worked for the reserves, but he was not really a reserve. He used to give me a hard time because he couldn't sign his own flight plan. So whenever he wanted to fly out, I had to get somebody to sign.

We always had somebody on call, and sometimes it would take me a while to get somebody there because he wouldn't let me know ahead of time. Then he'd be up in the air flying, and I'd have to call him and say, “Hey, the field is closed due to fog. You've got to go to your alternate.” Oh, he would get mad.

He'd say, “Every time I fly, you close this base.”

I said, “I don't close it. I'm just saying that tower said it's closed, you can't come in. I have to radio to you to do that.”

He was an astronaut later, and I can't remember what his name is. I know he died already. I was working in England, and he was there as a speaker one time right before he died. He was one of those that drove that little buggy up there on the moon, and I just can't think of his name right now. Anyway, he would get so angry with me because he'd see I was on duty and he was there to fly.

He says, “Oh, oh. Bet I won't get back in again tonight.” [laughs]

I said, “It's not me. It's Selfridge in the fog.”

HT:

Do you recall any humorous moments while you were in the military that happened to you or your friends?

LN:

Not right now. I can't think of anything.

HT:

What impact do you think the military had on your life, right after you got out and in the long term?

LN:

Okay. Well, see, before I even got out, I knew I was going to try and become a teacher for the overseas program. I had been babysitting for an army officer. I think he was a captain. They had just come from Italy. One night, I got there to babysit their two little boys, and he'd been late coming in so he wasn't quite ready to go. His wife and I were talking. The kids were already in bed. I'd said something about, well, I was going to get out so they were going to have to find another baby-sitter because I was going to go back to civilian life.

I said, “I wanted to really go overseas, but it doesn't look like I'm going to be able to.”

She says, “Well, what are you going to do?”

I said, “Well, I'll probably go back to teaching.”

“Well, you know,” she says, “they have teachers overseas.”

I said, “What do you mean?”

She said, “Well, in each base, they have a dependent school, and those are American teachers.”

I says, “Oh. I didn't think about that.”

I knew my sister and her husband were over there with their two kids at that time, and the kids were going to school, but I just assumed that they were teachers that were married to GIs and that they were teaching. I didn't even think about it. I said, “Oh, okay.”

She said, “Well, why don't you call Civilian Personnel and get the information you need.”

So what I did was I went back to work the next week, and I called right away and found out, well, they already had a vacancy for one in Spain. My sister and her husband were there, and I thought, “Oh, that would be nice,” but I didn't have the qualifications. I had to have four years of college, which I didn't have. I had the experience but not the four years. I decided, “Well, okay. I'll get out, and I'll go back to school on the GI Bill and get my degree. Then I will proceed to try and go overseas to teach.” Well, it didn't work quite that way, but I did get out, and I went to school summertimes with the GI Bill, and I worked wintertimes at teaching in Michigan. As soon as I got my degree, I signed up to go over to teach in the military. I spent twenty-nine years on military bases working with military children.

HT:

Where did you finish your schooling? Which college did you attend in Michigan?

LN:

Oh, I didn't. I finished in North Dakota. I took classes in Michigan. I took some from the University of Michigan. I took some from Wayne State [University], but basically, my degree I got at Mayville State Teachers College, where I had gone before, because I would lose too many of my hours and have to start over. I got my bachelors degree in special education, working with special children.

HT:

Where in Europe did you teach?

LN:

I started out in France. That was kind of funny, because I was teaching in Michigan, and I had an interview. We had to have an interview even to do that, and we had to get a clearance, a security clearance, before we could do it. I had my interview at Wayne State University. This man came in, and he was, I would say, kind of nasty. [laughs] I would not have wanted to work for him, but he was a principal or something over there. He said, “If you're a married couple, you might as well get up and leave because we're not hiring any married couples. It's too expensive or whatever to ship your whole family over.” So half of the group walked out, left. Okay. Then I had my interview.

He says, “Well,” he said, “you put on your papers you wanted to go to Europe.” He says, “How about Japan or the Far East?”

I said, “No. I don't want to go there.”

He said, “How about Turkey?”

I said, “No, no. I don't want to go there.”

“How about Pakistan?”

“No. No,” I said. “If I can't go to Europe, I don't want to go.” I says, “I'd like to either go to England or France or Germany of Italy or something like that.”

He said, “Well, you might as well go home and forget it, because,” he says, “you'll not get a job. You've got to do—.”

So I thought, “Okay.”

I went back home to Mount Clemens, where I was living, and bought a set of dishes and all from Germany and all that, because I [unclear] to get over there. Within a month from the time I had my interview, I had an offer for a job in France. I thought, “Gee. This man didn't know what he was talking about, did he?”

I got a chance to go to Toul-Rosières Air Force Base right outside of Nancy, France. I went in August of '61 to France. From there, I went to Bitburg, Germany, and spent a year there. I had a terrible accident right outside of Frankfurt on my way back from Nuremberg, whatever, so I decided, “No. I've got to get down where I'm right on the autobahn and I don't have to travel on all these roads up into the mountains.” So I went to Ramstein and spent three years there.

Then I put in paperwork to go to Japan. When you did that, you had to resign your job. So if you didn't get Japan, you were out of a job. They wouldn't pick you back up, or they didn't retain you where you were. A few years later, they changed it.

HT:

Were you under contracts at these various places?

LN:

We were only under what they called a “travel agreement.” Every two years, you got a chance to come home, and then they would send you back. However, if you went to a hardship area, then it was only a one-year agreement. That's all we had. We never had any kind of a contract as far as being a teacher or a worker. You were just automatically picked up, but the first two years that you were in, you were on probation. If there was some little thing that they didn't like, they could say, “Sorry. We're not going to renew it. You won't have another travel agreement.” Later, after that, they changed it, and it became where the principal would have to write up all these things and talk to you and that, but when I first went in, it was very easy to get rid of you if they didn't want you.

HT:

Did you actually work for the Department of Defense?

LN:

Yes.

HT:

So you were a civilian employee for the department.

LN:

Right.

HT:

Under civil service?

LN:

No. No.

HT:

No civil service?

LN:

As a teacher, you were not civil service. I didn't have a civil service rating. I had the equivalent of what would be a captain in the air force. I think I was a ten or something like that, ten or eleven, for housing and for that sort of thing. I had an ID card which was only good overseas. I could not use it to go to MacDill [Air Force Base, Florida] out here. I could use it in the commissary, in the BX [base exchange], and all of that sort of thing. We were required, or requested, to join the Officers' Club as a member, and we weren't supposed to be going to Enlisted Men's Club, although we sometimes did go to eat sometimes in there.

HT:

Did you have to wear some sort of uniform?

LN:

No.

HT:

Just civilian clothes?

LN:

Yes. We were civilian.

HT:

What about retirement? Did you pay into the civil service retirement plan?

LN:

Yes. We're in civil service. I don't have Social Security so I don't get Social Security, although after '82, '86 or '87, they passed that law where they started pulling out money from our pay for Medicare, and it's Medicare purposes only. I only get Medicare, but I do not get Social Security. Yes, it was Civil Service Retirement [System] whatever you call it, CSRS.

HT:

You went to Japan?

LN:

I went to Japan, spent two years. From Japan, I went to Iceland. I'd asked for Bermuda, and I got Iceland instead. The next year, I put in for Bermuda, and I got Bermuda. I spent thirteen years there. I kept asking for England and couldn't get it. Finally, after my first five years in Bermuda, I think it was—or maybe the first eight, I can't remember which—I went to Cuba for a year. I didn't like that at all. That fence out there, you couldn't leave the base for any reason unless you had an emergency and had American Red Cross approval. Then you could get a flight out on the military. Otherwise, we were stuck there until we came home at Christmas that year only, because they let the single teachers fly out that year with the single GIs that didn't have families over there so that they could be home for Christmas. That was the last year they did that, because the married teachers said that that was unfair to them because they couldn't go home but we could.

Well, their family was there, their kids were there and everything, and they were living in a house. We were living in one little dinky room that was like a Holiday Inn room that didn't even have a closet. Our clothes were hanging right out there. You did have your own bathroom, and that was it. You weren't allowed to cook or anything. We always had to go to the Officers' Club or in the navy there, we went to the—whatever they called it, where the navy waited on you.

HT:

What was your favorite place to teach?

LN:

I don't know. If you would say, where's my favorite place where I could visit from or go traveling, I'd probably say England. I thoroughly enjoyed Germany, but I had some pretty rough areas to teach in. I mean the school was not that great. When I first went to England, I was in an old one of those Quonset huts. I could hear the rats running overhead at night or in the afternoon after the class left because I'd still be there writing lesson plans or correcting papers. I could hear them running over, and I'd think, “Oh, boy,” but I didn't have to stay there too long.

As far as the traveling, probably England. I had a car every place I was at except in Iceland so I could drive different places to see. Of course, when I was in Bitburg, I could drive into Luxembourg. I could drive into France from Germany very easily. I could drive to Italy. In fact, one summer, we traveled the whole summer camping, and we drove all over.

HT:

So you only taught for nine months?

LN:

Yes. Well, just about ten months.

HT:

Then you were free to do as you wished the rest of the time.

LN:

Right. At first, our salary was so poor that I couldn't have afforded to fly back home on my own the first summer when I was there. So I camped that summer with some—I was the only American and the rest were all United Kingdom, the people that belonged—they weren't all from England, but like some were from Africa, some were from Australia, New Zealand. We camped for eight weeks, I think, something like that.

They were going into Spain, and I couldn't because I had to be back at the job. We had the summers free to do as we wanted. Now, prior to me being in there, they couldn't. They had to work, because their salary was such that if they wanted a Christmas holiday, they had to do some other kind of job for the base to make money for that period of time. Then they were getting Social Security, when they first went in in '45. When I got there in '61, three years before that, they'd been pulled out of that, and they were under a completely different retirement plan. So when school was out, that was it. We didn't have to worry. We could have until when we were to report again for the fall.

HT:

Did you teach only American children, or were there some native children?

LN:

There were children that didn't speak English. If, say, an American soldier had married somebody from the area that had children already that didn't know any English, we would have them.

HT:

The school was basically set up for American children of enlisted and officers?

LN:

Right, and any other Americans that were living in the country.

HT:

Civilians?

LN:

Yes. Now, they would have to pay tuition, but not like if they were a diplomat. Like you had the people that were working, say, in London. If there was a school in London, their kids would go to that school, then. Now, if they didn't have a dependent school, then there is generally what they call the American school system, and that was a little bit different.

But we would sometimes get children that were—they were working for an embassy or something like that, as long as they worked for the government. But if somebody was over there that was American and their job was for some other company over there and they wanted their children to come to our school, then they had a real hefty tuition for them to pay for them to come.

HT:

Did you always teach special ed, or did you teach other subjects?

LN:

No. I started out teaching first grade, and I taught all the different grades from first through sixth. Then I taught the special ed at times, and it was always a pull-out program. I didn't have what you would call, per se, a mentally retarded class. They did have them when I was in Germany, but I was teaching a regular class at that time. They were phasing it out and saying, “No. They should be all in a regular class and just come out for special help.” So when I was doing the special students, it was a pull-out system.

HT:

You did this for twenty-nine years?

LN:

I taught for the Department of Defense twenty-nine, yes.

HT:

When did you retire?

LN:

August of 1990. I was in Okinawa at the time.

HT:

You've lived here in Florida since then?

LN:

Yes.

HT:

Never want to go back to North Dakota to live or anything like that?

LN:

Not to live. I would like to visit every once in a while. I still have a nephew that lives there. We went back last summer for a short period of time to see some relatives in Minnesota, cousins from my aunts that had married there, but not when there's going to be snow. Thank you, no.

One time, I went back in September. I think it must have been that first year after I retired. My sister and her husband were up there, and they were up there in a motor home, but I had flown up. I had rented a car, and I was driving my nephew's wife to a doctor's office or something. I had picked her up that morning at the hospital at one place and taken her to Grand Forks to the bigger hospital for some tests. We were on our way back to their house, and it was about a sixty-mile drive. I'm driving along, and I said to my sister, “It looks like snow.”

She says, “No, can't be. It's only September.”

I said, “It looks like snowflakes. That's not rain hitting my windshield.”

Sure enough, it was snow, and this was like about the eleventh of September. By that evening, we were sitting in their kitchen looking out toward their barn, because he lives on a farm although he's a dentist, and I could see the snow coming down. They had these big lights, you know. All the farms do. If you're out in the country with nothing else, you have a great big sentry light you can see miles around. I said, “Look at those big flakes coming down.” Sure enough, we had snow covering the ground the next morning. The barn was covered with snow. The roof was covered. I decided, “No. It'll be July when I go up next time.” [laughs] I can do without the snow and the ice. The ice is the worst part, I guess.

HT:

I have just a few more questions about the military. Would you join the military again if you had the opportunity? Would you do it again? I guess I'll rephrase that. Looking back now, would you have done it again?

LN:

Yes. Yes. I thoroughly enjoyed the comradeship of being with people like that. Everything I didn't enjoy, really, was the—well, the segregation—and people wanting a “66” discharge.

[End Tape 1, Side B—Begin Tape 2, Side A]

LN:

It was the type of discharge that they got if they were considered unacceptable to the military. Their—what do I want to call it, affiliation. I mean, in other words, they weren't interested in a man-woman relationship but two women, lesbians. I can remember arriving at Keesler, and I was put in this room. Of course, you had no choice. You're assigned to a room. That's it. These two girls did not want another roommate. So they just figured that they'd make it so miserable that I would ask to be moved to another room or something. I don't really believe that they were lesbians, but they were trying anything to get back out of the air force. They were not happy.

One of them even got herself a crew cut haircut and something else that made her look more masculine. She was where she couldn't even leave—she could go to school every morning and back, and then she couldn't even go to a movie or anyplace. She was restricted to her room every day at Keesler until her hair grew back out, at least until it was enough where she could put some waves or something in it. It was that type of thing. I had never heard of that before, and I didn't know anything about that. That I didn't like. Other than that, it was a chance to get away from a small town as I grew up in, and it broadened my experiences.

HT:

Have you kept in touch with any of the people that you met in the military?

LN:

No. I kept in contact with some of them from basic and from tech school for a number of years. Then when I started moving and they started moving—and some of them, see, stayed in the service.

I think the last time I really was in touch with anybody was the year that I went to Iceland. I stopped in Washington, D.C. One of my friends from Selfridge was married, and she and her family were—he was stationed there at Andrews Air Force Base. They came and picked me up, and I went to their house and had lunch with them. Then they were getting ready to move, and I was moving, and somehow or other, it was about that time that I lost contact with them.

Before that, I also had been just visiting a friend in San Francisco. I thought her husband was going to be there. When I got there, Jake had left again, and he was back overseas in—well, Alaska, if you call that overseas. Anyway, he was at Adak, which is—no family could go. She met me when I came in, and then got me off to the airport to go to Japan on my first trip over. Then he was getting ready to be discharged, and they were going to stay in Alaska. Well, I heard from them probably about three more years, and then I moved from someplace, and they moved. That was about the last contact. But up for the first, I would say, a good twenty years, we kept in touch with each other.

HT:

What about the people you met when you were teaching at these various places? Have you kept in contact with some of them?

LN:

Yes. We have what we call a reunion. Every year, we have a Florida one. This last year, we went to Melbourne, Florida. It's called the Florida DODDS Reunion, Department of Defense Dependents Schools. We meet in the fall, usually, every year. You always see at least five or six people there that you taught with someplace along the line or you've met at one of the others, and they know somebody that you knew. Then we have what we call the US-wide one. Last year, we were in Boston. I spent five days up there, and there must have been at least fifteen or twenty people that I had worked with there.

This year, we're going to go to Wichita, Kansas. Wichita, Kansas, is where we're going to have what we call our archives for the dependent schools. It's joint teachers and students, and we have a place on the campus. It's going to be ground breaking this particular summer. I don't know how many people will be going, but a number of us. We keep in contact on e-mail and that sort of thing.

Now, my one friend just retired from England, and I think she had taught forty years, back a long way. She just retired, and she's planning to come here to Florida. Hopefully, I think she's decided on the Sarasota area. I have two or three friends in Sarasota, and I have a good friend over in Clearwater.

We get together. One time, seven of us got together at Safety Harbor, which is just over the bay, and had a reunion. Some of us hadn't seen each other since we left, probably, Bermuda in the eighties or the late seventies. A lot of us stay in touch that way. Christmastime, yes.

HT:

How did you end up living in Florida?

LN:

Well, I came back from Cuba, and my sister and her husband were retired here. My other sister had died—no, no, she hadn't died. I'm sorry. That was the year that they found out she had cancer. Anyway, I stopped here first on my way up to North Dakota. I had not planned to retire in North Dakota. It's too cold. I had thought I would retire in Michigan, where I had lived the years when I was in the military and then when I taught those three years or four years before I went overseas. My driver's license was still Michigan, and that's where I voted, and all that sort of thing.

I got there that summer, and I thought, “Well, it's time I invested something, get something going.” So I looked and looked. I looked at houses; I looked at condominiums, and then these villas that I saw up in North Tampa on Waters Avenue. I thought, “Well, gee, that would be nice. That looks like about the right size for me.” I bought a villa. It wasn't built yet, but it was in the process, and I saw some that—you know, they had five different models to look at. They'd say, “Okay. We're going to be building this, this, and this here.” So I picked one that I wanted in an area that I wanted. Then I decided, “Well, okay. I'll come back down here.”

That's how I ended up, but probably because of the fact that my sister was here as well would be an inclination to—because I knew I didn't want to stay in North Dakota. It was too cold. I didn't want to bother trying to drive in ice and snow anymore or to walk. I find that the summers here are so awfully hot and humid that I'm just miserable. So I really need to look for another place in the mountains for a second home.

HT:

Come to North Carolina.

LN:

Well, I had thought of that, North Carolina or in Georgia, in the mountains. I was in the Asheville area of North Carolina not too long ago. We took a trip up there, and I looked. Again, if I put my money into that, would I get my money back? I mean, would my relatives get it back or anything?

Like here, see, nothing will come back because these, you can't resell them to get what you put into them, because they deteriorate like a car. So I would say I put about forty thousand dollars or maybe more into this place, and if they get seven thousand out of it, they'll be doing good. I knew that when I moved in. I knew that, also, whatever I did extra to it, like I put siding on it, which it didn't have, and I put a new roof over it and all that, that I'd never get my money out of it, but at least I was going to be comfortable while I was alive. That was basically it.

HT:

Would you consider yourself to be an independent person?

LN:

Yes.

HT:

Do you think the military made you that way, or were you that way before?

LN:

No. I really wasn't too independent because I had a horrible time when I went away to college that first year. I knew nobody. I was the only one there, and my roommate was from a place about thirty miles north of where I lived. Neither one of us knew anybody and we couldn't go home weekends because it was just too far. We'd see all of our friends taking off for the weekend to go home, and we'd have to sit there.

I would say, no, I wasn't really too independent when I was younger, but the fact that once I went into the military, that gave me a little bit more independence. Then when I decided to go overseas, I went by myself. There was nobody. I went to France, and I knew nobody when I got on that plane to go. Now, I met somebody at—oh, we left from New Jersey, and I met somebody that was from Michigan, but I didn't know them. I knew nobody.

HT:

It took a lot of courage to sort of leave everything behind you and go overseas not knowing anyone, taking a job.

LN:

Yes. See, every time you move, you don't know anybody when you go there. Like I can't say that-not every time, but like when I went into France, of course, I didn't know anybody. When I moved from France to Bitburg, I didn't know anybody. When I moved down to Ramstein, I didn't know anybody, because the friends that I'd made up in Bitburg, some went to Wiesbaden, some went to Turkey, some went to other bases. I was the only one that went down to Ramstein. Now, when I went to Okinawa, I knew five people there when I went.

HT:

I guess the longer you did this, the more people you knew because you had taught at so many different places.

LN:

Yes.

HT:

Was it typical of teachers to move around as much as you did, or did you do this because you just wanted to?

LN:

No. I went in with the idea of moving as much as I could and seeing as much of the world as I could. Of course, when we'd have a long weekend or we'd have Christmas vacation, we'd take off on a trip someplace. So I've seen just about every country, really, except South America I haven't seen much of.

Some of them went and stayed in the same school for twenty-five years and bought a home there and are still retired there. I would say probably about one fourth of us moved around quite a bit. Toward the last, though, we had no choice. You couldn't move. You just had to kind of stay where you were, or that was that.

HT:

Now, the Department of Defense, do they pay for your moves?

LN:

Yes.

HT:

It's just like the military; they would pay for your moves?

LN:

Yes.

HT:

So they did not try to discourage you from moving because of the expense involved?

LN:

They would discourage it because you couldn't move. I tried for eight years to get from Bermuda to England and couldn't get it. We had a point system, and if you were in a desirable position, you had less points than somebody else. So people always thought, if they wanted to get Bermuda that was because we didn't want to leave. That wasn't the case at all. We didn't have enough points to get out. They had points to move in, but they couldn't move in if we were there.

Basically, when I first went in, if you wanted to move every two years, you could move. Then they started conserving, and they'd say, “No, we're not going to have that.” When I got to Iceland, they said, “You've already been into three international areas. You've been to the Pacific. You've been in the European area, and now you're in the Atlantic. You're going to have to stay here five years.” I looked at them, and I said, “I'm not staying in Iceland five years.” Iceland wasn't that bad. I did enjoy it the year I was there, but I didn't want to. But they said, “No. The Atlantic.” Then I moved down to Bermuda, but then I couldn't get out of there. I went to Cuba thinking from Cuba, because that's an isolated area, I could get England, but it didn't work so I went back to Bermuda.

HT:

I guess your only option was to leave the service.

LN:

Yes. The thing is, once you've got so many years in, your retirement is there. You'd have to start all over again from scratch, and I had pulled out my retirement money from Michigan because I had decided that I didn't think I wanted to go back to the ice and snow up there. It was icy. It wasn't so much snow, but it was a lot of icy roads when I used to travel to go to school.

So I decided that I was going to have to stay until I could get retirement. Then I could have retired, see, like three or four years before I did, because I could use my military time, and I had to have thirty years and be fifty-five. I had thought about it once, and I thought, “No. I'm going to wait.” They'd just added some new steps to our salary. “If I can get into those new steps and stand a year or two, then my retirement will be better.” So I stayed a little bit longer.

In fact, I probably would have stayed longer in Okinawa, except that I couldn't stand my principal. He was what we called “Mr. MGM.” He wanted a big production. He didn't care if we taught the kids. He just wanted a big show for the parents. I would have thought the parents wanted more show of what the children are learning instead of what they can perform for them, but that's what he wanted. So I just decided to get out, because that wasn't my idea. My idea was that those kids needed to be taught.

HT:

In all the years that you taught, how did you see the students changing? You know, in civilian life, we've heard so much about how the students in the civilian world are—

LN:

So much different?

HT:

—are so much different now than, say, when I was in school. I mean, there's less achievement, less respect.

LN:

Yes.

HT:

Did you see any of that in the military schools?

LN:

No. Maybe in the high schools there was problems, but in our grade schools, there wasn't. I would never consider teaching here, in Florida, as an elementary teacher even, because the kids, you can't discipline them anymore. You can't do this. You can't do that. If you pull a child up to your desk to talk to them, that's considered child abuse, just because you brought them up to your desk to show them how to do something that they were doing wrong.

I think maybe the kids were a little different, working with the dependent children, because they knew they had to behave. The parents were probably a little more strict than maybe some of the parents are here because the parents—I don't want to say they were there all the time, but one parent was always there. Whereas here, now, the man and wife work, so the kids come home. They're called latchkey kids or whatever.

We didn't have a whole lot of that. We did, probably, toward the end, but there wasn't that many jobs for the women to do unless they were in the military, too. Sometimes, you know, both the man and wife were military, and they would have the children in our school, but that wasn't a big thing.

HT:

When you joined the military, did you consider yourself to be a trailblazer or a trendsetter? Women had not really done this a great deal. It started in World War II, but this was still the early to mid fifties.

LN:

Well, I wasn't the first from my little hometown. We had a girl that had gone into—during World War II, she was in the navy. She was the only one that I know of. Now, we might have had others that I wasn't aware of that, you know, had left home and then joined. I know that she went into the navy. I would say probably, as an air force—when I went in, the women in the air force had not been there very long, because it had been the army air corps. They're still the WACs [Women's Army Corps], as they call them, and we were the WAF. I would say probably three years, maybe four years, is all there had been women of the air force. So we were really fairly new.

HT:

In general, were you treated well by the men, or did you see any kind of discrimination because you were a woman, either in basic or at your various duty stations?

LN:

In basic, no. We were fine. We were segregated, the women from the men. In the living quarters at Keesler, we were separated, and the men were not allowed into—they could go to the day room, and that was it. You could meet them at the day room, but they were not allowed into the area where—because like we'd have a barracks here and a barracks here and a barracks here. Now, they couldn't go there, but they could go to what was called our central day room.

I didn't really feel that we had anything because we were women. I could see it with the women officers, how they were not accepted as well, and they really, I would say, had kind of a hard row at the beginning. Now I think it's completely different. I don't think there's any problem whatsoever.

HT:

I guess because there was so few of them. As you mentioned earlier, there just weren't that many. They couldn't even socialize with the enlisted women, and there were so few of them that they were very much alone most of the time.

LN:

Right. When I was at Selfridge Air Force Base, we might have had two or three women officers and that was it, other than the nurses. The nurses and the officers, they were completely separated. They didn't have anything in common, and I never could understand why, what would be the difference. They were both officers.

If you'll notice, in Washington, D.C., the nurses have their own Vietnam memorial [Vietnam Women's Memorial] or whatever you want to call it. Now, we have a women's, which is all women.

HT:

That's WIMSA [Women in Military Service for America].

LN:

Yes. But we also have the other memorial that—I think it's called the nurses or it's the Vietnam. I'm not sure which right now. It's been a few months, or years, since I've been there to see it. But yes, the women, I think, as women officers, they were discriminated against.

HT:

Do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

LN:

No. [laughter] I get very upset with these feminist groups that are always saying, “The women are this and that.” I don't believe in that.

HT:

How do you feel about women in combat positions?

LN:

I don't think that I would want to be in a combat position, but then again, I don't know because I never had the opportunity. Even if I would have gone in earlier in the Korean, they were not taking women into Korea at that time. Now, I know later there were women there, in Korea, but not at that time of the fighting and all. Like nurses, yes, and like in Vietnam, the same, there were women nurses there. I don't know. I think that's each person as an individual, what they feel comfortable with. I don't know if I would feel comfortable with being fired at or being humped down into a fox hole or something like that. [laughs]

HT:

That's tough for anybody.

LN:

Yes. Yes. The fellows, of course, didn't have any choice because that was their duty, and that was it. I don't know. I know that I had a good friend when I was teaching in Okinawa. She was an officer in the air force, and she was on an AWACS [Airborne Warning and Control System] plane, and they went into different areas.

I don't know if she was ever shot at or anything like that, but I mean, she enjoyed what she was doing. I think she was a navigator or something like that, but I'm not real positive what her position was. She eventually became a lieutenant colonel. Then she got out just not too long ago, but she's still working as a civilian in Oklahoma with that same group. She enjoyed that sort of thing. I don't think it would have bothered her, and I know that she went many times to Turkey and into some of those other areas where they were still having some disturbances or strife. But I don't know.

As a radio op, if I would have had to stay as a radio operator, see, I would have been out in the boonies someplace. They wouldn't have been firing out there, I don't think. Well, they might have been firing overhead as you're telling them what to do. I don't know.

HT:

Well, when you think about your air force days, how do you view it, fond memories?

LN:

Yes. I have a book with pictures, and I have like a diary-type thing or something about some of the things that we were doing. I couldn't find all of it, and I was looking for them the other day. All of it was enjoyable, I think. I was young. At that time, you enjoy just about anything that you do, or you hope you do. Otherwise, I don't know why you would do it.

If I probably could have changed my job description, as I was trying to do, and would have gone to Wiesbaden, I probably would have stayed in, and I probably would have done the twenty years or whatever. As it was, I was happy that I did it, and then I was happy that I went overseas and taught as many years as I did in the different environments that we were in. I don't think I'd want to change that at all. You have very fond memories of just about every place you went.

HT:

I don't have any more questions, but it's been wonderful talking to you this afternoon. Thank you so much.

LN:

I hope I didn't—it's one o'clock.

HT:

Is there anything you want to add before we—

LN:

Not that I can think of. I don't know if you want to—well, most of this I think that I've already told you that I did put on here. This was right before and then where I moved to and all and the dates that I moved. If I come across any of those other things, would they want me to mail them to them?

HT:

Oh, yes. Betty Carter would love for you to send anything that you can find.

LN:

Okay. Now, those pictures—I have something that I really like. I just got it back because I had an argument with this WAC. I let her have it overnight, and it was just about a year before I got it back. It was a letter that we had when we left basic training, how we were supposed to conduct ourselves in the civilian world because we were going to go back home. It's really a neat one. I don't want to lose it, but if they would like something like that where I can make a copy of it—

HT:

Yes, they would love to have that. It would be great. Okay. Well, again, thank you. Thanks again.

[End of interview]