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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Helen Black, 2002

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Object ID: WV0270.5.001

Description:

Primarily documents Helen Dorothy Doyle Black’s service in the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) from 1942 to 1946.

Summary:

Black briefly discusses her early life, her father and uncle’s service as seamen in WWI, and being raised by her grandparents after her mother’s death. She also describes her plans to become a French teacher; tutoring in Nashua, New Hampshire; and teaching English and French in Andover, New Hampshire. WWII topics include the fall of France to the Nazis and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Black shares her reasons for enlisting in the WAVES. She mentions failing the physical exam and being accepted only after a navy officer spoke for her, and describes the send-off her school gave her. Topics from her basic training at Smith College include: the uniforms, her roommate, radio class, and the Cocoanut Grove fire. Topics from her assignment to the port director’s office in Boston include: the civilian response to servicewomen; working as a communications officer and a personnel officer; merchant Marines; using codes; and the death of President Roosevelt. She discusses training in education services in Washington, D.C.; briefly serving at the Oceanographic Institute in Suitland, Maryland; and informing men about post-service job opportunities in Pensacola, Florida.

Black discusses enrolling in the management training program at Radcliffe College in Boston, her reasons for withdrawing from the program, briefly working with the Veterans Administration, and returning to Radcliffe to complete her degree. She also describes her employment as the training director at R.H. Stearns Company in Boston, and in merchandising at Filene’s. She shares her reasons for moving to North Carolina and her employment there as personnel director at Myers Department Store, and later as personnel manager at Burlington Industries. She discusses meeting and marrying her husband, her return to New Hampshire, and her move to Greensboro, North Carolina.

Creator: Helen Dorothy Doyle Black

Biographical Info: Helen Doyle Black (b. 1918) was in the first group of women to enlist in the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II.

Collection: Helen Doyle Black Oral History

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

Full Text:

EE:

My name is Eric Elliott, and I'm with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Today is January 22, 2003, and I am here this afternoon at the home of Helen Black.

Miss Black, thank you so much for having us over today. We're going to talk about your service career with the WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service—U.S. Navy]. I just want to start out talking with you like I do with most folks, and just ask you, simply, where were you born? Where did you grow up?

HB:

I was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, and I grew up in Nashua—went to Middlebury College in Vermont.

EE:

Now, were you the first one in your family to go to Middlebury, or was that sort of a family tradition?

HB:

No. I was the first one to go to Middlebury, and I went to Middlebury because of the excellent French program.

EE:

They have always been strong in languages.

HB:

That's right. It's a wonderful school.

EE:

Well now, tell me, did you have any brothers and sisters?

HB:

Well, I have four half-brothers and a half-sister, but I have three cousins—actually four; three girl cousins—who are like my sisters, because I was sort of brought up by my aunt and uncle and my grandparents, because my mother died when I was an infant. So, does that have to go in?

EE:

No. This just helps me know—for some folks, their families were military families.

HB:

Right.

EE:

That wasn't the case with your family.

HB:

No. Well, actually, my father was in the navy.

EE:

In World War I?

HB:

World War I, yes. And so was my uncle, that, you know, I mentioned. Yes, they were both seamen.

EE:

Great. Great. So, maybe that had some playing in your mind later on. Who knows? You're planting a seed.

HB:

Actually, I shouldn't say this. My father was really not a sailor. [laughs]

EE:

We could add it later on. That's okay. We've done once or twice a few editings, but it just kind of helps me settle things. So, you grew up with your uncle and your aunt.

HB:

Yes. Actually, I was brought up by my grandparents, and also was very close to my uncle and my aunt because of the kids.

EE:

So those were your play buddies, those cousins.

HB:

Yes. They were my buddies. In fact, my cousin lives here in Greensboro, and she was in that program where she was training to be a nurse, but then she got married and she never got through it.

EE:

The Cadet Nurse program?

HB:

That nurse program, what was it called? It was under—I don't know. They wore little uniforms, but they were not part of the service unless they finished their training and went into the service.

EE:

Okay. I know they had something called the Cadet Nurse Program. Is that where she was?

HB:

Yes. Yes. That was it. Yes. And my other cousin, her sister was also a WAVE.

EE:

Okay. Tell me, because schooling is different, where did you graduate from high school?

HB:

Nashua High.

EE:

When did you graduate from there?

HB:

[Nineteen] thirty-six.

EE:

Thirty-six. So, it was a twelve-year high school, then.

HB:

Yes, that's right.

EE:

See, North Carolina was slow. We were slow. We only had eleven years. When you were in school, did you have any favorite subjects?

HB:

Yes. I always loved English, history, and languages, Latin, French. See, we had—our school was excellent. They had four years of English and four years of French.

EE:

That's great. Well now, so when you went off to school, you knew you wanted to study French.

HB:

That's right.

EE:

From the beginning. So your plan was to be a—

HB:

French teacher.

EE:

French teacher.

HB:

And I was. I had my first job—well, actually, the first job I had to tutor students who were at home, ill, because there wasn't a job open, and I got that because I lived in Nashua, and it was done through the State of New Hampshire. But then I got a job teaching French in Andover, New Hampshire, a beautiful little town near Hanover. I taught four years of French—no, four years of English, three years of French—and was extremely busy because I had to direct plays and work on the paper. I loved it, though. I loved my students.

EE:

Well now, you finished up at Middlebury in '40?

HB:

In '40.

EE:

What was it like? What do you remember about the world as a college student in the late thirties? When I go back and flip in my history books, because that's what I have, because I didn't live through that time, all this stuff going on in the world. Were you politically aware?

HB:

Yes, yes. You just made me think of something. At Middlebury, I graduated in 1940. That was the year France fell, and I can remember, I lived in Le Chateau in Middlebury. It was modeled after, designed after one of the French chateaus, a very famous one, but don't ask me which one.

La directrice [the director] was Mademoiselle Binon, and then Monsieur Boicier, he didn't live there but he would always be eating there. But the day the French fell, we were at lunch and they had us all stand up and we sang the Marseilles. I'd completely forgot that until you mentioned it. So, it was a period that—it was an historical period that I lived in, and I'm living in now.

EE:

Well, you know, most college students get kind of benign bliss about the world. They're either on the social world or burning their subject. But it sounds like you didn't quite have that luxury because the world was sort of impinging on your classmates coming in. I guess your senior year, '39, Poland's invaded. France falls in the spring.

HB:

Right.

EE:

Was there any concern about America being involved in a war, as you recall, in college back then?

HB:

We didn't talk about it much, because—I don't remember it being discussed much at that time. How I happened to become interested in the military—this is rather interesting—I was teaching at Andover and I would take the Montreal Express home to Nashua, weekends, and then go back on Sunday. I was sitting in the railroad station with this very attractive Canadian WAC [Women's Army Corps], military—I'd never seen a woman in the military. And I thought, well, you know, if ever they take women in the navy—for some reason I said the navy. And there it is. That's the Nashua Telegram [sic—Telegraph].

EE:

That was where you saw that. You cut that out.

HB:

Yes. And I didn't put the date on it. And I spoke to—

EE:

Well, it had to have been the summer of '42, because they didn't do anything before that. The WAACs started—WAAC [Women's Army Auxiliary Corps]—started in the spring, in March, and then it was by fall that the WAVES kicked in.

HB:

That's right.

EE:

So you had no interest in the WAC—

HB:

No. For some reason or other, and it wasn't because my father was in the navy. I mean, you know, I wasn't a navy brat or anything like that. But there was something about the navy that I wanted. So I showed that to my uncle and he said, “Go for it, Helen.” But he said, “Don't tell your aunt.” And so I didn't. That summer I got all the paperwork in.

I went to Canada to visit a friend, and I said to my uncle, I said, “If I get a call or a letter, open it. And if I've got to come back, I'll come back right away.” But he didn't.

He called Boston and said, “She's in Canada.” And he said, “But she'll be back in two weeks.”

They said, “That's alright.”

EE:

So that's how they found out about your application.

HB:

Who's they?

EE:

Your uncle and aunt.

HB:

Well, my uncle knew.

EE:

Okay. But just your aunt didn't.

HB:

Yes, she didn't. So when I came back, I went to Boston, and I couldn't get through the physical—my pulse. I went down three or four times on the morning train from Nashua to Boston, the Boston Main. They gave me one last chance, and I went downstairs. There was this little restaurant, and I had a glass of milk or something. And I looked over and I saw this naval officer, and I recognized him. He was a young doctor from my hometown. So he said to me, “Helen, what are you doing down here?” And I told him.

I said, “But I can't get in.” I said, “I've taken the exams and so forth, and passed everything, but I can't.”

He said, “You go up in fifteen minutes.” So I went up and there was the doctor or whatever it was, and I was passed. But do you know—

EE:

So, somebody spoke on your behalf—

HB:

Yes, but you know, the thing is, the doctor said to me, “Well, you know, it's okay now. But we're going to have to have the same, go through the same procedure when you get to Smith College.”

So I said, “Well, that's alright.” So when I went to Pensacola—that was a few years later, two or three years after—they gave me my records, and on the way I opened them and I read them. My pulse never went down. They'd passed me.

EE:

Anyway. Let me ask you a couple of fillers, because I want to get—you were in the first class of WAVES.

HB:

Yes.

EE:

So let me ask you before we get to there. What do you remember about Pearl Harbor Day? Anything?

HB:

Yes. Definitely.

EE:

Where were you?

HB:

I was up in Andover, New Hampshire. I lived in this beautiful—that was our home—my husband. That's up in New Hampshire. But it was similar to that, but I had a room and a bath, you know. And the people I lived with, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, they owned the general store, the country store. And, oh, they were wonderful people. I can remember, she called me. “Helen, come down. Quick.” And they had this radio, and so we just waited there and listened, and that's when I found out. Then it was broadcast to all the students when I went back to the school. They must have rebroadcast or something. But I remember that definitely, Pearl Harbor.

EE:

And I imagine some of those kids you were teaching probably went off and signed up for the draft, or signed up for service, anyway, right off the bat.

HB:

Right. Right. Right.

EE:

Did you take the train down to North Hampton, or did you take the bus? How'd you get down to Smith?

HB:

I've got to tell you something cute. I'm making this too long for you.

EE:

Oh no, no.

HB:

Well, this I love. The day that I was to leave, they had a special assembly and they gave me a leather, you know, it was brush and—I think it was really for a man. So the day that I was leaving, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher took me down to the railroad station. Now look. The school was up here. And then there was a big hill, and there was the train station. So, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were with me, and the train came from Montreal. Here's the Montreal Express. And all of a sudden I looked up. They let the whole school out. They were all—

EE:

Oh, goodness, that's great.

HB:

Yes. So, all these—

EE:

You had a great farewell, didn't you?

HB:

Yes. I knew it would make me cry.

EE:

That's beautiful. That's beautiful.

HB:

Those kids.

EE:

Well, obviously you weren't just an ordinary teacher to them. You were somebody special.

HB:

Well, yes. I got cute letters from them and so forth. I worked hard, but I loved teaching. I loved teaching, and I loved the kids, so it was a pleasure. So that's when I took off. And how did I get to Northampton? Is that what you said?

EE:

Yes.

HB:

Well, my aunt and I went to Boston, to the North Station, and there was the New England contingent. And then we arrived at Northampton, and then were assigned to different—I was in Gillette—I remember the name—one of the dormitories. I had a roommate who complained from the time she got there. Finally—we had to sit on wastebaskets, because they didn't have—the chairs hadn't arrived, you know? I mean, you know—

EE:

Y'all were making it up as you go in, almost.

HB:

Right. Right.

EE:

You didn't have the uniforms there right at first either, did you?

HB:

Yes, we did. In Filene's, Filene's of Boston. Do you remember that store?

EE:

They provided—

HB:

There was a place and you'd go and they'd give you the size and so forth, and they pretty much fit, I guess. Of course, we all had wonderful figures then. [laughs]

And then, so one day I said to her—I mean, she just complained. I can't remember her name. And I thought, I said, “I want to talk to you today.” And I said, “I want to tell you something.” I said, “You're very unhappy here.” And I said, “You don't know, but this is a great privilege, and you are taking the place of someone who couldn't get in and who wanted to get in. So really, if you're very unhappy, you can always resign.” She didn't say anything. The next day there was this lovely gift she gave me.

EE:

That's what she needed to hear.

HB:

She said, “I needed it,” and we were good friends after that. Yes, good friends. But she was. She was older than the rest of us. We were all very young at that time. I think she must have been twenty-five or twenty-six.

EE:

Well now, she had to be twenty-one. Didn't you have to be twenty-one to go in?

HB:

Twenty. But I don't know about the officers group. Maybe there—but it says right here. I read this the other day, “The age limits are twenty to fifty.”

EE:

Okay. But most—and fill me in on the PR[?] of this, because this is the first class and you all come together as the New England contingent. Now, I imagine there are contingents from the different regions of the country all coming to Smith. Is that what—

HB:

No. The New England contingents were at Smith, and I think they were also at Mount Holyoke [College, Massachusetts].

EE:

Okay.

HB:

But I think—let me see.

EE:

Were you told at the beginning that, “We're going to call you ninety-day wonders, and within three months you're going to be out”?

HB:

No. No, we knew, let's see. [reads] “New England young women to report to the Naval Training School at Smith College, October 6,”—that's in history books, I think, still; I don't know, maybe they've changed—“to become members of the first class of the Women's Reserve of the Navy.”

EE:

It was called Women's Reserve then. It wasn't WAVES, I guess, at that point.

HB:

But it was, no, but it would have said—let's see what it says here.

EE:

Maybe they just traded names back and forth.

HB:

Yes, let's see.

EE:

Because it's called WAVES in the headlines.

HB:

Let's see. [reads] “Applications, New England women for enlisting in the Women's Auxiliary Naval Reserve.” Yes, see? WAVES was Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. Then we became, let's see. “Lt. Helen, J.G., USNR.” I remember that.

EE:

That's Naval Reserve. Okay.

HB:

But this was the first group to be trained as officers, the ninety-day deal.

EE:

Good. What was a typical day like, in your memory? [Black laughs] Was it more physically exerting than you—

HB:

Well, it was; it was a lot of studying.

EE:

Lot of studying?

HB:

Yes. We'd be up, get up real early. I had a picture; it's in the other room. It showed us, and it looked as though it was still dark. We used the Havelock for the snow, you know? And with the boots, we had. Then we'd go down to the—we'd march down to the Northampton Inn. Had the most marvelous food, because they kept the cooks. Then we'd go to classes.

What did we study? We had—oh, the one I hated was radio. Can you imagine? We had a physics professor from MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] teaching this. We were all in one big room, and he put the slides, you know. And I had never had—I hated it. You know, that was not my cup of tea. See? And I'd be drawing the pictures and my girl next to me said, “Helen, the slide's been changed twice.” I was still drawing.

EE:

[laughs] So, schematic diagrams were not your forte.

HB:

No, it wasn't. And I thought, if I don't, you know, with all the publicity I got in Nashua and everything, I thought, “If I flunk out,” you know, I've never flunked a thing. Well, I went home for the weekend. I called my uncle. I said, “You've got to help me.” He was so smart. He was a lawyer, but he was smart in everything. I said, “It's this radio deal that I just will not be able to—it's physics, Uncle Alvin,” I said.

So when I got home, he had bought the same edition of the physics textbook that I had, only his was an enlarged edition. And he took—he removed the doorbell. He went to the electric stove, took that to try to tell me about circuits. I passed, but only because it was true or false. One of those things, and I was good at that. But that was the most difficult thing. And then, of course, we had terrific physical education. I mean, we really—what is it that they call when you have to jump over things? Well, they had a piano, you know, where they were—

EE:

Like an obstacle course, then.

HB:

Yes, that's what it was. We'd go under—we used, they were old gyms. I couldn't get over that thing, and I'd go whoom, and I'd be halfway. I finally made it.

EE:

Well now, you're the first person that talked to me about—I would imagine circuits, electronics, would be a tough one. Are you taking that course because they're making everybody take that course?

HB:

Yes.

EE:

Well did you, at any point, get a chance to express a preference for the kinds of work you would be doing?

HB:

No.

EE:

Like communications.

HB:

No.

EE:

You end up being a communications officer.

HB:

No, they were training all of us. Oh, we took typing. I wish I had taken typing in high school. I have a computer now, and it's so hard. This was just for code, and a Saturday afternoon. Oh, another thing that happened while I was there—you, perhaps, have never heard of this—the Cocoanut Grove fire [deadliest nighclub fire in U.S. history, 28 November 1942]? I was there. Not at the Cocoanut Grove, but see, I had to stay that weekend because for the typing course, you know? And there were girls who went. They had dates. You know, it's the [College of the] Holy Cross-BC [Boston College] game. That was it, and that was a terrible thing. They came back, but some—oh, it was a tragedy. But that happened while I was there.

EE:

Many of the girls from the program?

HB:

No, not from where I was. Whether there were any at the other schools, I don't know.

EE:

You were there for three months.

HB:

Three months.

EE:

Did you get to express a preference on what part of the country they'd send you?

HB:

Well, the only place that they—yes, I wanted to go to Hawaii. That's the only place outside the country that they would send the WAVES. I'll never forget the night the orders came through. We're in bed asleep and all of a sudden the fire alarm went off. Down we came, and they were handing out the orders—Boston, forty miles south.

EE:

Might as well just stay home and commute. [laughter]

HB:

But you know, then I found out that they tried, in their first groups, to get the girls closer to home.

EE:

They were probably worried about how they would react emotionally to being far away from home.

HB:

That's right. Oh, another thing that I remember, too, is Christmas. We went to mass, midnight mass, and they played—what's Bing Crosby's song?

EE:

White Christmas?

HB:

Well, everyone was crying, you know, because it was a white Christmas, too.

EE:

Beautiful.

HB:

Yes, that was another experience I had. Now, what was your question?

EE:

I was going to say, they gave you a choice, because I know sometimes in the service it's basically—

HB:

It seems that—no, I just hoped that—I don't remember your having to write down anything or they're asking you where you wanted to go. You just went whatever, and I think so many of them—let's see. Four or five were in the same building I was in in Boston.

EE:

You said earlier that you had one cousin who was a cadet nurse and another one who later joined the service. Were you the first one in your family, the first woman to go off to service? What was the family reaction to brave Helen heading off?

HB:

Everyone was very proud. And my aunt was—I mean, it really—and, you know, I got so much publicity. That's what I was afraid of, because I thought if I ever flunked out I'd be so embarrassed.

EE:

You've got the whole school waving you off there. They're all following what you're doing.

HB:

Here's she comes. Oh, I think I'd go to another—and, yes, I mean, it's [unclear].

EE:

Probably every time you made a grade they probably reported it and got you a picture or something in the paper.

HB:

Yes. A picture was in the paper. Where was one? There was one here. Oh, this is really—we made a retreat, you know. Do you know what a retreat is?

EE:

Yes.

HB:

This was at the Senecol[?], Senecol Lounge, and it was for these people, for people in the service, women. Let's see. The one who was the head of it, who came, was Richard J. Cushing, [Arch]bishop of Boston. He became cardinal. He was the one who was a great friend of the Kennedys. Here he is. Now, this one really pleased.

EE:

[laughs] Oh, how angelic.

HB:

That's the Boston Herald. They used to have the rotogravure section. Isn't that—[laughs]

EE:

Oh, my goodness. I'm sure every mama and daddy back in the school were so proud that you were—that's great. That's great.

HB:

Yes, that was really—and, you know, I always remember, if you know anything about retreats, a lot of it is silent prayer and the nuns would read the—and one of them, I remember a friend of mine said, “Would you ever like to be one of these nuns?”

I said, “No.” But anyhow, then who comes in but the bishop, Bishop Cushing.

And he said, “Okay, everybody.” He had a gravelly voice. He said, “No more of this reading. Let the girls talk.” He was wonderful. I wrote him a note afterwards, and I said that how much I enjoyed it, and he wrote me one back, and he signed it Dick Cushing.

EE:

I don't know if it played subconsciously in your decision-making. I know some of the people, their families were worried about them joining the service.

HB:

Yes.

EE:

Because when the WACs started, there was really almost a smear campaign against the—

HB:

Really?

EE:

—the morality of the women who were joining the service, that they somehow weren't as nice women as they ought to be, chasing the men. It's always, you know, the campfire scenario for—and obviously, faith meant a lot to the folks in that room. Was that an important part of your service? I mean, how did it factor into your service experience, your faith connection?

HB:

Well, I tell you, I think—I never heard anything like that. I tell you, I'll be very honest with you. I think that the WAVES—I shouldn't say this, but I think they had a higher class. I really do. I mean that the enlisted—

EE:

By design, their standards were higher?

HB:

There was something about—no, I don't know. I think it appealed—of course, the WACs and the Marines, I shouldn't say that. Of course, I was a WAVE officer, which makes a difference, too. But I told them at the time when I was having a problem. I told Commander Parker—she was formerly the dean or something or other at Radcliffe.

At that time when they wanted leaders, they would take these women with administrative positions, you know, because she headed the WAVES of the First Naval District. I went to her. I thought I wasn't going to get in and I said, “Look. If I can't pass that test, I'll go into the enlisted group.” That's how much I wanted to go in. Didn't make that much difference.

So I never heard much about that at all. In fact, I never heard it. And I would, you know. But, of course, I was in an area where—see, they sent a lot of us back to Boston, and, of course, it's a Catholic area.

EE:

So folks on the street—I assume you were wearing a uniform everywhere you went.

HB:

Yes.

EE:

How did the folks on the street treat you in your uniform?

HB:

Oh, wonderful. Oh, wonderful. You'd get—I remember once when, oh, it was—I was so proud. We were all so—see, there was such a feeling then, a feeling of love of country. I mean, everybody was in the service, you know. And then they'd kid you. You'd be walking along and there'd be, say, a lieutenant commander or captains, and they'd see me coming. They'd salute, make me salute them. You know what I mean?

EE:

On the street?

HB:

Yes. Yes.

EE:

So you were never really off duty.

HB:

No. No. You always had to salute, and then they'd laugh, you know. But no—and one time I was going home for the weekend and I took the train home to Nashua, and it stopped in Lowell, Mass. So a man was getting off and he came running back in, and he gave me a package of cigarettes. You know? You know, she's serving our country. And I thought, “Oh, that's sad,” because you could get the cigarettes at the ship's store, you know. That's when it was hard to get them. But he gave me his pack. Now, wasn't that nice? I didn't say anything. I said, “Oh, thank you.” I felt [unclear].

EE:

So glad he could show appreciation.

HB:

Yes. And so, I never, never saw it. Everybody was so kind and it was an experience I would never give up. I enjoyed it. Of course, I wasn't in the thick of things. That makes a lot of difference, too.

EE:

We talked a little bit before about when you were at the port director's office in Boston. Your work was—was it communications officer right there, the routing the merchant vessel scheduling, things like that?

HB:

Well, you were there. It's hard to explain. It wasn't a hard job. We worked all watches, which was hard, because you work eight to four, four to midnight, midnight to eight, you know, and you rotated. And you would be there during the middle of the night to call the different officers, if anything came up that they should know. And the armed guard, the captains would come in and they would give you all their paraphernalia, and you would have—or you might have something that was left with you to give to them.

You didn't have—now, a friend of mine was in—I was at the duty desk and she was in an office, which was not far, in the same office, you know, section, and whether she had to figure out anything, I don't think so. All I can remember about my job was I would go up to the communications office upstairs—it was upstairs—to see if any communication had come in that didn't get through to us. It was so general.

You know, when you think of a communications officer, you think of them on the ship with all this, you know, and you were responsible. Then you'd get messages from—what was it? The army had a place out—I don't know. Actually, our duties were so varied, it's hard to tell. Then I was transferred to the armed guard section and I became a personnel officer. That's when I became interested in personnel.

EE:

So, when you were at the duty desk in the main office, was your supervisor a man? Was your CO [commanding officer] a man?

HB:

Oh, there were so many in there. Let's see. They had a captain, a four-stripe, Captain Milne[?]. There was no one else on the duty desk.

EE:

So you were the highest—I guess, being so new, you were about the highest-ranking woman on staff, being the first class, right?

HB:

There were several in the—there were different responsibilities in that area. There was an armed guard section, which would be part of the—a lot of them were the merchant Marines, you know, the merchant ships.

EE:

So, was there concern—having an armed guard in this area, you go out to the Outer Banks, and there's German submarines right offshore. Were you concerned about spies and submarines near the port?

HB:

In Boston?

EE:

Yes.

HB:

No. They took us out to the, what do they call it, the Boston Lightship, and we had to climb, and they blow the little whistle. What do they call that?

EE:

[demonstrates]

HB:

Yes. Told them the officer's coming on. [laughs] So, yes, it was—what was sad is that all of these—you got to know these merchant captains. They'd come in at all hours. And they were sort of gruff, you know. They weren't the U.S. Navy. But so nice. And they took chances. They had the merchant vessels and they'd be in convoy, and that's a lot of the information that I would get. Now I can remember, you know, the convoy information that would have to be transferred. It was very secret. They'd go to the Merman's[?] route, I always remember that, and a couple of them were torpedoed. Yes, gone. People we knew.

EE:

People that you knew?

HB:

Yes. But it wouldn't happen in Boston Harbor or anything like that.

EE:

No, but that North Atlantic shipping route was—that's where everybody learned to zigzag, was to avoid the—

HB:

Right. Right. Right. Now it all comes back. I kind of forgot all about those captains.

EE:

But, I mean, the reason for the extra secrecy, I guess, is because this is critical, the supply routes, and so you don't want people to know about where you're going to have these boats.

HB:

Yes, but the thing is, you know, that I would never be a good spy, because I can remember I had to call this lieutenant commander up because a ship was coming in. It was the—what is the military—[USS] West Point. And it wasn't on my list. I didn't know where to put it, big thing. So I called him up and he said, “Well, which ship is it?”

I said, you know—now this is smart. I said, “The military academy.” Now, if a spy were on the other end, he'd know.

“Oh, yes, okay, Helen. That's fine.” [unclear] Gee whiz, you'd better take her off.

EE:

I was going to say, you're in a position where the phrase, “Loose lips sink ships,” means a lot.

HB:

Right. Right. And listen, they instilled that so on us that when I got my orders to go to Boston, I called home and my aunt answered. I said, “Well, I've got my orders.”

She said, “Where are you going, dear?”

I said, “Forty miles south.”

She said, “B?”

I said, “Yes.” [laughter]

EE:

The code that everybody works in, because you can't tell exactly where you are.

HB:

I was doing my best.

EE:

Somebody I was talking to said they wrote a letter home one time to say—oh, they got a letter from their brother, and they said, “I can't tell you where I am, but I saw a bear and I ran, I ran, I ran.” [laughter] So, he dropped hints throughout this thing. You were in Boston. You say you were there through '45. I guess it was in '45 when you got the transfer down to—

HB:

Yes, because see—that's right, because I wasn't in Washington long. I was there for training, and then that two-week period. But I could—

EE:

You were training right then when the war ended in Europe.

HB:

Yes. Because I was training in educational services to go to this hospital, in order to go and inform the men about job opportunities and how to apply for jobs, because they were going to be released.

EE:

This is personnel again.

HB:

See, yes.

EE:

You're basically helping folks find a career.

HB:

Yes. Now, that's something I requested, educational services.

EE:

How did you find out about that M.O. [military occupation?]?

HB:

Well, this old boyfriend of mine was going into educational services, and I thought we might be—

EE:

Oh. So it was for more than career purposes then. Okay.

HB:

No. No. I was really very interested in it, and I knew it was a good jumping-off place for me when I got out.

EE:

Well now, were you doing—this was a couple of months down in Washington for training?

HB:

Yes. I would say that—let me see. Yes. I got there into Pensacola—oh, golly. Well, I was home for Christmas in '45.

EE:

And this is what we've figured out. By the time you got to Pensacola, you had already been made SG [senior grade]. Were you made JG [junior grade], lieutenant JG, in Boston—

HB:

Yes.

EE:

—before you went to Washington?

HB:

I was made a two-striper before I went to Washington. And I was made a JG. in Boston, too.

EE:

Because the process is pretty quick. Of course, now, at that time did you have to be a college graduate to be a lieutenant?

HB:

You had to be a college graduate to get into the officers training group, and you came out as an ensign.

EE:

Okay. Were you in Washington when President Roosevelt passed away?

HB:

No. I was in Boston. I was in the Naval Hospital. That's why they had to take me off those watches, because I developed a chest infection, a lung infection. But it was nothing serious, but they were concerned, and because for two and a half years I wore—you know, I had to—don't put that in my record.

EE:

I just had pneumonia. I'm going to empathize with anybody with a lung infection. Now, what did you think of that news?

HB:

Oh, I was stricken. I loved him. In fact, I saw him. I took my young cousin; he was a little boy then. He came down and we went and saw Roosevelt at Fenway Park. He was in the big limousine. He had on that hat that was sort of like, you know, in his campaign, and the cape. And I tell you, I'll never—when he passed the stands, you know, there were thousands of people—I thought the whole thing was going to fall over, the adoration he had. He was a wonderful man. How he did what he did at that time—

EE:

Yes, and the fact that, with his handicap, which was very difficult to do in addition to everything.

HB:

Right. And you really never noticed it much, you know, because he—

EE:

Well, they didn't put pictures of it around, did they?

HB:

No. You haven't seen—oh, I'm going to let you see it there. Have you seen the Roosevelt thing in Washington?

EE:

The new memorial?

HB:

Isn't it wonderful.

EE:

Beautiful. Beautiful. With the four passages through his four terms. They even have his [unclear] up there.

HB:

And I think that—yes, I have that. My nephew bought me that when we went together, and that's when I got this business here, from the women's memorial, too. But that is wonderful, especially, remember the unemployed workers? That was wonderful [unclear].

EE:

Yes. It's a very moving tribute. It involves you in it. You were in Washington, and then we've mentioned, because it's on the women's memorial thing, you were for a short time, a couple of weeks at the Oceanographic Institute in Suitland, Maryland. This was just now as you're waiting to get your clearance to go to Pensacola. Did you know Pensacola was where you were heading when you left D.C.?

HB:

I must have. Yes, yes, I did know.

EE:

Okay. And then you were doing in Pensacola the kind of thing you were talking about with me earlier, talking to folks in hospitals.

HB:

Yes. I would go in. Of course, you've seen the picture. You know, I'd go in and there were all these men, and they'd stop. And I was being very, you know—I was professional. [laughs]

EE:

But some of these fellows haven't been around a lot of women for three or four years.

HB:

And I'd come in with my books, you know, and very dear, you know. “Now, I'm going to talk to you today—.” When I think of it now [laughs]—

EE:

Very reserved. Very reserved. Stiff upper lip. Good work, that.

HB:

Yes, it was good work. And I had made—I thought of staying in the navy. In fact, there were many times I wished I had, because it was a—but then all my friends were getting out, and I decided this was the time. And so I did. I left at Pensacola.

EE:

But were you given the opportunity? Because, you know, some women were not given the opportunity to enlist. You weren't given the opportunity to stay on?

HB:

Oh, yes. I had been accepted through New Orleans. Then I contacted—I don't know whom I contacted to tell them I didn't want to withdraw. I think that would have been very good because eventually it would have been part of the regular navy, and I loved the navy. I really did. But I didn't. The life—who was it? A friend of mine says, “Helen, always remember, God has you where he wants you.”

EE:

Yes. Sometimes you'd only know that in the rearview mirror, but yes, that's true.

HB:

Is that so?

EE:

Well now, so you left in January of '46.

HB:

Yes.

EE:

What did you do? Did you come back to Massachusetts, to New Hampshire?

HB:

To New Hampshire. I came back to New Hampshire, and I immediately went to Radcliffe [College] in Boston. Now, at the time that I applied, and I had to get recommendations from some of the officers that I worked with in the navy—at the time that I applied, was called the Management Training Program. They did not at that time allow women into the Harvard Business School. They did the medical school. They did the law school, and public administration. So I've got to backtrack here, and this doesn't have to go in anyhow, but I was accepted to go into that program.

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

HB:

—and it was a great romance fast, and we were going to get married. It didn't turn out that way, but I withdrew from that program. Then I worked for the Veterans Administration. And then when it didn't materialize, I went back to Cambridge and I said I want to get [unclear], and I went into the program.

Do you know, this is interesting, about five or six years after I got out of the program, they admitted women into the business school. But the program changed to Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration, and because we had the business school professors, but we didn't get a degree; ten months, and just got certificates. Then, what, about four or five years after that, they made us all alumnae of the Harvard Business School. And that was all due to my being in the U.S. Navy.

EE:

Well now, you say you didn't meet up again with Daniel till the early seventies.

HB:

Yes.

EE:

So, you're off on your career. Where did you work? Were you working in New Hampshire? Where did your career take you?

HB:

Oh, you want to know—you really have my life history. Let me see. Where are we starting now?

EE:

Well, you've just left Harvard-Radcliffe Business Program.

HB:

Oh, yes. Well, what I did then is I was training director at R.H. Stearns Company in Boston, which was like Altman's in New York. Very, very nice. It wasn't the Sterns of New York. This was S-t-e-a-r-n-s, old Boston. We had a doorman and everything else. I loved it.

Then I decided I wanted to get into the merchandising end, and I went with Filene's in Boston. They had a good merchandising program, and I went through the program and then I wanted to get back, because I knew I liked personnel. So I went—Stearns called me, and that opening was again open, and so they said, “Come on back.” So I went back.

Then the next thing that happened is my family moved. My cousin Louise married a doctor here, well, years ago, and her mother was here after my uncle died, and my other cousin was, her husband was a doctor at Duke. So I decided I wanted to be near family, so I came down here and I got a job.

EE:

This was in the fifties, sixties? When was this?

HB:

Wait a minute. When was it? '57. I. I came down here as personnel director at Myers Department Store, Allied Store. Hardest job I ever had in my life. [laughs] I hated it so. I hated it. Don't put that in it. So I was lonesome for the life I had in Boston, and I don't think they liked me, too. They sort of ridiculed my accent, because they were the ones I was working directly with, the employment manager and so forth. So I was complaining to my cousin Louise, and she said, “Helen, all you do is complain.” She said, “Do you think some of it might be your fault?”

So I said, “Oh, really.” So I decided—what happened was, all I did was work. You know, the retail.

EE:

Sure.

HB:

And I had been asked by Ruth Kleinert, who was executive director of the Red Cross here, to join the Altrusa Club. That was wonderful women in it. I called her up and I said, “I want to talk about it again,” and that was the beginning of my liking to be here, because I got to know women in different professions.

EE:

Made social connections.

HB:

Yes. And then also, then I was contacted by Burlington Industries. I became a personnel manager over there. See, I had actually come down here at the time to—I wanted to move from Boston down here, and I went to Burlington to interview. The person who was supposed to interview me wasn't there, so afterwards when I went back to Boston I wrote him a letter saying, “I'm sorry but, blah, blah, blah,” but sent my résumé.

So evidently they were looking for a professional personnel person, and they were going to the New York office to get it. And the secretary in the personnel director's office here in Greensboro said, “I don't know why you're going. There's someone here in Greensboro.” She went to the file and she remembered the résumé. That's how I got it. I was there until I married in 1972, and I moved back to New Hampshire.

EE:

So, your husband was from New Hampshire originally?

HB:

Pardon?

EE:

So, was your husband from New Hampshire originally?

HB:

Yes. Same hometown.

EE:

Oh my goodness.

HB:

Yes. He was—see, at the time that I was in the navy, he was at Mass[achusetts] Eye and Ear [Infirmary], specializing. I didn't even know him.

EE:

Okay. Excellent. And then you came back. How did you get from New Hampshire back down to here?

HB:

Oh, how did I get back out here? Let's see. Wait a minute. I thought you were just going to talk about the navy.

EE:

We don't interview many folks outside the state, but just by doing that we interview folks from all over the country, and I'm always fascinated what brings them to North Carolina.

HB:

Well, let me see.

EE:

Was it back to family connections?

HB:

I had been here before, remember. I left and went back and married him, right in '72. Then in 1980—when I was here, working for Burlington, I bought a little house at Francisco Place. Do you know where that is? It was the first townhouse, what do you call it, enclave or whatever. They were very nice.

EE:

Like cluster homes.

HB:

Yes. They were for sale, so I bought one, and I thought I was signing my life away, you know. Now, how did we get in touch with each other? Oh, I know. My life has been very full, very interesting. What happened was, this Ruth Kleinert was a very good friend of mine, and I said, “Ruth, let's go to Bermuda.” So we made reservations on the old [RMS] Queen Elizabeth, the old queen. It was wonderful.

We went to New York and we stayed. It was at Easter time. Then we went to Bermuda on the ship, and while I was on the ship, I wrote a note to Daniel. See, he knew we were supposed to have gotten married. And that started it all over again. Then we got in contact with each other, telephone and so forth and so on. Then in July of 1972, I visited him. He had a place at Rye Beach, New Hampshire, too, and we got engaged, got married in September. And that's how I went back to New Hampshire.

Then, in 1980 his health was—he was going to go—he had decided he was going to cut down on his practice. We'd rent an apartment in Nashua. We'd have the Rye Beach place as our place. It didn't turn out that way. He had to stop completely. He had diabetes, and it's a silent—

EE:

Comes on quickly.

HB:

It's awful. And so he had to stop. It affected his eyesight. So we sold that house. We made the beach place our residence for six months, and my aunt, who was still living in my little house, we would come down for six months. She was then at Maryfield Nursing Home. And that's how I got back here. Then, when he got real sick, we sold the beach house, and he died down here. So that is how I got back.

But at the time that—, after he died, I really wanted to go back to New Hampshire and live there. I was living at Patriot Way, the little house I had bought, and I'd go back and I'd come back here, and I'd come back, and my friends said, “Make up.—” You know, I couldn't make up my mind. But I finally did. I was just driving by once with a friend of mine. She said, “Look at those houses.”

And I said, “Aren't they pretty?” I hadn't been looking because I didn't know. So I had taken her on an errand. So I took her home and I came back and, “I'm just going to drive in here.” Because it looked like New England.

EE:

It does. The whole shake sort of roof.

HB:

Yes. And I thought, “Gee, this is lovely with the trees and everything.”

EE:

That's right.

HB:

So I thought, well, I'll go and look at the model house. And I did, and this is it. This was the model.

EE:

Oh, wow.

HB:

So the following day I got a call from Kay Tisdale. She was the one who took care of—she was with Cone, Cone—

EE:

Hospital.

HB:

Yes. And so she called me and said, “I'd love to talk with you, Helen.”

And I said, “Sure. Come on over.”

And she said, “The reason I'm contacting you,” she said—they always had a very lovely person at these houses, you know—she called me and said, “There was a woman that came in today and when she saw this house and the environment,” she said, “her eyes lit up.” She said, “I think you should talk to her.” Because I'd just left. I didn't say anything.

So we came over again, and so Kay said—she was good. She said, “Everything you have in your house would fit into this house.” And it's true—everything. This was it. And see, these were—I bought them. These were there, and I thought—I loved them. They were conservative.

EE:

You have had a full East Coast life. [laughs]

HB:

I tell you. I tell you. I had to give, you know, at Altrusa, each of us would have to give our life [story], and it was supposed to be five minutes. And I said, “Well, at my age that's going to take longer than five minutes.” And I tell you, it really—in fact, I was going to take out the notebook I have, and it's all outlined so it would make it easier. But you did a good job of directing it. But it was—I've had a very, very interesting life.

EE:

You did some things nontraditionally that made it exciting, I would think, for you.

HB:

That's right. Well, the thing is, I don't think I was interested in getting married. That's one reason I got out of the navy at the time, because there was one person, and he was from Nashua, too, but he was a naval officer, and I always liked him. I thought, “He's getting out at the same time as I,” and we'd see each other in the navy, you know. It didn't materialize.

And then I met Daniel, and see, but then I decided, “I'm going to get that training that I wanted. I can do it now.”

And then when I met Daniel, he said, “No, don't, because we're going to get married.”

I said, “Okay. My sister's got to get married first. We'll get married next February.” But it didn't work out. So I just went back and then I took it from there. So therefore, it was because of the navy that I was to do a lot of the things that I did.

EE:

You think the service made you more independent?

HB:

Yes. It did, because I was away from home, and I think that's why my uncle said, “Don't tell your aunt.” Remember? Because he was a great—he was a wonderful adviser to me.

EE:

Was this uncle on your mom's side or your dad's side?

HB:

My uncle?

EE:

What was his name, by the way?

HB:

[Spells] L-u-c-i-e-r. He was mayor of Nashua. He was a brilliant trial lawyer. I loved him. He was like my father, really. I'm going to tell you one thing, that he gave me a lot of confidence. My grandmother did. See, when my mother died, my grandmother and grandfather brought me up. She was strict, but she was wonderful. She would let me select what I wanted to wear to school. Now, you know, not many—no. Now, you—

EE:

Was she expecting certain standards?

HB:

Yes. Right. And then she was strict. She'd say, “Now, practice your piano.” I did. And she'd say, “I want to hear the memorizing now, Helen.” I can always remember. It was Rachmaninoff's Prelude. And I'd get to the third page. For some reason I couldn't, and I'd skip over to the fourth. You know, no one would know. She'd be out in the kitchen. “Young lady—.” She knew. And she was really something else.

But she was—I think she felt—well, she was that way herself, too, and I think that she felt I could make some decisions on my own. But when I was a senior in high school, I had been taking piano lessons and I wasn't practicing. I was interested in dramatics. I was very—and in social life. I said, “Grandma,” I said, “I can't take my lesson today.” I had a strict teacher. And I said, “Call her up. Would you call her and tell her?”

She said, “Helen, it's your fault. You call.” And I called her. See?

EE:

Okay.

HB:

And then when I wanted to stop I told her, I said, “Grandma, I think it's a waste of money right now. But please call her and tell her that, or tell her that, you know, you felt I was busy with—.”

She said, “Helen, I can't do that. You're the one who wants to give up the piano lessons. You call her.” And I did.

EE:

And that kind of responsibility—taking does you in such good stead for later on.

HB:

Right. It did.

EE:

Because you're not waiting for somebody else to do it for you.

HB:

No. And I know my uncle would always say to me, he'd say, “Helen, I'm so proud of you, because you've done so much on your own.”

EE:

You had the great educational help with the GI Bill. How much did being a WAVE factor into your life after you left the service? Did people know about your service time? Did you identify yourself as such? How did you find out about us, for that matter?

HB:

Now, the funny thing is, I didn't join the WAVE group here, you know.

EE:

Well, there's a very strong WAVE group here in town.

HB:

Yes, there was a WAVE group. My cousin Connie did. She was living here at the time. I guess I was so involved with personal, professional, because I was on the board of a personnel association, and I was president of Al—I mean, I had a lot of activities, and I just didn't take it. It didn't register. You know what I mean?

EE:

Right.

HB:

How did I find out about this? What is her name—? Adelaide Murphy. Do you know?

EE:

Yes. I've interviewed Adelaide, as a matter—

HB:

Yes, Adelaide. Yes. Well, Adelaide called me and said, “Helen—.” I hadn't seen Adelaide for a long time.

EE:

Was she somebody you knew through Red Cross?

HB:

Pardon?

EE:

Did you know her through Red Cross, or how did you know her?

HB:

I knew her through church. She went to Saint Pius [Tenth Catholic Church], and then a group of us used to have lunch every so often. But that was years back. But then she called, and her health is not good. I don't know. Have you seen her?

EE:

It's probably been six months. Her daughter was over there with her.

HB:

Yes. Adelaide was a Marine. So she said, “There's this—.” She said, “I thought maybe you'd like to go,” because she knew I was in the navy. And I said okay, and I sort of put it aside.

Then I thought, “No, that's going to be kind of nice. I think I'll go,” because I'm not so involved in a lot of things now. So I called Adelaide, and her daughter took us over there. That's how I—

EE:

Well, I am so glad you did, because you've got a great story. I want to ask you a couple of questions which I ask to kind of gauge the temperature of your take home from the military. Right now a woman could be a fighter pilot in Afghanistan. You were in the first batch of women in the navy, and they were unsure what to do with you all, frankly. They let you do more and more things, but what do you think about women in the service now? Do you think it's a good thing that they're able to do so many things, or how do you feel about that?

HB:

Oh, I think that's great, if they can do them. You know, I could never be a fighter pilot. But I mean, if I, you know.

EE:

It's sort of like radio. If you have the skill, more power to you.

HB:

Right. You know, I'd be good in organize—I'm a very good organizer. I mean, at that type of administrative work and so forth, and they need them. Yes, I could have been head of the WAVES.

EE:

Well now, if a young woman came up to you today and said, “I'm thinking about joining the service—.”

HB:

I'd say, “Go for it.”

EE:

Okay.

HB:

You don't know what it is going—you know. It's very different. Plus it's so very different, because although we're almost at war now, which is—never mindnever mind. But, see—

EE:

At any time you can be called up once you're in the service. You are at somebody else's pleasure, you know.

HB:

No, now, not at my age.

EE:

No, you're no longer active. But if you're ever back on active duty, you're going to be called up.

HB:

Right. And it's a different ballgame now. I mean, it isn't like it was. There's so much world tension. I don't feel as though we know whether we're coming or going, politically.

EE:

I think we've been in a loop for at least since September 11th, almost.

HB:

Right.

EE:

Do you think—you said earlier that it was, walking down the street, everybody—there's a different feeling of patriotism then, wasn't it?

HB:

It was a wonderful feeling. Everybody was. I mean, after September 11th [2001] everyone was patriotic. But, you see, the world, the United States is so different now. We have so many ethnic groups. Well, we had—see, I was used to ethnic groups up in Nashua. We had the Greek church, the Lithuanian church, the Polish church, and St. Patrick's church. I mean, I knew—I mean, I was in that—see, I was in the high school. They were my friends, and you know.

We had no blacks, but my family was never—we were never—we were good Democrats. My uncle was national Democratic committeeman from the State of New Hampshire. My father was just the opposite. He was out in Cleveland. His approach to things of that sort were very different from mine. But however, everything was so different at that time. It's scary now.

EE:

Scary in the uncertainty?

HB:

Oh, it's on? [laughs] We're getting to the—

EE:

It's all right. We're about to wrap up, and then we can always cut out anything that you want to change later. But I just, you know, one of the things that this program does for young people who are reading it, reading these stories, is that the world has been different, and you can read about it or you can hear about it. And hearing about it is a different—when you hear different perspectives, and one of the things, you know, a lot of my folks get down to the experience of sitting down with folks, like I've had the luxury of doing with people who lived through a different time—we've never lived through total war. We don't know what being totally focused and mobilized on war is like.

HB:

You're talking youth.

EE:

My generation and the folks younger than me.

HB:

That's right.

EE:

And, you know, we have been at war for two years on terrorism, but it's a different kind of war than it was in World War II.

HB:

Oh, yes. I mean, people—that was—

EE:

No ration stamps.

HB:

Gas was—they're not approaching it. I think we're in a dangerous situation that oil—we're not being asked to sacrifice at all. You know? And see, of course, I'm an environmentalist and conservation. I mean, these things frighten me because of the approach that's being taken by the administration at the present time. But that's it.

EE:

We've gone through, in about an hour, your life, and I apologize, because your life is worth more than an hour. Normally we linger with folks, and I just thank you for the chance to sit down and talk with you today about your time in service, and I'm going to take some of these goodies back with me to the school and folks out there. Is there anything about your time in service, or what it has meant to you, that I haven't asked you about, which you want to share?

HB:

Do you mean emotionally?

EE:

Whatever. You mentioned to me outside of the hearing of this on the recorder, you were doing some things, say, you were so glad for the experience in the service for the time there, and also the fact that it led you into your professional career.

HB:

That's right. Those are the major things. Or would it be something that was funny that happened while you were in the service?

EE:

Well, you know, there are funny stories. You've told me a few. Tell me on tape, because we don't have it on tape—you showed me a picture of a young New Jersey fellow that you ran into. Tell me how you met up with Frank Sinatra.

HB:

Oh. Well, I did tell you.

EE:

Yes, but we weren't on tape then. So tell me on tape.

HB:

Oh. Oh, we're on tape. [laughter] Well, one day a public relations officer came out of his office, which was opposite ours across the hall, and went to our captain and said, “Captain Milne, I wonder if it would be possible to release Helen Doyle,” and then that other enlisted WAVE, “for a few hours, because Frank Sinatra is in Boston. He's performing at RKO Keith's [Theatre], and we would like to have a picture taken with Frank Sinatra and a few WAVES.”

And he said okay. So then we were transported via—what do you call that; not SUVs—station wagon to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the Lever Brothers Building, and waited for Frank. Pretty soon we heard the sirens and the big limousine and the police and so forth, and out popped Frank. He ran up the steps and they posed him in the middle, between the two of us. And then they said, “Mr. Sinatra, would you mind standing up one step?” because he was short.

EE:

So this whole thing is designed for a photo op[portunity] with you and your buddy.

HB:

Yes.

EE:

On the way to his recording session.

HB:

That's right.

EE:

So how long was he there for, just a few minutes?

HB:

Just a few minutes, and he said, “Do you mind if I put my arms around the girls?” And then they said no, so he did. And that was the end of it.

EE:

Did you get an autograph?

HB:

It seemed as though—no. No, I didn't get an autograph. It seemed as though I had a picture with an autograph, but that would have been afterwards, wouldn't it?

EE:

Maybe he sent it back to you.

HB:

Maybe it was sent to me or something. In fact, I think that's the one my uncle had framed at his law office.

EE:

Well, I appreciate you sharing with us. I know there are many people who would collectively swoon with you after being next to Frank. When I lived in Philadelphia, there was a station that on the weekends played all Sinatra, all the time. They really liked Frank Sinatra out in that neck of the woods.

HB:

I like his voice. I really do. Now, what is it you want to tape here?

EE:

Thank you, Miss Black.

[End of interview]