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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Kathryn Fulner Wakefield, 2003

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Object ID: WV0275.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Kathryn Wakefield’s service in the WAAC (Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps) and the WAC (Women’s Army Corps) from 1943 to 1945.

Summary:

Wakefield discusses the Depression, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and attending business school. Of her enlistment, she describes the influence recruitment posters had on her, her decision to join the WAAC because of its unflattering uniform, and her family's reaction. Topics from Wakefield's basic training include: the thrill of being stationed in the South; the adjustment to military life; training instructors; and unit size. Of her experience at Army Administration School in Alpine, Texas, Wakefield mentions the adjustment to the environment and performing military police duties.

Wakefield describes being a member of the first WAAC unit stationed at Greenwood, Mississippi, and remembers a birthday party thrown for her by servicemen. Topics from her time in Jackson, Mississippi, include: recruiting and selling war bonds; replacing her future husband while he was on furlough; flying with Dutch pilots; and her wedding. From her time stationed in Dothan, Alabama, she recalls performing stenography for court cases. Other wartime topics include: civilian reactions to servicewomen; WWII patriotism; and the stigma attached to the WAC. The interview concludes with a discussion about Wakefield’s photographs from her time in the WAAC and the WAC.

Creator: Kathryn Fulner Wakefield

Biographical Info: Kathryn Fulner Wakefield (1920-2012) of Hillsdale, New Jersey, performed clerical work in the WAAC (Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps) and the WAC (Women’s Army Corps) from 1943 to 1945.

Collection: Kathryn F. Wakefield 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:

ERIC ELLIOT:

My name is Eric Elliott, and I am with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and this is an interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the university. Today is February 10, 2003. Time is marching on.

But we're here in the warm home today of Kathryn Wakefield in Greensboro, North Carolina. Ms. Wakefield, thank you so much for having me over this morning. It's a messy morning, but it's already been a warm, fun time here, and we're just glad to have you sit down with us to talk about your time in the service.

I start with everybody the almost exact same way, so if you could tell us—even though you've already told me, if you could just tell us for the record—where were you born and where did you grow up?

KATHRYN WAKEFIELD:

I was born in Brooklyn, and I grew up in New Jersey, really, in Hillsdale, New Jersey.

EE:

Where is Hillsdale, for somebody not familiar with—

KW:

It's near Westwood, New Jersey, or Hackensack.

EE:

Okay.

KW:

I had all my schooling there and graduated from Park Ridge High in New Jersey.

EE:

Did you have any brothers and sisters?

KW:

Oh, yes. I had six sisters and two brothers.

EE:

So where are you in that mix—oldest, youngest, somewhere in between?

KW:

I was the fourth daughter. My mother had four girls first.

EE:

And what did your folks do for a living?

KW:

Different things. My father really worked in the post office, most of his life there, in New Jersey. In Brooklyn, his father, they owned two movie theaters, and he ran those. But that's about all I remember. We went to New Jersey when I was seven years old, and we breathed in that country air. I remember him telling us that—and loved New Jersey. It was fun.

EE:

I lived for about five years in Philadelphia, and we would love going over to South Jersey for the very same reason. Folks down here have this image of New Jersey as just the turnpike.

KW:

I know.

EE:

And there's lots of different things up there. It's really nice.

If you moved to New Jersey at seven, you probably have some memories of the Depression starting.

KW:

At seven? Well, I remember going through the Depression. Yes, I do. In fact, I remember we were given soup from trucks that came around to the schools or to homes, because I remember hearing things on the radio. I was very young, so I remember my father would tape, he would tape some of it. I don't know how he did that. But it was terrible. It was a terrible time. We only worked for ten cents an hour, if I got a job, or twenty-five the most. But we were young, did this in the summertime when I'm a little older, of course. But that was the Depression.

EE:

Everybody in the family was trying to get some work to help out, weren't they?

KW:

Oh, yes, it was. It was a very interesting part. In fact, there was no money to be seen. A dime meant an awful lot. When the war came my father said our economy will start being better. But we didn't hear too much about the war, because [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt kept a lot from us. But when we did hear about going into the war to help out England we would do anything to help them. I felt that very much. Being a girl, even, I felt that way.

EE:

You graduated from Park Ridge High. Did you have a favorite subject when you were growing up, school subject? You were somebody who liked school?

KW:

Oh, I loved typing and I loved shorthand, and that's what my main things were.

EE:

So you had some talent in that right from the beginning.

KW:

Yes, I did. I took salesmanship, and I liked that. I liked anything to do with business, and that's what I wanted to do. I saw people walking all the time to the train, and that was my desire, was to be on that train some day and go to New York.

EE:

Do you think maybe the tough times maybe brought that out to you? You wanted to make sure you didn't have that.

KW:

Yes.

EE:

New Jersey at that time, did they have eleven-year or twelve-year schools?

KW:

Twelve.

EE:

You graduated in '38?

KW:

Thirty-nine.

EE:

Thirty-nine, okay, is when you graduated. Did you go to any business school after that?

KW:

No. I think the best business school I went to was in the service.

EE:

What did you do after you graduated?

KW:

We had such a good business course of four years. I still brag about it here because at that time, during the Depression time, people couldn't go to college. There was only about a handful that could go, to afford it. So they had to have the school, the high school, to say what you were going to be. We were interviewed and everything. So we picked what we wanted to do, and we were put in a four-year strictly, even spelling and everything, everything you could think of, doing business. That's what I wanted, and it was perfect, absolutely perfect. I wish they'd do that today for the young people.

EE:

Did you immediately get a job right after graduating from school?

KW:

Yes. I went over to New York. A friend of mine wanted me to work in his office down on Wall Street. I worked for a leather tannery, office tannery in New York. The tannery was in Asheville, North Carolina, and there's where my interest started thinking about North Carolina. I had to call Asheville every day and compare notes, and I loved what I was doing and walked around Wall Street. Well, the war was coming on.

EE:

I guess it started that fall, didn't it, with Poland being invaded.

KW:

Yes. I always had to pass city hall, and I used to [pass] LaGuardia [Airport] going in, and all those signs were pointing at me, “We want you. We want you.” And I said, “Oh, that looks interesting. That's just what I want to do.” So, secretly I always kept looking in the paper, looking for where I'd like to go in the service. I didn't want to tell my family I was even interested.

EE:

These were posters that were recruiting women?

KW:

Yes. “We need you.” “We want you.” WACs [Women's Army Corps]. The W-A-C, of course, was there, too.

EE:

So that would have gone up after Pearl Harbor. Do you remember Pearl Harbor?

KW:

Yes, absolutely.

EE:

Where were you Pearl Harbor Day?

KW:

I was single at that time, of course, and I was home. As I said, I just stayed at home and worked in New York.

EE:

Did you hear about it from family or did you hear it on the radio?

KW:

I heard it on the radio. My family, I could hear my mother and father downstairs. I was resting because I was having a date that night. And I heard them awfully excited about something, so I went down. That's when it was on the radio, and we were terribly upset.

EE:

You had two brothers. Were they older than you?

KW:

I have a brother that was a year younger. Let me see, wait a minute. He was younger. The next one—let me see. I've got to go through my family's names. He was about four years younger than I was.

EE:

So there wasn't that immediate worry that they would be going off to service.

KW:

Oh, he went into the service first. He went to Africa after training.

EE:

Was he also in the army?

KW:

In the army, yes. And he was very much excited about me going in the service when he heard it.

EE:

You were telling me that your mom wasn't terribly excited about you going into the service.

KW:

No. No, she wasn't. She cried. But that was all right. I was twenty-three. I was patriotic. I loved our country, and we loved our president. We loved everything. And seeing those signs really got to me, really did. It really touched me. And so I went up to the Palace Theater and signed up, without telling anyone. See, I do those things today. I announce things. I announce things at the table, which I did at that time. I said, “I have something to tell you all.”

EE:

Was the Palace Theater in the city?

KW:

In New York City, yes. And so I went over there and signed up for that, for the army air force, the WAACs [Women's Auxiliary Army Corps]. They were really the WAACs then.

EE:

Because I know different people, they signed up at different places. So it was just for a WAAC sign-up.

KW:

It was for the WAAC sign-up only, I think, yes.

EE:

Because they had just started, I guess.

KW:

Yes. My mother, she wasn't too happy, but my father kind of wished I had gone in the navy. I said blue was my color. I didn't want to look great. You know, this marriage business was not on my mind at that time. And I said I'll pick the color that's not good for me, which is khaki.

EE:

In other words, you were trying to avoid being distracted by social stuff.

KW:

Absolutely. That's exactly right. I said I'll pick the worst. It had no color. Everything was khaki.

EE:

Now, you were playing defense. A lot of people I've talked to, they picked the navy because they loved that blue uniform, but they were maybe thinking a different way.

KW:

Well, I didn't want to look good. I wanted to be in there. You know, I did have blue eyes and everything. I said I wanted it to be a job for my country.

EE:

There was some talk early on—and it was probably spread, in part, by men who didn't like having women in the service—that the WAACs were a little more interested in men than the work.

EE:

When you signed up, I guess you were signing up for the duration.

KW:

Yes, [the duration] of the war.

EE:

Did you express or did you get a chance to say where you wanted to go and what kind of work you wanted to do? Did they give you that opportunity?

KW:

Yes, I did, more or less. I wanted to be on an air base, of course, and I wanted to do administrative work, and that's what I got. They treated us absolutely wonderful, very respectful. That's all I can say of it. I really loved it. See, I came from a large family. Well this was a larger family, and that's what I liked about it. I really was happy.

EE:

Did you have any other family members or friends, women, who joined the service?

KW:

No.

EE:

So you were boldly going out on this path.

KW:

Right.

EE:

Had you ever been much farther outside of the New York area growing up? Did you ever travel much as a family?

KW:

No, not at all. Just on the train to New York is all I ever did.

EE:

So how did you go? I guess Grand Central [Station] and you head down to way south?

KW:

Well, you know, I wanted to go south ever since I was in the fourth grade. My teacher was from the South, and she talked about the South a lot, and I really always wanted to go south. And so everything led me, like calling Asheville every day and the salesmen coming in and telling me about North Carolina. It was all so thrilling to me. And then when I was in the service, I went to Mississippi. How do you beat that? I mean, it was really the South. And it was the most beautiful experience seeing those most beautiful homes. It was really nice there at Greenwood, and also Jackson. In fact, I would have loved to live in Jackson, Mississippi, but, of course, my husband went home to North Carolina.

EE:

I heard—and actually, there was Daytona Beach, where you trained, went through a lot of changes there. I know there was a resort hotel down there they took over eventually. What was the hardest thing about basic for you?

KW:

Nothing. I was a worker anyway. I liked that. No, it was nothing hard at all. I loved every minute of it.

EE:

You're there and I guess there's women from all over the East Coast who are going through training there.

KW:

Yes. In fact, my mother and father took me to New York to get on the train to go to Florida. We all had to meet in New York, and we took a train from New York to go down to Florida. The girls, some were crying and some weren't. I wasn't crying. In fact, I didn't want to see my mother cry.

But I always wondered why they were crying, you know, because I didn't feel that at all and was excited. And when we got into Florida at three o'clock in the morning, I couldn't believe I was in Florida and to see the palm trees. Everything was so exciting to me. So I was just that type, I guess, who would take it all in and love it. So that's about it, I think.

EE:

When you were there, were all your instructors women or did you have some male instructors?

KW:

Women, yes. They were women.

EE:

Including, I guess you had a drill instructor for parade and stuff like that?

KW:

No, we didn't march or anything in Florida. We just did basic training. And then we were sent shortly after that, after we had some training, to go to where we were going to be based. I mean, it really wasn't too much.

EE:

Did you have to take some special aptitude tests before getting assigned to Alpine?

KW:

No.

EE:

Basically, you'd already said that's the kind of work you wanted to do, and you'd had some experience in it.

KW:

There weren't that many WAACs going in at that time, when you think about.

EE:

How many were down there when you were there?

KW:

It's in the book, one of the books here.

EE:

But your company was kind of small?

KW:

Very small, yes.

EE:

Maybe thirty or forty people?

KW:

I'd say about forty people, thirty or forty. There weren't very many at all.

EE:

You were twenty?

KW:

My birthday was February 28, and I'd just turned twenty-three, and that was in 1943 when I went in.

EE:

Were most of the women about your age?

KW:

Yes, they were. They all were about my age. That's right, it was. I didn't see anybody much older. Some of the instructors were older, but I don't know.

EE:

Yes, because what's interesting is that even the instructors would have been pretty new, because the WAACs were only a year old.

KW:

That's right.

EE:

Did you get any free time when you were in Florida to go sight—see or liberty at all?

KW:

No, just went to the beach. There wasn't much to see. I didn't know. We didn't do too much like that.

EE:

Not a lot of time for socializing and seeing men or anything else?

KW:

It was strict.

EE:

Strictly work.

KW:

Army work. Loved the exercise, loved all that. It was good for me.

EE:

You went to the Army Administration School, and this was a women's university that WAAC had been given basically to run its training.

KW:

Yes. And it's all in the book there that tells you how they were congratulated on it for doing that. Let me see. [Looking through pages of book] I don't know whether I have it in here. It must be in that book.

EE:

Right.

KW:

And how they thanked them for allowing us to use the women's college in Texas. It was very, very nice. We had four in one bedroom, just like college.

EE:

Alpine, is it near El Paso? Where is this located?

KW:

It was close to the Mexican border, I know. It wasn't too far from the Mexican border, and there all towns, all real Western looking.

EE:

Completely different from palm trees in Daytona Beach.

KW:

Absolutely.

EE:

Completely different from Brooklyn and New Jersey.

KW:

Right.

EE:

So your first three months is sort of a whirlwind.

KW:

Even the food was different. It was all Mexican food, which was hot food. I couldn't eat it, so we'd go out and eat steaks. But it was really tough, I thought.

EE:

The numbers of people there look pretty—it's a pretty big school, so you've got a lot of folks.

KW:

You'd see them all marching. Right, it was a very big school.

EE:

Well it was still W-A-A-C then, class one. You were in the first class?

KW:

We were the first class, right. And I did, you know, what do you call it, with that in my hand.

EE:

Mimeograph?

KW:

No. Oh, I can't even think. I'm not too good in thinking about what different things are.

EE:

Were you a platoon person or somebody in charge?

KW:

Patrol. I mean, we'd go around and check things out.

EE:

Okay. So you were MP [military police], doing some MP work.

KW:

MP. I couldn't think of the word MP. We did MP work, too, and we did—around the school, we'd march around at night. We had to do night work and make sure nobody came in.

EE:

So when you say MP work, were you part of a group that went out into the community after hours to make sure none of the girls are getting in trouble or what?

KW:

Yes. We went into the saloons and places to see if any women were in there, and they just looked at us. We were strange. We just looked. We had a—what do you call it?

EE:

A little flashlight, checking things out?

KW:

Yes. Walked down to the town, which was all Western looking. The men would be on the porches, like you see on TV, looking at us. Here we were, walking down the middle of town.

EE:

Well, you've invaded their town. All of a sudden they've got all these women in uniform.

KW:

Yes, all of a sudden we appear.

EE:

And I imagine not everybody was gung-ho for that, although did you get a good reception from the locals? Did they teach you well?

KW:

They didn't talk to them. Most of them were Mexican anyway, and so they didn't speak to us at all. Really, we didn't have any conversations with any of them.

EE:

It's sort of an isolated place to focus on.

KW:

Very isolated. Very beautiful, though, but it was very isolated. We didn't mind it. But then they brought some fellows from some of the bases to dance, for dancing and things like that.

EE:

I would imagine it's kind of hot down there.

KW:

Yes, it was hot.

EE:

Because this was early summer you were there.

KW:

Yes, because we didn't have air-conditioning back then. Right, it was hot, very hot. But the heat didn't bother me like it would today.

EE:

I think everybody's gotten spoiled with air-conditioning.

KW:

We'd lay out in the sun up there. We called it a mountain; it was only hill but, you know, to get some suntan. But some of the men trained us. Some of the men trained us in the school as teachers that came in. Some of the officers came in and trained us for certain things in the administration work, so we had that training, too.

EE:

Was it just after this school then that the WAAC becomes the WAC, and you have to re-enlist? Did you do that before you went to Greenwood?

KW:

No, it was at Greenwood Army Air Base.

EE:

Okay. So it was still WAAC, and then you switched out.

KW:

It was still the WAAC, right.

EE:

So this would have been sometime maybe in July or the end of June that you went to Greenwood?

KW:

Yes.

EE:

It was still hot for Mississippi when you showed up?

KW:

Yes. It was always hot. But we did sign up, and some of them left, you know. We could leave. I couldn't leave the service. If I'm going to start something, I'm going to see it through. So I could not have done that for anything. I just couldn't imagine leaving. We were just getting started.

EE:

One of the differences between the way the men and the women were assigned, the men would usually be assigned by company. You'd go here and station. And women were basically going in twos and threes to different places.

KW:

Right.

EE:

How many women came out of Alpine and went to Greenwood, Mississippi, Army Air Base? How many women from your group?

KW:

About three.

EE:

Were you all the first WACs at Greenwood?

KW:

We were the first WACs to arrive there at Greenwood. No, from our school we were sent to different states; I went to Greenwood. A group went in there, we all traveled and flew. I remember stopping in New Orleans. I'd never been there. I was so glad to see that. But we went in small groups. We didn't all go at the same time. But we arrived there, and a regular company was set up, and officers were there and we had our barracks.

EE:

So you all were the first ones to have your own barracks, but you came in in numbers.

KW:

We were the first ones to come in.

EE:

What kind of work was being done at Greenwood Air Base?

KW:

They were training fighting pilot planes that were training there. It's an air base training fighter planes. And then when we went to Jackson, it was training the Netherlands, fellows from Holland that came into Jackson, Mississippi, and they trained the soldiers from the Netherlands.

EE:

But it was just three of you that went from Greenwood to Jackson?

KW:

Yes. I was the only one sent from Greenwood Army Air Base to Jackson, and two other girls from two different bases were sent out of their air base, and we met in Jackson on the air base. We were the only three WACs. So they kind of rolled the red carpet out to us, treated us royally. We were treated good.

EE:

I bet.

KW:

And we were kept in the hospital, just to protect us, I guess.

EE:

A hospital on base, then. They wouldn't let you out in the community then. You were still protected, in a sense.

KW:

Right on the base, right. And we ate in the men's mess hall, though, which was interesting.

EE:

I bet you got a lot of attention and a lot of offers.

KW:

I did.

EE:

“Let me get you a refill of this,” and “Can I get you something?”

KW:

But what was so nice about the men, they just loved us. For some reason, they just took to the WACs, because we were in uniform and everything. And so when they heard I had a birthday on the twenty-ninth of that year, they said, “We're going to have a birthday party. You can invite anyone you want.” That was so nice. But they had a nice big cake and everything. They treated us so nice. On the twenty-ninth I was twenty-four.

EE:

That's great.

KW:

So they didn't look down on us. In fact, when we were sitting in the mess hall, they just couldn't wait until we came in. We were just the only women and, of course, the officers.

EE:

You must have only been at Greenwood a short time then before getting assigned to Jackson, is that right? That was before Christmas.

KW:

I wasn't at Alpine, Texas, very long. We were there for a short time, I'd say. Then all of a sudden we were told that orders came in, and we could choose where we wanted to go. In fact, they had me down to go to California, and I must have said I didn't want to go to California, and then I went to Mississippi. I didn't want to be that far away from home.

EE:

When you went up to Jackson, were you immediately doing-you were doing a couple things. You did recruiting, you did court stenography work, and you worked in the colonel's office. What did you do first?

KW:

I worked for the major and other officers, and then the colonel wanted me to be in his office.

EE:

Well, did you start out doing the recruiting work? You were telling me a little bit before we got started you and a couple—

KW:

We were sent to do recruiting in Jackson on the air base. Yes, I started off doing that when they called me in to take over this job in headquarters. And I said, “That's what I came in to do, was to do administrative work and take over.” But the department was statistics, which they were the ones that were sending them over, and I said, “Oh, my god, look where I am.”

EE:

Well, tell me about recruiting. What was involved in recruiting?

KW:

In recruiting we just had a whole band, a big band. It was a big army band, all men. Three officers would come with us—I have pictures of them—two of the women and two men, two office men. So we were kind of protected, and we drove in the army cars with them. So we'd go to every town. If you mention them, I'll say, “Yes, we were there.” And we would announce that we were going to be there. It was in the papers and everything. And then people would come to the auditorium. People were interested, and a lot of the people were, and we just told why [we] came into the service. Really it was for patriotic reasons; it was really that and wanting to do something for my country. That was the main thing. And the band played and we talked about what we did.

EE:

Were they selling war bonds, too?

KW:

They were selling war bonds, yes. I'm glad you mentioned that. That was being sold, too. And we loved it. It was a lot of traveling, but it was very interesting. I don't know how the fellows felt playing, but they seemed to enjoy it. That's what they did. And the officers were wonderful to us, they really were. And they took pictures of us around the planes, you know, just to advertise. I've got some of them here. But that was an interesting part of my life. I really liked that. But I was very happy to get into what I was coming in the service to do, to replace a soldier; the soldier was my husband, Carl, whom I hadn't met yet.

EE:

So you came in after doing the recruiting work to this, was it, department of statistics, where Carl Wakefield had been such a valuable employee. And they said he had to go on furlough because he had a death in the family, and this was just a temporary assignment.

KW:

I was recruiting, and they asked me if I'd go in. Those other two girls they didn't ask—but if I would go in. I said, “Of course. That's what I came in to do, and I'd love it.” So I went into the office and met all of them and did the work that they told me to do. I was good at typing and everything.

EE:

How long were you doing this before he came back?

KW:

Well, he was on furlough, so it couldn't be very long. And I stayed there for a while even after he was there. They wanted to keep me, which was good. But then I was transferred to another department. But it was interesting. I worked in the administration office, in different parts of it for different majors.

I've got some of their pictures here. Yes, here's one. He put me on a plane and let me fly home. But these were the planes that they were training in Jackson Army Air Base. They were training them to fly. But the B-25s were there, and the colonel put me on the plane one morning and let me go home, and I flew a B-25 with a man from the Netherlands. He just said, “Would you like to go home?” I said, “I'd love to.”

EE:

So that was your first time back home.

KW:

First time on a plane, too, you know. He said, “I'm going to put you on a plane.” He picked me up and put me on the plane. They were Dutchmen, and they were going to New York. They said they were going to see New York and wanted to know if I wanted to go. I said, “No, I'm going home to Jersey to see my mother.” But they must have had a great time. I had to be back that weekend. I was only gone for a weekend. So I had to be back into New York to fly back with them. In fact, they told me to fly the plane, and I did. No, I was just like in the co-pilot seat. I'm sure it was all handled.

EE:

But it was exciting just to be [there].

KW:

Yes. I really liked sitting in the bombardier's seat. I crawled through there. I liked the stars coming at me. That's mostly where I stayed. What they were taking to New York was a big tank that took up the whole center of the plane, and that was oil or gasoline.

EE:

So they did have some legitimate reason to go to New York.

KW:

Yes, that was a legitimate reason.

EE:

In addition to having you fly.

KW:

Oh, definitely.

EE:

So you did this work. When you got there—I'm trying to put my timetables. You were already through doing the recruiting work before Christmas that first year.

KW:

Yes.

EE:

And you started doing the administrative work. You were replacing what would become your future husband, but at the time you were rather cool to him in the social scene. When did you change your mind about that? You were telling me a story about a flash thought that went through your head about blue eyes. Tell me that.

KW:

Oh, blue eyes. His blue eyes? Well, this is a religious thing I was thinking. That's the reason I didn't want to pick a uniform that looked good, because I didn't want anyone to want to marry me, really. I was there to do my job. Of course, people were saying, “You're going in there—,” they were saying things at you like you were going to find a husband. I said, no, I was not, really and truly. You believe that, don't you? But it's true.

And the blue eyes, it was very funny because I'm a religious Catholic, and I remember telling our Lord, “Oh God, you know that if you want me to marry, of course I'll get married some day in my life. But I'm going to put it in your hands, and if you want me to marry, you're going to have to find him, because I'm not looking. And I'll have as many children as you want me to have.” Now this is me really—I'm telling you the true thoughts that I had.

And I looked around at some of the girls, and they were crying. And I was not crying. I was happy because I was going to do a part of my life that was different than just growing up in a house and then getting married. We couldn't leave home, you know. We didn't live like that. We had a very happy home. I'm not saying anything about that. But a large family, very happy. They didn't like to see me go. That's the reason they didn't write me as much, because they were very much against me going.

EE:

But the first time you saw this fellow, after hearing about him incessantly, what happened? What did you do?

KW:

Well, then I realized that this guy—and he came from North Carolina, too, but I didn't know that at the time. When they said, “Here, you've got to meet Wakefield.” He was very neat and just looked absolutely neat as a pin. And I said, “Doesn't he have pretty blue eyes?” And I said, “Oh, won't my children have pretty blue eyes?”

So he was picked for me, and just thinking that made me angry that I'd even think that, that I would look at someone and say, “Doesn't he have pretty blue eyes? Won't my children have pretty blue eyes?” Where did that come from? And I said, “Oh, God, what are you doing?” But then I put that out of my mind. I had a feeling later on, realized that he wanted me, because we really did date.

EE:

I was thinking about, you had a social life in between, but then when did you start going out with him again?

KW:

Well he wouldn't leave me alone, see. I worked in the office where he was, and he was feeding me. I was always hungry and thin. So then when I went into the other offices, where I worked for different majors and then finally the colonel, he would come in there. I said, “Wakefield, you're going to have to quit it. I'm going to tell the colonel on you.” He never would let me alone. He just really wanted to date me, and we did date. We went to the movies, and we walked around the base. He wasn't the only one, as you can see some pictures.

But when I asked him where he came from, he was reading a little letter from somebody, one page. I said, “Who writes one page?”

“My mother,” he said.

I said, “Well, where are you from, Wakefield?”

And all those salesmen that came into New York said, “You have to see North Carolina.” He said, “North Carolina.”

I said, “This guy's got two pluses, blue eyes and North Carolina.” So I knew there was something special about this fellow, too, you know.

There was something else about North Carolina, for some reason. Oh, I guess calling it, because I was working in New York and called every day to North Carolina. I think that's probably—and it was south. So that was a big plus. I say a plus because that wasn't all of it. We did get married on the base. I mean, in the church in Jackson.

EE:

But it was sort of a long courtship because you got married in '45.

KW:

Yes, we thought it was long. It wasn't really long, like six months, four to six months.

EE:

So you got married in July of '44.

KW:

Of '44, right, in July. But what it is, when it comes down to it, when anybody asks me, “How long did you know him?” I say, “Four months, four to six months.” But we saw each other all the time. We did the same work. To me, one day was like a year. I mean, we did—see, I had really closed myself into the service, and it was my life, and I think that's—

EE:

It sounds like you had a sheltered and protected family watching you. Some women had kind of harassment. There was a little static. But you, one of three, you all, you were pampered, taken care of in the hospital, and had people looking out for you. You had a very nice experience, in addition to finding the fellow you'd spend your life with.

KW:

Yes. It was really funny because on account of North Carolina, too. And then we did date, of course, and then we did get married in church there, and I would not get married in anything but a uniform. I could have liked a dress maybe, and we didn't have a big wedding. We could. Just best man and my best friend a maid of honor.

EE:

There were six women who got married.

KW:

Six of us got married that weekend.

EE:

On base?

KW:

On the base that I came from, yes, in our company. So then I had a uniform made, just like the officers had made, nice material, and I had it made to be married in. I had to be in the uniform for some reason.

EE:

I know some people, when they get married they're looking to get out pretty quickly. But you didn't. You stayed for two more years.

KW:

I stayed in, and my husband and I, he was transferred. He left. They sent him down to Florida, and I was sent to Dothan, Alabama. So we were married, and still we had to be separated then. Then I was expecting near the end of the war, and that worked out good.

EE:

That's when you got out.

KW:

Yes.

EE:

When did you go to Dothan, then? Was it in the fall of '44?

KW:

Let me see. Dothan, Alabama, I've got it in there somewhere. I don't know. Well, it was a short time that we were sent. In fact, most of the time we cried a lot because we were separated from our WACs, and I remember crying more about that and never seeing them again—knew we probably wouldn't see them again.

EE:

But you came back to Jackson after being at Dothan for a while?

KW:

No. From Dothan—Dothan, Alabama, is where I went out of the service. Well, the war was over. I mean, we heard about the Japanese and all that. And I worked there, and then I went down to Florida to Sebring. He was stationed in Sebring, and that's where we lived in Florida, and he was still in the service. That's it. We'll be married, let me see how many, fifty-nine years.

EE:

Sixty years next [year, 2004]. That's great.

KW:

Yes. So, you know, the children are all grown up, and they're hitting their fifties. My baby, he'll be thirty-nine.

EE:

That's great. Now, you were telling me earlier that you did some court stenography work in the midst of this summer. Where did you do that, and what kind of work was that like?

KW:

That was nice, because they had the officers there, of course. I mean, it was just me doing the shorthand, and they had another fellow taking kind of backup in case we differed in reports. But anyway, we just took down everything in shorthand, and then we had to transcribe it. And the fellow would check on mine—he did it, too—and we'd get that all corrected and make sure everything was right.

But there were some court-martials, which was very hard for me, and some of the things were just ordinary things. Like fliers. Some of the women fliers, that was interesting. But they just kind of went off with their plane somewhere, but that was against the rules. They weren't court-martialed.

EE:

So you mean there were pilots who treated their planes like it would be a car. They'd just go driving off on the weekend.

KW:

Yes. That's what it was, yes, with a boyfriend. [laughter] Oh my, you couldn't help but meet some nice fellows in the service, because they were all the best there. And really I felt that, too. And they were on board because they treated us very respectful. I mean, I couldn't get over it. And then I come out and go home, and you would hear some snide remarks at you from being in uniform. And I was even insulted a little bit in church because women should not be in the service, and there I am in my uniform and going to communion.

I must have been hard. I said, “No, that's not going to bother me. And that's all right. They have their opinion.” But I knew what we were. I knew who we were and why we were in there, so nobody was going to say I was in there for anything. And you know I wasn't in there for anything special, just doing my job well, you know, you can't help but meet fellows.

EE:

After you got married, did you go have Christmas back up home to go introduce to his family and to your family?

KW:

I did that alone. It was very hard. I had gone home, and then I said I'll stop in North Carolina to meet his family. And they wanted to meet me, too, so it wasn't hard, it wasn't bad. But I still, you know, [I] wanted to see North Carolina and so I did.

I remember coming into Greensboro. I can see myself go off the plane, and there I'm carrying this stuff. So I saw the O. Henry Hotel, and I said, “Well, that's typical Southern town. Okay.” Then I saw the King Cotton. I said, “Oh, this all sounds just Southern.” I liked it from the very first moment. And then, of course, his family were very nice to me, to meet me, of course, and I was going down to Florida to really stay in Florida with him. I had to go home first. He was still in the service.

EE:

And you had how many children together, you were telling me?

KW:

I had eleven, eleven children.

EE:

How many boys, how many girls?

KW:

I had four boys and seven girls.

EE:

I was going to say, you're working on your platoon right there.

KW:

I did very well with them. People today ask me how. I say, “Well, we were all together, elbow to elbow.” That's what we were in the service, too, elbow to elbow. And I knew a lot. I was very happy with a large family. I don't know why people don't understand that family!

EE:

Well, you sort of grew up a team player. You sort of knew that from the beginning.

KW:

I don't know why people don't see the joy and the closeness and the love that's in a large family, very close. Every day I get calls from my children. They're all doing very well, too. And they run the job. This is what's interesting to me. The ones that are working, they're running it. But I'm not going to go into that. Maybe they got it from me a little bit. I kept them busy, and I kept them aware of things. But my husband's a good man, too.

EE:

You got out of the service in October of '45.

KW:

That's right.

EE:

Did you ever think about staying in the service? I guess that really wasn't an option once you got pregnant, was it?

KW:

It wasn't an option because, no, they didn't let you stay in. But I think they can today, which I really—I would have stayed.

EE:

If you had had that option, you would have stayed?

KW:

Oh, I definitely would have stayed. Absolutely. Yes, I would.

EE:

How long was your husband in the service? Did he get out that same year?

KW:

No, the next September.

EE:

So he wasn't a call-back for Korea or anything like that?

KW:

I didn't get out—let me see. I got out when I was like three months' pregnant, so I had the baby—she was born in January. So I got out in October, and he got out that next September, it seems to me.

EE:

Did you stay in Florida or did you come back to North Carolina?

KW:

We stayed in Florida. We had a place there in Wauchula, Florida, which was in town there. I couldn't believe what I saw. It was really a very small town. Women nursed their babies sitting on the curb.

EE:

Very friendly.

KW:

Very friendly town.

EE:

Very friendly town.

KW:

They all seemed to come in town every Saturday.

EE:

And then you came back. Did you do the administrative work after you left the service? I know you were raising children.

KW:

No, I didn't do that at all. I strictly stayed home with the family until they got old enough. My baby—who will be thirty-nine—when he was seven years old I wanted to work. I wanted to do some work, only part time, in the hospital, so I did some work in the hospital. I worked as a nurse's aide. Loved it.

And then from there, I had to quit that because the doctor wanted me—I was lifting too many heavy people. People don't help themselves out of bed. And then I worked downtown at Gate City Savings and Insurance. Well, my children were old enough now, so I could work part time. I only worked part time. Only one allowed to. I was always allowed things. I don't know why. But he said, “I'll let you work part time.” He knew I liked to work.

EE:

What did your husband end up doing when he got out of the service?

KW:

He was a builder, commercial builder. He did a lot of building around Greensboro. He did Gate City, he did a college. He did a lot of colleges, a lot of churches, and on Friendly Road and all that, my husband was the commercial builder. And to the college—Guilford College, too.

EE:

Did any of your children go into the service?

KW:

No. None.

EE:

And you were telling me that they didn't even bother—

KW:

They never asked me.

EE:

They never asked you about this?

KW:

They might have looked through those things, but they never said, nobody, even my family, for some reason, I don't know why—and I'm not talking about my immediate family. I'm talking about my family. In fact, my sisters were here last week, and I said, “You never cared about listening to anything about the service,” and none of my children have ever asked me anything about the service. They just wanted Mama to be Mama, not a soldier, I think. I don't know what it was. But I'll tell them today, and they say, “Oh, Mom, we know. We saw.” But they didn't. You're the only one, particularly, that's asking me about the service.

EE:

But, see, you joined for a motivation which—you talk about patriotism being strong. How was the patriotic mood different then than now?

KW:

Golly, a whole lot different. What I notice, we never have flags out for a while. There was a time we didn't have any flags showing anywhere. In fact, I would look to see. Even after I married and had these children, I was still trying to look for people to have flags out and they didn't.

But now, since this 9/11 [September 11, 2001], we have them. In fact, in a way, people, I think, are going to become more patriotic now for our country. They're seeing our country differently. Well, that's how I always was, and now I see there is a change now, and I hope it will be. I don't know about the children, though, today. I really don't know. They don't talk about patriotism.

EE:

When you were in, you were freeing a man to fight, which was an important thing for you. All those posters you saw that said, “We need you,” and you freed a man.

KW:

And it would end up being my husband, didn't he?

EE:

That's true.

KW:

I never thought that.

EE:

And that wasn't even advertised.

KW:

And I went in the service for the idea, not even thinking about getting married. Isn't that funny? I think about it now.

EE:

It's called providence.

KW:

Not that I didn't have other offers. I did. But it's just that I fell for this guy. He was so neat, the neatest. I wish you could meet Jack. He's a wonderful husband, too, and a wonderful father. In fact, I always told my children to go to your daddy about anything you want to know about business or something, go to your father. To this day, they still call him and they're still very close with him. I love that. I think a mother really needs to point to the father more. I can take care of a lot of other things and babies and all that, and very good at it. But when it comes down to business or anything, go to your father, call your father, speak to your father. They're very aware of their father, and I made sure they were. I mean, this is what the family is supposed to be. See, if I'm going to be in something, it's going to be done right. That's how I was in the service, and that's how I am with the family.

EE:

Women nowadays, we probably have fighter pilots over there now in the Middle East.

KW:

I would loved to have been a flier.

EE:

Do you think it's a good thing that women can do more kinds of work in the service now?

KW:

No, not at all. I wouldn't even recommend a girl to go in the service today. As fliers, now that's a little different. They very well trained, and I'm sure they are. But I still think today that we're not respected as much as we were then.

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

KW:

Another reason women did this themselves and made the men feel that way, and I said, “You know, I think you're right. We started to want to be like men.” I didn't want to be like a man. I was very much a woman. But I think the women today want to take over the men's ways, and I think that's where it's the feminists. I think maybe that has changed the men towards the women, and I think I can understand that, then, and I'm glad somebody mentioned that to them. I said, “You know, maybe you're right.” No, I wasn't in for that. I didn't want to be a man. I'm definitely a woman, and we all were.

EE:

But you were an independent person.

KW:

Yes.

EE:

Because nobody else around you was going into the service, and you said, “That's what I want to do.” You had never been outside the city area, and then you go to Florida and Mexico and the Deep South.

KW:

Everything I desired seemed to happen, you know. It seems that way, because none of my sisters ever were that way. Even to this day they look at me as if I was different, and I was different. I was the fourth daughter. Who would be more different than a fourth daughter? It's always the fourth child that is in the middle, and she's going to be herself, and I was.

EE:

Do you think the military helped make you more independent?

KW:

Oh, yes. Definitely, definitely. Oh, yes, because this wasn't just family. I was out with other women, and we were doing a job. I was working for my country. I loved our country. I really felt important to my country. I really felt that. I really felt I was doing a good job, and I did. Anything they asked me to do, I did. You see all the different jobs I did.

EE:

Back at your home, I guess your folks got to put a flag in the window with two stars on it, one for you and one for your brother?

KW:

Well, they didn't.

EE:

They didn't, but they could have.

KW:

They didn't.

EE:

They were cool to it throughout.

KW:

Yes, very cool to it. Even my father said if I was going to do anything, I should have gone in the navy. But he didn't. But it was all right. I respected it. I don't think that I wasn't loved. I was loved by my family, but they knew I wanted to go into the WAAC.

EE:

They just didn't understand that part that needed to go into the service.

KW:

Till this day, yes. And now I'm telling them, “You know what? I realize you didn't write me.” I had one sister that did and one that came by, and she died at forty, so she was very young.

EE:

Do you think that might have been partly because of this stigma that being in the service had so early?

KW:

Yes, I think so. Definitely.

EE:

They were worried about your character or something or anything like that?

KW:

And that didn't even enter my mind that there was anything wrong with being in the service. Somebody really wanted me in this war. I was patriotic of course and they needed me.

EE:

That's right, and they did, and they took the effort and they spent the money to make you have the training that you got. It was serious.

KW:

The money was not important to us, the little $67 a month I got. I gave $40 of it back to my mother. I mean, really, money was not too important—we were just treated so differently. I guess we were clothed and we were fed. We were kept in good shape marching. We had it all.

On the base, Jackson Army Air Base, when those girls came in there, we had to meet them at the plane, and I'd march them in. I said, “Now, you're entering onto a base where there are no WACs. We're the only ones. So girls, I'll let you walk in. You don't have to march in, just walk, but walk nice—just straight.”

We came in. We let them all go in the barracks and showed them what they had to do. We had a private room, Eleanor and Mary and I, but we were treated a little differently because we were there first, so we were WACs too. I had to march with them and everything, so we weren't treated differently. At first we were, but then later on we melted right in with them, and we stayed that way. And I was treated the same in the office, which, to me, that was great because that's what I was, a WAC. I wasn't an officer. I was a non-com[missioned] officer.

EE:

Did you ever do anything in the service that got you scared, that you were hesitant to do?

KW:

Yes. I think patrolling around the place at night, and I was afraid in Texas, particularly, because I didn't know what kind of animals would be around there or snakes. Yes, I was very afraid of things like that, and walking all around the place by yourselves. A little scary.

EE:

You told a few funny stories about yourself today, about your family beginnings.

KW:

I told you some personal stories, didn't I?

EE:

No, that's okay. You do get to meet a fair number of characters, just by the nature of the military throwing everybody from all over the country and you put them together. Can you tell me a funny story or two about people you met in the service?

KW:

Oh, golly. Funny story?

EE:

Any incident or something?

KW:

I can tell you a funny thing that did happen. While we were at the Lawrence[?] Administration School there, we had to get the girls out. No, they had to come out, and we were the ones that checked them to see if they were ready to start our day—it wasn't about myself; it was about somebody else, that's right. I was there standing in front of them and saying, “Okay, girls, line up,” you know, and all that stuff, and march them. But this one girl, she came out and she didn't take off her nightgown, and while she was standing there, she had it rolled up, and it fell down, and that was funny. I actually said, “I have never seen anything like this.” I had to laugh, and I thought that was funny. We laughed. I mean, it isn't that we were scolding anybody. We laughed.

And so, you know, that's what I think was kind of nice. I loved the WACs. I really loved these girls. In fact, in my prayers, I said, “Oh, God, I love my family, but I love these [girls] too.” I liked them even more, I thought, than my own sisters, and I was really apologizing for that to Him. I really felt that because we did get along. We were there to do that job, and I know they all felt that way. I didn't feel that anybody was any different.

And I think another funny thing is what my father said when I was going. He gave me some advice. He said, “Well, I want to tell you. They're going to ask you for volunteers.” Anyway, he said, “Be sure to volunteer for something if they ask you.”

Here they were going to train us in something. We're going to use the gas masks to teach us how to do that. I said, “Oh, gas masks.” My uncle told me how bad that was, because he was in World War I. And I said, “Oh, I don't want to do that.” I said, “I'll volunteer. Who's going to clean the latrines today?” Guess who did? I did. And that was funny, because I realized I should have learned how to put the mask on me, the gas mask. But I didn't. But I did volunteer!

EE:

You were a trooper.

KW:

But I did what my father said. That's what he said. That's the only advice he gave me.

EE:

Was to volunteer, and ended up doing latrine duty. Oh, well. Because you did have a relationship there that became very special to you, is there a song or a movie that, when you hear it or see it, takes you back to '43, '44?

KW:

Well, the movies were wonderful at that time. They were all love stories, you know, so they were all just perfect. I don't know. I can't particularly think of any special one. Robert Taylor was one of my favorite stars. I was wishing that I could have hid under his bed. I only read lately that it was planned. Did you ever hear that? On the train he was traveling on there were two girls hiding under his bunk. I think the love stories particularly were very touching and very good and very decent.

EE:

You miss discretion, don't you?

KW:

Yes.

EE:

People could say a lot without showing a lot.

KW:

Yes, right. That's right. Well, I don't know whether you got much from me at all.

EE:

Oh, no, no, no. I was just trying to go with my—

KW:

Knowing all my personal feelings. But, you know, that's what it was in the service. I really and truly, I can say that of three things in my life—of course, my faith; and then, of course, of the service; and then the marriage. And I think I put that right in the middle, because it was really mine. That was mine.

EE:

But see, the way you met sounds like it combined all three.

KW:

Yes, it did.

EE:

Didn't it?

KW:

Didn't it, though? You're right. I didn't think of it like that.

EE:

That was the critical point. All three come together.

KW:

So that just shows you, God does direct you if you ask him. He does answer you in a nice way and his way, and he handled it very nicely. We're very happy. We have a good marriage.

EE:

That's great.

KW:

And we have something to show. He's a little jealous when he sees all this. In fact, he said to me yesterday, “You never showed me this WAAC, did you?”

I said, “No. You weren't interested.”

And he's a little jealous when I mention that I replaced him. I tell a lot of people, and I say, “This is the guy I replaced.” So he gets a little bit—maybe he's glad he's not sitting here listening to it. He'd rather not. But I can understand.

EE:

I do discover that people have a different story in front of their spouse as opposed to when they're there. [laughter]

KW:

That's right.

EE:

But he'll maybe get to edit this or listen, have a [unclear].

KW:

I don't think he regrets it, though. And he calls me a damn Yankee and all that, and I said, “I'm glad to be one.” He's a real Southern rebel. We work well together, North and South.

EE:

If you had it to do all over again, would you have joined the service?

KW:

Absolutely. Yes. Because I needed a change in my life. I needed something in my life different than being at home and just working. I know it had to be the service, because there was a war. That's it. What else would I do? My father said all these places, all the business will pick up. I said I wasn't going to do that. That's the last thing I wanted to do [working in war factories]. So I went in the service.

EE:

When you think about those days, do you have any heroes?

KW:

Heroes? In the service?

EE:

Who did you admire back in those days, whether it's political, military? Did you have anybody that you looked up to and thought was doing—

KW:

You mean I worked with, people I worked with? I don't know. Not particularly, I don't think. I know our president I looked up to. I would do anything for our country. And I must have really looked up to my government. I really loved it.

EE:

Do you remember when Roosevelt passed away?

KW:

Oh, golly, cried like everything. Cried and cried and cried. Then I'm a little angry with him. He didn't let us know more about Pearl Harbor. But he didn't know where they were going to—now I've found that he thought they were headed somewhere else and didn't think of Pearl Harbor, I [unclear].

But, you know, I think if I look really to—movie stars were very important. Robert Taylor, you know, and Clark Gable and Gone With The Wind, things like that. I was just a normal girl, read Gone With The Wind and had to see the movie. My mother, they let me go to New York at the age of eighteen. They said, “You don't look up and don't look at anybody, don't talk to anybody.” I was eighteen.

EE:

This is when you went to see Gone With The Wind?

KW:

Just to go see Gone With The Wind, and that was the biggest thing in my life, for my birthday. And I went by myself. I did everything she said. “Then when you come out of the theater, you walk straight to the bus. Get on the bus.” My mother and father told me this. Eighteen and doing that. They don't talk that way to children today. But I did what they said.

EE:

But they don't have many eighteen-year-olds that listen to their parents like that.

KW:

We listened to our parents. I came home and they were happy to see me safe and sound. But I think that—because it was the South. I really and truly, I guess it was that movie that really made me want to go South.

EE:

So you were getting signals.

KW:

More and more.

EE:

Where you ought to be headed.

KW:

All signals to the South. I was supposed to come here, and I'm here. I really feel that. And this is my country. I love North Carolina.

EE:

Well, we're going to take a look at some pictures in just a second, but I just wondered, for the purposes of this, is there anything about your service time that you think is important that I have not asked you about, that you want to share on tape?

KW:

Well, I don't like to even tell this. When I was at Greenwood Army Air Base, they asked me to take an oath to watch if anything's going wrong, to let them know, if I see anything that's going on. What it was, I had to write a letter every week to send into the office.

EE:

They were worried about people spying.

KW:

No, I had to do that and watch the girls in the service, if there was anything they were trying to stir up, any problems or anything. So I never did see anything. I only saw one girl that was smoking in bed and didn't like, but that was stopped. But, I mean, I had to write, so I had to write things that looked good. “Oh, everything's just fine, Mother,” you know, like you're writing to your mother, and I had to mail it to them. I did that. And then I was mailing that one time in the office there where I should mail it, and some fellow was standing there and he said, “Oh, you're one of us.” I didn't like that.

EE:

One of us? One of those people who were watching other people?

KW:

I didn't like that. That's the first time. Then I was transferred.

EE:

What did they call that?

KW:

No, that was at Greenwood. Then I was transferred out of there.

EE:

But you had to be selected among your group. They trusted you to do that.

KW:

I guess so. I was selected for a lot of things. I don't know why. But when he said that, and [unclear], I said, “Oh, golly, this is a job.” I looked at it as a job, an important job, and when he made that remark, it made me feel, “Oh, golly.” So I was kind of glad to get away from it, but didn't have to do it anymore.

EE:

The saying was, “loose lips sink ships.”

KW:

I don't like spying. I will look now, of course.

EE:

Well, I am just so glad for you that you had such a great experience.

KW:

Oh, I loved it. I still have it in my heart.

EE:

Oh, I can tell. I can tell, because you have it in your voice. You're animated about it.

KW:

It's been a part of me that I felt like I have done a service—and then, of course, meeting the right fellow. He's not the same faith. We don't have that in common, but it's okay. But it's just that we get along. I mean, it's respect for each other, mutual respect there. I think that's what it really is. And he's more so than ever, I think, seeing how the family is. He sees how I do, how I handle things. The family is mine, too, part of me. I don't know what's next. But we're getting older. I'm going to be eighty-three at the end of the month.

EE:

If you love something any difficulties pale in comparison, don't they?

KW:

Yes. But I think people should really do something besides complain. Everything can be beautiful if you want it to be. My husband and I, we don't feel our age at all. We still feel very young. I know I do.

[Conversation about fishing omitted.]

EE:

This is the end of the interview. But I'm going to leave this running just in case we talk about some pictures.

EE:

Is this you standing by the plane?

KW:

Oh, yes. No, this is another one of the girls. She was one of the girls that was sent.

EE:

Is this Eleanor?

KW:

Yes. Here's when we went out with the officers. We had the band and everything. That's how we met.

EE:

Now, this is the recruiting trip. Now, where are you? You're here on the left?

KW:

Yes. Yes, two men and two women, and here they took pictures of us.

But these are some of the pictures they took of us sitting on the plane, you know, just for advertising.

EE:

Now, is this you here on the left?

KW:

No, here I am. And see, when I went home to visit, I went to see my best friend. She was a nun. She became a nun, and I went in the service. Someone said that should have been switched around, because she's—well, that's another story.

There's my husband, and there's some pictures of us. We always had an animal one of us would take care of.

EE:

What are these on the back? This is the office?

KW:

There's Jack. That's the office. That's the office I went into. That's the office there. There's Jack. See the big desk he had? These are the fellows that talked about him all the time.

EE:

And this is Jack in the middle?

KW:

Yes, he's in the middle. But that's where we worked.

EE:

What is this? This is your platoon down at—that looks like Daytona. Is it?

KW:

That's not Jackson. That's Greenwood. We had a picnic, and then my husband and I are talking there. We were together. But we had a company picnic.

EE:

This was for all the wives?

KW:

All the WACs and the men, too, were invited.

EE:

But now, that's a lot more than three. This is not at Greenwood, is it?

KW:

No, this is at Jackson Army Air Base.

EE:

Okay. So you eventually had a lot more WACs come up with you.

KW:

This is from Florida, and that's where my husband worked in the office. I was coming down from his family at that time. He had these pictures. They're his pictures. That's Dothan, Alabama, where I was, and we took some pictures.

EE:

Snow, which didn't happen often down there.

KW:

Yes, we had snow. That's when we took the picture. And I worked there in the office with the fellows.

EE:

Is this a picture of you?

KW:

Yes, in fatigue clothes working in Texas. Or Florida. It must have been Florida.

EE:

Florida basic training. That hat.

KW:

Well, here's Greenwood on the air base. That's a nice book. There's a lot in there you might like.

KW:

See, those are the barracks we stayed in, in Jackson. See, my husband says these had to be Greenwood because they didn't have that color, and that's Greenwood. There were a lot of WACs there at Greenwood. And here I am, right here.

KW:

All those girls, and they picked me out to go to Jackson Army Air Base, which I'm glad I did.

KW:

These books, that's on Greenwood now, and there's a lot of stuff in there.

EE:

Where's the WACs? Oh, here it is.

KW:

Yes, they're in there, people at the offices. I'm in B, Company B. They had Company A and Company B.

EE:

This is the office. You weren't working there very long, though.

KW:

I wasn't there very long, no. But I did work in the office.

EE:

This is the Jackson place where you worked.

KW:

Yes, right.

KW:

They had the black squadron. They had a big group of them there, too, you know. But they were separated back then.

EE:

But there weren't any black WACs when you were there?

KW:

No, not at all. I didn't see any at all. I never did see a black WAC. But I liked Jackson over this. I was glad to go to Jackson. It was a lot nicer base than this was.

KW:

Yes, here I am right there. I was in Company B, right there. I am serious in the picture. There we are at school. Some of us roomed together.

EE:

That's Daytona, right?

KW:

Yes. And I'm not behaving there. Talking. I really loved it. And then we all separated and never saw them again.

EE:

This is?

KW:

Oh, that's Jack and I. This is our fatigues in the school. That was our school.

EE:

Lawrence Hall is the hall at the—because you said Lawrence, and I had a feeling that's what it was. Okay. All right. Are there any pictures of the WAC places in here?

KW:

Let me see. I think there's some in there.

EE:

Here's the Dutch folks that you were talking about.

KW:

See, we were the only three WACs that came into this base here.

EE:

Army's women in white. No, that's the Army Nurse Corps.

KW:

There's the hospital we stayed in.

EE:

Dixie loveliness.

KW:

Yes. We couldn't go to any of those dances or anything.

EE:

Southern belle. Oh, man, everybody shaved their head V for victory here. Officers' wives. Prince Bernhard. So you had the Dutch prince coming by?

KW:

I was the colonel's secretary.

[End of interview]