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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Marian Krugman, 2006

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Object ID: WV0354.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Marian Estelle Gold Krugman’s background; her service in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve during World War II; and the impact of her service on the rest of her life.

Summary:

Krugman discusses her family history, including her parents' immigration from Poland; the various places they settled before she was born; her father losing his embroidery work during the Depression and having to move to Brooklyn; the effects of the Depression on the family; her father starting a jewelry business from the ground up as World War II was beginning; her mother’s background and later years; and the death of her parents.

Krugman describes her service in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in World War II, including her desire to join; her parent’s response and support; the enlistment process; basic training at Camp Lejeune; and celebrating Jewish holidays there. She discusses the journey to Santa Barbara, California, on a troop train; anti-Semitic remarks made by a male coworker Marine; and her various jobs, including picking fruit, working in an engineering office, where she moved from hammering redheads to typing because the former wasn’t a woman’s job, and performing clerical work even though she didn’t know how to type. Krugman adds many anecdotes about her social life, including dating between officers and enlisted women, some funny social incidents, and various dates; favorite songs and music from the 1940s; and family members who were killed in the service.

Krugman also speaks about the Marine officers and leadership; meeting different types of women in the service; a woman who became pregnant while in the Marines; older male Marines' interactions with women; the military helping her become more independent; and meeting two Marine Corps generals while on a trip to Israel later in life. Other topics include meeting her husband at college after the war; her husband and children; the Vietnam War; and working with veterans at a Veterans Administration hospital.

Creator: Marian Estelle Gold Krugman

Biographical Info: Marian Estelle Gold Krugman (b. 1923) of Weehawken, New Jersey, served in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve during World War II.

Collection: Marian Gold Krugman 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:

Hermann Trojanowski:

Today is Wednesday, July 19, 2006, and the time is 10:30 Wednesday morning. My name is Hermann Trojanowski, and I'm at the home of Marian Krugman in Durham, North Carolina, to conduct the interview for the Women's Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Ms. Krugman, thank you so much for talking to me today. I really appreciate it. If you would give me your full name, we'll see how you sound on this tape recorder.

Marian Krugman:

Marian Estelle Gold Krugman.

[Recorder paused]

HT:

Tell me some biographical information about yourself such as where you were born and when.

MK:

I was born in New Jersey. I believe it was Weehawken, New Jersey, December 13, 1923. My parents were both immigrants. My mother had come to the United States with her whole family. My grandfather, I guess, was able to provide transportation for all of them, and she was one of seven sisters, four brothers, and as I said they all came at the same time. My father had a more adventurous trip to the United States. Story is that he was in Switzerland. He, too, was—did I say that both my parents were from Poland? My mother was from Western Poland which she called German Poland, and my dad was from Eastern Poland which he called Russia Poland, and he was one of three sons, I think or could be two sons, and a couple of sisters. His father was a chemist as I understand, and my father was quite well-educated.

My mother—go back to mother and—my mother and my grandfather was a tanner, and they came to America to Lowell, Mass[achusetts], because Lowell is where they had a lot of shoe manufacturing, and I guess he knew that, and my grandfather was—my mother was among the youngest of the family. So, my grandmother died when I was very, very young. I barely remember her, and my grandfather was always a very old man, and he had so many grandchildren. He lived—they had lived in Mt. Vernon, New York, which was after they came from Lowell. I don't know what brought them down to New York, which was a beautiful suburb of the city, and when I say “the city,” I mean New York City, and I never remember him other than being an old man with a beard, and he lived with one of his daughters at different times. So, I really never had a conversation with him as such, just hello and goodbye, and you know that kind of thing, and, so, going back to my father.

He, I understand, the story is, that he was a student in Switzerland studying—he was studying art. I guess he was a designer and a manufacturer of embroidery. I guess he was learning to use embroider machines because they did come from Germany and Switzerland, and when the war broke out and he knew he would have to be in the Russian army, he and several of his friends decided they did not want to go back to Poland. They did not want to be in the army and made their way across Europe through, I guess, Northern Russia or Manchuria. He came to Japan, and I have no other details. I wish now that I knew more about it. I've been wishing that for a lot of years, but it's too late. The rest of his family remained in Poland, and he came to the West Coast, landed in Seattle [Washington], and got a—I think about it now he was undocumented alien. Made his way into the city and, I guess, from the seaport, from the ship, and when he was finally questioned—and I don't know how long he'd been here—not very long probably under a year. He was picked up and put in jail for a couple of days and then was bailed out by a Jewish Welfare Society which was even in those days operating in that area. He came with a close friend of his whose daughter is my age, and with whom I've been friendly all these years.

HT:

Do you recall when your father came to the United States?

MK:

Well, it was sometime before the end of the war. It must have been at the beginning of World War I, because he knew he would be drafted in the army. So it would be some time.

HT:

Nineteen fourteen, nineteen fifteen.

MK:

I would say that's right, and made it—he worked when he got a job, probably immediately in one of the logging businesses, saw mills maybe, and he was not a very big man. So he didn't—I can't see him chopping down trees, but he—what little he told us about it—and neither one of my parents talked about their lives in Europe at all, very little. Occasionally my mother would say something that would evoke a memory, and she would tell us about it and my father practically nothing at all. I knew his father was a chemist who had, I think I said he had several brothers. One, I think, was a pharmacist. That family is all gone. We, after we had—his father had died pre-[Adolf] Hitler. His mother and the brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews and I have many pictures of them, because they communicated with my father frequently, and go back to—and I will be jumping back and forth a little bit in the beginning.

My father, when he decided he owed the company store on the West Coast, in Seattle, more money than he could pay back in a lifetime—that's a quote from him—that he decided to come East. He had family, and he made his way across the country with peddlers and their wagons. I don't know how long he was on the East Coast, but he joined the army, and he [laughing] and he got his citizenship papers—I have a copy of those—in Birmingham, Alabama, after the war and had to make—no, I don't—actually, he met my mother. A friend, a mutual friend, brought him to the home of where my mother lived, to her family home. A little piece of the story that I'll throw in now is that—and I'll probably tell you everything I know of this—my mother had been married in World War I to a man whom I understand was her cousin. And he was killed before the war was over, and he was buried in Europe. We have a picture of a World War I cemetery, and there is one Star of David, and we think that that's his burial place. But interestingly enough, my mother never, never, never mentioned this to us, never, never told us.

HT:

How did you find out about it?

MK:

I found out when I was a teenager, young teenager. Never go through your parents' drawers [laughing]. I don't know why I went through the drawer. I was probably looking for something, and I came across my parents' marriage certificate. My mother's maiden name was Neiman, and they didn't have her name. It had Bertha Guston as her name. Guston? That doesn't sound like Neiman—Numan maybe, Beiman maybe, but not Guston. So, I was reluctant to say anything to my mother. So I guess I shouldn't have been in her drawer [laughing] I have to admit, and I was in there. And so I had many cousins, and for the most part—we were living in Brooklyn [New York] by the way.

I was born in New Jersey as I said, and when I was ten years old we moved to Brooklyn. My—I have one cousin—well, almost all of the family except for my mother and one other sister lived in Mount Vernon, which was wonderful when we would go there once a month or once every two months to see my aunts and uncles and cousins. And I had one cousin who was my age and who I was very close to, and I was spending a weekend with her, and I guess I must have been about, maybe about—this happened when I was maybe about twelve or thirteen, or maybe even a little bit older than that—and I swore her to secrecy because I had this secret that I was going to tell her. And when I told her she said she knew all about it, and she was the one who showed me the picture that they had hanging on the wall of the military cemetery in France, and so she—whatever information I have I got from Evelyn, my cousin Evelyn.

HT:

So you and your mother never discussed it?

MK:

Never. Never discussed it. I never brought it up. She never in any way that I could think even suggested it. The one incident in which I am putting my own feelings into this, in which I think this was for her—not to tell me, but this was for her. We lived in—after we were married and we had—we lived in various places for awhile. We were living in Martinsburg, West Virginia, which was not too far outside of Washington, and we were moving to Durham. We knew we would be moving to Durham, and it was a—we moved to Durham in February, so this must have been about January. My folks, mother and dad, came to see us to kind of say goodbye. Durham, North Carolina, seemed like the other part of the world, and we were going to do a Washington trip, and we were going to do some of the things that we had not seen before. One of the things was the Arlington Cemetery, and I—this is where the women's memorial [Women In Military Service For America Memorial] is now.

[Telephone ringing. Recorder paused]

MK:

On this trip to Washington. As we were driving along, it was a cold January day. The thought was that maybe we would not go to the cemetery, we would just go right into Washington. My mother, who was for the most part a very easygoing woman, who was perfectly willing to give up what she wanted to do to do something for others, who wanted, perhaps wanted to do something else, insisted that we go to Arlington, which was sort of unusual for my mother to say. To not say, “Sure, let's go,” or “Let's forget it. Let's not go.” But she said, no, no, she wanted to go. She had always wanted to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And it occurred to me—I didn't say anything, but it occurred to me that for her own self and for her own sake, she thought maybe that could be the grave, or the remains I should say, of her husband.

And the one other thing about that that I remember—and that's total memory of the family of that incident—as I said, this family is a cousin, and many, many years ago when we went to a family party she had—there were other cousins there, and I guess I remember it because, again, she was a little insistent that I meet a cousin whose last name was Guston, and I had a feeling that this was the brother. I didn't know that at the time. At that time I did not know. She just wanted me to meet her cousin, and I have a feeling that this was the brother of the man.

So, as I said, I was born in New Jersey. My father was a manufacturer of laces and embroidery, was very comfortably—financially, we were very comfortable. He also liked the stock market, and with the crash lost a lot of not only his own personal money, but his business was a business—laces and embroidery, as I said—luxury items, and that went down really down the tube. And so we suddenly became poor folks, and he sold his machines, which were unfortunate, because when the war started everybody who had an embroidery machine made little fortunes embroidering all the needs—having contacts with all the needs for the military.

But in any case he was a very good father. He tried very hard. When he still had the machines he would make up—he made—In those days, when women wore collars on their dresses, and that was one of the way they changed the look of their dress, he made collars. He would make collars and really sub-pedaled them on the street corners in New York. Never could get himself to buy a peddler's license, to get a peddler's license. It was just I think humiliating for him to think he was doing that, but he was fined. Never went to jail, but was fined many different times, which took what little money he made. And that brought us to Brooklyn where—my mother had a sister who lived in Brooklyn, and they owned some property that we were able to move into: a two-family little house, and we were able to get an apartment, and my folks opened up a dry goods store it was called in those days. Sold buttons and patterns and fabrics, and other needs, threads that women needed to make their own clothes, and it was really a hand-to-mouth operation.

HT:

So this would have been during the Depression, I guess?

MK:

During the Depression, right. During the Depression. I guess it was from maybe '30, no, 1934 or '35, and my job in the store was to see if I could collect some of the money that people owed her, and it was horrible. I hated doing it, but I had to do it because—

HT:

So you were like a collecting agency?

MK:

I was a collection agency [laughing]. I would go to somebody's door and knock on their door, and say, “I'm Mrs. Gold's daughter. You owe my mother fifty cents. You were supposed to bring it down this morning. Can you give it to her?” And sometimes I collected a quarter, and sometimes I collected nothing, and sometimes I would collect the fifty cents. And since then I never, never, never do anything that has me asking anybody for money, never. I will not be on any finance committees. I will never do that.

So, anyway, as things went on, things got better. And then I guess my dad, who was—even though we were poor, you know—he said, “You can [have] holes in your shoes, but you have to have your shoes shined,” and that kind of thing. And we—he took us to the museums often. All you needed was a nickel to get us on the subway. So I had a pretty good New York education outside of the public schools, which were wonderful then, and got to know all the museums and all the free places. Didn't go to any ballgames. It was not a ballgame—involved in baseball or the [Brooklyn] Dodgers or [New York] Giants, but did get to know the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Natural History, and the New York Public Library, because that was the places we would go.

And, then, I guess—well, he was—as I said, he was a lover of fine art and had somehow was able to go to auctions where they sold, would sell things like buttons and fringes. You know, I guess it was in the women's clothing business, manufacturing, and he would always come back with a lot of very interesting buttons. And I guess the Depression was slowly ending and we were revving up for the war I suppose, and women would see the buttons, and they would buy some buttons for their dresses that they make, or to replace buttons and then ask him if he could make earrings out of some of the buttons. And so he learned a little bit of how to use glue and backing, and he learned how to make earrings.

He became interested in designing jewelry, and he became—as the years went on—he became a major jewelry manufacturer. In the last years of their—during the war, after the war he became—had a big factory. I don't want to say big. He had a factory, and he specialized in—a jewelry factory—and he specialized in antique, the antique look, antique-looking jewelry. He learned the jewelry business [from] the ground up. Had no one really to teach him, because that was not his business. But the business was quite profitable and successful, and when he retired my brother—before that my brother became a partner, and when he retired, my brother took it over. And the years of their lives, the last years since, I guess—when was Pearl Harbor?

HT:

December 1941.

MK:

From '41 to about—it may be '42, '43. Before I went into the service was quite, became quite successful, and so the last years of their lives they had a very comfortable life. Traveled a lot, and did what they wanted to do.

HT:

How about your mom? Was she—

MK:

My mom was, again, very complacent, quiet woman. She was—I don't know. I guess [she] only went to a high school education, and [I'm] not even positive now that she might have finished high school. And she was a very caring, loving woman, and she—my dad died in 19—we had just moved back to New Jersey. So he was eighty-four when he died. It was in 1975 or '76, and my mother lived ten years after that, lived in her own apartment. She was ninety-seven when she died, and up until her last few years she was in good health. She was actually in good health during all of this, that time. She was losing—she never had dementia, but she was less able to think for herself. We were fortunate in that we lived in an apartment house and in a very nice apartment and then the very nice apartment had—and the superintendent of the house became quite friendly with my parents. They were Turkish people, and when my parents went to Europe as they did yearly, they went to visit her folks in Turkey—their folks in Turkey, and then she became my mother's—what is the word they used?

HT:

Companion?

MK:

Companion.

[Detailed discussion of the deaths of MK's parents is not transcribed]

HT:

Well, let's backtrack a little bit.

MK:

Sure.

HT:

To your high school days. Now, where did you go to high school?

MK:

I went to James Madison High School in Brooklyn, New York, and I got a very interesting letter that came from someone I didn't know. Turn that off and I'll bring it to you.

[Recorder paused]

HT:

You were talking about where you attended high school. Do you recall what your favorite subject was?

MK:

English. And I took French and Spanish, neither of which I was very good.

HT:

And what did you hope to do after graduating from high school?

MK:

I guess—I knew I would be going to college. I lived in New York City and there were many wonderful free colleges in New York, and I guess I wanted—Thinking back, I wanted to be a journalist. I thought about this for a long time, but, yes, I wanted to be a journalist.

HT:

And did you go to college right away?

MK:

I went to Hunter College.

HT:

Okay. And what was your major there?

MK:

My major was English. Actually, that's wrong. My first major was geology, believe it or not [laughing]. I read about all the things, and geology sounded very interesting, and after about a year I decided—that was before we had weathermen and TV—Had I known that, I probably would have continued [laughing] with geology, but in practical senses, talking to my dad, we decided I should change. What was I going to do with an English major, right? So I then changed to business.

HT:

Business?

MK:

Right.

HT:

And did you live at home while you—

MK:

Lived at home.

HT:

And what were the years that you attended? I think—

MK:

Well, I attended in—I went in in 1940, and I went that year during the day, and then in 19—Then the war broke out, and things had changed considerably. You know, I was able to get a job. They were looking for people to help—I was able to get a government job, and so I switched to night and took some courses at night, and then left when I had about two years behind me, in 19—I guess I must have left in June of '43, because I went into the service right after that. I joined—the war had broken out. I had—my mother, as I said before, was a member of a large family, and many cousins who were in the [U.S.] Army, one cousin who was in the Marines.

HT:

What made you choose the Marines?

MK:

Because it was the best [laughing]. You should know that. I mean, for one, it was the hardest to get into for women. It was the hardest to get into. The cousin who was in the Marines was in the tank corps and had been in Guadalcanal and was a, I guess—[he] was someone I maybe perhaps even had a crush on—crush in parentheses—and once the Marines were accepting women, I knew that's where I wanted to go. There was no question in my mind.

HT:

And did you have to have your parents' permission—

MK:

Yes.

HT:

—to join?

MK:

I did.

HT:

Because you were underage?

MK:

Right.

HT:

Under twenty-one?

MK:

Right.

HT:

And what did they think?

MK:

My—I talked about it for about two years.

HT:

Oh.

MK:

Before I was old enough. And my mother said, “Okay, stop talking. Stop talking. When you are old enough we will talk about it.” Well, the day I turned twenty I went down and joined, but I have to get a written permission. My dad [said] “I think this is wonderful,” you know, “Join,” and my mother backed out. But with a little urging on his part and on my part and my reminding her that she always said that she would go with it, you know, when I was old enough. I wanted to join. If I joined, she would go with it. She did sign.

HT:

Did you have any siblings?

MK:

Two, a sister and a brother. My sister—I'm the oldest, and we're all about two years, about twenty months apart. My sister is twenty months younger than I am. My brother is twenty months younger than my sister.

HT:

And so—

MK:

My sister—

HT:

So your brother was too young to—

MK:

No, but he did go in. I think he was drafted. Either the war was over or it was certainly winding down, and he was actually stationed on Staten Island.

HT:

What about your friends? What did they think about—

MK:

What?

HT:

—Marian joining the Marines?

MK:

The question I heard more than almost any other one was, why does a nice Jewish girl want to join the Marines? And that came up all the time. Why do you want to join the service? Why do you want to join the Marines? And, you know, I guess part of it is genetics. I take after my father. Part of it is, like my father, I want to be where the action is, and part of it was my own feeling that we had family who were at that point we didn't know about. All the information we have now about the concentration camps, but my father had family in Poland, and we knew how difficult it was for Jewish people in Europe, and I felt a sort of a family obligation to do my part, even though the Marines were in the Pacific rather than in Europe.

I did have one girl cousin who joined the WACs [Women Army Corps]. She was two months younger than I was, and I had three, you know, my mother's—I had many boy cousins, and two of them were killed in the war. One was killed in Saint-Lô, by American flames; they accidentally bombed Saint-Lô. That was in France, and the other one that was younger than I was, his name was Arnold [Krugman], too, the name of my husband. He joined. Sort of a sad story. His mother had died when he was young, and the father had remarried and nobody was happy. The kids certainly weren't happy with the woman he married, because he joined when I think he went into the college program that they had, and then joined when he was eighteen, I guess. And then the war heated up in Europe and they closed the college program, and he was sent to—in fact he was in a pre-med program—and he was sent to, interestingly enough he was sent to Princeton [University]. And then they were sending all, everybody overseas, and he was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. He was eighteen. My other cousin had been married and had a child.

HT:

He was also killed?

MK:

The other one who was killed, yes.

HT:

When you enlisted, what do you recall about enlisting? What kind of process did you have to go through?

MK:

Well, I enlisted. I went down to the Marine recruiting somewhere in Manhattan. Somewhere close to 42nd Street. I can't remember exactly where it was. I have a vague memory, but I'm not sure of exactly where. Came home with the papers. My one concern was that my eyes. Your eyes had to be a certain—what's the word I want here? It couldn't be too bad, and I was—

HT:

Your vision had to be 20/20 or something like that?

MK:

Yeah, well, couldn't be—didn't have to be 20/20, but I happened to be 20/200, and so—but glasses, corrected with glasses. And I was concerned that when I got called I would not pass the eye exam, so I ate a lot of carrots [laughing] and did eye exercises, and whatever I thought would be helpful I did. And I joined in December. My birthday is December 13. It was possibly December 13 or 14. It was right at my birthday, and I wasn't called up until I think about, I don't know, January or February. I can't remember exactly, and at that point I was—they did the physical, and I passed the eye exam. Yay! [laughing].

HT:

Was there a written test as well of some sort?

MK:

I think so, although I don't really remember it. A written test wouldn't have been of much concern to me, so I don't remember being concerned about it.

[Recorder paused]

HT:

Well, after you joined, can you tell me something about basic training?

MK:

Went to North Carolina. First time I had went on a train, a regular train to Washington, and there met up with other women who were going to basic training, and we went on a troop train. It was my first trip, real trip away from home, other than visiting my family, relatives, in suburban New York. And [laughing] I called my parents from Washington, because they wanted me to call them every stop, at every step along the way. And [I] left my glasses, I think, in the phone booth, but did get them back. There was a phone booth in a drugstore, and [I[ did call them and get them back, but the first few days it was a little difficult, because I was very nearsighted. I probably had a second pair. I can't—I don't know that I ever was able to afford a second pair.

And so, [it] was interesting coming down through North Carolina. I saw—went through a lot of country, Eastern—where the train tracks were, you know, in Eastern North Carolina. Much rural. Very rural, and it was like I thought North Carolina should be [laughing], a Southern rural state should be. And [we] got to Camp Lejeune, and it was an interesting six weeks. Didn't—had no contact with the outside world other than letters. Could not receive telephone calls or make a telephone call—of course, we didn't have cell phones—unless we got permission to make a call. Met women of all size, shapes, and from all parts of the country. Became friendly with one. I'm not exactly sure I know where she is now. Became friendly with one and maintained that friendship for a number of years after the service. And it was certainly different. I never led as regulated or led a regulated life. And two things that stand out—well, one, perhaps you know that we were not able to do anything on our own. We always have to be with our group. We saluted our corporal, who was named Shirley Satterfield. Now, why do I remember that name when I can't remember yours?

HT:

[Laughing]

MK:

Hermann, I remember your name.

HT:

That's right.

MK:

But I can't remember your last name. Can I see it.

HT:

[Laughing] That's all right.

MK:

But Trojanowski, right. I just saw the first two letters and I remembered. And the one interesting—well, one thing that happened, and it sort of worked its way into another thing, was during the Easter holiday and we were permitted, special exception, to go to the Seders. It was Passover. To go to a Seder in Jacksonville. And it was—all the Jewish Marines on the base who wanted to do that went and celebrated. It was a small group of us, men and women, and I did meet a male Marine there who had been stationed in Camp Lejeune. He was from Brooklyn and in fact we had both gone to the same high school but at different times.

And then the other interesting thing was if we were very—I guess it was two things. If we were very, very good at inspection and didn't have any demerits—I'm going to call that; I can't think of the proper word if there was another word—once a week we had the afternoon off, and we were able to go to various other units at Camp Lejeune, such as the dog unit or the—no, rifle unit. You went as a group, but other specialty units, and the one big thing that they talked about—the one big unit—was a ride in a Higgins boat. That was the last thing that we would get to do before we graduated. So we had to be really good about that. I didn't get any demerits other than one. There was one corporal who didn't see eye to eye. She was not in charge of my, of our group, and she was always giving me demerits because my washcloth wasn't exactly folded right or two inches or inch or whatever it was to be from your towel, which was hanging over a rail on the back of your bed. And so other than that I really didn't get into any trouble. I didn't get into any problems, and [at] the very end when we were supposed to go the Higgins boat I was not permitted to go, because I had demerits or how many, I can't give you the details. And I really—I think at some point many of the women—I wouldn't use the word broke down, but you know they would have a crying jag or—

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

MK:

Okay. Have a crying jag, and I got really got slightly hysterical when I heard that I wasn't going to go, and I just cried. People came in and said, “Did her mother die?” [whispering] You know, they—because I just cried like my world was over. My world was absolutely over, and ranted and raved, and at the end of the day [laughing] I was in the laundry ironing a pillow case. I never slept on the pillow case. It always has to be perfect, and so I would iron it the night before just so I didn't have to do it in the morning. And I was told that our captain wanted to see me.

I really got—for one, I shouldn't have been in the laundry doing the ironing. I would sort of sneak in, but she heard that I had had this temper tantrum earlier and she wanted to know if that was my behavior, and what caused it, and was it that important. Then she also said that one of these young men that I had met at the Seder had called me. They had not given me that information. He knew better than to call me. He knew that I couldn't get any or receive or accept any telephone call. So that didn't look too good either. Well, I was really a little anxious [laughing] that maybe my Marine Corps career was over at that point.

And then interesting side light to that: several evenings after that, they were going to put on a big show, a big show that the Marines were doing, and they needed people to help with the properties. And those of us who wanted to go and do some painting or drag things around were able to go that evening, go out that evening after dinner to wherever they were going to do that. And I went with—I was one of those who went, and the young man in charge of this—an officer in the Marines in charge of this event—got to talking to me, with me one time, and it turned out—I had no idea, but turned out that he was Jewish, and he wanted to know if I was having any problems as a Jewish woman, and I said, no, that I really wasn't; and, indeed, I was not. I said the only problem I had was this event that I just told you about, and he went on to say that she had a reputation of being very hard on the Jewish women, interestingly enough. He didn't tell me, and he just told me that, you know, if anything else were to occur I was to get in touch with him. Go to my corporal who would get in touch with him. Nothing ever else ever happened.

HT:

So after basic training, what happened?

MK:

After basic training I was told that I was going to go to [Marine Corps Base] Quantico [Virginia]. The first two weeks after basic training I was on KP [kitchen patrol] duty at Camp Lejeune and in the officers' mess, and found out that you couldn't sit down while an officer was still in the dining room. And then I did date the guy who had called me. So it was an interesting two weeks [laughing]. And I was told that I would go, I was going to go to Quantico to the—because of my college background—to Quartermaster School. And my folks were going to come down to see me, but we decided since I was going to go to Quantico that that was important. They could wait until I, you know, was settled in Virginia which would even be closer.

Well, turns out when they read duty and where we were going and the duty roster, I was going to Santa Barbara [California], to be a mail clerk, much to my shock and surprise. And so that was mighty far away from home, and went—didn't cry then [laughing]. I don't think I cried since, in the Marine Corps. Anyway, I went across country on troop trains. Made several—had changed trains, I think, once, at least once. Interesting. Took six, seven days. It took a long time. One of the stops during the middle of the night—1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m.—one of the stops was Nebraska, one of the middle, Midwestern states. There were ladies waiting. I remember this. Ladies with baskets of food for us, sandwiches and drinks and things like that. And they wrote a book, I think, about that, that group of ladies, at a later date, who met all the troop trains. Got to L.A. [Los Angeles, California] and then went up to—took another train up to Goleta, to Santa Barbara, and [met] several of the ladies.

We were among the last of the ladies to go to that base. They were—it was one of several small Marine Corps air stations on the West Coast, and was one in—there is one in Mojave, the Mojave Desert, and there was one, a couple of others. I can't remember exactly where they were, but—and these were bases with small numbers of Marines. It was nothing like the major Marine station at El Toro [California], which it was closed several years ago. [Camp] Pendleton [California], like Pendleton. There were a lot of women Marines in San Francisco, and when I got there I was supposed to be a mail clerk, but they didn't need any more mail clerks [laughing].

They didn't really need any more women, but there I was, and for a few weeks I was on buildings and grounds, pruning lemon trees—a girl from Brooklyn, who didn't know much about lemons other than we bought them at the corner grocery—and picking weeds. I was not a very happy camper then. I did not join the Marines to prune lemon trees or pick weeds. So I really wanted to do something I felt was important to help in the war effort, and then one day they—picking weeds was kind of funny because anything that grew and was green—nothing that grew and green was a weed to me. So I didn't know what to pick. I mean between the weeds and the flowers, they were all the same. I thought they were all beautiful, and I didn't pick many weeds.

But they asked if anybody took college math. They needed some volunteers. So I had college math, and I volunteered. And it was to work with the base engineers, and that was—consisted of a naval—I think he wasn't an officer. I think he was high ranking enlisted man who was in charge, and the other two civil engineers who were civilians who lived in Santa Barbara. Both of them were engineers, and they were—and I worked with them for several—for a year or more. They were very, very nice.

I learned how to use the civil engineering instruments at that point, which were not any of the wonderful electronic things that they have now. One was a transit and one was a level, and I pounded so-called “redheads” into the ground. We were forever—well, we were always changing the airstrip, leveling it sometimes, sometimes changing entirely, and the roads in the area.

And I guess the first really open anti-Semitic remark that I ever heard directed at me was one day driving with George Streeter—who was my boss—a civilian man, and a Marine whose name was Kenny, the three of us were together. I don't remember his last name. He was from Sault Ste. Marie, [Ontario, Canada], and we were driving along and something came up, and that he found out that I was Jewish, and he was absolutely flabbergasted that I was—

HT:

This was Kenny?

MK:

Yes, Kenny, that I was Jewish. He had never known a Jew before, and in Sault Ste. Marie they don't even allow a Jew in their town [laughing]. I was just absolutely horrified. Here is my good friend talking like that. I was dumbstruck really, and I looked at George Streeter, and he was so embarrassed and truly I think hurt by what he heard and hurt for me. And he didn't say anything, and then asked Kenny, who said he was Catholic, and he started to tell them about the problems Catholics have in the South. The Ku Klux Klan was anti-Catholic as well as Jewish, and he was quite—he was surprised. Kenny was surprised. We remained friends.

HT:

Now, was Kenny a civilian or—

MK:

No, he was—

HT:

—was he military?

MK:

Military. He was a Marine. We remained friends, but, of course, I never really trusted him, and that was difficult for me. I never had heard anyone that I knew and liked and was a good friend say anything—

HT:

So you had to work with Kenny after that—

MK:

Yes.

HT:

—as well?

MK:

Continue to work with him, and I don't remember for very long. I—thinking back, I suspect that Mr. Streeter got somebody else. He taught me how to drive, and we drove a pickup, and I turned it over, and as a result there was a rule on the base that nobody drives without a license [laughing], drive a vehicle without a license. I turned it over accidentally. I am left-right deprived [laughing] to this day. And I was backing up, and I should have turned right on a one-lane narrow road, and it was on a small, an incline, not very—and I was going very slowly, and got off the road and turned it over.

HT:

But you were not hurt?

MK:

No, I was not hurt. You know, they could have called that the “Marian Gold Order,” that nobody drives without—

HT:

But you got your license afterwards?

MK:

Many years [laughing] afterwards. After I was married and my husband had given up on me. But the other interesting thing I remember of that was Mr. Streeter—well, for one, I went to Santa Barbara—it was then called Santa Barbara Community College—and took a course in drafting. I did that at night, and I was able to get a vehicle to drive me into town since we were in Goleta, and I was—one day I was hammering a redhead. You know what that is?

HT:

I do not know what a redhead is.

MK:

Well, it is a small—it's a big nail or a small bolt that [has] a piece of red flannel at the top, and you hammer it into the ground to the level that they want to pave. And I was busy hammering, and a sergeant came by and he said, “Why are you doing that?” You know, what you're doing? He said, “As a woman, you shouldn't be doing that. You may be injuring your internal organs. You may never have—be able to have a child. I don't think it's right that you should be doing that.” And every time I had a child I thought of him before I thought of [laughing]—So I said, “There. I had four kids, and I didn't have any problems.” And it wasn't—you know, I just had an epiphany just this minute. It wasn't too long after that. I never thought of that before. It turned out that women were not supposed to have the job that I had, was not on the women.

So I had to leave this wonderful job that I enjoyed so much and went to work in the printing office, which was a Monolith and a mimeograph. And the interesting thing about that was you had to type stencil. I didn't know how to type. So it was one finger typing with many mistakes, and one paragraph that somebody wanted to have multiple copies of might take me four hours to get done. I was doing a horrible job and I had lovely—I had a lovely sergeant. Her name was Alma B. Sanders. She was from Iowa, and we got along very well. And I had nobody breathing down my neck, and it took me forever to type [laughing] a stencil, but I was a woman, and I was supposed to know how to type, right?

HT:

Do you recall how long—going back a second—how long you worked with Mr. George Streeter? Was it several months?

MK:

Yes, more than that, maybe a year.

HT:

Oh, that long.

MK:

Maybe a year or more, because that was the primary thing I sometimes forget about. The fun part about that job was that I would get called, a telephone call from someone like—well, the one I remember in particular is Joe Foss, who was a Marine Corps aviation hero, who called in, dictated something over the phone that he wanted to have typed, have mimeograph copies of, and that was so thrilling to be talking to [him]. And we had other—on this small base, we had other Marine Corps naval heroes.

HT:

And how long did you stay with the printing office?

MK:

I didn't stay with the printing office terribly long. I was then put into Headquarters Company. I don't even—it was some kind of clerical job. I don't remember what I did, and that one turned out to be fun, too, because [I] met a lot of guys who were in the printing office. You know, I'm doing a lot without being Jewish. Because this was some of the things that I happened—that I remember, and they found out that I was Jewish. Well, therefore, I had to be rich, right? I was supposed to be rich. I couldn't convince them that all Jews were not rich, and I was not a rich Jew. And then one day we talked about colleges, and I went to Hunter College, and suddenly somebody said, “That's one of those girl schools,” like Vassar [College] and Bryn Mawr [College] and Wellesley [College]. “So, you have to be rich going to those, one of those schools, right? And you are trying to tell us that you're not rich?” So, you know, I thought to myself, I'll never be rich. So relax and enjoy it. Be rich [laughing].

HT:

Well, what did you think of the officer leadership?

MK:

The officer leadership, I was not—I was not really convinced that they were the best leaders we could have.

HT:

Now, you're talking about—

MK:

My particular—There were incidents. I personally was not impacted in any way, but I saw other women who were, and there were some women they liked better than other women. I'm trying to think of a couple of incidents that—oh, I'm sort of barking on. I became quite friendly. I'm telling you things I haven't even thought about for years. I became quite friendly with a gal who was totally different, totally different background—divorced—than I did. When I first got to Santa Barbara I was invited to go out with a group of ladies who were going out. Now, I'd never been to a bar, period, much less a bar with women, and I really didn't know anything about drinking, and I spent that evening not knowing what to order, you know? I thought bourbon was a wine. I guess I thought it was burgundy, and I did not enjoy any of it. I thought it was just terrible. I was embarrassed to be a woman in a bar by myself. These women were very comfortable doing what they were doing, and we went to two or three of them, and never really picked up as such any men, but, you know, the thought of flirting and talking. And I got pretty drunk, I guess, and I was sick as I could be that night and the next day. Never did it again. Never went with those women again, because I knew that that was not my style at all.

And it was in Santa Barbara that I met my friend Chris who was from Smithfield [North Carolina], and other women that I became very close and friendly with who did not spend their time or act like that or do those kinds of things. And I'm not being critical, I'm just saying it just wasn't my thing. And among those women there was one woman who I became quite friendly with, even though we did nothing together socially, but we became very close. She was from California and blonde and was very attractive and had been divorced and went out with a different group of people, different crowd of people. And one day she told me that she was pregnant, much to my horror [laughing]. I tell you, a good education. And she did have a male friend. This was not—she was not pregnant with this man who was in the army. He was a navigator in the army, and she did go. She kept me informed about what happened. I've never really told anybody about this.

HT:

Did she have to leave?

MK:

No, she had an abortion, and became very ill—septic—as a result of the abortion. What made me think about it is the doctor that she saw there told her, “Don't worry. I'll take care of you. Your medical record is private.” And the captain, our captain I guess didn't like her, I knew didn't like her. [The captain] did everything short of stealing her records to see what had happened. She pretty much knew, I think, what had happened or guessed at what had happened. And the reason she was ill on it was that Jean did not come back, was I think two days AWOL [Absent Without Official Leave], came back two days after she was supposed to. So she was arrested or I can't remember what they called it, and this woman did everything short of as I said stealing her records to try to find out. It was the captain trying to find out.

HT:

This was a female captain?

MK:

Female. All our officers were.

I know what I wanted to tell you. In boot camp—I was just telling somebody about this—we had a very salty sergeant who was old Marine, and I guess they had to give him something to do. So he was in charge of our calisthenics and exercises, and we had a shop that day, and we were in the sun doing our calisthenics exercises, and one of the woman dropped out. It was “oh, oh, look she fainted. She fainted.” He didn't quite know how to handle that, because if it were a man he would have done something else, I'm sure, but he didn't know what to do with a woman who dropped out. And then another one dropped [laughing], and I guess all told there were maybe three of them that just dropped, and I'll never forget that. I will somehow never forget the look on his face. He was totally confused actually to know where—“How do I handle this? I mean, I can't kick them out. These are women. I mean, what will I do with women who are fainting during an exercise, calisthenics?” You know, I don't remember whether he—they walked to the side and sat down or whatever, but I'll never forget. “Oh, look, look she dropped. She dropped,” you know?

HT:

But you didn't faint?

MK:

No, I don't faint.

HT:

What was the hardest thing you ever had to do physically while you were in the Marine Corps?

MK:

I don't know that I ever had to do anything really hard physically, that I could give you an answer to that. I, you know, in boot camp there were a lot of things that—we had marching. Marching, I guess, maybe a long march. There was nothing that I can recall that I—calisthenics was okay, you know? We had a pool and we had to do some water exercises, water kinds of things. In fact one of the things I did on my own was jumped from a top, a very high board like the men, and the women didn't have to do that, but I wanted to show them that I could do it, wanted to show the guys that I could do it, and I think—that's a good question.

In Santa Barbara, I certainly physically passed picking lemons [laughing] from a ladder and pulling weeds, and picking strawberries in a strawberry patch, eating strawberries, and, you know, some incidents were really kind of funny because the people in charge were usually salty old Marines. They didn't quite know how to handle a group of women. We were picking strawberries in a strawberry patch and we kept breaking and eating them, and then somebody would see him coming and, you know, “Corporal is coming.” No, not the corporal, the captain. “The captain is coming, the captain is coming. Stop picking.” Well, he did it once, and then the second time I probably did it two weeks, strawberries. This was before I started—while I was on the buildings and grounds, and he said, “I know you're not working.” He said, “I know you're sitting there and resting and eating. That's all right if you rest. I don't mind. Don't think just because you jump up when you see me coming that I don't know you were resting.” I just remembered that. I just suddenly remembered that. I really can't think of anything that I couldn't handle that was more than I could do.

HT:

What about emotionally? What was the hardest thing you ever had to do or involved in?

MK:

With that?

HT:

Emotionally, yes?

MK:

When I was not permitted—when I had—they had built that up as to the most wonderful thing you will ever do as a Marine if you have a chance to go out in that Higgins boat.

HT:

On that Higgins boat. So you never got a chance to go out on that Higgins boat.

MK:

And other than that, you know, when my two cousins were killed and I got word. That was very hard for me. I was in the Marines. That was in Santa Barbara when I heard about both of them, and it was over the course of—I think it was maybe in that year both of them were killed. One at the start of the invasion and one in the winter at the Battle of the Bulge, and it was very emotional when the war was over. That was a very exciting time.

HT:

Well, speaking of that, do you recall where you were during VE [Victory in Europe] Day and VJ [Victory in Japan] Day?

MK:

I don't remember VE Day. I was in Santa Barbara.

HT:

In Santa Barbara?

MK:

Yes, and it was exciting but it didn't impact on the women—on the Marines, because the Marines are in the Pacific. So it wasn't that same kind of exaltation as the war was over. We still had—we were still fighting. Of course, VJ Day was different. I remember where I was when [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt died.

HT:

Where was that?

MK:

It was at Santa Barbara. I remember all of us sitting around in the day room talking about it; and, of course, it was several months, not that long when the war was over. It was emotional when my friend Jean came back from being AWOL and had to go to the hospital. That was a personal kind of emotional, but as far as a personal thing happening to me, my sister came to visit. My parents never came.

I was in—a couple, in fact, fun things that happened. I had a cousin who was stationed in San Francisco, and I would go up if I had a long weekend, if I had a weekend, and sometimes I would fly up in the back seat of a plane with a parachute strapped on my back if a plane was going to San Francisco.

HT:

You got a free hop?

MK:

Got a free hop, right, and one time I went home. I guess it maybe it was the second time that I had leave to go, and everybody was going from airport to airport, and I made it from airport to airport as far as, I think, Kansas City [Missouri], and then I just couldn't get out and I was wasting too much of the two weeks that I had. And so, I ended up with a group. Everything was sort of—you were sort of with other people taking a train, and the train—I think it was the same train that Lincoln took. It was just that old. It was an old, old, old, old train. How they dug that out of mothballs I don't know, but it was kind of fun to be riding on a train that looked like it was one I had seen in the history book from back [in] 1800.

And came back—we always came back by train in uniform. Of course, I couldn't not wear a uniform. To be out of the uniform was against the rules. I had—I couldn't date anyone who was an officer, because I was an enlisted Marine. And there were a lot of nice looking, fun aviators who were officers. And so if we did date, we would always try to ask someone to come along with us, an enlisted man, so if the shore patrol stopped me I would—we would say I was with Tim rather than with—there was one guy in particular that I dated who was—we did have to do a lot of going to places where we were not likely to meet a shore patrol. We'd eat at little Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara off of the beaten track. I'll even tell you a secret that you can't write down.

HT:

You want me to turn it off?

MK:

Yes.

[Recorder paused]

MK:

I remember what it looked like and remember the name of the store. I dated somebody that I liked, and he was an aviator, and we couldn't—as a matter of fact, he was from Philadelphia and we—it was difficult, because we didn't always want to take a third person out. So I would go to the ladies room. We would go to a restaurant off the beaten track, and there were always Mexican restaurants somewhere in another part of town in Santa Barbara, and I would change to the dress, carried over a bag, put my uniform in the bag, and never was caught in the dress.

HT:

But if you had been caught—

MK:

But didn't enjoy a minute of it [laughter], but didn't enjoy a minute of it. Lived in fear and trembling that I'd be caught. Did a couple of other things that I shouldn't have done, like go to men's barracks one time. It was sort of on a dare, and I did. I'll do it, but then I can't wait until I'm finished with it and don't enjoy it, believe me don't enjoy it for fear that you're always—

HT:

Would you recall any other embarrassing moments or humorous moments?

MK:

Well, yes, turning the truck over was an embarrassing moment. Thank God I wasn't hurt. And Mr. Streeter, whose dog went with him everywhere, was in the cab with me, and I think George Streeter was more worried about the dog than he was about me [laughter]. Neither one of us was injured. You know, kind of—I'm just going back. I dated somebody. Just one or two dates with somebody who—yes, I thought of another embarrassing moment—with someone who worked in the dining room, worked as a cook, worked in the kitchen, and he was—happily for me, I didn't like him that much. Really, the reason I dated him is that when I was on duty in the barracks, he'd come in at night and bring me a hamburger or a steak or something like that, and he worked at night.

And one time he was working and I wasn't. I was with a group of people and he invited us over to the dining room, you know, to get steaks or hamburgers or whatever, and we went, and he sort of caught me in the back in the freezer, and I was a little upset about that. So that was sort of an embarrassing moment. I think that was my last date with him, and it was another, you know, just escapades kind of that young people have. A lot of these guys had come back. These were all in the Marines Air Wave. There were no real Marines laughing].

HT:

Well, do you recall what your favorite songs and dances and movies were?

MK:

Yes. One is—one song I remember so well is I Walk Alone, and I remember that because there was a gal who would take walks by herself and sing, I Walk Alone because she had a boyfriend who was overseas, and she lived in San Bernardino, [California]. The things you remember. She lived in San Bernardino, and she would get rides home with other Marines who lived in that area when she would have a long weekend, and she ended up marrying one of them that she would get a ride home with. I remember it so well because I would see her walking by herself singing that song, and the boyfriend would send her lovely gifts like perfume, and we all sat around and looking and thinking, “Isn't that lovely to have a boyfriend who cared so much for her.” It was a perfume called White Shoulders, I think. He would send her White Shoulders, and she ends up marrying one of the guys who lived in San Bernardino [laughing] where she was living.

HT:

A civilian?

MK:

No, he was a Marine.

HT:

A Marine.

MK:

Yes, and all the songs at that time—I would listen to them all the time on channel—well, I had lots of them on CDs, but on channel 925 on my TV you get songs—songs and singers, and they're all from that period, and Ballerina, Dance, Ballerina. Another one I remember, and I remember, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow. We didn't get much snow in Santa Barbara, but we did occasionally. I remember that one in particular, the day that we all were singing that one.

HT:

What about famous people? Did you ever meet any famous people?

MK:

We had—Bob Hope came to the base fairly often because it was good publicity. He was at a Marine Corps air station, right? And he was like two hours from L.A. That was a good place to have them, and my friend from Smithfield was a personal friend of Ava Gardner's and her brother, who was a Marine Corps aviator, who has since died, and who played basketball for Duke [University], dated Ava Gardner. In some of her biographies you will see a picture of Bob Rose and Ava Gardner. So that was the closest I got to Ava Gardner.

HT:

You never met her?

MK:

No, and I'm trying to think of [pause] not really. Spoke to Joe Foss on the telephone, and so that—if you were a Marine you would know who that was.

HT:

I'm afraid I don't know who that is [laughing]. I'll look it up.

MK:

Look it up, right. He ended up being governor of either North Dakota or South Dakota or Iowa—no, not Iowa. I lived in Iowa for a while. Not Iowa, but one of those Midwestern states, and—embarrassing moment, I'm thinking. I dated a—and this, too, was when nobody was looking—a naval officer who was a physician. He was at El Toro and would often would have a date on Friday night and would go to the synagogue services Friday night, right? But was able to get away with that a little more easily, and he—and then I found out he was the physician who examined the women before they left—women's physician—which caused me a lot of consternation, thinking, “What am I going to do? How can I handle it?” I think he left before I left [laughing], which made it a lot easier for me.

And I met—when I was in Santa Barbara after the war was over, I met an army officer who someone introduced me to who was in Santa Barbara for R&R [rest and recuperation]. One of the big hotels had been taken over. He had been in the Pacific theatre, and somebody, a civilian person that we knew introduced us, and I was able to go out with him, because he was not local. I had gotten a letter. I wrote a letter saying that I have an old friend who was in town and I wanted permission. He was only going to be there for maybe a month. So I was able to go out with him, and that was a relationship that continued until after the war for a while, until after I met Arnold.

HT:

Well, whom did you admire and respect a great deal during that period of time, like heroes or heroines?

MK:

Roosevelt. FDR.

HT:

Did you ever get a chance to meet him—

MK:

No.

HT:

Or ever come close?

MK:

No, no, and of women, I can't—I'm sure there were many women that—Mrs. Roosevelt as a matter of fact, Eleanor Roosevelt. And there were women who were officers whose names I don't remember that I thought a lot more of than the one I mentioned to you. And I guess I admired and respected women in the military who had attained even notoriety [laughing] for good reasons or were officers, and I thought that that was wonderful. And I can't think of any one particular name.

HT:

Would you consider yourself to be an independent person?

MK:

Yes.

HT:

And did the military make you that way or were you already—

MK:

I think the military made me that way, because I learned to do things in the military and did things on my own and handle situations on my own that really prepared me for my future life that I had no idea—that I would move and marry.

I met my husband when I went back to college, and we were married. He went and got a PhD. After we were married, [he] got his PhD at University of Kentucky, and we took off with his acceptance at Kentucky. Both our GI Bills, and, you know, lived a life away from our family, and we had both been very family-oriented and family—children, and, you know, never lived back in New York. And gave me—I had to meet a lot of new people, do things on my own. That helped me in every way.

HT:

How did you meet your husband exactly?

MK:

In—just in—I'll tell you how I met him.

HT:

Okay.

MK:

We were both going to—I went back—I didn't go back to Hunter College, because I had heard that women in the military who went back to all-girl schools had somewhat of a hard time because they were kind of looked—not down on, but looked at as being odd for having been in the military. And so I decided to go back to a coed school and went to Long Island University in Brooklyn. I was not ready yet to go out of town. And someone introduced me to Arnold, and it was just a, you know, “Hi, nice to meet you,” kind of thing, and then we ran into each other. The Long Island University was downtown Brooklyn in the city. We had—we mostly met in the Brooklyn—I think it was called Brooklyn Law School, not Brooklyn College, but Brooklyn Law School—and there were some classes at a Y[MCA] [Young Men's Christian Association], and we had to take subways to get to classes.

And so I met him walking in the street one day, and so we greeted each other, and I know I was from Brooklyn. There were kids there from Manhattan and some from the Bronx, and so to make small talk, I said to him, “Where are you from?” And he said, “My mother.” [laughing] I thought, “I don't need him. He's just a little too much of a smart guy for me.” But we were in some classes together and we just continued to be—

HT:

Hit it off.

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

HT:

I've forgotten where we were.

MK:

[Laughing]

HT:

Oh, you were talking—your husband. You were talking about your husband.

MK:

Yes.

HT:

You were talking about your husband and how you had met.

MK:

Right, and when—and then, after his smart-guy remark, we saw each other. We went to some classes together, and we knew each other. We rode the subway or something together, and then we started to date. In fact, he was a nice boy from a nice family.

HT:

Now, he was studying what at that time?

MK:

He was studying—actually, he was pre-med at that time. You know, and it sounds like a sort of a cop out for someone who didn't get into medical school, but it was very hard for Jewish boys to get into medical school. And I started taking some courses in psychology with a gentleman who was practicing—had a private practice as well as teaching—and I became very impressed with the things he told me. And so his family just was, you know, they wanted, “My son, the doctor,” right? And they found out if they gave—they knew someone who had an in at Yale [University]—and they found out if they gave a very large sum of money to the school library or whatever, he possibly could get in, and they didn't really have that kind of money.

Meanwhile, as I said, I had learned about psychology and I thought it sounded very interesting, and I convinced him to take a course with this professor the second [semester]—and he graduated a year before I did in the fall—in the spring of that year. And so, when he graduated, he went to NYU [New York University] and got a master's degree in clinical psychology. And the VA [Veterans Administration] was beginning to see the need for psychologists at the hospital. A lot of the men were coming back with—I call them—we didn't call it Post-Traumatic Stress [Disorder], we called it—I can't—battle fatigue, battle fatigue. And VA was giving scholarships to various universities, like two or three scholarships for those who wanted to study psychology, and he got one of those scholarships to the University of Kentucky. He applied for it, and that took us to Lexington, Kentucky.

HT:

And what about you? What were you studying at that time?

MK:

I had graduated. I had graduated. So when I got to Lexington I wanted to be a librarian, right? And I thought—when we got there in September. He was admitted; I didn't do anything about it. And so I did look into going into library school, and the library school was on the fourth floor of the library. The library schools are always on the fourth floor of the library.And then I got pregnant, and I thought, “I never knew anyone who had had a baby.” I mean, I knew how babies were born [laughing], but I never went through the experience of having a friend that's having [a baby]. So I thought, “I can't, won't be able to walk”—Let's see, this was, the baby was due in July, so I had—I could go that one spring semester. So I switched to English. I decided I would try getting it, and I did. I went and took classes in English, and my major was English, and then Janet was born, and I stayed out that next year, and then I wanted to go back.

I wanted to go, and at that point I had had a chance to look around at other women whose husbands were studying. We also knew that we would probably never want to go back to New York or a big city. We liked Lexington so much. We wanted a community like Lexington. Arnold was committed to the VA for a number of years, and so—the women who were coming in, the wives of the students we knew who were either nurses or teachers got jobs immediately. So I switched to English education. I didn't know what I was going to do with just a master's degree in English. So I switched to English education, and had to take a lot of education courses like hygiene, and had a second child, and then got an English ed[ucation] and master's degree in English ed, and never used it.

We left Kentucky after four years, and Arnold—first he did a post-doc up in Canandaigua, [New York]. So we moved to Canandaigua, were there for about four or five months, and then his first job was at VA medical center in Knoxville, Iowa. And those were the days before ZIP codes, so a lot of our mail went to Knoxville, Tennessee, before it came to Knoxville, Iowa. And we were there for several years. I didn't teach. I had two little kids. And then we went to Martinsburg. He went on, got another job with the VA—these are all VA—in Martinsburg, West Virginia. It brought us closer to the East Coast, which is something we wanted, and it was a move that—not a lateral move but a horizontal move, I guess. And he became a psychologist there, and then became the chief psychologist at the VA there. Five years after Neil was born I had two more children. I had Craig and then Meredith, and I didn't work then either. And our next door neighbor, someone on Arnold's staff, had three children, and one of them—the middle child—is someone by the name of Rick Santorum. Does that mean anything to you?

HT:

Senator from Pennsylvania.

MK:

Yes. So Rick is a little bit older than my son, Craig. No, let's see. His older sister was born in—and her name is Barbara Kay, and she was born in February. Craig was born in June, and Rick was born, to the day, the following February as his sister was born, a year later. And then ten months later, eleven months later, his younger brother was born. And his father, whose name is Aldo [Santorum], went around saying, “I have three kids. None of them are twins. I have three kids under two” [laughing]. But I am not a Rick Santorum—in fact, I've given money to Bob Casey. He is so incredibly conservative. So incredibly conservative that in no way could I think of voting for him or wanting him to be our—so, you know my politics.

HT:

[Laughing]

MK:

And then we left. We were in Martinsburg for ten years, and we moved to Durham. Moved to Durham, and my kids sort of grew up in Durham. Meredith was about three when we moved here. Janet was going into ninth grade. Neil was a couple of years, a couple of years after Janet, and then Craig was five years after Neil. And we liked Durham very much. We were here ten years, and Janet—when we living here, Janet went to [University of North] Carolina in Chapel Hill. Neil went to Yale. The two younger children were still in high school.

Arnold was ready for a change. Our parents were old and lived in New York. We had to make some decisions about how—Arnold's father was in his late eighties and mother had died. My mother and father were still living, and a job came up in New Jersey, the one at Princeton—Lyons, New Jersey, the VA hospital, and decided that it would make sense for us to move there. We wouldn't be on top of the family but we would be within easy reach, should they need us we would be around.

And so we left Durham. It was a hard decision to make, and it was more than once after the decision was made I wondered if I had—or if we had made the right decision, but we moved. And they were good years. We lived there in New Jersey going on over twenty years. He went from being a clinical psychologist into continuing medical education. It was just at the time when they began to realize that doctors had to continue their education. Once they got out of graduate school they were not—or out of medical school—they were not finished.

HT:

When did you go to library school?

MK:

When we were living here, let's see. We must have been here about three years. So it was—I graduated in '68, and, so—and it took me about three years to finish, because I went in the summer. I just took a couple of classes in the, during the school year. Maybe two classes in the spring and two classes in the fall, two in the spring, and then in the summer it was one or two. And I wrote my theses on whether or not the women who were librarians in Durham City Schools—you know, they were supposed to be part of curriculum committees and be very involved in curriculum and such, whether or not they, as librarians, felt that they were part of that. None of them did. [laughing]

And interestingly enough, I don't type. So I had to get someone to type it for me. I had to get someone to type it for me, and all the librarians that I interviewed and saw in Durham were women. And so we brought them all up as shes, right? I had to change every one to “he” and “him.” I mean, if we talked about a specific woman librarian, we didn't call him “he,” but we were talking about librarians, school librarians back in those days, that was the form that we used.

HT:

Well, do you consider yourself to be a pioneer or trailblazer, having joined the Marine Corps?

MK:

Yes, I would.

HT:

And what impact do you think having joined the Marine Corps had on your life immediately after you got out and in the long-term?

MK:

It's had an impact totally. For one, it gave me the ability and the mental strength to move around and go into new communities and make a life for myself after having grown up in a very sheltered way, even though I lived in the big city. I discovered when I moved to the small towns that the kids in the small towns had a lot more freedom than I did. [I] didn't drink, couldn't date until I was sixteen; lived a very big city but very sheltered, more community life, and it gave me a door that I could go through.

A couple of years ago, oh, about three years ago, I guess, I was on a trip to Israel, and I was staying at a hotel in Tel Aviv and came down in the elevator, and as I got out—a really big, nice hotel—I got out of the elevator, [and] I saw two Marines in very sharp looking camis, uniforms, and I could see that they were Marines. What in the world are these men doing here in uniform in Tel Aviv? So I walked over to them to say hello, and I said, “Are you Marines?” And they said, “Yes.” I said, “I was in the Marine Corps, too.” And as I was talking to them, I saw that they were both generals [laughing]. I was totally, totally flabbergasted. I thought, “If I had known that they were generals, I would have never”—they were young looking. They were young. I never would have—never would have approached them that way.

HT:

What were they doing in Tel Aviv?

MK:

That was interesting. They were in Tel Aviv with an army officer, someone who belonged to the Israeli Army. They—this man had been stationed in Washington, and they were there on business to check out—so we started—you know the word “kibitz”?

HT:

[Agreeing]

MK:

So we kind of talked to each other for a few minutes. You know, they said, “What war were you in?”

HT:

[Laughing]

MK:

Really? I mean, so we just had a really good time. And then I went and had dinner with my group and they went on with their group, and after dinner—we had had a busy day—after dinner we—the hotel was right on the strand facing the Mediterranean [Sea], and we walked down the strand to where all the nightlife was going on, and I was pretty tired. I had to sit once and tell everybody, you know, I need to rest for a few minutes. We walked all the way down to where the strand ended, and then crossed over to the busy part of town, and as we were going up the streets someone called, “Hey, wait up, wait up,” and it was my two generals.

HT:

[Laughing]

MK:

Plus, they had left their adjutant. And so they started walking with us, and one of them was walking very fast. He said I was walking very fast. He was walking very fast. And I said to myself, “I am going to keep up with him. If I fall down, I'll just say I tripped” [laughing]. And finally the other general and the other two ladies I was with behind said, “Wait up, why are you going so fast?” And he says, my general, he said, “I'm following her. She's walking that fast.” I wasn't really with him, but I was determined to walk fast with them. So we got back to the hotel—

HT:

So your good military training came out at that point? [laughing]

MK:

We really had so much fun. And they said, “Wait, don't go. Don't go yet.” And he sent his adjutant up. He brought me a big bag of Marine—So I have the plastic bag with the Marine Corps on the outside and a T-shirt. I mean it was like the kind of thing that they would give out. And, oh, a lanyard. I mean just all kinds of little kinds of things, much of it I've never used, of course, so I still have. Plus the T-shirt. And they gave us their cards. I said that I would get in touch with him. But I thought, “Nah, they lived in Washington. It was just a fun thing that happened.” I don't really want to start a writing relationship with the two generals, but my friends who are my friends here and now, you know, remind me, or not remind me, but tell that story every now and again with me and my two generals.

HT:

When you were saying, I just remember I failed to ask you earlier, when did you actually join the Marine Corps and when did you get out?

MK:

I actually joined in December of, I guess it was—if I was twenty years old it was '43, and I was called to active duty I'd say March, and I got out in February of—oh, '43, '44, '46.

HT:

And the only duty station was Santa Barbara, then?

MK:

And then El Toro.

HT:

Oh, you went to El Toro?

MK:

El Toro, close to Santa Barbara. After the war was over.

HT:

And what did you do at El Toro?

MK:

Clerical, whatever.

HT:

More typing?

MK:

Or nontyping [laughing]. They decided that women should, you know, should be doing clerical jobs. That was great, but I don't type.

HT:

Good use of duty, right?

MK:

Good use of duty, and there was, you know, I did think it was stupid. That was that.

HT:

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

MK:

Yes, I would. Absolutely would. I tried to get my youngest daughter—tried to convinced her to join—to try to go to [the United States Naval Academy at] Annapolis [Maryland].

HT:

No success?

MK:

No.

HT:

How about your son?

MK:

She was a swimmer. She was a swimmer and we were living here. No, we had moved to New Jersey, and she swam a year on a team and she said, “Mom,” she came—she swam at Annapolis with freshman girls, swam against freshman girls in a meet in Annapolis, and she came back and said, “They hate it. I'll never go.” She went to Washington University in St. Louis, [Missouri]. Craig went to American University in Washington, D.C. Neil went on after Yale, went into law school at UNC [University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]. Janet has never left Durham. [She] taught in the Carrboro grade school for many years until she retired.

HT:

So none of your children have ever been in the military?

MK:

No.

HT:

You couldn't convince them?

MK:

No, because—of course, Janet and Neil grew up during Vietnam [War] and Neil actually was part of the draft. He—Hermann, I don't know if either one of you remember, but they had—they were drafted by number.

HT:

Yes.

MK:

And Neil was like 297, so we really weren't concerned about his being called up.

HT:

Well, how do you feel about women in combat these days?

MK:

I was surprised, because I had heard that women in the Marines were not going to be in combat, so I was really surprised when I heard that they were. They were not—they're actually support services, even though they are in Iraq. They were not in combat as such, because during World War II, the Marines would take an island and secured the island, and then the army would move in. And so all the noncombat jobs were army jobs really, because the Marines would leave. And so women in the army would go to some of the cities and places where the army was in charge, but Marine Corps women did not, were not—As I was leaving the Marines, women were going as far as Hawaii, but you had to be older than I was; I think you had to be twenty-six or something. I think you—I don't even know for sure. I knew you had to be older. I don't know whether you had—you had to have a college degree to be an officer. I know that, and I did not have a college degree.

So I, you know, I'm of two minds about it. I guess now I was really surprised when I first heard it, and I don't know that I thought it was such a good idea, but I guess if you feel that you want to be part of the military, you have to be part of the military. And if they need you to work in quartermaster in the hospital“. ”Women in the Marines are not shouldering guns. Working at the VA with women veterans—and I was there after Desert Storm and knew some women who were in Iraq, young women who were in Iraq who were hospitalized mostly with post-traumatic stress, and I don't remember anyone that I knew well enough to really talk with her a lot, but I do remember—one woman I remember telling how frightened she was during the war at the time, and I'm sure the men were frightened.

I guess if I were in the service now—see, it's a whole different time. It's a whole different—it's a whole different feeling about wars and combat, Vietnam. I felt really badly when I started working in the VA. I'm a certified poetry therapist and I started working with veterans who were post-traumatic stress hospitalized, and I paid very little attention to the Vietnam War. I say that with some embarrassment. I didn't have any kids in the Vietnam War. Most of the kids that I knew whose were parents were professionals, all the guys—I didn't know any women—but all the guys went on and got advanced degrees whether they wanted them or not to stay out of the service.

In library school I just knew one person who got out and went into the service, but I didn't—having been in the military, I really never marched or—you guys [who] lived in Durham would stand along the road holding candles and all peace marches. I didn't do that, but when I started to meet a lot of men who had been in Vietnam, I was ashamed of myself for having paid so little attention to it and for not being more involved. And I was thrilled, actually, grateful—I was grateful that I was not one who had mocked the men who had gone to Vietnam and came back and humiliated some of them. And I was with these men and with the VA when the men came back from Desert Storm. Big parades in New York and all that. These guys had nothing, and I became, you know, very involved with that.

And I remember when they showed the design for the Vietnam Memorial, how angry all the guys were. What else but a statue [laughing] or something. And, of course, it turned out that the wall, there could not have been a more sensitive marvelous monument than the wall has turned out to be, and they all changed their mind. And they finally did have this big—I'm sure you guys don't remember it, but they had a big—I don't know the time they opened the wall or another time, but they had a big—I want to say convention, but that's not what I mean—big event to celebrate the Vietnam veterans, and a lot of the guys that I knew went to it, and there was a big parade. This was in Washington. There was a big parade, but this was after they had shunted these men aside for the men who were in Desert Storm who saw nothing. Well, you all know, I don't have to tell you that. They saw nothing of what the Vietnam veterans went through. And so at that point, you know, the only women who were in the service—in fact many people thought I was a nurse, because only women were—they were only nurses.

HT:

So they were quite surprised to learn that you were a Marine?

MK:

Surprised when I was a Marine and that I wasn't a nurse. [laughing]

HT:

[laughing] Oh, mercy. Well, I don't have any more formal questions. Do you have anything you would like to add to the interview before we close for the day?

MK:

No, I certainly enjoyed reminiscing and talking to you and your listening. I don't get a heck of a lot of people listening anymore. I don't have any real war stories like the women who came back now all have.

HT:

Well, thank you so much for your time. I think Beth and I both enjoyed listening to your stories. They've been wonderful.

[End of Interview]