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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Alice Park Fairbrother, 2008

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Object ID: WV0409.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Alice Fairbrother's service in the U.S. Army as a physical therapist from 1965 to 1968, and her experiences as an army wife during the Vietnam War.

Summary:

Alice Fairbrother tells of her early life in Raleigh and her education at Woman's College (now UNCG), particularly campus social regulations and her favorite teachers. She also discusses her decision to join the army's physical therapy program and the rigorous nature of the training school at Fort Sam Houston.

Fairbrother describes treating wounded soldiers from Vietnam at Fort Bragg and Fort Knox, deciding to leave the army when her husband received orders for Vietnam, and her fear for him during the year he was there. She tells of publicly hiding his involvement in the war and of her own resentment towards the antiwar movement.

Other subjects include the civil rights movement, where she was when Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy were assassinated, the women’s rights movement, her view on women in combat roles, army benefits, and her work as a teacher's assistant.

Creator: Alice H. Park Fairbrother

Biographical Info:

Alice Park Fairbrother of Raleigh, North Carolina, served as a physical therapist in the United States Army from the summer of 1965 till 1968. She later worked as a teacher’s assistant.

Collection: Alice Park Fairbrother 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:

Therese Strohmer:

This is Therese Strohmer. It is April 1, 2008. I'm in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is an oral history interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro [UNCG].

So Alice, go ahead and state your name the way you'd like it on your collection.

Alice Fairbrother:

Alice Park Fairbrother.

TS:

Okay, very good. Well, Alice, why don't we start off and you tell me a little bit about where you were born and where you grew up.

AF:

I was born in Raleigh. I'm one of the few natives that are left. And I grew up in this area right where we are. My home was behind where I live now. My dad designed, built, the house we lived in—he and a couple other carpenters. And we lived in that house—or they, Mom and Dad, lived in the house for over fifty years. [They] moved out in this area from closer to North Carolina State University. Dad taught there for fifty-seven years. And we moved out here in 1949. As I said, we lived out here. The house—Dad lived in the house for over fifty years. It was sold after he went into a long-term retirement facility. And it has since been torn down, unfortunately. And somebody else built a bigger, newer house.

Then I have two brothers and a sister. I have an older brother that's almost six years older than I am. My sister's—He and his family live in Lynchburg, Virginia. My sister is two years older than I am, and she and her husband live in Tampa, Florida. I have a younger brother that's nine and half years younger than I am, and he lives in this area, but Wake Forest. He has a Wake Forest address.

This area was country when we moved out here in 1949. Dirt roads, it had been farmland. All around here had been farmland. There was no school. It was dirt road. The road in front of our house was nonexistent. Where the house is across the street was the pasture for the work horse that my father and the former chancellor at North Carolina State owned together and they used to plow the garden.

TS:

So a real rural area.

AF:

Very rural area. This was three miles outside the city limits at the time. So Raleigh was just sort of a mini-city, town, or whatever, at the time. And it was a big deal, I guess, when it got to X number of thousands as it grew up, you know. Of course now, to me, it's grown too rapidly and too much, as far as I'm concerned. But as I remember the old days and how it used to be and sort of really cherish those things, too.

TS:

Well, do you remember what kind of things you did as a child growing up?

AF:

I was a tomboy. Where the playground is next door was a playground, but there was no school initially. We moved out here in 1949, and the school was not open until 1952. As I said, this was farmland. There had been orchards up on the property in the property area of where the school is now. So as I was growing up in elementary school, been to one or two different ones before I actually attended the one next door, just simply because the reassignment. New schools were built and whichever one you were closest to—so and then 1952 is when this next door school opened up, and my sister and I went up there, attended, attended for two years.

And so, you know, we played on the playground. We played in the backyard. My sister and I probably were more tomboys and outside activities than maybe my brothers were. I liked to play basketball and anything that was related to sports, so anything outside. And as my parents home was the first and only one on that street when we moved out here, and eventually one or two other house sprung up afterwards in the years, and eventually there were many children on the block. They arrived as the houses arrived. So, I mean, it was a nice neighborhood. Now, I don't know if—I don't know if any—well, original people live on the block.

TS:

Right now?

AF:

No. There's one house that—and nearly all the houses have been torn down, except for one, and have been rebuilt. Most of the original families, the parents and all, are deceased. There is one lady, the—whose husband recently passed away. And I did babysit for her three sons years ago. Their home is still intact and she still lives in the home. But by and large, nearly every house has been torn down, which is kind of sad to see. And people think bigger and better is the way to go, and that's the way it has. So I know who some of these families are, but I don't really know them as neighbors like we used to, because so many things have changed over the years.

And I truthfully never thought, perhaps, I'd even be back here in Raleigh. This property was actually my parents' property, where our house is. Dad and Mom had a double lot. It went from Darien Drive which is up there on the one—borders one side of the school, and Lake Boone Trail in front of my house, and it was a double lot. And then when Woody got out of the service, retired from the service, and his first job, actually, was in Raleigh, Mom and Dad said, well, if none of the other siblings—my siblings—objected, and if we wanted to build on the back lot, that we could do so. It never had entered my mind that I would be, number one, back in Raleigh, or that I would be on this back lot. But the more we looked around and decided, well, this was the perfect place for us to be. So we've been here since 1982 in this house. And where we are sitting, Mom and Dad had a garden. Had about half of—because it's a little over an acre. Our lot is a little over an acre, which is unusual inside the city limits, as you can imagine. And he used to have a big garden on one side of it every year. And the only stipulation was, well, if—as long as he could have a garden, that would be fine. Until my dad was almost ninety years old he had a little garden. I figured that was fine with me because we got the produce. [laughter] So that was great. That was great.

TS:

Its nice to have a connection to your roots.

AF:

Oh, yes, exactly. And I think Mom and Dad were very pleased that somebody in the family was number one, a part of the property—still a part of the property, because there was going to be a time when they couldn't care for it. And also that it would just maybe, hopefully, pass on at some point. And, say, the property where Mom and Dad lived, people have since torn that down. And it was sort of really—I don't know, it really disappointed us all because it was a really good house, nice house, and very strong and sturdy, a lot of history to it. You just can't stop it, I guess, sometimes, the way people do. But now, I don't know whether either one of our children will ever want this house or not. And as Woody has told me time and again, you know, probably whenever we decide that—either die or get out of the house, move—if we decide to go to a retirement community or something some day, somebody may come in and wipe this house out, also.

TS:

I would hope not.

AF:

But they might.

TS:

Oh, it's a beautiful house.

AF:

You don't know. And so you just never know.

TS:

That's true.

AF:

Never know. But like I say, I think Mom and Dad felt really good that we had the property or somebody in the family had the property. And we were close enough, I guess, that if we needed—if they needed help or something, that we could help them. And it was something to think about, though, because you love you parents but sometimes you don't want to be too close, either. So living right behind them, we thought about it. And it never became a problem. Never became a problem. And so that worked out well.

TS:

You just didn't want to mess with your dad's garden, right?

AF:

That's right. [laughter] Didn't want to mess with this garden. That's right. That's right, exactly.

TS:

Now was he always a teacher?

AF:

My dad? Yes. He went to Lenoir-Rhyne College. I don't know if you've heard of it. It's a Lutheran college up in Hickory, North Carolina. That's where he and Mom met, as a matter of fact. And I'm not sure the year he graduated—late twenties, early thirties—and then went to [University of North Carolina at] Chapel Hill for his graduate work. But he taught at North Carolina State, started in 1934 and taught for fifty-seven years. He probably has—my guess, though I haven't investigated—I think Dad probably had the longest tenure of anybody who had been there. He taught math. And his—

TS:

That's a long tenure.

AF:

His—he was a very—I think he was a hard teacher, but he was well liked. Well liked, from what I understand and the awards and everything else he received. I am sort of in awe, you know, of that. And he and Mom got married in 1934.

TS:

Well, how about your mother? What did she do?

AF:

My mom graduated—no, I don't know if she graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne or maybe after two or so years, then she was one of the second nursing classes at Duke [University]. And so she ended up with a nursing degree. And as I said, they got married in 1934. As a matter of fact, yesterday, the thirty-first of March, would have been their seventy-fourth wedding anniversary. They actually were—had sixty-three years together before Mom passed away. So that was a long, long, happy marriage.

She did do some nursing at one of the local hospitals here, Rex Hospital, one that was just, I guess, a tiny hospital at the time. Her schedule and Dad's schedule, I guess, didn't mesh very well. Nurses, I guess, have certain shifts and hours, you know, things like that, and I imagine there was not a lot of flexibility way back in the early thirties. The bottom line from what I can understand is, I don't know how—whether it's after x-number of months or whatever, Dad said, "Look, we're not seeing each other. Let's just try to live on my salary," so Mother stopped. She never did go back into—never did go back to work as a nurse or whatever. She worked as a mother. When—well, my older brother wasn't born until 1938, I guess. Thirty-seven—[clears throat] excuse me—nineteen-thirty-seven my older brother was born. So they just made do, just like all parents do back then.

TS:

And this was during the Depression, too, though.

AF:

Correct. And you know, Dad as teachers—even teachers in college, they had very small salaries. So I can remember Mom and Dad saying that when Daddy started, or even after he had been teaching X number of years, had his master's and was working on his doctorate, or all but had his doctorate, he was making maybe a thousand dollars a year, which did not go very far, even back then. So we grew up knowing that—I never was for want of anything, but I knew that there was probably not a lot of extra surplus, either. But we lived fine, and Mom and Dad basically worked all year round, when you think about the big garden Daddy had. He taught summer school, again to earn money, I'm sure. But they canned and froze vegetables and things so we would have them during the wintertime. Good people.

TS:

Yes, sounds certainly—would have been nice to have met them.

Now, when you were going to elementary school and then into, I guess, high school, where did you attend?

AF:

Okay. Do you want me to start where I first started—

TS:

Oh, sure.

AF:

—in first grade?

TS:

You can do it chronologically.

AF:

All right. First grade I went to Fred A. Olds [Elementary] School, O-l-d-s and A. I don't know what the A stands for. But we lived on Chamberlain Street, which was, like I say, near the campus at the time. That was the house we lived in when I was born. I was six and a half when we moved out here in 1949. I went to first and second grade to this school. Then a new school was built up, Sherwood Bates Elementary School. Well, sure enough we were in that district, so third and fourth grade, I went to that school. Next door, then that school was built, which is Frances Lacy Elementary School, and I went fifth and sixth grade at Frances Lacy. And at that point they had started the new—well, it was junior high then. Now I think everybody has middle school. Most everybody has middle schools, sixth, seventh, eighth. But at that point, they had seven, eight, nine of junior high school. And I went to Josephus Daniels Junior High School, and actually it was the first junior high school in Raleigh. And we were still—see, we were still segregated at that time. I'm not sure when they integrated the schools. It was after I was out of school, probably somewhere in the seventies—late sixties or early seventies when they integrated the schools around here. So seven, eight, nine I went to Daniels—Josephus Daniels Middle—excuse me, Junior High School. Then I went to Needham Broughton High School—Needham B. Broughton.

TS:

So when you were in school, did you have a favorite subject or teacher or anything?

AF:

Well, I always liked math. Teacher, wow, I can tell you who the hardest elementary school teacher I had. I learned a lot. Boy I didn't like her at the time. Her name was Mrs. Cross, and she was. [laughs] She was hard. I had her in the sixth grade, elementary school. In fact, my older brother and my younger brother had her, too, at different times. My older brother had her at Fred Olds School and my younger brother, once he—I was maybe in college or wherever—he had her up at this school. My sister escaped her. But she was so hard and, you know, I guess I did learn a lot. But boy, she gave me the only two Cs I ever had going up through high school. And whenever she gave—one was in geography, I believe. We had geography that time, and I can't remember the other one. But the next—you can bet that the next nine weeks or whatever, six weeks, I had an A in those classes. But I can remember her as being my hardest teacher. And I liked math. So I guess that would be my favorite subject. I liked the sciences. History, I'm sorry. I apologize, but history is not my subject.

TS:

That's okay. [laughter]

AF:

I sort of envy the people who like history because it is just not my forte. I'm sorry. I'm more of a hands-on type person, I guess. I guess that's why I like the sports and things. And I did—I was in the band. I mean, I'm not sure exactly what all you want.

TS:

No, that's great. What did you play in the band?

AF:

I started out in clarinet in elementary school and then I changed to bass clarinet in high—excuse me, junior high school and up through maybe tenth grade, I guess. Then I stopped the band because I needed to get in some other core subjects that I wanted to get in, maybe some sciences classes and anatomy and some of these. Because by that time, I think I realized or knew that I probably wanted to go into physical therapy, so I wanted some other background courses before I applied to college.

TS:

Why did you think you—why did you know that at this time you wanted to go into physical therapy?

AF:

I think because at one time, I can remember in civics class, maybe when I was in the eighth or ninth grade, I thought I wanted to be a missionary to South America. Why, I don't know, but I thought I might want to, you know. Spanish sounded good, and I wasn't even taking Spanish, but I thought that was what I might do. Of course, Mother and Daddy were very excited.

But there was a gal in our church who's older than I am—actually, older than my older brother. She may have already been interviewed for all I know because she is a retired army physical therapist. She was not at that time. At that time, she probably was in the program down at Fort Sam Houston or had finished it. Her name is Hilda Lee Walker. She lives in—I don't know, Seattle or somewhere. I think Washington State. And somehow—Okay, I don't know whether I heard about her first and—you know, because she went to our church, her family went to our church—or whether in high school—I remember one of the career days, and maybe by this time I already was thinking about physical therapy, I'm not sure. And I remember a local physical therapist had a movie she showed the ones who were interested about physical therapy and some person who was an accident victim and gone through all this therapy and what have you. And it was probably a staged thing, but it showed, you know, it showed it. And she was not in the movie itself. It was one probably used as a learning tool to get people either interested or show them what physical therapy was all about.

So somewhere along the line in high school I guess it was, was when I became interested in physical therapy and found out this person, Hilda Lee Walker, what she had done. And I'm sure she probably even talked to me at some point in time. I don't remember, you know, all of that. And so that's when I decided, well, maybe that's what I wanted to do. Whether she advised or somebody said, “Well, try to get a lot of science courses in before you maybe even go to wherever you go to college.” So that's what I did. And later on I found out more about her program with the army, and I guess as we go farther into the interview, we can talk about that. So I guess before I left high school is when I decided that's what I wanted to do, physical therapy, but I wanted to get a physical education degree, get my teaching certificate just in case. You know, the fallback position in case I changed my mind or whatever, but realizing I probably did not and would not use my teaching certificate, but to get it because who knows what you're going to be exposed to, how you'll react as you go through college or anything.

TS:

What was it about physical therapy that was that attracted you?

AF:

Maybe helping people. I'm not sure exactly. I—maybe seeing what people could do to help people. I'm not sure, but somehow it just interested me, and I never thought that I would do anything else. It's not like I'd wanted to do it all my life, because I had never heard of it until I got to junior high or high school. And at that point, I think it was a relative new field, anyway, because even when I went through physical therapy school, basically it was sort of a one track thing. Everybody—I can't say everybody did the same thing because it depended on what school you went to throughout the United States. But now there's physical therapy for sports medicine, there's physical therapy—I mean, there is a multitude of avenues people could do. I could—I would have to go back to school if I really wanted to get back into it. I mean, I've been so far removed from it for so long. That's—I mean, things have just changed. There's still some basic things, but it's not like I could go into a physical therapy clinic and, “This is what you do, because you do it over here, too.” It's not the same. As I said, there's just so many avenues. Teams have physical therapists, you know, sports medicine, whatever.

TS:

It's always curious to me why people want to get into something, because even for myself I don't always know why I did stuff. But when you were in high school and you said you had mentioned something about playing sports, and basketball was one—

AF:

I was a tomboy. My high school, Needham Broughton, it was the only high school basically here. There had been a Hugh Morrison High School, too. I take that back. But that was closing down, so really Needham Broughton was the only, I think, white high school here. There was a black high school also. They did not have sports for girls because it was a 4A school or something. The county schools did have sports for girls, like probably basketball. That was probably the main one. I don't know if they had other sports like volleyball. But this whatever chapter whatever thing that has been passed in recent years that says, “Okay, if you have a sport for a fella, you need to have a sport for a girl.”

TS:

Title IX.

AF:

Whatever the title is. But they didn't have that, and our school we didn't have it at all. That was one thing I always was sort of envious of the boys. They could play basketball. They could play baseball. All these things they could do and we couldn't. At our high school all we had was a little intramural program, which I participated in heavily. I mean, as heavily as I could. It was sort of limited. But I mean we just sort of had a little intramural program. We met and, you know—in fact, we used to go—I don't think they have it any more. They can't, because UNCG is coed and there's so many things [that] have changed. Every year there used to be—it was an organization called the GAA, Girls Athletic Association. And we—we would go once a year, usually it was in May, and go up to—well, it was Woman's College [WC] then because it was Woman's College when I started up in Greensboro. And once a year the PE [physical education] department would kind of put on this thing for girls to come throughout the United States. And we'd participate all day long in—it would be races and—you know, it'd just be a fun day, I guess, if that's what you want to call it. It was a fun day. So that's what we did and that was about the extent. [chuckles] But I look back now and think, “I should have been born now.” Not that I would have been good enough to be on any of these girls teams, but they can play basketball and volleyball. They do soccer and all these things, you know, and I couldn't do that. We didn't have that. We didn't have that.

TS:

Now, did you get to play on any basketball teams?

AF:

At UNCG kind of. [chuckles] Kind of I did at UNCG. I was probably on the first one that they had back in the—well, I graduated in '65. I don't know when we had the little team, maybe '64 or sixty—I don't know. And it was just a very—and we did play a couple or so teams around, maybe GC [Guilford College or Greensboro College] and maybe a couple other teams around. You know, it was not a biggie.

TS:

But the way you played basketball at that time—

AF:

Was much different.

TS:

Do you want to explain that to people who don't—

AF:

We had—it changed even when I was there. I can't remember exactly what we started—whether we started with five or six people, but you only played one side of the court, and that was it. You had your forwards and your guards, but that was it. You were forward, you stayed one place. You were guard, you stayed on the other end and guarded the people who were forwards on the other team. And then before I graduated from—well, I don't know whether to say UNCG or Woman's College, but anyway, I use them both—they had the roving player, and they had one player that can cross the line if they had the ball or what have you. But you still could only dribble twice before you had to stop and catch the ball and pass it, shoot or wherever you were. And now, I don't know if there's any difference in the men's and women's teams, the way they play. I can't tell a difference when I watch them. So that has changed so much, and I don't know when that changed. But the roving player was a big deal at that time, when somebody could actually cross the line and go to the other end of the court.

TS:

What was your position?

AF:

Whatever I could—[laughs]. I probably didn't shoot very well, but, I mean, I did shoot occasionally. I don't know that we had set positions. I probably was a better guard than I was forward. But I liked forward, but I probably was a better guard.

And we had field hockey. I don't know if they still have it up at school or not. And I—we had that through our curriculum. But I'm not sure—can't remember if we actually played against other people, other schools or not. So that was basically the extent of my intercollegiate competition or any competition, sports competition. But I thoroughly enjoyed, you know, being a part of the program, physical education program, because that was one of the best ones in the country. I don't know if it still is, but it was at that time, and I have a feeling it still has a very good reputation.

And that's one of the reasons I chose to go there for physical education, and because I knew I'd get the solid science background because this was—again, I don't know what it's like now, but at that time that was probably one of the hardest curriculums on campus, that and home ec[onomics] and I'm not sure what else. But they were really truly one of the hardest curriculums on campus, because of the science and everything.

TS:

Let me walk you back just a little bit.

AF:

Sure.

TS:

When you were in high school, did you have a job ever before you went—

AF:

Job, like a weekend or whatever?

TS:

Summer job, weekend, whatever.

AF:

They were hard to get for girls. I don't know about other areas, but around here they were. So my first summer job was actually, I don't think I was in high school unless it was after my senior year in high school, and both my sister and I worked at campus, at State campus. She was in the registrar's office or something helping them, and I worked as a typist, actually, for a fellow who was head of engineering research. He didn't do it; he just was kind of the administrative head of, you know, these research people, professors who had projects. And my dad—I probably was able to get the job because my dad knew him and they said, “Yes, maybe we can use her.” So for four summers I worked as a typist and running off their reports, and, you know, the old crank ditto and whatever machines, that type of thing. But I was glad to have the job. It didn't pay much because nothing paid much. I mean, it was amazing that at some point I think I actually received over a dollar an hour. That was a big deal. And for the most part I put nearly all of my big cash in savings—savings bank. I can't remember what it was called at the time, but savings and loan, anyway. To just, you know, kind of have it. It was not a whole lot at all. So that was my job, unless it was—I did do some babysitting as I was growing up, but at that age I did not. By the time I was in high school, I think I was tired of babysitting, you know, just tired of babysitting.

TS:

Now did you or—when you were in high school then, JFK [John F. Kennedy] would have been president, right?

AF:

[pause] He maybe was, but I can't remember what—he, you know, in nineteen—

TS:

Sixty-two.

AF:

Sixty-two. Okay, so yes, I guess he was. I remember where I was when he—as everybody does—what you were doing when he was shot. But I don't think I was—and I still don't feel politically. I'm not a political-type person. Politics kind of bothers me. I think there's so much corruption in it, it just—you know. So I can't tell you I remember a lot about that other than, yes, I guess he was president. He was president. He would have had to have been at that time. But I remember more about his death. The day of his death is what I remember more than anything, because I couldn't vote then or anything. And I remember as far as being political affiliation, as even now it doesn't matter what I am, I'll vote for who I want, whether it's the other party or not. I just never vote a straight ticket or anything. Some people, “I'm this and that's it.” I just don't go there. Not that even my vote's going to do any good. I think, “Well, I can't do that.”

TS:

So you said you remember when he was shot. Do you want to talk about that?

AF:

I was actually in Chapel Hill. The—when I was at [pause] do you want me to call it WC or do you want me to call it UNCG? How—what do you want me to call it? [chuckles]

TS:

You call it whatever you'd like to call it.

AF:

Well, it was WC, I guess, at that point. And I was with several people and probably some professors, too, from our physical education department. And at that point I can't remember whether I was one of the officers in one of the athletic organizations or not. I can't remember. But we were in Chapel Hill for a meeting. I don't know if it was going—I think it was one day or we were supposed to spend the night. I just know we were in a meeting and somebody came in—and it was supposed to be a banquet or something that night, also—and somebody had come in to tell another person, probably one of the professors, well, they had heard JFK had been shot. And didn't dawn on, you know, it probably meant more at that point to the—I say the adults—the teachers, than it did to probably me or whatever at that time. But then later, just a short time later, I don't know whether it was hours or whatever, but then they said he had died. Well, they just stopped the meeting just like that. They did have the, I don't want to say banquet, but they did have the dinner that night because people had come from far and wide, but it was not like a celebration. And that's what I remembered, that we heard it, that there was a rumor or possi[bility] that it had happened, but then he died, and that was a biggie. And I guess people, it was like you were shocked, you know, whatever.

And on campus, I don't know, must have been a day or two later. I can't—I don't—again, they had a memorial-type service. It was a big thing over at Aycock [Auditorium]. And I just remember everybody just crying. And, you know, my roommate was also a physical education major and walking back to the dorm and crying, just like, “I can't believe this is happening.” I mean, “This doesn't happen here in the United States. Our president has been assassinated.” I think the overall sadness of the thing was—that was it. It was just sort of an overwhelming sadness I think more than anything else. And I'm sure that we probably—everybody probably gathered around whatever little parlor TV or whatever to try to watch it. I mean that was it.

[recording paused]

TS:

Just let me see if I do it right. [pause]

Well, Alice, when you were at WC, do you remember any professors that particularly stood out?

AF:

Well, there were lots. [chuckles] I could—won't tell you about the history professor I didn't like, because he's deceased now, but—I'm sorry, it's just—. But anyway, I guess there are some that stand out, but I—specifically in the physical education department, since I was a physical education major. And I—if I can start back at—I don't know if you want the professors themselves as we go along or—or my first advisor, who advised our small little group, was Ellen Griffin. She actually ended up advising our little physical education, my class group, also. We had, I don't know, maybe twenty some in my physical education major group. But she was also my individual advisor.

In the small group we had, I remember—because all along, see, I had wanted, knew—I just felt that's what I wanted to do, to go into physical therapy, but I wanted my physical education degree and certificate first. Well, at that time, because, I guess, not only because of—the physical education department was and still is I think very well known, one of the best in the country, it was sort of expected that if you went into physical education, you were going to teach. You were going to teach. And so I come in, and Ellen Griffin, she was—I didn't call her Ellen Griffin—Miss Griffin, you know, went around the room, this little orientation week and talking about what you plan to do or whatever. And I said I wanted to get my physical education degree, but I wanted to go into physical therapy.

She says, “You send me a letter the first day you teach.”

And I said, “No, I want to go into physical therapy.”

How little did I know how well known this lady was throughout the world as a golf pro. And then she was ready though for me to get out of the physical education major. She said, “Well, why don't you just do something else.”

I mean, really and truly I don't know that she was mad at me, but it was like, “I don't know if we need you in our department if you're not committed,” or whatever. But that sort of made me—I don't want to say determined, but I still knew that I wanted to be a physical education major and get this teaching certificate, but I still wanted to go into physical therapy. So I was determined that I was going to do that. But I remember her telling me, “You send me a letter the first day you teach.”

And I guess I will fast forward a little bit. The first day—or not the first day, but after I did get my physical therapy degree, and somewhere I guess during that first year I wrote her a letter and told her that—kind of remembering what she told me, I guess, about teaching, and that, “This may not be a classroom that I'm teaching, but I am teaching somebody.” She never responded, so I don't know how she reacted to that or if she remembered that. She is since deceased, but she—I had a lot of respect for her. She was a fine person.

There's Dr. McGee, Rosemary McGee, who actually is still living. I'm mentioning some—the ones I say, older folks, because the newer people up there I don't know. I maybe hear names, but I don't know them. Dr. Rosemary McGee is still living. A very fine lady, and she, I think, actually comes to the university sometimes and some of the functions, whether it's the physical education department, some of the reunions. And she was, well, she taught an awful thing like tests and measurements, so you don't need to put that down. [chuckles] Such a bore. But she had other things she taught, too. But just a fine lady. And she was an advisor for the honor court, which I was head of my senior year. And I just have a lot of respect, fond memories of her.

Dr. Gail Hennis was also there. She's since deceased. And I remember she, among other things, she had swimming and some other things. We had arts and crafts, I guess a graduate—it might have been even graduate program arts and crafts thing, with some of the graduate students, too. And I guess a funny thing, one of the—I don't know, we were making a little box or something one night. It was a night class. Maybe years ago or maybe you do or don't remember, some ventriloquist who would open up a box and, “It's alright? It's alright.” I don't know if you remember that one. So my roommate and I were sort of clowning around in class and I was messing with this box and doing the thing. And she walked in and she was like, “Oh, poor Alice,” you know. But she was a lot of fun.

A teacher, Dr. Celeste Ulrich, I think she's in Oregon, very hard teacher, probably one of—not that these other teachers were not good, they were, but Dr. Ulrich was probably one of the hardest and one of the best teachers in some of the academic parts—kinesiology and some of the other things. And she really expected a lot. Again, all of them did because it was a hard curriculum. But Dr. Ulrich—and she's still living, but like I say, I think she's in Oregon.

Marjorie Leonard. These are the ones I have fond memories of. I can't remember all that she—see, they taught multiple things within the department. Davis. I can't remember her first name. Last name was Davis. Dorothy Davis, Dorothy Davis. And unless I've told you they're alive, they're deceased. Dorothy Davis.

The head of the department at that time was Ethel Martus. You may have—I don't know if you've had any association with the physical education department, but she probably—I don't know if she—she probably was not the last female head of the department, but she may have been. I don't know. There've been a lot of men since then. Because, see, when I started, WC was not really coed. They had started—had a few male students. So they were daytime students, probably local or within a not too long a driving distance. Now I probably understand the dorm I used to live in is probably male or coed. I mean it's just so many changes. I'm trying to think. I don't know. There's probably some more. Maybe they'll come to mind as I—Moomaw, Virginia Moomaw. She was the dance. I was not a dancer. But she was dance. I think she was probably nationally known. Little bitty woman. Little bitty woman. I don't know. These were within the department. These were basically in the department now. A math professor I had, Lewis. Dr. [Anne Louise] Lewis was a female. I don't remember her first name. She was the head of the department. Unfortunately she knew my father, and, you know. [chuckles] It just so happened my sister and I—my sister went to WC also, but she was two years ahead of me—and we happened to take the same analytical geometry course together on the same day. And of course, Dr. Lewis made mention of that the first day of class. "Oh, I know these girls' father." This type of thing. You had to make an A if you—I mean you just couldn't do otherwise. You could flunk it, but none of that was going to happen with—you know, that was not expected. So anyway—

TS:

Puts a little pressure on you.

AF:

Right, a little pressure. But she was a good teacher. Dr. Lewis, I don't remember her first name. [clock chiming] I can't think of it right now. There were others probably in different departments, but I just, right—for the right now, on the top of my head I can't—The ones I most remember are the ones in the physical education department, because I had them more and saw them more. And maybe some of that will come out as we talk.

TS:

Okay. Well now, did you live on campus?

AF:

I did, I did. And at that time, I don't think, except for town students, people lived off campus. I don't know about here at State. I think even in that era everybody lived on campus for the four years unless, like I say, you were a day student or something like that. I started out in Bailey Dorm my freshman year, and then the last three years, I was in a combination of Moore-Strong [Residence Hall], but I was in Moore—Moore half of Moore-Strong. My freshman roommate actually was a good friend I grew up with from Raleigh, but then she dropped out after freshman year. So then the last three years I roomed with a gal from Connecticut whom also was a physical education major. And she happened to be in Bailey Dorm and we became real good friends, and she was my roommate the last three years. Real nice gal. We still keep up with each other Christmas, birthdays, that type of thing.

TS:

Did you have much freedom?

AF:

[laughs] Sign in and sign out everywhere you go almost. If you had to go—not too much freedom. I mean we didn't think that much about it because that's the way it was. Now I guess there's probably not many rules. I don't know what kind of rules there were. We had handbooks. I don't know if they still have—I wish I had the handbooks. I saved them for a number of years because each year each class had a color. My class's color was navy blue so our class jackets were blue. My sister, her class jacket was red. And every year—now like after she graduated, then the next freshman was going to be a red jacket. Then there was a green jacket and a grey jacket, so those four colors, you know, however they rotated. And anyway, so when we had our handbook or whatever you called it, the color of the cover was whatever class was senior, I think, that year. That was the way it was.

Anyway, getting back to that, oh we had so many rules. I, you know—you had to submit—your parents or whatever—a couple people maybe you could even go visit on the weekend or what have you. We had to sign in and out to go downtown to—and we had to be in at a certain time. I don't know if there—you must live off campus, I'm assuming that maybe all graduates do, I don't know. You had—there were certain times the doors were locked and it had a sign on it, “Door is locked at 7 p.m.,” or whatever. Now a door might be wide open, but if it said, “Locked,” it was locked. And if you went through it, then you have violated one of the rules of the court of social regulations. We had two courts. Do they still have two courts? We had a court of social regulations and an honor court. And the court of social regulations was for things like going through locked doors or somebody getting drunk on the weekend, anything like that. Honor court was lying, cheating, stealing, things like that. That was two different courts. And so, like I say, a door might be wide open but it said it was locked [chuckles], and the honor policy was, you know, turn yourself in if you have violated a rule, or if you know somebody has done that, you're supposed to turn them in. We had a lot of rules. Had a lot of rules, but we didn't think too much about it, I guess, at the time, just because that's the way the time was.

TS:

So were you a rule follower?

AF:

Yes.

TS:

All the time?

AF:

Yes.

TS:

Yes?

AF:

I think pretty much I was. In fact, I turned myself in.

TS:

Did you?

AF:

I was—I did. It was one of those door things. I was running for honor court, head of the honor court, and I had gone to, I don't know, one of the dorms. It was wide open, it was the end door, and it was maybe, I don't know, within five minutes of when the door was supposed to be locked or closed or something. And not every dorm had maybe the same time of when it was, that particular day—I guess it depended on the exposure of that door to whatever, I don't know, boogie man or something, I don't know. And I went through that door and I turned around and thought, “My gosh. I've walked through a locked door.” [chuckles] It was wide open, but I walked through a locked door.

So what am I going to do? I'm running for honor court. And I don't know if maybe my college roommate was with me, I don't know, I may have even been by myself. But I thought, well, you know, I'll go turn myself in, and so I did. Of course, they laughed at me. They didn't laugh at me, but when I came before honor court, you know, you could see the honor courters like, “What is she doing here?” But I thought, “I'm credible.” So yes, I think that pretty much—I mean, I can't think of a lot of rules that I broke. I really can't. I mean, lights—freshman year your lights were supposed to be out at a certain time. And, I mean, it seemed to be early and maybe you weren't finished with your homework or whatever. People were known to sit in the closet with flashlights trying to do studying. And I don't know that I did that. I probably needed to. But I, yes, for the most part I think I pretty much followed the rules.

TS:

What did you do socially?

AF:

Socially, a lot of the social things probably were with the physical education department. I didn't date a whole lot. I mean there were girls that, you know, because it was basically all-girls then who did have steady fellows, who were engaged or whatever. And whenever that opportunity arose, I did go out. But maybe you'd go out to eat occasionally. Not much though. Go down to the corner—and they still call it “the corner”? To the little—I'm not sure what's at the corner now. Get a few goodies or something. Sometimes maybe you'd cook a pizza in the community kitchen. Watch a movie, go to the Yum Yum [Ice Cream]. I know you know about the Yum Yum. It was on a different corner then. I'm sure the whatever price of the ice cream got a big mound up, probably much more expensive now. That was always a big treat. You played bridge, maybe, with your people in the dorm. I never smoked, and I'm glad I didn't, but my roommate did and a lot of my friends did smoke. My parents never smoked, so I guess I grew up not needing to or wanting to or whatever. And as I said, I'm certainly glad I didn't. And I guess playing bridge, just doing things with people in your dorm more than anything. And occasionally I'd come home. The other social things basically involved probably the intramural sports or something. And I wouldn't call this a social thing, but I did some officiating. But I don't call that social but I did some of that, too.

TS:

Did you have a job while you were—

AF:

No. I did not have a job. I think Mom and Dad wanted me to try and concentrate on my studies as much as I could. And, I mean, when I officiated some high school games, I think we got five dollars.

TS:

What sport were you officiating?

AF:

Basketball. I'm not sure if I officiated volleyball or not. I had my—I've forgotten what you call—you had to take a test and a written and a practical test. So I think I could do volleyball and basketball. I don't think I did any other things. National rating—I guess it's a rating they called it. And my college roommate, Patty, also—sometimes we'd do it together. You know, or somebody—that was sort of encouraged, I think, through the department, to do that, to try to get your rating, official's rating. And sometimes I would do it—mostly it was for high schools. I don't know if I ever—I probably did some officiating for some of the intramurals, the dorm intramurals, too, I think. I didn't get paid for that, only when you went to maybe a high school.

I guess that's—I went to church. I guess that's the big social.

TS:

You did a lot through church socially?

AF:

Not there. I just—I do now, but not there. But I guess, like I say, so that's more, as far as my social in college, it was mostly doing things with friends, that type of thing.

TS:

So now, when was it that you got to thinking about the army?

AF:

Well, probably more seriously, I guess, in college. But as I said, I knew about this other girl from church, Hilda Lee Walker, who had done the army's program, and so maybe that had been in the back of my mind also. I became more serious about it my junior year in college. I don't know what steps preceded my doing this, or whether—I don't know who told me about a practicum, a three week practicum that some of the army bases had in the summer time for potential people to go to the army's physical therapy class. You know, to see what the army physical therapists would do. I know Fort Sam Houston had this practicum and several other of the army hospitals had it throughout the United States.

And at any rate, however I found out about it, I applied, and I was accepted to go. And as it turned out, I was accepted to go down to Fort Sam Houston, which for me was a plus, because that was where the physical therapy school actually was at that time. So I could see the school, see what it was like, and probably at that time even met some of the professors. It was only a few of us, maybe four or five, maybe not even that many who actually participated at Fort Sam Houston in that practicum. Because I don't think many people applied for it, or maybe they didn't accept that many. I'm not sure. As it turned out, one of the girls who was at the practicum with me, actually ended up in the physical therapy class with me. The other girl did not, and I'm not sure how many other people or if we were the only three that were actually there at the practicum. So I was, that was probably like in July, so I was able to see what the program was like. So during my senior year—

TS:

When the practicum, was that between your sophomore and junior year—

AF:

No, between—

TS:

—or junior and senior years?

AF:

—junior and senior years.

TS:

Okay.

AF:

Between junior and senior year.

TS:

What year? Do you know what year?

AF:

That would have been like—

TS:

[Nineteen] sixty-three?

AF:

Sixty-summer of '64. No—yes, summer of '64.

TS:

Okay.

AF:

Summer of '64, because I graduated in May—June of '65 from WC. So then, during my senior year is when I start thinking about—of course, I was still working on my teaching degree, having to do student teaching and things like that. But by that time, the professors were—I'll get back to that in a minute. So then I started applying, I don't know whether it was before Christmas or after Christmas, I don't know, for the programs. And I applied to Fort Sam Houston for their program. And I applied to Duke, also. I knew Duke was very expensive, but I still had this stereotype, like everybody, about the military thing. Not that I was even accepted for the program, but I thought, my goodness, you know, they're sending me to school. They have their own school. They're also paying me—commission me when I graduate, as a second lieutenant. I'm getting paid as a second lieutenant. I'm obligated for two years. One year is my schooling and then one year serving. I mean, that's like a free ride. It is a free ride. So I had that to think about if I was going to be accepted.

So I applied and I was accepted—and actually three other of my classmates, which tells you a little bit about the reputation that WC had, as far as the physical education department and the school itself. Because we had a class at Fort Sam Houston of twenty-one; four were from Greensboro. So I think that that to me tells a lot. And then subsequent years it's been—I know one of my classmates that graduated with me at WC actually went to Fort Sam [Houston] a couple or so years later in the same program. So it's interesting.

But anyway, so I applied and I was accepted at Duke. And as it turned out I was one of the twenty-one—I didn't know how many—that was accepted down at Fort Sam Houston. Which was—I was very excited about it, but then I had to think "You know, is this what I—you know, do I want to go this route or what?" Again, thinking about all these things. And the bottom line was I thought, well, I can't lose, you know. If you've got—you're going to be in school, so what's two years, really? If you don't like it then you can just get out or whatever.

So that's when I—when I was accepted into the program—I decided, yeah, I'll go, I'll go. And like I say, as it turned out, three of my other classmates were also accepted, so that was good.

TS:

Now what did your parents think about—

AF:

Well they were glad. They were hoping I was going to go, I think. They were excited. They were real pleased. And I thought it was an honor, as far as I was concerned. Because I don't know how many applicants they might have had throughout the United States. We had people in our class from Texas. We had twins who were actually from Texas. We had people from California, from Pennsylvania, from throughout the United States.

And they were all females because at that time the army—and I don't know when the physical therapy program started at Fort Sam Houston—teaching female physical therapists. But they only took females, because they could get enough males who already were physical therapists—the ones who wanted to do their military obligation. And now the program has changed. And it's not that they have their own school that they teach like they did us. Because it was a certificate program, but you had to have your bachelor's degree, so all of us had to have our bachelor's degree going in. And you received a commission after you graduated, from you know, your college. So that's kind of how that worked.

In fact Hilda, the one I was telling you about, when she found out I was accepted into the program, she said, “Now what you want to do Alice, is not wait to go get sworn in after you graduate. Go get sworn in, because then your date of rank—you know, your longevity, will start then.” Because most people probably will wait even maybe till they go to Fort Sam or right before that to get their orders. And so, I mean, a month's a month—so, yeah. We had to report I guess in late July or early August for our course.

TS:

So she was looking out for you?

AF:

I guess so, you know. I guess so. [chuckle]

TS:

Well let me go back just a minute, you were saying something about the reputation of military and the army, and a lot of women have talked about that. Can you be more specific?

AF:

The stereotyping?

TS:

Yeah, the stereotyping. What was it that was the concern that people had about the military at that time?

AF:

I don't know. My thinking was—I don't know that people respected so much women who were in the military. It didn't matter at the time. I guess everybody thought that everybody—everybody—I can't say everybody. People thought perhaps either that was all you could do or what kind of—I don't know. I don't know that they had—for whatever reason—had a good sense of reputation for people, and I don't know why. I don't know why. So I guess it was again a stereotype of an individual they didn't even know what they were like. Because there was the WAC [Women's Army Corps] corps, there was the Army Medical Specialists Corps, there's the Nurses' corps. I mean, how many corps are there? Just like in the air force. I'm sure there's probably different corps or branches within the air force. And one—maybe someone heard a bad story about so-and-so who was in a certain corps. Well then, all these other people must be just like them. I mean, that's the only thing—how I can explain it is that I don't think that there was respect necessarily for women perhaps in the—who served in the military. Not that they don't now or maybe not they didn't then. But I think there was always sort of a connotation about it. And maybe there still is now. I don't know. That's all, how I can explain it. You've probably felt the same way—heard it or something, or not?

TS:

I can't say that when I went in that I had any of those concerns about reputation. Although—

AF:

You're twenty years behind me—

TS:

Although I was—[laugh]. Exactly, and I was seventeen and I didn't know a whole lot. I was pretty nave anyhow. But no, I'm curious, because you hear a whole lot about the, like you say, the stereotype of it. So for a person that's taking that step to join, you know, how does that figure into your decision making is kind of what I'm trying to figure out.

AF:

I guess the bottom line [is] that that part didn't—not that I didn't think about it. But I guess I thought about the long term. I'm going for different reasons. I'm going to get my training, and whether I stay in or not, that's irrelevant right now. They were paying my way to go to school. I could—I don't think I could have afforded to go to Duke. To—

[phone rings]

AF:

Woody's going to get that [phone] I'm sure.

TS:

Well he—you can mention it, so—

[End of CD 1—Start of CD 2]

TS:

All right, so you got accepted into—

AF:

—army's physical therapy school.

TS:

Okay.

AF:

And I graduated in, I guess it was June. I don't think they graduated in May at that time from WC—UNCG. And [I] was commissioned, went down to get my sworn in. So I was commissioned, second lieutenant. And I reported into Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, I guess, I don't know, it was the end of July, early August. But it was somewhere in the summer of 1965.

In my class we had sort of a semi-basic [training], basically on—right there in Fort Sam Houston, four weeks or whatever it was. And all medical-type people have their basic training at Fort Sam Houston. And I imagine they still do. Whether it be doctors or nurses or whomever, everybody has their basic at Fort Sam Houston—medical people.

My classes started I suppose in August. And at that time, since the Vietnam situation was getting worse and worse, our course actually ended up being about not quite a year long. I think in the past it had been maybe a fraction over a year, but we were probably just short of a year. So it was sort of a—I won't say it was a “hurry up”—because they needed physical therapists in the hospitals locally, you know, state side, because of all the injuries. But it was a very hard course, very hard. It's surprising that we didn't lose somebody. But our entire class graduated.

TS:

Twenty-one?

AF:

All twenty-one graduated. And that was probably the first or one of the first years that had ever happened. They usually lose somebody. And actually, our class was one of the first classes that had all recent college graduates. We were all recent college graduates. I know that the class or two before us, maybe some people had taught for a couple years before they had applied for the program. So they had been on their own. The ladies had been on their own for a couple of years before they had gone—decided to try for this program.

And anyway, we had some hard—it was a good, hard course, very good. It was cumulative—everything was cumulative. Every week we had an exam. And so, of course, supposedly what was on the next week's exams was concentrated on what you had on the last—you know, in all the different subjects. But they would always pull something from what you had in the beginning. So when you studied—or when I studied, anyway; I don't know about the other people—you studied all the way from A to Z, from the very first day to whenever, because you never knew what was going to be on the exam.

And every, I don't know, X number of weeks or whenever, we always had a practical exam. This was in addition to our weekly things. And the practical would be, well, it would be practical. Whether we were studying whirlpool, massage, or muscle testing, whatever it was, we'd have different stations. And half of the class usually would go have the practical, I think it was in the morning, and then the other half would have it in the afternoon. Or maybe it was half would have it one day, and the next day somebody would have the other half. I don't remember, but it was different.

Plus, part of the—I don't know if it was part of the practical or just part of the exam itself. We'd have the written, but we also had some practical, not hands-on types of things. Say for anatomy, we'd have a bone. We would have to identify the bone, what a particular process was on it, where was it located.

Dr. Nelson, he was our anatomy teacher. He was tough. He was very tough but very good. He was one of the teachers I remember. And like I say, some of our—he was a civilian, and some of the other teachers were army, you know, but they were located down there. But like I say it was cumulative. It was a very hard course.

TS:

So your academics were really tough?

AF:

Oh yes, extremely, extremely tough. And, you know, we all survived. We all survived. Which was—we kind of celebrated that.

TS:

Yeah.

AF:

—which was very good.

TS:

Now, how was it for you to be in a military environment for the first time?

AF:

Well, you know, I didn't think about it too much except that I had to wear a uniform every day. But at least I didn't have to think what I was going to wear, you know. Because we wore our little greens or whatever.

And in the hospital—gradually we went into the hospital and had, you know, did some clinical work. And the burn center is at Fort Sam Houston at Brooke Army Medical Center. You may have heard of that. We didn't really do anything in the burn center. We toured it more than anything else, because there you had such severely injured people, whether it be civilians, but mostly military from napalm or whatever. And we just didn't have the experience or whatever to do—we toured there more than anything else, but didn't work there. I think some of my classmates in subsequent years that stayed in [perhaps—added by veteran] had tours were they were actually kind of stationed with that. But we worked at the hospital.

Now the school itself was called Medical Field Service School, MFSS. I just happened to think of that, Medical Field Service School. And it was in a quadrangle was where we were. Our class had twenty-one. I was one of the co-leaders of our class. There was two leaders in our class. And—

TS:

How did you get chosen for that?

AF:

I was elected. Don't ask me why I was elected. And Judy was the other one. And I guess when we had to—I'm not sure why we had—it was two, except that maybe when our classes were, had to be split up for some reason, it wasn't anything big we had to do. It was just probably more of an honorary thing than anything else. Occasionally we would march out in the quad, you know, we'd have drills or something like that.

And Judy, I remember, used to—she was an air force brat, I believe. Her father was career air force. And she usually did the calling of it. But she had knee problems, and I remember one time we had to be in a review parade in the quadrangle. Well, Judy was laid up with her knee. So I ended having to do it. I remember later seeing sort of a little video clip of it, and as we did our turn in the corner we went [imitates a crashing airplane], just shifted, you know? We were all out of line. And then the pass in review and everything. Some fun things.

And we used to have fun when the doctors came down for their basic, because they didn't care. You know, they were just there doing their four weeks or six weeks or whatever to get out of there. And we used to purposely—because they were higher rank, you know, and we had to salute them—we used to purposely go in a line, all of us, and approach one, and make them salute, you know [chuckle]. It was part of one of our fun things I guess.

TS:

That's cute.

AF:

And—I don't know what I need to tell you.

TS:

Well, what did you think about the drill and things like that? I mean, how was that?

AF:

We didn't do much of it. Most of that was probably in our basic, and I don't remember too much about the basic except that it seemed like it was very boring. You know, you had to attend these certain classes, and I can't tell what they were even. And it was occasionally, I think, we decided that we wanted to do some drill for the heck of it or something, if a band happened to be playing out there or something. But, you know, it was just sort of interesting.

And during our training, like I said, when we did some of our clinical, not only at the hospital there—I think I vaguely remember we went to maybe a local hospital or school or something. And maybe we did something to—

TS:

What about just the putting on the uniform? Did you have any emotional feeling about that? Or was it just—

AF:

Not particularly. I mean—no, not particularly. I mean, everybody was—you were surrounded by everybody who was doing the same thing.

TS:

And you were in a very academic environment as well.

AF:

Exactly.

Where we lived was on post. They had a sort of a dormitory type thing.

TS:

Would you say you had more or less freedom than you had at WC?

AF:

Oh more, I would guess, except that I was studying. So I—you know, if you call at—I mean, you didn't have to sign in or out or anything. But your study was up to you, what you made of the course or how much you wanted to study, what kind of grades or whatever you wanted to make, that type of thing. So, you know, I guess it was up to you.

TS:

So did you do anything socially?

AF:

Yeah, occasionally we went out. But most—lots—sometimes we'd just, again, did things as groups, watch movies or—I think most of us spent a lot of time studying. Occasionally we would pile in the car with the twins who lived [in] western Texas and say, “Why don't we maybe take a day trip?” And some us would get in a car and just drive, you know, just to get away for a few hours and come back, or maybe spend the night and come back. We went down to Corpus Christi, I think; maybe spent the night. You know, just day-type trips when you had time. More than anything, you know, it's that type things.

We didn't—because I remember—I think our weekends were pretty free. We always had the test on Friday mornings. And there were times I mean I literally stayed up all night long to study. I mean I honestly did. I don't know about anybody else, but I did. And so, you know, I basically probably had to have toothpicks to keep my eyes open so I could do my test in the morning. But I mean it was tough, it was a hard course.

TS:

How'd you like Texas?

AF:

I liked it okay. Hot and dry in San Antonio. I guess parts of Texas can be hot and humid. I guess I was surprised, say at night when it was, say, in the heat of the summer when it would still be ninety-plus degrees at ten o'clock or something at night. And that surprised me. But it was more of a dry heat. But you know it was hot, and I had a little car and it had straight stick and no air-conditioning. I was lucky to have a radio in it. And, you know, so—and it was dark blue, so you know how hot it was [chuckles].

TS:

Now what about when you were approaching your graduation then. A year is a long time for training, for that. That's pretty intensive. Did you get orders? Did you—could you apply to where you wanted to go? What happens next?

AF:

Yes, yes, you put your wish list in. Actually prior to [clears throat]—

[recording paused]

TS:

—playback. Okay.

AF:

Now we had a wish list, like I guess all military, no matter what branch you are, you can always put down where you'd like to go. And there were certain hospitals—and I can not name them—within the United States which allowed new, recent physical therapy graduates to go to. I think it had to be a certain size. We used to call them general hospitals. Station hospitals, which were smaller-general hospitals would have been the biggest, the largest—and on down to a smaller hospital, I guess, at a smaller base.

So, when it came time for—I imagine it was in the spring, because we graduated I believe in July—that we put our wish list in. And I put down Fort Bragg [North Carolina]. It would have been near home, number one. And I don't know if I put any other choices down. I probably did but I don't remember what they were. But I put that down as my number one choice. And so everybody had a chance, you know, to do that. I'm not sure how many of us, or if all us received our first choice, or one of our choices when we graduated. I was happy that I did, and it may be because I was top graduate, I don't know. [laugh] I don't know, but at any rate I received my choice.

TS:

Were you—were you the top graduate?

AF:

Yeah, yeah.

TS:

Were you? Excellent.

AF:

And whether that was—I studied all night, you know. I was not the smartest in the class by any shape of the imagination. It just—I studied the longest, that's all. I have—my test grades were better than other peoples', but that was not—sometimes they were—but that was the only reason, I guess your average is what made you the top graduate.

So that was—I was able to be at Fort Bragg. And I arrived there like in July. And Woody and I met on a blind date about a month later, through our bosses.

TS:

So what year are we at now?

AF:

[Nineteen] sixty-six.

TS:

Okay.

AF:

Sixty-six, 1966. And we met on a blind date, and he was with the training center. Because they were building up the training centers all throughout the United States, trying to get soldiers ready to go to Vietnam. He had been in Munich, Germany. And most people were called from wherever they were to come back stateside to do training centers. And so he was stationed at Fort Bragg, had been there, I guess, a few months—not many months before I arrived.

And anyway, long story short, I had no knowledge of his name or anything, but my name was passed down through my boss who was Major Westhoven. At the time she was head of the PT [physical therapy] clinic, and she passed my name on down along the line—she was a golfer—to Woody's boss' wife who played golf with her. And one time she told me that I might receive a phone call from a captain, but she didn't know his name. Now, I was not so interested in this. And bottom line is I ended up—I thought, well, maybe someone's gone to a lot of trouble, so I'll go out once, you know. So we've been married almost forty-one years. That's a long story short. So it does work out.

TS:

So you went out with him on a blind date?

AF:

Blind date.

TS:

And then—so you're still you're in the army, right?

AF:

Correct, still in the army. Okay, and he had not been to Vietnam at that time. He had already been in the army for six years. Probably was getting to that point, “Well, do I want to go regular army, apply for regular army?” And I don't know if he had at the point or not—because he graduated from Norwich University up in Vermont. And I had never heard of it until I met him. And so, you know, you get to the point, well, do you want to go regular army and stay in as a career or not? So he was almost to that point. And he had not been to Vietnam. He had been to Korea. He had been to Germany. He had been stationed I think at Fort Benning [Georgia] and a couple of other places. These were before I even met him. And so he knew that he was going to be going to Vietnam. Everybody was going to Vietnam.

So, we married actually about ten months after we met. Woody was twenty-eight and I was twenty-four at the time. We did not want to get married if, say, the next week he was going to be going to Vietnam. As it turned out he was going to be going—leaving Fort Bragg to go to Fort Knox [Kentucky] to take the advanced course. And he would be there for, well, short of a year, maybe ten months or whatever. So basically almost a year before he would go to Vietnam. So that's one of the things that entered into our deciding, well, we would get married, you know, maybe this will work out. And so we got married in June of 1967, and he went to Vietnam on Mother's Day 1968. And very thankfully he came home.

TS:

Well, we'll catch up with that. We'll catch up with Vietnam, when he was in there. I'd like to hear more about that, but I'd want to hear more too about what you're doing at Fort Bragg.

AF:

What I'm doing at Fort Bragg, okay. So I arrived at Fort Bragg probably—I don't know if I arrived late July or early August 1966, after I graduated from the physical therapy course. Major Westhoven was the boss. A captain Jerry Lewis [chuckle], as a matter of fact, he was one of the PTs there. I think there was a—I think she was a captain at the time, Shirley Schelper. She was also a PT.

She had been on—and see, Westhoven, Major Westhoven and Schelper—she was either captain or major—both of those gals had done the physical therapy course too, so they knew. Jerry Lewis obviously was a male and had not, because he was not allowed to at that time. So I was the new comer on the block. And we—most of our patients were injuries, Vietnam casualties. Of course, we did see training, basic training [injuries], and you know, trainees came through who were getting ready to go to Vietnam or wherever. So we saw those kinds of injuries, or back strains or whatever we saw. Some wives. We did some OB [obstetrics] exercises after delivery.

So we worked in the clinic. We had clinic physical therapy when people came to us. And we also did therapy up on the wards in rooms. Whether it be, like I say—and I don't know there was any private rooms probably at that time; there was probably the least number of people in a room was probably two. And then, you know, some of them had even wards like the OB, where the women were, some of those—we had some maybe there were two-people rooms. But there might have been a group also, from what I remember just giving postpartum exercises. But that was the bulk of our population as far as patients would have been Vietnam casualties what I would say.

And experiences I'll never forget. I can't tell you all of them. I've written some of them out for you, as a matter of fact.

TS:

Okay.

AF:

You know the things that I saw, learned, or did were quite revealing, educational, or whatever you want to say, but something that you would hope you'd never have to see again. And it's something that when I was in a civilian PT role, my thinking was, “these people don't have any clue what these casualties are going through or have gone through.” Because the people who would come in—maybe not all of them, but some of the people, the civilian PTs who—patients who would come in for therapy—I'd think “how minor.” I mean, that's terrible to think. But in comparison to what I had seen and what I had been a part of at that time.

TS:

Sure.

AF:

And at that time—

TS:

It's all relative to what—

AF:

Correct, exactly, exactly. So that would be the bulk of my experiences from what I'm telling you. Remember we did some muscle testing. Some of the people needed whirlpool. Some of the people needed strengthening exercise, or stump wrapping, picking shrapnel out of wounds. I mean it's all kinds of things—or doing electrical things to see if the nerve had started regrowing. You'd stimulate a nerve and whatever.

TS:

Was there anything—or anyone—maybe relating to what you wrote down—something that was particularly memorable that you want to share?

AF:

I've written them down.

TS:

Yeah.

AF:

I mean—I mean, I don't know what you want to do with them. And you can read them or whatever.

TS:

Here, let me pause it for a sec.

[recording paused]

TS:

All right, Alice has written some of her memories that she has of when she was a physical therapist down. And she has them in written form and we're going to put that with her archives. But she's also going to read a few that she has written down to share with us. Go ahead Alice.

AF:

Okay. The first is short of an introduction I guess.

Years and years ago I told Woody—that's my husband by the way—that the most horrible injuries that I would not want to experience are burns. I can think of no other injury that would be as painful. Although I did not treat many burn patients, I observed many, especially at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, during my training. That is where a premiere burn center, even for some civilians, is located to this day.

Of course, during the Vietnam War there were bound to be those who suffered burn injuries from napalm, from aircraft crashes that resulted in fires or explosions, and from other war-time accidents or devices.

I remember the pilot who basically had very little face remaining after being injured. No hair, no ears, a small nose, and much scarring on many areas of his body. The disfiguring of burns is incredible no matter how little or extensive the initial injury. How about those who's hands were completely burnt off or other parts of their anatomy?

Other stories, the veterans whom I worked—treated—the veterans whom I treated from the Vietnam were incredible, probably the best patients that I ever had. They worked hard to return to duty in spite of their injuries. They rarely complained, and they endured literally months on months on end of laying on a hospital bed before they could be transported to the PT clinic for therapy. Sometimes I would be assigned to treat them on the wards until they could go to the clinic. Our PT staff duties rotated.

I remember two sergeants at Fort Knox who shared a hospital room. They always smiled and asked about my husband, knowing that he too would be going to Vietnam. Because of their injuries most of their therapy consisted of range of motion exercises. One man had leg traction, which meant a pin in his leg for months, and some isometric contractions of various muscle groups. The rest of my therapy consisted of basically just chatting with them. At Christmas they slipped a little gift to me, which was really taboo, that their wives had purchased. My lingering presence after therapy apparently was more therapeutic than the actual therapy. I will not forget them.

There was also Sergeant Marinaro at Fort Bragg, one of the few patients that I remember by name. He had many wounds throughout his body from shrapnel. I treated him in the clinic. One of his arms had been shattered, resulting in nerve damage as well. Sergeant Marinaro was required to wear a weird braced cast-like contraption to keep his hand and wrist in a certain position, but the brace could be taken off during PT. He worked at keeping his finger joints flexible with passive range of motion, stretching as tolerated, and any active movement he could do. Gradually the nerves to his hand regrew, but only after many months. Occasionally shrapnel would work its way to the surface. Using tweezers, it would have to be picked out like splinters.

Yes, Sergeant Marinaro eventually walked out of the hospital, but not without significant scars, both physical and mental. Before he was rescued in the jungle of South Vietnam, he spent days alone with his injuries. Everyone around him was dead. Maggots ate the dead flesh in his wounds. One of the torments that he shared with me was, “Why was I spared, while the others in my unit were killed?” I had no answer for him.

And there are more stories.

TS:

Thank you, Alice. When you think back on working with these men from Vietnam at the time, at the time that you were doing it in the sixties—and I know that you said that you were not political—but did you have any thoughts about the war at that time?

AF:

I think before Woody went to Vietnam he was thinking we needed to be there. I think after his tour of duty there, he perhaps thought, “why are we there?” It was not so much that maybe we needed to be there. You know—have we changed a lot of things there? I don't know that we have, you know. You always think about the domino effect, and maybe one nation after another nation is going to fall. And there may be a lot of truth to that. But I would—I guess that's more than anything.

But I know that while I was here waiting for him to come back, hoping that he would come back from Vietnam, that, as most people who grew up in that area—whether they were adults or whatever—the Vietnam war was unpopular. And there were many demonstrations on campuses and even in civilian communities about the war, against the war. I stayed with my parents here in Raleigh when Woody was in Vietnam. I got out of the service right before he went to Vietnam. And I can tell you that there were not many people—I mean, most of mother and daddy's friends knew that Woody was in Vietnam—but otherwise there were not too many people that I told that, simply because there was so much anti-Vietnam and people being in Vietnam that you didn't know what comments you were going to get.

It wasn't that I was afraid of the comments. I just thought “they don't know.” I mean, Woody's over there, whether he's fighting or whatever, so that you can say this, to let you have your freedom. You can say this, but you're not over there. Why aren't you over there, if you're so against it? You know, whatever, that type of thing. So I guess that was more of the feeling that I had, that so many people were opposed to it, and yet they didn't know what maybe you were going through or the people who were over there were going through.

TS:

Was it harder then for you personally knowing that you were married and that your husband was over in Vietnam than when you were working with the veterans and you saw the effects of the war?

AF:

Probably, because—it probably was, even though you think you prepare yourself [for] his going and what you might do or not do while he's gone. I guess because I was constantly thinking about his safety, as any loved one would do of whomever they had overseas in Vietnam or anywhere. And it was years and years before I told him that—I know when I would come home in the afternoon from work, it scared me to death if I thought I was going to come home and I saw an army car or something in the driveway. That meant to me that Woody's either been killed or maybe he's been taken prisoner. If there was no car, then I thought “He's made it another day.” I mean, that really went on just about every day during the whole year. Which I guess says to me that maybe—I can't say whether my faith was not very strong or whatever, but it was hard. It was a realization that that's what happened, because you knew if something happened to your loved one, it was going to be a military car coming to your house at whatever hour, but probably during the day or something. So we felt very fortunate that he came home all whole.

TS:

Did you know of any of your friends or family that had died in Vietnam?

AF:

Some of the people in his advanced class at Fort Knox before he went overseas, some of the guys did not make it back. And some people he knew had been injured and everything. So yeah, I mean there were some people. I can't give you a name right now, but yes, there were some people. I can't say they were necessarily that close friends, because as a married couple, we were only at Fort Knox for maybe less than a year as a married couple. So some he probably knew more—more people than I did who were killed or whatever. And, of course, he saw that where his particular job in Vietnam—the jobs he had in Vietnam where, you know, maybe somebody would go out during a routine thing and maybe didn't come back alive, but hitting something in the road or what have you. So I mean I guess it was sort of an unknown or a fear that you sort of—I mean, I thought about it, anyway, almost every day.

TS:

Do you remember, then, before you met Woody—I'm trying to think how long you were—you actually had just gotten to Fort Bragg right?

AF:

Yeah, it was probably within a month.

TS:

Okay, so then you got married about ten months after that?

AF:

Correct, about ten months after that.

TS:

So you're—the time that you're working as a physical therapist in the army, obviously working with these men, and you would have a story here about a young girl with injuries that were really bad, and one of the questions here is what was the hardest thing you had to do emotionally in the service?

AF:

Emotionally. Probably facing some of these injuries. I mean, you just had to sometimes steel yourself to do it I guess. Because some of the injuries were horrible that you saw. And yet, I guess you have to put your feelings and things—try to put your feelings and things aside to say, “Okay, I've got to try to help this person. It's not going to help me to go and there and cry and say, 'Oh I'm so sorry'” or, you know. You have a job to do I guess is what I'm saying. And yet, my job—I could still empathize with them to some extent. And you know, as some of them they got better they would joke around with you. It didn't matter what rank they were or anything. These were patients.

And but I would guess just sometimes facing—especially initially, when they came into the hospital or whatever—and you've got to remember some of these—a lot of these patients that we saw stateside probably had already been in a hospital in Japan or something perhaps weeks or something before they were stable enough to be moved stateside, to be in another hospital—you know, a stateside hospital for their rehabilitation or what have you.

And I guess just like this Sergeant Marinaro wondering why did he survive when others did not—so I guess there were a lot of questions that some of these—it didn't matter how old the soldiers were—the questions they maybe had were the same thing, either why they survived or just “why” period. Questions like that. But you don't have answers. I mean you listen or whatever if they want to tell you a story. I guess that was it more than anything.

TS:

So you had mentioned in what you read that it's almost like you were a counselor, a listening counselor it sounds like.

AF:

You could be. I mean like for instance like the two soldiers I read about who shared this room. And I'm serious, literally not only those but many—now treatment things have changed over the years, so these two soldiers if they had the same injuries today maybe would not have had to stay in bed months and months and months like they did then, but that's the way the treatment was back then. And so truthfully, I don't know how they stood it. I can't imagine being literally on my backside with a pin through my knee holding my leg in traction for months on end and not getting out of that bed. I mean, think about it. That's a long time. A day would be long for me, I think, maybe because I'm sort of antsy or would like to be more active.

So for them to have the patience to do that and endure it—and I'm sure it probably took them a while to, say, get into the routine that “I'm not going to get better unless I do.” You don't know what they're maybe thinking. So some of the things that maybe I would do, say, with those patients was not a biggie, as far as physical therapy. They were going to—once they were able to get to the part where they could get out of bed or taken down to clinic, then they were going to really get more physical therapy, the bigger hands-on.

So if nothing else, just to visit them. And your stay in the room was not necessarily a long time, either. But just sometimes just to say “hello” or whatever. And that was, like I say, it was just short things, but maybe to say “hello” meant a lot. I don't know; I assume it must have.

TS:

The other thing that struck me is that you said one—what's the sergeant's name here?

AF:

Marinaro.

TS:

Sergeant Marinaro was one of the few names that you remember, and talking actually to an army nurse, she had talked about how she could not remember the names. She saw so many. And then she had read I think it was poem by someone who had talked about they knew them by their nicknames a lot. And so was that anything that you experienced, where—of course, you had a chart and you know—but did that have anything to do with—

AF:

A nickname for that patient?

One of them had a patient for me—I mean—excuse me—a nickname for me, one patient did. I guess it was at—I think it was at Fort Knox. He would call me “luty” for lieutenant or something. And it didn't bother me, and he was a Spec 4 [Specialist, E-4] , so it didn't really bother me, you know. These young guys who'd been places I'd never been; I don't want to go, to be shot-up or whatever.

Now they were usually very respectful, and I don't remember having particular nicknames for them. I mean it doesn't come to mind right now.

That same one used to call me a “lifer” because he thought that I was going to be a lifer. I said, “No, I'm not going to be a lifer. When Woody goes to Vietnam I'm probably going to be getting out—”

“No, you're going to be a lifer.” [chuckles] You know, stuff like that.

And, you know, these are just young kids; they were just kids.

TS:

Sure. What did you think about the work that you were doing then?

AF:

I thought that it was—I thought that my training was good and I was well prepared. I say well prepared in that I think I really had probably some of the best training I could have had. The shortcoming of my training probably would have been children's therapy, because—since it was trying to get people ready to treat Vietnam casualties or whatever, or the troops, then the emphasis was on that. So my shortcoming in training would have been children's therapy and stuff like that. But like I say, I did feel like I was prepared.

And, you know, I learned a lot. I mean I didn't—certainly a lot of things that I experienced I didn't learn in school. But there was always somebody there who maybe had that patient but was going to be rotated to the wards, and you were in the clinic and now you had that patient, and “this is what I'm doing with this patient.” So it was a continual thing. And you always had to write notes in the chart after I think every time you saw that patient.

TS:

How about the camaraderie of the people that you were working with?

AF:

The staff?

TS:

Yes.

AF:

It was always good. I don't remember any bickering or clashes or anything. I don't remember any of that. Because everybody was busy. Everybody was busy. I mean the enlisted people had jobs to do. We had jobs to do, and they assisted and what have you. One patient out the door and another one comes in. I mean, it was always busy, always busy.

TS:

Now why did you decide that you wanted to get out?

AF:

Well, okay, after we left Fort Bragg, we got married and basically had a PCS [Permanent Change of Station] and moved at the same time, in June of '67. And fortunately, they had an opening at Fort Knox where Woody had to go. They had an opening in the physical therapy clinic at Fort Knox, and I got it. They assigned me there. So I stayed in.

When it came time and when we knew that Woody was going to Vietnam—I mean, that was just a given. We didn't know what month or whatever. After his advanced course, sure enough he received his orders to go to Vietnam. And I would have had to have stayed there, I'm sure. I say “I'm sure” pretty much that I probably would have been—since I had only been there less than a year, that they probably would have just reassign—you know, I would have had to stay there. I didn't particularly want to stay there by myself, and Woody didn't want me to stay there by myself. So I had already completed my obligation and then some, so at that point I chose to get out of the service.

So I came home and stayed with Mother and Daddy during that time.

TS:

Now when he went in, when Woody went into Vietnam, it was right after Tet [Offensive].

AF:

Correct. Exactly. Tet was what, January or something? And he left to go Mother's Day. So, you know, a lot of these things—you think about these things, period. If it hadn't been for—Tet made it even more up to the front, I guess you would say.

Woody was assigned to the Central Highlands, at a little base camp in the central highlands. His particular—a firebase I guess they called it, firebase. And the job of the firebase was to protect the road going east to west from the coast—I don't know if it was Nha Trang or whatever—to the central highlands in Pleiku. That was their job— Highway 19 or something like that—to try to keep it free of things that would blow up whatever.

He was at the firebase for six months, and then at six months he went to Pleiku, 4th Division headquarters, so to speak. It was not much different as far as you're talking about facilities and everything. I mean it was still in the Central Highlands. But he was—after six months, his job changed. I mean, he lived in a metal box out on the firebase, a conex container that was sandbagged. He could hear rats running around, you know. We're not talking a luxury hotel here.

TS:

So you're staying with your parents and the anti-war movement is increasing. You talked a little bit about not mentioning to a lot of people. What did you think about internally about the anti-war protests?

AF:

I guess I was probably angry at people, only because I thought they don't know. And I can't say it wasn't a pity party for myself or anything, but I thought, “My husband is over there so that you can do this, so you can have the freedom to protest or whatever, but you're not thinking about that. You're thinking how bad the war is.” Yeah, the war is bad.

And like somebody has told me since then, which is a quotation—I don't know whether it's something they made up or whatever—but is so true: “All wars are failures.” Think about it. All wars are failures. Doesn't matter who wins, who loses. They're failures to have to have them in the first place. So when my internal feelings was I probably was semi-upset but more angry that they would do that. Whether they knew that my husband was involved or not.

Because I can remember, you know, even a fireman—because I worked at a civilian hospital while Woody was gone—and maybe some comments. One of the patients we had, a fireman—and it just—and I said “that's not my husband,” you know, whatever it was he was saying.

TS:

Oh, something negative about a solider?

AF:

Yeah, something negative about a soldier, what a soldier might do or whatever. And I said, “Well, my husband wouldn't do that.”

“Well, I'm sure he would do that.”

“No he wouldn't.” So that type of thing I guess.

And then the protests, and some ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps] programs were taken off campuses. When he came back we were actually assigned to Clemson University. He taught ROTC. And like I say, I imagine the enrollment wasn't sky high at the point. I don't know. But I think it has regained some popularity now, in recent years.

TS:

Did you have any particular feelings about the administration at all at that time? I know, again, you said you're not political, but.

AF:

Probably not, just wondering what the next step was going to be. And wondering well, are going to pull out, what are we going to do. I guess at that time I was more concerned with Woody's safety. That was in my mind more than anything else. I guess that would be more it than anything, from what I can—you know, in recalling now.

TS:

Well, that year Woody went in, that's a pretty momentous year.

AF:

Yeah, between sixty—yeah, '68 to '69.

TS:

In the spring of that year, just—you said he went in on Mother's Day, right?

AF:

Yes, he left on Mother's Day of '68. I couldn't take him to the airport. My father took him to the airport. I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it. He was crying. I was crying. I thought “He's leaving. He's going out the door, and I don't know if I'll ever see him again.” You know, that's it. And I'm sure he was probably thinking the same thing. So when somebody's gone—now, we did meet in Hawaii for about four days about six months in—you know, the R & R [rest and recreation]. Then we met in November I guess it was.

But during that year—I think that can either make or break I think relationships too. Because, I mean, people can change. And not that maybe he hasn't changed, but I think through our letters—and we sent tapes every week, little cassette tapes or whatever, those little tiny reel to reels. He had a tape recorder and I would send him a tape every week; he'd make a tape every week. I sent him a box of cookies and stuff every week. And we wrote every day. Some days I would get no letters. The next day I'd get six letters. It was the same for him. We wrote everyday to try to keep the relationship and our feelings—because basically we were still newly marrieds. We'd only been married a year. And so it didn't—I think if anything, it probably strengthened our relationship. But you hear so many, too, that it busted them up. It busted relationships—went away. Either because of what happened during the year while somebody was gone, or somebody was here, you know, or just how maybe some people had changed.

And Woody, I'm sure he didn't know probably how he was going to react when he came back, nor did I. And I'm sure initially he was probably a little bit jittery about, “What's that noise?” You know, that type of thing. Because I can remember one of the first days he was back, we went to Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg is less than about an hour and a half from here. We needed to go to Fort Bragg, and we cut through the N.C. State campus to get to where we wanted to go to get out of town. He was driving, and I just wanted to point to something over there, like “that's where I did so-and-so while you were gone.” And [his] immediate reaction was to look.

TS:

Like danger.

AF:

Right. “What am I supposed to look at? Is there something hiding behind the bushes?” That type of thing. And I was just showing him a building where I had taken a class or something while he was gone. So I mean there is always an adjustment time.

TS:

The other thing I was going to ask you is just before he left, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and assassinated.

AF:

Correct, yes, exactly. Right before we left Fort Knox, as a matter of fact. We did not realize it, but Raleigh and I don't how many other communities—Raleigh had a curfew, but we did not know it. The day we left after when he graduated, the car was just piled high with stuff, even though they were going to send a few boxes here to my parent's home. The rest of everything went into storage. So we had decided to—that we would make it a two-day trip. We were coming from Fort Knox and we didn't leave until the afternoon, so it was a pretty long trip. We started out and we were going to stop overnight somewhere, but we didn't know where. We looked at the car and thought, “we can't take all this out of the car.” I mean it was literally packed just about to the ceiling in the back with stuff. So we decided we'd just drive through all night and we'd drive through.

We arrived in Raleigh, I don't know, like two or three o'clock in the morning. Did not—well, we didn't have cell phones, you know. We had not called Mother and Daddy. And we came in and I knew where the hidden key was to get in the house. So we came in the house real quickly. They were going to be expecting us the next day. And I guess Mom probably, light sleeper that she was—like her daughter is—probably had poked Daddy and had said, “Daddy, I think somebody is trying to get in the house.” Anyway, and there we were. But there had been a curfew, but nobody stopped us but we didn't know it. So we could have been stopped as we came into Raleigh, but we were not. But, yes, that was the time, exactly.

TS:

So talk about why there was a curfew.

AF:

Well, I guess because of all the demonstrations because of the assassination of Martin Luther King. I don't know what went on in Raleigh [chuckle] but they must have had a heck of a time. But we were not knowledgeable of that.

TS:

Had you known that he had been assassinated?

AF:

Yes. [unclear]

TS:

But just hadn't learned about the riots that had happened after?

AF:

Correct. We didn't know about it, or especially whatever might be going on in Raleigh. And whether there had been riots and things in here in Raleigh, I don't know. Or whether this was a precautionary measure—

TS:

Yeah, I'm not sure.

AF:

—you know, a preventive type measure, for the same.

TS:

Then in June, RFK [Robert Francis Kennedy] was assassinated.

AF:

That's correct. That's right. Exactly. It's just like one on the heels of the other.

TS:

Did you have any sense about—

AF:

I was just thinking “No, not again” more than anything. Because when Woody came back, then we were involved in trying to move to South Carolina, get set up there with the ROTC, find a place to live, and get our things to get moved in. Actually, ROTC had summer camp. I don't know if they still do, I assume they still do. The cadets or people in the ROTC program actually came to Fort Bragg for their summer camp, six or whatever weeks it was. And so we kind of left Clemson kind of halfway getting settled and came to find a short-term place to rent off-post at Fort Bragg. So that's what we did.

TS:

So there's so many things we could talk about too, but—

AF:

I'm game. I don't know if you are, but I am [laughs].

TS:

Well, let's go on to something about the times that isn't about the war. Like what kind of music did you listen to?

AF:

Back then?

TS:

Yeah, back then.

AF:

Like The Lettermen, things like that. Frank Sinatra, things I still probably would like to listen to. I was not brought up on classical music, which is in a way a shame, because there is so much beautiful classical music. I listen to some of that though now too, but I can't necessarily tell you names of it. I've probably been exposed to more of it through church and things like that.

TS:

Here are some of the ones we have—

AF:

Well, I probably—when I was in college, I probably heard The Beatles because they came in to popular—you know. The Kingston Trio, yes. Maybe some of Peter, Paul, and Mary. I was not into some of these other people.

TS:

The rock and roll type?

AF:

No, you know, you heard them, but I was not a fan of them, no.

TS:

How about this one here?

AF:

Old big Elvis? I heard him, but I was not a fan of Elvis really. In high school I had to share a locker with girl who was, and she used to put pictures of Elvis in there and I used to take them down [laughs]. So we kind of battled that.

TS:

How about for like television shows?

AF:

I remember M*A*S*H. I didn't watch most of it. And I remember Flip Wilson. I remember these things you have written here, but most of them I didn't watch.

My parents, since I was at their house—now Sound of Music I loved. I loved that movie. And I remember seeing Patton. I never saw Goldfinger or The Longest Day. My parents liked to watch some of the game shows and things like that, you know, that parents might watch.

TS:

Do you remember any of the game shows?

AF:

Oh, what'd they—well, some of them are extinct now. I guess I 've Got a Secret and some of those, you know, from way back when? I guess they were still going on at that point. I can't remember.

TS:

I don't remember some of the older ones, but Match Game and—

AF:

Concentration.

TS:

Oh, Concentration. Sure, yes. This is good.

AF:

And some of those, exactly.

TS:

Now how about the moon landing?

AF:

Well, yeah, because that happened I guess right after Woody came back. Was that in '69?

TS:

With your father being a mathematician?

AF:

We were just all interested in it.

TS:

[chuckles] You know, a lot of math with that.

AF:

Yeah. But, you know, I was just—I was glad Woody was back so he could see that. I mean that was very interesting, you know, to see that. It still boggles my mind that somebody was really up there, and we're seeing this on TV. It was sort of awe-inspiring really. It's kind of hard to believe, just thinking about it. It's not a place I want to go. I mean, I have a hard enough time trying to fly! I don't want to get out of the gravity of the United—you know, of this world [laughs].

TS:

I understand [laugh]. Well, then in—while you were in the military, if you were to say “Okay, here”—three years, about three years?

AF:

About, just about three years.

TS:

About three years, and one of those years was real intense training—

AF:

Correct.

TS:

Do you think that that time, that three years of your life in the army, had any influence on you in later life at all?

AF:

Well, I suppose in some ways it probably prepared me to be an army wife perhaps. Woody always tells people the army issued him a wife [laughs]. That's what he tells people. He says, “the army issued me a wife.” I said, “no, 'the army issued me a husband' is I think the way it should go.”

But I had, since I knew what people were going through, I had experienced it as far as being in the service myself—but in a hospital setting, as opposed to like Woody being in the field and the things he had to go through—I think I knew more what to expect, or I knew some of the things to expect. But you never can know what it's going to be like until you experience it.

It's just like before Woody went to Vietnam. I'm seeing these patients or maybe some of these patients' families and maybe telling what it was like or what it was like for their family. And all this time I'm trying to prepare myself for when Woody goes, and thinking “I'm going to do this, do this, do this,” or whatever. “And I'm going to be—occupy my mind and what have you while he's gone.” It doesn't work that way. I know that initially I didn't think that maybe I was going to work while he was gone. I didn't know what I was going to—think I was going to do. Sit at home with Mother and Daddy?

But I know within days after he left, I thought “I've got to do something. I cannot sit home.” The list I had made I could do in one day, that type of thing. You could perform everything in one day that you had put on the list for a year. So I guess I got off track, but anyway. I think that you can't know until you're in those shoes what you're going to do.

TS:

Did you stay in physical therapy?

AF:

I did for that year. Now when Woody came back from Vietnam, we went down to Clemson and we started our family. So I guess I should say I was fortunate enough that I was able to stay home and I did not have to work. And so I did not ever go back into physical therapy. I can't say I didn't miss it, because I did. It was a good profession and it still is a good profession, and I enjoyed it. I think one of the unfortunate things—I always kept my license up, because I never wanted to take that test again. As long as I passed it and paid my dues every year I was going to have that license, you know, thinking “Well, who knows? I might have to—either have to or want to use it some time when the kids get in school or whatever.” But they don't have, and I think they still do not have, a refresher course for physical therapists. But they do for nurses, which I thought I never can understand.

Of course, my boss that I had the year that Woody was in Vietnam—when we came back to Raleigh, I visited her once or twice—she said, “Oh, come work for us.” She tried to get me to come.

“No, I'm not—I don't want to do that right now—I'm so far removed from it, you know.”

“No, you could just learn it OJT [On the Job Training], not a problem.”

But I never did go back because I felt, myself, that I wasn't competent to step back into something. And so that's one of the things.

I guess for the year, one year I did work in physical therapy, and then I stayed home with the children. I volunteered in their schools as they came along. And when we moved to Raleigh in 1982, our youngest son was in the fourth grade next door. He went fourth and fifth grade next door. And I volunteered with his teacher for I say two years because he had a different teacher in fifth grade, but I kept volunteering for the one I had originally volunteered with, plus his. Bottom line is I volunteered myself into a teacher's assistant job. Now see, I had my teaching certificate but I never renewed that. But I did pass the exam and I had my certificate [chuckle]. And so after the second time the principal asked me “Don't you want to be a teacher's assistant? You know, we've got an opening,” I said, “Well, I'll tell you what. If you'll let me be with this person—” her name was Peggy; she's one of my dear friends. And I said “If you let me be with Peggy, I'll consider being a teacher's assistant.”

Well, I had to be shared with another teacher, because that—I was on the fifth grade level, fourth and fifth grade level. And so I worked for Peggy for five years until she retired. And then I worked another three years on a different level, like a third- fourth grade level. And then I thought—so eight years total I was a teacher's assistant, and at the end of that time I thought “This is not as fun as it used to be.” The kids should get—they would just as soon tell you what as not—I mean the discipline in the homes is not—or the family structure is not, and so it was getting less and less fun, so to speak, to go back to school. And I thought “I don't need to be here.” At that point I was fifty, and I thought “I'm not staying here twenty years to retire in this position. It's time for me to go.” So at age fifty I stopped being a teacher's assistant. And I missed some of the people, but—and some of the children and everything—but I wasn't getting as excited each summer to go back. I think that makes a difference so I think I don't need to be there then.

So what I do now is volunteer at the hospital. I'm not volunteering in physical therapy, but I volunteer in the same day surgery recovery area. And I do things at the church. And basically volunteer activities is what I do now. As our children would say, “Keep Mom off the streets.” [laughter]

TS:

Well, we're going to pause here for a second.

[recording paused]

TS:

—UNCG.

AF:

Right.

[recording paused]

TS:

Now you had something you wanted to add about your senior year at UNCG?

AF:

Yes. When I was a senior—and I don't know whether it was the fall of my senior year or the spring of my senior year—I was still getting my teaching certificate, however, I knew that I was going into physical therapy, going into physical therapy school. And I had arranged to do my student teaching at a cerebral palsy school. The year before, one of our physical education graduates had arranged to do the same thing. She never did go into physical therapy, but she just wanted that experience. And so I did that.

TS:

You've got some pictures here. You're doing something. Are you bowling?

AF:

Yes, we took some of these children bowling. And the physical therapists helped us. Apparently they had done this before also. So we took maybe a half a dozen of the children to the bowling alley during one of the days I was there. And I have on file actually two letters from twins, Erma and Emma. Twin girls, but each of them [had] different capabilities, you know. They were both cerebral palsy, but they're different on their abilities, I guess I should say.

TS:

And you're Mrs. Perks here and Mrs. Parks there [in reference to the girls' letters].

AF:

Right. Exactly, exactly. And one could write in cursive and one prints. But I thought that was—I kept their letters because I thought it probably took them a lot of effort for them to do that, and that was good.

TS:

Yeah. Makes sense. So—

[recording paused]

TS:

Well, a couple other things, Alice, about the time that you grew up in and were in the army, and also after the army. We talked a little bit about the cultural things going on with Vietnam, but also the civil rights movement was going on too. Do you have any thoughts or remembrances about that period?

AF:

I just remember more than anything it was probably going on. I was probably more concerned about what was going on in my own little family I guess. Sure in Greensboro, see, they had the sit down, probably—or sit-in or whatever—maybe down at the corner even. Which I'm not sure if they have preserved that little part of a drug store or restaurant or whatever, but I think at the corner is probably one of the places where they was—nationally it was brought to news.

So I have not thought—at that era I did not think too much about it, I guess, other than I know when I was growing up, Mother and Daddy, at the original house I lived in before we moved out here, there was some—well, we called them Negroes. People want to be called black or whatever. I don't know what people want to be called nowadays. But back then my parents did not use a derogatory name for them. I guess black was not the word to use; they called them Negroes. My parents never showed—they taught us not to, basically not to be prejudiced. I can't say that you aren't prejudiced to a certain extent. I mean, how can you really be free of prejudice, whether it be against a culture or race or religion or whatever? I think there's still prejudice in everybody about something. But I remember my parents just telling us, “Other people are just as good as you are.” So it never entered in my mind or picture that I should necessarily treat them any differently. That doesn't mean that we socialized with the black people or anything, because we did not. I mean, you just didn't. It was segregated.

And I do remember growing up, the different water fountains. One said “colored”, one said “white.” Same thing with bathrooms. So I do remember that—which was strange for Woody, because he was from Massachusetts and they did not experience that at all, because they didn't have the population—I suppose the minority population. So one of his first experiences [with segregation] really was as an adult when I think he was stationed at Fort Benning and he saw that. I don't know whether it was a bathroom or whether it was a water fountain. He got ready to maybe drink out of a water fountain and somebody said, “Don't drink out of that. That's for colored.”

So I guess in that sense I was aware of differences, but I guess the most important impact would have been the way my parents taught how we grew up, and saying there's good and bad in every culture and race. So I guess that's what my most influence would be.

TS:

Of the twenty-one girls that were in your class, your physical therapy class, one of them was African American.

AF:

Correct, correct. Bea, Bea Henry was her name, but she married. A lot of—I can't say a lot, but quite a few of us did marry military people, as it turned out. Some of them met them during our course, when we were down there. I did not; I met Woody afterwards, but there were several of us that did meet soldiers.

In fact, one of my classmates married one of my patients that I had at Fort Bragg. She was stationed out in—I don't know, Oregon or somewhere. I can't remember where she left, maybe it was California, after she left Fort Sam Houston, our training. And actually, he was one of the first patients that I had. And I didn't have him for very long. He said he was going to be stationed wherever he was going, California, something like that. And I said, “Oh, one of my classmates is a physical therapist out there.”

[He asked] “Well, what is her name?” Because he was going to have more therapy once he got out there. And darn if they didn't get married. [Laugh] I haven't heard from her in years, but it's true that they did get married. So I mean, I thought that it was kind of unique.

TS:

Yeah, that is unique. Well, how about with the women's movement going on. Did that affect you at all?

AF:

No, not really. I mean, I just didn't get in it. I didn't see a particular need to get in it. I don't know. I just, like I said, I was involved with my family and everything, and do my thing or my family's thing or whatever. I am not an activist really, and I think people have to be.

TS:

To be able to get involved?

AF:

Right, right.

TS:

I remember early in our conversation you were talking about when you were a girl, you couldn't play the sports that the boys were playing. And one of the things that happened with the women's movement is that they did get Title IX passed.

AF:

Right, exactly.

TS:

So they were able—you know, girls now can—

AF:

Can do that, can participate. And I just think that's wonderful. I guess I think, “Why didn't they have that when I was growing up?” But, you know, it was a different time, a different place.

TS:

Now did you ever use any of your GI benefits?

AF:

As far as schooling or anything? I don't remember that I did, unless it had to do with housing or something.

TS:

Like a mortgage?

AF:

Yeah. It may have been, because I know Woody has [GI benefits] too. So whether collectively or individually—you know, it would have been as a couple, we may have. Now Woody is retired from active after twenty-one years. He had spent twenty-one years in the service. So occasionally we do go down to Fort Bragg and visit the commissary, PX [Post Exchange]. But nowadays, especially with the price of gas and everything, there's not many bargains. I mean I think you save on some things, say in the commissary, but at the PX I don't know that you really save anymore, because look at the economy. Stores have sales all the time. So I'm not sure how much you save in that area.

One thing I think we do—are able to do and which we try to for the most part—we do get most of our medicines there. Now we have insurance also, because I have—we have the TRICARE-CHAMPUS [Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services] TRICARE—because of being military or retired [military]. Now because I worked with the state and Woody did, we also have the state insurance plan that we're very fortunate to have. Now we're on Medicare—mine starts next month as a matter of fact—so Woody teases me because I received my card. So we're fortunate in that.

But if we either get to the point and there's some medications that the formulary does not carry down at Womack [Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg], we'll go to the drug store. Or like I say, if there's a time when we can't physically go get them, we feel like that we are able to hopefully afford to be able to get them through the insurance and what we have—our savings or whatever—to be able to afford them, what we need.

TS:

Okay.

AF:

So I guess that would be a benefit. I don't know what other benefits you might be talking about or thinking about.

TS:

Well, mostly I think the education and housing, but I actually I hadn't thought about the health, because of having—you say he was in for twenty-one years; well, you were in for almost all those too, being an army wife.

AF:

Exactly, exactly. So now see, we don't go down there for physicals and things like that. I mean Fort Bragg is so big and it's so busy with troops. We have our doctors here. I mean I don't need a doctor at Fort Bragg if I need something today.

TS:

Right.

AF:

I need my doctor here.

TS:

Right.

AF:

And for the most part, most of them will accept the CHAMPUS TRICARE to a certain extent. I don't think that they like it, because I think there are extra forms to fill out and to send in and what have you. Sometimes I think it is a hassle, but Woody has to keep up with some stuff here when he—if something is not accepted, then he has to fill out some other things. So I think it is a hassle for everybody, whether it be TRICARE or any of the insurance companies. There's usually something to fill out.

TS:

Probably true.

AF:

But we don't go down there for just basically medications. Woody has received some shots down there, however, when he's gone overseas on a church mission trip or something like that.

TS:

Like the Africa trip.

AF:

Yes, he's been there three times, as a matter of fact.

TS:

Well, now what would you say—you got out in 1968, right?

AF:

Correct, correct.

TS:

So about—is that forty years ago?

AF:

Can you believe that?

TS:

I know, that's—

AF:

Old! [laughs]

TS:

No, no. I'm not thinking old. I'm thinking that there's been a lot of changes for women in the military.

AF:

Oh yeah, I imagine so.

TS:

Now, you know, we have some wars going on currently that women are involved in. Do you any thoughts about women's participation?

AF:

Well—especially like combat and things like that? I don't know. I guess—I guess it depends on who you are as an individual I would think. I can see where if I had the same MOS [Military Occupational Specialty] as somebody else and they're doing something, why don't I have the opportunity to do it also?

On the other hand, you say “Oh, well, we've got to protect so-and-so.” But maybe women don't have to be protected. Sometimes I think we're—I don't necessarily mean physically the strongest, but I think really sometimes we're the stronger sex. I mean we were the ones staying at home, taking care of the kids or whatever while they're away at war. I mean they are concerned, but you are concerned two places, and they are probably concerned about where they are right then. I don't know if that makes any sense or not. But I think equal opportunity is certainly something to be considered. I'm not sure that perhaps every job—and I don't know what all jobs are open or not open to [women]—maybe they shouldn't all be available to everybody, but maybe with equal opportunity maybe they should be. There may be should be some jobs that maybe men shouldn't do, that are closed to them and vice versa. I don't know. I haven't thought about it too much other than I know that there are some women pilots and there's some others who are in combat situations and apparently doing a very good job, whatever the job may be.

TS:

Would you recommend the military to any—you have two sons?

AF:

Two sons.

TS:

Have they ever—well, I guess they're probably passed the age of going into the military. But is that something you would have—

AF:

Sure. I mean Woody, he felt fine—the younger son we thought at one time might be considering it—I think it more was—I can't say it was more in passing. Maybe even the older son at one time thought about it, but did not actively—neither one them actively pursued it. And that's okay too. I mean, you know, our blood doesn't run green. I mean the experiences we had are certainly ones to remember and be thankful for. We cherished them and they were good. I mean, there were not so fond memories too—obviously when he was in Vietnam or what have you. But on the whole you learn and grow from them I think.

TS:

Yeah. Well we covered quite a lot. Is there anything that you would like to add that you—

AF:

I hope I haven't worn your ears out.

TS:

No, no, no, not at all.

AF:

I mean there may be something that I have forgotten or you think that I should bring up again or whatever, and just let me know. I'm not sure. I mean there are always things that you can bring up, I suppose, or add to.

TS:

Oh yeah. Well, we certainly can't get every little detail down, but I think we covered quite a lot, so.

AF:

Yeah. Well I appreciate your coming.

TS:

Well, I appreciate you having me in your house. Okay Alice, I'll go ahead and stop the tape for the transcriber so that he or she will know that this is the end.

[End of Interview]