1. LIBRARY CATALOG
  2. DATABASES
  3. JOURNAL A-Z List
  4. SUBJECT GUIDES
  5. LIBRARY SERVICES

The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Emily Sullivan Newcity, 2008

Search the Collection


AND   OR   EXACT PHRASE

Object ID: WV0427.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Emily Sullivan Newcity’s service in the Pacific with the WAC (Women’s Army Corps) during World War II.

Summary:

Newcity briefly discusses her childhood on a farm in New York. She recalls the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, seeing advertisements for the WAAC with the slogan “Free a Man to Fight,” and her desire to serve in the military after her mother’s death.

Newcity describes the roundabout train trip to basic training at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, and briefly discusses her time there and her duties at the station hospital at Fort H. G. Wright, Fishers Island, New York. She also mentions applying for overseas duty; having her assignment switched from New Guinea to Sydney, Australia; the ship ride over; and being assigned to GHQ USAFFE in Brisbane. She also mentions assignments in Hollandia, New Guinea; Leyte, Philippines; and Manila, Philippines; where she primarily did clerical and stenography work. Notable recollections from her overseas duty include taking dictation of interrogations of Japanese prisoners of war; bombings in the Philippines; listening to Tokyo Rose; attending frequent dances; VJ Day celebrations; and being on one of the first troop ships returning to the States after VJ Day.

Newcity mentions being discharged from Fort Dix, New Jersey; running into an army friend moving into an apartment with her in New York City; meeting her husband; and living as a military wife. Other topics include her opinions of President Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and President Harry Truman; singing in an army band; favorite singers; rumors about the WACs; and her opinion of women combat positions.

Creator:

Biographical Info:

Collection: Emily Newcity Oral History

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

Full Text:

Beth Ann Koelsch:    

Okay, ready to go?

Emily Newcity:          

Yes.

BAK: 

All right. Today is September 8, 2008, and I’m with Emily Newcity, right, in—it would be Chapel Hill, right, Chapel Hill, North Carolina?

EN:     

Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

BAK: 

To conduct an oral history interview for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro [UNCG], the Women Veterans Historical Collection. So we just want to make sure we’ve got your name right, because what we’ll be doing is we’ll have the Emily Newcity Collection. So if you could—is that how you’d like it to be?

EN:     

Yes.

BAK: 

Okay, and that’s—

EN:     

Well now, at the time I was in the service, my name was Sullivan, but I mean—

BAK: 

Would you—it’s just however you prefer. Would you prefer the Emily Newcity or the Emily Sullivan Newcity?

EN:     

I also have a granddaughter who goes to the university at Greensboro—

BAK: 

Oh, really?

EN:     

—with the same name, so it doesn’t matter.

BAK: 

Okay. Well, it’s whatever you prefer, so would you like the Emily Sullivan Newcity, or—?

EN:     

That might be right.

BAK: 

Okay, so E—can you just spell it? E-m-i-l-y S-u-l-l-i-v-a-n?

EN:     

Right.

BAK: 

And then your last name is spelled?

EN:     

N-e-w-c-i-t-y.

BAK: 

Great. Just want to make sure we got it right. So just start a little background on, you know, where you grew up. So when were you born and where?

EN:     

I was born in a little town called Croton-on-the-Hudson [Croton-on-Hudson], New York.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And went to school through high school there, and lived in Ossining at one time.

BAK: 

And that’s Ossining?

EN:     

Ossining, New York. It’s where Sing Sing [Correctional Facility] is located. [chuckles]

BAK: 

Oh, wow, okay. So when you say you lived there—no, I was just joking.

EN:     

After high school—

BAK: 

After high school.

EN:     

—I lived in Ossining for a while.

BAK: 

Okay, so your family moved there?

EN:     

And then I commuted back and forth to New York. I had a job in New York.

BAK: 

Okay, so when were you born?

EN:     

Nineteen twenty-two.

BAK: 

Nineteen twenty-two. What—okay. And what day? We just like to have—

EN:     

June 12.

BAK: 

June 12, okay. So tell me what your parents did and if you have any brothers and sisters.

EN:     

My father was a machinist on the New York Central Railroad.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And he died in 1935, so. And my mother was—I don’t know what she did before she was married. I mean she was just a homemaker. Well, she also worked with—we lived on my grandmother’s farm, and my grandmother had twenty cows and—

BAK: 

Wow.

EN:     

—had a dairy route in Ossining. And most of her children helped out with work on the farm, and my mother kept house for all of her brothers who worked on the farm.

BAK: 

And you say you grew up on the farm also?

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

So you did a lot of farm chores?

EN:     

Not really.

BAK: 

Not really, okay. [laughter] That was for other people, okay. And did you have any brothers and sisters?

EN:     

I had one sister.

BAK: 

One sister?

EN:     

Younger sister.

BAK: 

Okay. And so in school did you like school? Did you have a favorite subject?

EN:     

Oh, I liked school. I was always an honor student. Yeah. I just liked all my subjects.

BAK: 

Okay. And when did you graduate from high school?

EN:     

Nineteen forty.

BAK: 

Nineteen forty. And this was in Ossining?

EN:     

Croton.

BAK: 

Croton. You’d moved to Croton.

EN:     

Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

BAK: 

So your whole family moved how far away?

EN:     

Well, we lived midway between—

BAK: 

Oh, midway.

EN:     

—Croton and Ossining. We were out in the country, so we were midway.

BAK: 

Okay. I’m just not familiar with the area. And did you attend college?

EN:     

No. No, I went into the service. I mean—I graduated in June of 1940, and of course, Pearl Harbor was December ’41, so I was just sort of putting in time until I could go into the service.

BAK: 

Okay. And what did you—

EN:     

You had to be twenty-one to get into the WAAC [Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps] at that time.

BAK: 

And so what did you do between the—your graduation and the time you joined?

EN:     

I worked as a clerk typist.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And I worked Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining.

BAK: 

Okay, okay. And do you remember where you were when you heard about Pearl Harbor?

EN:     

Yes, my mother—we were living in Ossining, New York, at that time, and my mother was in Grasslands Hospital in Valhalla, New York, at the time. And my sister and I were planning—it was a Sunday, and we were planning on visiting my mother that day, and the news came over the radio that morning—

BAK: 

At breakfast?

EN:     

That’s right—about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

BAK: 

It was a Sunday right?

EN:     

Yes.

BAK: 

Okay. So you joined the WAAC when it was the W-A-A-C?

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

I had to wait until I was twenty-one to join, and at that time you had to be twenty-one to join the WAAC.

BAK: 

Okay. So why did you personally decide to join? What were your influences?

EN:     

Well, I had no roots. My mother died that—well, about two weeks after Pearl Harbor.

BAK: 

Oh, really? Wow.

EN:     

So I had no roots. And my sister, who was still in high school, went to live with an aunt of ours, and I boarded with a family. And, you know, there was no stability there at all. So when the WAAC came along, I waited until I was twenty-one and joined up.

BAK: 

How did you hear about the WAAC? Do you remember?

EN:     

Oh, well it was all over all the papers.

BAK: 

Okay. Do you remember what date you entered the service?

EN:     

It was in July of ’41, I think.

BAK: 

Forty-two?

EN:     

No, ’42. No, ’43.

BAK: 

Forty-three, right. Okay, because I didn’t think—okay. And do you remember just—we’re trying to get the information—what day you were discharged?

EN:     

Yes, I was discharged in October of ’45.

BAK: 

Okay. Did a lot of the recruiting posters at the time sort of, you know, explain that by women joining the military they would be freeing a man to fight? Is that your view?

EN:     

Oh, yeah that was the slogan.

BAK: 

Is that your view of what you were doing?

EN:     

Yes.

BAK: 

And did you have any reactions of, you know, your sister or other family members of your deciding to join? Do you remember anyone’s reactions to it?

EN:     

Oh, they all thought it was a wonderful idea.

BAK: 

Yeah? Okay.

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

And this—when you had joined, was that the first time you’d been away from that area?

EN:     

Yes.

BAK: 

Okay. And do you remember where you actually enlisted, where you joined?

EN:     

I joined in New York City.

BAK: 

Okay, so you travelled down?

EN:     

Well, I was commuting. Well, at that time I was living in New York City, because I was working in New York City.

BAK: 

Okay. Is that the Maryknoll Seminary?

EN:     

No, Maryknoll Seminary was in Ossining.

BAK: 

Ossining, okay.

EN:     

And I had left there and gotten a job in New York that paid better.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And I was living—boarding with the—actually with a woman whose husband was in the navy.

BAK: 

Oh, okay. And where did you work in the city?

EN:     

I worked on Park Avenue in New York City, New York Central Building [now Helmsley Building].

BAK: 

Okay, wow. And where did you live?

EN:     

I lived in Brooklyn.

BAK: 

That was a commute. Did they have the subway then?

EN:     

Oh, yeah.

BAK: 

Oh, they did have the subway? So that’s how you got to work?
So you signed up, and where did you—where did they ship you off, or where did you actually—?

EN:     

Well, I went originally to Fort Oglethorpe [Georgia] for basic training.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And we went in a big group.

BAK: 

From New York City?

EN:     

From New York City. We gathered at Grand Central Station and then we—I don’t know how they got us over to Penn Station, but we left from Penn Station and took a roundabout. You know, in those days, the railroads were taking roundabout ways so they wouldn’t be bombed.

BAK: 

Oh, really?

EN:     

And we went through Ohio, I know—

BAK: 

Wow, that is a roundabout.

EN:     

—and down through Kentucky to Chattanooga, Tennessee. And I did my basic training at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, which just on the verge of Chattanooga.

BAK: 

Do you have any memories of that first day?

EN:     

Oh, yeah. I can remember as clearly as I can anything else, yeah. We were all excited, and nobody knew what was going on because the WAAC was still so new. So we were all excited and wondering what was going to happen to us. And nobody told you anything. Nobody told us where we were going.

BAK: 

Oh, really? Wow?

EN:     

So when we went out to Ohio and then down through Kentucky, [laughs] we were lost.

BAK: 

How many people were in that group?

EN:     

There was something like two hundred of us.

BAK: 

Wow. And they didn’t tell you. I forgot what the question was. So—oh, how long did it take you to get from Penn Station down to Fort Oglethorpe?

EN:     

We slept at least one night on the train, yeah.

BAK: 

Okay, so do you remember anything about basic training? You know, you got there and it was—I’m sorry when did you get down to—what—?

EN:     

In August of ’43.

BAK: 

And what was that like being in Fort Oglethorpe in August?

EN:     

Oh, the heat was terrific! [chuckles] And we were out marching around on the parade field most of the time, and it was difficult.

BAK: 

Right. And how many people were in, I guess, the battalion? Is that the—?

EN:     

We were in a battalion. There were three companies, so each company was two hundred people.

BAK: 

Do you remember what company you were in?

EN:     

Oh, I don’t remember.

BAK: 

Okay. So what was your job when you were in the service? What did—

EN:     

I was a clerk typist.

BAK: 

So did they assign you that? Did you have any choice in—?

EN:     

Well, of course they asked what you could do, and then since I was a stenographer, they put me into office work.

BAK: 

So can you tell me a little bit about what a typical day like was for you?

EN:     

Well, after basic training, I went to a—I worked in a station hospital out on an island off the coast of New London, Connecticut: Fishers Island [New York].

BAK: 

Okay. And how long were you in Fort Oglethorpe then for—?

EN:     

Six weeks I think.

BAK: 

Six weeks, okay. And then they said, “We’re going to send you into Connecticut now?”

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

Okay, so what did you do in Connecticut?

EN:     

I was a clerk typist at the station hospital—

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

—doing hospital records and that sort of thing.

BAK: 

And what kind of—was that hospital specialized?

EN:     

No, it was a station hospital.

BAK: 

Okay, and so what was—can you tell me—take me through a what a typical day would be like for you, from reveille—?

EN:     

We just made mostly admissions. Admissions and dispositions is the office that I was in, and we’d do all the paperwork for people coming in and their past history and all that business, and get all the records set up so they could—

BAK: 

And did you live near the hospital, or where did you—?

EN:     

I worked right at the hospital.

BAK: 

Okay. And you lived there also?

EN:     

No, I worked in the barracks.

BAK: 

The barracks?

EN:     

The barracks were just up the road a little ways.

BAK: 

Okay. And you walked to and from there?

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

Were you stationed anywhere else, or did you spend the duration—?

EN:     

Oh, no. I was only there six or seven months.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And then I got overseas orders.

BAK: 

Oh, okay.

EN:     

And we went back to Fort Oglethorpe for overseas training, and then we took a train [laughs] on a zigzag course all the way across the United States. In fact, we went from Georgia up through Pennsylvania and Ohio and North Dakota and—

BAK: 

Wow. That must have taken awhile.

EN:     

It was really a sightseeing trip, but at that time they were afraid of being bombed and—

BAK: 

Were the trains really crowded?

EN:     

Well, this was just a troop train.

BAK: 

Oh, it’s a troop train, okay.

EN:     

But it was crowded; I mean we were full. We had our own mess car, and I was lucky enough [chuckles] or unlucky enough to get on the mess crew, so we did the cleaning up and that sort of thing.

BAK: 

KP [kitchen patrol] on the train?

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

So did you put in for overseas duty or were you just—?

EN:     

I applied for overseas duty.

BAK: 

And what was your motivation for doing so?

EN:     

See the world.

BAK: 

See the world, okay. Did you enjoy the work, first of all, in Connecticut?

EN:     

Oh, yes.

BAK: 

You did? Did you feel you were treated equally as the men?

EN:     

Oh, yes.

BAK: 

Okay. And so were you—were the men you worked—did you work with men in that office?

EN:     

Yes.

BAK: 

Were you assigned equal jobs? Do you think you got equal pay?

EN:     

Oh, yes, yes.

BAK: 

Okay. So tell me a little bit about—so you took the train ride all over, zigzaggy, across the country, and then what happened?

EN:     

Got to Fort [sic—Camp] Stoneman in California, and they originally thought we were going right to New Guinea—

BAK: 

Wow.

EN:     

—and took away all our warm clothes and everything. And then the orders changed, and we were going to Sydney, Australia.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And so we got on the ship and had an ocean cruise to Sydney, Australia.

BAK: 

And when was that? You said—

EN:     

Nineteen forty-three—no wait a minute. I went in in ’43. This must have been ’44.

BAK: 

Early ’44?

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

And how many people, other WACs [Women’s Army Corps—changed from WAAC in 1943], made the trip with you?

EN:     

Oh, there were two companies, so I mean we almost filled the whole ship.

BAK: 

Okay. So you didn’t find out you were going to Sydney until the last moment?

EN:     

No, we got on the ship and they gave us all these—all the brochures on New Guinea, so we thought we were going to New Guinea. But somehow or other the destination got changed, and we went into Sydney Harbor.

BAK: 

How long was the trip overseas?

EN:     

It wasn’t too long. It was a fast-moving ship. I think we were probably on the ship six or eight days. And then we got to Sydney and spent—we were just there overnight, and we went to Brisbane and there the two companies were split up. One went to Services of Supply Headquarters, and I went to GHQ headquarters [General Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces in the Far East],  [General Douglas] MacArthur’s headquarters. So we were in two different locations in Brisbane.

BAK: 

So what was it like being there? Did you ever feel you were—?

EN:     

Oh, Brisbane was wonderful. The Australians were just so happy to see the Americans, because they had been fighting for so many years and lost so many of their soldiers. And they were just so happy to see the yanks [Yankees] come. [chuckles]

BAK: 

And what did you do with—did you actually meet MacArthur ever?

EN:     

Well, he welcomed us—he never welcomed us when we got to Australia, but a year later, when we celebrated our first year anniversary, he came and I met him then.

BAK: 

What was your impression?

EN:     

Very cold man. I met Mrs. MacArthur in the beauty parlor in the Philippines, and she was a very lovely lady.

BAK: 

So you got to Australia and what was your job there?

EN:     

I was assigned to the counterintelligence section of GHQ, USAFFE headquarters.

BAK: 

I’m sorry, what does USAFFE stand for?

EN:     

United States Army Forces Far East. It was MacArthur’s headquarters.

BAK: 

Okay. What did you do specifically?

EN:     

I was a stenographer.

BAK: 

Okay. And you were working with a number of—?

EN:     

Other GIs.

BAK: 

Other GIs, okay. Did you like that better, about the same as back in the states, your job there?

EN:     

Well, it was more interesting—

BAK: 

More interesting.

EN:     

—because we’d have—we had some prisoners of war come in to be interviewed and that sort of thing, and I’d take the dictation.

BAK: 

Now is this—were these Japanese?

EN:     

Yes.

BAK: 

And was there a translator I’m guessing?

EN:     

Yeah. Well, we had a Nisei [second generation Japanese immigrant] GI in our office who spoke Japanese.

BAK: 

Wow. So what other things besides the prisoner of war? So you were there in the actual interrogations?

EN:     

Yes. I took the notes and transcribed them.

BAK: 

Right. Okay. Did you feel—were you ever felt like you were in any personal danger over there?

EN:     

Not in Australia, and I was only in New Guinea a very short time because orders came through for me to go on to Manila [Philippines].

BAK: 

Okay, so—I’m sorry, you said you were in Australia, Sydney, or—

EN:     

Brisbane.

BAK: 

—and then you went to New Guinea? I’m sorry.

EN:     

Brisbane, Australia.

BAK: 

Okay, and then from there, you had orders to go directly to the Philippines, or then you went to New Guinea?

EN:     

I went to New Guinea, but about the time I got there, I got orders to go to the Philippines.

BAK: 

Okay, well how long were you in Brisbane?

EN:     

Well, we got there in May, and I left in January.

BAK: 

Okay. And we’re in 1944?

EN:     

Forty-five.

BAK: 

Forty-five, okay. So you’re in May—

EN:     

Forty-four, you’re right.

BAK: 

Forty-four, okay. So you got to Brisbane, and then you went—in January you went to New Guinea.

EN:     

Yes.

BAK: 

And how long were you there?

EN:     

I was only there a matter of weeks and I got orders to go to Leyte.

BAK: 

Okay. And how do you spell Leyte?

EN:     

L-e-y-t-e. It’s a—one of the southern islands of the Philippines.

BAK: 

Okay. So as MacArthur was getting closer, you just followed? Okay. And do you remember if there was any bombing or did you see any—?

EN:     

Oh, we were bombed while I was in Leyte. The alarms would go off in the middle of the night, and we’d sit up [laughs] and wait for them to go off again many nights, many nights.

BAK: 

Wow.

EN:     

And Tokyo Rose [female broadcasters of Japanese propaganda in English] was      broadcasting that they were going to bomb the WACs in Leyte.

BAK: 

Oh, really, specifically?

EN:     

Oh, yeah. So we were threatened. [chuckles]

BAK: 

Oh, wow. I didn’t realize it was that specific. So they knew you were there.

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

So how many WACs were in Leyte?

EN:     

I couldn’t really tell you. A couple hundred, I guess.

BAK: 

And they were primarily administrative?

EN:     

Mostly administrative.

BAK: 

Okay, so did you—when you were transferred, did you work with the same people or you got new people?

EN:     

It was the same office.

BAK: 

Okay. And so you’re in Leyte for how long?

EN:     

I think we were there from March until October.

BAK: 

Okay. And—it’s hard to keep up. Okay so October 1944, and you were being bombed the whole time?

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

Wow, that must—Did you have the right uniforms? Did you—what was it—

EN:     

Well, I mean we didn’t have any cold weather, so it was all summer clothing.

BAK: 

Okay. And so then what did you do after October?

EN:     

Well, I went—I was in Leyte until October, and then I went to Manila.

BAK: 

Wow.

EN:     

I was—I went to the advanced echelon of MacArthur’s headquarters in Manila. And we were—there was no GI accommodations, so we were put in an old—a large schoolhouse, La Salle Academy in Manila. We shared the building with some infantry men. [laughs]

BAK: 

Oh, wow. How did that work out?

EN:     

It was all right. I mean there were MPs [military police] between us.

BAK: 

So you primarily—I’m sorry I’m jumping around a lot, but I think of something and—so were you primarily, you know, taking dictation or whatever from interrogations, or did you have a wide variety of—?

EN:     

Wide variety of, you know, just general office duties.

BAK: 

And did you—were you—did you have to go—was this classified information? Did you have to go through security clearances or anything?

EN:     

No. Oh, I think, yeah. I’m sure I had security clearance.

BAK: 

Okay. So what about your social life? What did you do for fun while there?

EN:     

Oh, well, there were always dances to go to. I liked to dance at that time.

BAK: 

Were you a good dancer?

EN:     

I think I was.

BAK: 

Okay. And were there bands playing or a lot of records, or how did that work?

EN:     

Mostly records.

BAK: 

And did they USO [United Service Organizations] ever just—USO shows?

EN:     

Occasionally. I think I only saw one or two USO shows while I was over there.

BAK: 

Okay. Do you remember who it was?

EN:     

It was no big names.

BAK: 

No big names? Okay. So there were a lot of dances like a few times a week or—?

EN:     

[pause] Well, when I was in New Guinea, the units all had dances and they invited the WACs, and I mean that was every Friday night. But when we get to the Philippines, there wasn’t that much connection between the units.

BAK: 

Do you remember the ratio between men and women were?

EN:     

Oh, lord, probably twenty men to one woman. [laughs]

BAK: 

So you probably didn’t get to sit out a lot of dances, I’m guessing.

EN:     

No.

BAK: 

No? Okay. So you were in Manila, and then what happened?

EN:     

Well, our southern—our rear echelon finally moved up to Manila from Hollandia [now Jayapura, New Guinea]. And we moved into bigger offices and were back to normal again.

BAK: 

Okay. So you were pretty much in one of the premier or the front echelons.

EN:     

Advanced echelon.

BAK: 

So you were—and you’re being bombed the entire time there?

EN:     

Well, not the entire time, but I mean you were always on the lookout for something like that.

BAK: 

I mean, how did that affect you? I mean were you—

EN:     

Well, you got awfully tired, because I mean the alarm—you just about get to sleep at night, and the air raid alarm would go off and you’d have to go down and sit at the station where you had to report. And, you know, you didn’t get any sleep.

BAK: 

Did you ever feel that you know you really personally were in danger?

EN:     

Oh, yeah, because you could hear the bombs flying around.

BAK: 

Okay. So then the—Helenia[sic], is that what you were saying?

EN:     

The what?

BAK: 

Where were you saying that the troops came in from? The rest of the troops came in—

EN:     

From Hollandia—

BAK: 

Hollandia, okay.

EN:     

—in New Guinea.

BAK: 

New Guinea, okay. And then what happened next for you?

EN:     

Well, I just served out the rest of my tour in Manila.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And then VJ came along, VJ Day [Victory over Japan Day] came along. I think I was on first—I had enough points so that I could get home on one of the first ships—

BAK: 

Really, so you didn’t have to do plus six.

EN:     

—first shipments.

BAK: 

Okay. So you went from Manila. Where did the boat take you?

EN:     

To San Francisco.

BAK: 

San Francisco, okay. Is that where you were discharged?

EN:     

No, I got on a train and came across to Fort Dix.

BAK: 

Fort Dix, which is in—where is Fort Dix?

EN:     

New Jersey.

BAK: 

New Jersey, okay, right. I forgot there. Did you want to stay in the military?

EN:     

No.

BAK: 

No, you were—you were just done with it or what?

EN:     

Well, I thought I’d had—I’d seen enough and was ready live a normal life.

BAK: 

Okay, let’s see. So were they—?

EN:     

At that time they weren’t encouraging anybody to stay in anyway, because they didn’t know what the future of the Women’s Army Corps was going to be, whether it would be permanent or not.

BAK: 

Did you have people specifically telling you that, or was it just—?

EN:     

Well, that was the rumors.

BAK: 

Rumors, okay. So what did you feel when you came back? I mean, was there a big culture shock? How did you feel that—did you feel the country welcomed you back?

EN:     

Oh, yes. Yeah. Well, by that time, you know, the war was over and everybody was happy.

BAK: 

And you felt welcomed back, that you were appreciated?

EN:     

Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

BAK: 

Okay. So you’re in Fort Dix, and when—I’m sorry—when did you—were you discharged again?

EN:     

I was discharged at Fort Dix, and then just got on a train and went home.

BAK: 

Okay. And where was home? New York City or back to Ossining—

EN:     

Just north of New York City, Croton-on-Hudson.

BAK: 

So you—is that where you moved back to?

EN:     

Well, I just—I really had no home at this time, because my mother had died and my sister was working for the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigations] in Washington [D.C.].

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And so I stayed with an aunt for a while until I got a job in New York, and then I happened to run into one of my army friends.

BAK: 

In your town?

EN:     

When I went down to answer a job interview.

BAK: 

Wow.

EN:     

We met in the elevator, and she was one who had been stationed with me in my first post. And she had gone to France with the WAC, and I’d gone to the Pacific, and I hadn’t heard from her, and we met in a news building in New York. [chuckles]

BAK: 

Wow.

EN:     

And we ended up with another friend who had been with me in the Pacific, and the three of us got an apartment together in New York.

BAK: 

That’s great. And where did you work there?

EN:     

I originally worked in the Chrysler Building for West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company.

BAK: 

As a stenographer?

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

Okay. So just in terms of, you know, your views of people, what was your opinion of the Roosevelts [President Franklin and D. Eleanor]?

EN:     

Of the Roosevelts?

BAK: 

Yes.

EN:     

I thought he was a good president.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And I thought she was a wonderful, charming lady.

BAK: 

Okay, because she was very controversial at the time.

EN:     

Oh, yeah. And I think that was part of her charm.

BAK: 

Okay, all right. What about [President Harry] Truman?

EN:     

Truman didn’t come until later.

BAK: 

Right.

EN:     

Yeah. What did I think of Truman?

BAK: 

Yes.

EN:     

Well, I think he did the best he could. I don’t think he was suited for the job, but he stepped in and did the best he could.

BAK: 

Okay. Did you have any personal heroes or heroines at that time?

EN:     

I don’t—I can’t think of any.

BAK: 

Okay. What about favorite songs or movies? Do you remember any?

EN:     

Oh, I know all the songs [laughs], because I used to sing part time.

BAK: 

Really?

EN:     

Yeah, at Fort [H. G.] Wright, the island that I was stationed on, somebody heard me singing in the laundry room and talked to the band leader there and—

BAK: 

Was the band leader army?

EN:     

He was army. It was part of the army band, and they had a dance band unit. And we used to have afternoon tea dances all the time and everything, just to keep everybody occupied.

BAK: 

Right.

EN:     

And so I got a call from the orchestra leader, and I ended up singing with the orchestra while I was there, which wasn’t too long a time because I got overseas orders.

BAK: 

That must have been something.

EN:     

Oh, yeah. That was fun.

BAK: 

What kind of—what did you sing?

EN:     

All kinds of popular songs.

BAK: 

Did you model yourself after any specific vocalist?

EN:     

Oh, I don’t think so. I had a lot of favorites.

BAK: 

What were some of your favorites?

EN:     

I can’t remember now. [laughs]

BAK: 

Let’s see. Jo Stafford was very big at that time.

EN:     

Jo Stafford was great.

BAK: 

I think Peggy Lee was pretty—

EN:     

Peggy Lee was probably my favorite.

BAK: 

Okay. So how long was your singing career would you say?

EN:     

Oh, that was about nine months.

BAK: 

Nine months, okay. So singing, dancing. Did you have a signature song or anything?

EN:     

No.

BAK: 

No, okay. Any movies, any particular movies that you remember, some of your favorites?

EN:     

I don’t remember any—

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

—quite frankly.

BAK: 

Where—do you remember where you were when you heard about VE [Victory in Europe] Day?

EN:     

Well, we didn’t hear much about VE Day in the Pacific. [laughs]

BAK: 

Yeah, I’m guessing.

EN:     

Because we weren’t that interested.

BAK: 

Right, right.

EN:     

But I remember VJ Day. Everybody—

BAK: 

So tell me a little bit about VJ Day.

EN:     

I was in Manila—

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

—and everybody went crazy and running around the streets and singing and yelling and—

BAK: 

Do you remember exactly where you were and what you did?

EN:     

I don’t remember, you know. I just remember being in Manila at the La Salle college where I lived.

BAK: 

So you heard the news when you were at work, or not at work?

EN:     

Oh, I can’t really remember where I heard the news.

BAK: 

Were you one of those people running around yelling?

EN:     

Oh, yeah. We were all so excited.

BAK: 

That’s great. So can you just talk a little bit about your—did you have a readjustment back to civilian life? You said that you were ready. You feel you saw the world and you were ready to go back. Did you have any readjust—what was readjusting like? You were in the military for so long.

EN:     

Well, I was still doing the same kind of work. I mean I was a stenographer still, and I just got a job in New York and went to work every day.

BAK: 

Okay. Did you have any readjustment in terms of, you know, when you were in the service you were—you had a lot of responsibility, you were independent. Did you feel sort of a push to more traditional female roles?

EN:     

Well, I was still independent because my folks had both died, so I was on my own. And I was just happy that I had run into two army friends who shared an apartment with me.

BAK: 

Okay. So you consider yourself a pretty independent person before joining?

EN:     

Oh, yeah.

BAK: 

And so, you know, pretty much the same before, during, and after. Okay. Many women, you know, consider that you all were pioneers. Did you feel that you were pioneers?

EN:     

I did.

BAK: 

Okay, what—can you talk a little bit about that?

EN:     

Well, of course, we were doing things that no women had ever done before, except maybe a few army nurses.

BAK: 

Right.

EN:     

But, yeah, it was an entirely new situation for us.

BAK: 

Now there were a lot of rumors about the—you know, kind of nefarious rumors about the WACs. How did that—?

EN:     

How promiscuous we were and everything like that?

BAK: 

Right.

EN:     

Well, I never saw that side of it.

BAK: 

Okay. And how did you feel—you know, did you ever actually have anyone say anything to you personally or you just—?

EN:     

No.

BAK: 

No?

EN:     

And as far as I—as my experience was, the GIs treated us with great respect.

BAK: 

So what rank were you by the time you—

EN:     

I was a T/4 [technician fourth grade (sergeant)].

BAK: 

A T/4, okay.

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

So were any of your—you have children, right, you said?

EN:     

Now?

BAK: 

Yes.

EN:     

Yeah, I have four children.

BAK: 

Did you ever encourage any of them to join the military?

EN:     

Well, I never discouraged them, but I never promoted it either. I mean, they all went to college, and by that time they were ready to get married.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

My daughter had something similar. She became a teacher and taught overseas in the armed forces teaching group.

BAK: 

So did she join for that, or—

EN:     

No.

BAK: 

—it was a civilian job?

EN:     

No, she was a civilian. She taught in the army military schools overseas.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

She taught in Germany. She taught in Korea.

BAK: 

So when did you meet your husband?

EN:     

I had been out of the service, I think, about six months, something like that, and was invited to this post that I had been stationed on in the States to a beach party.

BAK: 

Oh, okay.

EN:     

I still had friends who still lived on the post because their husbands were still stationed there.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And went up to visit them and went with one of my friends who—well, one of my roommates who had been stationed there, too—and I met my husband that weekend.

BAK: 

Okay. And how long after that did you all marry?

EN:     

I think it was six months.

BAK: 

Six months. And then did you stay in New York City, or did you—?

EN:     

No, I moved to Fort Wright—I mean the military base with him. He was stationed there.

BAK: 

Okay, so he was also [military]. And what did he do there?

EN:     

He was a medical technician.

BAK: 

Okay. So you were still involved in army life until—for how long?

EN:     

Oh, he stayed in for twenty years.

BAK: 

Twenty years, okay.

EN:     

So we lived in Germany and we lived in Taiwan.

BAK: 

Wow, so you kept going around.

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

Okay, so we had talked a little bit about this at lunch, but what are your feelings about women in combat positions in the military?

EN:     

Well, I’m amazed at what they’re doing. I just don’t approve. I don’t think women should be in combat. But I don’t—I don’t think the women are getting the respect that they should have. I mean they’re treated just like the regular GIs, and I don’t—I don’t think that that’s where they belong.

BAK: 

Okay. And how do you keep up on—you just read the newspapers?

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

Okay. And so you felt that women—that the GIs—the women GIs were afforded more respect when you were—?

EN:     

I think so.

BAK: 

Okay. What do you feel should be off-limits to women in the military, specifically?

EN:     

Combat conditions.

BAK: 

Combat? Okay. Do you have a sense of how your life was different because you were in the military than it would’ve been?

EN:     

Oh, yes. To begin with, I was a lot more outgoing and easier to meet people.

BAK: 

So you were shy when you went in?

EN:     

Yeah.

BAK: 

Okay.

EN:     

And I think I had a greater sense of self-worth after I had been in the military.

BAK: 

Okay, because you had done so much?

EN:     

Because I had done other things and—

BAK: 

Right.

EN:     

But all in all, it was a wonderful experience.

BAK: 

Okay. Just to make sure, is there anything else that you wanted to add that I didn’t ask about?

EN:     

Nothing I can think of.

BAK: 

Okay.

[End of transcript]