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 Ava Caudle Honeycutt, 2008

Search the Collection


AND   OR   EXACT PHRASE

Object ID: WV0438.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Ava Honeycutt’s service in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during WWII.

Summary:

Honeycutt discusses her childhood in rural North Carolina at length, including: growing up on a farm; the Great Depression; when electricity and radios became prevalent; new farming techniques; and local social events. She then recalls the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her decision to join the WAVES, and her family’s reaction. She talks about basic training, including marching, and then goes on to discuss her career in the WAVES. Topics include: making code reading equipment; living in barracks; newsreels shown at the movie theater; attending dances; wearing uniforms; being stationed at Gene Kelly’s base; VJ Day celebrations; traveling; and patriotism.

Honeycutt talks about her post-service life, including attending Pfeiffer University and Pepperdine University on the GI Bill. She discusses her years working at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, specifically during the counterculture movement. Other topics include: being a member of Friendship Force, her memories of presidents, and the Great Depression compared to the late-2000s recession.

Creator: Ava Caudle Honeycutt

Biographical Info: Ava Honeycutt of Anson County, North Carolina, served in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during WWII.

Collection: Ava Caudle Honeycutt 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 and today is November 22. I’m in Greensboro, North Carolina, with Ava Honeycutt. And this is an oral history interview for the Women’s Veterans Historical Project at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Ava, go ahead and say your name the way you’d like it on your collection.

Ava Honeycutt:

Ava Caudle Honeycutt.

TS:

Okay. Thank you very much.

[Recording paused]

TS:

Ava, why don’t we start out by having you tell me about when and where you grew up?

AH:

I grew up in Anson County on a farm.

TS:

Where’s that at?

AH:

Wadesboro is the county seat.

TS:

Okay.

AH:

It’s North Carolina.

TS:

Ah, okay.

AH:

Near Monroe, if you know—if that helps you locate it a little bit.

TS:

And you grew up on a farm?

AH:

Yes, with three brothers and three sisters.

TS:

Where do you fall in that, in that line of siblings?

AH:

I’m the old—next to the oldest.

TS:

Okay.

AH:

The oldest girl. I have an older brother, and we’re all still living.

TS:

Excellent. So what was it like growing up at that time? Your father was a farmer, is that—?

AH:

Yes. That was the Depression years. And during the Depression years the farmers were actually somewhat lucky people. They didn’t have a job so they didn’t lose a job. We lived on the farm. We grew our food. And we did get to school on the school bus.

TS:

Do you remember what—so you had a school bus that—how far away did you live from where the school was at?

AH:

We actually lived three miles from the school, but our school bus route took us thirteen miles, because you were—

TS:

Going around picking up.

AH:

[laughs] Yes. And that was really bad at times when you had bad weather then because it was dirt roads and muddy ruts and whatever, and the school busses were not heated and—that was not an easy time to grow up. And growing up on a farm we had no money, so money wasn’t a problem with us. We learned to live without it. We had to, more or less.

TS:

So what was, say, at that time then, during the Depression—so about how old were you at this time, during the Depression? If the depression started in, say, 1929or so—?

AH:

Six.

TS:

About six? And you had—

AH:

I remember our school building. I was in the first grade, and the teacher had two—she had to teach two grades. On one end of the building she had first grade, and on the other side second grade. So she had to do double duty. That was the Depression years when they didn’t have the money to pay teachers then, so we had to share a teacher with the second grade. And the only heat we had in that room, in that building, was one of the pot bellied stoves in the center of the building, and you had to keep putting wood in. They had a janitor or someone around who put the wood in and kept the building warm enough for us.

TS:

Do you remember if you liked school or not? Was that something that you enjoyed?

AH:

Well, for then we had no television. We had newspaper. We did—I remember when we got radio. But there was nothing, no diversions. We had to make our own. So school was something you looked forward to, and books we loved. And our family of seven children, we were one of the stops for the bookmobile. They had a bookmobile that went around from various locations, and one of their stops was at our house. So that was one of the highlights of our day then, was to have the school bus come to our house and we could get up there and choose all the books that we wanted to and whatever. So we were—

TS:

Was that free, the bookmobile?

AH:

Yes. It was wonderful.

TS:

Do you remember any kind of books, the types that you liked to read?

AH:

No, I really don’t. No. Bobbsey Twins and things like that I remember, but basically I don’t.

TS:

Yeah. It was just fun to be able to have it come?

AH:

It was wonderful. Well, that was all you had was books to read, because you didn’t go to movies and you didn’t—you know, we lived out in the country, and those things were not available to us. So we had to make our own amusement in whatever way we could, and bookmobile and reading was one of them—one of the few we had, in fact.

TS:

What were some of the other things that you did?

AH:

Well, we worked on the farm, you know. Children helped do the work, and in that part of the country we grew cotton. It was not—in other parts of North Carolina it was tobacco, but in Anson County it was cotton. And for our school year, we had—we would go two months in the summer, and then we took a work break in September and October, and that was to help gather the cotton. We could work it in the summer and grow the cotton, and then we went to school for two months in July and August, I guess—hot and no air conditioning or whatever—and then we had two months off to help gather the crops. So we had a split school year.

TS:

I see. Now did your father have any other help for the cotton picking?

AH:

No, it was just family.

TS:

Just family?

AH:

Yeah. You had small farms, family farms, then, and we did most of the work.

TS:

What’d you think of that?

AH:

Well, at that time it was okay because I didn’t know anything else. [laughter] But it was nice to get away from that. There was not much of a future for us. And that’s—you know, whenever I graduated from high school there was very little that people could work at, very few jobs available, so that’s when the WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service] became very important. And I joined the WAVES because there was nothing to do there, and that really just changed our lives.

TS:

Well, before we get to the WAVES, I was going to ask you a little bit about your mom. So what kind of—so your dad and your mother had the farm. How was that for your mom? What kind of things did she have—what were your parents names?

AH:

Lester and Beulah.

TS:

Okay.

AH:

And her work was taking care of food for the family and taking care of the children. With seven children, she was busy with little ones a great part of her life. And just getting food ready for that many and keeping clothes ready for us to go to school was all time consuming for her, and we had to learn to help her in any way we could. I learned to sew and learn to do some of—a little bit of cooking—not very much, but I helped with it, put it that way. And she had to can. They had—you know if we needed food for the winter, she had to store it away because there was—we would buy certain things: sugar and rice and things like that, flour and meal and whatever. Part of it we grew on the farm. But they had to think of how—what we would have for food. So that was a year round project just to keep plans in mind to grow and have food for the family.

TS:

I can imagine as the oldest girl you had to participate in that.

AH:

I did. [laughter] Yes. I remember helping peel peaches and peel apples and wash sweet potatoes and gather sweet potatoes and hoe the cotton and do I mean whatever you know had to be done. I had three brothers and three sisters so the work eventually came somewhat divided between the boys and girls evenly. The girls—and some families where they had all girls, the girls had to do almost everything.

TS:

Some of the things that your brothers were doing?

AH:

Yes.

TS:

What kinds of things were they doing that you that you didn’t have to do?

AH:

Well, they had to work the crops and gather them and take care of the animals. We had chickens and pigs and of course the farm animals: the mules and cows and whatever. And they had to help do that.

TS:

Interesting. So did you have any games that you guys liked to play?

AH:

I remember climbing trees and doing things like that. [laughter] You had to make our own entertainment out there the best way we could with what we had, so that was it—when we had time to play.

TS:

So it’s like you always had a lot that you were busy with.

AH:

That’s right. Yes, you were busy a great deal of the time.

TS:

Now with—did you have any electricity?

AH:

I remember when we got electricity, and that was really a boon. I mean when they turned the lights on and everybody had lights in their houses, how wonderful it was. And I can remember that day. Suddenly we had—I think the first thing we got after we got electricity was a radio. That’s when—and I can remember that radio. And every—they had soaps even back then, and whenever you timed your chores—of course I didn’t listen to radio very much, but my mother liked to listen to some of the programs. And you’d have to time your work so that you’d be where you could listen to the radio when your program came on.

TS:

That’s right. Yeah. Because it wasn’t as many choices—

AH:

No. It was mostly to hear the news, was what the radio meant to us mostly. And we did get a newspaper once a week. That was—we had a mailman who had a rural delivery and delivered the mail. Of course that was daily, but we only got a newspaper once a week.

TS:

Interesting. So you’re growing up on the farm and you’re learning about—with the radio and books and things like that. What—do you remember as a little girl what your expectations were for the future?

AH:

No, not really.

TS:

You didn’t really think about that too much?

AH:

Well, you thought about it, but you didn’t have magazines and television and things like that so you really didn’t know what was out there. You didn’t have anything to connect to, you know, any aspirations. You didn’t see any. So your—I guess our main hope was to graduate from school and get to some kind of education—extra education, if we could—and get away from those farms.

TS:

And get what?

AH:

Get away from the farms.

TS:

I see.

AH:

Because it was, you know, if you stayed on the farm, that was just—that’s what it was forever. Of course it’s different now, the farms are. My sister still owns our farm and they still—

TS:

The family farm? That’s terrific.

AH:

The family farm. And she’s making somewhat of a living with it. She has other jobs too, but she does manage that farm.

TS:

That’s excellent. I bet it looks a little different today than—

AH:

Oh, yes. [laughter]

TS:

What would you say is different about it?

AH:

Well, the main thing was all the equipment that could come in. We didn’t have bulldozers and things like that to clean away ditch banks and clean away fields and woods, but now they grow timber that they can cut and sell and they’ve cleaned up a lot of the farm now. It’s actually rented as—to whoever wants to grow; mostly soybeans I think. But she rents the land.

TS:

I see.

AH:

And with all the new equipment that they got to clean it up, it made that far more enjoyable to do and profitable also.

TS:

Whereas before you were, what, using the mules probably?

AH:

Yes, that was all. In fact in my lifetime on the farm I don’t think we had a tractor [pause] in my time there. Later my younger brothers that lived there had tractors and mowers and that kind of equipment, but we didn’t have it when I was living there.

TS:

And you never really expected that that was something that was going to come?

AH:

We didn’t know that that was anything that was available to us.

TS:

Did you have a car or anything or truck?

AH:

No.

TS:

How did you get around?

AH:

They had neighbors who would take us to places that we needed to go to and walked as much as we could. And whenever my father needed to go shopping in Wadesboro or needed to go to a bank or anything, it was horseback. But that wasn’t anything I did. I didn’t ride horseback that far.

TS:

No?

AH:

In fact I didn’t ever like to ride horseback, period. [TS laughs] But we had neighbors that had vehicles and they would take you at times to special places.

TS:

Did you have any kind of social gatherings at all?

AH:

Mostly around the school, whatever could take place at the school. And since we lived within three miles of the school—in a shortcut we probably got there in about two and half—we walked. And there would be daytime events.

TS:

Like what kind of things might you do?

AH:

They used to have harvest things like that. And by the way, the farmers then had—I don’t know what they call it—but whenever they would gather their farm—their corn in the fall and the corn needed to be shucked so it could be stored away, this person would pile all of his up and have a corn shucking, and all the neighbors came in and helped. Everybody pooled their work. And if a building burned and you needed a new barn, all your neighbors would come in: “We’re going to build this barn.” And you’d get enough help to get that work done.

TS:

So you had to rely a lot on the generosity of your neighbors—cooperation?

AH:

Well, everybody needed everybody else, so it was not hard to coordinate that sort of thing because everybody needed their help, so they pitched in and helped so they could get help.

TS:

Was there anything like dances or things like that?

AH:

We had proms in school. I remember senior year. We had—we dressed up actually in formal dinner—formal evening dresses and whatever and had proms. There were probably some barn dances and things around, but I don’t remember ever going to one.

TS:

So now with the coming war [World War II], do you remember as a girl anything on the radio or from the paper about the war coming or what was happening in Europe or anything like that?

AH:

Not really.

TS:

When do you remember you had your first sense of that?

AH:

After I graduated from high school I had a job. I took a course in cosmetology and had a job. And that was in a city that had theaters and you could go and you would hear—you know they had the news then in the theaters. You’d have news and then the movie, and that’s where I got most of my news back then—and from what newspapers.

TS:

Okay.

AH:

But I don’t remember the start of the war. Yes I do. I remember Pearl Harbor vividly. It was on the radio, and then in the newsreels at the movies.

TS:

Can you tell me more about remembering about Pearl Harbor?

AH:

Not really. I just remember that it happened.

TS:

Did you have any sense that the country was going to go through a—

AH:

Not at that time, no.

TS:

No. About how old were you at that time?

AH:

Eighteen.

TS:

Eighteen, okay. So you were working a job in cosmetology?

AH:

Yes.

TS:

Okay. And what city—you said it was in a little city.

AH:

That was in Albemarle.

TS:

Albemarle.

AH:

Where I was working, yes.

TS:

So tell me then what happened. So you are working in cosmetology in this little city, and you graduated from high school?

AH:

Yes.

TS:

So tell me—what—just tell me a little bit about what transpired next.

AH:

[pause] I really can’t put it together what happened. Not really.

TS:

Do you remember what—hearing about any opportunities for women during the war to be able to—you said the WAVES then became something that—

AH:

Yeah.

TS:

How do—do you remember how you got connected to the WAVES at all?

AH:

Probably heard of it on television and in the news at the theaters, and I think that’s when I became very interested. It was—they had a short—probably a promotional for the WAVES in the theaters and we had recruiters in those—everywhere then.

TS:

So what interested you about it?

AH:

I really don’t know what caught my attention at that time, but it did.

TS:

Yeah. It just caught your attention?

AH:

Maybe it was an opportunity, because working as a cosmetologist was nothing I wanted to do. I didn’t really care for it, so anything that would get me out of that would’ve been—would catch my attention at that time. And that’s really how it transpired. That’s when I left cosmetology school and went into the WAVES.

TS:

You went into the WAVES. So tell me about that experience. What—do you remember your first experience with the WAVES, like when you first—where did you have to go to sign up and do those kinds of things?

AH:

Find out—find what?

TS:

To sign up.

AH:

Raleigh.

TS:

In Raleigh?

AH:

Yeah. We had recruiters in Albemarle or Lexington. I can’t remember which place it was. And then we went to State College [North Carolina State University] —that’s in Raleigh—went to State College and were interviewed and whatever, and that’s where we were accepted or whatever. And that’s when I signed in and went to New York to Hunter College. It was very short. Not much transpired between—

TS:

The time you signed up and got to Hunter.

AH:

Right, yes.

TS:

Now what did you think about that, because New York is a little different from the farm you were growing up on. What’d you think about that experience?

AH:

It was different. Like riding the train to New York and then wondering, you know, “How will I know where to go when I get to New York?” Well, the WAVES had that all taken care of. I mean by the time you got off in Grand Central Station, there were people there to meet you and take you wherever you needed to go.

TS:

Excellent.

AH:

Yes, that was not difficult. But it was the first time for us because I’d never ridden the train before, so that was a new experience.

TS:

Yeah. Well, did any of the girls you grew up with join up at the same time?

AH:

No, not with me.

TS:

What did your family think about it?

AH:

Devastated. [laughter]

TS:

Oh, really? Why were they devastated?

AH:

Well, at that time they were just scared for you because we hadn’t—growing up on the farm, we had no city experience or weren’t worldly—knowledge about things that they were worried about and whatever. But it wasn’t long before one of my aunts said, “Well, this is the best thing you’ve ever done in your life.”

TS:

One of your aunts said that?

AH:

Yes.

TS:

But your parents, did they—?

AH:

I don’t remember them saying a great deal about it. My mother had been a teacher, and when she was a teacher she had to get from here to there the best way she could, you know, to teach. So she was one of those that had been out looking for opportunities for herself, so I think that maybe she was not as concerned about this as some of the other family members might have been. But they were all—I mean just like today, if your child suddenly came home and said, “I’ve joined the WAVES,” you know, it’d be a transition for any of them. And it was for them too.

TS:

Yeah, that’s true. That’s a good way to—

AH:

It would be the same today.

TS:

So did any of your brothers participate in the war?

AH:

My older brother was in the navy also. I don’t think my other two brothers—they were too young, so I don’t think they were in the service.

TS:

So just the two oldest, you and your older brother? Okay.

AH:

Me and my older brother were the ones that were. My next—my sister was my next of kin, you know, the next member of the family. And none of the others ever got involved.

TS:

Okay. Well, now what drew you to the WAVES, because there were the other services for women too? Do you remember why?

AH:

I don’t know why WAVES was appealing, but it was.

TS:

Just happened to be the one that—

AH:

It just happened to be the one that looked good at that time. [laughter]

TS:

Yeah. Okay.

AH:

You don’t know what appeals to you when you’re eighteen and you’ve been nowhere. [laughter]

TS:

Okay.

AH:

That was sixty-five years ago. A long time.

TS:

What about—now you’re at Hunter College, what kind of training—do you remember doing like drills?

AH:

Oh yes. We drilled the streets of New York in mid-summer.

TS:

How was that?

AH:

Not very nice.

TS:

No?

AH:

It was hot. It was hot. And we lived in—you know Hunter took over some apartment houses. That’s where we lived, was in apartment houses. And no air conditioning and whatever. I mean air conditioning at that time of our life just wasn’t heard of, so it was hot.

TS:

So you’re marching up and down the streets.

AH:

We did march, probably every day.

TS:

Yeah. Did you have any interaction with the population of New York at all?

AH:

Not really.

TS:

No, not really?

AH:

That whole neighborhood had been taken over by the WAVES.

TS:

Was there anything that you enjoyed in those first few weeks that you thought about the WAVES?

AH:

Well, that was pretty much—by the time we finished our workday marching on the streets and whatever else they had for us to do, you were pretty tired so you [were] just happy to go to bed and go to sleep. But I have to tell you one experience that I had that is a vivid memory of—I had been there maybe two weeks. I’m not sure how long. And we were assigned to—they didn’t call it receptionist then, they had another name for it—but we were assigned duty to serve as receptionist certain nights of the week. And on my night to go our supervisor came by and told me, she said, “One of the girls in this building joined the service to get away from a husb—from a friend, and he was looking for her. And when he found her he wanted to kill her.”

TS:

Oh my goodness.

AH:

And said, “You have to be alert in this building. She is in this building. And we don’t know—they don’t know if he’s coming or what.” They didn’t know what to expect. I don’t know if they were making all this up or—it scared the daylights out of me, I know that. So the first thing that I did was find an exit that I could get out some way besides out the front door.

TS:

You had a good plan.

AH:

I worked out a plan, yes. But nothing ever happened.

TS:

Yeah.

AH:

But they scared me. [laughs]

TS:

Yeah, I bet. That would scare me too.

AH:

Eighteen or nineteen and they come in there and say some criminal’s going to come in here and shoot one of these girls.

TS:

Oh my goodness.

AH:

And you’re supposed to let somebody know if he comes in.

TS:

Yeah.

AH:

You didn’t have cell phones and such things then.

TS:

No. No, that would be different. So what—did you have any idea what kind of job you’re going to have in the WAVES while you’re doing your training?

AH:

No. When we left Hunter they assigned us. We were just told what our assignment would be. “You’re going to go to Washington, D.C.,” and whoever our supervisors were—whatever they called them then—would be would meet us. And there was no orientation about what you were going to be doing. We just were there and we got—were assigned to our barracks and were given whatever uniforms we needed and whatever, and then we went to work. And that’s when nobody told us what we were going to be doing. We just went to work. And they never really told us essentially what we were doing. They didn’t tell us that “this is confidential” or so to speak, because that would just stir up a lot of—among the girls. But we really didn’t know what we were doing. You know  it was communications and all of this was dealing with codes that they did not want leaked, didn’t want anybody to know about, and you know what they were. So to be sure that it wasn’t leaked out, we just didn’t know either. They didn’t—you’re not going to take three hundred women in the building and tell them to do this and then tell then what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. They just didn’t do that.

TS:

So the place you worked in was like—was everybody in the same room?

AH:

I was in one large room, and I think we probably had three or four supervisors in there. And each supervisor had a certain number of girls to work with. And we got when we went in, “This is where you sit. You come back to this chair every day, and this is what you do.” And that’s—

TS:

So was it like typing up—

AH:

No, it wasn’t. It had nothing to do with typing. It was making the equipment to be used in the machinery that carried these codes.

TS:

Oh, so you were making equipment.

AH:

Yes.

TS:

Interesting, I see. So you had one little section that you did for—

AH:

We had three letters of the alphabet at one time to work with.

TS:

Ah, okay.

AH:

That’s when we were learning how. And after I learned how to do this—I mean after I was there a short time, my supervisor said, “I have another assignment for you.” So that was in the large room. Then they took me into the room by myself, and my job then was to check all that equipment that those girls out there were working on to see if it was right or wrong. But even then I didn’t have—all I had to do was shoot it in a machine and the machine would say—would reject it if it was wrong.

TS:

I see.

AH:

So I still didn’t know anything except—

TS:

Like what the codes were or anything. You’re just actually trying to make sure it’s operating properly?

AH:

The machine would tell me. Some of it had to be rejected because some of the girls’ work was not done correctly.

TS:

I see.

AH:

And some of it didn’t work. So it had to be checked to be sure for mistakes, and also whether it was going to function or not. And so that’s what I did most of my time.

TS:

You’re like quality control sort of.

AH:

Something like that. [laughter]

TS:

Well, what did you think of that type of work?

AH;     It was okay. I mean you wouldn’t want to do it year in and year out and whatever, but living in Washington we had so much to do there outside of work. You know we were— when your day was over you were free to do what you wanted to do, and there was plenty to do in Washington. So I went all over that city.

TS:

Did you? What kind of things did you like to do?

AH:

Well, I went to the museums, I went to the parks, I went to all the monuments, all the sightseeing places, and anything you could hop a bus and go out to, like Mount Vernon, Bethesda, and the naval academy. We could go to the naval academy whenever we wanted to. We’d go to ball games and the navy games at the academy. And I even babysat. There were some people in the neighborhood that were—I discovered—where our WAVE—our WAVES barracks was located on a neighborhood, like a residential area, and they—a number of the wives were there. Their husbands were away in service, so they needed babysitters when they needed to get away. So I got my name on a—I don’t know how it got there, but anyway—babysitting list. So I would babysit occasionally. And that was interesting.

TS:

Did you find—so Washington, D.C., I’m sure was a pretty busy city at that time. Did you make a lot of friends and go do—?

AH:

Oh, friends all over, yes. And you just—you know with service people, just—you don’t consider them strangers, you consider them friends almost. So it was easy to make friends, very easy. And we had in our building—in our barracks we had a lounge, a large bright lounge. We lived in cubicles. That was our quarters. But we had that big lounge so any time you wanted to just get away and read or sit there and do nothing or write or whatever you wanted to do, we had that lounge available to us.

TS:

So what were the housing conditions for you? Was it a—

AH:

Barracks.

TS:

A barracks.

AH:

New barracks.

TS:

They were new?

AH:

Built for that, yes

TS:

Do you think they were pretty—in pretty good condition?

AH:

They were in good condition because they were brand new and clean. I mean it was—you had good showers, you had laundry rooms, you had ironing facilities, and the dining hall was a hop or two away. And the food was good to me. A lot of people complained about it, but the food was different for me and I thought the food was good.

TS:

Yeah. [chuckling] So you had chow that you got to go to. So you—how was your—when you were working, it was mostly women. Did you deal with any men at all?

AH:

Just our supervisors.

TS:

Just your supervisors. And now as you’re getting more involved in the war effort really, did you have a different sense than you did initially, you know, when you were on the farm about the war at all?

AH:

Oh yeah, because you were close to it, especially there in Washington and with this equipment that we were sending out, you know. We kept up with the newspapers and I mean everybody—and you go to work and this would be—if you hadn’t read a newspaper or heard a radio, there was somebody there that was going to tell you what happened that day, because every—that’s what you talked about was the events of the war, day by day.

TS:

So what do you think the atmosphere was like then with—in Washington, D.C.? I’m just trying to get a sense of a wartime experience.

AH:

Wartime Washington.

TS:

Yeah, right, at that time.

AH:

We learned that the major business that normally took place in Washington did not take place in Washington at that time. It was too dangerous, you know. Like a Pentagon, for example, could’ve been marked for bombing or something. Or—some of the offices were in Dumbarton Oaks, some of them in—what’s the hotel in Virginia?—the Greenbrier. It was not actually used, but that was the purpose of the hotel. The basement of the hotel, of the Greenbrier, was the place where the Senate could go to should they have to leave Washington in a spur of the moment. As far as knowing much about the government and itself, we did tour—get tours of the Capitol, guided tours, and they would take us around to the different departments and tell us what they were doing and that sort of thing.

TS:

Now did you meet any, you know, young navy men at all at this time?

AH:

You mean friends that I’ve kept up with?

TS:

Yeah.

AH:

No. We met people, and it was easy to do that. Actually the big hotels there had a once a month ball that all the service people were welcome to come to if they wanted to. It was what the states had. Each state would have a ball—maybe not all of them did, but they invited the service people. And when you went, you know, two or three of the girls would just get together and go there and enjoy the whole evening. Because it didn’t matter whether we knew these people a great deal or not, you could go and dance with them and enjoy the evening and go home.

TS:

Did you like doing that? Was that fun?

AH:

Yes, that was free. I mean that was nice and easy. [TS laughs] You didn’t have to become involved with anybody or whatever.

TS:

Just go have a nice evening out.

AH:

Just go have a nice evening, and that’s what they wanted to do. You know, everybody wanted that.

TS:

So did—with—so let’s see, you aren’t quite sure the year that you joined but maybe ’43?

AH:

I would guess ’43.

TS:

Forty-three. So that was kind of a tough time. We hadn’t had D-Day or anything like that. Do you have a sense of what you felt about [Franklin D.] Roosevelt at that time, the President?

AH:

Well, my feeling at that time—well everybody’s feeling mostly I think was they were—that he was doing a good job, you know. They liked Roosevelt.

TS:

Do you remember your mother and father, had they had any feelings about FDR at that—during the Depression?

AH:

I don’t remember them saying much about it.

TS:

Really comment—yeah. What about—so then we have—do you remember the buildup for D-Day or anything like that? Did they—that we were going to do the—?

AH:

What I would see in the movies. You know, you’d see all of this in the newsreels in the movies, and every time you went to a movie you got a newsreel first.

TS:

So is that a—it’s like TV today, I guess, in some ways.

AH:

Yeah. It’s like the evening news here on television. You’d get it in the movies.

TS:

So how often would you go?

AH:

To movies?

TS:

Yeah.

AH:

Quite often because that was an easy diversion, and growing up I’d never been to movies so this was kind of a treat for us. And they also—in the movies there, they had live entertainment between shows.

TS:

Oh, really?

AH:

Yes.

TS:

What kind of—like how would that—?

AH:

Singers and the popular singers, musicians, pianists, whatever, you know. Whatever their act was, that was on stage between shows in the movies.

TS:

Oh, neat. Okay.

AH:

So you got the news and a movie and the entertainment all at one.

TS:

And how—do you remember how much that cost you?

AH;     Probably 35¢. [laughter] I don’t remember if they had a special price for service people or not. I have no idea. But it wasn’t much money.

TS:

Did you feel like—that you’re—so you’re off working by yourself and you started out when you’re about eighteen, right? Did—so you’re getting—not money for the first time, because you had worked before, but did you feel like you had a sense of being on your own?

AH:

Yes. You did in a way. You knew that you were in the service and there’s some restrictions and whatever, but it was just—it was a free feeling for me for the most part because I didn’t mind being told what I wore. You know, wearing a uniform was not anything that I objected to. So that restriction didn’t bother me. Some of the girls liked to dress up in the evening, and they did learn to do it. They’d dress up and put on their uniform topcoats and go out. It was easy to have uniforms because you didn’t worry about what you wore, whether it was going to be the right thing or not. You just—that’s what you had. You lived with it.

TS:

So there were a lot of people in uniform, just—

AH:

Everybody else was.

TS:

Yeah.

AH:

For the most part.

TS:

Did you get good reception from like the civilians in that area?

AH:

I don’t know that we actually knew many civilians in Washington. They were there working just like we were. You know, that was where their job was. They probably lived out of the city. It was occupied so much by service people then. I don’t really—I mean if  you went shopping in a store you’d encounter a civilian or go out in a restaurant you’d see civilians, but—

TS:

Now, did you work in communications the whole time during the war?

AH:

Yes.

TS:

At the same place?

AH:

At the same place until it was time to discharge. They did close the annex, the communications annex, and they started shipping us out to different places. And they sent me to the air station there to work until time—till my time was expired, so I worked there for several weeks. I don’t remember how long. I guess the big highlight then—it wasn’t big really but it—Gene Kelly was stationed at the airport—I mean at the air station. So people would go hopping out to go see Gene Kelly play tennis.

TS:

That’s a little celebrity sighting.

AH:

We did have some celebrities around. Yeah.

TS:

Did you—did you have any real memorable moments during—that you can think of while you were in the WAVES, that were most memorable to you?

AH:

No. Not one in particular.

TS:

No? Did you have a sense of like you were—a sense of patriotism or anything like that?

AH:

Yes, you did. Everybody felt patriotic then. I mean it was such a common cause and we were in such a big war until you just almost had to feel patriotic.

TS:

Did you have any sense that the United States was in trouble or you know that—?

AH:

I didn’t.

TS:

No?

AH:

We knew we were in this big war, but as far as being worried about the outcome, I don’t think that we did.

TS:

Just had a belief that it was going to—

AH:

This was going to end.

TS:

What did you think—there was some questions about—I was just talking to somebody the other day about the treatment of some of the people who were of German ancestry or Italian ancestry at that time, and also, you know, Japanese Americans. Do you remember the—how the Japanese Americans especially were on the West Coast and how they were separated?

AH:

I don’t remember that much about them, but I know that we had friends that would have nothing to do with the Japanese. And I’m leading up to another stage of my life now. We travelled with Friendship Force. We’ve been with Friendship Force and did stay with it. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Friendship Force.

TS:

No, I’m not sure—

AH:

Okay. It’s a civilian—Rosalyn Carter started it, and it’s a cultural exchange. And we had a group—each city or county or whatever would have a chapter. And what we did was we would get together and we’d plan a trip to another country. We’ll go stay with families there for a week, and then we would invite families from their country to come back and stay with us. And the motto is: A world of friends is a world of peace. It was letting people get to know each other, and I don’t know how many millions of people got involved in that. And it did make a difference. But the reason I’m bringing all this up was because we had planned an exchange with Japan, and some of my friends would have nothing to do with an exchange to Japan.

TS:

And they were in this Friendship Force?

AH:

Yeah.

TS:

What’d you think about that?

AH:

Well, I thought it was time to bury the issue and get on with your business. You know, we’ve got—let’s get ahead. The war’s over and done with and we’ve done all we can, so it’s now time to—let’s move on and see what we can do with the rest of—

TS:

When was this that you were involved in the Friendship Force?

AH:

We just resigned about a week ago.

TS:

Oh! [laughter]

AH:

We’ve been in it probably twelve years in all. We had to drop out temporarily. It started the seventies. I can’t remember which year—maybe ’76 or something like that. I’m not sure. Or maybe a little later. But that was a wonderful experience. I mean that’s—I’ve—just talking about having pictures, I was just going through the box to see if I might find something that would be usable, and all I could find was pictures of New Zealand, Netherlands, Japan. You know, wherever we’ve been.

TS:

Well, that’s really neat.

AH:

It was.

TS:

That is neat.

AH:

And we loved having them come and visit us.

TS:

Who did you have come visit you? Where were they from?

AH:

Okay. We had Japanese. [pause] And I’m getting this mixed up with something I did at UNCG [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro]. Thailand, but they were not Friendship Force. They were Interlink. Netherlands—Japanese twice, actually, Hungary, Germany—I think we had to have visitors from Germany. I know we went to Germany. I can’t think now which way—whether we hosted or whether we went, which way it worked. But it was just as much fun to have them come here. And what we did with them—I mean we didn’t bring them here and we didn’t go to their country to be treated as guests. We go there to learn as much as we can about how they live. So the best thing that they could do for us was take me to their school, take me to your office where you work or whatever you do, you know, that’s what we want to see. We don’t want to go out to some restaurant, eat a fine meal, and just enjoy an evening, which we did plenty of. But we wanted to do more than that. So that’s what we did when we would bring them here.

TS:

Very interesting. Yes. That is really neat. I had not heard about that.

AH:

Okay. It’s now called Friends for International Understanding. I think that’s their name now instead of Friendship Force. Friendship Force is still in existence, but North Carolina I think went to—went with a different goal and different management.

TS:

I see. Okay. Well, if I can jump back to the war years for just a little bit, do you remember the war’s end? Do you remember—?

AH:

Yes.

TS:

You want to tell me—

AH:

Vividly. [chuckles]

TS:

Okay. Tell me about that.

AH:

Actually, that evening itself I was—I happened to be babysitting so I was listening to the radio, so I knew it happened. But by the time the babysitter—by the time they got there and I got away from the babysitting job, it was too late to do anything else. But everybody in Washington that could move, moved down to Pennsylvania Avenue. It had to be a scary crowd to be in. Everybody was just—you know, that’s what they did, just took to the streets.

TS:

Very happy.

AH:

Very happy.

TS:

Now was this at the end of the Japanese surrender or the—

AH:

The Japanese.

TS:

Japanese, okay. And is that how you felt about it? You were pretty—

AH:

Oh yeah. Everybody was elated. That’s what you’d been working for all these years to get—I mean four or five hard years to get to the end of it.

TS:       Yeah.

AH:

Yes, it was very exciting.

TS:

Now there’s been some questions since then about whether or not [President Harry S.] Truman should’ve dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What did you think about it at the time?

AH:

I don’t know. I couldn’t answer that because it’s kind of like some of the things we’re going through now, that you have to do what you don’t want to do in order to get the results that you need to get. And that’s where we’re in too with some of this—the dilemma of the economy now. There’s just some things that we feel like we must do, but we still don’t want—that’s not what we want to do.

TS:

So you have to take the bitter pill to get better sort of thing.

AH:

Like the bailout. You know, you either solve it some way and save the jobs, or let everybody lose their jobs and then have to pay them unemployment, so there’s no—

TS:

Yeah. There’s no easy answer.

AH:

I’m sure that’s what it was when they dropped that bomb on Hiroshima too.

TS:

Yeah. That’s an interesting way to put it. So then were you ready to get out of the service by then, or had you enjoyed your time?

AH:

I had enjoyed by time, but you’re always ready to—you know—you’ve done what you could do then, and there was nothing really left in the way of nice good work to be done.

TS:

Do you remember what kind of rank that you had at that time?

AH:

Specialist Q—I think I got to first class, but I can’t remember whether I did or not. That’s crazy isn’t it?

TS:

No, its not.

AH:

Specialist Q was a special rank that they came up with for that communications program.

TS:

So it’s Specialist Q, like the letter Q?

AH:

Q. Just a Q.

TS:

And first class you think maybe?

AH:

Maybe, but I’m not sure.

TS:

You had that one special job in that room, right?

AH:

Maybe that was a first class job. [laughter]

TS:

There you go. So what happen—

AH:

Part of it was what your length of service, and part of it might have had to do with what you did. But I think it was more length of service.

TS:

Yeah. So what did you do when you got demobilized and got out after that.

AH:

Headed for college.

TS:

Oh! Did you use the GI Bill for that?

AH:

That GI Bill was the most wonderful part of that whole program for people like us. I mean there were just hundreds like me that had no way to go for college. We went into the service because that was what we could do at that time. But the GI Bill was just—that paid my whole four years.

TS:

Excellent.

AH:

And that was where I headed to.

TS:

Where did you go?

AH:

I went to Pfeiffer [University], a junior college at that time.

TS:

Where is that at?

AH:

At Misenheimer [North Carolina]. [laughter] Okay, Albemarle—near Albemarle and Salisbury. It’s out in the country. It’s one of the schools—the veterans just hit the schools, you know, all at one time, and they were so overwhelmed with new students that they didn’t know what to do with all of us. But I went to Pfeiffer and I loved that. And that was two years, and I transferred from there to Pepperdine [University]. And that’s in Malibu [outside Los Angeles] now, but at that time it was in Los Angeles.

TS:

At that time it was in Los Angeles. So what did you get you—you know, what did you get your degree in?

AH:

Home economics.

TS:

Ah, okay. And so then how was it in Pepperdine? That’s a move from—

AH:

It was—well you know because I had the GI Bill and whatever, I didn’t have to worry about tuition and things like that. And when I moved to Pepperdine, the school there was actually a senior version almost of Pfeiffer. It was—Pfeiffer was started to help students who had no money to go to school. Everybody that went to Pfeiffer had to work. Whether you had money to pay tuition or not, you still had to work. So most of the students there—that’s how the school was run at that time. It was almost self-supporting with the student work. And Pepperdine was similar that. Some man who’d made his fortune in wheat, I think, out West wanted to start a school for needy students, so he started Pepperdine. And that was—and now it’s a very elegant school in Malibu. That’s not what it was then. It was very interesting.

I didn’t get to know Pepperdine as a school as much as maybe somebody else would. I was a home ec[onomics] major. And when I moved there I didn’t move into a dormitory, I moved into the home ec house. That was off campus. So from what I know of Pepperdine was just going to classes on campus.

TS:

I see.

AH:

I didn’t really know that much about—didn’t get to know a lot of the other students because home ec had its own buildings and a separate part of the campus. I went from my house—home ec house to the home ec department, and I finished most of my other required work so I didn’t have to take history and that sort of thing. I’d done all that before I went, so maybe I just worked in my major there.

TS:

Now, you had—how did you hear about Pepperdine?

AH:

I really can’t remember—some publications or something that came out. And I had a—there was a friend at Pfeiffer that got a catalog or something and we started browsing over it, and I thought, “Well, that sounds like something I could do,” so that’s what I did.

TS:

So how’d you like living out in California?

AH:

It was different and nice. Yeah, I liked it. I liked the experience of— that was one reason why I chose to go there because on my own I would not be travelling to California. But I could go there as a student and stay two years and have that time to get around and do what I want to do in Los Angeles and come back home, and that’s how it worked.

TS:

So was that—that’s after the war. Was that in the late forties or early fifties, do you remember approximately?

AH:

That was in the late forties, because I graduated—well I graduated from Pfeiffer in ’48, so it was from ’48 to ’50 when I was there.

TS:

So ’48 to ’50. That would’ve been an interesting time period to be out in Los Angeles.

AH:

It was.

TS:

A lot of changes were going on then.

AH:

Yes, yes. There were a lot of changes, and the saying kind of went like this: “Nobody’s from California, nobody’s from Los Angeles, they’re all from somewhere else.” And that’s about what it was. I mean that’s kind of the part of California that I got to know as a student. It’s like there are no natives, they’re all from somewhere else. Everybody wanted to move to California. After the war was over people were settling down and this and that. Sometimes it was because of school, sometimes the families just wanted to go somewhere else, and this was the chance to do it.

TS:

A lot of job opportunities out there too.

AH:

As a student, I didn’t know.

TS:

Yeah. So what did you want to do with your degree? What were you hoping to do?

AH:

I got a teacher’s certificate, but [as] a home ec major I learned a lot that you could do. I didn’t really know at that time what I was going to do with it. But I knew I’d get a teacher’s certificate and do something. And it turned out to be the home ec major was probably one that I used more than any other degree I could’ve gotten at that time, because you learned how to take care of your house, you learned how to take care of your children, you learned how to take care of, you know, everything—everything about your daily life. And that’s—I learned that that my degree in home economics got me my first job teaching children. They said, “You home ec majors have to take so much child development until you know how to handle—you know about handling the little children.” So that first grade—year of teaching was second grade.

TS:

Excellent.

AH:

Taught home ec.

TS:

Where was that at, that you—?

AH:

Winston-Salem. That’s where we lived at that time. I’d gotten married after I finished school, and our first job was—my husband’s first job was Winston.

TS:

Where did you meet him at, your husband?

AH:

Pfeiffer.

TS:

At Pfeiffer? Did he go out to Pepperdine?

AH:

No, he didn’t. He went out to Kentucky. And he got a business degree, so he went to a special school: Bowling Green [University].

TS:

And then you met up again?

AH:

Yeah.

TS:

Excellent.

AH:

So my first year of teaching was—our daughter was in second grade that year and I—you know, as he said, “You’ve had all these courses in growth and development in home economics.” And they let the home economics teachers teach down into junior high, which didn’t exist when—when I graduated. Junior high was—you had elementary and senior high, I guess, and no middle school. Well, when the middle schools were created, they let the home ec majors drop down into that level and teach. So I taught in junior high mostly.

TS:

Yeah. So how long did you teach?

AH:

Eight years in teaching, and part of that was combination classes. Like in junior high you could teach a subject, you didn’t have to teach everything. You could teach a subject, and I had a combination of social studies and home ec. So I got to teach home economics at junior high level.

TS:

Excellent.

AH:

And then when I—my husband was in AT&T—is what it was when he retired—and we were living in Winston and we were transferred to New Jersey. And I taught in junior high there. And then I came back to Greensboro [North Carolina] and I did not teach. I worked at UNCG [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro] then in academic advising for thirteen years.

TS:

Oh, excellent.

AH:

So I’ve had a life or two out there.

TS:

Yeah. You’ve done a few different things. Well, that’s great. Well, what do you think from—what do—if you were to reflect on the time you spent in the WAVES, what would you think that it brought to your life, that experience?

AH:

It brought a lot, because it got you off the farm and you saw a part of the world and places that you—that we would never have gone to, like Washington, D.C. You know at that time I would have never even have made a trip to Washington, to say nothing of living there where the government is taking place. It just—it meant almost everything. And then to get out of that and go into college, which I had no notion of doing when we lived on the farm because we didn’t have the money. Of course, I could’ve gone to Pfeiffer, and my brothers and sisters did go there and worked but—

TS:

Where did they work at?

AH:

At Pfeiffer.

TS:

Pfeiffer.

AH:

They went after I did. But having that experience made college mean a lot more to me. Having been in the service and having the experience that I’d had and the travelling and whatever else got involved in made college mean a lot more to me. There was a lot more purpose in it. You had more of a sense of direction about where you needed to go and what suited you best. When I worked at UNCG, I discovered that some of them just went to college because that’s what they were expected to do. They didn’t really know. But in the way we did it, you had your experience first and then got your education. [laughter]

TS:

Ah [chuckles] I see. Yeah. Interesting. So would you say—do you think that you have a little adventurous streak? It sounds like in you to go places. You’re not—

AH:

Yes, going places meant a lot. Well,, travelled all over. I don’t know how many countries I went to in Friendship Force—Brazil, New Zealand, Germany, Netherlands twice, Belgium, Japan—so we’ve been all over.

TS:

Yeah. Do you think that—was that maybe put in you before you went in the WAVES, or was that something that maybe—?

AH:

You mean the Friendship Force?

TS:

Just the idea of being able to travel and go and see things.

AH:

I learned to appreciate it while I was in the service, because actually being in Washington—a weekend in New York was very simple. So we saw New York, we saw Baltimore, we went to—all there was that you could think of to do in Washington. So we had a lot of experience in that two and a half or three years in service.

TS:

That’s true.

AH:

It was a lot of experience. Philadelphia, we went there. You could do all of those things in a weekend, and most of those places had facilities where you could stay. Like in New York they had—I can’t remember what it was called now—but a hotel that the servicewomen could just make your reservation and go there for the weekend.

TS:

Oh, that’s neat.

AH:

So, yes.

TS:

So it was kind of set up for you there.

AH:

It was. It was set up. You were welcomed.

TS:

Now, you know today women in the military, they—it’s a little different.

AH:

I’m sure it is.

TS:

What do you think about that?

AH:

I have no idea what it’s like.

TS:

Well, just the fact that, you know, we have women pilots now and—

AH:

They’re doing a lot of things that—well all the women are doing things in the military now that we never heard of back then.

TS:

That’s true.

AH:

You didn’t go into combat when I was in the service.

TS:

Well, what do you think about that today?

AH:

I don’t know how the women manage it, and especially when they have children at home, I don’t know how they make that decision that this is what they’re going to do and leave their children at home. I just don’t know how they deal with it.

TS:

Yeah. Hard to understand?

AH:

Yeah. And the work, I mean some of the work must be very hard. I mean they’re expected to do it and not just—well we see that here on the street. Some of these work crews that come through out on the street, there’s women working in those groups just like the men are, and I guess they have to do their chores.

TS:

Well, what do you think about—if you think about the patriotism of World War II and you think about today we’re in a couple of different wars, how would you compare the two if you could?

AH:

I don’t know the feel of the patriotism now.

TS:

You don’t know the feel of it?

AH:

No, I don’t.

TS:

What do you mean by that?

AH:

I just don’t know what prompts them to get into the service. Why they want to, what they expect of it after they get there, I don’t know. I just don’t have that—I don’t have that—friends—I don’t know people in the service is what I’m really saying. I don’t know what motivates them.

TS:

You think it’s a different—were in a different type of culture maybe or something from what it was in the forties [1940s]?

AH:

Well, in the forties, you know, when we went, we didn’t have jobs to speak of that we minded leaving. We were happy to give up the farm and go into the service. And today why they would give up jobs and why they would give up getting an education and whatever to go into the service, I’m not sure what motivates them to do that.

TS:

I see. Okay. That’s interesting. Well, do you have any—

AH:

But patriotism maybe is it. Maybe that’s it.

TS:

It very well could be. Now when you worked at UNCG, what years were you there?

AH:

[Nineteen] sixty-eight to ’80. I worked there thirteen years. I don’t know how long—late seventies, I guess.

TS:

Late seventies.

AH:

I retired.

TS:

Well, they have—there’s some questions here about that time period, if you remember anything about that. Apparently there was a food service strike in 1969. Do you remember that at all?

AH:

A food service strike?

TS:

Yeah, at UNCG.

AH:

No, I don’t. But it could’ve happened and I wouldn’t have known or cared [laughter]

TS:

Well, the—because that part of the sixties, you know, you had the counterculture movement.

AH:

Yes, I know. The hippies and all those.

TS:

Did you experience any of that at Greensboro, when you were working there? I mean, did you see it?

AH:

Did you see it? Yes, we saw it in academic advising. That’s—I did the degree audits, so frequently students were coming through our office. You know, we were not detached from seeing the students—not in a classroom situation, but in academic advising and planning. We did see students, yes. And they did some—some of them did some strange things.

TS:

Yeah. [laughter]

AH:

And I guess that was the sixties that you’re talking about.

TS:

Right. What did you think about that time?

AH:

I thought it was silly. I mean why waste your life with this kind of frivolity?

TS:

The frivolity?

AH:

Yeah. Some girl baked up a batch of spaghetti and wanted to jump into it and I thought, “My goodness, can’t you think of something better to do?””

TS:

Why did she want to do that?

AH:

I have no idea.

TS:

Was that on the campus? Is that right? Oh, interesting.

AH:

It might have been real or it might have been made up. Who knows? Things got around and you didn’t—I don’t know if she actually did or not, but that was a—

TS:

Yeah. Well, I was going to ask you too about a couple of the other presidents and I forgot. What about Truman, what did you think of him?

AH:

Truman was a different sort. [laughter]

TS:

Okay.

AH:

There was no doubt about what Truman wanted and what he was going to do, you know. He was upfront and straightforward with everything he did. He accomplished some things that way, and other times a little bit more diplomacy might have been more effective, but you get there one way or the other, I suppose.

TS:

Well, how about Eis—

AH:

He was kind of a breath of fresh air, really.

TS:

Oh was it?

AH:

Yeah.

TS:

Okay. How about [Dwight D.] Eisenhower?

AH:

Eisenhower? I think of him as being a military—riding in on the coattails of his military service. At that time we didn’t necessarily need a very strong president, so he was a very popular—very—Everybody liked Ike. But you know maybe his demands—like if he had walked in to what [President Barack] Obama’s walking into, I don’t know, you know, whether he could’ve handled the job or not.

TS:

Yeah.

AH:

And what they’re into now is just unbelievable. What this president has to walk into is just unheard of.

TS:

Does it remind you at all of the forties, you know, the economic distress, anything like that?

AH:

Actually, growing up on the farm during the Depression and the economy, we were kind of isolated in a way because we didn’t have money and we didn’t have jobs, so we had none of that to lose. We were not in soup lines in the cities where people suddenly lost their job and where do you go from here, you know. We were not like that, living in the country. So I didn’t have the feel of being in that economic situation that I’m sure people losing their jobs now are so dependent on them. How do you survive without a job now? Well, then we’d been surviving without one, so I don’t know.

TS:

Different kind of comparison.

AH:

Yes, it is. Well, for us, the way we lived. Now some of those people who lived in the big cities ended up in soup lines and no jobs and no money. There’s a lot of them—I know some of them went back home to their families and they took them back in and took care of them and whatever, but I don’t know how. I think it’s different now—really difficult now.

TS:

Well, how about JFK [John F. Kennedy]?

AH:

We liked Jack. [laughs] I guess I probably knew more about him as president than I did any of the others because that’s when I was kind of paying more attention to what the president was doing, you know. He was a strong president with a great deal of support from his father. His father helped him get elected with money and whatever. He came from a wealthy family and a lot of respect and whatever. I think he did very well.

TS:

Do you remember when he was assassinated?

AH:

Yes, very clearly. I was teaching then. It was just like gloom and doom settled over this whole country. I remember that night I sat up almost all night as long as there was anything on television. And I think we had maybe a day or two off from school. I’m not sure that we did. But you just stayed glued to the television, and you didn’t know where all of this—how all of this is going to work out, you know, to lose a president that way. That’s the most vivid—actually I remember FDR’s death, but not much in the way of details about it.

TS:

[pause] So then now we’re—you were talking a little bit about what Obama, you know, being the President-elect and—

AH:

We just hope, hope, hope that help comes from everywhere. He’s certainly—he’s going to need it. We need a feeling of unity in this country now. And any way he can get it—I don’t mean any way but, I just feel like he’s got a—we have a little bit of hope out there now, is what I’m trying to say.

TS:

I see. Okay.

AH:

We hope it’s going to work out.

TS:

Yeah. [laughs] Well, that’s very true. We do. Well, do you have—is there any part of your service years or, you know, any part that we talked about that you’d like to add to, that we haven’t—?

AH:

No, not that I can even remember. [laughter]

TS:

Oh, you’ve remembered quite a lot. It’s been a great story.

AH:

But I will reiterate that the GI Bill, to my generation, meant everything. There were just so many people that came out of the service and went to college that would never have gone there.

TS:

Without the GI Bill,

AH:

Yes, without the GI Bill. It was a springboard for them. Coming out of the service with the GI Bill was just everything.

TS:

Did you ever use the GI Bill for anything else, like for buying a house or the other benefits that you could get from it?

AH:

Let’s see, how did we buy the house? I think I had some bonds that I had bought while I was in the service and that’s what we used. We didn’t use a veteran’s benefit to buy a house. But I had bought some bonds, and I think my husband had too, so that’s what we bought our first house with. We’re not the mortgage people.

TS:

[laughs] Well, it’s been wonderful to talk to you today.

AH:

It was good to have you come.

TS:

Well, I’ll go ahead and turn this off then.

[End of interview]