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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Dolores M. Angel Hamrick, 2011

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Object ID: wv0513.5.001

Description: Dolores Hamrick tells of her early life, education, time in military service, and life after service, as well as her involvement with the Women Marines Association.

Summary: Hamrick relates several incidents of her service, some humorous, such as a superior officer addressing her as her maiden surname “Angel”, the so-called “peanut suit” uniform worn by Women Marines. Hamrick also briefly tells of the experiences of all three of her children in military service.

Creator: Dolores M. Angel Hamrick

Biographical Info: Dolores Angel Hamrick (b. 1936)served in the Women Marines from 1954-1957.

Collection: Dolores M. Angel Hamrick 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, today is April 11th, 2011, and I am in Jacksonville, North Carolina—had to think for a second. This is an oral history interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and I have Dolores here with me. Dolores, how would you like your name to read on your collection?

Dolores Hamrick:

Dolores Angel Hamrick.

TS:

Okay. Well, Dolores, why don’t we start off by having you tell me when and where you were born. [extraneous comment redacted]

DH:

Okay. Well, I was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1936, April the 29th. And I was raised kind of in the country, and I went to the consolidated district, Raytown Consolidated School District [#4—DH added later]. And I went to Lane School for my first six years, and then I started riding a bus [during the sixth grade—DH added later]  and went to another school in the same school district, because they had some kind of a problem with the asbestos—[at Lane School—DH added later] .

TS:

In the school that you were in before?

DH:

In the school.

TS:

Oh!

DH:

They had a problem. So—and then, from there, when I started the seventh grade, though, I went to the junior high, and that was in Raytown, they had Raytown Junior High. And so I went to junior high, and then I went to the high school, Raytown High School.

TS:

Well, let me ask you a little bit about—you said you were in—and you don’t have to, you can just talk to me, it’ll pick up your voice fine. Did you—how many siblings did you have?

DH:

I have—at the time I graduated from high school and joined the Marine Corps, I had—four brothers, and three sisters. And when I got out of the Marine Corps and came home, my mother was pregnant, and I have a brother that was born in December of ’57 after I got out of the Marine Corps, October ’57. And so I have five brothers, and I had three sisters.

TS:

So there were nine of you all together?

DH:

Nine total, and my sister closest to me is deceased, she was killed in an auto accident in the year 2000.

TS:

Oh, that’s—I’m sorry to hear that.

DH:

Yeah. And, but there are three girls and five boys.

TS:

I see. So where do you fall in the line of—hierarchy?

DH:

I’m the second oldest.

TS:

Oh!

DH:

I have an older brother.

TS:

So you’re actually the oldest girl, too, then.

DH:

Yes, yes.

TS:

So, you probably had some kind of responsibility, being the oldest girl.

DH:

Well, I thought I had all the responsibility. [both laugh]

TS:

Well, your older brother probably had some too.

DH:

Yeah. [chuckles]

TS:

And how—so, were you very far apart in age, except for the one that you said was born later?

DH:

My brother Tom was born December the 21st, 1935, and—no, 1934, and then I was born April the 29th, 1936. So there’s about sixteen months, I believe, difference in our age.

TS:

Yeah. And then your other sisters and brothers?

DH:

And then my sister Janet was about three and a half years younger than I was, she was born in 1939. August of ’39.

TS:

So did you—go ahead.

DH:

And then my brother Bill was born June the—June the 2nd, 1941, and my brother John was born August the 5th, 1943, my sister Mary was born November the 27th—no, excuse me, the 24th, 1945, and my sister Judy was born July the 11th—no, excuse me, July the 9th, 1947. And then my brother Dave was born in 1952, January the 23rd. And then my brother Charlie was born, like I said, December the 15th, 1957. And my mother’s birthday is November the 27th, and she was born 1912, and my dad was born 1910, and his birthday was January—or, June the 8th.

TS:

You got quite a family there.

DH:

Yeah.

TS:

Well, what—so, you lived in the country, what’d your father do for a living?

DH:

He was self-employed, and he worked on furnaces and treework and things of that nature.

TS:

And your mother?

DH:

Homemaker.

TS:

She was quite busy, I’m sure.

DH:

Yeah, and did a lot of schoolwork.

TS:

What do you mean by that?

DH:

Well, she was the president of the PTA for about thirty years.

TS:

Oh! So she was very involved—keeping an eye on you guys.

DH:

Yeah. [both chuckle]

TS:

Well, did you—you grew up, also, during the Depression, as a young girl. Do you remember that at all?

DH:

No, I don’t remember that. It was right after the Depression, I was born in ’36, and this was as the country was coming out of the Depression. But I’m sure my folks remember a lot of the Depression.

TS:

Yeah. Do you have any first memories as a young girl? Do you remember Pearl Harbor at all? You were still quite young then.

DH:

No, I don’t. I remember, we were supposed to have a blackout [during the World War II—DH added later]  , you know, and we didn’t remember it until the next day.

TS:

[laughs] Oh, you forgot the blackout, then, huh?

DH:

Yeah.

TS:

Well, what—so you’re—go ahead.

DH:

And I remember some—seeing military people in parades, you know, and things like that. But I—and then we had saving war bonds that we bought, or war stamps we would buy.

TS:

Right.

DH:

And fill out the books and things.

TS:

Now, did you have—in the country, did you have like a farm at all, or a garden?

DH:

Well, my daddy had three acres, and then we had a large pasture next to us, and he had cows and hogs and things. And we had a garden, but I don’t think we were that good of gardeners.

TS:

Is that right? [chuckles]

DH:

Yeah. But my mother liked to do flowers and things, and there’s a place called Powell Garden, there near Kansas City, and she worked—I don’t know how many hours in Powell Garden, volunteer work.

TS:

So what—what do you remember as a little girl, growing up?

DH:

I remember it was hot, hot in the summertime, and cold in the wintertime.

TS:

[chuckles] What kinds of things did you do for fun?

DH:

I don’t know, I remember the Fourth of July and Christmas was always, you know, and Thanksgiving, and we went to church and we were barefoot in the summertime, and we walked to school, we lived on a dirt road at that time, and then they finally put a tar covering on it, you know, and so that was the kind of road we had, and we lived, oh, I’d say about a half a mile from the school, so it wasn’t such a hard walk.

TS:

But you always had to walk, rain or shine or snow?

DH:

Yeah, well, except after we started riding the bus.

TS:

Oh, right, after the [second?]—

DH:

After the sixth grade. We walked [about ¼ mile to the bus stop—DH added later]  .

TS:

So did you, when you’re—did you have any, like, neighborhood kids that you played with, and played some games with?

DH:

No, we didn’t have a lot of neighbors.

TS:

No?

DH:

We were kind of isolated.

TS:

So what kinds of things did you do for fun?

DH:

Oh, we climbed trees, and played in the water and went fishing, and you know, things like that.

TS:

And then what kind of responsibilities did you have as the oldest girl in your family?

DH:

Well, doing the dishes and the housework and cooking and laundry and taking care of the animals, we had chickens and goats and things, and we’d take care of those.

TS:

Kept you pretty busy, then, I guess.

DH:

Out of trouble.

TS:

[chuckles] Now, laundry, though, isn’t like throwing clothes in the washing machine.

DH:

No, no, this was where you had a wringer washer, my mother did, and then we had two rinse cycles, or tubs, that we would rinse them and run them through the wringer, and then the fourth one, we’d run [the clothes—DH clarified later]   into a basket to go be hung out.

TS:

Hang out on the clothesline?

DH:

Right, on the clothesline.

TS:

Yeah.

DH:

And that’s what we did. And we’d gather eggs, and the days seemed long then, and now the days are so short.

TS:

[laughs] Is that right?

DH:

The older you get, the shorter the days.

TS:

Do you—do you have any particular memories of elementary school at all? Favorite subject, or teacher?

DH:

I did have a favorite teacher, and I don’t really remember her name, but she was my third grade teacher, and she very carefully did a tulip, a red tulip, and showed us how to make the leaves and everything. And we were all to draw that—do the same thing, and so I drew it, and she said mine was the best one in the class and she put a border on it and put it up on the wall. Or on the bulletin board, and I was so proud. You know.

TS:

No wonder she was your favorite.

DH:

Yeah! [chuckles] But I remember that, and we played outside, I—the first time I ever played farmer in the dell was out in the schoolyard, you know.

TS:

Yeah.

DH:

And things like that. And—

TS:

Was it a very big school?

DH:

No, it’s a very small school. It had eight classes.

TS:

Eight—

DH:

Or, eight grades, at one time. And there was four grades on one side, and four grades on the other side. And when they had a joint meeting, they had a big sliding wall that they’d raise up and then it was one large room.

TS:

Oh! So there were just two sides to it?

DH:

Yes.

TS:

So half of the—huh, okay.

DH:

We had the first through fourth grade and the fifth through eighth grade.

TS:

I see, okay.

DH:

And it was a small school, and then later on, there were more children, and they put—the third grade class that I liked so well, they put us down in the basement, and our class was down there. I think the fourth and fifth grade were together.

TS:

Did you like school?

DH:

Yeah.

TS:

Yeah? What’d you like about it?

DH:

Oh, playing with the children, and just getting out, you know, and all.

TS:

And when you went to high school, how was that?

DH:

We rode the school bus, and first we went to junior high, and that’s when we first started changing rooms during the class periods. Up ‘til that time, we were in the same class all day. But after we got into the junior high, we started rotating our classes. The teachers would stay in one room, and the class would come to the teacher. And so we did that. We thought we were so grown-up, that we could do that. And then we went into the high school, you know, and did that. And so I suppose it was getting us ready to go into high school.

TS:

There you go.

DH:

You know, preparing us for all of that.

TS:

And did you have a favorite subject or teacher or anything in those grades?

DH:

Not really, I guess I liked gym better than I liked anything.

TS:

[chuckles] What kind of things did you do in gym?

DH:

Well, we had gym three days a week, and we had health study twice a week, and then the following week, it’d be health three days a week and gym twice in the week, and we would alternate with the boys. When they had—when we had gym class, they’d have health class, and when we had health class, they’d have gym class. And, but I enjoyed the gym class, and I worked in the cafeteria, the school cafeteria, and learned to wash dishes with the sprayer and all that, you know, and things like that. And I think at that time, the lunches were a quarter a day, I think. Dollar and a quarter a week, I think.

TS:

Working in the lunchroom, did you get a little bit knocked off your [portion?]?

DH:

Well, you didn’t have to pay for your meal.

TS:

If you worked in the lunchroom.

DH:

Right.

TS:

Yeah. Huh. Now, did you—in gym class, go back to, what kinds of things did you do in gym class?

DH:

Well, we played volleyball, baseball, or softball—no baseball, softball. We ran around the football field, you know, exercise, and we did exercises, too.

TS:

And you liked that activity?

DH:

Yes.

TS:

Now, did you have an idea, as a young girl, what you thought the future held for you?

DH:

Hadn’t—hadn’t a clue.

TS:

Did you think about it at all?

DH:

Not at all.

TS:

[laughs] Okay.

DH:

Just didn’t even dawn on me. Had no idea what I was going to do, and they had a presentation of—the military came out and made a presentation in our senior year, and that didn’t mean a whole lot to me. And I worked in the summertime, I worked at a fruit stand, or a vegetable stand, so I worked the summer of ’54, after I graduated from high school, and I finished that season out, and worked there. And in the wintertime, I worked for the same fellow on the weekends, and he raised mushrooms, and he would buy [stamped out—DH added later] mushroom boxes in—I’m going to say a thousand to a [box—DH corrected late], it was a lot of mushroom boxes in there, and I would take the [flat—DH added later] mushroom boxes out and fold them [into boxes—DH added later] and get them ready for the mushrooms. And when I did that, I had them stacked to the ceiling. He finally said “We’ve got enough mushroom boxes,” you know. But anyway. And so, I put those mushroom boxes together and I didn’t think anything about it except that I could look at a box and I knew how I folded it, how it would do, and all that. And so when I took a test in boot camp, pattern analysis, I think they called it, I just aced the whole thing, because of all my experience with the mushroom boxes.

TS:

Isn’t that interesting?

DH:

So you don’t ever know in life what’s going to really help you later.

TS:

That’s true.

DH:

And so that did, and I think that’s one reason that I did so well—well, I don’t know so well, but I was hired on for the position I had there when I went to Pendleton [Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, in California, north of San Diego].

TS:

Yeah. Well, now, how was it—before we get into that, how was it that you decided to join the military?

DH:

Well, I wanted to go to school, college. And I wanted to become a nurse, and I didn’t want to pay the freight. And the government was offering, if you joined the service, then they would give you the same amount of time in college. And that sounded pretty good to me, for the GI Bill. And so that’s why I joined the Marine Corps—well, not why I joined the Marine Corps. I went down there to join the service, everybody was in the same building, and I joined the Marine Corps because I liked the hat, the green hat.

TS:

That was your—

DH:

It was the only one that had a bill on it, you know.

TS:

Is that right?

DH:

And I just thought it, you know, it just looked better.

TS:

Didn’t matter about what you did in the service, just—

DH:

No, didn’t make any difference. I had no idea.

TS:

Just wanted to wear the right hat. [laughter] Did you know anybody in the military, prior to joining?

DH:

There was nobody that I knew in my family.

TS:

Nobody in your family that you knew?

DH:

And as it was, my brother Tom was going to join the air force, but his blood pressure was too high, and my brother Bill ended up joining the air force, and he was in there for several years. But Bill and I are the only two that were in any military service.

TS:

Out of all the kids in your family?

DH:

Out of all my siblings, yeah.

TS:

Now, what’d your parents think about your decision to join the Marine Corps?

DH:

Well, my daddy didn’t think I was going to do it, so he didn’t take it too serious, and my mother thought it was a good idea, and so—

TS:

Why’d your mother think it was a good idea?

DH:

I have no idea.

TS:

What made you think that she thought it was a good idea?

DH:

She told me she thought it was a good idea. [laughter]

TS:

Well, that would do it. And then you said your dad didn’t take you seriously?

DH:

No, because I got a letter when I was in bootcamp, and he was telling me what to be careful about, you know, and different things, and that he just—when it came to signing the papers, he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to or not, because your parents had to sign your papers when you were eighteen. And—to let you go in the Marine Corps. Or, to go in any branch of service.

TS:

So, did he sign?

DH:

Yes.

TS:

But that was before you went in, he signed them, right?

DH:

Right, or I couldn’t have gotten in.

TS:

Yeah. But your mom was like “That’s a good idea,” your dad’s like “Oh, I don’t think—I don’t know, I don’t know.”

DH:

“I’m not so sure,” right.

TS:

So you did join at a young age.

DH:

Age—well, I was eighteen and a half, by then.

TS:

So you weren’t—do you remember any of the recruiting—we looked at, earlier, at some of the recruiting posters later, had—do you remember seeing any of those as a young girl, they didn’t have any influence on you?

DH:

[pause] I didn’t know—I thought about flying, I thought I’d love to fly, you know, but the Marine Corps didn’t offer anything for flying at that time.

TS:

Did—you had said, in your senior year, the recruiters came out to your school, but that didn’t really—it didn’t strike you as—

DH:

No, it just made me aware of what I could do.

TS:

Oh. Did they mention it then, that you’d have schooling, that schooling? I was just wondering how that got in your head.

DH:

That was one of the leading things.

TS:

I see. Okay. So that’s something that kind of struck you.

DH:

They planted the seed.

TS:

I see. That’s a good way to put it. So, how about your friends, what’d they think?

DH:

Well, I don’t know that they thought anything, because by then, this was October, and they’d either gone on to school, some of them had gotten married, you know, and they just went their different ways. So I didn’t ask anybody, I just joined. [chuckling]

TS:

And nobody said anything afterwards?

DH:

No, no.

TS:

So, tell me a little bit, then, about—so, where, you enlisted in Kansas City?

DH:

Kansas City.

TS:

And that was in—what month was that?

DH:

October.

TS:

October ’54. Now, had you been away from home before that, at all?

DH:

I’d been to Girl Scout camp.

TS:

How far away was that?

DH:

Probably twenty or thirty minutes. It wasn’t far.

TS:

So going to basic training was probably the first time you were away from home. Now, you were telling me—

DH:

First time I ever was on a train that—Pullman car, where you could sleep in a—you know. Had no idea. You know, that was a new experience.

TS:

That was neat. And you had showed me, in some of the things that we went over before we turned the tape on, that your recruiter typed out something for you, for your travel.

DH:

Yeah, told me every step of the way, what to do and what to expect and who to see, and—

TS:

When to get on the train, and what to take, and all those things.

DH:

Yeah. Led me right on down. [laughter]

TS:

Yeah, so you just kept checking it off as you went. Now, you also said you had a—somebody who accompanied you on the train.

DH:

My mother went as far as St. Louis, because her folks lived in St. Louis, and so she went down there and—I don’t know whether—I don’t really remember whether the train went on that night, and I’m sure it did, and my mother stayed with her relatives, and then she went back the next day, back to Kansas City.

TS:

So you liked the Pullman, the sleeper car and all that?

DH:

Yeah, it was very interesting.

TS:

Well, do you want to tell—what you remember about it?

DH:

Not a whole lot. I remember coming into Yemassee, South Carolina, and getting off the train there, and it was just a dusty little town and it was Sunday afternoon, and it was real quiet, and there were several girls there already, so there was probably eight or ten of us by the time everybody gathered in there to go to Parris Island. And the—I know we all decided we were hungry, and we all decided to go and eat at the little café, and it was my first experience with what they call Southern fried chicken. And gravy and everything, and some of it I liked and some of it I didn’t, you know, it was a little different. And so we ate that, and I believe the bus arrived somewhere about four thirty to carry us to Parris Island. And the bus driver, his—his favorite thing was to tell us about the alligators, and how hard it was to get off of Parris Island, and [laughs] how bad it was going to be, and—

TS:

What’d you think about that?

DH:

Not a whole lot. He finally got to the corner, you know, and he said “Well, here we are, girls,” and he opened the door, and we were met by a recruiter [drill instructor—DH corrected later], and we all got off and she said “Follow me” and we all followed her into the barracks and on my left as I went in, I guess we had to tell them what our name was, you know, so they could check us off the list, and they were dressed in these green-looking outfits, and I thought “My goodness, what have I gotten into?”, you know. I’d never seen any utilities at all, you know.

TS:

Oh, I see.

DH:

Yeah. And so they were the ones on duty, and they were just older recruits. And so I had a little suitcase with me that had my valuables in it, and the D.I. [drill instructor] said “Well, just leave everything here,”

And I says “I can’t leave my suitcase,”

And she says “Whatever,” she said “Just carry it with you, it’s okay.” [chuckling] And we’re going to chow, you know, and she carried us to the mess hall.

TS:

You took your suitcase with you?

DH:

Well, it’s a small one, a small one that had what I thought was valuables. And went to the mess hall, and had my first meeting of the metal trays and the silverware and the guys that—the other recruits that were putting the silverware down, you know, stuff like that, and told how to go through the chow line. We did that, and we ate, and she brought us back, and I don’t really remember too much of how we got organized, except one girl said “Do you want to be captain of the head?” and I was in shock and I just shook my head no. I didn’t want to be anybody. [chuckles]

TS:

You didn’t want to be captain of anything.

DH:

No, not at that time.

TS:

So what are you thinking, do you remember what you were thinking at that time?

DH:

No, they let us into the program very easily—easy, because they had a lot of free stuff, and I remember that the first thing they did was come through and “Did you have any sharp things, like fingernail files or scissors or anything like that,” and we had to put them in an envelope or something, to be kept for us, because we weren’t allowed to keep anything like that. And I thought, well, my goodness, you know. And that’s kind of a thing—we could have an emery board, but you know, nothing—anything sharp.

TS:

Because they didn’t want [you] to hurt yourself, or something?

DH:

Well, they didn’t want us hurting ourselves or hurting anybody else, I would assume.

TS:

I guess so.

DH:

And, because there were about seventy of us, I guess, and nobody knew anybody, and we were assigned beds by alphabet. And of course, I got the first bunk.

TS:

Because, Angel.

DH:

And my bunkmate was Aurora, she was from, I believe, New Mexico. And I was trying to think whether she had the upper bunk or the lower bunk, but I think she had the upper bunk and I had the lower bunk. And then we had the wall locker and the foot locker. And they had pictures of where your shoes were supposed to be, and where everything was supposed to be, and of course, we didn’t have anything yet, so we didn’t have anything to put in there.

TS:

Where’d they have the pictures?

DH:

We got that in our information as they would give us information.

TS:

Now, you showed me earlier, this red book that’s called the Guidebook for Marines?

DH:

Right.

TS:

So, how soon did you get this book?

DH:

We were probably issued that as soon as we started going to classes.

TS:

Okay.

DH:

You know.

TS:

And so how was basic training for you then, what—

DH:

I thought it was all right. You were fed well—I weighed a hundred and thirteen pounds when I joined the Marine Corps, they almost didn’t let me in because I was too light.

TS:

Yeah.

DH:

You know, just was so, so slender. And when I got out of boot camp, which was only eight weeks later, I weighed a hundred and thirty-five pounds.

TS:

So you gained weight in basic training.

DH:

Gained weight. I just never had been on such a schedule where you ate three times a day, every day.

TS:

That’s right. [chuckles]

DH:

And it was—and of course, we exercised and all. But to start us out that first few days, or few hours, they gave us—issued us a peanut suit, which was a one—I think it was a one-piece thing with shorts on it, that you put on and then it had a skirt that you wrapped around the outside, and it’s called a peanut suit.

TS:

Peanut suit?

DH:

A peanut suit.

TS:

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that before.

DH:

Well, you ask—

TS:

Yeah, the ladies [unclear]

DH:

Yeah, as you speak to them, they’ll tell you the same thing.

TS:

Okay.

DH:

Because I mentioned it the other day, and they all knew what it was.

TS:

Oh, okay.

DH:

And a pair of white tennis shoes, and the first thing we did, that—they gave us all a bottle of shoe polish—shoe dye. And we had been fitted for leather shoes, and we went out there and made our leather shoes this—it looked black to me, but they said it was brown. But it was the darkest brown you’ve ever seen. And we dyed our shoes, you know. And then they showed us how to polish our shoes, and I think that’s how we got started, you know.

TS:

Going with the—in the basic training, with that?

DH:

Yeah. And then I forgot what our, you know, we went by increments, we had the peanut suit first, and then we would graduate to the utilities, and from the utilities then to the other uniforms. But the tailors came in and, you know, fitted us and everything, so we’d have the proper size uniforms.

TS:

So they were all tailor-made uniforms, that you had? Now, was there anything that was particularly hard physically for you to do?

DH:

No, not then.

TS:

No? Did you have much—did you run, or just calisthenics, or?

DH:

I don’t remember anything that was difficult.

TS:

Yeah. How about mentally, did—like the schoolwork and things—

DH:

No, it didn’t—

TS:

You showed me how meticulously you kept up with—in your booklet there.

DH:

I don’t know, but if you read that closely, you’ll see I’m the world’s worst speller. [both laugh]

TS:

Oh, no, that would be me.

DH:

And so, but I can understand my notes, and we could pass tests, and we all did well, evidently, because we came out an honor platoon. And not every platoon was an honor platoon.

TS:

Yeah.

DH:

And they were quite pleased. And we didn’t meet our male D.I. [drill instructor] for several days, maybe a week, and when he introduced himself to us, and he’s the one that taught us how to march and all that, and he carried the swagger stick, and he was a tall, slender fellow, and he said that his name was “Sergeant Shipman, sir”, and he spelled S-H-I-P-M-A-N-S-I-R. and that’s what I thought is name was, you know. Had no idea it was just Shipman.

TS:

[chuckles] Sergeant Shipman, sir. Now, did—were you homesick at all?

DH:

Don’t think so, no.

TS:

No? And you’re, now, in the 1950s, they were starting to integrate African-Americans into the military.

DH:

I think so.

TS:

Do you remember any—in your class, did you have any? You’ve got that picture right here.

DH:

In the picture, you’ll see some. One or two, I think. But we started off with seventy or better girls, and I think we graduated—well, you can see how many graduated. Forty or so.

TS:

I see, so you lost quite a few.

DH:

And you always had the option, you could go home anytime.

TS:

Oh, you did?

DH:

Yes. If you wanted to get out, get out.

TS:

Is that right? I don’t think they have that option today.

DH:

Oh, I don’t know.

TS:

I don’t think so. Now, what—so you’re feeling okay, and you’re enjoying yourself?

DH:

Oh, yeah.

TS:

And did you know what you were going to go for your first assignment, or training, before you—

DH:

I had no idea at all.

TS:

So you were tested—

DH:

Now, we were taking these tests all the time, and that’s why I say the pattern analysis was one of the tests. And I don’t know what the other tests were, but we took the tests, and I had something like a hundred and twenty five or a hundred and twenty seven for my pattern analysis. Which they said was extremely good.

TS:

Well, those mushroom boxes helped you out.

DH:

Huh?

TS:

Those mushroom boxes, right?

DH:

Yeah, that’s right.

TS:

So then, they—did they say, here’s the job we’d like you to do, or did you get to pick from a list?

DH:

No, they just told me.

TS:

They just said, okay.

DH:

Well, they knew I typed.

TS:

Okay.

DH:

I had two years typing in high school. And they knew I typed, and I guess that’s what they needed, at that time. But when I got to Pendleton, there were three of us from that group that are in the original [orders?] there, that were chosen to go in and see—Lieutenant Wrenn interviewed us to see who was going to get the job. And I just went in, and I don’t know if it helped or hindered the thing, but she was from Springfield, Missouri, and I was from Kansas City, Missouri. And so I just went in and talked with her, and the next day, they told me that I was going to be working at the WM [Women Marines] Company office. And I was the Training NCO [noncommissioned officer].

TS:

Oh.

DH:

And I didn’t know anything about anything. [chuckles]

TS:

So how did that—

DH:

So I certainly needed a lot of training.

TS:

Did you go to any kind of training before your first assignment, or you were just kind of thrown into it?

DH:

No, just dropped right into it.

TS:

So tell me about that, how did you work that out?

DH:

Well, sometimes I did well and sometimes I didn’t do so well. [laughs]

TS:

Didn’t they let you know both ways?

DH:

But my first thirty days at Pendleton, I was on mess duty. This first sergeant decided that anybody—any new recruits in would spend their first thirty days in mess duty. And I later told the first sergeant I thought that was a mistake, because I thought girls needed to have time to adjust to where they were at before they went on mess duty, because they get out of bootcamp, come there, and the first thing you know they’re in mess duty, and then two months later, they’re discharged because they’re pregnant. And it just didn’t seem right to me that these young kids should be thrown into that kind of a situation. But she never did see it my way.

TS:

No? Why do you think—

DH:

But I did tell her.

TS:

Did—how do you think that it would have been different if they had done it differently?

DH:

I think the girls would have been more mature and known who their real friends were and the opportunists were there, that they were just waiting for some young girl that didn’t know A from B or whatever, you know.

TS:

Yeah. To take advantage or whatever.

DH:

Yeah, right.

TS:

So did you see a lot of young girls get out because they were pregnant?

DH:

Oh, yes. Oh, yes. A lot of them. And that’s what I told the first sergeant, I, you know, I told her that I thought that was a big mistake. And she said “Well, what am I supposed to do?” she said “I’ve got to make my quota, and that’s the only people I have to make my quota for the mess duty.”

TS:

Oh, the first ones that come in?

DH:

Yeah. But I got to thinking about it, and I said, well, if she would do it the other way, she’d have had more of a field to operate from, because there wouldn’t be that much of a turnover, you know?

TS:

I see.

DH:

Because—but anyway, she never did see it my way.

TS:

That’s interesting. Yeah. Well, how’d you like your first job, then?

DH:

It had its good points and its bad points. The first thing I learned was, you don’t say anything about what they tell you in the company office. Especially to your squad bay, because Devorak[?], she was in my squad bay along with—you know, we’d come in together, and so they just told me that they were going to see her the next day at the company office, so I didn’t think there was any harm in saying “Well, they want to see you tomorrow.”

“Why?”

I said “I don’t know.” You know, and that was a mistake. So you just don’t tell people that—

TS:

[unclear] have a lot of anxiety.

DH:

And I had no idea the woman would just fall apart, you know, just thinking she was going to see somebody the next day.

TS:

Right. Get in trouble or something.

DH:

Right. And so anyway, that was a mistake, but I learned—that was probably the first day on the job, I learned that, that you just don’t tell everything, and then, the responsibilities I had, as the Training NCO, was all the training they had in the company, through the week and the month. And then I had to also call roll, you know, when people would fall out, I would have to go out there and do the roll call. Had to do the roll call when we had company meetings, and had to know where everybody was if they weren’t there, why weren’t they there, you know, and such. And then I had three barracks to take care of, Barracks 5, 6, and 7, to keep a four-hour fire watch at night, from four o’ clock in the afternoon to eight o’ clock the next morning.

TS:

So how’d you do that? Did you assign people to do that?

DH:

Well, you just assigned people. And I did it as fairly as I could, you know, after I found out who people were. But some people didn’t like it and some did, and then you did a lot of swapping around, and I tried to work with people, because—they didn’t see it that way, but tried to accommodate them as best I could. But I spent a lot of duty hours, myself, because you had to have somebody there.

TS:

If you couldn’t fill it, you had to—

DH:

Yeah.

TS:

Show up and do it yourself?

DH:

That’s right. And I thought the girls that got the worst part of the—or the shortest stick, was the ones that were married, you know, because it’s so difficult to be married and be in the Marine Corps at the same time.

TS:

Why was that so difficult?

DH:

Because the demands seemed like they were put on the girls, you know—

TS:

Like what kind of demands?

DH:

Well, to be there at six in the morning. You know, and then they wouldn’t be able to leave until eight at night or something. You know, just ridiculous stuff, that—and I just thought they had a hard time, more so than others. And I never was married, so I didn’t have to do that, but the girls that were, it was difficult for them, and then of course, if they became pregnant, then they were out, immediately.

TS:

So they could get married, but they couldn’t have any children?

DH:

No, not and stay in. Not at that time.

TS:

So, did you—there was something you said a second ago. Did—oh, I know what I was going to ask you. The—did you have like a PT formation in the morning that you had to be at, for—?

DH:

I think we did, we had some kind of a formation to make sure that everybody was present.

TS:

Okay.

DH:

That we’d fall out for.

TS:

So was there a lot of physical activity that you had to do, to keep in shape or anything?

DH:

I don’t remember anything that strenuous. I’m sure there was, but I don’t remember. I know we had hikes and things like that. We never had any runs like you hear about the fellows having.

TS:

Right.

DH:

But they may have changed that, I think they’ve changed that now, I think the girls do that. But at the time I was there, I don’t think that happened.

TS:

Just—you did some hikes, for some distance?

DH:

Yeah.

TS:

Not a long run.

DH:

No. And we did marching.

TS:

Oh, marching too, okay.

DH:

Yeah, a lot of marching.

TS:

And you had told me earlier, you said you took a lot of pictures. Was that at Camp Pendleton, or was that later, that you were able to take—

DH:

Most of them were at Pendleton. See, I was there for two years at Pendleton. And I was—only had a year in Hawaii.

TS:

I see.

DH:

And so most of the pictures you’ve seen were Pendleton.

TS:

What’d you like best about that job and that assignment?

DH:

Well, because I just had a free run of the base, you know. I was Area 24 and I could go anywhere I wanted to, and you know, and I liked to go and talk with people and if the—Lieutenant Jenny wanted something, I’d just go get it for her, [Lieutenant Ruth J. O’Holleran Wrenn—DH clarified later] she later became Captain O’Holleran, but you know, and I was just a gofer. And I’d go up to the mess hall there in Area 24 and get them coffee, and bring it down, and we had a coffeepot there and I’d carry coffee to them and just—if they had gifts that come in, like—you know, I was just the one that did all that. And I got to know everybody on the base, you know.  You know, you just—and you knew who to go to if you needed something. And so it worked out very well for me.

TS:

Do you think that being in that position, in the company commander’s office, that you had like a different kind of view of things going on? Like you said, you couldn’t talk about some of the things, right? But maybe you saw the processing of the women, in and out, too, did you see that?

DH:

Oh, yeah. I saw that.

TS:

Is that how you noticed the women that had to get out for certain reasons?

DH:

Well, it was pretty obvious, and so—

TS:

[laughs] Okay.

DH:

So, I initiated, you know, after I’d been doing it a while, that when they first came in, I—you know, they usually came in groups of eight or nine or ten at a time, and I’d sit them down at my desk and I read the orders to them so they wouldn’t get in trouble. I’d make sure everybody knew exactly what they were supposed to do. See, and I also did liberty cards and ID cards and everything that they needed to have. So I made it very plain to them. And like I said, to more or less take care of my conscience about what was going on, because then I didn’t feel guilty about what they, maybe they didn’t know.

TS:

Yes. So what kinds of things were you worried about, that they might get in trouble?

DH:

Well, liberty was a big thing, you know. Coming back on time, and what you wore when you went on liberty. We had a dress code that was just unbelievable back then. You couldn’t go to town in slacks, you know, you had to be dressed, you know—like in a bandbox every time you walked out of the base.

TS:

Like in a what?

DH:

Bandbox, you know, like you came out of a bandbox.

TS:

I don’t know what that means.

DH:

Never heard of that?

TS:

No. [laughs]

DH:

Okay. Well, anyway, that’s an expression they used to use. And you know, of course, back then we had hose that had seams, where they don’t have that any longer, and we weren’t allowed to wear slacks. If you wore slacks off base you had to stay in the vehicle the whole time, you couldn’t go out of the vehicle. And just rules like that.

TS:

What’d you think of those rules, personally?

DH:

Well, you know, they didn’t bother me, because if we went to the movies, we went to the drive-in, you know. And if we did want to go to a downtown movie, then we had to wear a skirt or a dress, and heels. And so it was—I guess, I mean, I suppose they had their reasons, but a lot of them, you know, I didn’t understand.

TS:

[chuckles] And so what kinds of things—what other kinds of things did you do on your off-time, then? In Camp Pendleton?

DH:

Well, we went to the beach, we were there at the Pacific Ocean, you know, Oceanside, California. And went to San Diego, San Diego was the first time I went to the pizza place and saw the pizzas thrown up in the air, and that kind of stuff, I’d never seen that before. And I think when I was at Pendleton was the first time that I heard Elvis Presley, you know. It was the same time.

TS:

Playing on the radio, or?

DH:

Probably on the radio, because I don’t think we had television, you know. And we had a phone booth, and used that, and I remember when the girls went off to do their basketball play-offs, you know, they said “Well, there’s going to be—we’ll call back, if we ask for—to make a personal call to this person, that means we won, if we make a personal call to somebody else, that means we lost.” [both laugh] But there won’t be any charges, because they won’t be here.

TS:

I see. There was a code for whether they won or lost.

DH:

A code. And everybody knew what the code was, you know, and they’d wait around that phone booth for it to ring, and when it rang, they asked for so-and-so “Oh, we won!” [laughter]

TS:

That’s a good way to get around that.

DH:

So that’s what we did, and I just had a fun time the whole time I was in, I really did. I, you know, I had free run of the base, and I was eighteen and I had all these people looking after me, you know.

TS:

Who was looking after you?

DH:

Well, the CO and the senior NCOs and all that, that were in the area. And I had no trouble at all.

TS:

Now, was it at Camp Pendleton where you were talking about the cake was cut and there were no napkins and what happened?

DH:

No, that was later on, after I was out of the Marine Corps.

TS:

Oh, okay.

DH:

And Philip was at South Carolina. And he—the—what do they call them. The ROTC group had been invited to the reserve unit there in Columbia, South Carolina. And they were having their big birthday bash.

TS:

Marine Corps birthday.

DH:

Yes. And of course, I don’t know who the youngest person was, or who the oldest one was, but anyway, Philip said that when they got up there, the commander cut the cake, and there was no napkin, so he just slapped the cake right in the glove [of the youngest and then the oldest—DH added later] and went right on. [chuckling]

TS:

Here you go, right? That’s cute.

DH:

That’s the way it works, yeah. [Audio file 1 ends, audio file 2 begins.]

TS:

The—it’s after the Korean War that you went in, right?

DH:

Well, it was considered the Korean—

TS:

Era, right.

DH:

Era. I went in in ’54.

TS:

Were you concerned about that at all, about the war?

DH:

I—it never—I never even thought about it. You know—and of course, it was, “Join the Marine Corps, free a man to fight”, you know, kind of a thing. But that didn’t even enter in my thinking, because I didn’t see any of that either, you know?

TS:

Right. Because you—we weren’t at war, at that time.

DH:

No, until after I was in the Marine Corps, and then I found out about it, you know.

TS:

What did you find out about after?

DH:

Well, at boot camp, you know, the different things. Join the Marine Corps and free a man to fight.

TS:

Oh, in World War II, when they did that?

DH:

Yeah. Yes.

TS:

Okay. So did you have—your housing accommodations when you were at Camp Pendleton, what were they like?

DH:

Well, you lived in squad bays.

TS:

What’s that look like?

DH:

Well, the first day I went in the squad bay, I made my bed and everything, and then the girls there in the squad bay went and short-sheeted the bed. So when I came back—[laughs] it was not the same bed. And that was kind of interesting, but that was just a routine thing they did, you know, to anybody that was new.

TS:

Yeah.

DH:

And then—but at first we just had this regular old squad bay, and then they found—they said, well, you can have a—a living room area or a central area, and then you can have—put your wall lockers up and make kind of walls and partitions and give yourselves a little privacy. So that’s—we rearranged the squad bays for that reason, and worked out very nice.

TS:

So did you like—were you comfortable with the place that you were living?

DH:

Oh, yeah.

TS:

And apparently you liked the food, because you—

DH:

Oh, yeah.

TS:

Still liked that.

DH:

No problem.

TS:

And so you’re still not really homesick at all, or?

DH:

No.

TS:

And, now when you signed up, you signed up for three—did you sign up for three years, initially?

DH:

Three years. And I was going to sign up for four years, and the recruiter said “No,” said “I’ll tell you what,” said “You sign up for three years, and you can always extend. But if you sign up for four years, you’ve got to stay for four years.” And it was very good advice, I thought the woman, you know, was very helpful in that respect.

TS:

So she said, you can always do more, but you can’t cut it back.

DH:

That’s right. Yeah. You can always extend, but you can’t lop off a year if you decide you don’t want to do it.

TS:

Well, how—in general, you kind of have described this, but how do you—would you say your relations were—relationships were with your superior—the officers and NCOs and things that you were working with?

DH:

Well, I had a great deal of respect for Lieutenant O’Holleran. And Lieutenant [Martha Lee—DH added later] Jones. They were my two favorite officers. Lieutenant Wrenn was all right, but I thought she was a social climber, you know, more than—you know, I don’t know, she’s—but, I had, I thought, a good relationship with all of them. I didn’t have any—if I had any problems, they only knew about it, because I didn’t know about it. [chuckles]

TS:

And now, was it just women that you were under, or were there any men that you worked with at all?

DH:

Well, not until they got to the battalion level. As far as working, no, it was all women, where I was at.

TS:

In your office area and everything like that?

DH:

Right.

TS:

How about—so, in your—did you have anybody that you—

DH:

Now, the mess sergeant and all, that was all male. That was—

TS:

At the mess hall?

DH:

The mess hall, you know, but the girls in the mess hall situation, that was all male-dominated.

TS:

They worked under men? You think that was why there was a little bit more trouble, is that—

DH:

Oh, I think so, yeah.

TS:

Yeah. That’s why you say they took advantage of them, and—

DH:

I do, I thought they did.

TS:

I see, okay. And did you, as a—you know, sometimes people say that women in the military are—at this time, there weren’t that many, and so sometimes the men were kind of discriminating against them or didn’t really want them in there. Did you ever see or hear anything about that kind of experience?

DH:

Not where I worked, I didn’t have that trouble.

TS:

No? Nobody ever complained about it?

DH:

No.

TS:

And did you—the ladies that you worked with, the officers—did you also work with, like, other NCOs, NCOs?

DH:

Yeah.

TS:

And now, did any of them say “Now, Dolores, here, this is the kind of things you need to do to move along in your career,” at all? Did they—like a mentor at all?

DH:

No, I don’t think so.

TS:

No? Nothing like that? Had you ever thought about staying beyond your three years at all?

DH:

I didn’t give it a thought. [laughs]

TS:

No? [both laugh]

DH:

I just thanked the recruiter that said I only had to sign up for three years. That I—you know.

TS:

So was there—so you knew that you were going to get out when your three years were up.

DH:

Oh, yeah.

TS:

Was there any particular reason why you thought you wanted to get out and didn’t want to stay?

DH:

Well, I wanted to go and start my schooling.

TS:

That’s right.

DH:

You know, I had joined to get the GI Bill and I was going to get out and do that. But things don’t always work around that way, but that was my plan, but plans don’t always—they change, you know.

TS:

Well, now, some of the pictures that you showed me, too, look like Camp Pendleton had a pretty good—like, the women’s softball, basketball, that won the—

DH:

Well, they were very athletic, the girls were.

TS:

And did you participate in any of the sports or intramural sports or anything?

DH:

I played—I did the tennis, but was not any good, but I did do the tennis.

TS:

But you played.

DH:

Just because Lieutenant Jones was the officer in charge and I really had such high regard for her, and she didn’t have anybody [that would play tennis—DH added later]. [chuckles]

TS:

Oh. [chuckles] So you played.

DH:

So I jumped in there and played.

TS:

Did you travel to play tennis, or was it—

DH:

Yeah, we went to San Diego, I think, you know, and around. And I traveled with the basketball team because I kept the score, I was the scorekeeper.

TS:

Oh, I was wondering why you—and also you have all those pictures that you took, too.

DH:

Well, I was in a position to get those pictures, because I was in the company office.

TS:

Oh, I see, so people gave them to you. I see.

DH:

Yeah. And all the official photos and things, and I was probably distributing them to the team.

TS:

I see, okay.

DH:

But they probably asked me how many to get, and of course I added my number, too.

TS:

Well, there you go.

DH:

I mean, you know, so actually there was enough for everybody, wasn’t there? [laughs]

TS:

That’s right! So, if you’re the special scorekeeper, though—so you did travel around for those games.

DH:

Yeah, I kept score for the team.

TS:

And that was the basketball team?

DH:

Yes.

TS:

And did you—did you ever, while you were in the service, did you get any kind of special training at all? Did you ever go to temporary duty anywhere?

DH:

The only special training I went to was to learn how to run the projector. And it was a two-day class, and I went and the guy [male Marine—DH added later] showed us how to put the film in.

And then he said “There’s the film over there, you all just run the film and take turns putting it in.” And then he left us! And so, we went over there and we started taking the films out, and they were unedited film of the Second World War. Like Tarawa [Battle of Tarawa, November 1943] and Iwo Jima [Battle of Iwo Jima, February to March 1945] and—so we just saw pictures that we shouldn’t have seen, that—there was no narration, just pictures, and they were just—the sea was absolutely red.

TS:

These were of the battles?

DH:

The battles. And the flamethrowers and the Japanese coming out, you know, on fire, and all the—you know, just really terrible film. All unedited.

TS:

Yeah.

DH:

And that was the first time I had seen any of that.

TS:

That kind of war footage.

DH:

And—but I was glad I did see it, but I could understand why it wasn’t public.

TS:

Yeah.

DH:

But I could—I had a natural ability to—a mechanical ability to keep machines going and things like that, and so I could run a projector and never had any trouble with the Training NCO [job—DH changed later], you know. If they had a film, I’d go in there and run it for them, and there was no problem. Somebody else would come in and run the same film, and they couldn’t do it. I don’t know what their problem was.

TS:

So you were like Radar in MASH, right, where you—

DH:

Well, I don’t know. [both laugh]

TS:

That’s like the company clerk, right?

DH:

Yeah, well, just a company clerk. And just fix things, and whatever worked, you know, and got—took care of it.

TS:

So like the jack of all trades sort of thing.

DH:

But see, being the oldest girl, I’d learned to make do with a lot of different things, and it just came natural to me.

TS:

In your family, so you’re always kind of trying to patch things together to make stuff [unclear].

DH:

Yeah, or whatever.

TS:

Yeah. Well, that’s interesting. So that background kind of—

DH:

Yeah, your background makes a very real difference how you proceed on.

TS:

Did you—do you find—do you think that you were like an independent-type person before you went in the military?

DH:

I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve changed a whole lot.

TS:

Do you consider yourself independent?

DH:

I don’t know. I probably go the wrong way. [laughs] Some of the time, you know. But for the most part, I hang in there. But let me tell you, when I got on the train—see, I flew into Kansas City after recruit training, from South Carolina, we flew back to Kansas City. And then from Kansas City, I took the train and I was home for ten days, and took the train to California, and it was two days or two nights or something, anyway. Whatever it was—what they call the Kansas City Chief, or the Super Chief, or whatever it was called, anyway. It went from Kansas City to Los Angeles. And this was not a Pullman, and this time, when you traveled back then, you had to travel in your—well, at that particular time, which was winter, your winter dress greens, which was the green uniform and the green hat. And the shoes and the hose and everything. And so I knew I had to sit up the whole time, because it wasn’t a Pullman. But I did have a seat. And the train was loaded because it was Christmastime. And the one nice thing about this particular car I was in, the bathroom was just ahead of us, we were right up there close to the bulkhead or whatever. And then there were three seats on this side and three on the other side, like on an airplane. And everybody had their number, and we were in uniform, and I think I was the only Woman Marine there, you know, that I—I don’t recall any other people being in uniform on that train. But anyway, so I sat in between, I sat in the middle seat. And on one side, I don’t remember who it was, but on this side was a very well-developed woman that was overweight, was on this side of me, so I was sat in the middle. So it got time to—that I was going to fall asleep, you know, so I sat there and I had my purse and everything, and I remember taking my cover off, you know, and putting it on my lap, and my purse and everything, and went to sleep. Well, later on the next morning, I woke up and I had to go to the bathroom, and I looked down there, and there’s my purse, but my cover’s gone. Well, now, in the Marine Corps, you can’t go anywhere without your cover, because you can’t even step out the door without your cover, you’ve got to have your cover. And I thought, my gosh. So I got up and I went to the bathroom, and I came back and I looked everywhere, there was no cover anywhere. And I says, “I don’t know what I’m going to do!” Because I didn’t have another one. And I didn’t—there wasn’t anybody else on the train that I knew that had one.

And I said “I’m already in trouble, and I haven’t even got out of the state,” you know? [both laugh] And so, I guess I made a lot of movement, but anyway, this woman on this side woke up and she had to go to the bathroom, so she jumped up and went to the bathroom, and I looked over there in that seat and there lay my hat. She’d pressed it for me.

TS:

[laughs]

DH:

Now, if you’ve seen the green hat, you know—[laughs]

TS:

This is the hat that you—that guided you into the Marines.

DH:

That’s it. [laughs]

TS:

Now it’s flat.

DH:

Flattened, right. And so, I quickly retrieved it, and pushed it out—[laughs] Well, let me tell you, for three years, I had the most special-looking hat in the Marine Corps.

TS:

The whole time, you never got a new hat?

DH:

No, I never got a new hat. [laughter] But it was—

TS:

It was never the same again.

DH:

No, it was not the same lines, but it—I worked on it for the remainder of the trip, and probably put it on my head and kept it there.

TS:

[laughs]

DH:

And I was so glad to have it, because I could get off the train.

TS:

That’s right. No matter what shape it was in.

DH:

No matter—you know, maybe they wouldn’t notice. But I worked on it and all, and nobody ever said too much. They kind of looked at it occasionally, but they never said anything. [laughs] But that was a shock.

TS:

I like that story especially since it was the hat that got you into the Marines, you know. With the bill on it, right?

DH:

Right, the bill.

TS:

Well, now, you went—after Camp Pendleton, you went to Hawaii. Now, did you want to go to Hawaii, or did you—

DH:

I had no idea I was going to Hawaii.

TS:

Okay.

DH:

And we just got a set of orders in, and my—it said I was going to Hawaii. Camp H.M. Smith. And my position, as Training NCO, I’d always given people directions on how to go someplace and do this—never having been there, you know. Well, let me tell you, my directions were not any good, because I had to follow [laughs]. But I guess I did just like they did and stumbled around and finally found the right way and got to San Francisco, where we had to leave from. And we either had to leave from Travis or Alameda, but one or the other, and we got on the plane and we were going down the runway, and the engine fell out of it, or they lost an engine or something, turned the plane back around and taxied back and we got on a bus and went to the other airport, so I don’t remember just which one it was. But anyway, and we got on this airplane, and we flew—it took off, and I don’t know how many hours it took to fly, but it seemed like it was a long time. And it was in those webbed seats, and you could smell the—

TS:

Fuel?

DH:

No, not the fuel. You could smell the cording in the material—the canvas, and all that, it had a—whatever they put in it to keep it from rotting, I suppose. But anyway, it has a definite odor of its own. So we were in that and we flew and we flew and we flew, and I think we probably had sack lunches that they provided, and things like that. And we started going lower, you know, and you could turn around and look out the window, and I could see these waves and you could see the whitecaps. And I said “This is not good, this is not a water plane, this is an airplane,” you know. And I did not know, when we were going into Barbers Point, and if you’ve ever been to Barbers Point, the runway goes into the water. So, the water and the runway meet, so they landed and we went right on in to Barbers Point. And we all got up with a sigh of relief, and I don’t know how many of us were on the plane, but we got off there at Barbers Point, and they opened the door and the fragrance of Hawaii just filled the plane, it was just wonderful.

TS:

Is that right?

DH:

Just absolutely wonderful. You just can’t believe how good the air smelled, after having been in this confined area for so long. And the flowers were there, and the temperature was just right, and the breeze was just right, and it was just wonderful. And they didn’t have a bare spot in Hawaii that didn’t have a flower on it, it’s just the most beautiful place. And I had never been there, and didn’t ever think I’d even be going there, and there I was at Barbers Point. And of course, they had transportation for us, and we got a—I don’t know whether we got on a bus or what we got on, but anyway, we got on the transportation, and went to Camp H.M. Smith. And we got there, and that barracks that we were in was directly across from headquarters, and it was an old navy hospital, that had been converted into this Marine installation. And Camp H.M. Smith, and across the—

TS:

Which island is it on?

DH:

Huh?

TS:

Which island is it?

DH:

Oahu.

TS:

Oahu, okay.

DH:

It’s—you can see Pearl Harbor from—it’s in Aiea, I think, is what it was. But anyway, we got there, and our quarters were just across the roadway from headquarters, which meant all we had to do was just get up and walk across the street and we were at work. You know, we didn’t have anywhere to go, you know. And—but our quarters were what used to be the nurses’ quarters, and in these quarters, there was two to a room, which was a whole lot different, it wasn’t a barracks anymore, it was—we were two to a room. And I was upstairs, in the upstairs, and they had a long hallway outside with windows that looked out on the headquarters part, and we could, you know, look out there and view them anytime, and it was just really a nice place to be stationed, I mean, you know, you couldn’t ask for anything nicer than Hawaii.

TS:

Did you have the same job there, as—

DH:

No, I went to work for Special Services.

TS:

What—what part?

DH:

Well, Special Services was—they took care of all the—well, like Captain [Ira P.] Norfolk was—he was my boss, and he was also the coach for the men’s basketball team, and all the sports and the stuff like that. And all I did was the typing, and there were four of us in the office. There was a male first sergeant, I guess, or master sergeant. Lockwood, and then there was a Sergeant Hollis, a Woman Marine, I think she was a master sergeant too, and she had a ten o’ clock appointment every day to go have coffee, because the [snack bar—DH changed later] was right next to our office, and she always—she just got up automatically and went and had coffee at ten o’ clock in the morning, you know. And then there was my desk and another desk, there was four desks in this little bitty room. And we did the typing and probably the filing, and that’s all. And then the office next to us was Captain Norfolk, and he made major while we were there, and they have a thing about when somebody achieves a rank, an officer rank, they wet them down, and somebody would come in his office and put water under the door or whatever, you know. And oh, he was upset, when he came and somebody told him that “That’s ‘cause you made major.” And he forgave them, all right, so. [laughter]

TS:

Oh, I see, he had to know—

DH:

You know? Yeah, everything’s all right now. But anyway.

TS:

Well, was it any different, not—so, before you were working mostly with Women Marines, and now there’s integrated with men and women. Was that any different at all, that kind of environment?

DH:

Not for me, because I still had the run of the whole entire base.

TS:

You did? [in surprised tone]

DH:

Yeah. Yeah, I went all the way from the commanding officer at the top all the way down to the news—or, to the mail room down at the bottom. And the mess hall, and I just knew everybody again, you know, I was just—it didn’t take long. And of course, my name, you know, everybody’s referred to by their last name. And everybody knew me, and I knew virtually everybody, you know, and just didn’t have any problem. I know I carried a cup of coffee to Lieutenant Wrenn at Pendleton, and I walked in an office with her coffee and coffee for the—I think she had a battalion commander there, and I gave them both coffee, you know, and left.

And she said “Well, thank you, Angel.” And I said “Yes ma’am” and walked out.

And the battalion commander says “Aren’t you getting a little personal with your enlisted people?” [laughter] So from then on, they always called me PFC or Corporal or whatever.

TS:

Oh, in front of the “Angel”?

DH:

Yeah. [laughing]

TS:

That’s true, that would be—that’s funny.

DH:

That’s—but you know, it’s just—well, anyway, that’s just the way it was. But I had a lot of fun with my name.

TS:

Oh, yeah.

DH:

You know, and—well, then, I met Philip while I was in Hawaii, my husband.

TS:

And he was a Marine?

DH:

Yeah, he was a Marine. And let’s see, I met him in May, I had gotten there in October, I think, the year before. Or—yeah. And so I met him in May. No, I met him in April, because he gave me a birthday cake for my birthday, so—and so we dated all that time up until September, when I left to come back to the States, and he left to go to the Philippines, I think he had to go over there for a few months. And then I went back to Hawaii in March, and we were married April the 3rd , 1958.

TS:

That was after you got out?

DH:

After I got out. So I didn’t go to college.

TS:

Oh, because you got married instead.

DH:

Yeah, right. And so Jimmy was born the following year, in—that was ’58, Jimmy was born in February of ’59. And then Susan was born in June of ’61, and Tom was born in September of ’64 when Philip was in the Gulf of Tonkin, during the Vietnam era, and he was—Philip had three thirteen-month tours in a period of five years. Tom didn’t even know he had a daddy. You know. He was home such a short time.

TS:

So he was in Vietnam?

DH:

Yes, Vietnam. And so, but anyway, I had completely forgotten about the schooling, and then Philip retired in ’72 or ’73—or, I guess ’74. He retired, and he decided to go to school, and when he decided to go to school, I said “Well, maybe I ought to go to school, I’ve got this GI Bill.” Well, I didn’t know they had a time thing on it, that you had to use it within a certain amount of time from the day you discharge. For some reason, I never saw that. And so, as it was, I only used seventeen months of it, because that’s all the time remaining I—

TS:

That’s all the time you had left?

DH:

Work into it. But as it was, I got an associate degree there at Coastal, and I think we paid for the last quarter or something on our own so I could finish and graduate.

TS:

So you were able to use some of it.

DH:

Yeah. So I did use some of that. But I’d forgotten all about it, you know. Other things happened.

TS:

Well, when you got out of the service, how were you thinking then about your time in, I mean, at the time you got out, your experience at that time? Not looking back, but—

DH:

I was glad I had gone. I mean, I had no regrets. I just really—I was raised by the Marine Corps, those impressive years from eighteen to twenty-one, you know, and a lot can happen when you’re eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one.

TS:

How do you think it shaped you?

DH:

I don’t know—

TS:

Or, how it raised you, as you put it. How did it raise you?

DH:

Well, I met some really good people, and some people that I was really glad I wasn’t related to. [both chuckle] You know, but I mean, you know, overall though, some really nice people.

TS:

Yeah. And do you think about how—when you grew up in Kansas City, and then you’re a young woman and then you go in the Marines, and there’s women—there’s women and men from all over the country. Did that make an impression on you at all, like working with people from the South and you know, the North—Yankees and, you know, all over?

DH:

Well, I just thought it was extremely interesting.

TS:

Pardon?

DH:

Interesting.

TS:

It was interesting?

DH:

Yeah, because they had such a different view of different things, you know. And the language was different, you know, different words mean different things, and it’s just a matter of getting along with people and all. But virtually I had no trouble at all, you know, and I think it was good for me, you know. A lot of people would maybe say it wasn’t good for them, but it was good for me.

TS:

Yeah. Well, you’re also in in a time, in an era where there weren’t that many women in the military altogether, let alone in the Marines, where there were—

DH:

Yeah, right.

TS:

How many women did you say?

DH:

Between eighteen hundred and a couple thousand. Maybe twenty-two hundred.

TS:

So very small. Did you think of yourself, or even now—

DH:

Oh, and let me tell you, I was so proud of myself when I was—had that thing, and the recruiter had given me and told me all this stuff to do. And I thought to myself, I said, well, I will have a leg up because I’m going to memorize that number they gave me, you know, my service number?

TS:

Right.

DH:

[Service number redacted]. And I worked for three solid days on that number, and I got it. [laughs] And then I got there, and I thought “Well, how foolish,” because we had to just literally memorize everything that came in front of us.

TS:

Everything else you had to memorize, too, right? Yeah, that’s right. Well, you had a leg up on that one, still.

DH:

Yeah, well, but I had my number. And of course they had my number also, you know.

TS:

Well, did you—did you think of yourself as a trailblazer at all, even now when you look back?

DH:

No.

TS:

I know you’ve talked about, you’re in the organization—what’s the—

DH:

Oh, Women Marines Association.

TS:

Women Marines Association. And you were telling me earlier, you know, you were only in for a short time.

DH:

Well, compared to what I did—you know, had, you know, it’s just—when you meet Rosie, you’ll just—you’re in for a real treat, and Gail.

TS:

However, you were in well before them, and without you being in—

DH:

Well, now Gail, her birthday is October of 1957. A few days after I got out of the Marine Corps.

TS:

Oh, is that right?

DH:

Yeah. Is when she was born.

TS:

So she was born—that’s an interesting connection, yeah. Well, what do you think about—so the women in combat now, what do you think about that?

DH:

Well, I think they are really tough. To go through the basic training that you have to do. And I met a girl the other day that came in in the ‘90s, that is out there near Swansboro, and she said that—she’s from Pennsylvania, by the way, and she said when she went into recruit training she was just a skinny little girl. She said, but when she came out, she was—how did she put it. Bulked up, you know, she had muscles that she didn’t know she had, and all. And she said that she was standing there, and her folks came down to the graduation. And she said “They went right by me, they were looking around for me, and they went right by me. They didn’t even recognize their own daughter, you know.”

TS:

Because she had a physical change.

DH:

Well, because she had—you know, with all the strenuous exercises and all, that she was really transformed in that period of time.

TS:

Well, I know—I’m going to ask you if you would—you have three children, right?

DH:

Yes.

TS:

And, two boys and a girl, is that?

DH:

Yeah, I told you on the phone, they all were in the service.

TS:

All of them were in the service, right.

DH:

Yeah.

TS:

And so, and which services have they been in?

DH:

Well, Susan—well, Jimmy was in the service first, he went in the air force. And he didn’t have any basic training at all, he just went into the ROTC, to the basic or whatever, however they get in that way. And then Susan came along, and she married a fellow that didn’t have a college degree, and he wanted to join and they were going to join [the army—DH added later] together, and they were going to go in as medics. And Susan wanted to be a nurse. And she thought that would be a great step in the right direction.

And so when it came to—when they finally got into the service, they said “Whoops, you’re two pounds overweight, your contract’s nullified, and we’ll put you where we want you.”

And so they put her in intelligence, and sent her off on a whole different career. And she said “But I wanted to be a medic!”

They said “Sorry, your contract’s no good because you violated it, you know, you gained two pounds,” or whatever, you were over the weight. And so that’s where she—so she ended up in the intelligence thing, and went to Europe and all. And her husband, he went to San Antonio to the medic school and so they kind of parted ways. But now, her ex-husband is a physician’s assistant, he went on with his schooling, and in the army, and has done really well, has done quite well in the medical part. So who knows, you know.

TS:

And didn’t she go back in, to—

DH:

Well, then she got out of the army, went back to—she went to a school there in Baltimore, and aced the chemistry courses, which I don’t even think I could spell chemistry, let alone ace the course. And then she went on to graduate as a nurse from the University of Wyoming, at—what town is it that the university’s at? It’s not Cheyenne, I don’t think. But anyway, wherever the school’s located [Laramie, Wyoming—DH added later], she graduated from there.

TS:

And so she became a nurse.

DH:

And then she became a nurse, and she went into the navy as a navy nurse. And then Tom came along, and I told you that he played around his first couple years, and his GPR—grade point ratio was 2.9. And he went and he thought they’d just pick him up for officer’s school, and they said “Son, we don’t accept anybody unless they’ve got a 3.0.” And so he enlisted, and went in as enlistee, and went through boot camp and then he was picked up and became a helicopter pilot.

TS:

In what service?

DH:

Navy.

TS:

Navy. And so—air force, army—

DH:

Well, Susan was in the army and the navy.

TS:

And the navy, and then another navy for your son. But nobody joined the Marines, huh?

DH:

No.

TS:

[chuckles] And you and your husband are both—

DH:

Yeah. And that’s what Tom told them, said, well, you can’t throw anything at me that I haven’t already seen—

TS:

In basic training?

DH:

—my mama was a Marine. [laughs]

TS:

Well, so would you recommend the service to any young woman today?

DH:

Oh, sure. Without hesitation. But it does depend on the people you know, but the people I met were just splendid, for the most part.

TS:

And did you feel like you were treated fairly, in the time you were in?

DH:

Oh yeah.

TS:

Is there anything that you would want a civilian to know or understand about the military that they may not understand, having never been in it?

DH:

I don’t know what they don’t understand.

TS:

[chuckles] Okay.

DH:

You know. [chuckles]

TS:

Yeah.

DH:

But I don’t know.

TS:

Well, did you have any—when you transitioned out, you went—you got married, and then you had some children. And did you go back into the workforce?

DH:

No. I did a lot of school work and volunteer work—still doing volunteer work.

TS:

So you’re still kind of a jack of all trades, still.

DH:

Yeah, still.

TS:

Just doing other things.

DH:

Yeah.

TS:

Well, I don’t have any other formal questions. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you wanted to add?

DH:

I think you’ve done a splendid job, and I hope this is very successful.

TS:

Well, I enjoyed talking with you today, Dolores.

DH:

Well, I’m glad.

TS:

Well, thank you. I’m going to go ahead and shut this off.

DH:

Okay, good.

[End of Interview]