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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Naomi Peers Malone, 2011

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Object ID: WV0519.5.001

Description: Documents the life of Naomi Peers Malone from her early life as a Mennonite in Philadelphia during the 1930s and 1940s, her decision to join the United States Marines in 1953, basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, and her assignment to Cherry Point, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Also discussed is Malone’s marriage to a fellow marine and her involvement with military-affiliated organizations after being discharged.

Summary:

Malone discusses her childhood growing up as a Mennonite in Philadelphia in the 1930s and 1940s, her conversion to the Baptist faith, and her mother’s beliefs that the military would provide needed discipline. She recalls joining the U.S. Marines in 1953 and attending basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. She discusses the challenges of basic training and her career working in the disbursement office. Malone also reveals her decision to quit the U.S. Marines after marriage and accompany her husband to California, as well as her life as a military spouse and her thoughts on the frequent absences of her husband.

Personal topics include racial discrimination in the Jim Crow south in the 1950s and an early interracial relationship, as well as her feelings on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” controversy and the sexual integration of the military. Malone discusses her work as a schoolteacher for thirty-seven years after her discharge from the military and her involvement with the Women Marines Association in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Creator: Naomi Peers Malone

Biographical Info: Naomi Peers Malone (b. 1935)served in the United State Marine Corps from 1953-1954. She retired with the rank of Lance Corporal.

Collection: Naomi Peers Malone Oral History

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

Full Text:

Therese Strohmer:

This is Therese Strohmer. Today’s May 7, 2011. I’m in Jacksonville, North Carolina and this is an oral history interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I’m here with Naomi Malone. Naomi, how would you like your name to read on your collection?

Naomi Peers Malone:

Naomi Peers Malone.

TS:

Okay. Naomi, thank you for coming today. Why don’t you go ahead and start out by telling me when and where you were born.

NPM:

I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in April of 1935.

TS:

And were you in the city then? Did you live in the city of Philadelphia?

NPM:

Yes, we lived right down in the area known as Kensington. We were only about two or three miles from downtown.

TS:

How was it like growing up in that area in that time? Did you have a lot of neighbors?

NPM:

It was fun. We had— well the houses are all attached. You know, they’re row houses and we walked to school. There were just lots of kids to play with and I was in scouts and I didn’t know any better really. I’d spend my summers on a farm but—

TS:

Oh did you? Whose farm did you spend it at?

NPM:

I was born and raised a Mennonite and I spent my summers in Lancaster County on a Mennonite farm.

TS:

Was it like a relative’s farm or—

NPM:

No, it was friends of my parents that they knew through church.

TS:

Now, what did your folks do for a living?

NPM:

My dad worked for a jelly company; a preserve company. He was the shipper. And my mother worked at a bank, foreign exchange bank in downtown Philadelphia and she kind of did the— I don’t know what you would call it— the logging, the record keeping. You know, you made your deposit during the day but then at night, there was this group that would go in and they would do all the posting and such, I guess you would call.

TS:

I see posting to the accounts and things like that.

NPM:

Right.

TS:

Is that what she did, making sure all the T’s are crossed on all the accounts.

NPM:

Right.

TS:

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

NPM:

I had a brother Jim, who was the oldest. He was about four years older than me. And my sister Linnie, she was three years older than me. And then there was me, and I was the baby of the family.

TS:

Yeah, I was going to say, you’re the baby then. Well, so you were born during the depression.

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

The middle, I guess, maybe closer to the end.

NPM:

But I was too little to care and didn’t realize.

TS:

That’s right. That’s right. You would have been a really young girl then during World War II. You remember anything about that?

NPM:

Oh yes, I do.

TS:

Oh, you do?

NPM:

We—I loved to knit and crochet, that’s my favorite things to do. And when I was in elementary school, was where I learned to knit, and we would knit six inch squares. While we were in school if our work was done or the teacher was reading to us or something like that. We would knit and we made the squares and then one of the parents would put them together as an afghan and they would send them to the boys overseas.

TS:

And did you know that you were doing that at the time?

NPM:

Yes. We knew what they were for and why we were making them. I guess that’s the only reason they would have let us knit in school, during school hours. But it was—and I still, it’s hard to just sit. I want to crochet or knit.

TS:

Like right now, right? You got anything in that bag in there that you want to get?

NPM:

No, believe it or not, I came out without my crocheting this morning because I figured I wouldn’t be doing it. Usually it’s with me wherever I go.

TS:

Yes. Well, I can understand that.

NPM:

If I don’t have it with me, invariably somebody that knows me will say, “Are you all right? You don’t feel bad today do you?”

“No, I’m fine, why?”

“Well, you don’t have your crocheting and you’re not doing anything.”

TS:

So that’s something that’s identifiable to you.

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

Do you remember anything else about growing up at that time?

NPM:

It was a friendly world. You didn’t always lock your door, even living in the city. And you—I can remember as a young girl being in Girl Scouts, my friend and I, we would walk to the meeting which was held in a Lutheran church, I guess it was. And, you know, after dark in Philadelphia it didn’t—nobody had any fears. You know, you didn’t worry about anybody bothering you or anything. I know after I got grown I was home one time and I told my dad I was going down to Kensington to show my boys where we lived and he just about had a stroke trying to talk me out of it and made me promise to keep the doors locked. And stop for nothing and no one. Then when I got down there I could understand why. It was just so totally different. And my boys, in complete—they were elementary age. In complete horror, they said, “Mom, you didn’t live here.” And I said, “Yes, I did but it was different.” And I didn’t unlock my door and I didn’t linger as long as I might have otherwise. But it had just changed so drastically.

TS:

How—in what way did it change?

NPM:

Well, it was just dirtier and scruffier and rougher looking people. And I don’t know. It was just the type of area that if you were in a strange town you’d think, well I don’t want to stop here. It just looks like if you looked cross eyed at somebody they might take a shot at you or something. It just looked rough.

TS:

When was it that you went back to visit?

NPM:

Oh mercy. Probably in the mid-sixties.

TS:

Oh, because of the age of your boys.

NPM:

Yes, that’s how I figured it out, how old they were.

TS:

I’m thinking, yeah, because they’re in their fifties right?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

That’s right okay. Did you—so what kind of games and things like that did you do growing up? Do you remember playing anything in the streets or play outside.

NPM:

We played outside but we didn’t play in the streets. I wasn’t a ball player. I didn’t like softball and all that type of thing that the kids did. I would sit and watch them.

TS:

Yes.

NPM:

And we played tag sometimes in the street, but if we got caught by our parents we kind of got fussed at. And I’m trying to think what we did play. I know in Scouts we did lots of games and stuff. But with not having thought—my sister should be here she would remember.

TS:

Well, that’s all right. Did you, with your Scouts— you were in Girl Scouts for a while?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

What kind of things did you do with Scouts?

NPM:

Oh, we went camping and we did community projects for, you know, older people that needed help with things. We went on hikes and just had a good time.

TS:

Did you enjoy that then?

NPM:

Oh yes. I loved Scouts. I was in Scouts for, oh, I guess five or six years up until the time when I would have been a Senior Scout. There wasn’t a troop close by, so I kind of dropped Scouts at that time.

TS:

Were you a badge collector? Did you like to get all those badges?

NPM:

Yes! I had a sash with all my little badges on. I have no idea where they’re at now. With moving around you kind of lose things.

TS:

That’s true. That’s true. Well, now did you like school growing up?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

Did you have a favorite teacher?

NPM:

I like—oh, yes I had a very dear friend in high school. She was my bookkeeping teacher the first year. I don’t know why, there’s just something that clicked and we became good friends. And then when I lost my mother, she was like a second mother to me.

TS:

How old were you when you lost your mother then?

NPM:

I was twenty-three. I was pregnant with my first baby; and I think that was a second hardship because when I was living in California at the time and when we came back to the east coast, I think I cried for three thousand miles because I couldn’t take my baby home to mom. And that, that still hurts that she didn’t see my boys. But she will someday.

TS:

Yes. So the teacher kind of took you under her wing?

NPM:

So, Lillian just became a very good friend. I never will forget the day I got my driver’s license. Lillian had a home in [New] Jersey on the shore that she went to in the summer time. And I got my driver’s license in the summer time and I passed and I called my mother and I said “Mom, I passed.”

She said “You did?”

I said “Yes, can I go to Sea Girt [New Jersey] to see Lillian?” But I think back on it, here I was at sixteen just got my license and she let me go.

TS:

She did?

NPM:

She certainly did. She said, “Yes if you want to, just don’t be late getting home.” And when I think back on it, I didn’t appreciate it then but now that I think back on it I think I wouldn’t have let my boys go that far.

TS:

How far away would it have been for you?

NPM:

Well, I was in Philadelphia, which of course is on the western side of New Jersey and Lillian was at the beach so it was, you know, all the way across New Jersey and then up some. It was an hour and a half, two hour drive for a new driver. I didn’t drive very fast then.

TS:

Then?! Okay.

NPM:

I don’t now, either. My grandchildren fuss at me that I drive too slow.

TS:

Oh okay. So what did you think, when you were growing up and so you grew up in the forties and fifties. Did you have—what kind of music—did you listen to any kind of music going on at that time? Going to the movies, anything like that?

NPM:

I wasn’t into the real popular music or the singers that the girls all swooned over. I thought oh, they’re crazy. I don’t know, I was a weird kid. I guess nowadays they would probably call me a nerd.

TS:

But you also said you grew up as a Mennonite? Is that right? Did that have anything to do with it you think?

NPM:

It did. But my mother was not strict Mennonites. I know there were times my grandfather must’ve just sat back in horror because we did go to movies which was a no-no. We went on Saturday afternoon to the matinee. My mother and father would come to the later shows so we’d get to sit through it twice. Because back then they were continuous, there was no interruption or, you know, emptying out the theatre and then starting over. And we could go—the movie cost $.16 and we got a quarter. And for that quarter we could go to the movie, and I could stop at the corner store on the way to—I love dill pickles, kosher dills, and I would stop and pick up a pickle and then when we got to the movie, I could get a drink, and three—well now they call them rods—but they were the straight pretzels and they were thick. They weren’t the skinny, what we think of pretzel sticks now. So I’d eat my pickle and my pretzels and drink my drink; and all for a quarter! And my boys just look at me like they think I’m from another world when I tell them that.

TS:

Yes, because you have to take out a loan to go to the movies today.

NPM:

Just about. I haven’t been to a movie in a long time and it just kind of shocks me when I hear about how much it costs to go. And I don’t know how families can afford it these days.

TS:

I don’t know that a lot of them can. We have the Netflix and all that in your own home but you’re not going out.

NPM:

It’s different.

TS:

Yes it is. We’re in a different world aren’t we? So when you’re in school, do you have an idea about what you’re going to do when you grow up? When you know, grow up and be whatever?

NPM:

No. I had no idea. I—joining the military would have been the absolute last thought I would ever have had, especially at that time. Because like I say that military was definitely a no-no at that time.

TS:

No-no because of—

NPM:

Because of the Mennonite—

TS:

Oh, I see.

NPM:

—religion. I never actually joined the Mennonite church but I attended the Mennonite church. So I guess technically I was raised a Mennonite but I was not a Mennonite. My mother was—well, my father was not a Mennonite and they of course dressed plain and my mother did for the longest while. Except she didn’t wear an ankle length dress; she wore right below the knee. But my father never dressed plain. I had I guess the best of both worlds really. I think it was a good foundation.

TS:

In what way?

NPM:

Well, I think as far as you know your morals and your church training and your upbringing. There were just things you knew you didn’t do. There was just no question about it. And of course most of my friends and everybody knew that I was, that my mother was Mennonite and that we were being raised that way. I don’t know, I can’t remember it being drilled into me but I can remember thinking well you know even if it was something I was tempted to do, well I didn’t want to do that because I don’t want them to think Mennonites do that. You know, that type of thing. But it kept me out of something I might of gotten into.

TS:

So did you enjoy high school then?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

Were you in any activities?

NPM:

No, like I say I was a nerd.

TS:

You were a nerd? Okay.

NPM:

I helped the teachers. I went to a brand new high school, Abraham Lincoln High, and when we got there we didn’t have lockers; we didn’t have anything. And when they finally got the lockers ready— of course we had locks on them— I helped to assign the locks and whatever the teachers wanted done. I was more or less a teacher assistant as a high school kid. And then of course I got to know Lillian and I’d’ve hung the moon for her I’d reckon if I could’ve, and she was my bookkeeping teacher my first year. By the end of that year, we were pretty good friends. It was funny, I went to my grade advisor and I said to him “Will you do me a favor?”

He said “What’s that?”

I said “Do not give me Lillian Graf for my bookkeeping teacher next year.” And he looked at me and he cracked up laughing, and I looked at him and I said “What’s so funny?”

He said, “You won’t believe it but Lillian came and asked me not to give you to her.”

I said, “Oh, she didn’t want me in her class.”

He said, “No. No more than you wanted her for a teacher.” But we both felt with being friends it, you know, just might not work out too well.

TS:

Interesting, yes.

NPM:

I didn’t want to be teacher’s pet.

TS:

I was thinking that.

NPM:

And that first year, I mean, I worked my butt off to have an A. I had to do more than the others did to keep my A because she didn’t want it to be said that she favored me, and I didn’t want another year of that. I wanted to just be a student. I didn’t want to be a friend in class. So then I went and I told her what I had been told and she said, “Yes that’s what I did.”

I said, “Well at least we think the same.” 

TS:

So what did you do after high school?

NPM:

Well, being the baby of the family my mother thought I needed discipline. Well, back up a little bit. I had an aunt, my father’s sister, had gone—I think she was in the Army, she was a WAC [Women’s Army Corps], and she married a very wealthy young man who was the son of—and I can’t remember now which one it was—of a sporting goods firm. Very well known one, Spaulding or something like that. And I think my mother was kind of thinking that was what you do. But she thought I needed the discipline and just maybe I’d meet somebody rich. Of course I didn’t meet the rich guy but the discipline was probably good for me.

TS:

Why did she think you needed discipline?

NPM:

Because I was the baby of the family.

TS:

You were spoiled?

NPM:

I didn’t think so; my sister thought so. She would tell me quite frequently what part of that was her she’s “Miss Neatnik”. And she would be doing chores there at the house because with mom working at night we girls had, you know, chores we had to do. I went through them to suit my sister. I just wanted to do them and get it done and over with. She would send me out to play and then she would do hers and mine both. So she had her hand at spoiling me and my mother knew she did it and would tell her not to but oh well. And I was happy to go out and play.

TS:

Was she also maybe the type that wanted to make sure that it was done a certain way, and you can—

NPM:

Yes, and that too. I’m still the slob and she’s still the “neatnik”.

TS:

It was your aunt that was a WAC?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

So how did your mom think you were going to get this discipline? Did she want you to go in the military?

NPM:

Yes. She suggested the military. And I had a teacher in high school who was retired military. And he talked about the military and he made it sound interesting.

TS:

Yes.

NPM:

And I don’t know why the idea just kind of appealed to me.

TS:

What part of it?

NPM:

I don’t know? Just the whole idea, you know, being in uniform, being different, and not—and I really had no—I didn’t want to go to college and I didn’t want to be a teacher. And, you know, there weren’t too many positions open for women at that time. I knew I had to do something. Just between the teacher and mom suggesting going in the military that did appeal to me. I talked to Mr. Devlin and oh, he thought, of course he thought it was a wonderful idea, and he thought the Marine Corps was the place to go.

TS:

Who was Mr. Devlin?

NPM:

He was the teacher that had just retired that was a Marine—and he ran his classroom like—well, not like boot camp but I could see Marine Corps—

TS:

Had he been in the Marines?

NPM:

Yes. He had retired—

TS:

Oh, okay.

NPM:

—after twenty and gone into teaching; which a lot of them still do. So that’s where I ended up.

TS:

But did you look at any of the other services?

NPM:

No.

TS:

No?

NPM:

No. Never gave them a look. He just made the Marine Corps sound sharp and of course teenagers then listened to adults. We didn’t automatically assume they were wrong.

TS:

So your mom—

NPM:

Was the instigator.

TS:

And so what about your dad?

NPM:

Well, my mom and dad at that time were separated which, of course, was another Mennonite no-no. That’s when we basically switched over to Baptist. And I had Mennonite friends tell me that when they traveled if they couldn’t find a Mennonite church they went to a Baptist church because that was close to the same basic beliefs. I had to do something, so I went in the Marine Corps.

TS:

Tell me about—what about your brother and sister? What did they think about it? And your friends too.

NPM:

Nobody seemed to—I think some were surprised. My brother was married. I’m trying to think—I think my sister was married by then too. They both got married kind of young. But obviously because I had the nephew, when, you know, [he] came to boot camp—

TS:

Oh right, that’s right.

NPM:

—to my graduation. And that was my sister’s child. So they were both married when I went in the Marine Corps.

TS:

And your friends?

NPM:

I don’t really remember them saying too much. None of them went with me.

TS:

Now this would have been in ’53?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

So the Korean War would have been over, not very long. Did you think about that at all?

NPM:

No.

TS:

No? Did you have any expectation on what the military would be like?

NPM:

No. I was going young and innocent and no idea.

TS:

So when did you—so you went in—how soon after high school then did you go in?

NPM:

Right after.

TS:

Right after? So you’re eighteen?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

How did you get to basic training and where was that at?

NPM:

It was Parris Island, South Carolina and I had never been south. I’ve been to Virginia, but that’s about as far south as I’d ever been. We went on a train; there were three of us that traveled together. Dixie, the gal I told you about in boot camp and then—and I still can’t think of her name, the other young lady that I had told you about. We traveled the train together. And we had, you know, a sleeping compartment and I was cool. I had been on a train but I had never been on one overnight. That was kind of neat. I was wishing they would send me home by train too. But Mom came to graduation so she took me home. That was a neat trip, we had a good time.

TS:

Well, now the fifties, it would have been—segregation would have been going on. Did you recognize that at all as you were traveling?

NPM:

No.

TS:

Not at all?

NPM:

I—that was never a part of my family. I heard about it but I had never really experienced it. In fact I never experienced it until after boot camp. There was, of course in the Marine Corps we were all mixed together and it didn’t—I mean I was raised God made all people and we’re all brothers and sisters in the Lord, and I might not like you for your actions but I didn’t dislike you because of the color of your skin, or your religion or whatever. But I know at Cherry Point the three of us went to the movies. Young, innocent gals again and neither one of us gave it a thought. And it just happened I was the one that went up to buy the tickets. And of course we had walked up together and had been talking together. I went to get the tickets and I said I wanted three and the lady looked at me and of course one was black and two were white. She said to me, “Are they going with you?”

And I looked at her and I said, “Yes, of course.”

She said, “I’m sorry, but they can’t.” And I just, I mean, I was just totally flummoxed.

And I said, “Well, why not?”

And she said, “Well, that gal can go with you but she can’t.” And I remember there were a few things I would have liked to have said to her but I didn’t.

And I picked up my money and I said, “If they can’t go, none of us is going.” And we walked off. And I was so embarrassed for our friend that was—

And she said, “Don’t worry about it.” She said, “I’m used to it.” She said, “And you’re going to run into that down here.” Because at home we could’ve gone together.

TS:

Where was she from?

NPM:

She was from Pennsylvania, too. We didn’t know each other then. All three of us were Pennsylvania girls.

TS:

That’s right.

NPM:

So, segregation never entered our head because I went to school—in fact when I was in elementary school my boyfriend was a black young man. I thought we weren’t really boyfriend and girlfriend but I liked him and it just never, never crossed my mind. And then when boot camp we were together and that was the absolute first time I had ever run into segregation. It wasn’t nice. I didn’t appreciate it at all. But that was part of life and part of growing up. I’m glad it’s not that way now, but it was an experience.

TS:

Well, tell me about boot camp.

NPM:

I loved it. I really and truly did. And I probably needed the discipline. I probably should go back to boot camp for a couple weeks. But there’s just the feeling and the camaraderie there and the—I don’t know, it’s just different than any place else because you’re all suffering together; you’re all miserable together. There’s, I guess, three gals that I still correspond with from boot camp. And of course we’ve had children and our children have grown up. And then several that I served with, you know, over time. We still correspond. We used to say—my husband and I used to say we were going to travel across the country and stop to see everybody we knew, but we never did that either. But phones and letters kind of keep us in touch.

TS:

What was the—did you have any trouble adjusting to boot camp? You know, the military way of life? What kind of things did you do there? Like when you talk about being disciplined, what kind of things do you remember?

NPM:

I must have Alzheimer’s.

TS:

We looked at some of those pictures; in some of them you’re shining shoes.

NPM:

Yes. If our shoes weren’t shined good we heard about it. And we didn’t—I’m trying to think. We didn’t—or I’d get KP [Kitchen Patrol]. You now, I [unclear] have KP. Believe it or not we had male Marines that were—that did the cooking and the serving and that was the only time we saw guys. And then like I told you we had the males Marines that marched around our squad bay or around the—

TS:

The barracks?

NPM:

—the barracks. After dark we were not allowed out of the barracks for any reason. Because they figured if we went out we’d be going out to see the male Marines. I think there were two that marched around, and we would joke about were they keeping us in or keeping the males out. I can’t really think.

TS:

Do remember if there was anything that was particularly challenging for you? Were you homesick at all?

NPM:

No, I wasn’t homesick. And we—I think the drilling, the marching was the hard part. And we would—that was one of our punishments if we did wrong. The thing that I always thought was so unfair was if one or two of us did something, we all got punished. I never did see the justice in that, except it made you mind your p’s and q’s because you didn’t want your friends and everybody else to get mad at you. It was interesting.

TS:

Was the physical part difficult at all?

NPM:

I thought so because I’m not a physical person. Walking and exercise is not my cup of tea. Now, if I can go to the pool, but they didn’t let you go to the pool. That was a no-no. That was a little bit hard. I enjoyed when we went to the rifle range.

TS:

Oh yes?

NPM:

We didn’t—we just really—I guess nowadays what the girls—they would think we were jokers at the rifle.  I mean, we shot the rifles and we learned, [coughs] excuse me, learned to handle the guns. But there was no serious, you know, target practice. It’s just familiarity with the—

TS:

And you got to shoot them?

NPM:

Yes. We shot at targets but the targets were shapes of people. Of course you were supposed to get them where it hurt but a lot of times it was just the arms or the shoulders. But there was no real stress put on that.

TS:

Were you trained by men there or women?

NPM:

Our male DI [drill instructor] did the actual drilling. The rest were WMs [Women Marines], were gals. We had a PFC [Private First Class] and I don’t know how she got to be a drill sergeant so quick. But she was PFC and then we had a sergeant. I guess we had two sergeants. And then I thought I never would forget her name; we had an officer that was part of our group and of course she was the senior ranking one. She was a tough little gal. They all were really. I think that was the hardest part, was not saying anything back or not reacting to anything they said or did. That you’ve—maybe that’s where my mother thought I needed the discipline.

TS:

Biting your tongue?

NPM:

Yes. You learn to keep your mouth shut and you learn to keep your face straight. You didn’t show that you wanted to kill them. But yet you respected them. And looking back on it I appreciate all that they did but I didn’t appreciate it then. I do know that our sergeant, the one that—she was tough too. And I do remember before I left I did thank her. I think that just about put her in shock because she looked at me so strange. But I did. I really appreciated what they had done, when I knew it was over, but not during.

TS:

Not during it?

NPM:

No.

TS:

Now what were you’re living conditions like?

NPM:

We were in a barracks, of course, and we were in a squad bay. We were all together and we all had or did without at the same time. Of course we had to keep our squad bay clean and our heads had to be clean.

TS:

Now you were telling me about doing chores earlier at home. Did your technique change a little in the Marines?

NPM:

Yes. Just a little bit [chuckle]. It hasn’t carried over though because I’m still a lousy housekeeper. I don’t like housework at all. But yes, you did it. What you were assigned to do you did, and you did it right because otherwise you might live with it for a length of time. And you might have to do it five or six times. Bing, bing, bing, bing, bing! All in the same day, one behind the other until you got it where they thought it should be. So you learned to do it to their standards pretty quick.

TS:

You’re a quick learner then?

NPM:

Yes!

TS:

Did you enjoy the food?

NPM:

Yes. Because we didn’t, you know, between marching and the other physical things we did, when it was meal time we were hungry. We served ourselves and what you took you ate. So you learned to either not take so much or eat it whether you wanted it or not because you didn’t—if you had to scrape your tray or your plate, and throw food away, you might find yourself taking care of everybody’s plate. I guess they weren’t plates they were metal trays. You would end up taking care of their trays. Heaven forbid that the garbage can would get accidentally knocked over and you’d have to clean it up. Of course it never seemed to get knocked over unless a DA [Drill Assistant] went by and you had done something wrong. So that was one of the disciplines.

TS:

Now did you have—when you were in your barracks—we were looking at some of those pictures—did you get an assigned footlocker? Because there’s one where there’s a girl—

NPM:

Yes, you had your own footlocker and you had a cupboard to hang your uniforms in that was maybe—it seemed like it was—

TS:

Not as big as this one here?

NPM:

Oh no. No double doors. It might have been about three-fourths of one of those doors.

TS:

Oh okay, very tiny. Kind of like a school locker almost.

NPM:

Yes. And you had, of course, nothing in it but your uniforms; you didn’t know what civilian clothes looked like anymore. Everything had to be neat in your locker, everything had to be in a certain way. And with your footlocker everything in there had to be folded just so. We had locker and I don’t even remember what we called where we hung out stuff but we had inspections, I mean every week we had inspection. Your bed had to be just so and—

TS:

Well, now, when you signed—that’s a heavy sigh—when you signed up for the Marines did you sign up for a number of years?

NPM:

Signed up for three years.

TS:

Three years and you’re in basic training and so what are you thinking about then at that time? Do you remember?

NPM:

I didn’t regret it.

TS:

No?

NPM:

No. I never regretted it. Well, there were moments I guess. I wish I was home! But like I say there was the camaraderie—and you know misery loves company and you had plenty of company and you were all miserable. And I will say the DIs had no favorites, I mean, you were all treated the same. I really don’t remember being miserably unhappy for a long period of time. Well, maybe I was meant to be in the Marine Corps or the military. It was—it wasn’t fun but it wasn’t totally, horrendously, awful.

TS:

At what point did you know what job you were going to do in the Marines?

NPM:

Right at the end, almost before graduation, we—of course I was told I was going to be in 3400. Well I had no idea what 3400 meant. I asked and they said that it was disbursing, and I knew disbursing meant spending money.

TS:

Got that from your mother right?

NPM:

Yes. They said I would find out when I got to my duty station, so I said okay. I’ll find out then. I think part of that was because I had majored in bookkeeping in high school.

TS:

Oh, that’s right, you had your friend there.

NPM:

But I never did the bookkeeping part of it. So then when I got to [Marine Corps Air Station] Cherry Point I found out what it was, that it was payroll. We didn’t pay, you know, like, company bills or anything like that. It was strictly payroll.

TS:

Pay the—

NPM:

Troops.

TS:

Troops, right. Did you get to pick where you wanted to go, to Cherry Point or did they assign—

NPM:

No.

TS:

They assigned. Did you get to have what they call a dream sheet of places to go or anything?

NPM:

No.

TS:

No?

NPM:

You were totally at their mercy. You had no choice. You went where you were told and did what you were told. You didn’t ask questions or say I would rather this or rather that. We had one young lady in our group who was 21 and she went overseas. You talk about a bump of girls that were green. We were greener than any of our uniforms. Because we thought she was so cool that she went to go overseas. The rest of us had to stay stateside.

TS:

Do you remember where she got to go?

NPM:

I think it was England. But we just—I if think we hated anybody at that moment we hated her when we found out where she was going.

TS:

She got to go overseas.

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

Was that something that you would’ve liked to have done?

NPM:

I would have. I would have liked to have traveled more. And had I not gotten married I probably would have stayed in. Well, I know I would have done my three years. Because back then if you were married, you could request your discharge.

TS:

You weren’t automatically discharged?

NPM:

No. Not married. But if you were pregnant that was the end. You were out. Soon as they found out you were gone. But my husband got transferred and at that point I thought oh, he can’t go and me not go. [chuckles] I didn’t think I could live without him. I’ve learned later that you can. And what was funny is he went to school, and he was going for additional schooling in [Washington] D.C., and since he was going for schooling I couldn’t go with him. So I went to Philadelphia, which of course is a lot closer than Cherry Point would have been. He would come to Philadelphia or I would join him on the weekends so I wasn’t as far away. And I would have had to go back to the barracks and once you get out of the barracks it’s hard to go back to that community living. I didn’t want to do that. There had been times since that I wish I had stayed in. Coming to—I don’t know how they did it but more power to them that have stayed in their twenty and been married. Of course at the time when you could have a child and stay in. That to me would be the one thing I would have had to get out. I don’t know if they’re even allowed to ask to get out if they’re pregnant these days. I don’t know how that works. I haven’t thought to ask anybody. Because, well, I belong to the Women Marine Association here in Jacksonville, and we had a gal—we still do have a gal with us who has children. Sometimes both parents are deployed and that would kill me. It would be bad enough to go and be with their daddy. But both go, and they—you know, I know one couple, they both have been in Afghanistan together and that to me—I don’t think is fair to the children.  

TS:

Yes.

NPM:

I really wish the military, because I’m sure all the branches have it, find a way to make sure one parent at least was home. Because God forbid something—I mean, they’re not over there together where something happened they would both be gone. But yet it could happen where they were over there and both be gone. There you have the kids with grandma having to raise them. As a grandma, I love my grandkids and I enjoy having them come see me, of course they only live down the street but I could send them home whenever I got ready. But to, you know, have complete responsibility that’s something to think about when you’re older.

TS:

Right. It’s a little different. [end of audio file 1] When you got to Cherry Point then and you went with a couple of your friends that you had met—actually came with you on the train, right, from Pennsylvania—now what was your job like when you first got there?

NPM:

Well, like I say, I was in dispersing, but I wasn’t in the actual payroll part, I did more of the office—well that sounds contradictory too. Back then when you were in the Marine Corps you had a metal plate. It had your name your rank and all your information on it, and they were kept in file draws—real shallow file drawers in alphabetical order by the company or the group you were with. Of course new people came in and you had to file them away. And then people left and you had to get them together and send them off, and that was the type of thing that I did.

TS:

Now when you’re saying metal plate you mean metal—

NPM:

Addressograph plate.

TS:

A what plate?

NPM:

Addressograph. Now that’s going back to the dark ages.

TS:

Yes. That one—I never heard that one.

NPM:

In a time before, they were metal—well, it looked like a credit card.

TS:

Is it imprint? You’re showing your hands, about how big, tell the transcriber how big.

NPM:

About that big, can’t you see it?!

TS:

That’s like an ostrich egg size.

NPM:

Yes. A little bit. They were shaped like a credit card.

TS:

Okay.

NPM:

And they were maybe an inch bigger than the credit card all the way around. 

TS:

So did that go in a file with all the paper documents?

NPM:

Yes. It was like a regular file cabinet except they were drawers.

TS:

I see.

NPM:

And they were by the company or the organization that the Marines were with. They were grouped together by where they worked. And then on the addressograph machine there was like a slot and you could put a stack in the slot and it would automatically print off. And that was part of the work I did. Any other filing, filing of papers or—I’m trying to think what it was we used to pack up because we used to pack an awful lot of boxes. Well, we packed them and then any records that, you know, had to go with the Marines when they were transferred. We would  pack them up and get them to the shipping office where they would be sent on their way.

TS:

Did you have, like—you didn’t have any training that you went to, did you? It was like on the job?

NPM:

No. I went right from boot camp to the disbursing office.

TS:

So what would a typical day be like for you?

NPM:

Well, you’d get up and—

TS:

About what time?

NPM:

Oh mercy!

TS:

I mean was it like an eight to five job that you had?

NPM:

No, it was however long they needed you to be there. We got up early and of course we had to walk to the mess hall for breakfast. Unless we—when my husband and I started dating he was in the same office and I would con him into bringing me breakfast at the office. He was a staff sergeant and he could bring things out of the cafeteria, so he would bring me breakfast because I wasn’t a breakfast person. And unless—some days we would have drill in the morning before we went to work, because of course all of your Marine Corps goodies stayed with you. You had your drill time and your calisthenics time, your inspections and all that good stuff. I guess we were there from like eight to four or five. Then when we left there we would go to the mess hall for supper. Then you were free the rest of the evening. We had the WM [Women Marine] club where the gals could go hang out, and the guys could only be there if they were a guest of one of the gals. On Thursdays when we had field day the club was restricted to women only because we would do our cleaning and get ready for inspection. Then we would go to the club to hang out and we went as we were. We didn’t have to dress up or be—we could just go as slobs or in our—whatever we happen to have. I mean, we could go in our peanut suits or we could go in our fatigues or just anything we wanted to wear.

TS:

So, Thursdays were for the girls.

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

Now what kind of housing did you live in at Cherry Point?

NPM:

It was barracks and squad bays except the squad bays were divided by the—we had bigger cabinets then. They were used kind of as dividers between, and there were four—

TS:

For more privacy and things?

NPM:

Yes. And there were two bunks in each little section. If you were lucky you got to be with folks that you liked. Those of us that went together kind of hung together. You weren’t private but you were private. Compared to boot camp you were very private. We all—again it was the camaraderie, we all helped each other. On field night nobody was done until we all were done. So if some were running a little bit slow, so there’d always be one or two that would pitch in and help them. Because everybody wanted to get out of there so we could go.

TS:

So you had to do team work to get it all done.

NPM:

Right.

TS:

So you’re preparing that for your inspections then that you’d have on Thursdays?

NPM:

On Friday morning, the first thing.

TS:

Friday morning. Was that when you had your PT [physical training] was it, you said, once a week, maybe or something like that? Or did you have it every day?

NPM:

No, it wasn’t every day. We had some type of something every day; you know drilling or whatever. 

TS:

But it wasn’t the same thing?

NPM:

No. It wasn’t the same thing every day.

TS:

How were you fitting in to this routine, then? What are you thinking about?

NPM:

It wasn’t too bad. The main thing was you had to check the bulletin board to see what was coming because nobody told you. Nobody came and said, “Oh Naomi, tomorrow morning we’re having drill and you have to wear your peanut suits or you have to wear your fatigues,” or “Don’t forget Friday’s inspection,” and “You’re going to have to do such and such so be in your dress uniform,” or “Another day be a special day and nobody can wear fatigues you have to be looking good; and they’re going to be watching you.” You know you’d have to go to the bulletin board every night, and you better check it again that morning because it could change for the night. And I think sometimes they did that just to—

TS:

Make sure you’re checking it.

NPM:

Right, just to try to catch us. Or make sure we were doing what we should.

TS:

Did you have the right uniform and dress on usually?

NPM:

Yes, usually. 

TS:

Occasionally not?

NPM:

I don’t ever remember having it wrong; it might not been quite the way they wanted it. [chuckles]

TS:

But mostly you had everything.

NPM:

Yes. You learn to do what they wanted you to do and d it the way they wanted you to do it because I don’t like to be yelled at. It would upset me just as much to be yelled at, or as a kid to be scolded, as it would be if my mother paddled me. So I learned quite quickly in the Marine Corps to try to do it and do it right because I didn’t want the DI yelling at me, or whoever was in charge.

TS:

Well, did you like the work that you did in the office?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

Yes? In the picture that you showed me it looked like there were four or five men that were in that office with you? Were there any other women?

NPM:

There were two women.

TS:

Yes?

NPM:

And the rest were men. And when my husband came he was in the office too. We were both in disbursing. That’s what got me in trouble.

TS:

Why is that?

NPM:

He came and of course I filed his little metal plate. When  I saw the name—back then when I was growing up there was a soap opera on, Young Dr. Malone [popular radio and television series that ran from 1939-1963]. And I said, “Oh, we’ve got Young Dr. Malone in the office.” And the, of course, when he reported in I had to check out who Young Dr. Malone was. Never dreaming I’d spend the rest of my life with him but things just went from there.

TS:

How did everybody get along in the office?

NPM:

We got along fine. There was no jealousy or bickering or fussing or you know anything. I think that was the thing that made, that makes me almost wish I had stayed longer. Because I don’t know, it just seemed like we were—whatever group I was with we just all got along and worked together and helped each other. It was like having a whole bunch of brothers and sisters.

TS:

Some people say, you know, in this time that the men didn’t want women in the military. Did you ever come across that?

NPM:

Yes, you came across that a time or two. But I just ignored it. I thought that was their problem, not mine.

TS:

Did it happen very frequently?

NPM:

No. Nobody was—if there was anything they just would ignore you, because I think had they said something openly or had there been too many complaints probably the higher ranks would have gotten on them. They had learned to kind of temper things down. You could usually tell and you just kept your distance and did what you had to do and oh well. 

TS:

So was there anything along the—later I guess became called sexual harassment or anything like that?

NPM:

I never ran into any of that.

TS:

No?

NPM:

No.

TS:

Did you ever hear of anybody who had?

NPM:

No. I tried to do what they told us at boot camp. You know, you conduct yourself like a lady and you will be treated like a lady.

TS:

Oh is that—

NPM:

That was drilled into us pretty good. Like I say, I mean some of the girls flirted with the guys, and remarks might be made or things said but if you didn’t flirt with them nothing, or at least where I was, nothing, you know, out of the way happened.

TS:

But you liked your job then?

NPM:

Yes. I liked everything about it.

TS:

Everything about the Marine Corps?

NPM:

About the Marine Corps. I really did. I can’t say there was anything that I strongly liked or that I regreted that I had to do or that I feel I’d been happier if I hadn’t had to do it because it was, I don’t know, it was just part of the Marine Corps. I knew the Marine Corps was going to be different from what I was used to. So you just accept the differences and go on from there.

TS:

Did you—were you promoted while you were in?

NPM:

Yes. I left boot camp as a PFC [private first class] and then, I forget how they ran with the—I think corporal was first and then they came up with the lance corporal. I was lance corporal when I got out.

TS:

So what were you thinking about at the time? So you met your husband—how soon had you met him when you were at Cherry Point? When did that metal plate come in saying Dr. Malone or Young Dr. Malone? Is that right?

NPM:

Yes. I [pause] I’m trying to think.

TS:

He’s not going to like that you didn’t remember exactly when you met him.

NPM:

Well, that wasn’t really an outstanding time because he was just another guy in the office.

TS:

So when did you get to—

NPM:

We got married in April.

TS:

Of ’54?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

Fifty-four.

NPM:

So we’ve been married half of forever. I guess I’d been there about seven months. We didn’t court very long. I think he reported in at February and we got married in April, which upset my mother.

TS:

Oh it did?

NPM:

Because we didn’t—but we were, you know, spending all day together. We were there in the office and we went to the mess hall together and we’d spend our evenings while we were at the WM club together. The only time, really, we weren’t together was when we went back to the barracks. Because he couldn’t go to mine and I couldn’t go to his. So we were probably together sixteen hours a day, one way or the other. Unless we were drilling or, you know, something like that. But if we were at the office we were together; ate lunch together.

TS:

Did you give a thought to staying in after getting married?

NPM:

Yes. I probably would have stayed in if we had stayed—if they hadn’t transferred him. We hadn’t been married too long when he was transferred up to D.C.

TS:

Would he have minded if you had stayed in do you think?

NPM:

I don’t think he would have minded if I had finished my three years, but I think beyond that he would not have been happy. Because that’s why, other than my pictures, I don’t really have a whole lot—well, I don’t think I have any now that I think about it—things, memorabilia from actually being in uniform or anything like that. Because—and of course we hadn’t been married long, so of course I did what I was told. I was still in the Marine Corps, but he was of the belief that if you were not in the Marine Corps you don’t need Marine Corps stuff. At that time he didn’t think he was staying in but he didn’t want—if we, well, we knew we were going to have to move when he got out and he couldn’t see dragging all that stuff around. Of course now, he has a footlocker with his uniforms and such in it which now that we’ve been married awhile I could choke him for.

TS:

How long was he in the Marines?

NPM:

He did his twenty.

TS:      Oh, he retired?

NPM:

Yes. He was going to get out which is probably why we got married in April. Because he was, at one point, going to get out in June and we thought I might be pregnant and he decided he had nothing to go out to. His folks were farmers, and he didn’t want to be a farmer so he decided he better stay in so he re-upped for six. And then of course when that time was up he figured he had ten, he may as well finish it. And I wasn’t pregnant; it took three years to get pregnant.

TS:

How was it different when you got out you know being a military wife as opposed to being a Marine?

NPM:

Well, I kind of felt left out to a point but yet it—with having gone back to Philadelphia while he was in D.C., that was kind of a buffering there. Because I was basically, except when I went to see him, I was away from the military at that point. I went home, I stayed with mom and so you know it was just like having never been in the Marine Corps. Then when he left D.C. we went to California; we went to San Francisco. Well, there was no Marine Corps base in San Francisco and so again I was in a more civilian environment. My son was born out there, the oldest one, at the Army hospital. The doctor told me he said, “You know, when we spanked him to make him cry,” he said, “we put the Army insignia on their butt.” 

And I laughed and said, “You better put a Marine Corps insignia or I won’t be able to take him home.”

I really didn’t get that military wife part until we came to Camp Lejeune. Of course I was busy with Stan then. And then he went to Japan and I went back to Philadelphia. I guess he went to Japan right from California and I had—my mother was gone then, of course—I had my apartment which was near where my sister lived. So again I was away from—totally away from the military and then when he came back from Japan we came down to Lejeune, and I’ve been there ever since. My youngest was born at Camp Lejeune and that’s the only place he’s ever lived is here and Jacksonville.

TS:

Is that right? How about that.

NPM:

So join the Marine Corps and see the world: Parris Island, Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune. And California. I probably wouldn’t have gotten to California if I hadn’t married a Marine.  We didn’t—that was it because here he bounced around between the local bases.

TS:      I see.

NPM:

He was at all the air stations. And he was at Montfort Point; he was an instructor at Montfort Point for a while. Gee, I am getting forgetful. He was over at the airbase—I can’t even think of the name of that now. Cherry Point; he was over at Cherry Point for a three year tour. But we had bought a house and we stayed right here.

TS:

In Jacksonville?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

Did your sons go in the military at all?

NPM:

No. I have a grandson in the navy. I want to choke him. [chuckles]

TS:

Why do you want to choke him?

NPM:

One ‘cause he’s in and two ‘cause it’s navy. At this particular time I’d been happier if he hadn’t gone in the military.

TS:

Because of the current wars?

NPM:

Yes. The situations that there are and he’s married. No children, but it’s been an adjustment for them because he’s in Florida and she’s up here in North Carolina. He’s still getting training; the navy trains an awful long time. But he must be on planes I forget what he said. He’s not flying and he’s not going to be shooting guns at anybody. It’s some type of—I don’t know. He flies around and looks for something.

TS:

Well, if you had a daughter and she wanted to go into the military would you have encouraged her?

NPM:

That’s a good question. I don’t know. I’m going to have to think about that because back when I was in we were Marines but we were still ladies and we were expected to be ladies. But now, they’re all Marines. I mean, they don’t even like to be referred to as male Marines or women Marines. They’re Marines. I think the, you know, the all-girls squad bays were good at Cherry Point in the barracks. It was an all-female barracks. And now they have them so intermingled. I don’t know, I’d have to think about that. That’s—I never even thought about if I had a daughter. I wouldn’t have objected if the boys had gone, I know that, if they had chosen that. But they had seen enough Marine Corps, they didn’t want it. 

TS:

Well, the colleges, a lot of them are coed too.

NPM:

In their barracks.

TS:

Right, in their housing.

NPM:

Yes. I’d have probably, if they really, really, wanted to go I probably wouldn’t have discouraged them.

TS:

Yes? What do you think—

NPM:

Well, they’re in danger zones too.

TS:

Well, that’s what I was going to say; what do you think about that? The way that women are not officially in combat but the roles they’re playing as jet pilots?

NPM:

You know, they have them flying the civilian aircraft but—I think it’s nice that they have opened up a lot of fields for the women that we didn’t have an opportunity at, if that’s where their interest lies and that’s what they want to do. I think now they give them more choice at what they do at the different things that are open to them.  But if it was something she really, really, wanted I probably would have let her go because I can’t think of anything worse than being stuck in a job that you don’t like. If that’s what you want and you like it, hey go for it.

TS:

What do you think about the issue now of putting women on submarines and maybe allowing them in combat?

NPM:

You asked about sexual harassment. I think in situations like that where there are so many men and just a handful of women I think that’s asking for that type of trouble ‘cause men are men. They’re away from their normal female relationships and I can see where a guy would say something or maybe make a move that maybe he shouldn’t and I think it puts undue pressure on the girls to be with—I don’t know how many on board ship—a couple hundred men and five or six women. I mean, that’s, that’s a lot of pressure. But yet if you’re going to do the job you got to take the bad with the good if that’s the field you want to be in and what you want to do. I just have mixed emotions about it. That completes the thought.

TS:

Do you ever consider yourself a trailblazer for the time that you were in the Marines?

NPM:

No, I think there were a lot of women who blazed the trail ahead of me with being in WMA [Women Marines Association] we had— we’ve unfortunately lost all but one— we had five or six ladies that had been in during World War II. They’re the real trailblazers but yet they did things that we weren’t allowed to do, because the one tiny little dainty lady and she worked on airplanes. I mean, she repaired planes and I would look at her—I loved to listen to her talk and she—I would just kind of envy her a little bit for the adventures and all that she had, and the things that she got to do. But I think they were the real trailblazers; they’re the ones deserves the extra star for what they did because I’m sure they really weren’t playing. But that would have been an interesting time to have been in.

TS:

What about the controversy now about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, how that’s been repealed but not yet implemented. What do you think about that?

NPM:

That’s a good question too. You’ve got some good ones. I think your sexual preference is your business and be it one way or the other I don’t think you have a right to flaunt it. I mean, your business is your business and keep it your business. That is the only time I get a little bit frustrated is when they would have these gay parades and they’d have these—I mean who cares? Personally I don’t, it’s your business. What you do in the privacy of your home is your business. It’s not mine. It’s nobody else’s really. And whoever your partner might be, again that’s between the two of you. Don’t force your ideas on me and I won’t force mine on you. I won’t look down at you because you’re gay and don’t you flaunt your gayness in front of my not being gay. You know, it’s people, I think, make too much out of [simple?] things. And if a guy and a gal are walking down holding hands, and a girl and a girl or a guy and a guy are walking down the street holding hands well so be it. I’ve seen a lot of girls walking down the street arm in arm or holding hands but there’s nothing gay about them. You know, they’re both—and I don’t know I think people just look for things to kick up a fuss about. But don’t flaunt it. So I guess that would amount to don’t ask, don’t tell.

TS:

What’s with the flaunting theme to you?

NPM:

Well, you’re in a group, a mixed group, and you know you’re all sitting there talking and nothing. I guess it happens among mixed couples too but you know to be snuggling up and smooching, and you know, like that you’re basically flaunting that you’re—whereas, and I mean I think that it’s wrong if it’s a mixed couple; if it’s a guy and a gal and they’re smooching and heavy petting. I guess I’m old fashioned.

TS:

So keep that behind your closed doors, sort of thing.

NPM:

Yes. Or in the privacy or maybe with real close friends who know anyhow. If you’re close you know regardless. I’m not going to say that a person that’s gay is wrong or a person that isn’t gay is right because what’s right for you is right for you, and it’s your prerogative; your choice. I mean, I have seen some girls, I kind of look at twice but that doesn’t mean necessarily that I’m sexually interested but they’re just a good looking woman. You always like to look at somebody that’s good looking. But no I think that’s a private matter.

TS:

Well, that’s just what’s been in the news this last year for the military and the Marine Corps too because that was the one that had that survey that said that it would— they’d have more difficulty with it.

NPM:

I think, you know, if you’re in the military and that’s the way you swing then again especially in the military absolutely you would not want to flaunt—but I appreciated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because like I say, it’s none of your business who I’m with or what I’m doing with that person. I’m sure there are people that are male and female and they do things that other people would highly disapprove of. But that’s—I don’t know, but that’s too personal in my book for it to be anybody else’s. And if you love somebody how can somebody tell you “You can’t love her or you can’t love him.” Love is love. I mean, I don’t know. Live and let live.

TS:

Well, let me ask you a different question. Do you consider yourself an independent person?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

Did you consider yourself one before you went into the Marine Corps?

NPM:

I don’t think I thought about it. That might be part of the reason my mother thought I needed the discipline.

TS:

Because you were independent minded?

NPM:

Yes. I think I was to a point.

TS:

Do you think your life has been any different because you went in the military?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

In what ways?

NPM:

Well, I would not have, as little as I’ve traveled I wouldn’t have traveled that much. And I have met people, so many different people, and been exposed to different situations that I don’t think I would have been. And I think everybody you come in contact with your different situations help make you the person you are. And so yes, I think things would have been different. With him being military I was able to stay home with my boys until the youngest one started school. I have always been thankful for that because I enjoyed those years at home with my boys. Then they went to school and I went to school with them.

TS:

Oh, you did?

NPM:

Yes. I worked thirty-seven years in an elementary school as a teacher assistant. I figured that was from my training when I was in school helping teachers.

TS:       That’s right.    

NPM:

I enjoyed that too. I had a ball. Thirty-seven years at the same elementary school here in Jacksonville.

TS:

Wow, I’m sure everybody knew who you were then. You weren’t one of those hall monitor ones. Did you have the—?

NPM:

No, I worked in the classroom with the teacher.

TS:

In the classroom—oh that’s right with the teacher.

NPM:

With the kids and then as I got more experienced I had my own office. And I worked—instead of working for one or two teachers, I worked for everybody in the school. I did all the run-offs and the laminating, the fundraisers. You name it. Anything anybody—I told the principal, one time, I said, “Anything anybody else doesn’t want, you send my way.” And he just laughed at me. And I thought uh-huh, you’re not going to admit it but you’re not going to deny it. 

TS:

That’s what happens.

NPM:

But it was fun and I mean it was very—no two days were the same. That’s why I stayed as long as I stayed; but it was fun.

TS:

If you think about who your heroes or heroines are, who would you pick?

NPM:

Oh my. Real people that I knew or just—

TS:

You can answer that anyway you’d like.

NPM:

I always liked Abe [Abraham] Lincoln. Of course part of that might be I went to Abe Lincoln High. Abraham Lincoln High.

TS:

Yes.

NPM:

I always did like him, even as a kid. I like the thought of him chopping down the cherry tree. That’s the kind of mischief I would’ve gotten into. Oh mercy. [pause] You do ask thought provoking questions. Interesting. I can’t think of anyone; one person. So many people have influenced my life that—

TS:

It’s hard to pick one out of the—

NPM:

Out of the bunch because we were fortunate, like when we were in California, we met some very wonderful—of course everywhere we’ve gone we’ve gone to church—but we met some very wonderful couples that were influential to us. One was like our mom and dad and the other couple was like we had an extra set of grandparents.

TS:

So a lot of people in your life?

NPM:

Yes.

TS:

What about patriotism? What does patriotism mean to you?

NPM:

My country right or wrong. [chuckles]

TS:

So what does that mean, right or wrong?

NPM:

Well, we’re not always, I don’t think we always do—I don’t want to say the right thing but well we’re made up of people and people do things wrong. I wouldn’t want to be any place else. I mean, this is my country and of course at my age I wouldn’t be called back in but if I was called back in for some reason, I’d go and go proudly. I could go sit in an office and do office work. 

TS:

That’s right.

NPM:

I can’t think of any other country. I’d like to visit other countries but I don’t want to go live there. I think, I think we might be headed for trouble but I don’t know. It scares me sometimes, some of the things that happen. I think slowly but surely things are—some freedoms and such are being nibbled at, taken away gradually that people aren’t aware of what’s happening. It’s scary. I think sometimes my children and my grandchildren, what kind of a country are they going to be in. [pause] But like I said, I wouldn’t want to be—at this time I wouldn’t want to be any place.

TS:

Any place else; any other country?

NPM:

Yes. But someday that might be true.

TS:

I think we’ve covered just about anything else. I mean—

NPM:

I know what you’re saying we covered everything. Is there anything else I want to say?

TS:

That’s right. Is there anything we haven’t covered that you maybe wanted to talk about.

NPM:

No, I was surprised I had so much to say because when I thought about coming I thought what have I agreed to I’m not going to have anything to say. I didn’t think about you asking questions because I felt like my time in the Marine Corps was more or less routine. I didn’t do anything exciting or meet any exciting people or—

TS:

You met your husband.

NPM:

Well, [chuckles] some days I wonder about that.

TS:

Well, now you have been married over 50 years.

NPM:

The transcriptor[sic] doesn’t have to put that in; he might read it one day then I’d be in big trouble.

TS:

There you go, we’ll redact that from the transcript. Well, Naomi, thank you very much.

NPM:

Why, you are quite welcome and I have enjoyed it. You’ve brought back a lot of memories that I really hadn’t consciously thought about and made me think of a lot of people that I hadn’t consciously thought about, especially in boot camp and such. I wish I could remember more of their names.

TS:

It might come to you a little later so, I’ll go ahead and stop the tape then.

NPM:

Adela King; that was the black lady, Adela King—

TS:

At the movie theatre and in the picture that we have. Okay.

NPM:

—that I couldn’t remember.

TS:

Well, I’ll write that down. Thank you.

[End of Interview]