Interview with Eileen Blakely in her home in Grants Pass, Oregon 12/23/06.Interviewer: Kathleen Ryan
KROK. So we've got it record and we've got it pause. Wait a second (misc.noise). One two three four. (more noise). One two three four. One two three four. That's barely picking up. One two three four. OK, that's good. Let's see if we can get this to pick up. I hate having equipment that other people use. 00:01:00
EBBecause you don't know what they did.
KRExactly. Alright, can you say something now?
KRMuch better. So I'm going to start this, very gently again.
EBGood afternoon. This is December 23rd, 19 -- no 2006.
KRThis is good.
EBOh, the sun is shining. It was so gloomy and dreary this morning. You broughtthe sunshine with you Kathleen.
KRNo, I had the rain all the way down (laughs).
EB(laughs) Well, it looks like you left it behind you.
KRI hope so. I hope so. Well, it looks like we've got this running, so that's agood thing. Alright, and perfect, and we're doing good. So one of the things, Eileen, that I had -- when I was looking back at your story before that kind of 00:02:00jumped out at me that we didn't talk about a lot was your childhood and growing up. We kind of talked about it a little bit and then just jumped right into you joining the WAVES. So why don't we start out with that?
EBOK. What do you want to know about me? I was born (laughs). I was born inOhio, I was born and raised in Ohio. I was born in a little railroad town called Orville, Ohio. Now that was back in the days when there was such a thing as the Pennsylvania Railroad. My dad worked for the Pennsylvania. My mother worked in the bakery there, and she graduated from Orville High School in 1922 and she married my dad probably a month or so after -- no that fall. In November. And I was born in October, 1923 and we lived in Orville about eight months and then 00:03:00moved to Canton. That's where basically I was -- we moved, in Canton we moved to different places in town. But I went all twelve years of my school in Canton schools. My folks broke up with I was about 13, so we moved in with my grandparents. And that was about eighth grade. And graduated from McKinley High School in 1941. That was in June, and of course that fall, December, was the attack on Pearl Harbor. And I remember that. I had gone to Christian Endeavor at church on Sunday night. The word was just coming through about the strike, and so I do remember that. Years later, and this is something that kind of tickled 00:04:00me, here in Grants Pass I was in a group of people on December 4th of that year, and I don't remember which year it was, I made the remark of where I was when Pearl Harbor was hit. And one of the fellows turned to me and said, "Eileen, I wasn't even a gleam in my parents' eye." Boy, did I feel old! (laughs)
EBBut, when that came along, in 1941. Let's see, I went to business college. Andthen after business college I was working for the county auditor there in Stark County. And then the war came along. I have an uncle who joined the day after Pearl Harbor. Joined the Navy. A year later another uncle joined the Navy. The 00:05:00year after that, my brother joined the Navy. So when 1944 came, I decided it was my turn. So I joined the Navy.
KRWhere do you fall in your family?
EBI'm the oldest child.
KRThe oldest. OK.
EBI have two brothers. Two younger brothers. The one that's 22 months youngerand one that's nine months younger. And we're all on the West Coast now. My brother lives, closest in age, Jack, lives in Idaho. And the other one lives in Southern California.
KROK. For some reason, I must have been thinking, confusing you, because Ithought one of your brothers had passed away.
KRThey're both still alive --
EBboth still alive. The brother in Idaho has had so many near misses (laughs)that I say, "Jack, the Lord isn't done with you yet." Shee -- that guy had three heart attacks, three strokes, not counting the times we suspect that his wife was trying to do him in (laughs). That is no longer his wife. But he's still 00:06:00around and doing pretty good. He had a five way bypass that I mentioned in my Christmas letter and he's doing very well. He called me last night actually and things are fine there. The -- uh -- don't know what you really need or want to know about me.
KRWell, I mean -- I'm just checking to make sure --
EBWhen I went to -- part of why I went in the Navy, everything was fine. As amatter of fact I felt my life was pretty calm. Not exactly dull, but pretty close to dull. And I guess that was partly why. I felt I was too content and why I joined the Navy. To change things. Which, of course it did. Drastic change. I can still see in my mind's eye, in boot camp. I went to Hunter College in the Bronx, New York. And the Navy had apparently taken over these apartment 00:07:00buildings. That's how we were housed in these apartments. And I'll never remember the stupid thing we had to do. We always had to clean the kitchen every, you know, for inspection. We never were allowed to use the kitchen. (laughs) It didn't make sense, but we cleaned the kitchen. One morning, it was raining. We put on, you know the order of the day was boots and havelocks. And we were marching down to breakfast. It's a long hike. I was looking ov -- it was dark, and I was looking over at the "L." And I thought, "What on earth am I doing here?" It didn't even make sense to me. And we were marching and looked like a bunch of nuns or something. You know, really, nuns or monks or something going down the road. But I have that picture in my mind's eye. And that was one 00:08:00time when I wondered why I was where I was. From boot camp, I went to yeoman's school in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Now that still doesn't give you my growing up. So I don't know what else you need.
KRWell, you know, it's just interesting to kind of see the different backgroundsof the different people. Because everyone who came to this came from very different upbringings that I've talked with.
KRIt seems like you were doing, not really, suburbia didn't exist.
EBOh, I lived on the wrong side of the tracks. I mean I was -- the railroadtrains when through and all the pictures in the house would tilt.
KRSo you mean LITERALLY the wrong side of the tracks.
EBI was literally the wrong side of the tracks. And it was a very, what you00:09:00call, multicultural neighborhood. Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Greek, I was different, I was Swiss Mennonite. Caucasian. Very -- and it was neighborhood where we didn't lock doors. The houses were close together. We had a shared drive between the two houses. You could look in the one house and see what they were fixing for supper and the other side and see what they were eating. Dining room and kitchen, you know. And it was usually people would knock on the door and holler and come in. I mean, they didn't wait to come in. It was just a safe neighborhood. Never worried about things being stolen and things like that.
KRIt sounds like a lot of immigrants were living in this area. You mention00:10:00everyone's background.
EBYes. Well, Canton, Ohio is very melting pot town. It's an industrial town.Places, Kimpton Roller Bearing. DeBolt Safe and Lock. Republic Steel Corporation. When I was in the eighth grade, the Republic Steel strike, where they brought in scab workers out of Cuba too -- and I lived fairly -- I lived so close to the strike line that one of my girlfriends from school -- I was in the eighth grade and she lived on the other side from where the school boundaries were, and she wasn't allowed to come to my house. Because her mother was afraid it was a dangerous place to be. 'Cause there were some shootings and fights and things like that. Although never around our house; I'd just hear about it, but never saw any of that, any evidence of that. My Girl Scout leader's husband was the manager of Republic Steel. I think that was his position. And they had to 00:11:00move into town where he could be guarded, because of the concern about the strikes and the strikers and damage and so forth.
KRBut your father was still working for the railroad at this time, correct?
EBNo, he hurt his back and went into real estate business when he recovered fromthat. So he was a county, I can't remember what it was. By 1941 -- I think my parents separated in 1936, I think it was. And that's why we moved to this neighborhood where my grandparents were. To live with them. That was where, this kind of neighborhood. Where we lived before was a nice neighborhood. We had lost our home during the Depression. The house we lived in before moving to the, that 00:12:00part of town was one my dad made arrangements with the bank and we were caretakers of the house. And, it was, my brother and I always thought that was one of our favorite places. It had a basement. It had an attic. IN the basement was an old pumpboard. I'd come home from school and my mother and my little brother would be down in the basement playing and singing with that old pumpboard. It had a coal chute that we would -- in the summer would slide down that coal chute into the basement (laughs). It had an airing porch. So in the summer we would lay out on the airing porch. It was outside the bathroom and we would spend the night out there. Of course, summers got pretty hot sometimes and we would sleep outside. I remember that we had two peach trees. One was a white peach and one was a yellow peach. Jack and I claimed a tree that was ours. We'd 00:13:00built a old tar paper shack. It was kind of off the garage and had a club. (laughs) A secret club. Everybody knew where it was, but it was one of those kid things. I never was much for climbing trees, but I did if they weren't too high. I always had a fear of heights. I always told Mom it was because she fell out of a cherry tree when she was carrying me (laughs) so I was left with the residual of the fear of heights. I don't do well on ladders and things like that. Flying on an airplane is one thing, but climbing a ladder, a stepladder is something else. Even today.
KRYeah, yeah. Was the Depression one of the reasons -- were the economichardships one of the reasons your parents broke up, or were, do you, do you know?
EBI don't really know, because that was never really talked about. So I honestly00:14:00don't know what caused the marriage to break up.
EBBut, uhm -- and they never divorced. Mother had legal separation. I think shethrew him in jail once for non-support. He never forgave her for that. But then, he never supported us either. So, uhm, basically, my mother and my grandparents supported us kids.
KRDid you ever feel when you were growing up that you were, that you weredeprived or doing without, that sort of thing?
EBYou know, everybody was. We never felt poor because everybody was in the sameboat in those days. People would help each other out. Years later, Mom was, I remember, standing in the door to the dining room, from the kitchen and she shook her head. And she said, "You know, a few years ago, all we had to eat were 00:15:00green beans and tomatoes that had been canned and given to us." And she said, "and we were glad for it. Today, you kids are complaining and you have a whole table full of food -- and no reason to complain." And we were complaining about I don't know what. What it was we thought we were supposed to have that day. But at the time, I never thought of being deprived. I never felt I was going hungry or things like that. I think my mother went without, because I saw a picture of her years later which was taken about the time my little brother who was nine years younger, when he was born. He was born in '32, which would have been in the Depression. And Mother looked very very thin and gaunt, that I suspect she 00:16:00was doing without just to make sure we had enough to eat.
KRDid any of your uncles, since you grew up then -- did any of your uncles doany of the WPA projects, or any of --
EBMother did. Mother did. She did bookbinding. They bound the books for theschools and libraries, you know, and she did that.
KRYes, because I know the government had a ton of projects that existed -- theWPA was one of them, but there were tons of projects.
EBMy grandfather worked at Timkin Roller Bearing. My uncles both worked atRepublic Steel. But the one uncle, he was, I know he was quite a bit younger and he was out of work for a long time. Went to Chicago to try to find work, because another Uncle was living out there. He pounded the pavement trying to find work. He would put newspaper, cardboard in his shoes for like soles, to hide the holes 00:17:00in his shoes. And he tells the story of this one place that, this apartment that he was in. He was having a pretty tough time, day after day, trying to find work. And this guy in another apartment there noticed that, or saw him and got to talking. He offered my uncle a job. And the job was my uncle was to stand on a certain corner and deliver a package. I don't know what the offer was, for him doing this, but he was offered money to do this. My uncle thought about it and thought about it and decided not to accept. So the guy said, OK, there was no hard feelings. It was a long time later, he learned it was Al Capone. So, he made a wise decision. 00:18:00
KRA little gin running there.
EBHe made a wise decision, but --
EBYeah. I didn't know that story for a long time, but my cousin, one of hisolder sons told me that. Told me about it.
KRI'm going to do a little adjustment here, but I have your glasses thing --
EBDo you want me to take my glasses off?
KRNo, it's OK. There. It was cord, I just didn't want the cord rubbing against it.
EBI choked the lady doing the interview (laughs).
KRThat would not be good. That would just not be good.
EBI needed a little drama! (laughs)
KR(laughs). Wow, so Al Capone. I know my family, my mom's family grew up inChicago and I know things were -- it was pretty rough there --
EBYeah, it was. It was --
KRduring that time.
EB People had a lot of tough times. A lot of people would come to the back doorat my grandma's house and she managed to find some soup or something. And a lot 00:19:00of them wanted to do work for food. They were not just begging to try to get money. They were hungry. So she would always have something for them. I remember they always ate on the back step. That would have to do with there were no men home at the time and things like that. But, they were always really grateful for the food and went on their way.
EBSo apparently there was a lot of that. But that wasn't anything I was reallycognicent of at the time. Kids do their own thing and don't realize a lot of the things that are going on. At least this kid didn't. There are time that Jack, my brother, Jack, will talk about things when growing up and I'll look at him and say, "Jack, did we live in the same house?" But I realize we had different 00:20:00friends and did different things. But some of his stories! His stories, I think, were on the wild side. Of course, he's the brother we call the weird brother. He was the spook in the family. He was with the agency and actually wasn't released from what he did until a few years ago. So I've learned a lot about his military career.
KRBy agency you mean the CIA?
EBCIA, yes, Navy INtelligence that became part of the CIA. And, you know, Ithink I must be a kind of naive person because in the Navy you don't stay with the same outfit, the same group of people and move from place to place to place to place. And he always did. Be with same gang. Same group of guys. It never 00:21:00dawned on me. I didn't, I sure didn't. I lose -- of course, men travel, change jobs more. Were put in different ships and things like that. He was a radioman, and so, but he was always -- And a couple of the crew have died, but I think there were 10 in the outfit that kept in touch.
KRAnd they'd all move from place to place together?
EBWell, they went to Greenland, they'd got to Hawaii. They'd be at Chetenham,Washington DC. I don't know where else. I know he tells the story of when they were escaping from Norway. Living in sewers. Fascinating story. He's told me the story so many times, I've quit listening and I mix it all up. I have to learn to be a more attentive, active listener. 00:22:00
KRYou need one of these like I've got. You can just put the microphone on himand tape it.
EBI keep telling him he needs to tape it or, his stories. Because he reallytells a fascinating tale.
KRNow where were you when he was doing all of this? This wasn't during the war,this was after the war, right?
EBNo, this was during the war.
KRHe was in Greenland and everything?
KRDuring this time you're --
EBThis is back in World War II. Yeah. And I was in Washington, DC. After bootcamp I went to Washington, DC and from there I went out. When I went back in the second time to Korea I was also in Washington, DC. So I get the two times mixed up. (laughs). Well, it was DC, for goodness sakes!
KRYou know, I can understand that.
KRI can understand that.
KRHow, when you were in Washington, you told me before, it's almost like yourposition was, the first time at least, rotating between different jobs.
EBThey called us the flying squadron. I would work, say there was an overload ofwork in one section -- there was a cadre of us, and we would be sent to those different offices to work in. I basically worked in the bureau of ships, which is the technical end of the Navy. I remember one time I was called on to be a stenograph -- a stenographer. I was a yeoman, but I wasn't a conference stenographer. I never had had that kind of experience. And I was sent to take minutes for this SECRET conference of six or eight men on submarine service. It 00:24:00was a fascinating meeting but I couldn't -- number one, I wasn't cleared for secret meetings, so that scared me to death I'd hear something I'm not supposed to hear! (laughs) Talk about a naive kid. And then the other thing was I knew I was not qualified to take minutes. I tried to take notes, but they didn't made sense to me, much less when I tried transcribe them to anybody else. But they wanted something and I don't know what they expected. The thing that I remember about the conference is these submariners really went to bat for their crew. To get them the best that they could in the way of accommodations and so forth. That is the one thing that I remember from that meeting, but I don't think I got that down on paper for them. It was a disaster as far as I was concerned. 00:25:00Another job that I had taht was really interesting was they have the United Wave, United WAY fund drive. And I was assigned to that department, the Executive Office of the Secretary. ExOS -- E-X-O-S. And I was assigned to the commander who was in charge of this event and he was putting together a show that was kind of a kick-off event. To encourage people to contribute to the United Way and all that. That's when Eddie Duchen, who was a famous piano player in those days, was one of the performers. Bob Crosby and the Bobcats were, they 00:26:00were in the -- Bob Crosby was a Coast Guarder or Navy or something, but anyway was in the service. So I met him. And met Eddie Duchen. His son was Peter Duchen who was more -- comes along later. Eddie Duchen promised to play at my wedding, but then of course I never saw nor heard from him again! (laughs) And I wasn't getting married at the time, so that didn't -- it just didn't come together. But that was an exciting time, when --
KRSo they were doing, this, this, stage --
EBIt was a big show, a stage show for the people that were the workers. It wasjust kind of, what do you call it, rev 'em up to go out collect the funds for the United Way and so forth. But that was kind of of fun. But the commander I 00:27:00worked for he had without a doubt one of the worst tempers I saw in my whole life. I just never saw anybody fall -- get mad like he did. He never blasted off at me. It was always somebody he was dealing with. One day he did blast off at me. Now I'm a seaman. You know second class, I guess. I guess I was second class. And this is an officer. And I, he was on his was to the Secretary of the Navy's office to give a report. And there was a whole column of figures missing from this report that I had typed up. And, he came, oh he was furious when he came back. And I looked at him and I says, "You didn't tell me to put that column in. Read them to me and I'll put them in." Really, I mean, that was talking back to him for one thing. But I just called him on it and sat down, and 00:28:00he read me the figures and was off again. But, kind of, afterward, I said, "I could have a court martial over that." He tried to make it up to me because he took me to lunch once. Of course, you didn't fraternize with the enlisted and officer in those days. And, anyway, he tried to make up to me. He didn't actually apologize. But he never blew up at me again either.
KRBut there were no repurcussions.
EBNo repercussions from as far as the official. Because he was wrong. His mothereven told me one time about it. I don't know what she was doing in the office, but I met her at some point and she even told me about her son's temper. I thought to myself at the time, "Well, why didn't you train him better?" Because, 00:29:00really, he was ugly to people. Really. I was surprised that he got as far up in the ranks as he did. There were cases where that kind of behavior -- I liked him, and he was nice to work for. I worked for him a long time and only that one time for that blow up. So I had a good rapport with him. But not that day.
KRWhat did your -- what did your mom and dad think when you told the you weregoing to join the Navy?
EBWell, Mom and Dad were separated, so it was up the Mother. And you had to be21 years old and I was 20 at the time. My mother said to me when I went to be sworn in, she said, "Are you sure? Is this what you want to do?" And I said, "Yes." She never complained or tried to talk me out of it, but she never pushed 00:30:00me into it either. She left it up to me to make my decision.
KRI know in doing some of the reading that I've done, there were -- because theArmy started first --
KRI know, some of the books I've seen, there was kind of a slander campaignafter the Army started, they tried to make the women --
EBThat didn't seem to be even in the offing at the time -- I guess the Navy atthat time was pretty clean, if that's the word. And I didn't hear negative things about it.
KRBut you were aware of what you had heard -- you had heard the stuff about the Army?
EBNot -- I don't think I had at that particular time. And I was in the Navy andthe Navy and Army are different. So I don't know when I really became aware. I certainly, for the people I did know in the Navy, as far as being what I would 00:31:00call quote unquote "loose women," I didn't seem to be around it, that crowd, somehow. So I don't know how it sorted itself out. That I was protected from them or what. I never worried about it.
KRDo you think there were people like that -- that were that way in the Navy --
EBWell, I --
KRI ask because I know the Navy --
KRThey were conscious of it, you know --
EBOK, but the thing is, I guess, uhm, how can I say, how can I explain it. Itwas -- there's always a certain number of people who are quote unquote free and loose and easy or however you want to express it. I didn't run into that. I did run into -- one girl in my barracks got pregnant. But, you know, come to think 00:32:00of it that was the other war. I just don't remember in World War II running into that sort of thing. I'm not doubting that there was some of that going on somewhere. And at that time, if you did get pregnant, you had to get out, whetehr you were married or not.
KRI've talked to a woman on the first --
EBYou could be married and go in. Because the girlfriend who talked me intojoining the Navy at the same time, I think I told you about that --
EBWell, we went to -- we didn't go to the same school but we went to the samechurch so we were pretty close. Her husband was in the Army and overseas. She decided to join the Navy. She talked me into joining the Navy. And I was thinking life was too quiet, etcetera at the time. So, OK, that sounded like a 00:33:00good idea, we'd join together. Something happened. Her papers weren't ready when we were called up. So she was standing there at the train station waving goodbye to me when I was going off to boot camp (laughs). She did get -- about a month later, several weeks late she came along. And she was also stationed in Washington, DC, but in a different part of town, or not the same outfit I worked in. She was in the Department of Communications, and I was in the Bureau of Ships. But, (laughs)
EBThat was funny.
KRWell, the reason I ask, is, you know after we spoke the last time I had thechance to read the oral history of Mildred McAfee Horton. And, that was part of -- she talked of being very aware of it and talked of trying to reassure -- you know, the Navy started up a little bit later and they were kind of able to learn 00:34:00from some of the mistakes that happened to the Army -
KRAnd tried to avoid some of those problems. So I was wondering if you wereaware of them.
EBPersonally, I wasn't aware of -- like I said, I've learned over the years, I'mpretty naive. Like when I was in college afterwards and I went to college, to school on the GI Bill. And there were a lot of GIs there -- did I tell you about the speech class I was in?
EBWell in this speech class, right after the war I went to Kent State. And youhad to make a speech on a specific type of topic. And everyone had to. So it usually took two days to make it through the class for everybody's speech. And it came to the day we had to -- and I got in the habit of being one of the first ones, because I wanted to sit back and enjoy the day and a half with listening to the rest of them. This one, we were assigned humor. Well, humor I didn't do 00:35:00well. I never thought I was funny. People always tell me I'm funny, but it's never on purpose. It just happens. And I've never figured that out to this day. But anyway, I worked and worked on that speech. And it just didn't seem to be funny. So I thought, maybe I can do better tonight and I'll listen today. Well, several had talked and I still hadn't gotten up and they said, "Come on, come on Eileen. Get up and give your speech." "No, no, it's not funny. I'll just do it tomorrow. Maybe I'll figure it out." "No, come on. Come on. We'll laugh." So I got up. And they did. They laughed and laughed. Here and there. They didn't laugh at the places I thought they should. But they were laughing. And enjoying 00:36:00themselves immensely. I didn't understand that. I found out later, much later, that -- we're talking ex-GIs. I was using expressions that you called double entendre. They picked up on it. The also knew that I didn't.
KROh, how funny.
EBSo for them, it was funny, but it was extra funny because they knew Eileendidn't know what she was saying! (laughs) When I heard about, when I heard much later, I was embarassed.
KR(laughs) Do you remember --
EBI don't remember what I said, no.
KROh, how funny.
EBBut I just remember the reaction. (laughs) Gosh! So ever since then, I even --I know one of my roommates, I can't tell you right now which war. Anyway, one of 00:37:00my roommates used to, I used to tell her jokes and she'd go and be the hit of the party. But she'd sort out my jokes, because I'd get to the punch line too soon. So that's my experience as a humorist. Well, they had a good laugh. (laughs). I just didn't know why. Sheesh! (laughs)
KR(laughs) How funny. Now, during Korea, you, I know that you were workingduring Korea with somebody? Because you showed me the book while you were here? And we didn't talk much about the Colonel -- was it the Colonel that you worked with? He inscribed the book to you.
EBCaptain Kerrig (sp?). Captain Walter Kerrig was an author. He wrote a book onMicronesia. He wrote a book on battle report series and I worked with him, doing the research.
KRAnd you were helping him with that, right?00:38:00
KRTell me a little -- that was during the Korean War?
EBIt was -- OK, the battle report series was six books and the one on Korea wasteh one that we did. And there was two commanders, a lieu -- a WAVE lieutenant, two sailors and myself. And we were on his crew that did the research. Of course, the sailors and I did the typing and the other people did more of the research. We got to do some research. I did some research where I would interview some of the, what ranks were they, I guess they were Captains and they ahd the ships of the fleet, I don't even know today what they were called. It's probably in the book, but I haven't looked at the book for years. But I would interview them as to their, which ships were in at waht point. I did some 00:39:00reserach on the Berlin Airlift. It amounted to about a paragraph in the book, but I did a lot of research on that. We would go and do the research and report to the captain and he would tkae our information and write the book.
KRHow did you come to this assignment?
EBI don't know. I don't remember. I was just assigned to him when I went backin. I was in what they called -- there -- it was actually public relations outfit, but they called it chief of information. I worked for Admiral Hickey and Captain Kerrig and Captain H. P. Smith. They called him "High Power" Smith. And that's when I met Heman Moke (sPp?) You know, "The Caine Mutiny"? And Burke 00:40:00Wilkenson. He was an author taht was assigned int he station. But the battle report thing was the big thing that we did.
KRHow long did you work on that?
EBWell, I guess I was in for two years and assigned to him for years and I wasin until I got married and went out. So a good two years. I was even part of hte crew that went to New York and were feted by the Reinhardt Company. You know, Mary Robert Reinhardt, the mystery writer's sons had the publishing company. And they took us out to dinner because the book was published by Reinhardt. We went to the Waldorf Astoria, the empire room.
EBYeah, it was. I'm not a drinker, but I did that night. A little. Anyway. I00:41:00didn't tell you about the Operation Crossroads. That was the last job I had in 1946.
KRno, that wasnt' that, that was the
EBThe Bikini Island blast.
KRYes, you told me a little bit about that. you showed me the snort shorters.
EBThe short snorters they called that little piece of paper. My job was toprocess the enlisted, actually I was processing everybody's orders. The officers, the civilians. And that's he first time I had heard of a nuclear engineer. I never heard the term, and so it was relatively new. And the USS Wharton was the ship in the Bay area that was part of that task force. The Mt. 00:42:00McKinley was where the joint chiefs task force operations were. I was in what they called the rear eschalon back in Washington DC. And so when I got everybody's orders processed, I decided I wanted to take leave and go out to the West Coast. And so I made, the guy I made the arrangements with was making all these arrangements for people to get these planes, these military transports across the country, uh, I would of course visit with them on a regular basis getting the bureau personnel and getting their orders cut and processed and so forth. I did all kinds of crazy running around. And, uhm, so he had me all set 00:43:00for the plane to go out to the coast. My bag's packed, ready to go. And the last thing in the afternoon this guy comes in and I had processed his orders and I looked at him and I said, "You're the guy who's going to bump me." And that's exactly what happened. I didn't get out on that flight. The guy that had, my contact person had been transferred to some other place, so I had no more clout. But I finally got out the the next day or so and went to the West Coast and I got to wave the ship goodbye when they pulled out. Of course, I went out with a couple of the guys when I was out there. I went to Chinatown and that what fun.
KROf course, at the time that was -- since then there's be kind of a cautionabout nuclear power and weapons --
EBSee, there were a lot of things they did not know at that time. This hadn't00:44:00been that long since the Manhattan Project actually happened. So there was a lot of things. Admiral Rickover, I don't know if you've heard of him, he was a -- I was trying to remember if I actually saw him one time or if I just imagined that I did. I don't know, I couldn't take an oath that I had actually seen him. But Lt. Commander Robis and Captain Lew Niscrim worked for him and I was in contact with them on a fairly regular basis. And I ran across both of them in the Korean War. Capt. Niscrim had become the Commander of the -- what in the heck was it, I went to see him and spoke to him and everything. I guess it was the Navy Yard 00:45:00there in Baltimore. That's the only thing I can think of. And Captain Robis I happened to run across in the Pentagon and stopped and talked with him. Now he was the one that really shocked me. This was just a few year, but he looked like he was 10, 20 years older. Now he worked directly for Rickover, so he ahd a lot to put up with. He was a real nice guy. But Operation Crossroads was really kind of an exciting thing but I worked long days, early in the morning, late at night. Once in awhile I was able to get sometimes I got a little sticky wicket, but sometimes I was able to get a car to take me back to the barracks at night and sometimes I couldn't. That was a -- 00:46:00
KRWere you aware of the time of the -- I mean that you were kind ofparticipating in something that was --
EBNot to that extent no, I didn't really understand the whole --
EBBecause when you think of it the guys were in harm's way, but they didn't knowit either. Not to the degree it was. Radiation poisoning and that kind of thing. Like Hiroshima, Nakasaki. I imagine some of them died earlier deaths than they would have. I really do think that in this case. Of course I wasn't anywhere near --
KRWell, you were at a safe distance --
EBYeah. (laughs). I sent the poor guys into the mess. I was responsible forsending them into the mess.
KRYou were just obeying orders.
EB(laughs) "I was only following orders!" That was -- I don't know if any of00:47:00them realized the power of the atom bomb. To the extent of what it became. Maybe the scientists themselves had an inkling, but I don't know think they really knew.
KRWell a lot of it too, a lot of the, the results or the impacts don't show upright away.
KRIt's not like something you touch pan and get a burn. A lot of these impactsare much slower--
EBIn fact, Agent Orange that type of thing,.
KRYeah. We talked about you meeting your husband and deciding to leave themilitary because he was retiring, but we didn't talk about -- we talked a little 00:48:00about the forest service and the work you had done, but I wanted to talk a little bit more about that.
EBWell, we moved here in 1958.
KRAnd why did you move to Oregon?
EBI didn't like it where we were.
KRWhere were you?
EBWell, actually, we lived. OK. When we got married we were both in Washington,DC. And Walter retired and wanted to come west, come home. His folks lived in Clarkson, Washington. So that where we came in 1953. Yeah '53. We were married in '52, August of '52, so it was the following year. In February of '53 my term was up, and in the end, October, November, his term was in. So we came west, 00:49:00right around Thanksgiving. My borther lived in Minneapolis so we stayed there. Then we raced across the country with the storms behind us. So we didn't get to see the countryside like I would have liked to. Because we just -- drive, drive, drive. My impression of Montana at the time was I never saw so much of nothing in my whole life -- oh, my that was desolate. I'd see those houses on the horizon and feel so sorry for them. Anyway, we got into Clarkson, Washington and stayed there five years. My husband worked for his folks as -- they were house movers. I got to be one of the rear house -- when we moved buildings I got to be the rear flagman. Mom was the front flagman because she knew where she was going. And --
KRSo you mean physically moving houses, not moving --00:50:00
EBReal moving houses. Putting dollies under them and stuff and move the buildingdown the road. I remember we moved one up by Grangeville and the house went flying down the road. But the folks had been in the house moving business for a number of years. But Walter was just, what do you say -- he was low man on the totem pole. He - minimum wage. Season work, part time work. So I looked at him and I said, "This is the time of life when you need to be at your peak earning power. So you need to find a full time job." So he went to work for Potlatch (sp?) Forests. He -- I went back east and had come home and he had gotten this job at Potlatch. I looked at him and I said -- he'd been at work -- and I looked 00:51:00at him and I said, "Did you take a shower before you came home from work?" The house moving business is a dirty business and I was used to seeing come home, being under buildings, you know. All grubby and everything. Anyhow he worked there. I really didn't like it. My in-laws were great. They treated me very nicely. I lived on the same place with them, not in the same house, living in the same place. Got along great. But I just wasn't satisfied. Those bleak hills really drug me down.
KRWhere in Washington is it?
EBClarkston, Washington is at the confluence of the the Clearwater and the SnakeRivers. Lewiston, Idaho is a twin city to Clarkston.
EB Just across the bridge and you're in one place or the other. I just reallydidn't like those hills. It really depressed me.
EBSo Walter had been through this area on the bus several times in his career,00:52:00and so he kind of liked it. Thought it would be a nice place to go. So we made several trips down here and decided to move here. And this has been -- we lived at, we leased a ranch north of town. Paradise Ranch. 80 acres. We leased it next to Paradise Ranch. Now I think Paradise Ranch has since bought that property, but we leased it. Leased it for a year and then rented it month to month until we found this place. So I"ve been here since 1960. I don't miss -- I never did miss Clarkston. I missed the folks, but they've been down to see us several times so that made up for it. We only, I think we only went back once. Walter 00:53:00was back a couple of times when his mom was sick, he too care of her when she came back from the hospital. You know, I remember, the last time I talked to my mother-in-law. We didn't always say this when we said goodbye, but the last time I said "I love you mom." And I can remember that I said that.
EBIt was. She was a real fine lady.
KRDid you have work when you came down here, or did you just decide to settleand try to find work?
EBBasically, when we moved down here it was December, so we knew it wasn't agood time to work. You know, we were on retainer pay that he was getting. And we had very little savings. We had a little, but not a whole lot. We didn't owe anybody anything either. Everything was paid for. We -- and I worked part time 00:54:00in Clarkston. Walter really didn't want me to, but I said, "You know, I should keep my hand in." I worked for a bookeeping outfit during tax time. I worked for them for a couple of years and I was good at it. I was a good employee. I'd be typing stuff for them and I'd know it was wrong. I didn't have anything to do with the interviews, but I was familiar enough with the flow that I would -- it was strange. To me it was strange, but I would pick up on errors that they had made. That was the first year I worked for them. The next year -- they did a lot of the extra forms separately and attached them, so I didn't have the same flow of the works I was doing. I was just typing. But the other was more interesting, 00:55:00because I would find those things they made a mistake on (laughs).
KRDid you tell them about the mistakes?
EBYou bet. I let them know this didn't seem right. And they would find out thatI was correct and make the correction. They were glad that I had done that. Then when we moved down here I had got a job -- I was offered a job with the forest service. One of the guys from church who worked for the forest service wanted me to apply. I didn't want to have anything to do with federal government. Didn't want anything to do with it, so I didn't apply. And I was working for Electric Motorworks. It was a wholesaler, I worked for them doing bookkeeping. It was part time work. Then they had to lay me off because it was a slumping time for them. You know, workload. So my boss found me a job with a CPA. So I went to 00:56:00work for them typing tax returns. He had the idea when things picked up he'd hire me back. But then I went to the I ugeses it was just about a year later that the job at the Forest Service opened up again and I took the job I would have had a year before. (laughs) I was destined.
KRSo what had changed to make you want to work for the Federal Government? Otherthan you had lost your part-time job?
EBActually, my having experience in Washington, DC, where I saw an awful lot ofgoof-offs -- I was military and I'd see those Civil Service goofing off. I realized just because they were doing that, I didn't have to be a goof off. And so I went ahead and got the job. At that time, Siskiyou was in the upstairs of 00:57:00the post office. Later we moved up to Midland and Sixth. And later on we moved up to Greenfield. So I was there 25 years.
KRYou got your retirement from them.
EBYes. I retired from federal. I only have five years military time, but when Istarted with federal they gave me five years credit. So I started with a -- leave pack -- a step up from the normal leave status you start off with. A little higher than that.
KRWhat did -- what did Walter end up doing?
EBWell, the first year we were here he ended up in the hospital. And had to flyhim down to Oak Knoll a couple of times. He had, he had gastric ulcers. So he 00:58:00wasn't really able to do full-time work. And we had this 80 acre ranch and then we moved here. So basically things kind of swapped. He did work for a boiler maker for a short time, boiler repair outfit. It was a Navy guy that he met down here. But basically he worked on the ranch and it turned out I was full time. I got the full time job and that's pretty much why I went to Forest Service, it was a full time job. And he was the house husband. So it was kind of a role switch.
KRBut you have a lot of acres here, too, don't you.
KRSo it's enough to --
EBYeah, when he was -- he built the barn, he built -- not the little house. DidI tell you how we got that?
EBOK. I'd be working, Walter'd go out with this real estate guy he'd become00:59:00acquainted with and the real estate guy realized Walter understood understructures of buildings. Of course, that was his house moving experience. So he'd call Walter to go with him when he was checking out houses. So then, Walter, who started out looking for a place, but there were times when this Mr. Lee would call him, you know, for company and came across this place. And the house wasn't done, and as I said we were out at the ranch. So we had a few head of stock out there. When we bought this place, we transferred the stock. Well, Walter had to build a fence before we could bring them in. And that basically was the only work he did on the place. I always figured as long as he was 01:00:00working on the place and fixing it up, that saved from hiring to have it done. And so I was OK with that. I was not a housekeeper, still am not a housekeeper as you can tell. He did a pretty good job housekeeping, laundry, cooking. He was a better cook than I. And it worked pretty well until he started failing in health.
KRHow much older was he than you?
EBSeven years and seven days.
KROK. Because I know he had put in his 20, so I knew there was a difference there.
EBYes, seven years and seven days older. I always said if I ever married again Iwas going to do a younger one, but I don't have much luck at that either. I guess my 46 years was my term, that's what I've decided.
KRThat's a good long spell to have somebody.01:01:00
EBYes, it is. You know, we had our ups and our downs, but I felt it was a prettygood marriage all and all. All things considered. Yeah, it's eight years now that he's been gone.
KRThat's what you said in your letter. That's along time.
EBYes, it is.
KRIt's a long time but on the other hand I'm sure it seems like hardly any timeat all.
EBYou know, two years after, after he was gone. I did meet somebody who Ithought, "Gee, he would be --" somebody who -- a possible. Actually, I never dated him and he moved out of the area (laughs) not long after that. But I decided I'd find out what my status would be if I remarried, because I was getting survivor benefit. I don't qualify for social security because of my mili -- my federal time and I don't get anything out of the military for myself, but 01:02:00I have a survivor benefit and because Walter did work for awhile I'm entitled to Medicare through him. So, I started investigating. And found out that I don't lose my survivor benefit because we'd been married a long time and we took a cut in pay for me to get that. I never qualified for Social Security. I didn't have enough on my own so I didn't get anything there. I had , I wouldn't lose my Medicare. So then my next question was what about my Tri-Care, which was my supplemental. I would lose that.
EBSo, that was the -- I knew that I wouldn't -- I was pretty sure of the01:03:00survivor benefit because we kind of paid into that. Social Security I knew ahead of time I wouldn't qualify. It didn't seem right, but that's the way the law was, but I was a little surprised that I would lose Tri-Care. They call it Tri-Care for life. Well, whose life? (laughs).
KR"Your life, as long as --"
EBWell, look at here I am, eight years a widow, if I remarry I would lose healthinsurance. A big part of the health insurance is the prescription drugs, which I -- for 24 dollars for three months, compared to what it would cost otherwise. So that was kind of disturbing to me and I thought, "There ought to be a way to have that law changed." I haven't figured out a strategy. I'm working on it. And I guess part of why I haven't done anything about it is I don't have anyone 01:04:00knocking at the door to encourage me (laughs). So I lose out there too. But I still think that the law ought to be changed. I did learn if I was a, if my husband had been disabled and covered under VA compensation, as a widow I could remarry and not lose whatever this money that I'd be getting for that. So where's the equity?
KRYeah, it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make any sense.
EBBut, like I said I haven't figured out a strategy. Because number one, I don'tknow the rationale why. I do know the VA and the, my status are different from -- one is under the Department of Defense and one under the Veteran's 01:05:00Administration, which is not Department of Defense, which is two different budgets, two different thinking.
KRYeah, the left and right hand aren't talking to each other in this case.
EBEvery once in awhile it comes up and someone says, "Well, you surely ought tobe in." And they go investigate and find out "no." The girl at the VA, Vet Center here started checking and she called and said, "You were right." (laughs) I said, "Yeah, I was afraid I was." So I found another contact, another guy who was in the fleet reserve and he was a big muckety-muck, whatever you call that, of the Fleet Reserve Association, I was talking to him the other night, so he's going to do some research.
KRNo, go ahead.
EBI was going to say, he talked to, he was at our dinner the other night.Visiting, 'cause I now belong to Fleet Reserve. Which is interesting, because I 01:06:00didn't, I went to the Auxilliary. Well, our Auxiliary folded because no body wanted to be, to do antyhing. So the Fleet Reserve has relaxed their requirements to belong to the Fleet Reserve, so I qualify.
KRFor your Navy service, or for --
EBFor my Navy service. My five years in the Navy, I qualify for Fleet Reserve.They're trying to get the younger people in. Because the old guard, they're dying out. There was one guy the other night who got his 50 year pin in the Fleet Reserve. And he's an elderly gentleman. I think he's older than I am. You could retire, you see, you could go into Fleet Reserve and only be 37 years old. Because if you went in with your 17, served your 20 --
EBSo, anyway, this man was there and he was telling us a little bit about the01:07:00history of how Tri-Care came about. And one of the terms he used was "the natives got restless." And I thought, "That's what I need, to get a bunch of natives restless about the situation." A few years ago, I never saw these ladies before or since, but this is what triggered the thing in me. I was at the laundromat. And there were three of use who turned out were all military widows. And one of the women, she was living with a man for 10 years, couldn't afford to get married because she would lose her medical. The other lady and I were in the same boat, we chose not to go that route, but it kind of galled us that we felt we were kind of trapped in one way. We made a decision, we made a choice. I can't see making a different choice. I mean, I understand the lady. I certainly 01:08:00don't condemn her for that, but I don't think I could do it. I remember telling my younger brother at the time I learned this about that I would lose it, the Tri-Care, and I can still hear Bob say, "Well, Sis, I guess you'll just have to live in sin." I says, "Bob! As critical as I've been and as judgmental of people who do that?! I wouldn't DARE!!!" Oy vey! (laughs) So, but I still think there ought to be a legal way to do it. It's a little late for me, but I figure there are other women in the same boat as the three of us found ourselves, who are a lot younger. I don't know what they're doing about it. But I can imagine some of 01:09:00them are shacking up. That's the popular thing. I read statistics the other day that 90 percent of people do live together before they get married. So I guess I do, I march to a different drummer. But I'm an older generation. I mean I can remember that kind of thing was just absolutely frowned on.
KROh yeah. Times have definitely, definitely changed.
EBBut that doesn't mean that I've changed with the times.
KRWhich is completely understandable.
EBSo, I'm kind of stuck! (laughs)
KRYou're saying this, but on the other had it sounds like a lot of the things --and we talked about this a little bit the last time, you've, you say that you haven't changed with the times, but a lot of the things that you're saying are somewhat, some would say are very "feminist." "We should have these equal things" --
EBOh, definitely. And you know, if I, I know that you have to have a strategy01:10:00and I can't just go flailing my arms and saying, "This is wrong, this is wrong!" It is, but I'm not going to get anywhere and so what I need to do, and I think it would behoove me to start more actively looking for those answers. I know it has to come politically. I just haven't found the wedge. I know Lisa Shipley, the girl at the Vets, I don't know what her title is, Director or what it is, she said, "When you've figured it out, let me know."
KRWould you consider yourself a feminist?
EBYes and no. I guess I'm -- I know I've always said that I was liberated beforeit became popular. But there's some things where I'm still very rigid on. I do 01:11:00subscribe to "The Nation" if that tells you anything. But some of it's a little farther off than I would say. I've read "Harpers," not recently, and some of it's a little farther off that I. I'm not exactly a feminist but I do believe in a lot of what they've done. It does bother me that some of the younger generation isn't getting into line. They're going to lose stuff.
KRWhat do you mean by getting in line?
EBGetting in line to fight for women's rights. They're just, they're acceptingwhat's there and they're going to lose what's there. The women that got us where 01:12:00we are sacrificed a lot. They really did.
KRDo you think that your -- and I know it's kind of a chicken/egg question, butdo you think your -- that your military service had any impact on your opinions, or do you think you chose your military service because you felt that way beforehand?
EBI don't know that that part even entered into my thinking at the time, or now,for sure. So I can't really say yes or no to that particular question.
KRI know it's kind of weird, like I said, a chicken/egg sort of question.
EBI can tell you at one point I thought the use of "M-S", you know, Ms. -- Ithought that was great. Today, I go through these labels and I cut the Ms. out. 01:13:00
KR(laughs) See, I've been using it in the letters to the women I'm talking tosimply because I know some of them are married, or widows and use Mrs. and others don't.
EBDon't. So you're not sure.
KRI don't know what to call them.
KRFor you I'll remember that.
EBOK. I don't even know why I got so upset.
KRI know a lot of women don't like that title.
EBOriginally I thought it was pretty cool. I thought it was pretty cool ifpeople kept their own time. I realize it's pretty awkward today -- I have to tell you I've got a niece who's got two children, a boy and a girl. She retained, for businesses purposes, she retained her name. Which is fine, you know, that's not unusual. And, of course - -and she married the guy. They're a 01:14:00married couple. So he's Green and she's Horner. So they have these two kids. Well, Jennifer Green, the daughter, went to school. Now she's just a couple years younger than her brother Matt. She goes to school with green hair one day. Matt was so incensed that he's Matt. Matt Horner.
KR(laughs) He changed his name!
EB(laughs) I knew there was -- now Jennifer's married now, so her name isdifferent again yet. But I could never remember which. I knew something had happened, but I didn't know the story. But knew that one kid went by the 01:15:00mother's name and one kid went by the father's name, but I never knew which one, until I got a Christmas present from Matt. Horner. (laughs) So I know which way he went. And my brother Jack told me the story about why, why Matt definitely went the Horner route.
KRWell, I'm just curious because we talked about this before. And I was justwondering if the military --
EBI'm not -- I don't --
KRI'm trying to find out if women joined if they already had these latentfeelings, or -- I'm sure it's going to be different for everyone.
EBOK. My feeling, why I joined was patriotic. I felt needed. We werebrainwashed. Someday, if you ever have the chance to see the training film that talks about -- I saw it at a deal where they were honoring Rosie the Riveter. And the movie that went with it was a training film. And I said, the whole thing 01:16:00showed me how I was brainwashed. How WE were brainwashed. The idea of, 'cause if you ever wondered why women didn't say anything about their military life and you find out about it accidentally, we were taught in those days we were, first, we were going to war to replace a man so the fighting would be over earlier, sooner. So that was our patriotic duty. And then we would go home and do our housewife chores. So that's what happened. To a lot of us. We went back into the woodwork. The war was over, our job was done, so we went back into the woodwork. 01:17:00For a long time, the Navy life was something that happened to somebody else. Still was, in many ways. People like you have brought a lot out of me. Because I joined the WAVES National outfit with the idea that they would tell their stories and hopefully I would remember more of my military life. And I've lost much of that. But some of it, it surprises me when I get a barrage of questions what it brings out it me. I'm really surprised that it's there. I guess it's buried back there. So, but as far as the feminist movement, I guess I get a little disturbed because I do have a religious background and where I feel that same sex marriage and lesbianism and homosexuality are not right. So I have that 01:18:00problem. I know the other thing about feminism, about a woman's right to choose. I'm really strong for that. Which, in a way, is contradictory. So that's why I can't say I'm completely feminist or not. Because I have those mixed feelings.
KRWell, you know, I wonder. Because there were, the military was an option youhad at the time.
KRBut there were other ways you could show your patriotism. Other women becameRosie the Riveter. Or they planted the victory gardens. Or they supported with war bonds or things like that. There were other ways to show it. That's why I --
EBOK, in my case I joined to get out of the rut I was in. I had a comfortablelife. I was living with my mother and my grandmother. I didn't have to do housework. I had a full-time job. Mother had a full-time job. So Grandma was the 01:19:00one that ran the household. And I helped, a little. I couldn't fix a whole meal myself, because I only maybe peel potatoes, I didn't learn, you know, all the rest that went with it. Years ago, you know, one time Jack and I decided we were going to have a chicken. And we had two chickens. I forget how many of us -- we lived with my grandparents, and I don't know if both uncles were still there. Anyways, it was a pretty good size household and two chickens were about right for Sunday dinner. Jack and I were going to be helpful. We decided to cut up the chicken. Well, neither one of us knew how. We had seen enough, we knew a little bit about what was done, but we had never seen the whole process or watched the whole process. We just about decided to become vegetarians (laughs) and that was before that was all over. So as far as fixing meals, somebody else did it and I 01:20:00didn't have that responsibility. Still have trouble making, if I do have company, with making things come out even. Gee! But anyway, that's kind of what that story is.
KRWell, I think --
EBBut I think there's a lot to the feminist movement and I think in some ways --but a lot of these ideas have to go be radical before they're noticed. That's the other thing. So where do you find the parameters to be under.
KRI find it very interesting. And a lot of the women I talked to on the ship,again, trying to -- because when you think about it what you did at the time was incredibly radical.
EBYes, that's true.
KRYou were doing something that women --
EBHadn't done before. Particularly in the numbers of people.
KRExactly. And officially. This was blazing new ground to a large degree. So I'm01:21:00just -- and a lot of women say, "I'm not feminist. Oh, no no no no no." So I'm always kind of -- it's --
EBI, I would say if I had to make a choice, probably, yes. But I kind of waver.I go for this -- even in my own church, there's things they do in my church that are fine and other things I don't really approve of. And so I've got -- for example, I belong to a church that doesn't believe in women being the leaders of the church. We've got to do all the work, but to be the leaders -- I had to make that decision when I went to join that church, did that bother me that much? Well, I don't want ot be the darn leader, so OK, I joined. But the Missouri 01:22:00Synod that I belong to, in the Lutheran Church is one of the more strict. There are stricter ones. The Wisconsin Synod is more strict. The American Lutheran Church that I went to, or the Evangelical Lutheran Church, they have women pastors. My church doesn't. So there I am, you know. Not that I don't want to lead things. I'm bossy enough.
KREileen, do you have any other things you want to talk about? Because I'm kindof, I'm at a point where my brain --
EBWell, I think you've done pretty well to keep me going. (laughs). I can'tthink of anything particularly.
KRWell, I'm going to go ahead and pause things then.01:23:00