Interview with Margaret Gay in her home in San Leandro, California 5/24/07.Interviewer: Kathleen Ryan
KRWe're good. I'll glance down here every once in awhile.
KRI'm going to start out with something very very easy. It's probably theeasiest question of the batch. And what I'd like you to do is say your first and last name and maiden name and spell last name and maiden name, please.
MGMargaret Alice Gay. Do you want me to spell the whole thing?
KRMargaret is M-A-R
MGG-A-R-E-T. A, letter A. Gay G-A-Y. No e only it or anything.
KRAnd you did a career in the Navy.
MGI made the Navy my career, right.
KRLet's, why don't we start at the beginning. You were showing me some picturesof you when you were two years old. You grew up in Boston.
MGWell, I grew up in -- I was adopted so I had Worchester, Massachusetts and00:01:00Auburn, Massachusetts. I had -- I was born in Boston.
KRBorn in Boston.
MGRight. Then adopted and lived in Worchester and Auburn. I went to school in Auburn.
KRWhat did your family do?
MGMy family? Well, the people that adopted me, my -- he was a stonecutter. Theylived in Vermont at that time. He passed away when I was four years old and my mother came down to her sister. Her sister passed away in May and her husband -- they used to take in foster children and they had one foster child. So they combined to put the two families together. She was a help for him to take care of -- you know, it was one of those joint affairs. It wasn't a marriage or anything. That's where I started the first grade, in Worchester, Massachusetts. Then my mother remarried when I was seven years old. We moved from Worchester to 00:02:00Auburn, which was a suburb of Worchester. I did all my grades, other than the first grade which I had already started in Worchester, I did through high school in Auburn. Grammar school and high school.
KRWhen your mother moved down, had the Depression already hit by this point?
MGOh, no no. (laughs) This was only, when she moved down I was only, what I didI say, five years old. Between five and six. So this was 1925, '26.
KRI just ask because I know a lot of families in the Depression like that movedin together.
MGOh yes. Stepfather then, another father. I collected fathers. (laughs)
KRHow many fathers did you have?
MGWell, the original one then the foster father and the stepfather. They called00:03:00the adopted ones then foster fathers. Now I guess they call them stepfathers.
KRAnd so your mother remarried and you went to Auburn.
MGRight. That's where I went to school. She married, which was my stepfather,Mr. King. He had been in, he was in World War I. He had been a calvary guy with Patton, a World War I guy. So, which you're going to ask me, I notice one of your questions on this little sheet there is why you joined the Navy. I was always fascinated with the Navy as a kid growing up. I always wanted Navy middy blouses. So then when the World War II came along and that. I had had heard all about the Army, the calvary and the Army, so I wanted something new, you see. Give a little spice to it.
KRDid you --
MGBut unfortunately, I went to the Navy away from home. I was the only child,00:04:00you know. It put a big hole in the family, which made a lot of difference. My father -- I got transferred home because my mother was sick but it turned out I was only home four days when my father died, my stepfather. So it was one of those quick illnesses that happen now and then.
KRWhat did he die of?
MGOh, he just died -- his own heart gave out. He was a very, he was a typicalold soldier. He went once a year for a physical. He didn't believe in them, but that's what you did in the Army (laughs). These things we pick up in the service. You do it all your life if you spend it enough time there. You'll notice some things I have around here. He went up for his annual physical. They put him in the hospital and he died four days later. But he was a man who walked every day. He walked the dog, got his exercise. It was just, it just wore out. 00:05:00He was a railroad man, you know, after the Army. He was here in San Francisco after the earthquake. He was between enlistments and got reenlisted quick.
KRI would think so. That would be a pretty scary --
MGHe said that was one there was no reason not to reenlist after that. So, I'vegot all the stories of the San Francisco earthquake.
KRNow you said he had a different last name.
KRWas Gay the name of your father?
MGGay was the name of my foster father -- my name on the birth certificate wasLyons and when they adopted they had a change of name to Gay from Lyons. Grace Lyons to Margaret -- and I was named after my foster mother's sister Margaret. The one that she came down to make the family with. She named me after her. 00:06:00
KRWas your childhood -- did you have a happy childhood?
MGOh, yes, right. I had a very happy childhood. My mother was -- see, as amatter of fact we were discussing it this morning that woman who had twins and was 60 years old. Terrible now. I was only 18 months old when I was adopted. Both my mother and father were 40 and 41. In that era, that was old to take in an 18 month old. So there was always a -- it was a different generation, just like now. My mother was very strict, but I thank her for it. She was -- when you adopt kids you never know what you're getting, see. I was a little on the wild side. Yet my normal mother, my biological mother was a pussycat. I would have ran all over her. 00:07:00
KRDid you grow up knowing her?
MGLater, later I looked her up. The lady who adopted me, I get very annoyed atthese people on television. They were adopted and their mother gave them up. They rave on. The first thing they should do is say "Thank you." You have life. I've had 86 years. You don't know why or what. You weren't in their shoes. You don't know. Just be glad they gave you life. Get it now. A lot of them -- so they don't, it's too bad. My mother, who I call my mother, the foster lady, my mother, she was not the type -- she didn't know a lot about the adoption. Her sister Margaret's dear friend who lived in Boston knew my biological mother's family and they knew they had this -- I was illegitimate and they knew they had 00:08:00to put me somewhere.
KR And that was --
MGI was in the orphanage and adopted from the orphanage. St. Margaret'sOrphanage. Margaret worked into my life period whether they wanted it or not. (laughs). I don't think my mother ever thought that. I just thought of it too. See, I'm 86 years old and I just put that together. Isn't it funny? (laughs). But that -- that was hard on them. Like I say, I was adopted at 18 months. My father, god I loved him -- I was only four years old. My birthday was on the 18th of September and he died on the 24th. I was four on the 18th of September. See, I was only four years old when he died. Stonecutter, he was a stonecutter.
KRWhat did he die of?
MGHe died of tuberculosis. They didn't have these titles to things. It wasprobably cancer of the lungs, but they just called it stonecutter's.
KRBecause he had the cough?00:09:00
MGYes, right, had all the. And they didn't have MRIs and all that stuff. But Iwas sorry to lose him. He was wonderful. So I always kept his name and Mr. King -- he's the one my mother married when I was seven -- he was great with kids too. He should have had a parcel of kids. He loved kids. He never, he knew I didn't want him to adopt me.
KRSo he respected the wishes of a seven-year-old.
MGYes. As far as I was concerned, he was like an adopted father. It was like headopted me, but I didn't change my name. It was fine with me.
KRSo you went to high school.
MGI went to high school. When I went to high school -- of course, I graduated in1939, which was in the midst of the Depression. I went to, where I lived in Auburn, which is a small town, I went into Worchester and joined the NYA. You 00:10:00know, like the WPA? The National Youth. It's funny, because my mother was a sewer and terrific. But I didn't like -- I never learned to sew. My first job I got put in a factory sewing kids' baby clothes (laughs). It's going to get you one way or the other. Anyhow, I went into the NYA. They wanted to -- the city was transferring -- I didn't belong in the factory sewing, because I had a commercial course. So I went down to city hall and said to the lady, "Isn't there something available commercially, because I want to get experience in my field rather than --." "Oh, sure." So what they did, they assigned to schools to help the principals with little clerical stuff. I went from the factory to the principal of a, over in one of the best schools in the state. The principal, I 00:11:00went around collecting chocolate milk money and, you know, it was terrific job. But I knew I needed, myself I wanted to advance. A job came, they were looking -- still on the NYA -- they were looking, the needed someone to go to the state hospital, the mental hospital. They needed somebody to go into the treasure's office so tch! So I went, that's where I went for something that finally had something to do with the accounting, bookkeeping, which I. I stayed there. I knew, you could only -- in fact at that time they shouldn't have hired me because they weren't supposed to hire you until you were 21, and I was only 20. But I needed to get out in industry so I finally got a job -- I went to 00:12:00accounting school at night. The gal in the class, she was working for a wholesale liquor company in Worchester. She said one night, "You know there's going to be an opening you might be interested in." So really knowing her was, when I went to be interviewed by the boss there. Of course, she had said she knew me and whatnot. He was an accountant. So I went to work for the wholesale grocer and liquor company then I joined the Navy from there.
KRYou said you went though a commercial course. Was that like going --
MGI went to Northeastern University. Their night accounting school was at theYMCA in Worchester. I went there at night. STarted the course. Then when I went to work for the wholesale grocer, the boss, he was a CPA himself. He was going to teach me accounting faster than I was learning there. So I figured the 00:13:00on-the-job training and whatnot -- in fact, his method, if you wanted to be an accountant, he figured you had to know how to pad the books. That's how you learn accounting. If you learn all the crocked stuff, then you learn all the right stuff.
MGSo he let -- he was more interesting. The guy put you to sleep at night.Accounting is not an interesting thing to teach. Hnnh, hnnh, hnnh -- oh boy! So he was getting on and taught me alot.
KRBut he wasn't doing anything illegal.
MGNo, no! He was a CPA and his method, his teaching method, if he was going tobe a teacher, he'd teach you to milk the books (laughs).
KRHow funny, how funny. You said you went to high school and you startedworking. Was there the assumption that you'd be working? Why did you decide to 00:14:00go out to work?
MGWell, I wasn't one, I was not interested in getting married so I didn't -- youhad to go to work. You couldn't just sit around and live off your family then. Most of the gal went to work in Depression days for the women you went to be a sales clerk. Of course, that was the thing for women before. Teachers or sales clerk. Sales clerk or bank tellers or insurance companies. A lot of insurance companies needed, they had low paying jobs. They were low paying jobs but you could get them.
KRIt doesn't sound like you had a hard time getting work.
MGNo, I had, well I was lucky, you see, at that time. I had, I went around andapplied at a lot of places before the girl told me that night. I had been around 00:15:00and been interviewed but too, I didn't have any experience. Most of the companies that were hiring, that needed to hired someone wanted experience. So this company was glad enough to -- and like I say, working with her, the boss there, the CPA, he knew I could handle what was there. I worked my way up to credit manager there before, before that's when I left there to go to the Navy.
KRHow long were you there?
MGLet's see, I went there -- I have to go back now. '39, '40 to '42. Late '41the first of '41 to '42.
KRWow. That's a long time.
MGYes. A couple of years.
KRYes, that's a long time. So while you were there, that's when you, obviouslythat's when the Pearl Harbor attack happened in the midst of all this.
MGYes, December of '41.
KRDid that change things?
MGWell, we weren't at war but, like your friends and most of the guys you went00:16:00with were in the reserve, the National Guard. Those things were becoming active because we were -- didn't pay attention at that time. You didn't know that Roosevelt was helping England and you were really half in the war before you got in it. YOu know, we were. See, things were more active. My stepfather, him being the old veteran, they used to go down. Every day he went down (laughs). See, the Depression, he was out of work. Railroads lost their work so he was just living on his limited pension. They were keeping up on things, the military things. The thing was, like I say, I always sort of liked the Navy. There was something about the Navy when I was a kid. When the newspaper -- and it wasn't on the 00:17:00first page. It was on the second page, just a little thing when they were having that the WAVES were coming in. I knew about the WAACs because one of my girlfriends, I went down to Springfield with her. Oh, I might have, but no, like I say, the Army I wasn't. I had that in the back of my mind, see. If it's good, the Navy will have it. She joined, we went that day and she joined. I said, "Well, if it's good the Navy will have it." It was from May, see from May until -- it took that long for -- they didn't pass our bill until the 30th of June.
KRI think part of the struggle was, if I'm reading it in the histories, is theydidn't want it to be an auxiliary. They wanted it to be --
MGYes. They wanted it -- see the ones in the Navy fought it. Her book isinteresting to read because she fought for a lot of the stuff. A lot of the stuff she doesn't have in there we know. It was a man's Navy. It was not easy at 00:18:00her level, at their level the officers had a hard row to haul. Of course, we did. But I think what probably made it easy for us too because a lot of the fellow enlisted people, the men, were in the same boat you were in. They didn't know anything more about the Navy than you did in a way. A few of the ones that were in, but they were a small group. I can remember before I even joined the Navy, I was thinking of coming in. There was a guy who lived up the street from me. Every Monday he would come in in his uniform. See, he was in the reserves. At that time, that was in '39 and '40. So when he went in he was rated. So when some of my fellow classmates went in the Navy they might have worked for him and he was rated. Because he had been in the reserves, see. But the men's attitude was completely different then too. Families were larger, there were brothers and sisters. They were brought up, the boys were brought up to "take care of your 00:19:00sister." I didn't, I was the only one in my family. But I know. They'd talk about it. We didn't have the problems -- a few bad things happened, you're bound to have a few. But we didn't have the problem they've had these later years. Sometimes they'd get loaded or whatnot, but if you said "No," no was no. It he was little too active, you just have him the (laughs). Anyway, it solved the problem fast. See, starting in '50, guys in the chow line make a quick remark, the gals would make a big deal about it, get angry. You just give it back to them nicely. They didn't know how to. Well, it's just like the kids today. They don't know how to fistfight. They have to shoot with guns. Except now they've got that crazy thing out, they're boxing. The teenage kids. They're boxing, 00:20:00hitting each one in the head until one of them either gives up or passes out.
KROh, the extreme fighting sort of thing, yes.
MGNo, this is a special thing. This isn't extreme fighting.They don't settlethose on the street. This is something they've taken up to be -- like the time awhile back they were using that choking thing?
KRSo let's go back a little bit because we jumped ahead and we missed a bunch of stuff.
MGI probably talk too much.
KRNo! Don't worry, I want you to talk. That's a good thing.
MGI'm a talker That's a good thing. And if I had a couple of drinks I'd talkmore (laughs). Can't take it because you're on medication.
KRSo you went down with your girlfriend and she joined the Army.
MGShe went in the Army, right.
KRWas there any other reason besides the fact that you were kind of intriguedwith the Navy, were there any other factors that led you to join the Navy rather than the Army or the Coast Guard or the Marines?
MGNo. Now don't forget, you couldn't join the Coast Guard or the Marines.00:21:00
KRBecause they were afterwards.
MGWhen I get into -- see when we went to the three schools -- so much of thethings, even her book, so much of it just deals on 1943 and '44 when they opened Hunter. But they forget those first three schools that opened. There was your crop. And they asked -- see, as a matter of fact, the four people, we sat together on the train going to Bloomington, two of those girls were Coast Guard. They asked us people to volunteer to go into the Coast Guard. That's how the Coast Guard started. They did that in November, November and December and then, then December and January, they were asking for, then into '43, asking for people to join the Marines to start the Marines. But that's where they started. Hunter didn't start everything.. Hunter was the first big real boot camp. They had a small one at Cedar Falls. But Hunter was the first one. Because we had our 00:22:00boot at each of the universities.
KRWhere did you go again?
MGI went to -- the storekeepers went to the University of Indiana. As a matterof fact as the things were, how fast the Navy was working, some of the people in California here who were going to be storekeepers, they had orders to the Stillwater where the yeomen ended up. They decided for some reason at the last minute to make the storekeepers in Indiana and the yeomen in -- so they had to dit dit dit on the train and tell them their orders had --
KRThat they were going someplace different.
MGWell, that they had to just, you know, get off in Oklahoma. They rerouted them.
KRWow. How did you get assigned to storekeeper's school? Because I know, thewomen I talked to who went to Hunter, they went to boot camp first and then then went to --
MGOK. See, that's the difference between when we went in the service. Numberone, why we went into the service. The war had started. Pearl Harbor. That threw 00:23:00you when you heard that. You were shocked. You couldn't believe it. So one of the things, what did you do before that? Air raid wardens, I was an air raid warden first, then we went into the service. But we had to bring something to the service. I was a bookkeeper, an accountant. The first officers were teachers. See, you brought something to the Navy and they didn't have to teach you right off. They did have to take us accountants and teach us Navy accounting, so you went to storekeeper's school to learn Navy accounting. And communicators went to Madison, Wisconsin. That's where the radiomen came out. And yeomen to Stillwater. The secretaries to learn Navy correspondence and lingo.
KRBut they also had to do some basic Navy indoctrination.
MGWell, we had the boot camp training, identification planes, all the regularstuff that you have today in your basic training. Which later, when I went to 00:24:00push boots, that's, you know. But see, you had the Navy orientation. You were out there every morning doing the calisthenics. You did the marching. See, in Bloomington, the fleet came in, sailors to go to storekeeper's school too. They were from the fleet, the fighting fleet, guys from the Pacific who had been -- see this was '42, these guys had been out there '41 and they wanted to teach them, storekeeper's training, trained storekeepers, so they transferred them in. Then, so we had male chiefs teaching us the Navy lingo, the Navy courses things. The University professors taught us the Navy accounting. They had to learn the Navy accounting. But Bloomington had you -- if I had got out of the Navy after the war, I could have applied and had been taken in as a sophomore at the 00:25:00University of Indiana. They gave you the freshman year because of the course they set up from it, they felt was well into a freshman intelligence level, I guess. That was a terrific university. And it was outstanding because they had a -- those of us from the east coast who had been to New York and the radio center, they had a building there, because it was limestone, they had built there -- they had built a complete replica.
KRLike Radio City Music Hall?
MGYes. They had a lot of good people. Now I can't remember. The violinist whocame there. While we were there. they were quite active. And like I said, they used the limestone.
KRWas is a hard adjustment for you?
MGNo. Because as I told you, my mother was a strict disciplinarian. In fact,00:26:00they didn't think I'd make it. Because, I guess they figured, I guess my father wasn't too sure I'd adhere to it (laughs). My mother now, was not in favor of this, you know.
MGNo. Her era of women -- this was troop followers. No no no. No, when I, thatsquare, that door. When I went through that, I went.
KRSo she was afraid that because you were joining, you were there to meet guysand to serve --
MGYes, yes. Well, camp followers. That's what her generation thought. But when Iwent, that was it. I wrote a letter home very week, just to say -- I didn't get any. Well, I'd get an envelope full of stuff that came for me in the mail. She'd 00:27:00mail it to me and whatnot.
KRBut she wasn't writing to you.
KRSo that was a signal to you that --
MGWell, at least (laughs). So then, that was Christmas. We didn't finish up00:28:00until January. We left Bloomington on the first of February. We had leave until we had to report to Cleveland. I and my other Boston friends on the train going home, I said -- the train went to Worchester first, where I was going to get off. And to my Boston friends I said, "If I don't have a bed tonight, I'll be down." They said, "We're going to have one for you." But anyway, no, it worked out alright.
KRWhat was your mom's reaction when you came home?
MGOh, just, you know, it was good. She had to admit later it was a good move.But it was a hard move to admit it. But I could understand it. See, I mean, like I say, I knew she was strict and I knew the old generation. I had figured that out pretty good. Each generation. They figured we were going to hell in a basket, just like we figure they are today. You know, it's just time. You must 00:29:00move on.
KRWas it hard for you to make the decision to join because your mother didn'tlike it?
MGYes, it was. I did that because I knew she wasn't in the best of health. Myfather -- she was the one who had eleven operations in her life. Five were operations and six were adhesions, because the way they treated people in those days. She wasn't in the best of health. And I thought, "Oh, yes, Ma." But my father said to me, "It's no use looking at it that way. You have to live your life. You could stay here and be here ten years before anything happened to her." So she said, "You have to make up your own mind."
KRWhy the military? Why not do something else? Because there were a lot of otheroptions at that time.
MGOh, I know. Oh, no, that was -- if the Navy was going to take women? My little00:30:00favorite Navy there? I had middy blouses, I had hats growing up as a kid, you know?
KRSo you wouldn't even think to go in a factory and work as a Rosie the Riveter type?
MGNot when I had the Navy, no. Well I wouldn't have anyway, come the war. I wasworking, you know. But come the war, I wanted to work as an air raid warden. Plus, don't forget we knew what was going on in Europe. The gals over there as ambulance drivers and figured -- Elizabeth there was running an ambulance around and we figured if she was running an ambulance --
KRYou could do the same thing.
MGWe'd better do something. (laughs)
KRSo you were assigned to Cleveland.
MGYes. You went to Bloomington to learn your storekeeping and then you wereassigned to Cleveland. And the reason Cleveland opened was the bureau of supplies and accounts, which was the one that sent out all the allotments to the wives and mothers and whatnot, they were running out of civilian help. In 00:31:00Washington, they couldn't get the help. So they moved the bureau of supplies and accounts to Cleveland, because they had all that extra help. Plus, they were, they didn't have the problem there too -- they never said that, but they could hire the negro people there too. Because Washington --
KRIt was still south.
MGWell, they had some in there, but they weren't that educated. The ones thatwere, they had this big market to get civilians. In fact, the first section I worked in, it was funny because the civilian supervisor was a southern girl. She volunteered like when they sent -- they had five colored girls working in our section. It was the five colored girls, me and her. But she, you know -- and later when I was running the barracks and the first negro girls were coming over, I knew that I was going to have to find beds for them -- but it always 00:32:00fascinated me too because the first girls that came down and said, "Hey, Maggie, I'll take a roommate" were always southern girls.
MGI only had, the ones all volunteered. The only ones I needed, I only had tolook for a couple, you know, that no one had volunteered to take.
KRThis was in '45 when they started letting women in, started letting AfricanAmerican girls into the military, or was this before?
MGWell, they were in before. But I was talking about civilians at that time. Butin the Navy, running the barracks, because that was 1950.
KRSo that was later on.
MGBut you see, how, why it struck me so was not -- there were not so manynegroes in my section of the country. As a matter of fact, the Catholic school I 00:33:00went to there was only one girl that sat across from me. Only one negro girl in the whole school. To me, that was fascinating. A different color? You weren't against them, you were for them. Then when I went to Washington later and found out and worked there in the Pentagon. You're working with three or four of them, worked there all along. Then on Saturday, you're down at Woodruff's and run into them. You're doing your shopping and they're doing they're shopping. "Hey, let's go have a cup of coffee." You couldn't have a cup of coffee with them. But you're having coffee every day. So, like I said, I was startled when as master of arms at the barracks when these girls came forward and asked for a roommate. This was zzz!
KRI know, I've talked to one of the women I've talked to on the cruise, she wasAfrican American and she was from New York City area, New Jersey. She said that when --- she served during World War II and she said they made sure to place 00:34:00them in Northern cities because they were worried about segregation. Really worried about it.
MGBut Washington, you think, you would think of all places there would be noproblem. It was tough on them.
KRBut this is the '50s you're taking about.
MGWhen I was master of arms it was 1952, '51.
KRDid you discover when you took your first assignment, it doesn't sound like, Iknow one of the slogans was free a man to fight. But it doesn't sound like --
MGOh, yes. The first guy I sent to see was a panic in the bureau of supplies andaccounts. See, I told you, these allotments, you signed, the sailors signed these allotments and they had a card and had to sign it. And the office had these long transmittal letters. There were five copies, all different colors and 00:35:00they had to have a number on them. The jobs were not that fascinating. They were monotonous. The first sailor was going to break me in on the job. He had all these stacked up here. He was in no great rush, but he had them all stacked up nice. He had the numbering machine and the push down on that and that's fine. We took that one off there and now we've got to separate the colors. (laughs) It was a panic. Anyway, he went to sea and caught -- when he came in the Navy he was from New York. Upper New York state. See, during the war, those early years of the war, you went down to the recruiting officers and whatever they needed -- they needed a bunch of first class yeomen the day he went to that recruiting office. So they made him a first class yeoman. He didn't have boot camp, he didn't know what a yeoman was from a streetcleaner. But he was made a yeoman, see? And he ended up out with the storekeepers in the bureau of supplies and accounts. But then when he went out to sea -- see he hadn't had any boot 00:36:00training. He'd write these letters -- god, he had cramps in his legs, they were killing him! Those ladders were not like stairs. Going up even the steepest stairs, the houses in Vermont those early houses were kind of straight to what they are now, but even those. He was complaining about the cramps in his legs. When he went to be a yeoman, they asked him. You know where he worked? He worked in Sing Sing. And then he went from Sing Sing down to the recruiting office and was made a first class yeoman. "Can you type?" He could type and klcgh! Klcgh! Klcgh! (laughs) But it was funny.
KRWas there any ressentment?
MGNo. What was funny was, see, now in Cleveland we had a lot of men, naturally.Then the word came out that some of them were going to be sent to sea. They had a number -- in between times, the guys would say, "Oh, I want to get rid of this 00:37:00job. I want to fight." Until the list came out and they were afraid they were going to be on it. No, there wasn't any resentment. I didn't run into any. I can say, the time I was in the service, I had no problem with sailors. And later I worked with yeoman. When I came back, after, they changed my rating from storekeeper to yeoman. I was the only girl, the only WAVE in the class. No, I never had any problem with them. I know men needed time to themselves. If you treat people right, they treat you right. I had fun with them. NO problems.
KRI've heard stories or read, especially in those early classes, there was, someof the old Navy guys were kind of suspicious that women could be part of the job.
MGOh, some of those guys were, I'm sure. But I didn't, I had no problem. I neverhad any problem where I was. If they did, they didn't show it. I never saw it. 00:38:00But, oh I'm sure there were places -- it was a man's Navy. You knew that. See, I went in with that attitude it was a man's Navy and I was just in to do a job and I'd do the job the best I could. We made damn sure we did it to the best of our ability and a little better sometimes because we knew they'd be watching you. But I can really say I had no problems. A couple of little things, but no resentment or anything.
KRWhat were-- you said a couple of little things.
MGWell, different section, I can't even remember what started with one of them.But you see, you always run into them later. YOu knew you could go just so far. You go over that line, you're into the discipline status. But I can't really 00:39:00complain about any of it.
KRDid you stay in the same office during all of World War II or did you end upgetting transferred?
MGOh, no. I was in Cleveland and I had to get a humanitarian transfer to home onaccount of my mother. So I left Cleveland. When I went to Boston I went to work for the section base. Those were the small crafts that went out, they used to take those small ships and they used to take the guys from Harvard and MIT, the officers that were there. So they would go out -- and that poor guy, you felt so bad. Because the North Atlantic in the winter is terrible. They go out in the morning they come back green (laughs). But the section base was -- see, I went there as section class, which was unusual. There was only one other guy there 00:40:00that was one of the reserves that I told you about. That went in before I joined the Navy, the first class guy who had been in the reserve since 1938. The first class one had gone in. I was the second class. I think the girls felt it more, my coming in as second class. They were all third class and seamen trying to make grade.
KRSo there was a little more --
MGThere was a little more between the women at that one time. But it didn't --you know they (laughs). But you settled that down. You ignore some things.
KRAnd they go away.
KRWhen you were serving, did you end up staying on base and all those sorts ofthings? did you have that, did you have quarters on base or what did --?
MGNo. I stayed in when we went to Cleveland we were all billeted -- see that wasthe first units. We were billeted at a hotel. That had been sort of the transit 00:41:00hotel for salesmen and everything in civilian life. And we had a good experience there. We had a WAVE officer that a been -- a WAVE officer was our boss, the big boss for the WAVES. She had been a prison, at a prison in Florida. And she ran us like we were prisoners.
KRShe had been in charge of the prisoners.
MGI mean she worked in the prison. Right, she was one of -- she sort of, shereally laid into us. She had us (laughs) -- she was rough. We called her the furor. And as a matter of fact, there again, you how far you could get. At that time -- let's see, McAfee was the captain, McAfee was the head. You had to be careful. We were, she was visiting different bases and we were hoping she would visit Cleveland. Then someone, one of the girls said when she came to 00:42:00Bloomington, when were were training then, she said she had escorted her around and whatnot. So she wrote her this very nice letter in a very nice way, wouldn't it be, how wonderful it would be for her to visit Cleveland? Because we wanted to get her (laughs). She was one that was of the troops, she wanted you to tell her what's up and that. So we -- but this, it was a panic, because the Plain Dealer, the paper there, they had, she wanted us to be -- you were either studying or you were going to classes and things and whatnot. Monday night was sharp but it the only night and you had to be back in by nine o'clock. Worse than at home. It was a panic. They'd -- the Plain Dealer, the one couple of kids 00:43:00who used to go to this bar in Cleveland and they'd have a few. They were talking, "How's Mark Holmes' kids these days?" and she let them. They'd print that stuff up in the newspaper. (laughs) Anyway, she came to visit. She did come to visit.
KRDid you tell her about the other?
MGWell, different ones that come to talk with her, they gave her the, we gaveher the information. We weren't really children yet. See, the maximum age at that time was 36. You couldn't be over 36 and a lot of them -- the average age was 22, when I went in I was just 22. You had a lot of teachers that came in, and they could only take so many officers to go in. They said to go into the enlisted ranks and then later -- and that's what they did. My first roommate she became a lieutenant commander. Went into supply corps. She had been a teacher in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The teachers had a rough time. You know, they were 00:44:00wanting to get away from -- because I know, I lived in small town and we used to hackle the high school teachers. They didn't have much freedom. Used to flatten their tires when they were out parking. Little things like that.
KRDid Mildred McAfee listen to your complaints?
MGOh yes. She listened. We were careful about how we got it across to here too.Like we said, the ones that we got to talk with her, we were careful -- they would remember not to shoot their mouth off like they would.
KRSo did any changes happen?
MGYes. A few changes did happen.
KRHow were things different in Boston?
MGAnd not only that, when later on in the Navy, I'll show you the pictureslater. The girl who lived with me here was a shipmate and we retired. When I 00:45:00first knew her and we'd tell her about "the Furor" in Cleveland, we went to a Navy reunion. And, of course, she was there. She comes up to me and grabs me. And Lois says, "That's 'the Furor'?" (laughs)
KR(laughs) She got mellow.
MGYes, she got mellow. And afterwards, because then when I was in Washington,she would invite us to dinner. And you would have never thought that when we were in Cleveland in 1943. Like St. Patrick's Day we organized, I and another gal organized a St. Patrick's Day party. We'd figured we'd have a little wild party in the hotel we lived in. We had a good party, but she didn't like it too well at that time. We had trouble with the hotel too. At the time we had to eat there. We got a certain amount of money but we had to pay it to the hotel and we 00:46:00had to live there. We resented that because they were, bread and water, you know, sometimes it was lousy food. They were getting the money from the Navy which we didn't like. And we got that across to McAfee and things changed a lot there.
KRActually I read her -- I was in New York and read some of her oral history andshe mentioned that. She -- in the oral history she made a point of mentioning there were some places where the -- I don't think yours was the only one.
MGOh, no, I'm sure it wasn't.
KRBut there were places that were taking advantage of the girls who were in.
MGThey were taking advantage of the Navy and they forced -- the Navy had to paythem not only to bed us down but, not only, it had been a hotel and transient hotel, but the section they opened up to us a lot of them had been closed. They had mice running around at first and, you know, came out of the walls. Because they hadn't been used. We used to -- what's that song? "I Don't Get Around Much 00:47:00Anymore." We used to sing that at night, "I don't get around much anymore" (laughs).
KRAnd why is that? Why that song?
MGBecause we couldn't. You had to be in by nine.
KRSo were things different in Boston?
MGWell, you see, in Boston, that -- I lived there in quarters at the hotel. Thenin Boston I lived at home. I mean, excuse me, I didn't live at home. I lived out. We lived on Commonwealth Avenue. The Stritch lady, her son went into the Navy to do his bit. So she rented out her servant's quarters. Four of all went to live at her place which was real nice. Then they finally got a hotel when there were so many and we had to move there. There were WRENS there too, from England, which was kind of interesting. They lived entirely different from we 00:48:00did in their rooms. They had the, what do you call them, not crochet, but rugs that your mother used to make. They had the rugs. And they had the -- we were, one picture on the dresser, and very limited the Navy. But when they lived on shore, the British way, when their men came ashore they lived like kings compared to at sea and their women were the same.
KRSo they were able to decorate their rooms a little bit?
MGYes, they decorated the rooms more than us.
KRYou weren't allowed to because of the Navy.
MGYes. They had their own section there. They had it, so I had to, the four ofus had to move there. Eventually, my mother had -- she lived in Auburn and she had a stroke. I had to get her a place in Boston because I only could go home weekends at that time. I had to move her down there. So then I lived at home until she passed away in May. I had, I was slated to go to England, but the 00:49:00Hawa'in thing, Korean thing, the orders got changed to Hawai'i. They needed a draft to go over and relieve the men in Hawai'i to go over to Korean.
KRSo this was in the late '40s then?
MGWell, the Korean War was 1950.
KRYes. I'm just trying to get -- I didn't follow the --
MGWell, I got out of date orders.
KRI was trying -- so did you end up staying, remaining in Boston the entire restof your World War II service or did you go anywhere else?
MGNo, see when I went back from Cleveland, when I went back in '43, I stayeduntil 1950.
MGIn different stations in Boston. I had a lot of different, I worked for Navyrelief. I was a head accountant in Navy relief. I worked at Lockford, the small base. Which was very interesting because we were at the start of the Charles. 00:50:00One day a German sub came up. It was very interesting. But, then I worked there, then I went to Navy relief. From Navy relief I got transferred over to headquarters again and worked in the chaplain's office over there. Then I went to training, training aides, until I got orders to go out for the Korean thing. See, my mother died in May and I got those orders in August. I had to get rid of my apartment. I had a car to get rid of and I only had 24 hours. But I had this friend down in the personnel office. I said, "Can't you send me -- I don't want to go. I need more time." She said, "I'll send you on the train. I'll scratch you from the flight. I'll put the men on the flights and put you down at the bottom." So I had another 24 hours.
KRTo get your things in order.
MGYes. Then my aunt came down from Vermont and finished out while she moved the00:51:00stuff from my apartment to her place. Because I was going out the next night. (laughs) I called her from Chicago and she can't find the phone in Vermont because the Navy movers are real fast. They're up there. But you know what's real funny, those hours I have -- when I got up to San Francisco and waiting for -- we have the, every morning, you know, you mustered. We had this girl who was, they'd keep calling for Thompson. No Thompson. And of course, this is the girl who became my roommate out here. She didn't have to muster because she lived in San Francisco. But, we're waiting for a girl that was driving from Ohio with her car. So the draft got held up, but it was nice it got held up because the Navy made an administrative error and we all went over on the Lurlene. 00:52:00
KRAnd what is that?
MGThe Lurlene? That's a -- that was -- this was in August. Wasn't it June ClarkGable and what's his name, they went over, they got married and went over. There were seven, eight of us girls, Lois was one of them in the other room, the bridal room.
KRWow. That's pretty swanky.
MGOh, it was wonderful. I put on 30 pounds. Eating and drinking (laughs).
KROn the ship over?
MGRight. I tend to be chubby and I had to get rid of that. But, they wanted,everybody on the ship, here we are this bunch of WAVES going over on the draft. They were always, here we had these meals you got one thing. There you try every 00:53:00one of the desserts, you know. But it was a nice experience.
KRAnd this is 1950.
MGThis is August of 1950.
KRHow did -- how was it that you didn't end up having to leave the service.
MGBecause I was -- see, I was lucky. When, at the -- let's see where was I atthe end of the war? I have to think. Where was I that I had the billet? Where the heck was I in '46?
KRIt could even be the end of 1945?
MGI mean 1945. I think I was still in the training aide section. See, atheadquarters of 12th Naval district.
KRAnd what was that?
MGThey took care of the film for training. They were starting to set up thearmories around the district and they had training films and everything. That 00:54:00was, that was good duty. That's where I was. I had a billet, see.
KRA lot of the other women I've talked to, they say it was done all on thepoints system. And if you had the points, you were out.
MGWell, they went to the separation center. The ones went, unless you had abillet. See, like even Lois Thompson, this other girl here, she was a yeoman, the officer she had worked for over here at the supply center, there was an opening for a storekeeper over in this other office. So she just changed her rate and made her a storekeeper. She was in a billet. That's home come she stayed.
KRSo she also stayed.
MGShe also stayed. She had lost her -- she was back here and she left from here.Her brother was a commander, a flier. He went down off of Hawai'i. The currents in Hawai'i are very dangerous for flying, the air currents, and he was breaking 00:55:00in a new squadron and his went down. She had to come home because her mother was -- but so she had the billet. She was able to stay in.
KRAnd then at some point they realized they needed to keep some women in.
MGWell, that's why. They realized that, well, they were dilly dallying whetherthey needed a USN or not. So while the were separating people they passed the bill and made the USN. So they had to get somebody to stay. The people who got to stay first were the ones who had billets.
KRWhy did you decide to stay?
MGWell, I thought I had a good job as long as I could stick. I liked the Navy. Ididn't want to get out. I was hoping I wouldn't have to. If I had got out, I would, when they opened it to USN, I would have gone down anyway. It was good to 00:56:00be able to stay.
KR I know, a lot of the women said one of the reasons they did get out, they mayhave met somebody during the war or were kind of ready.
MGOh, some of them, some of them did.
KRBut your circumstances.
MGThat wasn't one of my problems (laughs). I was still enjoying the troops.(laughs). But we had, it was good. One thing was, when this Korean thing opened up and we went over -- we went to SyncPac fleet.
KRWhat is that?
MGWell, SyncPac is a complete, see you have Pearl Harbor which is a receivingstation, a district. But SynchPac fleet is the head one that runs the Pacific. The Navy in the Pacific. And ServePac serves them. So see the big old admiral 00:57:00and the other admiral, the services. They put ammunition, guns. And so what I got assigned to was aerial petroleum. And I thought, "Aerial petroleum? What in the hell is aerial petroleum?" All that I knew was what gasoline was. When I was on leave, when the war had started you used to get rations. I knew you had ration tickets for gas. And when you were in the Navy, you had leave during the war, they'd give you two red stickers, two gallons of gas for when you were on leave. So that's all I knew about petroleum. Also at that time was when, you remember you used to have Department of the Army, Department of the Navy. Then you went to Department of Defense. Remember Forrestal, the admiral who jumped out of the window at Bethesda? See, so when you had the Department of Defense, these big offices like SyncPac fleet and ServePac, those offices you would have an Air Force, an Army, a Navy. Mixed personnel. Military and civilian alike. In 00:58:00the aerial petroleum office, a Navy captain was at the head. The next executive officer was Army and the next one down was Air Force officer.
KRSo you were kind of supporting everybody.
MGWell, yes, we were all working for the same purpose, but you had -- thesection I was working for was the one that took care of furnishing all the -- see, there's bulk fuel that takes care of the really heavy stuff, like cans of oil and things like that. Heavy stuff. But mine was aviation gas and diesel. Furnished it for all the Pacific, for all the planes out there and everything.
KRSo you had to make sure it was in the right place.
MGI had to make sure. There was a commander out there, first class, and myselfin the section that had to do the computations. To make sure the oilers met the ships and refueled at the right place or they wouldn't have it. A lot of 00:59:00politics goes on. Today, what was it, I just heard today the big thing about squealers. But we had a situation that would have been a good one today. Anyway, when I went this Army guy, the commander, gave me a bunch of books to read about petroleum. So I learned about petroleum fast. And the storekeeper and I would figure the computations and what was needed. See, every morning when the captain went to the admirals, see, like you hear the President has his morning briefing? When they went up to the admiral, he had these charts. He had the chart for each, for three grades of aviation gas. That's when the jets were coming in and that's a finer grade of gas. Then you have the diesel and whatnot. He had a 01:00:00chart for each one of these. I couldn't be bothered doing this. I would have one chart. Put red for that, colored green for that. And I did it this way one morning. I had put them on his desk. Well, it was too late. He couldn't make me go and do every one of these other charts because it had to go up to the admiral's office. Plus, the admiral had something for my captain. Our poor captain used to have to stand at attention at these meetings. See, the guy from, the ammunition guy would be up there, the petroleum guy in. All these different department heads. He had to stand at attention. He was the nicest guy, a southern guy. He'd come down, his shirt, you could just wring it if you could get it. And then, the commander that I wrote for, he wasn't talking to the commander or others. He had been sent back from Guam because he didn't drink coffee, he drank martinis. See, late lunches and whatnot. 01:01:00
KRThat could be a problem.
MGBut, they could say what they want, he may have had those late lunches anddrank those martinis, but he could, he'd catch us if we made an error in the figures. But he wasn't popular either. We know when there were errors, they blamed it on him. Now, Lois, when she went, she went to the ordinance department. Then I heard we needed a good quick typist for communication and messages and I heard she was a good typist, so I maneuvered to get her in the area of petroleum. So she was the typist for the captain and the commander. She was the one that typed our figures that we gave to the guy and typed the messages. Of course, you're not supposed, when we, what we got through with had to go in the burn basket. But we knew something was wrong because we had picked up on something. One of the ships missed a rendezvous and we caught holy hell 01:02:00for it. The commander did. The commander wasn't wrong, and we knew, because we each do, the first class would check me and I would check his figures and the commander the three figures. It was a good check, a double check. I said to Lois one day, because I didn't want to put her on the ball, give away secrets, but we had kept out figures that day (laughs). So I said, she was starting, I said, "When you get through with that message, why don't you just lay it there. I want to just take a quick --" I said, "I don't want to put you on the spot, you didn't, I'm the one that's doing it. Looking where I shouldn't be looking." Because they were very tough on security in those days. You know, you and I work together, I didn't know what you were doing and you didn't know what I was doing. But, I looked at the figures and he was changing them. See --
KRThe martini drinking one?
MGNo, no. The martini -- we were alright. It was this Army executive officer.These figures that go into the captain, the captain would look at them, even the 01:03:00Navy captain. He'd leave them go into him. Then when they came out he would change them before Lois typed them. Because the captain would have picked them up.
KRDid -- Lois was in - so she was -- you're living nearby somebody who servedwith you?
MGWell, I met her when we were going on the Lurlene. The ship. I'm the ship andI'm up there, I'm right on the rail and here comes this other -- well, I did find out about this Thompson that never reported in the morning, she lived in San Francisco, she was with her mother. So that day on board the ship her mother was able to come aboard, like the same guests of the other people. So I said, "Why don't you let her get up to the rail?" So I let her get up to the rail and I met Lois too. Then later, that's how.
KRAnd she had been in World War II as well.
MGThat's right. She went in, like I say her brother was an Anapolis guy, acommander from Anapolis. 01:04:00
KRWhat did you -- so you mother knew you were staying in the Navy. All theseother girls were coming out. I know we're backing up in time a little. She didn't like you going in the Navy. When you decided to stay, what did she think?
MGOf course, she didn't know what how it was run. She didn't know the differencethen. See, she didn't know about the people getting out. She didn't know the routine. And I kept going.
KRAnd she was fine with that.
MGYes, she was fine with it. She was getting her allotment. By this time I hadput in for an allotment for her because I was supporting her 51 percent. No, she was fine with it. She got over it. She didn't know the workings of the Navy. She knew I wanted to go overseas. When the first draft went to Pearl Harbor, see? You know, the first draft with the war, I would have loved to have gone. I couldn't and she knew that.
KRBecause she was too sick at the time?
MGShe was, she hadn't had her stroke then. She wasn't as bad. She hadn't had her01:05:00stroke then, but the thing was my father had died and she would have been by herself. I couldn't have put myself overseas. I wouldn't have done that.
KRAnd that's a far distance -
MGFrom Boston. Yes. And see, it wasn't that far from Boston for me to go homeweekends or I could even go one night during the week. Weekends were enough to go to Worchester. You know, it's only 40 miles away. But I couldn't do that. I would have loved to have signed up and gone then. And Lois went over when that draft went back to Pearl Harbor.
KRWith that initial group.
MGYes. She wanted to go because her brother was on -- at that time her brotherwas on the Helena at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. He was on the ship over there. He had reported before it happened. You see, his duty officer at night was reporting these things coming out of the water. No one ever figured it was 01:06:00anything. They had these mini-subs. People, they passed a lot of stuff. But people are no different then than they are now. You know, they don't --
MGSee, the lousy intelligence. See, everybody gets mad at Bush and everythingbut they all bought the same thing. If your intelligence is bad -- see, later I worked in Navy intelligence. You get bad intelligence, if I give you, you rely on me, the President relies on, he's got two of there to rely on. The FBI and the CIA and all the intelligence in each one of the services. What are you going to do when someone tells you this? And anyway -- I'm a firm believer they had, they just dumped those weapons they keep blaming them for. You know damn well, same thing, you know, same thing happened with this Korean thing after World War II. Allied petroleum says they went, they got rid of all those oils and stuff 01:07:00they had stashed out at Midway and whatnot. The war's over. So whoom comes Korea and they have all these planes and ships they've got out there and no one to do it. Pearl Harbor was the closest, see, so the same thing happens every time. We don't really learn from our --
MGNot even ourselves, we don't learn from things we do.
KRHow long did you end up staying in Hawai'i?
MGI ended up staying there, I was there from '50 to '52. There again, while Iwas there they were having this -- because the Korean War was still on. We went there in '52 and the thing is coming out, they need people to push boots for the training thing. We thought, we'd been there long enough, we'll put in for there and go home earlier. We've seen Hawai'i now. I was master of arms at the WAVES barracks and I could do that during the day. So I put the four of us that ran around together, I put the four names and sent them and volunteered together. 01:08:00And so (laughs) any sucker that put in, you were sure to get duty there. You didn't it -- we didn't go the next month, but when our tour was up. all four of us went. Well, at the reunion I said to the yeoman that was the detail yeoman I said, "How many of that was on, when you were looking for recruit trainers at Bainbridge, how many did you have on that list?" She said, "Four." (laughs)
KRSo you all ended up in Bainbridge.
MGAnd Lois when she found out you've got to go to instructor's school first,because you might end up being a teacher instead of push the boots -- I wasn't too popular. One of the other girls, though, made officer. She was the one that you saw a lot, the real attractive girl in uniform a lot. Joan Mackey, she had cancer and died young. The other two of us, we just plodded along.
KRSo you say push boots, what does that mean?
MGWell, they call it pushing boots, recruit training. You're pushing the boots,01:09:00see? You have a company, and you have about 40 recruits in a company. You pick out a sharp, which one you think looks pretty sharp and you make her the commander there to deal with you -- she has to take care of them when you're not with them. Then you have the group that were instructors teaching them all the different stuff. Then the one that taught them swimming, that one, and the instructors. So you were either pushing boots or you -- but everyone they consider pushing. Well Lois, she ended up, she pushed one company but then she ended up volunteered. The girl in uniform transferred so she volunteered for that job. She didn't care --
MGTo the uniforming. She would get them all their uniform. Make sure they weremeasured and it fitted them and make sure everything was alright.
KRAnd you continued to do the boots.
MGI pushed one, I only pushed one company but they I got picked to be regimental01:10:00adjutant. There were two commanders in the regiment that ran them and the one I got to be, the regimental adjutant for her.
KRWhat is the regimental adjutant?
MGThe head chief of the two things --
KRSo you're one of the two --
MGYes. When they got, whatever paperwork between the two -- see the recruits goso many weeks and then they get this training the 11th week. I had to, I had to plot, assign them to what their detail was for that time. And anything, any of the, anything that the military part that would come down to WAVE commander.
KRBecause at this part you're still WAVES. You're not a part of the US Navy?
MGOh, no, we're still WAVES.
KRI mean, you're part of the Navy but you're not --
MGWe're USN. We're, but we hadn't had this integrated stuff happen yet. We're01:11:00USN, we're not reserves anymore. We were USN, but WAVES were WAVES and were not -- we had the head one in Washington. A commander, a captain. They were captained by them and running the WAVES. At each one of the districts they had a WAVE officer that was a district commander to take care of any problems with the WAVES. The officers would contact them.
KRSo is that what you continued to do or did you move on to other work with the Navy?
MGWell, I mean after recruit training, as I said, anyone who volunteered forthat got it. The needs of the Navy come first, but then that was considered pretty rough duty because that was all you lived and died. If you were an instructor, you had buddies that were instructors, all they did was complain. "Hey, that recruit of yours --." See? (laughs). You were like mothers to these kids. So they considered that you needed to get out. So the choice -- we went 01:12:00back to Hawai'i. See I didn't care too much for the first tour but the second tour I loved it.
MGYes. I felt confined the first time.
KRWas that because the war was on do you think?
MGNo. Because it was only 105 miles around that damn island. It was only 100 --I could go from Boston to New York, so we used to do that when we were there. We'd run around the Island twice and say we've been from Boston to New York. (laughs) On a Sunday. I just didn't enjoy it as much. I liked it, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the second tour.
KRWhat was so much better about the second tour?
MGI guess my attitude. I mean, I just I don't know why it was better. Like Isay, the first -- I enjoyed being master of arms of the barracks. That I enjoyed, but like I say, I just felt it was confining.
KRSo how long were you there for your second tour?01:13:00
MGLet's see. I was de-de-de -- I was there for '52 to '55 -- I was there forthree years. And then when I retired from the Navy we used to go over every Christmas.
KRDid you retire after being in Hawai'i or did you go --
MGOh, no. I retired back here at the schools command in Treasure Island.
KRSo you moved back to San Francisco.
MGYes, after Hawai'i, that second tour in Hawai'i, see Lois and I were friendsand then lived together and were buddies and whatnot. We put in to go -- of course any dumbbell that asked for Washington would get Washington. She had been there earlier. Her first duty station was Washington. But anyway, we went to, we got Washington. That's where I went to Naval intelligence. After Naval intelligence I went up to BuPers on the -- from the Korean War they had problems. They didn't have as many men try to escape as in World War II. So they 01:14:00had what they called leadership teams going around to the men, to the Navy, reminding them not only of their service number but of general order number 17.
KRWhat's general order number 17?
MGI can't remember it now, but, you know, in the Navy the purpose of the Navy.It's one of those things, they're supposed to be -- their attitude. What was that word they used? They were --
MGIt wasn't comportment. Disinterested. I can't think of the word right now thatthey felt they didn't -- they needed to be jolted. So they went around to all these -- it was a post graduate boot camp type of thing is what it is. So they had one for the WAVES. And how I got picked for that, they had one of these meetings. The chaplain that was the head of, working on the leadership team -- 01:15:00in fact, he was the Cardinal O'Connor in New York eventually. Do you remember him?
MGWell that was an experience. Anyway, they have this meeting. I get up thereand show my mouth. I want to know what they're teaching them in boot camp these days, their attitude when they get out. Well that was a -- "I want to get her. We'll let you know how they teach them" (laughs). That was a pull for that duty. They found out quick who my name was. So I got pulled from the Navy intelligence and I'm up to BuPers leadership for WAVES. There were three of us. Then we went around to the different bases. And they had problems. Some of these captains -- there was on in Pawtuckset one, the captain would require them to be in full dress uniform when they were in the laundry doing laundry in the laundry room in 01:16:00the barracks.
MGStupid damn stuff like that. The WAVE officer that went into the leadershipteam of this, of course she was pushing to be in that number one spot. The officers wouldn't speak up, but I never miss an opportunity. The one captain, I said, "Captain, you're wife goes shopping in the afternoon. She goes around. She's pretty darn tired when she gets home. What's the first thing she does? She takes her girdle off." The WAVE officer, she psh, ahem. They were able to get rid of their uniforms and go to the laundry.
KRThat's probably a good thing.
MGWell, he probably never thought of it.
MGBut I figured, bring it home to him. He probably went home and told his wife"That fresh chief" and he probably said, "Do you take your girdle off when you come home?"
KRAnd she probably said yes.
MGIt's hot in Pax River!01:17:00
KRSo what other -- did you have any other duties you did for the Navy before you retired?
MGLet's see, I went to leadership team. After the leadership team, again, theneeds of the Navy first. I had a couple of ins around the bureau then. I thought I'd want to go to Hawai'i. I went back out to Hawai'i see.
KRYou did three tours in Hawai'i?
MGThat was the second tour.
KRThat was the second tour.
MGI only did two tours that I really enjoyed. Then out there that time I gotsent to the commissary store. Because I was a storekeeper, still. But all the way, along, every time I went I was as storekeeper in all these jobs but I was 01:18:00really more of an administrator, which is a yeoman in their category more that storekeeper. Storekeeper, you're supposed to be out in the storeroom counting, things like that. Then, they opened up overseas billets and there weren't that many for storekeepers. I was hoping to get that back and go to London that time. Then anyway, I put in to change my rate. Then from the commissary store, I was there for about a year and they send me back to San Diego. They sent me back to San Diego to change my rate and then when I finished the school there and went back to Hawai'i -- naturally, they sent you back to your duty station once you had changed your rate, I went back there. See, I worked in the commissary store, but that's part of the Naval station, one of their things. They paid they bills to send me to school. So when I came back the personnel officer at the receiving 01:19:00station said, "I don't want to send you back to commissary. Maggie, I'd like you to do me favor. Will you do me a favor?" I thought, "Well, I have to. You sent me to yeoman school." (laughs) He was a nice guy. He said, "I have a captain and he's having trouble keeping a yeoman. He can't keep a yeomen. He's been through three yeomen, male yeomen." He says, "So I thought maybe you could go down. It's kind of a crabby old guy, but maybe you could go down?" And I said, "Sure, I'll go down." What the hell? I'll give it a try, you know? Well he was funny. It was funny because there was a commander. The commander and I sat outside of the captain's office in the room where all the mail would come in to be put in the (indecipherable) and they had swinging doors there, because of the weather, you know? They have a, they had a bus because the officers most of them lived up St. Point Creek because it was a nice area, officers homes, you know. They had a jitney that took them up from the 14th Naval district headquarters there. When 01:20:00the captain would come in in the morning I'd say, "Good morning, captain!" And psh mmm mmm -- he'd go into his office and not say a word. Then at night, he'd go out and if I was there -- one night I was pushing mail and he went out and I went all the way out and he's down getting in the thing and I said, "Good night, captain!" All the other captains were there (laughs). He said nothing, see? So one day I'm around and I'm just going through to the next office and he's leaving. "Good night, Maggie!" (laughs) He was funny. He was nice though. The poor male chiefs, one of the male chiefs in the office, he never speaks to them. He goes by mmm mmm. He wasn't well, actually. We didn't know it then. He'd go through and never speak to any of them. And the poor commander who's sitting 01:21:00there, he's wondering, "What's this thing, 'Good night, Maggie'?" (laughs) This commander had a wife, he had kids. He had a wife and anything would happen, she'd call him and he'd have to get the kids and take them to the dispensary. Well, we were playing war games that you would have every once in awhile. We're on this phase there and he's up in cane fields and whatnot and his wife's calling, "The kid's scraped his knee, he scraped his knee." I said, "You know the commander is not here." I said, "Why don't you take some good nice soapy water, wipe it off. Do you have any mecurichrome? Put some mecurichrome on there, put a band-aid on there and you'll be alright." So I thought, "Oh god, she's going to -." The next day I kept thinking the commander is going to come in and -- the commander, he was a very nice guy. But he was very protective of me. He was afraid I'm -- I'm going to tell you a funny story now. They were 01:22:00having trouble, all of a sudden they were having a lot of trouble with VD. We had to find out what is spreading it, where is it being spread. My commander was head of the HASP, which is the Hawai'in Armed Services Police. Everyone takes their turn. So he was doing it. He had to go down and go through all these things to find out where and they finally found out it was in the tattoo shops. So, we -- and we had, because we had this one case they were pushing and the sailor -- of course the chief on the other side, the office of personnel had already called me over and I had already seen the pictures and everything. This guy had a, he had butterfly tattooed on his penis. Now you know how loaded the guy had to be.
KROh my goodness!
MGBecause how tender that area is. Anyway, see, I'm (laughs) -- and the01:23:00commander's over here in the drawer. He doesn't want -- to protect me. And he takes the envelope into the captain and I'm holding myself laughing. Anyway, (laughs) so then they had to paint the tattoo shops over, paint them up, clean them, get the needles or what. That was coming from that tattoo shops. Caused quite a spell. But those were the things -- I often thought that guy -- what ever happened to that guy?
KRAnd did he --- the guy with the tattoo --
MGI don't know what ever happened to him. All I could think of of him -- I wantto tell you a funny story from high school. I went to a small high school. There were 400 people in the whole school for the four years. There was this kid he ate peanut butter and marshmallows for lunch for every day for four years. He 01:24:00always had this -- you remember it came in a can? The white creme? And he had this little white line from the marshmallow every day. I went to class reunions, the 10th, the 15th and every time I'd see the guy I'd say, "What happened? You're not eating marshmallow lately?" And all I could think of, was someone who knew this guy would say, "How's the butterfly?" (laughs)
KROh dear. That would just --
MGNo, you can't imagine it.
KRNo. So did you retire after Hawai'i or did you --
MGSo Hawai'i, I left Hawai'i in '58. That second tour to Hawai'i, I went fromthere, that's when I went to Washington. From Washington I came out here. See, when I came through here in 1950, I thought, "Boy would I like to have duty here 01:25:00in San Francisco." To me this is New England at it's best. Not too hot, not too cold. It's the best of New England. It took me 11 years to get it. So there again, Washington duty was tough, and I knew a yeoman and we, both of us, got transferred out here. And that's where I finished my tour, out here. I went to section to retire officers in the 12th Naval district headquarters on Treasure Island. And then from there I was sent over to the schools command, the electronics and that's where I retired. And I lived in the barracks there --
KRYou lived in the barracks?
MGI lived ashore until we decided we would when we retired -- see you could putyour papers in a year ahead of time -- we decided we're going to retire and after we retire we're going to -- we went on leave to Europe in '54. And we wanted to go back, so we said when we retire we would. So, you know, we were hacking the money away every month. So we put in to move back in the barracks to 01:26:00save the rent money, because rent was heavy and whatnot. And so I lived in the barracks at Treasure Island. It was a nice barracks too.
KRAnd did your friend retire at the same time?
MGYes. We both retired together and we went to Europe for eight months.
MGThe first time we went over in 1954, we just had 30 day leave. I had ashipmate from Boston, she was over there. Her mother was a French war bride from World War I. Her father had stayed over there and Mary was born in Paris. Her father stayed for seven years and then he said, "Psht! You've got to come with me to the U.S." So that, so Mary, she spoke French. It was funny, because a high school teacher told her she would never learn French. 01:27:00
KREven though she spoke it fluently.
MGParisian French. She could read it and write it and speak it. She killedherself laughing every time she told that. "My high school teacher told me I would never learn French." She became a warrant officer. She was a nice gal.
KRDid you ever feel you missed out on anything by staying in the Navy.
MGI'd do it over again. I didn't miss out on anything. No. See, at the time Iwould have gotten married, the Depression. You either went to live with his family or you went to live with your family. And that was a bunch of -- I wasn't ready to settle down anyway. I wanted to travel. So that was probably why I didn't -- and why I ended up joining the Navy. See the sea.
KRIt's an unusual career path, it's an unusual path for a woman to take of your01:28:00era. Of your generation.
MGYes. At 25 if you didn't get married you were and old maid. Like in mayclassroom, see there were 78 of us in out class. I was able to go my 55th reunion. They had, a lot of them stayed in the town and married, Classmates married and stayed. A bunch of us, a few of us left, but most of them stayed in the area. It was the thing to do.
KRBut you never had the desire to get married and have children.
MGNo, no. Marriage didn't -- I didn't -- I'll tell you, I was selfish. To beperfectly honest, I was selfish. If I was going to work and make money I was going to spend it the way I wanted to spend it. I had a couple of boyfriends who tried to tell me how they wanted you to dress. That's a bunch of mmm! They weren't going to tell me. That's -- the good Lord knows this. I wouldn't have 01:29:00been good -- I probably wouldn't have lasted long either. That's what I used to tell this one guy I was going to marry. I was going to go to law school, I wanted to be a lawyer. I was going to go Portius Law School in Boston. I had sent the papers in. I told him, "I want to go to law school because I want to know how to get a divorce if I marry you" (laughs).
KRThat's not going into marriage with a real good attitude (laughs).
MGNo, that's not the right attitude! (laughs) He was nice guy, but he was goingto the state (indecipherable) -- he left -- I don't think he left Massachusetts. He may have gone to Connecticut and Rhode Island but that was only because he stumbled on it. Until he had a son who was in the service and was stationed in North Dakota and the only way he could see him was to go. That wasn't me. He wanted to stay in one place. But he was a very nice guy. He would have made 01:30:00someone a wonderful husband and father and not for me.
KRHow do you think you ended up getting that -- because it's an independent streak.
MGWell, independent -- I've thought of this more. Like they say, ."You thinkabout this in your old age." I have decided that part of my problem (laughs) my problem is -- see there's a lot to be said for those nurturing years of the baby. Your mother coddles you, that loving thing. I didn't get that loving. I was in the orphanage. Then, you're lucky - they didn't. They didn't change your damn britches. The poor people, it took a week after they adopted me, I was so bound up. But anyway, I think, I've always thought that that had a lot to do with it. You didn't have that little bit of something that you needed to -- 01:31:00that, and, of course, being the only one in the family. As adopted, I was the only one in the family. I wasn't a loner, I didn't keep to myself. I thought the Navy was wonderful. Here I had these 592 sisters when I went to Bloomington. Wonderful! To me it was great experience. So I think the combination of left alone when you were born and being the only one. Of course, it's helped me now because as much as -- I love to travel and everything which I can't do now -- surprised myself that it doesn't bother me staying alone or a day I have -- now I have a neighbor that if she has to stay in the house a day, two days, she's climbing the walls. It doesn't bother me. I can find -- I never get bored. I don't know what bored is. I can find something to do. She's as blind as I am. We 01:32:00both have the same thing. She's a little worse off. I've had to adjust to the magnifying glass. You like to read? Whatever way you're going to do it -- either you get the things and listen or you get a magnifying glass. Whatever's been given you. And I do think I do that better. Maybe it's all part of being alone a lot. See, when you were an only child you had to fend for yourself and think of things to do, because your mother and father weren't playing with you (laughs). Although my stepfather was wonderful. I had him going real good because -- I wasn't too good in school. What I mean is I wasn't too good behaved in school; I was getting in trouble a lot. I was having to have these notes from my parents, oh god. My mother's thing was, "If you could just be disciplined." I was stupid. I used to take this envelope every year to the teacher, my mother would give it to me to take to the teacher. What's -- a kid I'm going to school with I said, "I wonder what's in this envelope I take all the time?" It was a letter from my 01:33:00mother saying that you can discipline her in any way to make your life easier. And I was taking this to the teachers. No wonder I was getting (laughs).
KRAnd it sounds like in your life you've had your friends, like the woman youserved with who you became very close friends and you also had that.
MGOK, and I'll tell you one better. See there were three of use who lived heretogether -- lived from '71 together. When I retired from the Navy --
KRAnd did you retire here together?
MGNo. When I retired from the Navy I went back to Massachusetts, because I hadlooked up my natural mother and I had contact there. She lived in Boston. I had been in Worchester. All my high school friends were in Auburn. My high school teacher, my commercial high school teacher, she had an apartment. She said, "Why don't you move in with me? I could stand a roommate for awhile." So I moved in 01:34:00with her. That's what I did while I stayed back there. I would have only stayed the first year. I would have shoveled the snow and I would have learned. I would have said, "I'm not shoveling this crap any more." You learn. You get it shoveled out and then someone else puts their car in the spot! Or you get it all shoveled out and the plow comes up and puts it on your car again. But she had had a rough life. She had a mother and father who both ended up -- her father ended up a vegetable and her mother -- now I think about it, I ended up causing her a lot of problems. This was in high school. She had to teach and then she had to go home and take care of these two people that were bedridden, you know, because her brother had left home and got married, and her sister, so she was the youngest one and she got the burden of teaching and --. So she had it rough. I said, "When you get ready to retire," because she was coming up on it, "why 01:35:00don't you do something different? Come out to San Francisco with me?" So I stayed because I knew if I didn't stay for a couple of years, she wouldn't make the move. She said, "New Englanders can put their head in the sand," we have a tendency to do that. That was part of why my first tour in Hawai'i didn't work out as good. Learned that lesson. Get the head the hell out of the sand!
KRThe cranky yankee thing.
MGRight. I knew she wouldn't make the move by herself. Give up her apartment inWorchester. I brought her out here. I said, "Come out. If you like it, OK. If you don't, come back." I said, "I probably won't come back with you but you can come back." That was the understanding. So anyway, she came out. We came out in '71 and she went back in '96. She enjoyed herself. We led a much better, different life that she would have had. She needed a break. Because she had an 01:36:00aunt -- after her mother and father died and whatnot, she had an aunt that was an ex-teacher and she had to take care of her because she was in the rest home and problems.
KRI'm sure, having the friends, having the companionship also, it helps.
MGRight, see and it was just like when I went in the Navy. I thought, you knowyour worse roommates were ones who came from large families.
MGYes. Because they had had to share all the time and as soon as they get theirspace, boy, you better not come one inch into their space. And the men were just as bad. I had this little chief he was so funny. Called in during the Korean thing out of Pearl. He come in in the morning and grouchy as all get out. I said, "What's the matter, chief? What's the matter with you?" He said "That guy that shares the locker next to me, he's always got his damn locker door over in 01:37:00my space!" I said, "What you doing in your space?" He said, "Nothing! It's just the principal of the thing!" (laughs) Just like old ladies. I used the tell them, the men -- like I said, I let them have their time with themselves but I used to have fun with them too. You know men time, men time. I used to tell them, "You guys are worse gossips than anyone. Don't ever tell me your wife gossips. You guys are worse than any woman ever was!" And they were.
KRDo you think it's just Navy men?
MGWell, I don't know. (laughs) I never had enough of the other all in one groupto know. But these Navy guys! They were nice. They were good guys.
KRHow funny. Well, I can't think of any other questions I have to ask. I don'tknow if you feel you have anything you'd like to add. We've been at this for 01:38:00quite some time.
MGNo. What time is it? Seven o'clock!
KRWe have almost two hours of tape here. So I'm going to stop this (track ends)