Interview with Vickie Leach in her home in Eugene, Oregon 7/11/07. Interviewer:Kathleen Ryan
KRSo, what I'd like, if you could please say -- this is for the transcript, whenI do the transcription and put it all together. I need you say your first and last name and I know that you have an official name and a name that you go by, so I need you to include that too. And spell the last name for me so I have that.
VLOK. I'll do the whole thing for you.00:01:00
KRThis is good.
VLVirginia E. Burdick is my maiden name. B-U-R-D-I-C-K. Leach, now. L-E-A-C-H.
KRAnd you go by Vickie.
VLI go by Vickie.
KRAnd that's I-E, correct?
KRI want to make sure I have all that.
VLI'm not doing too well here because we have too many people and I haven't gotthem trained yet.
KRYou need a sign on the door saying "I'm Vickie!"
KRVickie, where did you grow up.
VLReedsport. Douglas County, Oregon. I used to have fun there because I've livedthere recently. They say, "Where do you live?" "I live in Reedsport." "Where were you born?" "I was born in Reedsport." (laughs) I have two families. My dad was a druggist in Reedsport. The Umpqua Drug, a Rexall store. My mother worked 00:02:00with him full time. I got in too much trouble in town. Got caught -- what else is new? So they boarded me up Smith River at the Daly's. At that time, they didn't have a road. It took you all day on the boat. So I got spoiled in two families instead of one. So I have a foster sister. That way -- otherwise I don't, I don't have any. I was it.
KRDo you mind me asking you, or telling, what you got in trouble for?
VL(Laughs) Well, they didn't have a bridge yet. They had a railroad bridge. Iwas about eight years old. So I really wasn't very old. And we rode - the bunch of us, loose, our parents were working so we were loose around town. So we rode the flat cars. We'd get up on the flat cars on the railroad and rode them across 00:03:00to East Gardiner where the they took on, the train took on water and it let us off and we'd walk the trestle back. There were things to hang onto on the flat car. Well, one time it didn't stop. I used to say it went to Eugene, but I don't think so. I think it stopped in Cottage Grove, somewhere in there. I had to call my dad to come and get me (laughs). I remember the ride home well. All of us got a ride back to Reedsport.
KRSo it wasn't just you.
VLNo, there were several of us. (laughs) We didn't do it anymore. And I gotboarded on Monday morning. Up Smith River. As I said, as far up there -- it took you all day on the boat.
KRWhich would keep you out of trouble.
VLYes. Mother said I want to know where that child is.
KROh my goodness. Your dad was angry.00:04:00
VLYes. He was really upset. Not only that, he had to leave the store and lock upthings because he couldn't leave it with no druggist there. But Mother didn't drive, so he had to come and get me. I should say, us, he came to get us. There were several of us.
KRNow, were there -- when were you --- was this pre or post the crash of '29?Were you --
VLNo. I was there.
KRSo I'm saying was this --
VLI was born in '22.
KRSo this was after the Depression had started when you guys were getting into trouble.
VLOh, yes, yes. This was Depression time. We didn't know, as kids, we didn'tknow. As long as we got fed and had a warm place to live, we didn't know any problems. My sis and I, foster sister and I decided we had the best of both 00:05:00worlds, you know? We lived on the farm and we had lots of things to do and places to go. The school bus there went and made trips. I got to go along. It was interesting. As I said, I got spoiled in two ways. I didn't learn to cook, I didn't learn to iron, I didn't learn the things you were supposed to learn as a girl.
KRYou were helping out at the farm, was that what you were doing?
VLNo. I didn't -- I just played. I was more or less a visitor and was gettingpaid to be there. I don't know, Betty didn't, sis didn't learn to cook either. 'Cause she -- she was like my mother. She didn't want anybody in her kitchen. Her kitchen was her kitchen, you stayed out of it. So there were a lot of things 00:06:00we didn't learn that we should of, the both of us (laughs). As she said, she could boil water when she got married. (laughs) She met Mel and he was in the Coast Guard by the way, she met him on a blind date. Her mother, Betty, said it wasn't going to last four months. It lasted, almost, 60 years. Fifty, over fifty years.
KRIs she still alive?
VLSis is. Mel isn't. Mel passed on. He had polio. He went clear through the warand everything and got polio, for pity's sake. Fought that most of his life. He was a great guy. Just great.
KRHow long did you live in the foster home? With your second family?
VLWell, I don't know. I'd say -- I went to school in Reedsport until my Junior00:07:00year. And then I went to St. Helen's Hall in Portland as a border. My dad borrowed money to send me. I got harassed too much. I don't know whether I want that in your dissertation but you can take it out. There were several kids -- as an only child and a teenager, things hurt. They bothered me. So my junior year in high school I said to my dad, "I'm not going back. I don't care what you do to me. I'm not going back. You can send me up Smith River" and I loved going up Smith River up to the school. But it was just a little school and he didn't want to do that. So he borrowed money and he sent me to St. Helen's Hall in Portland.
KRAnd how was that experience?
VLThat was great. Because it changed your whole -- I knew that I was being twodifferent people. Well, in Reedsport, in school, I was afraid to walk from 00:08:00upstairs to downstairs because the boys would catch me on the stairs and take virgin out of Virginia. "Are you still a virgin? I'll bet you're still a virgin." Who cares? If I had been like my daughter I would have told them where to go and how to do it. But I just curled up inside. And with the Smith River kids I was me and I liked it, because I enjoyed everybody and everybody was great. But in Reedsport, I was, I was just a different person and I knew that wasn't good. So I just wanted out of there. Yeah, It was great. I go over to St. Helen's Hall, they don't know me from anywhere. And I was Vicki, to start with. So I could be a whole different person.
KRWas it a girls' school?
VLIt was a girls' school then. Now it's coeducational. They have both boys and00:09:00girls. But then it was just women. I graduated in 1940. Whee! A little while back.
KRYes. Do you -- the school --
VLI went to Oregon State for a year.
KRBefore we get to that, I want to back up -- because I want to get it clear inmy head, the chronology.
KRYou went to Smith River. You went to school there.
VLNo, I didn't go to school in Smith River. I just stayed up there a lot.Summers, holidays.
KROK. So then in school year --
VLI went to school in Reedsport.
KROK. I'm just trying to get -- so you were there in the times you could get introuble, basically --
KRbecause you didn't have anything else to occupy your time.
KROk. Like I said, I just wanted to get it straight in my head. So you graduatedand you went to Oregon State.
VLOregon State for a year.00:10:00
KRWhat did you do there?
VLI took pharmacy and I took science and I took chemistry (laughs). Insane andprofane. Organic chemistry. Have you ever taken organic chemistry?
KRMy brain is not scientific.
VLYou're lucky. You're lucky. I never did know what I was doing, but I passedit. Then I went to summer school for part of one summer. Took a farm ec course. My dad had a fit. I'd go down and learned how to milk cows. They were all fastened in. I don't like cows. Like another friend of mine, she was Kathleen and she was scared of cows too. And she lived on a farm. But I did that then I rode horseback from Corvallis over to the coast when they took the horses that 00:11:00they rented over. That was an experience, too. My, a friend of mine here thinks I've had a lot of things I've done in my lifetime.
KRSo, riding the -
VLAnd I worked at Kaiser Hospital for part of the summer.
KRWhile going to school?
VLYes, while going to school. Which is in North Bend. And I decided I didn'twant to be a lab technician. That's what I had started out to be. I didn't -- because I like people too well. I didn't want to be buried in the labs. So I went in the service, I never told them I had any of that. So I went to business school.
KRSo you went to Oregon State for one year then you went to business school?
VLYes. Graduated from Northwest School of Commerce. Took shorthand machine.Machine shorthand had just started. I'm laughing because I got to boot camp, the 00:12:00teacher would say, "Now what did I tell you?" And I'd read it back to him word for word. Comma to comma. So they sent me off on special assignment to Boston. Bahstahn. Who thought I talked real funny. Took me a year to say "pahk the cah." They thought I lived out among Indians. Oregon meant Indians. "Oh, you live out among Indians?" I never saw any Indians in my life (laughs). But that was a good experience for a little town kid.
KRNow was that while you were in the Coast Guard?
VLYes, that was while I was in the Coast Guard.
KRSo, tell me about, how did you -- was Northwest Business College in Portland?
VLYes, it's in Portland.
KRSo you were in Portland when Pearl Harbor, when Pearl Harbor happened?
VLYes. Well, I was probably in Corvallis when Pearl Harbor happened. I wasprobably in Corvallis. I remember being awful upset when they took my Japanese 00:13:00friends and interned them. I was really upset, because they didn't do that with the Germans and they didn't do that with any of the others. I thought that was bad.
KRDid you know a lot of Japanese --
VLYes, I did. There were a lot at Oregon State. There were several at OregonState. That was funny in a way. Now, I'll you that one which makes me mad even up to this day. I was on a committee at Oregon State to find places for people to stay that were special concert people. And Marion Anderson came one day, one time. We finally -- I say "we" because there were several of us on the committee -- we finally, the Corvallis Hotel said she could stay there, but she had to eat all of her meals in her room. And I thought, that was a long time since the 00:14:00Civil War.
KRAnd so explain, if people don't know, explain who Marion Anderson is.
VLShe's a colored -- African American singer. Beautiful singer and a beautifulwomen. And they wouldn't let her eat in the dining room or anywhere. She had to eat all her meals in the room. It was the only hotel in Corvallis at that time that would take her at all! None of them would. Because they were so -- Oh! It makes me mad. It still does to think about it. She was a celebrity and the whole thing. And I thought it had been a long time since the Civil War.
KRThat's one of those things that run pretty deep.
VLYes. They didn't have anybody on the football team. Now they've got a lot ofthem. But I'd sure like to tell them, "You're welcome." So that was an 00:15:00experience too.
KRSo how did you hear about the Coast Guard? How did you find out --
VLWell, we had Coat Guard close, at Silousilaw Ter - Silousilaw River. AtWinchester Bay? And whenever we had a floor, they were there to help us. They always brought the boats in to take the people from the low lying areas and put them up on the hill. They were always there to help. So my dad said to me, "If they ever have anything for women, where do you want to go?" And I said, "I'm going to the Coast Guard." So that was my plan. But I didn't watch close enough. I could have gone when I was 20. He would have signed for me. But, I didn't. I was 21 when I went in.
KRWhat did you do in the meantime, before you joined up? You went to business college?
VLI went to business college and I worked at Kaiser Hospital for one, for six00:16:00weeks I guess or something in the lab, because I had all this chemistry. I was going to be a lab technician. I had things all set up with Good Sam to go there and do the rest with my lab technician. Then I decided I wasn't going to be that. Changed my mind. Went to business school, then I went in. I was just 21.
KRDid you go down to the pink palace for boot camp?
KRDid you go down to Florida for your boot camp? Did you go there?
VLYes! How else would I get to the Biltmore Hotel (laughs). Palm Beach!
KRWell, I ask because Jane's boot camp was in New York and some of the others --
VLYes, because she was the last to come in.
KRAnd some of the, initially they were in Hunter.
VLWell, those are college grads that got to go to Hunter and they went to00:17:00somewhere else. Where did Marie go? I can't remember where Marie went. I felt sorry for Marie. I have a friend who is Coast Guard also. Lives in Salem. Marie Maden. Bosch Madsen. And I feel sorry for her. She took the state board in Pharmacy under my dad of the Board of Parmacy, and got sworn in by, into the Coast Guard by her dad. So I think that's interesting. She lives in Salem. And she's real pleased to have been in the Coast Guard too. I felt real sorry for her because she was an ensign. And ensigns were not suppose to run around with the people below in rank, and she wasn't supposed to run around with people below her in rank And there weren't any other ensigns! I kind of felt sorry for her. She worked in personnel because they didn't have any place for druggists then. Women.
KRSo what did you do in the Coast Guard?00:18:00
VLI was a yeoman. And I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was a yeoman too in the Navy,after. I went into the Navy after the Coast Guard because women got paid the same as, your rate, the same as a man did. A lot of things were funny, because they had a lot of funny rules, but -- odd rules. They weren't funny, but they were odd rules. Odd.
KRBut that was a good rule.
VLYes, that was a good one so I went into that. But the Coast Guard was my first love.
KRSo tell me about what you did when you were training to be in the Coast Guard.
VLWell, I went to boot camp, then they found out that I had this machineshorthand and I was good at. I had my own vocabulary. I could do it quite rapidly. I had special pens that were right up there at the 300 mark. And so 00:19:00they sent me on special duty to Boston. And I took courts. Signed a lot of papers that I wouldn't tell and I wouldn't -- I don't even remember anymore (laughs).
KRA secrecy sort of an oath?
VLThat's right. So, and I enjoyed that a lot. But I didn't want to do thatanymore if I could help it because it's too exacting. You have to have every comma in place and every period and paragraphs and everybody. So I never told anybody when I went into the Navy I had done that.
KRSo who were you working for?
VLYes, in Boston.
KRSo what does that mean? Explain what that means in the Coast Guard.
VLWell, I don't know exactly how to explain that. I did general courts and court00:20:00martials. All court martials.
KRSo people were being tried--
VLYes, legal, all legal. And then I went back -- stopped at Manhattan Beach onmy way back to Palm Beach and went to Yeoman school.
KRSo this was before you even -- you hadn't gone to yeoman's school when you had this?
VLNo, I hadn't gone to -- I had just gone to boot camp, been in boot camp.
KRHow long were you there in Boston?
VLOh, about eight months, Pretty close to it.
KRAnd then you had to go back and go to yeoman's school?
VLThen I had to go back to yeoman's school. Because I didn't know anything aboutbeing a yeoman. (laughs) So taht was different too. I'm trying, I was going to tellyou something there, but I guess it's not very important. 00:21:00
KRSo what was yeoman's school like?
VLIt was very good. It was real interesting. I know what I needed to tell you.When I went to boot camp, they did everything by alphabet. And Burdick was nice, because it was right up there in the front of the alphabet. I was so scared they were going to put me in the kitchen, or as a mechanic. Because, like I said, I'm not mechanical at all. Or radio, which I guess I got the lowest in the whole place. I'm no good at that either. But they put me on elevator. I said, "I don't know how to run an elevator." And they said, "That's alright. When you want to go down you'll go up and when you want to go up you'll go down. But you'll learn." So here's your elevator and away you went. And that was good, because I found out I could do those things. So that's what I was going to tell you, I got to be on the elevators. 00:22:00
KRSo everybody --
VLIt's a good thing I didn't get into the kitchen!
KREverybody had their own specialty jobs that you did.
VLUh-huh, yes. And then they had -- now I'll tell you another little story here.They had an honor system, which I wasn't very good at (ah-hem), to go swimming. They had what they called sea and surf, which was somebody's private swimming pool which they gave to the Coast Guard to use for training. And if you could jump in from the deep end and swim the length of the pool, you were considered advanced. And I could do that. I can't anymore, but I could then. They went everything by that, so they'd say in the mornings you check everything that's going on. And they'd say, "The intermediates will swim, advanced will be on the obstacle course and the beginner swimmers will play games." I don't like games. 00:23:00I didn't like the obstacle course either. So I swam every time. I could hang onto the side of the pool and kick my feet with the beginners. No problem (laughs). So I wasn't very good with the honor system.
KRSo you were supposed to do other things than swim all the time.
VLYes, you were supposed to -- yeah. If you were advanced, you were supposed to-- it I said, you could swim and were with the advanced group you were supposed to do what the others (laughs). So I wasn't a very good girl. I wonder -- they never took muster on that, took names on that. I often wondered how many other people were doing the same thing.
KRMaybe avoiding swimming for things they did better.
KRDid you ever notice anyone with you who seemed way too familiar?
VL(Laughs) No, there were a lot of people. Then there was another little storyI'll tell you that kind of shook me up. I had a roommate and she was perturbed 00:24:00at me because I didn't give her enough honor. She was a state - no, a United States twirler. Where they -- we didn't have them so I didn't know anything about them so I didn't give her the honor she thought she should get.
KRWas it tumbling or batons?
VLBatons. And so I didn't give her the credit she thought she had coming.Because I didn't know anything about them. I told her later, we were lucky we had a football team. We didn't have enough people in our school to have all these things. Girls didn't have anything they could do. She got accused of stealing money. Going to sand and surf, they said she was one of the first in the building. One of the girls had left her money in there and the money was 00:25:00gone. We knew, I say we because there were several of us who were good friends. We knew she hadn't done it. And I wrote my mother this, about this too. The gal that accused her ended up being the one that had taken it. We made them, we all did, after they cleared her name we made them add colors in the morning. Because we had a group of us that marched in the platoon. She was in the front lines alright, but she was clear, she was five over. So there were a whole lot of people that went in before she did, because we did it a line at a time. So we know that she didn't, she wasn't even there when that was named. But I told my 00:26:00mother, that scared me. I was the first one in. I was in that front line on the right hand side.
KRDid anything happen to the girl that had done it?
VLYes, they discharged her. Bingo. She was out. She was gone.
KRDo you remember them doing anything special when they discharged her, or didshe just disappear?
VLShe just disappeared. But they did clear Bunce and colors. Bunce was myroommate. B-U-N-C-E. But she felt a lot better because a bunch of us went to bat for her figuring out how to clear her name. Didn't want her to go clear through service with that hanging over her head. She was real pleased to get that done. I have to tell you what I blubber about. They had a little flag they put in the windows. Each person did this, family that had people in service put it in the 00:27:00window and as many stars as how many people were in there, in the service. So Mother put on in the store, in the window of the store. Mother wrote and told me about this. I blubber when I tell it. Of course, she had one star in it. A lady came in the store. Mother's name was Eliza but she went by Peggy, so there you go. "Peggy, you've got to take that flag down." And Mother said, "Why?" "You don't have any sons." Mother said, "I have a daughter" (crying). See I blubber. Because she was proud of me. That was great to know. So I, I blubber when I tell that. But the flag stayed up. Now my mother was one of those who fought for you 00:28:00so you could vote. She fought for that.
KRShe was a suffragette?
VLYes. She told of having tomatoes thrown at her and eggs in the shell. So she'dbeen there too in some of this, so maybe I came by it OK.
KRIt was in your genes.
VLIt must have been in my genes.
KRWhat about your father? How did he feel about your joining?
VLHe was fine with it. A lot of father's weren't. There were a lot of them --"No daughter of mine is going to be in the service!", you know? They didn't expect their sons to turn and be promiscuous just because they were in service. But their daughter, she was going to be a prostitute if she went in. How stupid can you get? You know? And so I was a little bit perturbed at some of them. In fact, you even find some now who tell me, "Oh, I would have gone in, but my dad 00:29:00wouldn't let me." I was 21. He didn't have any choice in the matter. But he would have signed for me anyway.
KRI know there were a lot of nasty rumors going around -- they were probably --
VLSee, they started out with WAACs,. They took WAACs when they started, anybody.They didn't check them. They didn't take better reputation of people. They just took anybody who would come and that fouled things up to start with. Then later, even WAVES and of course the Coast Guard did kind of checked people before they would let just anybody come in. So that's where that came from.
KRYou think they were a little bit more selective?
VLYes. A lot more selective.00:30:00
KRSo you, did you want to be a yeoman when you went in?
VLYes, yes. that's what I wanted to do. I was not, I did not want to be acorpsman. I am a very poor mosquito. Do you know what a mosquito is?
VLDraw blood. I could not do it. I could give you shots. I have no trouble withthat. But I am a very poor mosquito. I just, I didn't tell them. I never had any of that training at all. Because I liked being a yeoman.
KRDid they ever give you an aptitude tests?
VLOh, yes, a lot of them! That's when I said, I got the lowest in the whole baseon radio. I don't know anything about radio. Sorry. But I did learn a lot of 00:31:00things. I ran around with a boy when I was in high school whose father was a tugman. A tug captain. Brought ships in from across the bar. And I learned a lot of things that must have been by osmosis. Because I got into service and I knew what the bouys were. I knew all the bouys. And then incoming channels and the outgoing channels. I knew a lot of the things about water. How did I know that? Because I didn't have a boat. Just riding around, I guess (laughs). Because I did fine on those. I laugh, because I don't know how I did it. They train you well. The rest of your life, you're calling the floor a deck. Walls are bulkheads. And my kids know front and center. I laugh, I was with the American 00:32:00Legion one day with, Don was with me. They had a picnic and I wanted to get Don's -- the other Don's -- attention. So I went, I said, "Front and center!" And, boy, he came to just like that. (laughs) And he said, "Well, that one I remember." And I said, "I thought you would," because I wanted to introduce him to my ex. But I sure laughed because he sure came to in a hurry. He's a lot younger than I am. I get shots from the VA. I came down the elevator one day with a fellow. He had a lot of tattoos and stuff, so I figured he was in the service. He was mad about the VA and I said, "I enjoy them." Because I get shots every two weeks at the VA. He said, "You can't. You have to be a veteran." I 00:33:00said, "I am" (laughs). He looked at me and said, "You were?" I said, "My sons can tell you I was young once too." Looked a lot better than I do now.
KRWell, there weren't that many of you.
VLYes. And, you know, they still don't realize women are veterans too. Becausethere are a lot of them who don't. In fact, I'm not over to the Navy yet, but I'll tell you anyway. One guy said to me, "If I ever catch the (whispers) SOB that typed my orders for Korea, I'll shoot him on cite." And we were stationed, a bunch of us women, Navy, were stationed in El Centro, California for awhile. ON reserve stuff I think. We were down there and they flew us back to Seattle. I said to the fellow, what service were you in? And he said, "Navy." I said, "That's nice." Gave him a big smile and didn't say a word. He didn't think about 00:34:00women, so (laughs) pffft.
KRAnd you were likely the ones to type the orders.
VLYeah right. Probably typed his orders. Thought I better not say anything, butI laughed about it.
KRWhen -- how -- you went to yeoman's school and that was in --
VLOh, then I was in charge of 20 gals to go to Seattle, to be stationed inSeattle. Since I had some extra experience, I guess, I got to be in charge of them. And we left Palm Beach like in, it was hot. I don't know when we left. I'll have to look that up. But we ended up in the Dakotas and it was cold. It was ice on things. They put us in a cattle car, converted cattle car. We had an 00:35:00African American person with us, one, a fellow. And --
KRHe was traveling with you?
VLYes. Was supposed to be taking care of us, I suppose, but I don't know. Ireally don't know. We couldn't figure that out.
KRI'm just asking because I've heard of the men and women kept very separate oneach train trip. That's why I'm asking.
VLNo. Well, we had some problems on that trip too. We, the train left us on aside deal. They disconnected us. When they do that you're electric's gone, your heat's gone. Everything's gone. So there's no way I was going to - in the middle of the night. two o'clock in the morning, I bundled up everybody, "put on your heavy coats kids, we're heading out." There was a house close to the track that 00:36:00evidently was, the guy probably worked on the railroad. There was a light that was on, so we went -- I often wonder what that woman thought when she opened the door and there were all these women standing there. (laughs) These fed us hot pie p- in the middle of the night, coffee and berry pie. My mother always got made that I didn't get her name so I could thank her. She probably figured she did her part for the war.
KRNo, did black soldier who was guarding you, did he go too?
VL He went with us. You bet. Because there was no heat in that place. We tookhim with us. She never said "boo." She just took him in. When the train came back they were a little upset. Then I informed him, no heat. No lights. We're not exactly and came from Florida, Uh-uh. We couldn't do it. We'd freeze to death. 00:37:00
KRHow long were you there?
VLOh, maybe six hours, seven hours. We had no way of knowing. We had no way ofknowing when that train would come back. They didn't tell us. So, he kind of calmed down. He decided I was write. I was in charge. So we did what I said for a change. I learned a lot. I learned I could do those things.
VLYes. Be in charge. If you needed to, I could do her. (laughs)
KRSo you made your way out to Seattle.
VLWhy I sad we, I had trouble and we'd get back on the regular train. They havea fit because were were all cuddled up together. Now, I'd heard about men being different. But I didn't hear anything about women being different. In fact, I didn't know know anything about lesbians. I didn't knmow about them. Didn't hear of them, even. In fact, they thought some of the guys would get after us for 00:38:00cuddling up together to stay warm. It was all we could do in some places. I thought they were nuts. Go away. Don't bother us. We had come out all this way from Florida. We had made it this far. Go away (laughs)
KRSo you ended up in Seattle.
VLYes, Seattle. Worked in a lot of different office buildings, offices. Dental.Gave the guy the mumps.
KRGave the guy the mumps?
VLThe officer. I thought -- I was having trouble and I thought it was my wisdomteeth Because I was about the right age. And so I went to -- I reported to dental. And they just had a ship, a boat come in, and there were a bunch of 00:39:00fellows in the hall. He looked at me and said, "I think you've got the mumps." So he said to guys out in the hall -- "Get out of the way! I think this SPAR's got the mumps." I came back from, -- I wasn't sick at all. I came back -- I wasn't sick at all -- I came back from from the hospital, he said, "I'm not even speaking to you." I said, "Are we still working in the same office?" He said, "Yes, but I'm not talking to you. You gave me the mumps." "Well, I'm sorry! I thought they were wisdom teeth
KRSo you were out for awhile?
VLI was out a few weeks.
KRAnd you got your fellow officemates sick. Or was this your commanding officer?
VLYes, yes. Well, let me tell you another one. I worked for commander Rice inpersonnel. He knew my name Virginia, it wasn't Victoria. But he would yell down 00:40:00the elevator shaft -- his habit -- he had a son in the service, so he wanted mail every day. He would yell down the elevator shaft "Victoria! Where are you?" And we had to move our office one day. So we had all the desks in the middle of the hall. And, of course, your mail is on the farthest desk away. I had to crawl across the top of the desks. to get the mail. He said, "Victoria, where is the mail!" So I turned around and I said, "Keep your shirt on, sir!" He said, "Vickie, how long have you had that second class rate?" I said, "One day, sir!" And he said, "Short rate, wasn't it?" (laughs) But he let me keep it (laughs). You're not supposed to do that.
KRNo, not so good.
VLNo, no no. That was a big no-no.00:41:00
KRWho else did you work for?
VLI worked for Commander Rise who was something else, but we won't tell aboutthat. Oh, several. I worked for personnel. I worked for night. I worked for night duty. I didn't like night duty because it was too hard. I didn't like graveyard. I liked swing shift better than I did graveyard shift. I would tell someone if they worked graveyard shift, "Eat your breakfast before you go home, because you're sleeping most of the day." I didn't care much for that. I liked swing shift better. I got to travel around a little bit and take things over. Things, I'm not sure of what we took, we took over to Port Angeles, which we 00:42:00called PA. And several of us took our leave, or took a weekend when we got a weekend off we'd go over to Orca's Island on the ferry. Had a lot of things you could do there. I did a lot of stupid things too. Then I met old Edward Moore (laughs). And married him in '46. So my name on my discharge there is Moore. I have a lot of names.
KRLet's go back to the stupid things you did.
VLYeah, well, I got a ride with a, you know the hills in Seattle. You're walkingthe hills a lot. My dad got a kick out of this one. We had frost on the road, on the sidewalk and I was picking by way down the hill because I worked at the 00:43:00Alaska building in Seattle. And so I got all the way down the hill and the light changed and I went to cross the street and my feet went out from under me and I went right between some guy's legs. Knocked him over flat and we both went sailing across the road. I guess it would have been funny alright (laughs). My dad thought it was funny. And the guy knew a lot more language than I did. It was kind of blue. Because he probably tried to do the same thing I did, picked his way down the hill before he fell. So that was different. Then, once I took a ride with a guy in a car, which was stupid because I didn't know the guy at all. But you didn't know anybody, you know? But I think it was stupid. My guardian 00:44:00angel had to work overtime. Anyhow, the guy took me for a ride and talked a lot. Said he was a medical student. I don't know whether he was or not. I don't know what he did. He said he went to the University of Washington. And he took me out. He said, "You know, I could murder you and throw you over this cliff and nobody would find you." And I said, "You know something? I'm in the Coast Guard. If I don't show up for work, somebody will come looking and they'll find you." Boy, am I thinking, "Gotta talk my way out of this!" 'Cause he could have. You know? Like I said, a stupid thing to do. Should have known better. I was about 22 then. 23? I was about 23 then. I should have known better. But he said, "I 00:45:00guess you're right" and took me back to the USO. Sheesh! But that's one of the stupid things I've done. I've done a few stupid things but not too bad, not too bad. The good Lord's probably shaking his head over me. (laughs).
KRDid you ever go home to visit your parents?
KRDid you ever go home to visit your parents?
VLOh, yeah, yeah. I went down and I got to visit with my grandfather andeverything. Of course, now we're into Navy stuff. Yeah, I did and they would come and see me. Then I got to go to Alaska. I don't usually tell this one. I got to go to Alaska for six weeks. They opened it up for women to go overseas, which was Hawaii - I mean SPARs, Coast Guard could go, and I think WAVES did too -- Hawaii and Alaska. And I didn't want to go to Hawaii. I grew up on the ocean. 00:46:00I didn't want to go see the ocean. So I elected to go to Ketchecan. I was in Ketchecan for, I don't know, six weeks. I was there long enough to turn around and come back to Seattle.
KRWhat do you remember about it?
VLSteps. (laughs) Lots of steps. When you got off the boat you had to go -- ifyou came by boat or went anywhere by boat you had all these steps to go up to get up to the base. That's about all I remember of it. Oh, I did get cleared -- that's Navy again -- I got cleared for secret, to handle secret material. So the FBI were down at Reedsport talking to everybody. Somebody asked my dad what kind of trouble I was in. (laughs) The FBI was asking things. 00:47:00
KRAnd it was just to find out if you were --
VLJust to find out if I was a good person, yes. Mother said you had to know thecolor of your great-grandmother's eyes. We'll have to ask her (laughs).
KRWhat was the reaction when you went home in your uniform?
VLOh, several people were surprised and they were glad. We got a big kick out of-- my dad had a deal that he was going to do. There were several of us there. Margie Wagner was a WAVE. Jerrie Nimbler, Jerrie Deb was a WAVE. Joyce Lillebow was WAC. She was in before they changed it. She was in W-A-A-C before it was W-A-C. And we even have a couple down there yet. The three I named are deceased, 00:48:00but ther are others who aren't gone. Bobbie Unger was in the Navy and I think she was considered a WAVE, too. So there were several. My dad had a deal that he was going to join the WACs. My mother told him he couldn't pass the physical. He said he didn't see why, because they made a mailman first class out of Terry, That was her rate. She was a mailman first. So he was going to be in the WACs. He sure was -- he was into my business too much.
KRWhat do you mean?
VLWhen Ed and I married, that's what I meant. When Ed and I were married he toldEd to stay away from me for a year. How stupid can you get?
KRHow did you meet Ed?
VLI met Ed at the USO. He was Canadian. I never thought of that. I was supposed00:49:00tp change my membership to Canadian. But I didn't think about that. He got to work here in the United States. Didn't have to work for a special deal because he married into the country. He was a nice guy. I think we would have probably been alright if I had just stuck to it a little longer.
KRWhy did your father no like him?
VLI don't know. Mother liked him real well. I think it's the fact -- now I hadtrouble with Don, too. He's my ex now and I still love him. We women, we are funny -- once we love, we do, we stay there. We don't change all the time then. 00:50:00And he was the 10th child in a family. He was the youngest in the family. It's funny now, he's the only one living and his sister who is 15 years older than he is. They're the only ones living. But I never could make him understand as an only child and a daughter threw me in another category completely from my generation. Because my father thought he had to control everything. He controlled Mother. Mother didn't realize that until he was gone, how much he controlled her. But he wanted to control me all the time. He would do things like if we would come up and visit and I didn't have any groceries, he would go out and buy groceries. I couldn't understand why he couldn't eat macaroni and cheese like the rest of us did if we were low on funds. But no, he couldn't do 00:51:00it. He had the money and I was his daughter and he couldn't do it. Don was real upset and I couldn't blame him. But I couldn't do anything about it. I didn't have any control over that. As I said, he was very controlling. He was something else. I loved him dearly, but he was something else. He taught me how to shoot a rifle, when I was a kid. He got me a 22 single shot when I was eight or nine years old. I'd take my bike and my dog and go to Winchester Bay and shoot at radio tubes that were no good. Shoot towards the ocean. We had friends, a friend of mine who just passed away. He was a Marine, and we'd laugh. As kids, his 00:52:00folks had a summer cabin up Smith River, across the river. Up on stilts because if was away from the water. So our families would play cards of something. And the kids would sit on the steps and shoot packrats and stuff at night. I didn't miss. I only had one bullet in that gun. I had to make it count. And he would say, "I hope I don't get caught in a fight with you." Then later he was a Marine, so I guess he was alright (laughs)
KR A little bit tougher then.
VLAnd so -- that's Navy, we're into Navy again now. But we'll do it. In Spokane,Washington, I was the only woman stationed there. And that was interesting. 00:53:00
KRI would think it was.
VLI was a yeoman there, too. But I replaced a chief, luckily was a Masonicbrother of mine, because I'm Eastern Star, also. He didn't seem to mind so much. Because I'm always second-class and every time I'd go over to the air force base, they'd salute me (laughs). I didn't know what to do. I rated. I didn't rank. But anyway, so it was interesting and I would get to go -- they'd send me out every time we would have dignitaries. Like Bing Crosby, I remember that.
KRWhen did he come to visit?
VLHe came to visit in Spokane in the summertime. I've forgotten just when. I gotto go get him at the airport. And he, he said, "Where am I supposed to ride." I 00:54:00said, "Well, if you want to be chauffeured, you sit in the back. If you want to talk with me, sit in the front." So he sat in the front and we had a good chat. I really enjoyed him.
KRWhat did you talk about?
VLOh, we just talked about everything. He wanted to know how long I'd been inthe service and what I did and little things like that. And I told him about going to El Centro, California. It's 115 there. I told Mother the only thing green was a preying mantis. (laughs) And there, it was, they had some real stupid things that I want to tell you about. But Bing and I, we had a real good time and that night he gave a concert. He came over and sang and did various things for us. I had to laugh because, I laughed the CO put out a memo. And 00:55:00somebody else typed it, because it said, "Fall in front of the building." It's supposed to be "fall in in front of the building." (laughs) Not fall in front of the building. Then we had a mechanic who wasn't too happy to have a woman stationed on the base. But he had to type all of his reports. I typed them for him. He decided it wasn't too bad to have a woman aboard.
KRHow did you happen to stay and make the shift from Coast Guard to Navy?
VLWell, Coast Guard I was, they disbanded in '46, and so when they quit, I got ajob with three attorneys. Worked for them for awhile. Then I worked for a guy on a -- that sold drugs. I thought I'd fit in there. He didn't. He hated me because 00:56:00I outranked him or outrated him. I don't know what difference that made when you were out anyway, but --
KRBecause this was civilian work?
VLYes, civilian. Then I got a job at the VA, at the veteran's which is agovernment job. Was an underwriter for National Service Life Insurance. And I did that for a little while and then I went in the Navy. There were three of us who were real close pals and had horses. Different kinds. The FBI would come down and pick us up right after work -- we signed a lot of papers there, too -- they have no record of me. Because that year I could count toward my Navy stuff. 00:57:00They should have, I signed enough papers. We were not to tell what we saw there and we got cards. They did that for almost a year for us. I tried to find to help me for my timing, you know -- you don't think about it until you get ready to retire and you can't. So I, but I went in the Navy then, right during the Korean time. I laughed with Mother. They ask you, the officers say, "Do you drink coffee?" "Yes sir." "Do you climb stairs?" "Yes sir." "You're in!" (laughs). No problem, no physical, no nothing.
KRWas the Navy different from the Coast Guard?
VLYes, in lots of ways. Not a lot of ways either, come think of it. Somebody00:58:00asked me how long I had been in the Salvation Army. But the uniforms are a lot alike. I didn't think of that. I thought that was different. But they weren't looking for a woman to be stationed in Spokane. "What are you doing in Spokane?" No water around here. So, not a lot different, no. But I could learn. I had one chief -- I didn't have any trouble with most of them, but one chief said, "No way will I teach a woman my job." Fine. You go back and play cards and I'll learn it without you. And I did. Take the regulation books and learn how to do it. If I didn't do the report right, Seattle would send it back and tell me where I was wrong. And I'd type it over and do it right. Sure, we could work. 00:59:00
KRI'm surprised at that point there would be men who would say --
VLOh, yeah. They still do. They still have problems with women yet in lots ofplaces. This Marie I'm talking about has three daughters. And one is a, she was a pilot on a jet. We weren't even able to go near them and look at them, the jets. She's had a lot of trouble with harassment and stuff. But you kind of get yourself out of it. You talk your way out, just like you do anywhere. Women have a lot of fun doing that. All over the place, any age. Your age, my age, any of them. All ages. Hey, we've got a speaker of the house now. (laughs) I want to write her and tell her she's welcome. Because in my time, you couldn't be a police woman. You couldn't work for the fire department. You couldn't even work 01:00:00for the mill. Unless you worked in the office. Then you could but you had to know somebody special. There were a lot of things. But the police woman, lot of arguments that police, that women weren't strong enough to be police. Sheesh! How silly can you get?
KRThere's definitely, certainly a lot of things --
VLYes, a lot of things have changed since then. So we always felt as SPARs andWAVES or whatever that we were pioneers. WE helped to change it for women so women could do these things and arise. Instead of thinking women had to be in the kitchen and that's all. That's no good.
KRBut during the '50s -- even after the war a lot of people left and went back01:01:00into the kitchen. To raise families and that sort of thing.
VLYes, I know they did. I had friends who said, they had kids right away, sothey couldn't do things. I said, well that was a problem with mine. Because I wanted a family of my own so badly. I'd do anything to have a family of my own. So when we got Pixie, she was born in '59 and Mike was born in '61, and notice the got -- did you get that? We adopted. I have a lot of fun with that because high school kids look at me and they say "we know better than that." We adopted. They were three days old. Right out of the hospital. And I walked on cloud nine. I was so pleased. But I had to get out, because at that time, a woman couldn't 01:02:00be, you couldn't even stay in the reserves and have children under 18. I had a chance one time to get in the Army and had a kid under 18, because Mike was still under 18. You see, I was 36 when we got Pixie and 38 when I got Mike. And so it was, like, I was not buying my grandchildren shoes. So I couldn't stay in. And I lost my last four years.
KRSo before you stayed in pretty continuous.
VLYes. So that I could have, I tried to get back in. My health was good and Itried to get back in later, but it -- but what would they do with an old lady running around on a base anyway? And I made that decision a long time ago. I wanted a family worse than I wanted to stay in. I had orders after Pixie was 01:03:00born, and I had here, I got her. I had orders to go to Great Lakes. Don was aboard ship, so he was gone. I couldn't -- somebody laughed. They said, "Tuck the baby under your arm and go." They'd sent me back faster that I had gone.
KRNow were still married to this point to Ed -- it was Ed?
VLNo. I got divorced from Ed in about '47. '48.
KROK. So this was your second husband you adopted the babies with?
VLNo, the third.
VLYes, the second one we ignore. He's the one that beat me up.
KRAnd you weren't married to him for very long either.
VLNo. I was married to him for less than a year.
VLAnd, as I say, he came home one night. I was working and I came home. And I01:04:00had to go to the -- we had a house that we -- I hammered a lot of nails in that house. My mother hated that house. But I did. Anyway, he came home and said, "Do you think" -- I let a kid in to watch television. Neighbor boy. And Fred came in and said, "Do you think you're blankety-blank smart to have that kid in here." And I often think my guardian angel worked over me again, because he came to the bedroom and we had twin beds with a dresser in between. If I had gone clear through to the dresser he would have cut me off. But I didn't. I just reached around the door for an apron because I was going to cook dinner. He pulled the telephone off the wall and hit me with it. And I shoved the kid out of the door 01:05:00ahead of me. He went one way and I went the other. And right out behind me. He had something else he was going to hit me with. The first neighbor wouldn't let me in. The second neighbor let me in and I fainted. I went right on through the house and fainted. But at that time, you called the police for help, they thought it was funny. They came to the house and picked him up and took him around the corner and dropped him off. He could have been back. I called my sis and her husband Mel. They came over. They had a friend with a big truck and we moved her out. We moved everything out that night at midnight. Because Fred stayed with his folks that night. The police told him to go to his folks and he went with them. When he came back everything was out of there. I went back to 01:06:00the Navy and I said, "I want on active duty and I want out of Seattle now." In the meantime, I had been reserve. I had been what they call a weekend warrior. I had worked at Sand Point, the Naval air station. And that was interesting too, because I did that every weekend. But when I wanted out of there, I went to personnel and said, "I want out of here now. I don't care where you send me, but get me out of here." So they sent me to Billings. But at the time in Billings they said they had to have a woman officer stationed in the area. And there wasn't anybody in Billings. So they sent me over to Spokane. There was woman officer there. I saw her twice. Then she got transferred out of there. She didn't tell and I didn't either. What did I need a woman officer for? I didn't 01:07:00know either. I had gone this way all by myself all the time -- why would I need a woman officer? (laughs) So she didn't tell and I didn't either. Oh, and I belonged to the Navy rifle team. I couldn't take my picture with the fellows because a woman wasn't allowed to carry a gun. The fellows on the base didn't like me particularly because I couldn't stand watches because a woman couldn't carry a gun. I could teach it, I could take it apart and put it together, but I couldn't have my picture taken with it.
KRSo you couldn't do your full share?
VLNo. No. It made me mad, yeah.
KRI can understand that.
VLI never could figure that out. A woman -- if a woman -- like a friend of mineshot a deer an she got a -- (laughs )-- she got her name in the paper, Helen 01:08:00Bartow, she'd been doing it all her live, she just never got caught doing it. She laughed. But why they make such a deal out of it. You can see, just like anybody else.
VLIt bugged me.
KRSo what do your kids, what do your kids do?
VLWell, I have to laugh, because Chelsea, my son's eldest daughter, who was 18,anyway, when she was in school she, they had a Marine that came to visit school. She wrote me, she said, "Grandma, I told him both my grandpa and grandma were veterans. He said, 'Oh, sure. I believe your grandpa was.'" I said, "Wait 'til I get my hands on him!" (laughs) See, no women. They don't -- they're still not 01:09:00used to that idea. Well, my son, bless his heart. I didn't train him very good. He's got good training and he graduated from Daly school, Daly City down in the San Francisco area as a mortician and he's good at it. But he isn't doing it now. He's working for a construction company and likes it, so I guess that's important too.
KRWhy didn't he stay with the --
VLI don't know. I don't know. I don't understand that. He said that kids got tohim though, when kids got drowned or hurt. They bothered him a lot. I can understand that. Then my daughter, she was a nurse's aide for 19 years at Sioulusilaw Care, but now she's a caregiver. She takes care of this old lady, 01:10:00her mother, and another one who is 100 and still lives alone. Which surprises me. And Pixie has -- which is Peggy, by the way -- Peggy J, Peggy Jean (laughs). I say that because I filled out some papers and I put Peggy J. Cuthbertson. And they put J-A-Y. I had to call them and say, "Hey, look, that was just an initial." But she's been my Pixie ever since she was little. When she was little, when kids get to stage where they're sticking their fingers where they don't belong and you're saying "No," I'd go "no" and she'd look at me -- she was about two years old -- she'd look at me with those big old eyes, and she'd put that hand behind her and do it with the other had. I'd say, "You're my Pixie!" She's been my Pixie all her life. I named her and I laugh because she's still my 01:11:00Pixie so that's what she gets called a lot. Now Mike was named Michael James. Don named him. Don said he was going to call him Michael Thomas but then they'd call him M-T Leach and that wouldn't do (laughs). So he's Michael James. And I really enjoyed the kids over a lot of years. Pixie's older -- Pixie's kids are 16, 17, and 18. Doesn't seem possible. And I'm, my gosh 17, that's right. She was 18 in June. We have quite a time with that. But they all quit school except Jessie. Her second daughter is still in school, in high school Maybe I'll get to see one of them graduate from high school. But the boy worries me. My mother was 01:12:00a college graduate, which you didn't do in her time period either. In fact, her in-laws would have nothing to do with her because she was a college graduate. That's why they moved to Oregon. She married my grandfather with five kids and they're still not very smart people. But anyway, And my great-grandmother was a teacher too. So education is important. And my grandson, my only grandson quit school at 16? How's he going to take care of himself.
KRWhy did he quit school?
VLI don't know. I don't know, I really don't. But he's gotten a lot of lecturesfrom Grandmother! Because he can't even join the service without being a high school graduate, now. And if he has a family, how's he going to take care of them? Can't even do dishes or anything anymore. So he says he's going back to 01:13:00school next fall. He better. He'll still get lectures. It really gets me when he quit. The girls can get by on GED. And I mean get by and that's all. They really need an education. But they can get by. But, a boy, there's no way. He's not doing anything right now.
KRHow old is he?
VL16. He'll be 17 in December. It's -- ugh! And the longer you stay out, theharder it is to go back. I should have gone back, but I didn't. I'm not college material. I'm sorry but I'm not. I got along fine in business school. I got slicked by, but nothing drastic. Well, it's been fun. 01:14:00
KRIs there anything else you want to add?
VLWell, I can't think of anything at the moment. I want to show you my pictures.
KRI'm going to leave this on while we do. So this here?
VLThat's the second book. I didn't find the first one. See, we had a group, butI wasn't there I was in Boston. Darn it, was in Boston.
KRBut doing the horse show!
VL. Yes.They had SPARs, they had a group in Seattle. That's what I laugh about,I wasn't there. This kind of tells the story of the SPARs. It's kind of a collection deal. And this is my Coastal Women's Veteran's recognition award that 01:15:00I got. And I got from the WIMSA I got a dollar that hangs around your neck. That's Coast Guard SPARs. That's one of out luncheons. That's Barbara -- and Hoppie's gone. Hoppie was such a help to us so many times. There's Hoppie. I had -- I get out Christmas letters and kind of, I kept a copy each time so I have a running family history. This just sort of happened to be in there. We had some 01:16:00songs that we sang -- (singing) "When a Coast Guard girls walks down the street, she looks a hundred proof from head to feet. She has a style a smile a winning way. And when you recognize her you will say, 'Now there's a girl I'd like to know. She has the Coast Guard spirit from head to toe.'" I can't sing worth a hoot. (laughs)
KRBut that's nice.
VLOh, yes, it's a special of ours. Special song that we sang. Anyhow, here'sanother luncheon we had. There's Hoppie. There's Marie and her husband, Dan. They took a lot of pictures and I got a lot of pictures that they took. Oh, I have to tell you that story. The last luncheon we had that I went to was in 01:17:00Ilwacko. And that officer is now the commanding officer in Siouslaw River in Winchester. I got to tell him I wanted to go on the boat, they always took us on a boat ride. At that time, I was on that walker. And my legs, I have arthritis, what else. I wanted to go that boat so badly. I kidded the girl in the Coast Guard that she was a pioneer, too. I think all women everywhere that you go, you're a pioneer. So she said she'd help. We left that scooter, not scooter, that walker in the bus and they helped me down the gangplank to get toward the boat. So then, they were going to help me and I stepped over the deal to get on 01:18:00the boat and I went out like a light.
KROh no. You passed out?
VLNo, I just fell. I said, "Well, I guess this was a poor idea." The guy said,"We'll get you one the boat." One took my head and shoulders, the other took my feet and they put me on that boat like a sack of grain. And bless old Marge House, she took pictures. I've got the pictures! (laughs) And I laughed and laughed about that. Then I said, "How am I going to get off? I have to get off!" The one guy who was keeping track of me -- all the people, all the SPARs were on one side and I said, "Move back! You're going to tip the boat over!" So, and he said, "Well, we'll get you off they same way we got you on." And I said, "If I 01:19:00jump and go in the water, what happens then? My swimming isn't too good." And he laughed and said, "That's alright. We'll pull you out. Even if you don't know how to swim." And they took me off the same way. I still looked like a sack of grain. They walked me back to the bus. I would have given anything for moving pictures. I tell Marge and I -- Marge gave me a big hug. And they took pictures, so I got a video, but I have no way to play it so I haven't seen it yet. This gal was a bugler, so we sang to her. (sings) "Some day we're going to murder the bugler. Some day you're going to find him dead. Then we'll get the other pup, the one who gets the bugler up, and spend the rest of our lives in bed." And 01:20:00here's Marie again. She was the ensign. She got to be a lieutenant JG. This tells some of the ribbons. Oh, I passed for -- it makes me made -- I passed for, I got my sharpshooter's medal. It isn't written anywhere that I have it. But I earned it. So sometimes I wear it. Behind you is the ship, the training ship, the Eagle. I'm glad I didn't have to train on that. I would have been at the top of the spar. I wrote about the SPAR trip that we took. When they named the boat for us -- I'll tell you this one too. It's kind of fun. They had a special deal 01:21:00for the SPARs. We took a bus to Astoria and then road the boat back, down the Columbia. And it was a special time in Portland, Rose Festival. The commanding officer was a yeoman -- the commanding officer of the boat was a woman. So when I got back to Reedsport, I wrote a deal about it. Former SPAR honored in Portland. But those guys were young kids that edited my stuff. What they wrote in here bugged me. It said, "rear admiral Aaron Brown, commander of the 13th 01:22:00coast district." He was African American, too. Now that was different deal, too. They said, "He issued the invitation to the SPAR women. Virginia said, 'It was really exciting to be on the ship and to have a woman commander for the trip.'" That wasn't the point. The point was she was the commanding officer.
KROf the ship.
KRNot just for the trip.
VLRight. So it bugged me that they changed that, that I was happy they had acommander aboard. It had nothing to do with that. They didn't realize, you know. It doesn't hit them at all. It was enough that the commandant of the 13th Naval District was African American. Because when I started, they never got out of the kitchen. Talking about African Americans. They were never allowed to to anything, which was stupid. So, "Thanks to Sebert's efforts, we're to be honored 01:23:00by a visit from the US Coast Guard Spar." Some of these people have money and they were able to go to, Marge House and her husband and several of these people got to go to the commanding, when they commit, commission they ship. They got to go to that. But I didn't have that kind of money. Here's the commandant. Here's the boat. I thought it was a little boat, but it wasn't. It was a good sized boat. In fact, I had an awful time. We were supposed to -- she had planned to moor it on the port side. When she got back to Portland they changed it, the guy 01:24:00changed it to the other side. By the time I got off that boat, my legs locked up on me. If it hand't been for Barbara I would have been still there. I couldn't move. I got off the boat, but I couldn't move. And then --
KRYou got too stiff.
VLYes. They just locked up on me, both of them. You're done. Bless her heart shefound someone for me. There's the commanding officer. A little gal. I laugh because we asked her, the guys, if she had any trouble with any of the men. She said, "No." She's the boss, she's the boss. She didn't have any trouble with them. I got a lot of pictures from that one. It was cold when we started out, but it got warmer as we went down the Columbia. I've got a lot of pictures, too. 01:25:00Marge and Barbara are good friends of mine, both of them. Marge was going to go in the Army, but she went in the Coast Guard again. She'd be an interesting person to talk to.
KRI've been trying to. I sent her another letter, and I'd like to, but I don'tknow if she wants to. It's kind of in her hands. They have to decide themselves.
VLBarbara should be good too. Let me tell you about Barbara. She and I shouldhave been on the same bus, going, because we joined about the same time. But I got stupid. Talk about another one of those stupid things. You know how some people will drink a beer to give them courage? Well, I drank a chocolate ice cream soda. So after I was sworn in and everything and ready to go, they found sugar in my urine. I should have know that it would go that. Gad, I worked in 01:26:00the lab. I should have been smart enough to know it would do that.
KRSo what did they do?
VLWell, it cleared up afterwards. It was fine, but I didn't get to go untilSeptember. I went in September. I didn't get to go with her. She and I would have been in the same thing together. Because we joined at the same time, in Portland too, but as I said, I do stupid things sometimes. I should have known better on that one. Here's a bunch of us sitting on the boat. Here she is again. They had a reception the next day, but I didn't go to that. Because I didn't want to do all the climbing again. It was hard enough to do it the first time. So I decided I wouldn't do there. But here is Marie and Marge and the commanding officer. Here's Marge -- she has a whole lot of t-shirts with the Coast Guard 01:27:00written on them. I don't know how she got them. And here's Marge and Barbara and Marie, the commandant. He liked the SPARs and I thought that was good. Here's Hoppie and her husband. I don't know if he every remarried. He's a rosatarian. They've got money. You have to to be a rosatarian in the first place. Even that. But they were a wonderful couple and it seems funny to have Hoppie gone. Now Barbara is interesting because she met her husband on a train coming back from leave. They got married and raised four sons. I think that's interesting too. 01:28:00Lots of fun. I want my other one though that has all my pictures.
KRThe Coast Guard ones.
VLYes. That tells about the ceremony. This one I got in trouble too. He was amustag. And a bosun's mate. They were officers, warrant officer of the Siouslaw. And stationed at Winchester Bay. I told him something that I thought was real funny and he didn't think it was funny. My commanding officer in Navy, that was there in Spokane, had been a mustang, which meant that you come up through the ranks. And he had been a bosun's mate. Well, some of the rules, the bosun mate 01:29:00is way down the list in intelligence. Why, I don't know, because you've got to handle people and that takes a lot. But anyway, Commander Craig one day, one of the reserve officers came in and he was kind of perturbed about something and he said, "That guy didn't have enough brains to be a bosun's mate!" Woom! I never saw Commander Craig move so fast in my life. He came out of there just roaring. And I thought it was funny, because he had been a bosun's mate. So I told this guy about it because I thought it was funny. He didn't think it was funny, because he had been a bosun's mate too. So what I thought was funny, you've got to watch that. Then I gave a luncheon and gad, I had a ball. I gave one of the 01:30:00luncheons at Winchester Bay. And one of the gals, the little gals that was stationed there was the head cook. And she and I we worked out the menu. She fed us, she got extra help from North Bend. She fed us individually. We didn't have to stand in line or anything. This was the commanding officer at that time, the warrant officer. I never met his wife nor met his daughters. I thought he had to bring them. I thought it was necessary that they be there, but he didn't bring them. So we had 32 people. But they changed the commands right in the middle, and so I wrote him a letter saying you're going to get 30-some women and their 01:31:00husbands and maybe their kids, caregivers, for lunch. Nothing like changing commands and finding out you're going to ahve a bunch of people. But oh, that was fun, that was fun. And I made the, and it folded and told what the plan of the day was, and what there was to do. We all said a prayer together. It was fun. I really enjoyed doing it. I had door prizes. I had time to do this, so we did it in the middle. I had door prizes and I gave Myrtlewood things. And so, those were more songs -- that has, "When a Coast Guard girls walks down the street, You will recognize her and you will say, 'Now there's a girl I'd like to 01:32:00know. She has the Coast Guard spirit, pep and go.' Just to look at her is quite a treat. It hard to be a girl from the Coast Guard SPARs." (laughs) I can't sing worth a hoot.
VLMarie does the singing for us. Leads the singing. So we had several songs thatwe sang. The WAVES have one that I like that I'd like to get a copy of. It says when the Marines watch the gates of Heaven, it'll be a WAVE that will check them in (laughs).
KRI haven't heard that one. I've heard the other ones, but not that one.
VLSo that has the Sempar Paratus song and "SPARs are Marching" to the tune of"Me and My Gal." "The SPARs are marching, their country to serve, helping our rights to preserve. Everybody should join it, it's a wonderful outfit, and you're bound to enjoy it. Every girl is a pal" -- ha! Not always, but most of 01:33:00the time. "Semper Paratus, our motto you know. Where they send us, we are ready to go. And when this war is over we know, victory is ours some glory belongs to the SPARs." I like it.
VLAnd this is about my luncheon that we had. The tables are decorated special.This the "The Silver Shield" which we didn't sing because nobody knew it. And I got the tables here someplace. See, they had red, white and blue and they had candles and stuff on it. This is the gal that was the cook. Priscilla. Priscilla Harris. I kidded her that I got Harris in my line so maybe she's related. She 01:34:00laughed. But she had it all set up and we got individual things. "Many thanks to Priscilla PS First Class. Patricia Harris in charge of the food for the luncheon and getting extra help to serve it. We were all served in courses. Soup, salad, main dish, chicken, cleverly displayed with a strawberry on lettuce for color and cake for dessert plus coffee, tea and soft drinks. Very professional. We (Priscilla and myself) had fun planning this whole affair for many months and she certainly did help to make it perfect." She's in Virginia. She got transferred. I bet they miss her. Because she really took charge. Marge was 01:35:00upset because when I got the cake the Coast Guard emblem was upside down. Oh well. I didn't have any charge of that. These are the people that were here. Boy, I really enjoyed doing that. I kept saying, "I've got to get my ducks in a row." In March I was saying, because it was in April. And I said, "I've got to get my ducks in a row." And Cheyenne said, "That's Grandma's generation! Ducks in a row! What do they mean, ducks in a row?" But I had a real good time. YOu can tell how heavy I was. The doctor said I had to lose weight so I could walk better. I lost 150 pounds, kid, on Slimfast.
KRDid it help?01:36:00
VLIt didn't help my walking, no. Because then I have other problems.
KRWell, it's better for your health, anyhow.
VLYes, it probably is. I lost all my hair, but it's coming back. I told Pixiethe other day, "I look in the mirror and I look like a wild old lady." And she said, "Mom --" "Alright, I'm not wild. I'm an old lady." I told somebody the other day I was 58. Oh, at the VA yesterday when I got my shot. He said, "How old are you?" I said, "Well, I probably was born before you were -- I probably was in service" -- because most of them are younger. He said, "How old are you?" I said, "58. I'm older than my kids." And he laughed and said something about it,. I said, "Well, next June, if I make it 'til next June I'll be 68. You 01:37:00figure it out!" And he laughed. he was 88. He couldn't turn his around. So he was older than I was. But it was fun. These are the two guys and me. And me. I had such a good time that day, I really did. A bunch of people. I got my face in the -- when I went in the SPARs, I got in on my Eastern Star, I've got a deal on Eastern Star that shows me. This guy wrote about "Now Hear This" so I wrote him an article. Never heard from him again. And that's that. Proudly served.
KRCan I take a look at your picture in here?
VLSure. I've got more pictures, too, by the way. Hand me the other one -- that'sthe one I was trying to find this morning. It's got both of them. Me and my 01:38:00first class. I was second class when I got out. U.S. Navy and Reserve Training Center. Doesn't that sound good? And I bought a duplex so I could walk to work.
KRWhere is this?
KRThis is Spokane, OK.
VLWhere are my two pictures? I've got two. Maybe it's in the front of the other one.
VLYes, there's one.
KRI thought they were in here --
VLMaybe they were.
KRBecause I thought you showed those to me initially.
VLYes, here they are.
KRAnd then these are all from Spokane.
VLThat's from Spokane, yes. All the fellows. Reserve gals. All the gals I hadwere in the reserve. Somewhere here -- well. But I couldn't have my picture 01:39:00taken with them because I was a woman. BLAH!
KRJust silly. Silly silly silly.
VLThey probably don't have any record of it either. They had a gal that was inthe rifle team at Seattle too, but she couldn't be in it either.
VLWell, that was my Jezebel. She was my horse. She was a half mustang and half Arab.
KRShe definitely has that look about her.
VLAnd you never touched her with your heels. She did everything with yourweight. (track ends) 01:40:00