Interview With Mary Stone
5/22/97 Waterford, CT
Monys: First thing I would like you to do is introduce yourself. Give us your name, when you were in the military and also where you live.
Mary: Mary Andrea Kelles Stone. I live in Waterford, Connecticut.
Monys: Where did you live before you went into the military?
Mary: I lived on Summit Avenue in New London, Connecticut in 1943.
Monys: You're obviously a native?
Mary: Yes, I was born in New London.
Monys: One of the things I have always found interesting is to hear about where you were when Pearl Harbor. Do you remember that?
Mary: I was on my way home from school, I think. It was on a Friday. I can't remember exactly. We lived on Federal Street and I was coming home from school or I was home.
Monys: And you heard the news?
Mary: I wasn't completely phased about it because you know high school kids don't grasp the seriousness of it. Later on I realized what an effect it had on the world, especially us. It seemed like that you're in kind of a daze after you comprehend what is going on. Of course we read the news and listened to the radio - that the United States did this and that. We felt bad. I was going to the Capital Theater in New London to see the Paramount news which was very vital at that time. And they passed on all this information. And then they had the war bonds. My brother-in-law and I and my sister went to the Capital Theater and Tyrone Powers was there. So, my brother-in-law bought a bond and he said, "You can go up and shake hands with him." Well, I was just in seventh heaven. He had beautiful brown eyes and he held my hand. Like they say you don't want to wash it for days. We saved paper and things that they asked us to do. My mother - my father was not home. He had left a long time ago. So, it was just my sister and myself at home.
Monys: So you were in high school?
Mary: No, I was out of high school. Oh, wait a minute, I graduated in 1939. The war in 1941 - I think I was working at my uncle's candy store. Then, at that time, my brother-in-law opened up a flower shop and I went to work for him before I went into the service. My sister-in-law who was wonderful to me and my brother who lived across the street (they're both passed away now). Bertha signed me up because my mother was a very dominating person. Greek people - they're very - they keep their kids down. We couldn't go out with boys. The few times I did get to go we sneaked out. I had to go with someone she picked out to my graduation dance. It was a very monitored life, if you want to call it that. She said, "You've got to get away from your mother." So, she signed me up and when I came home from the post office we told my mother I am going into the army. She said, "you're what? Well, I am going down there to them that you can't go." I said, "you can't do that ma. It's the United States government. You can't back out." I can't remember the exact words. And, she was furious. I lived with my sister. My mother and I ...... my foster sister got married. So, I was home taking care of an eight room house. Sophie lived up on the hill that my mother helped her buy. I told my mother I just couldn't keep that house anymore and work too. So, I went to live with Sophie because it was such a big house. Then I was made the "Cinderella" there. Having Saturdays off so I could clean house. It was a bad life. I don't even like to think of it. I thought, my God, I am going away and I had never been past New York. We used to go to New York when my brothers were.... and that was a big deal like going to Kukamonga. And then I went on the train and got into Fort Des Moines. It was awesome when you look back. Like I said I had never been away and then learning to live with women. Doing physical training and stuff I thought I would never measure up. But fortunately, I did very well. In fact, they said to me that my marks were so good that I could qualify for OCS. OCS I didn't even know what that was let alone qualifying for it. But I didn't go because I was afraid to try something new. I was so timid in that area. They did send me to physical training school for two week and so when I went to Camp Hale and Crowder I used to teach - not teach but we were the leaders in physical training. We used to do that in the morning before we went to work - 10 minutes of physical training. That's when I was slim.
Monys: So, you enjoyed basic training?
Mary: Yeah, and then I was in casual for about - I went in October for six weeks and then after that I was in casual. The best thing that happened to me in my life was - I wanted to go college - Sophie and my sister went to business college. I was working too. If I had had the guts that I got now I would have said to my mother, "I'm going." I told her I wanted to go to college and she said we couldn't afford it. So, I had taken a college course when I had started at Williams school. And that changed in my third year to business course - typing, bookkeeping and that stuff. I took Algebra twice - I wasn't good in Algebra. But anyway, that helped me because when I went into the army. They asked me what I did in school and I told them I was a typist. So that got me into that area - clerk typist and all that stuff. It helped me, if you want to call it, my career. So they put me in the adjutant office when I got to Camp Hale which was wonderful. I was in there a couple of months and then they put me in civilian. They had me documenting and filing of people that were not allowed to be hired on the base - people that were in trouble, robbers and crooks. I thought this wasn't for me - just to sit there and file. I went to the Colonel and said, I started to cry. I said, "I came here to be a WAC and wanted to be in the army and you put me in this office and I'm working for civilians and I don't think I should be there." He said, "Well, we'll see what we can do for you, little girl." He was the sweetest guy. So, he put me back into the adjutant's office. I made PFC a couple of months later. After that I went to Camp Crowder and made corporal and staff sergeant. It helped me a lot with the esteem of myself too. I had a wonderful time at Hale and then I met Keith there. Dated a couple of fellows - I had never dated at home. Here on camp you could go to a movie. It was heaven. And go to the PX and go to the WAC Shack Did the girls mention the WAC shack in their interviews?
Monys: Actually some of them did. I was going to ask you about the WAC Shack. Why don't you tell me about it.
Mary: It was like a huge barn and they had a soda fountain and a place to dance, a jukebox. It had hot dogs 10 cents. Keith would say "Boy, this is a cheap date. You know 20 cents." If he spent a dollar I was lucky. That was fun. I had other WAC friends. In fact, I remember, he was an MP, Roger Shuman - he was the sweetest guy and Gena - they got married while they were up there. I had corresponded with them from Delaware for years. Such a lovely couple. I made a lot of close friends there. It was wonderful.. It was isolated - you needed each other in a way. We did things together. Went on passes together. Went to Denver, Glenwood Springs. In Glenwood Springs we would go to the sanitarium (they turned it over to the GIs) we would swim with the fellows who came back from overseas that had been injured and write letters for them. Another time we went to Springfield, Missouri and went to a Rehab Center and wrote letters. Some of the fellows played basketball with one arm and stuff. It made you realize there was a war. Because even though you work and are part of the WACs you don't see the war for what it is. You know it's going on. But like I said before when the Paramount News came on we were all eager to find out how we were progressing and all that stuff. Like I said the WAC shack was the focal point - our good times and the parties that the battalions used to throw for us - we would have a lot of fun. What was nice, I've got to say nobody's perfect, that the fellows there were really good. I never came across anybody that tried to get fresh with me. They always seemed to respect the WACs. There was a girl there that was kind of (you know character-less). Everybody knew it and we just shied away from her because it was so obvious. But I wasn't perfect. I dated and had fun. We would take the mules (I think I have a picture in one of the books). Then I met Keith - we went on a picnic. He gave up fishing to go on a picnic with me. He went overseas. When we transferred from Camp Hale to Camp Crowder they put me in the personnel office. I worked in the Discharge section. The fellows in the camp would write letters asking to be sent home through the Red Cross. I had to recompose those letters and send them to the colonel for review. I had to transfer all their problems because they would go on and on ,condense it. It was fun and interesting. I was very good with words. I worked for the sergeant. He was funny. He always talked about getting out of the service and open up a used car lot. Then when he left, he finally got discharged; a lieutenant came (I can't think of his name; he was a Jewish fellow). He was a "ninety day wonder" if there ever was one. He would always want to answer the phone. It was my job to answer the phone. One day I was typing and I went to pickup the phone and he was saying hello, hello. He had the phone upside down. The phone call was for me and I couldn't even answer the phone, I was laughing so hard. I thought that couldn't have happened to a better person. Keith had gone overseas and I wrote him and told him I was going to the sergeants club, that I was dancing, dating but nothing serious. Well, he got mad and wouldn't write me. So, I wasn't dating anybody at that time. I talked to the fellas out in the battalion about my job and I was put in charge of the discharge section when the sergeant left. I had four people working for me which was wonderful. We had a wonderful setup.
Monys: What was your rank?
Mary: I was staff sergeant. So, I had a call from this guy on the teletype. He wanted to date me. So, I said okay and he came over to the day room. He had gold teeth (and I was only 22-23) and I thought my God, this guy's an old man. He was probably maybe 35 or 40, I didn't know. I said, "I can't go out with you, I'm sorry. I thought you would be younger." Well, he was mad and stomped out but I thought I wasn't going to the sergeant's club with this old man. So, maybe a couple of weeks later or a month later this other fella was talking to me (he was a first sergeant) and he said he would like to date me. He said I sounded nice on the phone and he sounded nice on the phone. I said, "I'll tell you what. I had this blind date with this man and it was what it turned out to be. If you want to date me, you have to come to office so I can see you." So this good looking guy came in one day and stood in front of me and said, "Sergeant Kelles, I'm Bill Joel." Well, I ... ..... .....So, we went out and we dated until I went out of the service. Must have been after Christmas in 1945. I got discharged February 21st. But when I got discharged I had a phone call about a week or two later from Keith. I had been discharged February 22nd and he had been discharged February 21st in Wisconsin. He wanted to know if I felt the same way. I told him I really don't know. I told him he hadn't been writing and I was dating. There was a boy at home that was still in the service that I was pretty fond of. I thought if he came back would he be the one.... ....... So, anyway I was walking through the park (Williams Park) and I thought - he survived the war and I survived the war - he must be the one for me. I was very "matter of fact" about it. I went home and I called him. I told that I would marry him and all that stuff. He came back in May. We got married May 26, 1946. When we went up to get the license I found out he was a year and half younger than me. I never knew that and I said, "I'm not going to marry you." He said, "I came all the way from Minnesota and you're going to marry me." So, we got married and had two children. Keith worked for the utility company and he retired assistant general supervisor. And then I went to the hospital to work when Clifford was twelve years old. I wanted to stay home with my children until they were old enough. He had learned everything we wanted to teach him as far as rules of the house and how to behave and all that. So, I went to work - they put me to work part time with the doctor that was in charge of medical education at the hospital. They had me in other half in the accounting department. I told them what I can do to figures you don't want me in the accounting department. So, they put me as file clerk. So, half a day I worked with them and half a day I worked for the director of medical education. Then it turned out the girl that was working for the Associate Director of the hospital - she left suddenly and left them high and dry and they asked me to come in type up letters for the assistant. Then I just worked into the job. I worked there twenty years as the Associate Director secretary. Of course, I was put in charge of a lot of things. At that time the hospital employed 900 - now they have like 1300 or 1400. I used to be in charge of telephones, the message center, the director of medical education and all this stuff. The keys of the hospital, the telephone operators, I did all the paperwork for them. ... ..... ....
Monys: Were you able to get this nice job because of your training....
Mary: I feel it was the experience of being in the Army and doing clerical work which advanced me. Evidently I developed into a person that you have to do it my way or else. I became very authoritative, if you want to call it that. At times I get carried away. It was wonderful for me and it helped me with my own personal life. I went to District Governor of the Daughters of Penelope ..... I could have gone farther because it's a national organization of Greek women but Keith didn't want me to leave for meetings out of town. I was in the Reserves for two years and a half and wanted to stay in but he didn't want me to go to camp. To this day I wish had been more firm. But anyway - I'm a fatalist, I feel that things always happen for the best whether they hurt or not.
Monys: I want to go back and clarify a couple of things. Within your family - your sisters were really supportive you going into the Army and your mother was..
Mary: Negative! But once I was in she was fine. She accepted and she was proud. Out of six boys and two girls, I was the only one in the service. I had a brother that was in for a short time but was discharged. The rest were not in the service. My family had one star in the window. Remember - anybody that had someone in the service they had a star - it was on a red and white blue background with a gold star in the center. So, Sophie hung that up in the window. I felt proud of that.
Monys: When you went to Fort Des Moines, you enlisted in New London and then you took the train to Fort Des Moines.
Mary: I had never slept on a train. I was up all night; afraid someone would rape me whatever they do in those days.
Monys: What were your barracks like?
Mary: The barracks were nice. They were in very good condition. You know Ft. Des Moines was one of the old army camps or stations. We had plenty of room. I didn't feel depressed or anything. I was lonesome. I was glad I was getting rid of my family but when I got there I was sorry I left. I thought the camp was very nice and we had wonderful food. We had to do K.P. It was so funny to go to the officer's club and do K.P. for the officers - I met an officer, he was kind of cute and he asked me out. I said, "I can't date officers." I was so scared he even talked to me. At that time - and then at Crowder - we went to Joplin, Missouri and there were officers there and we had dinner with them.
Monys: You said it took you awhile to get used to living with so many people. All these women -
Mary: That was kind of hard because everybody was so different. They probably thought I was different too. But it all worked out. We did our basic training and fall asleep in class once awhile. We had to climb ropes, go along the ground like we were being shot at.
Monys: So you had to do all the climbing
Mary: Yeah, really good basic training. I enjoyed it.
Monys: Can you tell me a little bit about the classes? What did you study?
Mary: It's hard to remember really. All I remember is the history of the camp, the history of army life, regimentation, what they expected out of you. I just can't remember any particular thing
Monys: I remember seeing in one of the manual of Ft. Des Moines that there was information about chemical warfare.
Mary: Oh yes. We had to through the training for that - mustard gas and all that stuff. Wore gas masks. I thought that burning sensation, I'm going to die.
Monys: So they actually exposed you to gas?
Mary: Oh yeah. We went into this bunker type of thing (or at least I think so. My throat was dry when I came out)
Monys: What did you think about that?
Mary: Well I was kind of scared, apprehensive. But when I saw girls coming out that went in before me I was negative to it. It was something the army told you to do and you'd do. Just like physical training - I thought I was going to die after that first week- every bone- moaning and groaning. No body could move. Especially that two week training - it was concentrated training - that first week I thought I was going to die but after that I thought it was wonderful. Even when I got out of the service I did my physical training. I have been doing it almost two and half years now. I gave up just recently because of my back. I used to do my exercises to the beat - up one, two, three, four and four, three, two, one. I think it helped me a lot with my weight problem. It shifted it around.
Monys: The women officers at Ft. Des Moines, were you impressed them?
Mary: At that time, like I told you, I was very naive. We did what they told us. I did not find anyone that was mean or pushy or unlearned, if you want to put it that way. The lieutenant we had -she was very good.
Monys: After basic, did you have to do course work and secretarial stuff or were you just assigned?
Mary: No, I was just assigned. I used to do the daily information bulletin. That was on long legal size paper - changes of the day, officer of the day, and so forth. It was strictly army.
Monys: Were you just assigned to Camp Hale after Ft. Des Moines?
Mary: I was the only one. I was put in casual company and they were sending me for KP and somebody found out that they had given me KP......
Monys: What was your reaction to come to Colorado?
Mary: I thought it was "never, never land" I had no idea what it was like. When I arrived there, there was snow. The next day was the Christmas party. I was just overtaken by all the changes. But little by little I worked in. The girls were nice to me. I enjoyed it. We had a little nucleus that just hung around together.
Monys: Why don't you tell me who your friends were in this nucleus.
Mary: There was Helen Polk and Mary Lanza from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mary Lanza was a doll, she was homely as sin - honest to God. The biggest nose for an Italian, little - maybe 4'11." I don't know how she got in 5' at the most. But dynamite personality. She worked with Keith. She said to me, "now wake me up at 6 o'clock because I want to do this and that." I woke her up and she said, "what did you wake me up for?" I said, "You told me to wake you up." She said, "don't do everything I tell you." She had that type of personality - funny as heck. Helen Polk ... ..... and Irene Finney from Chicago. I corresponded with at least - I was so sorry you know you have addresses and then let em go - at least twenty-five WACs when I started. Now I write to Helen Polk and Emily, and Maxine Dragnick and ... ... from Camp Crowder. So, there's just about five or six that I write to.
Monys: From what you tell me, I hear that these friendships you made in the military are lifelong friendships.
Mary: Oh, yes. I hear once in a great while from my few scattered friends. There's one in St. Cloud, Minnesota. She writes me - Helen ......
Monys: Why do you think these friendships have lasted so long, because you lived together for this time or because you shared these experiences,
Mary: I think the bond is from being together, caring for the war and what happened. even though we had a lot of good times there was a certain amount of seriousness to it. We knew we were there for some purpose to help. We weren't flag waving and all that stuff but that we had a job to do. We were all working in the same direction. The ones that we felt were there for other reasons we just didn't bother. There were some there that had their own selfish ways .... I think, but there were very few. Some were there just to get attention. I remember this Colonel who had this beautiful WAC driver. She was so pretty; I can't think of her name. She was there just to glorify herself as far as I was concerned. She made out; she became a sergeant because of her position as driver. There were a few you didn't particularly hang around with. There were some girls, it's funny now as I look back. We had German prisoners in the back at Camp Hale..... ...... Some of the girls would fraternize with them. We had two girls that we had to watch and guard them. Somebody had to be on guard with them every night. I was on guard on night - if anything had happened I wouldn't have known what to do anyway. I was so busy looking backwards, I fell down. I still have a scar where I fell on a nail and it got infected. That was my duty from watching a prisoner.
Monys: So, you guarded the POWs?
Mary: No, we guarded the girls that were accused of fraternizing with them.
Monys: They were dishonorably discharged, weren't they?
Mary: They worked in the motor pool. See they had an occasion to be in that area.
Monys: What was your reaction to these women being dishonorably discharged?
Mary: Well I thought they deserved it. You felt sorry for the prisoners of war; they were behaving. Fraternization was fraternization. I feel the same way with what's happening today. You have to look at it as a military viewpoint not civilian viewpoint.
Monys: One of the women we interviewed from New Jersey was embarrassed by it and doesn't even want to talk about it today.
Mary: That doesn't bother ... ... People are human and make mistakes. I'm not going to worry about that. That's their problem not mine.
Monys: Was life in the barracks at Camp Hale different that Ft. Des Moines.
Mary: Oh, yeah. There was a lot of freedom. You went to work; your time was your own after. You had certain obligations - you went to church or whatever you wanted to do. I remember going to Easter Sunday. The snow was just even with my head. The fellas came over and made tunnels so we could go to church. I felt no limitations. I never felt like I was put upon or spied upon. I felt very relaxed and I enjoyed it. I can't think that any WAC that anybody that was in the service that had the same attitude I had that they enjoyed. I think the people I was friendly with had the same feeling. We did our jobs; we didn't make a big deal about it. That's it. When time came for us to be discharged we got out. Sometimes I say to Keith that I wish I had stayed in longer. He said, "you wouldn't have married me." I say, "that's why."
Monys: What were some of the things you did for recreation at Camp Hale?
Mary: Like I said, the fellas would have parties for us - steak dinners and stuff on Saturdays. On Sundays we would just kind of hang around. Sometimes we would take long walks. We would take passes into Denver. Of course, they had those hairpin curves; we were scared stiff; didn't think we would make it back to the camp. We had good times. We didn't go to sleep in hotels. We had good times. I went with Loretta and your mom and Jessica, Irene Finney, Mary Lanza - we all didn't go at the same time. Different times we went with different groups. I wasn't Miss Pris but I wasn't the other way like some girls.
Monys: You said you hiked. Did you hike in the mountains, to Leadville?
Mary: Yeah, toward Leadville. We would go just so far and then we would back out. We never hiked all the way to Leadville. We use to take the local bus into Leadville and hang around and go to the saloons; watch people go by, pick out souvenirs and write letters. We would hang around and have lunch there. Some how the time went by. You don't believe it and all of sudden a year went and another year and a half. Same thing at Camp Crowder - I remember all the girls - I wanted to go and see "Casablanca." Nobody wanted to go so I went myself in the city. When I arrived at Camp Crowder there were a little of girls from Camp Hale there. So, that made it nicer.
Monys: Did you find that the civilians treated you well?
Mary: We had a wonderful report with the civilians. In Leadville they were very nice; they didn't slight us. When I went to Camp Crowder, I met the woman who was the secretary to the Colonel of personnel. She was the dearest, sweetest thing. They lived in ...... Missouri. They treated me like their daughter. I wrote to them long after I got discharged. They were just wonderful. They would take me to spend a weekend with them. It was so good; I had such a warm feeling - a mother and a father. When she died I felt so bad. Her husband sent me all of her clothes. She had nice things. The people that I worked with were very good. I really can't say that anybody was hostile. In fact, at Camp Hale I worked with Imogene ...... She was the secretary to the Adjutant and I worked in the auto office. We still write to each other. When they had the 40th reunion at Camp Hale, we visited with her. We stayed at Vendome Hotel. When I got there I couldn't remember her married name - Postien. I loved that reunion because we went to Tennessee Pass. They had the missing man formation with the Blue Angels. Oh, it was so beautiful. Helen Belavilla went too. We met there.
Monys: Had they dismantled the base at that time?
Mary: Oh, yes. It was deactivated.
Monys: Today it just kind of like a ....
Mary: It just markings where the barracks were and all that stuff.
Monys: Did you say what year that reunion was?
Monys: The one thing that people always remember is Loveland Pass.
Mary: That was beautiful - scary but beautiful.
Monys: .... .....
Mary: In fact, Keith and I did it this time in 83 and we felt the same way. Imogene's husband worked at the Climax Molybdenum Co. He took Keith out for a ride. They went down Loveland Pass and all that stuff. I'll always remember and Gloria Gorge - I went by that once.
Monys: You have said a number of things about this but I just want to ..... if you had to describe what you thought were maybe, at Camp Hale, your most memorable experience - are there just one or two that really stand out?
Mary: In the first place, just being at Camp Hale was a treat. It was different, certainly different from being in the East. The friendships that I developed there and the kindness that was shown me. Just the activity of the camp. .... ..... ....... it would make us feel sad because the boys were going to war. I just felt so bad. They all waved to us and called us cuties and names. It made you feel bad because you knew they were going somewhere else.
Monys: Did you have much contact with the men in the 10th Mountain Division?
Mary: No, not really. Except through Helen I met Charlie, her husband.
Monys: Did you ski?
Mary: No, I tried to ski and I fell down so many times; I'm not too coordinated. So I forgot that. A lot of the girls went but I didn't go.
Monys: One of the things that happened, I believe in 1943, there were people ( you may or may not have known about this) in the media trying to discredit the public image of Women's Army Corp.
Mary: I remember that vaguely. On a personal note, my brother-in-law didn't seem to have any respect for WACs. He just felt they were in there to satisfy the men. I used to have big fights with him. It made me furious because he had no business to judge and he knew me. And I felt if his opinion of me was that low, I didn't think very much of him either. Most times, when I came home on leave I would date a sailor that I had gone to school with, treated me with respect. I dated a couple of sailors in fact. Just friends that we had from before. They never made any disparaging remarks about being in the service. Once in awhile I would get an eye brow raised, but overall I think we got a lot of respect. On a personal note - now an overall picture were that they WACs were not needed. They weren't in it and they don't know what it was like. The people that made judgments - I don't think it was fair. Whenever I was there I was tooting my horn all the time. So, they didn't dare knock the WACs when I was around.
Monys: Do you feel that made you had higher standards of conduct than the men or the civilian women?
Mary: No, I don't think so because the people I worked with were all of the same caliber. I think that being in the service, for me personally, did a lot for my self esteem and my association with other people. I could accept them and I learned a lot about different characters - who to be friends with and who not to be friends with. It did me a lot of good, personally. It gave me a chance to be my own person.
Monys: When you went in did you go in as a member of the auxiliary or the women's army?
Mary: No, I was in the women's army corp. By that time they had established it.
Monys: Well I know some of the women.....
Mary: Yeah, the WAAC.
Monys: Can you comment on the food at Camp Hale?
Mary: I can't remember that. Well wait a minute - now that I'm thinking about it. We had wonderful bakers. I was friendly with Angela ..... from St. Louis. She just died last year. I had been writing to her ever since we got out. The pastry was out of this world. The food was like you say - S.O.S. The coffee was dynamite. I had never had coffee before. My mother would always make French coffee. We always had warm milk and add the coffee to it. I never had straight coffee. It took me a long time to develop a taste for straight coffee. And then I used to put milk and three teaspoons of sugar. So that killed it. But now I drink it black. But I would say overall the food was pretty good cuz it was on a smaller scale. It wasn't a huge camp; we had our own cooks. The fellas used to like to be invited to our dinners. Julie: You ate separately?
Mary: Yeah, we didn't eat with the men. I don't recall men coming in. I don't want to make that statement; I just don't recall. I'm not sure now.
Monys: Did you enjoy "Parade" and "Review?"
Mary: Oh, I loved "Parades." I was in a parade and review one time and I fainted; standing in that hot sun. All of a sudden I was out like a light. We in the sun for a long time. Some general came by and as far as parades, I enjoyed watching them; it always gave me a thrill to watch that flag go by. The marching and coordination was just beautiful.
Monys: Some people have, as you know, Ovetta Culp Hobby Did you meet or see her?
Mary: No, never have. In fact, I kept the article of her death. We had Captain Harber or Cook, married name, but she was at Camp Crowder now that I think about it.
Monys: One of the things that is always talked about the Women's Army Corp is how sharp you looked marching.
Mary: Oh, yes all the girls. I can't think of anyone that was sloppy, but even in their personal dress they were always nice - always had their skirts pressed, shoes polished. Overall, we were a pretty good looking team. Of course, I was proud of being a WAC.
Monys: What do you think about the uniforms?
Mary: I liked the summer uniforms; they were a little more loose, a little more freedom. I didn't like the army boots and everything. I liked the decor, if you want to call it that. I had no problems with the clothes. In fact, I still have my jacket with my stripes on it.
Monys: Something that I am always curious about when you said how you remember "Casablanca." When you think of your time in the army during World War II, are there any songs or music that come to your mind?
Mary: Well yes, I was a great Frank Sinatra fan. I used to spend nickels and nickels in the jukebox. "Put Your Dreams Away" - that was one of my favorites. Joan Stafford singing "Long Ago and Faraway." I had several.
Monys: Do you like to dance too?
Mary: Oh I love to dance. This Bill Joel - the one that I met that came up to the office - he was a wonderful dancer. In those days, when they dipped you, you really dipped. In fact, he came down to New London and wanted me to marry him. I still say that you're guided by something bigger than both of us. I liked him and everything but I didn't feel he was the one for me. I had a wonderful time with him and he was a wonderful gentleman, just the sweetest guy. And mother loved him. He had such a sweet personality. But I just felt he wasn't the right one for me.
Monys: This is something that isn't on my list but I thought I'd ask you about this. Obviously, two of the biggest people in the 1940s were FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. Did you have any impressions of them?
Mary: No, not really. I wasn't that nationally conscious. I knew he was the president and she was active but I didn't have personal feelings for them in any direction.
Monys: After Camp Hale you went to Camp Crowder. Was the base closing?
Mary: It was deactivating at that time.
Monys: Did you get a choice where to go?
Mary: You were assigned. I don't recall we had a choice.
Monys: I know that some of the women that I have talked from Camp Hale went to Camp Crowder and some of them went to the South Pacific.
Mary: I don't know. I know when I was first at Camp Hale one of the Jewish girls was sent to Manila. I was afraid I was going to get the call. I can't remember if I got orders to go there and Adjutant got me off. And then when I wanted to go overseas, they stopped sending. I wanted to go to Germany. That was when I was at Camp Crowder.
Monys: How did life at Camp Crowder differ from Camp Hale?
Mary: I think it was not as relaxed. It was larger and more army, if you want to put it that way, more regimented. We had the friendships but not the closeness like we had at Camp Hale. Overall I would say I will never forget my time at Camp Hale.
Monys: One of things that you have talked about is that you are still active with reunions and WAC veterans. Can you tell me a little bit about your activities with that?
Mary: There is no group around here that I belong to. I didn't join the VFW and the American Legion but I was asked. The people that associate with most of them are - well, I have nothing in common with them - put it that way.
Monys: So you did go to the anniversary party for Camp Hale?
Mary: I went to one of them. They had several but this was the only one I've gone - the 40th and they had one for the 50th that we did not go to in 93. Like Helen - they've gone because Charlie was part of the actual 10th Mountain Division that went to Italy so they have a lot of friendships. They've gone to Italy a couple of times, I think. They had more ties there where I had nothing in common with the ski troopers.
Monys: What was your reaction when you found out they were going to do the memorial?
Mary: I was pleased; I thought it was about time. I think it's a wonder reminder that we were part of the service, that there was a real war, that we were really WACs.