Sunday, October 25, 2009

An interesting Day at the Museum, a Chat with a WW2 Woman Marine

Sundays are usually pretty slow.

Today at 9:30, three two buses pulled up. We had a group of JrROTC kids and a group of senior citizens. Their trips to DC were side tracked because they couldn't get into DC because of the Marathon. About an hour later, another bus rolled in. This one was carrying Wake Forest Alumni who had been up to Maryland for the WF/Navy football game.

I gave two tours. I'm tired.

I have a great story. A woman marine from the World War 2 era came in with her daughter and son-law. They asked me if there were any displays on women Marines in the museum. Three cheers for me listening and taking copious notes at our docent meetings! The museum recently published a special pamphlet about women Marines and where there are displays about them.

I chatted with the lady for a short bit and got her story. She was in what was suppose to be the last female boot class in 1945. The war had ended, she said, and they were looking to let all of the women Marines go...but everyone wanted out, so they needed to keep the women, who performed administrative duties, to do all the paper work for everyone getting out of active duty and going on reserves.

I asked her why she joined the Marine Corps. She said she had always wanted to be a Marine. Why? She said she didn't know, she just always liked the Marines so when she was old enough to join that is what she did. She also married a Marine and was a Marine wife for 22 years.

She said it was tough being a woman Marine because they were very strict with them. They were never granted overnight liberty and they had to be in very early in the evening. I asked if they were doing that to protect them, I mean, there were probably a lot of women who were from small towns and Washington, DC could be dangerous. "The Marine Corps was stricter on us than our parents were," she replied.

"They would kick a woman Marine out for the smallest infraction. For the 'good of the service'."

I asked what kind of infractions. She told me the following story.

" Once a group of us from Henderson Hall had the day off so we walked across Arlington Cemetery and over the bridge into DC to go watch a movie. When we left the theater there was a horrible rainstorm. The only place we could go inside and wait for a bus was a little bar. So, we ordered a pitcher of beer. One gal had only had half a glass of beer and she was acting all silly, like she was drunk. We didn't think she could be but she was. We got on the bus and road back to Henderson Hall. When we got off the bus, we ran to the gate so we'd get in on time and this gal fell. We had to be inspected when we returned and this girl we stood her between us because she was muddy from the knees down, hoping they wouldn't notice, but they did. She was kicked out the next day, 'for the good of the service.'

I was once restricted to post for a week. You know the summer uniforms we had? [I did, we have the uniform on display in the WW2 gallery]. Well, I starched the hem so it would lay nicer, we'd do that. I got caught, wasn't suppose to do that so I was put on restriction."

She was in the Marine Corps for 2 years when she married her husband, a 1st Lieutenant. Since she was a LCpl, it was strongly encouraged that one of them get out. So she did. She said she enjoyed every bit of being a Marine and then every bit of being a Marine Corps wife.

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