Flea Market Love Letters
November 6, 1943.
Updated: Dec 25, 2021
I knew that you would like to know about all about the Waves as soon as possible so I am answering your letter before about ten others. I was awfully glad to receive your letter.
Well, Kitty, I really don’t know what to tell you about the Waves because I wouldn’t want anyone to join because I said it was nice and then not like it, but I’ll tell you what we do and everything else I know about it. It may help you to decide, but I’ll tell you one thing, you won’t have your mother to help you.
We live in apartment houses taken over by the Navy around Hunter College. Each apartment has two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a hallway which we must keep clean ourselves. We have inspection every day and rooms must be neat with no gear astray, everything must be in its special place. Every Saturday we have Captain’s inspection and the rooms have to be spick and span, even cleaner than every day inspection. They come around with a white glove and put their finger across the bed or something and if there’s any dust, its just to bad. We have our clothes lying out on our beds to be inspected and also personal inspection, too, such as today one of the ensigns came around to see if our hair was short enough. In cleaning these rooms everyone has to pitch in and help because it isn’t fair for one person to do more than the next. Your beds have to be made just so and towels straightened just so. One day three of us had our folders on the table, and there must be nothing on our table besides our Navy manuals, and we had inspection while we were out, and we each got five demerits to work off the next Friday night. We had to wash the deck and clean all the moldings and wash the stairs heading downstairs to work them off. I never got demerits after that. Boy you have to watch your step. By the way, we have six in our bedroom and four in the other. I have a lower bunk and another girl from the G.E. in Lynn has the upper. I met her at the station when were leaving Boston and we stuck together all the way. There is another girl from Boston, two from N.J. and one from Long Island. The girls from the other room come from N.Y. I have met girls from all over the country. We wash all our own clothes and there is one ironing board to five spots and if you’re lucky enough to have an iron in your room you can get your clothes ironed otherwise you wear them uniorned. We can’t iron our slips or pajayamas as I would advise you, if you join, to get seersucker or woolen pajamas and jersey slips which don’t have to be ironed.
Once or twice while you are training you must stand watch. This will come at different times of the day. I had it once so far at 2.a.m. to 5:30 a..m All I did was sit on the main deck and write letters and every hour on the hour two of us had to go around to all the rooms in the building and see if everything was alright. We open the doors listen or sniff in case of fire or if anyone is sick. That’s all we did all night but I got it the night after I got my second shots and I was awfully tired the next day. A few days later we have a policing duty. After taps, you have to wash two decks and stairs leading down. ONe of us washing with a wet mop and the other dries with a dry mop and we do this from 9:30 p.m. till we are finished which should be at 10:30 p.m. and then you go to bed. Taps iat 9:30 p.m. and revill is at 5:30 a.m. sometimes and 5:45 a.m. other times. After we get up in the morning we go out in the hall way for roll call to see if every one is up. Then you go back and get dressed, fix your bed and clean up the rooms. We have a section of 40 girls and every where we go, we all go together. WE march every where and we don’t take any short cuts, either, we take the long way around. We have one hr. Of drill every day, 4 days a week, we have gy. I was chosen for the swimming class, so I just take swimming. We have 3 instruction classes a day. Instruction in Navy ranks and ratings, organization, history, ships and airplanes. After all these instructions we take an exam and the mark goes on your record. We also have about 4 movies (educational) a week. We also have first aid and medical lectures.
The second week were here, we had our physical and shots. The shots are pretty bad the first and second day, your arm stiffens and hurts but it only lasts a couple of days and then you forget about it. We only have shots three times. The first time we get a tetanus, a vaccination and typhoid shot, the second is a double typhoid and the 3d a single typhoid which didn’t bother me at all. Don’t be worried about them though, they don’t affect some people and you be that one.
Now about selection for a job. First we are given exams on math, english, mechanics, pattern making, and then they give you a little story to read and answer questions on them, more or less observation test. Than you fill out experience and educational sheets and last of all you are given a selection interview before which you are givena selection lecture telling you the different schools and jobs opened to you and when you have your interview you tell them what school you want or if you want direct assignments, which is going out on a job and working up to a rating. I chose yeoman school first, because I would like to brush up on shorthand and typing and I want to get away from comptometer, and then for my second choice I chose stockeepers school where you probably learn bookkeeping, etc. I think you would like that. The thing I really wanted was aerographics school but I had to have physics for that so that was out. You want more education, well, the only way to go is to go to one of these schools and learn a new job, and after you are in a job, the Navy have correspondent courses on every subject you can of that you can take.But all this training is an education in itself. It teaches you to be independent and not lean on other people to do things for you. I really think its a wonderful thing for every girl and there is many a girl here that has never done a thing for herself before and now they are leaning to help themselves. By the way, these schools are 2 to 3 months long, but you don’t always get what you want, although they try to place you in the place that you want as nearly as possible. Another thing they want to know is where you want to be stationed but you can’t always count on that either. What they try to do is place you as nearly as possible in a job or school in which you will be happy. Don’t let them talk you into a direct assignment thought because then you can’t go to school.
We have our uniforms now and expect to be here about another week or so, and I hope I get yeoman school which will be Oklahoma or Iowa.
I am glad i didn’t join the Spans because they haven’t got as many openings as the Waves.
There may be many things you may not like about the training, but its only for a few weeks so its not so bad. Things you may not like are the food, steel trays which we eat in, no privacy, some days you don’t even have time to brush your teeth, and you have to live with different temperments of girls, by the way, the food gets better after a few days so don’t worry about that. But all the advantages cover the disadvantages and this is only training which teaches you discipline and alertness.
All in all, Kitty, I think its swell and a lot of fun, but hard work. It will help you out a lot in learning to be dependent on yourself. By the way you can’t be late when oyu’re in the Navy you will learn to do everything on time. I think it will be a wonderful experience for you, Kitty.
Dot may say she won’t write to you, but I wouldn’t let her influence me if I were you, if you really want to go in, I would advise you to decide for yourself. I certainly hope that all I have told you will help you to decide. I had to write this in a hurry so my writing and grammar isn’t so good.
My mother missed me a lot when I left, but she is getting over it now, and last weekend we had shore liberty and my mohter and father came to see me. She looked all right to me. I call her up once or twice a week so it will make her feel better. My father thinks its wonderful for me. Ou know, I’m not as nervous as I used to be, I don’t have time to be. It might be a good thing for Dot too.
Incidentally the girl I bunk with left the G.E. and didn’t have to wait 60 days.
I didn’t know how Dot was over in Magee’s section not. That’s news to me. I also received a letter from Virginia Hashihan the same day I got yours.
Please let me know how you decide and if you join I know you will like it. I am enclosing a card which you may send without any stamp and just put your name where it says “This is to introduction K.Lehane” and when it says “whose address is” put your address.If you send in this card, it wouldn’t mean that you would have to join but they will send you information about the Waves and this will go on my record as saying that I am helping to recruit girls. Gee, you will be helping me out too, because it gives me some credit.
I have given you all the information I can possibly think of.I hope you can read and understand it all right and I hope it will help you to decide. Please let me know what you decide and all I can say is as one of our songs go “I love the Navy and I don’t want to go home”.
Incidentally, the training period is between 4 to 6 weeks and if you go to school that will be 2-3 months more and then you get your 3rd class rating after finishing school. Then you work yourself up by studying and passing tests.
I hope you will be my mate in the near future.
P.S. I haven’t a movie for over a month and I do miss it