Helen was born in Philadelphia, but because of the Depression, when she was young, her family moved to New Jersey so that her father could find work. She had one older brother, Jim, who also enlisted in the Navy, shortly after Helen.
Helen started working soda fountain and drugstore jobs when she was 15 and she jokes about going from job to job. Her life plan was to go to college, get married and have kids. The strike on Pearl Harbor, in 1941, changed her plans and sent her on an adventure into the WAVES.
“I got fired a lot. I gave too much ice cream to my friends.”