“A Happy Smile”

Officer’s training was tough for Frances Wills Thorpe. Since she had started after the other women, she needed to work doubly hard to catch up. The same was true for Harriet Pickens. They would be part of the last officers’ training class at Smith College, graduating just before Christmas in December of 1944.

She recalls in her memoirs graduation day:

Navy photographers were everywhere.  Harriet and I were asked to pose pushing down together to close a suitcase.  Although the photograph itself was first-rate and has been shown many times in the years since that day it was entirely fictional.  By the time that the photographer approached and described the shot he wanted, both Harriet and I had long since stowed away all our gear and were waiting with the same undisguised eagerness as all of our classmates for train time.  It was not difficult to smile a happy smile.

This photograph comes from the National Archives.

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