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Time to Enlist

January 6, 2020

We’re continuing our series remembering the life of Eileen Horner Blakely, who died December 30th at the age of 96.

Eileen remembers hearing about Pearl Harbor while she was at a church meeting.  It was shortly after this infamous attack that her uncles and brother joined the Navy.

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“We knew it was serious, but I don’t think any of us realized how serious, because we were teenagers, you know. So… see, I graduated in June of 1941. That first year, a lot of my classmates were killed… in that first onslaught of the war.”

The fact that the Navy WAVES uniforms were fashionable was a big hit with the women who enlisted.

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“Well, look at khaki. I mean, who looks good in khaki? Or even, you know, that drab green the Marines have. But there was something more exciting about the Navy, and sea, and ships and so forth.”  – Eileen Blakely

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“I would look good in blue, and after all, my uniform was a dress designer: Mainbocher. … My eyes are blue so they matched.  Blue is my color.  ” – Eileen Blakely

Growing up

January 5, 2020

We’re continuing our series looking back at the life of Eileen Horner Blakely, who died December 30th at the age of 96.

She was born in Orville, OH., but her family moved to Canton, OH., when she was a baby which is where she grew up. Looking back, she knows her family struggled during the Depression, but she doesn’t remember feeling hungry or deprived.  Her father worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and her mother worked in a bakery, but the family still lost their home in 1932. They were able to move into a large house as caretakers, however, and some of Eileen’s fondest memories took place in this house.

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“I remember that we had two peach trees. One was a white peach and one was a yellow peach. Jack [Eileen’s younger brother]and I claimed a tree that was ours. We’d built a old tar paper shack. It was kind of off the garage and had a club – a secret club. Everybody knew where it was, but it was one of those kid things.”

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“We never felt poor because everybody was in the same boat in those days. People would help each other out. “

Remembering Eileen Horner Blakely

January 4, 2020

We got word that Ethel Eileen Horner Blakely died December 30th at the age on 96. Eileen planned her own birthday party in October, and was an amazing woman. This week in her honor we’re sharing some of our posts about Eileen’s life.

She joined the WAVES in 1944 at 20 years of age. She was persuaded to join along with a church friend whose husband was in the army. Eileen went to Hunter College in the Bronx, New York,  for boot camp and next to Cedar Falls, Iowa, for Yeoman’s school (a “Yeoman” in the Navy does secretarial work). She was in the same school at the same time as Margaret Thorngate, and they are sitting near each other in their unit portrait.

Eileen, originally from Ohio,  saw her life as quiet and dull. She wanted to make a difference and  joining the Navy seemed the patriotic thing to do. With a desire to get out of her comfort zone, she signed up for the WAVES – a place where she was needed.

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“I have an uncle who joined the day after Pearl Harbor … A year later another uncle joined the Navy. The year after that, my brother joined the Navy. So when 1944 came, I decided it was my turn. So I joined the Navy.”

Work It!

August 24, 2019
WAVE modeling new uniform.
Courtesy National Archives

Storekeeper 3rd Class, Sharlene Osler, models the new uniforms for the Women’s Reserve. The new stitches consist of dungaree slacks and a chambray shirt, replacing the present aviation coverall worn by the members of the Reserve.

Classic Computing

August 19, 2019
WAVE checking IBM computer.
Courtesy National Archives

In the above photograph, the WAVE operator of the International Business Machine is seen inputting data into the computer. WWII was seminal in the development of the modern computer, the military was at the cutting edge of computer processing for most of the 20th century.

Oh, How the Times Have Changed!

August 14, 2019
WAVES posing with WWI Veteran.
Courtesy National Archives

Mrs. Sadie Flay Yeomanette of WWI compares her old uniform to that of the WAVES and SPARS of the present conflict during a recruiting tour in Arizona. I think it’s clear who has the better gear of the two.

Hosting a Hospitable Hospital

August 9, 2019
WAVES hospital lecture.
Courtesy National Archives

The WAVES hospital corps schools holds an open house for invited guests on their first anniversary in Bethesda, Maryland. In the above photograph, a lecture on the technique of giving proper care to a bed patient is delivered by Ens. Dorothy Smith — Harriet Stewart has the enviable assignment of playing the patient.