A Perfect Fit

WAVES fitters estimated the uniform size for women, and then the WAVES were expected to get their uniforms custom-tailored for a perfect fit. Tailoring was included in the stipend women received to purchase a uniform.

This image comes from Marjorie Sue Green’s booklet From Recruit to Salty WAVE! The Ordeal of Seaman Green held by The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

First the Hat

 

Before WAVES recruits would get their uniforms at boot camp (which needed to be personally fitted), they would receive the WAVES hat.

This image comes from Marjorie Sue Green’s booklet From Recruit to Salty WAVE! The Ordeal of Seaman Green held by The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Meeting Eleanor Roosevelt

Dorothy Turnbull joined the WAVES in 1943. She headed to boot camp at Hunter College and was selected to become a recruiter. Because of her connections in New Orleans, they wanted her to be stationed there. But when she finished boot camp there weren’t any openings, so she spent another eight weeks at Hunter making sure the new boots didn’t get into trouble as part of the Shore Patrol. She also helped out with visiting dignitaries.

Eleanor Roosevelt came to visit us when I was on Shore Patrol. Well, ship service is what they called us.  And here she is getting out and I think I might have been one of these.  My claim to fame is when she was going into the building from getting out here and going down here, I held the door for her (laughs).  With my backside as I’m (laughs).  That was my claim to fame.

This photograph comes from the collection of Dorothy Turnbull Stewart.

To New York

It was in 1943 when Dorothy Turnbull headed to boot camp at Hunter College. While she was there, they tried to discover what she could do in the Navy.

They interviewed you and tested you and did all of this with us.  And marched around, and I enjoyed that. So as I would be interviewed, I realized I couldn’t say I wanted, I was – I was good in numbers, but I sure didn’t want to go to bookkeeping or storekeeping, or whatever they called it.  I couldn’t imagine myself as selling anything or that storekeeping, you see (laughs). That’s what I thought it was.  All I could do was talk and tell them about things I believed in.  So they decided that that’s all I could do, and that’s what a recruiter does.

This photograph of Dorothy’s boot class comes from the collection of Dorothy Turnbull Stewart.

The Boot Camp Experience

Part of the Hunter College boot camp experience for the young WAVES was learning what it mean to be in the Navy. And that meant restrictions, as WAVE Virginia Gillmore remembered:

The hard adjustment was the way they treated a few people.  One of the really hard things was the fact that if we kept our hair off our collar that was the requirement.  And that if you did your hair up, your long hair up and kept it off your collar you’d be ok.  But one cold morning they mustered us outside our apartment house outside in the street — that means they lined us all up — or we lined up.  And they went behind all the girls with long hair and they pulled their bobbie pins or whatever was holding their hair up out and let their hair fall down, and then took scissors and clipped their hair off.  And these girls had been told they wouldn’t have to have their hair cut.  There was almost mutiny that morning.  None of us thought it was fair. Because the regulation was just keep your hair up off your collar.  But we all kept quiet.  So it was a little fear that I didn’t think was entire necessary in our training.  But I suppose we all have to go through something.

All in all, boot camp was a good, positive experience.  We felt lots of support from the instructors, as a whole group.  But we did have to toe the line.

This photograph comes from the National Archives.

Learning the Ropes

The last photo in the essay following one woman, Maria Ramona Espinosa, through boot camp at Hunter College shows the WAVES’ classroom activities.

The caption reads:

Maria Ramona Espinosa recites in one of the classes which occupy a large part of her time at the training school.

The photograph comes from the National Archives. It dates from September 1943.

Getting the Uniform

The second image in the photo essay of Maria Ramona Espinosa at boot camp at Hunter College followed as she was fitted for her Navy uniform.

The caption reads:

Apprentice Seaman Esponosa, her hair done up in regulation style, has her first uniform fitted.

The photograph comes from the National Archives. It dates from September 1943.

A Girl Joins the Navy

Part of the WAVES recruitment efforts were to show the experiences of women in the Navy, and boot camp was no exception. This photo essay followed one woman, Maria Ramona Espinosa, through boot camp at Hunter College.

In this photo, she arrives at the gate of the Navy facility, dressed in her civilian clothes. The caption reads:

Maria Ramona Espinosa goes thru some of the steps necessary to become a WAVE at Hunter College, Bronx, N.Y. Arriving at school she gets her first directions from a Shore Patrolman at the gate.

The photograph comes from the National Archives. It dates from September 1943.

The Map

When women were stationed at the Hunter College boot camp, they received a map as part of their orientation packet. The map showed where the key buildings were, and included the surrounding apartment buildings.

This copy of the map comes from the collection of WAVE Margaret Anderson Thorngate. It shows the path she would take from the building where her quarters were located (Building D, a former apartment complex) to the Mess Hall, where meals were served.

Indoctrinization

Jean Clark was in the first class of recruits to be trained at Hunter College in the Bronx. The women were bunked in what were formerly civilian apartments surrounding the campus. There were 12 in her room, all sharing a single shower.

We had to take turns taking showers. One day it was my turn to take my shower and they called — while I was in the shower, hey called from the downstairs “Inspection!”  We had been there a little while and we were supposed to have the room shipshape. Everything neat and clean and dusted and at attention in full dress.  Here I am in the nude in the shower and here it is five floors down. My bunkmates all start handing me clothes (laughs). I thought, “I’ll make it” and I did, except I didn’t’ get my shoes tied.  And I was standing there at attention with my shoelaces dangling.  The WAVE officer didn’t notice (laughs).

This photograph shows the WAVES-in-training standing outside of the Bronx apartment building where they were stationed. It comes from the collection of Jean Clark.