Enlisting in the WAVES

Jean Clark enlisted in the WAVES in December of 1942 at a recruiting station in Portland, OR, after her husband was sent overseas for the war. She heard about the WAVES through an article in her local newspaper.

And I just thought, “That’s what I’m going to do.” My husband said,  “Please don’t join the WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps), because that’s what was going on around right then. He says they’ll probably send you overseas and you’ll be overseas when I get home!

Clark told the recruiter that she was teaching in Sweet Home, a small town in central Oregon. She asked the recruiter to let her finish out the school year, which would end in May.

He grinned and said, “Don’t worry about that.”  (laughs).  Well, then in January, I think it was, I got my first letter. It told me what things to expect. In February I got one, “Report.”

This photograph comes courtesy of Jean Clark.

The Post-a-Day Challenge

WordPress, the web platform we’re using to create our blog, has issued a “post-a-day” challenge. It’s a way for those who have a blog to flex their writing muscles for National Novel Writing Month in November, where writers around the globe each attempt to write their 50,000 word novel in a one month time period. FYI, that would mean writ between 1600 and 1700 words a day.  A lot.

We’re not sure that this project will become a 50,000 word novel. After all, that would be in addition to the film, website and smartphone elements we’ve already created (or are creating). So we’re using this challenge as an incentive to keep up short daily posts while we’re working on the more complex elements of the film.

We’re thinking our “post-a-day” will initially include artifacts from archives which we really enjoy.

Today’s artifacts are two about the WAVES recruits. Both images came from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland and was part of a larger collection they have of Navy photographs. There are (conservatively) tens of thousands of World War II-era Navy photographs in the archive, and in May of 2010 the Homefront Heroines producer and director spent several days there digitizing images for the documentary.

In the image above, WAVES recruits are taking the oath of office with Lt. Stewart (at left in the image). in April of 1944.

In this photo from February of 1943, women who have volunteered to be WAVES and SPARs (the WAVES’ Coast Guard counterparts) are getting ready to board a special subway train in New York which will take them to commissioning ceremonies at the WAVES boot camp, Hunter College. They’re part of a group of 418 women who first took part in a mass swearing in at City Hall in lower Manhattan, and then headed up to Hunter as the first class of boots at the new training center.