Sneaking Onto Base

Jean Clark’s husband, Lou, had enlisted in the National Guard before the war. By December of 1941, he was in training at Fort Lewis outside of Tacoma, Washington. They got word they were shipping out in February, so Jean decided to head up to the base and visit.

At night they called a muster and they lined up with all their gear in line and we just watched them as they marched by. They came close enough that they could give us a hug and say goodbye but that was it. I stood there thinking, “Boy, I feel like I’m in a movie just (laughs)”

But there was a problem with this cinematic scene. The base was shut down and Jean was stuck inside with another woman who had also come to see her husband off.

We decided, “We might as well stay here. There’s no bus at this time of night.”  So, went into the place. There wasn’t a scrap of anything.  We found an old blanket. We said we didn’t want to sleep on the floor because it looked a little bit chewed (laughs).  My friend said, “My husband says they have rats in this place.”  So we got up on the meat block and spread out and put the blanket over us and went to sleep until morning when we heard this guard going — he was supposedly guarding. I don’t know what he was guarding, but everybody was gone (laughs).  But he was on guard duty.

He’d go one side of the building. Click. Turn in a military manner. Down the other side of the building. Click.  Down the other side. We watched him. We thought, “Wheres’ he going to be?” So while he was on the back side, we went out the door.  (laughs) And headed to the gate. She said, “Maybe they’ll think we’re civilian employees.”  And I think they did. We just walked out and got a bus.

This photograph comes the California State Military Museum.

Love During Wartime

While in school to become a teacher Jean Clark met her husband, Louis.

He was in one of my psych classes and he was a year ahead of me.  He had grown up in Corvallis (Oregon) on the farm there, and he decided that he needed to earn some money, some extra money for school, so he joined the National Guard. He was the youngest of six in his family and he had four brothers who were in the National Guard. He wanted to be in and as soon as he was 16 he joined the National Guard.  He was still in in college, at Monmouth.  In 1940, the United States decided to mobilize the Guard because of the trouble in Europe. So he spent a year in training. In the meantime we had developed a sort of a relationship.  When I was teaching at Brownsville (Oregon), we became engaged in 1940. So I was waiting for him to come back from his training.

They got married in July of 1941. Jean was just 19 years old.

This photograph comes from the collection of Jean Clark.