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"A Positive Experience Serving in the Waves," Reminiscence

Joan Deines

February 3, 1995
Interviewer: Rheba Massey

Joan was born in 1924 in New York City. Her father was a World War I vet and wasn't too happy with Joan or her brother when they both enlisted in the Navy. He did agree there might be good educational benefits. She trained at Hunter College in the Bronx and was sent to Milledgeville, Georgia, where she studied store keeping. She did not like the Georgia climate, or the prejudice against women in the service that she experienced there. She was transferred to Hutchinson, Kansas, where the former big city girl experienced dust storms and the lonely sound of trains passing far across the prairie.

She credits her military experience with giving her the ability to live with people in less than ideal situations. "It broadened my whole scope of the United States. I think it made me feel very patriotic because everybody was in the same boat. You had different feelings about people who didn't enlist - felt like maybe they just took advantage of the country and made all this money working in plants. I think overall it was a very positive experience."

As to socializing during the war, the bases provided most of the entertainment with weekly dances. Because the service men and women had to stand watches and sleep when they could, there was not a lot of socializing. "I had a lot of fun with the other service gals. When I was stationed in Hutchinson, Kansas we took a wild midnight ride. We left right after work; drove all night to Dodge City, looked at Boot Hill, turned around at sunrise, stopped someplace to get breakfast, and then drove like mad to get back to the base. That was a weekend experience. That was the fun; there wasn't a lot to do."

Joan sometimes felt the WAVESes and enlisted men were not entirely appreciated by the career military men who did not approve of "ninety-day wonders." She recalls one Second Lieutenant who seemed very resentful of the women. She found out later that he was angry that "so many people were killed overseas and yet here we were just goofing around on the base - wasting supplies in his eyes." However, the women did not feel guilty for they understood they were releasing men to go overseas.

After the war, Deines used her benefits to go to art school in New York; her brother went to Colorado School of Mines in Golden, and eventually to Denver to work. She joined her brother in Denver, taking an apartment next to a Fort Collins girl. The girl had a brother whom Joan eventually married, and that's how she came to settle in Fort Collins.

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