Multiple Challenges

How my parents managed to create a nurturing and stable environment for us is a mystery to me. Both Marie and Paul were hard workers and took their parenting responsibilities seriously. It helped that they liked each other and worked together. Neither had experienced ideal parenting as children. Both seemed committed to creating family life that benefited each family member.

“Time is the miracle solution for most dilemmas of parenthood. Taken in minutes or hours, the time you spend with your kids gives you the opportunity to provide your kids all their essential needs — and much more.”1 This contemporary opinion suggests that all the time Marie and Paul spent with each of us was an enormous gift. I’m quick to add that all the time we kids had to spend, as we wished, in the safe outdoor environment of our neighborhood was another luxury we took for granted at the time. In addition to our parents, our Aunt Rosemary brought her own sense of humor and engaging mind to the family mix.

We, Neilsons, were an active family. We went to the beach occasionally, we picked strawberries, sometimes visited the zoo, explored the Tamiami Trail area of the Everglades where we saw Seminole Indians in their beautiful patchwork clothes and learned about their elevated living quarters called chickees. Later we took extended family camping trips. My dad had a single-lens reflex camera (SLR) which he used to take slide photos of our family adventures. Once in awhile we’d plan a slide show to review our activities. This “movie night” was accompanied by a huge bowl of hot buttered popcorn to share.

Creating a new life together

I’ve included all these candid photos of real 1949 and 1950s life for a white family in a sunny southern town because there is much misinformation about that time period. All the details seen in the backgrounds of the photos add detailed visuals when carefully studied. These two young adults, Paul and Marie, were adapting to life together, living in a new house, and caring for two infants. Our family of four soon became six! As a result, Dad then planned to build an addition to the house.

Marie had four pregnancies within five years. Only after her death did I learn that she had a miscarriage between the birth of Karl, born in September 1947 and Marsha, born in October 1950. This miscarriage is one of many things “that were not discussed” in our household. Decades later my father told my youngest sister that mother had some kind of “breakdown” after her third child, Marsha, was born. He said she went and stayed with women friends and played bridge for a full week. This too was a revelation to me.

Back story: at Marsha’s birth in 1950, Marie had approached her male doctor about obtaining a tubal ligation to prevent further pregnancies. That doctor, in a condescending and dismissive manner common in the 1950s, refused her request. One year later she found herself expecting another child. After our sister Lea was born in June 1952, Marie had the major responsibility for four children under the age of seven. After that birth she did have a tubal ligation which would prevent any further pregnancies–another piece of information unknown to me until recently.

Prior to that action, the concern about additional births must have been on their minds. Given the limited birth control options of the time period, I assume this concern about more births also affected their sexual intimacy which could easily affect other parts of their relationship.

Paul was a helpful parent, but was absent for most of the waking hours. It’s not surprising that I became “mother’s little helper”. Lea became known as Baby Lea by everyone in the neighborhood, until Mother finally said, “no, this has to stop–she can’t be Baby Lea all her life”. Perhaps she was thinking of her Aunt Anne who was known as Duckie all of her life. It took all of us awhile to change our habit of using Lea’s nickname.

When mother had been pregnant with me in 1944, her sexist Army doctor had decided mother’s breasts were too small for her to consider nursing her child. Denigration of breastfeeding was not unusual. “Breastfeeding in the Western world declined significantly from the late 1800s to the 1960s. By the 1950s, the predominant attitude to breastfeeding was that it was something practiced by the uneducated and those of lower classes. The practice was considered old-fashioned and “a little disgusting” for those who could not afford infant formula and was discouraged by medical practitioners and media of the time.”2

Marie had little time to recover from pregnancy, the birthing, and adjusting to life with a new baby, before she was again “with child”! In addition to coping with all the physical and emotional challenges, every week she had a hundred or so bottles to sterilize, and hundreds of diapers to wash and hang out to dry. This was Marie’s daily reality for about ten years.

Telling this story is a tribute to my mother. Her fortitude and endurance amaze me. Her personal situation was a direct result of the social, medical and legal attitudes of her time, that is, the political climate women inhabit in this male-dominated society.

My life story is rooted in my mother’s life story and to a lesser extent my father’s life story. As the oldest daughter of a large family, I believe I had a taste of what the multiple responsibilities of a mother would include. Few of my life choices have sent me in that direction.

A Wedding to Plan!
Aunt Rosemary, Paul’s youngest sister, was a vital part of our Neilson “clan”. She was the one relative involved continually with us for many years, as you can see in those photos of Marie and Rosemary hosing down the two toddlers on a hot Miami day. She spent holidays and fun times with us. Later I would spend weekends with her at her new house–fun for me and one less child at home. Paul seemed glad to have his youngest sister nearby and included in our family life. Both were transplants to the Miami area, and shared memories and experiences from their youth in Upstate New York. Both were glad to have escaped the long, cold winters!

In the mid 1950s Rosemary married Darryl Harrison in a simple wedding with the reception held at our house in Miami Springs. Her wedding was a family affair, not a catered event. Mother used her silver forks and bone china plates (from Duckie) carefully arranged on crisp white linens to honor the couple and their guests. The delicate green ferns surrounding the cake grew in our yard. Step back in time….


Postscript

Notes
1 from Dr. Rotbart at https://www.childrenscolorado.org/conditions-and-advice/parenting/parenting-articles/what-children-need/
2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_and_culture_of_breastfeeding

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Miami Springs: The Edge of the Everglades


Marie had grown up on “the Beach”, but it was too expensive for a young couple to buy a home on that island for their growing family. And the GI bill, which offered mortgage assistance, only applied to new housing. Marie’s high school friends, her church and her family (Aunt Duckie) were on Miami Beach. Dad had finished night school and had been hired as a land surveyor for the City of Miami Beach. Neither one wanted to leave the area. To buy a home of their own, they would have to leave.

While Paul and Marie were considering their options they celebrated their daughter’s first birthday on Miami Beach with friends and relatives. Generally Dad was the photographer so we’ll see fewer photos of him. Both my parents were anxious to take pictures of our family life together–that accounts for all these photos from 74 years ago.

Commuting in 1947 was not commonplace, but it probably seemed the solution to the situation. Miami Springs was ten miles away, about a 30-40 minute drive with no easy, direct route. It was on the western edge of the developed area. Beyond was the untamed Everglades, also known as “the River of Grass”. After 1945, the Miami Beach and Miami area experienced a post-war sprawl when “hundreds of thousands of GIs came to Miami to start a new life”.1

I’ve found a variety of ads by Miami Springs builders directed at veterans. Here is one: “Selling for $11,950, veterans require a down payment of $730 which includes closing costs. Monthly carrying charges come to approximately $75. Set on a minimum size lot measuring 75 by 125 feet.” Other builders emphasize hurricane-proof buildings. Another builder promised “atomic bomb protection” and no down payment for veterans. It seems like it might have been a “buyer beware” market for these young newlyweds! [Families in the United States had an average (median) income of $3,000 in 1947.]

In choosing Miami Springs as their new home, Paul and Marie either “did their homework” or made a lucky choice. In Miami Springs, “deed restrictions were rigid, and strict building and zoning guidelines called for masonry construction, tile roofs, proper set-backs and landscaping.”2

About Miami Springs in the 1940s
Miami Springs was a planned community built with a Circle Park surrounded by few small businesses. Westward Drive, a divided parkway, moved west to the residential sections. Famed aviator Glenn Curtiss and his partner James Bright had developed the area in the mid 1920s during the “Florida land boom”. They developed Hialeah, which was much larger and Country Club Estates where Curtiss built his own mansion. Country Club Estates was adjacent to the airport and later was renamed Miami Springs. The tiny community was a mere three square miles but supplied water for the entire metropolitan Miami area until the mid-1990s.

One historian described the post war growth. “In 1930 the name of Country Club Estates was changed to the town of Miami Springs in recognition of the natural spring of pure water that was located beneath the town. Miami Springs continued as a small, mostly residential community until after WWII. As the airline industry at the 36th Street Airport [now Miami International Airport] began to expand, many airline employees were transferred to the area and Miami Springs became a convenient location for them to live. A new “building boom” continued for many years. The airline industry was a major factor in the economic growth of the town.”

By early 1947 Marie was pregnant with their second child. The family of four would need that new home soon. When Marie and Paul decided to move to 336 Linwood Drive in Miami Springs there were few houses on that block. Marie would be stranded there all day with no neighbors and no transportation. I believe they had a phone since the house was built with a small nook in the hall by the bedrooms to hold the black rotary dial phone. This isolation would be an adjustment for her. The radio would be her companion.

Karl was born September 7th 1947 in the midst of a flood caused by Hurricane Vi–one of five storms that year! With this flooding did my parents wonder about their choice to live on the edge of the Everglades? Paul built a catwalk-like ramp to bring Marie and Karl into the house when they were released from the hospital after his birth. See above in the center photo with Paula on that ramp. Below are more photos of the Circle park, city hall and businesses during that ’47 flood. Karl was a happy baby and for the most part, I liked being a “big sister”.

Marie and Paul bought a two bedroom, one bath, stuccoed masonry house with a durable tile roof. Stucco is very affordable and is virtually maintenance-free. The compact living room served as an all-purpose family room. Both bedrooms were small, the dining room was actually a wide hall leading to the two back doors. The kitchen we used for the next twenty-five years was more like a galley. One tiny window was inadequate to keep the kitchen cool when it was hot–which was most of the time. No central heat or air conditioning. In one corner of the living room was a small gas ceramic heater. Later Dad built a mantel around the hearth-like heater so we could hang our Christmas stockings. When we did have cold nights, we slept under electric blankets.

With mild weather year round, all of us spent time outside in a variety of activities including hanging our daily loads of laundry to dry on the large clothesline–not one of my favorite chores. Later, as the family grew, my parents chose to build a large addition rather that leave our accustomed neighborhood. I’d guess the house was 800 to 1,000 square feet with no garage and a tiny hard-to-get-to attic. For many years we thrived in that house.

Norma and Sig Drury bought the house next door. Norma and Sig were high school friends of Marie and had been the attendants at Marie and Paul’s wedding in 1945. Their house was almost exactly like the basic house that my parents bought. They did not have children for the first few years. We were quite neighborly with them. The first dog I ever knew well was their dog Spicy, a gentle black and white mixed bred dog. They planted orange trees and grapefruit trees in their backyard. Once established, we enjoyed picking our own fresh fruit when they had extra.

Sometimes on a weekend we would drive over to Miami Beach to visit Duckie. At times I would spend days with her. We’d visit her Cabana club for my swimming lessons and ice cream. Here’s a description about the Cabana club of the late 1940s as mentioned in the ad below, “Patrons went to the bathing casino [cabana] to enjoy a day in the surf or to swim in the pool. Upon entering, guests would proceed to the lobby desk and rent a locker, wool bathing suit and a towel.”4 Of course I had my own bathing suit. I have vague memories of jumping into the pool as a toddler. Duckie doted on me as a child and I enjoyed her company.

Both my parents had a strong can-do attitude. Marie was a creative sewer and a resourceful homemaker as well as a constant reader. Paul gardened and taught himself carpentry and building. As soon as we were old enough we were playing games and sports–from kickball to ping-pong and basketball with him. Early on he planted a gardenia shrub since Marie loved that flower. Later he planted a key lime tree which thrived in our climate. We enjoyed those key limes almost year round–real key limes are yellow when ripe–not green. For special occasions, Mother would make us key lime pie–still one of my favorites.

Mother’s Aunt Duckie acted the proud grandmother with me and arranged this series of portraits. Mother designed and sewed each of the dresses–some were organdy, most were cotton. The one on the far right was light blue linen with white eyelet trim. Both Duckie and Marie enjoyed dressing me in the idealized image of a little girl–my training started early. I can see the contrast when compared to the earlier candid photos or my school photos. The staged portraits are a tiny slice from real life. For one thing–I’ve never had curly hair. Illusions….

Yet, it is all part of the story to be told.

Postscripts
One:

Two:
The Everglades, a unique treasure located in South Florida, is the largest remaining subtropical wilderness in the United States. It consists of 1.5 million acres of saw grass marshes, mangrove forests, and hardwood hammocks dominated by wetlands. It is home to endangered, rare, and exotic wildlife.

Origins of the Everglades
Water in South Florida once flowed from the Kissimmee River (in north central Florida) to Lake Okeechobee (the huge lake in south central Florida). The water then flowed southward over low-lying lands and hundreds of miles to Biscayne Bay (the 35 mile long bay between Miami and Miami Beach), the Ten Thousand Islands (a chain of islands and mangrove islets off the coast of southwest Florida), and Florida Bay (the southern tip of Florida). This shallow, slow-moving sheet of water created a mosaic of ponds, marshes, and forests. Over thousands of years this developed into a balanced ecosystem.

Wading birds such as great egrets, white ibis, herons, and wood storks were abundant. The Cape Sable seaside sparrow, Miami blackheaded snake, manatee, and Florida panther made the Everglades their home. Alligators and crocodiles existed side by side.

The Seminole and Miccosukee Indians settled in the Everglades. Although they battled with the alligators and crocodiles who live in the ‘Glades, they did not interfere with the overall balance of the ecosystem.

The Everglades Today
Today, 50% of South Florida’s original wetland areas no longer exist. The numbers of wading birds have been reduced by 90%. Entire populations of animals are in danger of disappearing. Exotic pest plants have invaded natural areas. Losses of seagrass beds in Florida Bay have been followed by losses of wildlife.

In Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s classic book published in 1947, The Everglades: River of Grass, she wrote, “Unless the people act . . . overdraining will go on. The soil will shrink and burn and be wasted and destroyed, in a continuing ruin.”

[Marjory Stoneman Douglas was the spirited writer and environmentalist who was known as the patron saint of the Florida Everglades due to her ceaseless campaign to preserve the fragile wetlands of south Florida.]

Douglas continued, in a hopeful vein, “There is a balance in man also, one which has set against his greed . . . Perhaps even in this last hour, in a new relation of usefulness and beauty, the vast, magnificent, subtle and unique region of the Everglades may not be utterly lost.”5 Read more here: https://fcit.usf.edu/FLORIDA/lessons/everglades/everglades.htm

Notes

1 Miami’s Historic Neighborhoods: A History of Community, editor Becky Roper Matkov, p.14 https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/62392097/miamis-historic-neighborhoods
2 Miami’s Historic Neighborhoods: A History of Community, p.67
3 Miami’s Historic Neighborhoods: A History of Community, p.68
4 https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/things-to-do/history-and-heritage/bathing-casinos-in-miami-beach
5 https://fcit.usf.edu/FLORIDA/lessons/everglades/everglades.htm

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Start Smoking at Thirteen–How Does This Happen?

Super Constellation,1955

We are still focusing on the late 1940s and early 1950s when I was a toddler. Marie and Paul were young parents of four children. Like many in their generation, both of my parents were enthusiastic smokers. These were the same years the TWA hostesses were wearing the cutout uniforms. Smoking had long been permitted on most flights–some even referred to the hazy cabins full of smoke as the “fog of fear” since people believed that smoking soothed nervous flyers. It was not until the 1950s that the airlines added liquor to the menus. Look carefully at the above cross-section of the Super Constellation–notice the passengers with cocktail glasses or cigarettes in their hands.

Allowing intoxicating beverages on board airliners created an additional burden to the job for flight attendants in the 1950s. In the TWA training film from the late 1940s and early 1950s which I mentioned last week, there is even a incident on the simulated flight where the hostess trainee was told to confiscate a flask brought on board by a unruly passenger.

One source explained the shift in cultural attitudes, “By the 1950s mainstream cultural attitudes toward drinking had liberalized considerably, and cocktails had become an integral part of leisure. For postwar “organizational men” and VIPs, airlines’ primary customer base, drinking carried little of its previous social stigma.”1

All the women who worked for TWA as hostesses from 1944 to 1955 wore the unique uniform with the cut-out logo design. She could transform her uniform to civilian wear by covering the TWA logo with the clever design of her jacket. Smoking, drinking, and chewing gum while in uniform were not permitted. We don’t know the percentage of women who smoked at that time. We do know that every woman who wore those uniforms encountered numerous messages about the desirability of becoming a smoker.

TWA cut-out hostess uniforms 1944-1955

How do a society’s cultural attitudes change? The acceptance of smoking and drinking was not fueled by a “grassroots movement” of people seeking betterment of the human condition. Both of these attitude changes in the mainstream culture have been initiated and fueled by movies, television, advertisements and business/corporate interests. Every woman in the U.S. has been exposed to these sophisticated propaganda campaigners.

My cherished mother, Marie, smoked Chesterfield cigarettes throughout her multiple pregnancies. During my entire childhood, my brother and two sisters and I were continually exposed to the second hand smoke of both parents. Mother claimed she started smoking at age thirteen—I wish we had asked her why she started smoking. Smoking was a social activity that infiltrated their daily lives. Dad’s sister, our Aunt Rosemary, was a heavy smoker too. All of them died before their time of smoking related illnesses!

Quick Background on Tobacco Products
Originally tobacco was produced mainly for pipe-smoking, chewing, and snuff. Cigars didn’t become popular until the early 1800s. Cigarettes didn’t become widely popular in the United States until after the Civil War ended in 1865. In the late 1800s, the invention of a practical cigarette-making machine made mass production of cigarettes possible. Smoking boomed in the first half of the twentieth century, thanks to heavy advertising and the inclusion of cigarettes as part of soldiers’ rations during the two world wars.

Women Learn to Smoke

Clearly, attempting to link smoking to emancipation was an effort to manipulate women! The “torches of freedom” term was not an invention of women, but a term introduced by psychoanalyst A. A. Brill when describing “the natural [sic] desire for women to smoke.” Please note, Brill was the first psychoanalyst to practice in the United States and the first translator of Sigmund Freud into English.5 Freudians have never been friends to the best interests of women.

Using that same phrase to further his own career, Edward Bernays, the Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, planned a public hoax. Bernays was hired in the 1920s by the American Tobacco Company to expand the market of the Lucky Strike brand of cigarettes to women. He was instructed by the company president, to “crack that market, it will be like opening a new gold mine right in our front yard.”6

To challenge the social taboo against women smoking in public, Bernays hired women to do just that in a very public setting at the annual Easter Parade in New York City. By the late 1800s, this Easter parade of wealthy New Yorkers, both women and men, attired in the latest fashions strolling Fifth Avenue, had “became a permanent fixture on New York’s calendar of civic and social events. With the turn of the new century, Easter in New York had assumed the mantle of a major retail event, ranking alongside Christmas in this significance.” Of course Bernays alerted the press before the carefully staged event he was planning, and had handbills to pass out at the parade.7

The New York Times recently reconsidered that 1929 event. “The march of the Torches of Liberty Brigade is considered one of the most successful publicity stunts ever. In the 1920’s, George Washington Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company, decided to start a campaign to get women to smoke Lucky Strikes. At the time, of course, smoking was considered beyond the pale for any respectable lady. So Mr. Hill recruited a man who was to become a legend of public relations, Edward Bernays.

Health claims for smoking in 1940s ads

Bernays saw an opportunity in the Easter Parade, where women (and men) sashayed up Fifth Avenue in the latest spring fashion. On Easter morning 1929, a dozen female models hired by Bernays paraded up the avenue puffing on Lucky Strikes. It was the first time many spectators had seen any women other than prostitutes smoking in public. The women carried placards that trumpeted their cigarettes as torches of liberty.

Pictures of the models appeared in newspapers around the world, and the ploy tripled the sale of Lucky Strikes….” As Bernays reflected later on this event, “Age old customs, I learned, could be broken down by a dramatic appeal, disseminated by the network of the media.”8

Did some women believed that smoking cigarettes was a way for women to challenge social norms and fight for equal rights? Perhaps. Some sources assert that the cigarette came to symbolize “rebellious independence, glamour, seduction and sexual allure for both feminists and flappers.”10

Tobacco companies continue the relentless marketing of cigarettes to appeal to women during this period.

“The American Tobacco Company began targeting women with its ads for Lucky Strike. Lucky Strike sought to give women the reasons they should be smoking Luckies. They employed ads featuring prominent women, such as Amelia Earhart, and appealed to the vanity [sic] of women by promising slimming effects.

Most of the ads also conveyed a carefree and confident image of women that would appeal to the modern woman of the 1920s. The ads grew more extravagant with paid celebrity testimonials and far-reaching claims of how Lucky Strikes could improve your life. Their most aggressive campaign directly challenged the candy industry by urging women to “reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.”

These aggressive campaigns paid off making Lucky Strike the most smoked brand within a decade.”11

How did smoking become socially acceptable and even socially desirable? In comparison with traditional smoking methods, cigarettes were clean, easy to use, modern, and increasingly cheap. Tobacco companies were successful in the aggressive marketing of cigarettes to women. I’ve learned that, “smoking rates among female teenagers soon triple during the years between 1925-1935!”12 This statistic would have included my mother, Marie! In 1932 she would have been thirteen—the age she told us she began smoking.

In our thinking about who smoked, and about why young women attracted to flying might be tempted to try smoking, I found this: “In a content analysis of North American and British editions of Vogue, Cheryl Krasnick Warsh and Penny Tinkler trace representations of women smokers from the 1920s through the 1960s, concluding that the magazine ‘located the cigarette within the culture of the feminine elite,’ associating it with the constellation of behaviours and appearances presented as desirable characteristics of elitism, through the themes of lifestyle, ‘the look’, and feminine confidence.”13

Early Warnings: 1944

As early as 1944, “the American Cancer Society began to warn about possible ill effects of smoking, although it admitted that ‘no definite evidence exists’ linking smoking and lung cancer. A statistical correlation between smoking and cancer had been demonstrated; but no causal relationship had been shown. More importantly, the general public knew little of the growing body of statistics.

That changed in 1952, when Reader’s Digest published “Cancer by the Carton,” an article detailing the dangers of smoking. The effect of the article was enormous: Similar reports began appearing in other periodicals, and the smoking public began to take notice. The following year, cigarette sales declined for the first time in over two decades.

The tobacco industry responded swiftly. By 1954 the major U.S. tobacco companies had formed the Tobacco Industry Research Council (TIRC) to counter the growing health concerns. With counsel from TIRC, tobacco companies began mass-marketing filtered cigarettes and low-tar formulations that promised a “healthier” smoke. The public responded, and soon sales were booming again.”14

Earlier I asked, “How do a society’s cultural attitudes change?” Of course, this is a complex question. By studying the decades of aggressive marketing by the tobacco companies, “the evidence shows that advertising and promotion by the tobacco industry are effective in raising awareness of smoking, increasing brand recognition, and creating favorable beliefs regarding tobacco use.”15 In other words, those billions of dollars spent by tobacco companies touch all our lives.

“As with all advertising, tobacco advertising frequently relies on imagery to appeal to an individual’s aspirations and conveys very little, if any, factual information about the characteristics of the product. Advertising fulfills many of the aspirations of adolescents and children by effectively using themes of independence, liberation, attractiveness, adventurousness, sophistication, glamour, athleticism, social acceptability and inclusion, sexual attractiveness, thinness, popularity, rebelliousness, and being “cool”.16

Yes, smoking by women has been the “gold mine” for tobacco companies. Not for us. Today, more women die from lung cancer than breast cancer.17 “…the growth of the tobacco industry was dependent on economic and cultural trends, the cigarette marks the convergence of corporate capitalism, technology, mass marketing, and advertising. If the 19th century was the era of the pipe and cigar, the 1950s were the heyday of the cigarette.”18

“Women face more difficulty when trying to quit” explained Dr. Sherry McKee, Director of the Yale Specialized Center of Research (SCOR). Dr. Mckee, and SCOR are developing sex-sensitive treatments for tobacco dependence. “While men might smoke to satisfy a craving for nicotine, women smoke more to manage their moods,” McKee said. “But for women, just treating nicotine withdrawal does not help reduce negative moods, enhance positive moods, or manage stress, appetite, and weight. And the relationship between stress and smoking appears to be stronger in women than men, leaving women less able to quit or more likely to restart smoking after stressful events such as a financial setback.”19

I believe that by identifying and analyzing the conditions we women live through, we can resist the false images used against women and girls. We can claim independence, liberation, attractiveness, adventurousness, and community for ourselves. I’m hoping there will be no more thirteen year old girls reaching for a cigarette.



Postscript
One: “In 1971, television ads for cigarettes were finally taken off the air in the U.S. Cigarettes, however, are still the most heavily advertised product second to automobiles!”20

Two: TWA and other carriers created non-smoking sections in 1977. The airlines resisted banning smoking given “an environment where tobacco companies exerted immense influence on a public debate that highly valued the concept of “smoker’s rights.” In 1988, smoking was finally banned from U.S. domestic flights of two hours or less. As a result “a spokesman for the “Smokers Rights Alliance” threatened airport protests and legal action.”21 In early 1990 federal law banned smoking on nearly every domestic flight.

Three: “Flight attendants, led by activist Patty Young, an American Airlines flight attendant since 1966, began fighting for the right to work in a tobacco-free environment in the summer of 1966. The flight attendants (and their unions) sought and obtained assistance from health advocates to promote their fight to breathe clean air in airline cabins. Their efforts were crucial in building sufficient momentum for smoke-free flights throughout the advocacy process.”22

Four: “Despite negative advertising promoted in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as well as the current lawsuits filed against tobacco companies, the industry continues to flourish. Tobacco products are widely marketed outside the United States, allowing tobacco its place as a valuable commodity for export in the American economy.”23 Today U.S. tobacco companies are targeting women and girls around the world with all the tactics mentioned here.

TWA hostess uniforms 1944-1955 cut-out style. both winter & summer


Notes:

1 Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants, Kathleen M. Barry p.43 FF
2 https://academic.udayton.edu/health/syllabi/tobacco/history.htm
3 https://furymovie.fandom.com/wiki/Lucky_Strike_cigarettes
4 https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/9/1/3
5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torches_of_Freedom
6 https://yourstory.com/2014/08/torches-of-freedom

7 https://mashable.com/2016/03/27/new-york-easter-parade/
8 https://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/31/nyregion/fyi-293806.html
9 https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/tobacco-industry-marketing/slim-and-stylish-how-tobacco-companies-hooked-women
10 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torches_of_Freedom
11 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_and_smoking
12 https://academic.udayton.edu/health/syllabi/tobacco/history.htm
13 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_and_smoking
14 http://edition.cnn.com/US/9705/tobacco/history/
15 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK99238/
16 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK99238/
17 https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/50th-anniversary/pdfs/fs_women_smoking_508.pdf
18 A Global History of Smoking edited by Sander L. Gilman, Zhou Xun, p.328
19 https://medicine.yale.edu/whr/news/smoking/
20 https://academic.udayton.edu/health/syllabi/tobacco/history.htm
21 https://www.forbes.com/sites/tedreed/2015/02/24/twenty-five-years-ago-u-s-airlines-banned-smoking-on-domestic-flights/#7df00a725407
22 https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/13/suppl_1/i30
23 https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/archivedexhibits/tobacco/tecon.html

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Dressed for the Occasion

TWA hostess uniforms1944-1955 cut-out design by Howard Greer

I’ve been a collector for as long as I can remember. I’m especially drawn to fabric items like these unique TWA uniforms. Occasionally, I’ve seen this uniform for sale online, but I have no space for more fabric. Instead, for the last year, I’ve been corralling photos of TWA hostesses wearing the cut-out uniform designed by Howard Greer and Ida Staggers.

In cataloguing all the photos, I’ve noticed an anomaly–some of these uniform jackets have three buttons, others have four buttons. The difference seemed so obvious, that I was surprised I’d not noticed before. When or why that change happened, we’ll never know. I have dates for a few of the photos. One, dated 1948, shows Violet Sweeney Ward wearing her three button uniform. It seems that sometime during the eleven years, 1944-1955, the uniform was worn there was at least one modification to the design.

Of course, we are exploring more than what these working women wore to work. The material reality of what the airline, as employer, chose for the hostess uniform reflects the airline’s image of the women they hired.

Author Angelica Rose Gertel reminds us that after WWII, everywhere in the U.S. “Companies actively placed limitations to prevent the advancement of women in the workplace, presuming that women had taken jobs that could have instead been given to veterans.” In this climate, “The airplane offered an escape from the jobs normally permitted to women in the wartime and post war era. While the position of flight attendant emerged from nursing, or traditional women’s work, it offered an unprecedented opportunity for freedom through scheduling. While enforcing social standards of femininity and domesticity, flight attendants broke the conventional image of ideal womanhood.”1 Gertel added, some women wanted “to explore the world by air. Many women simply loved the exhilaration that flying had to offer.”2

Working aloft permitted women a great amount of independence, yet flying did have risks. Accidents in this era were not uncommon, crashes were often fatal. Sixty-four flight attendants have died since 1938 when CAB record keeping began. (This figure does not include unscheduled airlines.)3 This figure does include the twenty-five flight attendants (twenty women and five men) who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Here is a link to a moving tribute to those women and men working aloft in those three U.S. airliners. https://thepointsguy.com/news/remembering-the-8-pilots-and-25-flight-attendants-who-died-on-9-11/

TWA hostess uniforms 1944-1955

Iconic TWA hostess uniforms TWA 1944-1955

“The stewardess [or hostess] can be viewed as the airline’s image of the women they hired, heavily promoted through advertising to the public.” “4 The airline’s image of the women they hired to work as air hostesses is quite clear in all of these publicity photos. I’ve discovered these photos online because they were meant to be publicity, that is carefully crafted images controlled by the company. Candid photos of flight attendants at work are rare. Each airline intends to keep tight control of their image especially today in the age of handy cell phone photos.

1944-1955 TWA hostess uniforms

TWA hostess uniforms1944-1955

In this era at TWA, the women wearing the cut-out uniform were generally flying on the porpoise-shaped plane with the distinctive three tail fins I described earlier, the Lockheed Constellation. see: http://paulamariedaughter.com/?p=2776 These two icons, uniform and aircraft, share an intertwined history.

I’m always searching, and hoping for first person accounts of flying from women who have “worked the skies”. I’ve found several to share with you. Sometimes tracking down a photo leads me to a woman’s story. Sometimes it’s a lucky find from persistent internet searches.

1948 TWA hostess

“Aunt Vi’s flying career started in a simple way. On a Saturday morning in 1947, her mother suggested that she visit a cousin who was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. So Aunt Vi took the streetcar to his home at 80th and Justine. Fatefully, he had been reading the paper recently and told her that TWA was advertising for air hostesses in Chicago and that she should go for an interview.”

Read about Aunt Violet’s adventures at TWA from 1945-1958 as told to her niece: https://www.travelingwithsweeney.com/traveling-with-sweeney-twa-air-hostess/

Memoir: Helen Parker Holden 1940s TWA air hostess, cut-out uniform
Try Walking Across: A Memoir by Helen Parker Holden could be a fun “summer read”! Purchase it online. Here is an excerpt:

“TWA wanted all the exposure it could get to promote its brand and product. The company arranged publicity and promotional events—anything to get our name in film or print. Today it is called ‘product placement’. (See the Fred Astaire/Audrey Hepburn film Funny Face.) The company usually used real TWA hostesses rather than hiring models, I got to be in some of the publicity shots and special events.”5

Link: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=Walking+Across%3A+A+Memoir+by+Helen+Parker+holden

The illusion of glamour attached to the stewardess or hostess of this period “was so widely recognized that advertisers deployed it to sell their own products.”6 In the photo below, the Hotpoint stove in the window display has a hostess, in her cut-out TWA uniform, gesturing to the hostess outside also in uniform. Signs in the display repeat the advertising quip, “Sisters under the skin” twice.

1944-1955 TWA hostess cut-out uniforms

At center we see Barbie dressed in a 1940s cut-out uniform with the tiny TWA logo on her right shoulder–true proof this is a cultural icon of a uniform! At right we see a vintage set of TWA hostess paper dolls–I wonder if the “blous-slip” garment is included in her uniform set?


Post Script:

Speaking of anomalies–did you notice the quite different TWA cut-out uniform worn by Audrey McNamara Nevis when she is seated by Tyrone Power? Her uniform looks like blue linen, and she’s wearing a white blouse with a rounded collar–one more mystery for me to ponder!

Backstory on the Tyrone Power and TWA Connection
After discovering the photo of Audrey McNamara Nevis seated with Tyrone Power and then another earlier photo online of Power with two TWA hostesses dressed in the previous uniforms, ie the 1938-1944 era, I kept searching for a possible connection between TWA and Power. I did discovered connections between Howard Hughes and Power. Both were pilots and part of Hollywood movie people in the 1930s and 1940s. The ad in the photo below appeared a year before the U.S. entered WWII.

Power enlisted in the Marine Corps in August, 1942 as an experienced pilot. The Marine Corps considered Power, at 28, over the age limit for active combat flying. Power volunteered for piloting cargo planes believing this would get him into active combat zones. He flew missions carrying cargo in and wounded Marines out during the Battles of Iwo Jima (Feb-Mar 1945) and Okinawa (Apr-Jun 1945).

It seems like “the old-boys network”, enjoying their “man-size” cabin, connected these three! TWA pilot Robert (Bob) Buck spent three months as co-pilot with Power and a small retinue traveling in Power’s plane on a tour of South America, Africa and Europe in the fall 1947. TWA’s owner, Hughes, enlisted Bob Buck to fly with Power on that trip. Source: http://www.ladyevesreellife.com/2012/08/remembering-tyrone-power.html

Notes
1 “Not just a pretty face: The evolution of the flight attendant”, Angelica Rose Gertel, 2014 James Madison University p.38-39
https://commons.lib.jmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1441&context=honors201019
2 Gertel p.36
3 Gertel p.35
4 Gertel p.45
5 Try Walking Across, Helen Parker Holden p. 193
6 Gertel p.35

Please send me any photos you find that are not in my collection.

Posted in Paula's Autobiography | Leave a comment

Hollywood Styled, Subdued Elegance….1944-1955

1944-1955 TWA Cut-out hostess uniforms

I’ve been fascinated by the design of this 1944-1955 TWA hostess uniform and the story behind it since I first saw it in photographs. These uniforms were designed by Howard Greer, a Hollywood designer, and are known as the “cut-out” uniform because of the openwork TWA lettering on the right shoulder.

If my mother, Marie, had not married in 1944, but had sought a job as an air hostess with TWA, she would have admired these uniforms too! Marie liked tailored, practical clothes and she liked to “look nice”–this was her highest praise. I’m sure she would have appreciated the classic styling, but she would have especially liked the unique feature that allowed women to appear at work in their uniform at one moment, the next moment they could be officially out-of-uniform. As a smoker, this feature would have appealed to her.

By removing her hat, then unbuttoning the triangular flap on her right shoulder, a hostess could conceal the TWA logo—thus she would not be on-duty or in uniform! Now she wore a designer suit with covered buttons and unique detailing at each shoulder. Both summer and winter uniforms displayed this feature.

elegant TWA cut-out summer uniform by Howard Greer

As a group, TWA’s air hostesses worked long days and spent much of the month away from their home bases. She needed a uniform which was sturdy but still flattering after long days at work. An air hostess also needed her uniform to be versatile since she was limited by how much luggage she could carry on board. Company regulations did not permit a hostess to chew gum, smoke or drink alcoholic beverages while in uniform.1

The summer blue wool gabardine ensemble is the one most often seen in photographs. Each letter of the TWA logo was outlined in red stitching—the same red required for lipstick and nail varnish. The jacket is fitted at the waist and the skirt falls just below the knee and features a kick-pleat in back. The suit was manufactured by Briny Marlin Coat & Suit Company.2 Wool has been used extensively in year-round suits for women and for men for decades since wool resists abrasion, drapes well and wrinkles little. Wool gabardine is a twill-woven cloth known for its smoothness and durability.

!944-1955 TWA hostess uniforms

In looking back on women’s fashions during WWII, Rachel H. Kemper wrote, “The combination of neat blouses and sensibly tailored suits became the distinctive attire of the working woman, college girl, and young society matron.”3 Knowing this, I asked myself, “How would an experienced Hollywood costume and fashion designer like Greer create a unique version of the basic “sensible tailored suit”?

None of Howard Greer’s professional credentials mention that he had designed the popular “cut-out” uniform that TWA hostesses wore for over a decade. We know that this unusual design was introduced in 1944 and worn nationwide until 1955.4 If the uniforms were introduced in 1944, the designing and manufacturing probably began in late 1942 or early 1943. What airline executive would consider changing their hostess uniforms in the midst of a war and with the war rationing of fabric? Someone with an expansive eye for the future and money to spend!

Millionaire Howard Hughes, both pilot and movie-maker, was a controlling force at TWA for decades starting in 1939. He was adept at creating publicity for TWA and certainly was looking to position TWA as an aviation leader once the war was over. All that is known. After considerable sleuthing, I have an “educated guess” that Hughes hired Greer to design the new hostess uniforms for TWA!

In 1930 Hughes was a Hollywood producer and director. The epic aviation war film, Hell’s Angels, was the most expensive movie to be made at the time. Hell’s Angels was an early “talkie” movie and starred 18 year old Jean Harlow. Howard Greer was the costume designer for that movie which took almost three years to make.

I believe it is safe to assume that Hughes knew Greer and his skill as a designer. I’m not aware of any other Hollywood fashion designer who has ever been hired by an airline to design flight attendant uniforms. It’s likely that Hughes trusted his own judgment after having worked with Greer on that movie.

Howard Greer,designer of the TWA cutout uniforms worn 1944-1955

The previous uniforms had been designed by Gladys Entriken, TWA’s chief hostess and were introduced in 1938 at the lavish opening of New York’s LaGuardia Airport. That would be the last time a woman had the opportunity to design uniforms for TWA flight crews. See photos of those earlier uniforms here: http://paulamariedaughter.com/?paged=2

However, several sources indicate that after suggestions from supervisor of TWA hostess services, Ida Staggers, Greer introduced the “blous-slip,” a combined blouse and undergarment that did not need constant tucking in.5 Picture a navy blue slip with the upper half being a collarless blouse (as seen above). The shiny surface created by the satin weave of the rayon fibers bolstered the reputation of rayon as “artificial silk”.

Ida Staggers helped  design the fabulous "cut-out" uniforms in the mid 1940s for TWA
After months of research, only this week did I find a full description and a picture of this useful garment! The navy blue “blous-slip” has a rear neck zipper and a side zipper. Below the left shoulder, the TWA letters are embroidered in red. Thus, if the hostess removed her jacket in-flight, her blouse would clearly identify her as a TWA employee. Surprisingly, this blous-slip also has a small triangular flap that buttons above the logo allowing it to be dropped to conceal the letters when she was wearing it when off-duty. (See collage above.)

winter: khaki versions of the cut-out TWA hostess uniforms, 1944-1955

Wing on Your Hat?

It’s my understanding that the women working as air hostesses were required to wear their hat whenever in uniform, including in-flight. This seems to be the case in each of the vintage videos I’ve viewed. Apparently, hats were an integral part of the hostess image at TWA since the same basic style upsweep style in different fabrics and colors was worn from 1938 to 1960! No jewelry could be worn with the uniform.

The sturdy blue wool hat featured a left upsweep to the crown which was accented with a red and blue cockade, that is, an ornamental knot of red and blue ribbons. The silver hostess wing was pinned to the center of the ribbon cockade—you can see a ceremonial pinning of the single wing during this time period at the end of the video, Airline Glamour Girls, made in 1949 and mentioned below. Hats were one of the few pieces of clothing not rationed during WWII. This oversight encouraged a lot of attention to be paid to these accessories. The hat carried the label: Leci Original.

As you can see in the first photo on this blog, both hostesses carry a medium size shoulder bag on their left shoulder to avoid covering the cut-out TWA logo. Since the blouse is navy blue we can assume the handbag and shoes were navy blue too. A dark overcoat is also part of the uniform, no description or photo–just a glimpse in the following film. I’ve not found any still photos that illustrate the luggage carried by the women who wore the cut-out uniforms. In the 1952 TWA promotional film, About Your Flight, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNHye5xGvpE it is clear that the luggage the women carried was about the size of a modern piece of carry-on luggage—not room for much at all.6

Mergers that created TWA

Transcontinental becomes Trans World
When these new uniforms were commissioned about 1942 or 1943, the TWA actually meant Transcontinental & Western Airlines. After the war, TWA gained international routes that had formerly been reserved for Pan Am. Hughes chose to change the name to Trans World Airlines to emphasize its worldwide routes—different name, but using the same TWA acronymn.

TWA hostess on Constellation or "Connie", circa1950

In 1945, every Constellation airship used by the government during the war was quickly repainted in the red and white TWA colors. The air hostesses, in their snazzy new uniforms, were quite excited to be flying on the “Connie” since cabin pressurization and smooth flying made their jobs easier. Easier, until the Super-Constellation came online in the 1951 with almost double the number of passenger seats–increasing their workload for the same pay.

Additionally, because of their high altitude and physically taxing working conditions, air hostesses and stewardesses were among the first to experience the discomfort of what is now called “jet lag”! Previously, it was uncommon to travel far and fast enough to cross multiple time zones which can create sleep disturbances, fatigue, headaches, irritability, indigestion and more.

I’ve written extensively about the cut-out, my favorite of the vintage uniforms, but how did a woman get hired to fly from coast to coast or overseas during the 1940s and 1950s? I found a gem of a short film made in 1949 to answer that question. I hope you’ll click here for a short nine minute story full of authentic airline photos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9-zyLq067Y
Watching the film, Airline Glamour Girls, just brought up more questions. Here is a synopsis of the story and my thoughts.

In Airline Glamour Girls, we follow a secretary who decides she wants to work as an air hostess. She writes a letter, secures an interview. The chief hostess of the unnamed airline tells her she does not yet qualify (the nurse requirement disappeared during WWII). The chief hostess then hands her a list of “training schools”. The heroine leaves her job and apartment in New York City, travels to Minneapolis, pays $325 (almost three months salary) for an eight week training course.7

Training at the McConnell Air Hostess and Air Stewardess School begins after each girl dons her school uniform. Subjects include classes on aeronautics, geography, grooming, calisthenics, in-flight service procedures and safety concerns. Near the end of the training period, a woman in the TWA cut-out uniform comes to look her over, interview her and review her school records. “Watch for a letter from us”, our hopeful young woman is told. (Just like I was told in the fall of 1968 after they looked me over.) Her letter of acceptance arrives.

She is now off to Kansas City for two more weeks of training there before she receives her wing in a stirring scene on a windy tarmac with TWA planes in the background.

training TWA hostesses at McConnell School 1940s

McConnell School for Air Hostesses and Stewardess
In the film, the relationship between the McConnell School and TWA is unclear—even murky from the distance of eighty years. However, I’ve pieced together some information. Zell McConnell, in a large booklet from 1951 praising her training school, described her own background as having “spent several successful years on the American stage in both dramatic and musical comedy roles.” She continued to explain she had been an instructor at a major airline’s training department before she opened her school in 1945. She is described as founder and president of the school.

However, in the book, The Airplane in American Culture, this footnote told a variation of the story, “Zell ran a string of modeling schools and set up classes to train recruits for Continental, Northwest and TWA.” 8

We can now speculate that until TWA created its own elaborate hostess training facility in Kansas City, the company used private “airline training schools” to pre-train possible candidates. Again, the airline companies were able to shift their cost of training to the individual woman who had high hopes of flying. She had no guarantee—the risk was hers. The McConnell School operated into the 1990s.

Kathleen Barry in her classic book, Femininity in Flight, A History of Flight Attendants challenges us to reconsider all we think we know about this so-called glamour job.

“Stewardesses were especially apt icons of glamorous femininity for the postwar years as working women who dramatically transcended domesticity, yet reassuringly represented it.9 Pride in being an airline ‘glamour girl’ was widely shared among stewardesses of the postwar era. The glamour of being a stewardess was a double-edged sword in many ways, an exaggeration of the constraints and benefits more generally of endeavoring to meet white, middle-class standards of feminine respectability and allure.”10

Young women were drawn to the smiling image of independence, combined with social approval, given to women who worked as air hostesses or stewardesses. The illusions of “an easy job simply pleasing people” or “entertaining as a hostess in your own living room”, as TWA stressed to us in 1969, was the illusion that kept young women eager to accept a job where they would consistently be undervalued and exploited. At the same time, employers, the general public, friends and family would see them as having a “glamorous” job and leading a “glamorous” life despite the facts.

We, women who have flown as flight attendants, are a diverse group with a wide range of life experiences and many different viewpoints. Each of us enjoyed the distinct benefits of traveling, and we coped with the unreasonable demands and expectations place on us in a variety of ways. Sometimes it was humor, as in the motto, “Another day, another tray…”

Postscript
Howard Greer designer of 1944-1955 TWA Hostess uniforms

Notes
1 TWA Museum website http://twamuseumguides.blogspot.com/2017/02/presenting-case-for-twas-attendants-our.html
2 Exhibit: Fashion In Flight: A History of Airline Uniform Design https://www.sfomuseum.org/exhibitions/fashion-flight-history-airline-uniform-design/detail
3 Kemper, Rachel H: “Costume”(1992)pg. 144 (WIKI)
4 TWA Museum website http://twamuseumguides.blogspot.com/2017/02/presenting-case-for-twas-attendants-our.html
5 TWA Museum website http://twamuseumguides.blogspot.com/2017/02/presenting-case-for-twas-attendants-our.html
6 TWA promotional film, 1952 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNHye5xGvpE
7 Femininity in Flight: A History of flight Attendants, Kathleen Barry,2007,p. 46
8 footnote 5 in the article “McConnell Schools Training Stewardesses for Three Airlines” in American Aviation 10 (November 14, 1946 p48) which references footnote #26 in The Airplane in American Culture, edited by Dominick Pisano
9 Femininity in Flight: A History of flight Attendants, Kathleen Barry,2007,p. 61
10 Femininity in Flight: A History of flight Attendants, Kathleen Barry,2007,p. 58

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1945, We Need a Union Because We Deserve a Raise!

As a woman passionate about the liberation of women, I’m weaving several threads through my story telling. I’ve recently been writing about my own family, but before leaving the 1940s time frame, I’m writing about women who paved the way for me to work as a flight attendant. I want you to know the United Airlines stewardesses who started the first stewardess union.

In 1945 (my birth year) United Airlines stewardesses were paid the same $125 a month as the initial group of “sky girls” in 1930! Determined and single-minded women began organizing, first at United. One union activist said, “We had no rights, let’s put it that way. We were at the mercy of the company. There were no rules or regulations about monthly flight time. If a stewardess didn’t show up to replace you on multi-stops across the country, the company would just say, ‘You have to continue flying.'” 1

In late 1944 United’s chief stewardess, Ada J. Brown, frustrated by the company’s unwillingness to upgrade conditions for the stewardesses, left her management position to return to the all-female rank and file and to begin organizing a union. She recalled, “As chief stewardess I tried to get improvements for the girls with salary, flight regulations, and protection from unjust firing.”2

Other United stewardesses including Sally Thometz, Frances Hall, Edith Lauterbach and Sally Watt became enthusiastic union organizers–organizing at the bases in San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago.

“I had planned to fly one year and quit,” Lauterbach told an interviewer in 1985. “It was a male-dominated industry and they weren’t anxious to have women hang around.” Later she added, “After we flew for a while, we realized it wasn’t as glamorous as we thought. We had to crawl on our hands and knees during rough weather and deliver meals in the turbulence, clean up after the passengers when they got sick…. Those little planes were all over the sky in bad weather.”3

By August 1945 they had organized the Air Line Stewardess Association (ALSA) and began contract negotiations with United. A year later, in April 1946, the women at ALSA had won a contract raising monthly salaries to $155, won a limit of 85 in-flight hours per month, and initiated pay for all the hours spent working on the ground, not just in-flight hours.

By contract, the company agreed to pay for half the initial cost of the uniforms and finally agreed to a grievance procedure to challenge disciplinary actions and dismissals. All these were vitally important work rule improvements for the working women at United. Note: in 1947 ALSA President Ada Brown, 30, marries and becomes a victim of United’s no-marriage rule. She is forced to retire from her career and the union presidency.4

In the generally well-paid airline industry, flight attendants were at the bottom of the wage ladder. By 1955 the average salary for flight attendants in the U.S. was just under $3,300, while pilots and co-pilots claimed more than three times as much. Other airline ground workers such as maintenance, clerical, etc. took home average yearly pay of between $4,300 and $5,300.5

The successful bargaining at United changed the picture at every airline! Within five years two-thirds of U.S. stewardesses at sixteen air lines had union representation. Ada J. Brown is an admired heroine for me!

Update: I just this morning discovered a youtube video featuring interviews with both Ada Brown and Edith Lauterbach! Lauterbach retired from United in 1989. She continues to be involved in union work with AFA! Produced by the current flight attendant union, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the film begins with historical footage. Current coverage includes discussion of the vital role of flight attendants during the 9/11 attacks and introduces flight attendants as aviation’s “first responders”. View this 18 minute video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1111&v=qKbn905qohI&feature=emb_logo

All these gutsy women left a lasting legacy to women workers and to flight attendants. Before flying for United, Edith Lauterbach (mentioned above) had earned a degree in political science from UC Berkeley in 1942, and later said she joined United as “a lark.” I, too, had earned a degree in political science (1967). Like Edith, it did not take me long to become a union activist.6

Let’s talk about uniforms since the subject was important in that first union contract. When I started with TWA in 1969, we were told we had to pay for our first set of uniforms. Should the company change our uniforms, they would then pay for the replacements. We paid for three outfits for summer and three for winter. TWA took payments out of our meager paychecks. This is quite a corporate trick—get your employees to cover the company’s uniform costs!

This was a good deal for the airlines for the many decades stewardess careers were short due to the restrictive age and no-marriage rules of the airlines. Age requirements drove down wages and prevented career-oriented stewardesses from accruing seniority or benefits. These regulations also aimed to prevent stewardesses from organizing for better pay and work policies. Once we legally challenged those rules, flight attendants had longer flying careers. One result of those changes meant that the airline companies would have to absorb a larger percentage the cost of their employees’ uniforms.

Uniforms serve at least two purposes. For those wearing the uniform, you assume that others wearing the same uniform are your colleagues, your allies. For the flying public, the uniform identifies the wearer as representatives of the designated airline. Dressing in a uniform can be a mental shift to accept the responsibilities assigned to you as an employee.

Dressing in a uniform is always full of symbolism. Uniforms are meant to convey messages–both to the wearer and to the observer. “Symbols have both psychological and political effects, because they create the inner conditions (deep-seated attitudes and feelings) that lead people to feel comfortable with or to accept social and political arrangements that correspond to the symbol system.”7 Women working as stewardesses in 1945 were ready to challenge the white male dominated airline management, the unions, and the government because they realized that the current “social and political arrangements” kept them at a disadvantage! No one expected a pilot to be weighed before a flight, or checked to see that he wore a girdle under his uniform.

I vividly remember the excitement we felt in 1969 when, as trainees, we realized we had made it through training, and would be wearing our uniforms (with a required girdle) the next day at graduation. That particular uniform, introduced in 1968, was not my favorite—who looks good in lemon yellow, or avocado green or a bright pumpkin color? And, really, the skirts were too short for comfort. Rather, it was the idea of the uniform. It was the idea of being part of this flying sisterhood! The uniform was a symbol of our willingness to act in the best interest of the group, to be a team, should we face an emergency.

Before every takeoff we would arm the emergency exit doors. After landing it was imperative that we disarm those powerful escape slides attached to the door. Often the doors were located in a galley. Should we forget, and the galley service people opened the door from the outside, the powerful surge of that escape slide could injure or kill them. We remembered and we cross-checked for each other.

Our skills, our willingness to take charge in case of an emergency were almost invisible. We were trained to evacuate hundreds of passengers. We were safety directors. We were safety directors disguised as merely helpful crew members. Neither the flying public nor the airlines wanted to remind passengers that flying could be dangerous. Institutional acknowledgment of our capabilities would have been extremely valuable to us as a group and as individuals. Neither government officials nor the airlines wanted that to happen.

Our flight attendant unions have long sought professional certification of basic proficiency for flight attendants by the FAA just as the pilots are certified by the FAA in their area of expertise. For decades the pilots’ union has successfully opposed certification for flight attendants claiming it could compromise their own authority on the aircraft.

Ellen Church, the experienced pilot who United Airlines rejected in 1930, offered United the alternative idea of hiring female nurses to fly as cabin crew. United told her to recruit seven other nurses to fly as “sky girls” on a trial basis. Once that idea was accepted, the women earned their wings and carved out their own niche in aviation. The men in charge handed these women their wing, that is, a half of a set of wings–symbols of their secondary status on board an aircraft. Few women journeyed as regularly or as far from home as these young women who flew as stewardesses. But, they needed to “know their place”.

Few of us questioned our half-wing status until the women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s urged us to rethink all we knew and to question everything!

That’s when I really saw my single wing–it was a potent symbol of our secondary status! In fact, when male flight attendants were first hired at TWA in 1974, they received a full set of wings pinned to there uniforms. We wore our single lopsided wing. Of course, most passengers assumed, according to accepted “social and political arrangements”, that these new-hire male flight attendants were our supervisors! The true set of wings the men wore helped reinforce that assumption.

In 1973, as one of the founding members of the feminist organization, Stewardesses for Women’s Rights (SFWR), I helped numerous flying partners file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. We challenged the restrictions airlines placed on stewardesses’ age, marital status, weight, uniform, grooming regulations, and more. In our list of complaints, we mentioned that disparity in the flight wings awarded to male flight attendants.

Many of our complaints about discrimination were resolved before the EEOC ever heard our cases. The airline industry, under pressure from our flight attendant unions as well as lawsuits, modified most of the list of concerns we had take to the EEOC. Finally, four years later in 1978, when TWA changed uniforms for flight attendants, all of us were wearing the same set of wings. One small, symbolic victory.

Those of us who created Stewardesses for Women’s Rights worked for a variety of airlines and lived all over the U.S. Our purpose in uniting was “to fight sexual and racial discrimination, and to ensure that women are given equal employment and promotional opportunities in the airline industry.” The impact of our efforts as a group pressured our unions to fight for these same goals.

Most of what I see written about flight attendants is inaccurate, or disrespectful or insulting. But Kathleen Barry in Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants has earned my respect. Barry writes that stewardesses “…were quite well aware of what that glamour cost them in conformity to stringent airline rules, in meager wages and no job security, and in working hard at appearing not to be working at all. Given the aura of glamour surrounding postwar stewardesses and all the cultural adulation they received, it may seem surprising that they should also have distinguished themselves by joining the heavily male and blue-color labor movement. But stewardesses’ willingness to to work hard extended not only to embody the airline-defined femininity: it extended to having their efforts taken seriously as real work too.”8

Notes

1 http://yourafa.org/why-afa/weve-come-a-long-way
2 Femininity In Flight: A History of Flight Attendants, Kathleen M. Barry 2007 p.63
3 https://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-xpm-2013-feb-06-la-me-edith-lauterbach-20130207-story.html
4 https://unitedafa.org/afa/about/milestones/
5 Femininity In Flight: A History of Flight Attendants, Kathleen M. Barry 2007 p.65
6 https://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-xpm-2013-feb-06-la-me-edith-lauterbach-20130207-story.html
7 Carol Christ https://www.goddessariadne.org/why-women-need-the-goddess-part-1
8 Femininity In Flight: A History of Flight Attendants, Kathleen M. Barry 2007 p.58

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Skytrain To New York, then Rail Train to Richmond,1946

Once reunited, in January, 1946 it is not surprising that Paul and Marie dreamed of taking a trip together. Dad had just survived a world war and the years of discipline of being a soldier. Mother had survived childbirth and rationing and waiting. She understood that a clubfoot birth tends to run in families. Her concerns and fear that her child might also be born with a clubfoot were soothed.1 And her new husband had returned safely!

Because they had married during the war, neither had met their new relatives. It’s over 1,200 miles to upstate New York and 950 miles to Richmond, VA. Rail travel was the obvious choice. Since the early 1900s, railroad travel down the coast to south Florida had been extensively promoted. Rail lines moved millions of soldiers around during the war. However, a train trip from Miami Beach to upstate New York, where dad grew up, would involve long hours and many station changes to reach the village of Penn Yan.

In my imagination, the two talked for hours during those first months about their options. They talked about the cost, about the timing, and about the baby. Traveling with an infant less than a year old was another major consideration. Several airlines flew north, but each stopped many times before reaching New York City. And those planes were not pressurized, so the planes flew at low altitudes encountering much choppy weather. Some passengers would experience “altitude sickness” induced by the flying conditions. Additionally, at the time, there were no “coach” fares. All tickets were the same high price.

Marie and Paul continued to dream of the possibility of visiting their families “up north”, as we say, in south Florida. It is 470 miles to the Georgia border, so those of us who lived in south Florida consider much of the country “up north”–even Richmond, VA. Marie was an avid reader of the Miami Herald newspaper. I feel sure it was she who saw the splash of an announcement about National Airlines soon to be offering non-stop flights between Miami and New York! The paper proclaimed that National now had a long range aircraft, the Douglas DC-4, capable of flying nonstop to New York and it started February 14 that year! It would only be a five hour flight!2 (Today it is 2 ½ hours.)

Perhaps they could fly! The couple would still have to take a small aircraft to Ithaca, NY and then a bus up to Penn Yan. Paul and Marie began their planning! They would stop in Richmond on the way back to Miami Beach to visit Marie’s relatives there. From our carefully organized family camping trips a decade later, I know they began preparations for their trip with attention to detail and much enthusiasm. Each one could pack a forty pound suitcase which needed to include all the essentials for baby Paula. They could travel in spring. The weather would be mild. Paula would be ten months old.

I have clear evidence that Paul, Paula and Marie took this trip. Mother took care to record the basics of the trip in my baby book. She wrote this for me:

“I took my first trip when I was ten months old. I flew from Miami to Elmira, N.Y. From there I went by bus to Penn Yan to visit my grandmother Neilson. We stayed in Penn Yan two weeks leaving by train for Richmond, Va. to visit my other grandmother. Daddy brought me home and mother stayed in Richmond. A good time was had by all—Mother’s note”.

Taped alongside Marie’s hand-written entry is a brief notice cut from the Miami Beach newspaper about the couple’s excursion. It reads “Mr. and Mrs. Paul Neilson have completed a visit in New York. Mrs. Neilson stopped in Richmond, Va. for a visit but Mr Neilson has returned to his home at 1518 Drexell Ave.

In June, 1946 my intrepid parents boarded a DC-4 non-stop flight bound for New York. The National Airlines 46 passenger aeroplane was new, but it was still one of those early propeller aircraft. I assume our heroic couple, traveling with their offspring, knew of the difficulties since the DC-4 was not pressurized or heated and subject to almost constant turbulence since it could not fly fly higher than 10,00 feet due to lack of breathable oxygen. Did they carry their own Chiclets or did they depend on the National stewardesses to hand them out to help keep their ears from popping? Maybe both happened….

I was quite curious about the working conditions for the two stewardesses working that 1946 flight. I’ve found first hand descriptions of flying on the DC-4 planes written by retired National Airlines stewardesses. Here is their summary,

“One of the responsibilities of the senior stewardess was ‘showing the ropes’ to the junior stewardess. Working conditions were challenging, as the DC-4 was not pressurized. Flying at lower altitudes meant air turbulence, cold cabins in winter and sweltering conditions in summer. Passengers were uncomfortable and often suffered air sickness. ‘Burp bags’ and Chiclets were a must! The harsh conditions did not discourage employees or the flying public, as National continued to prosper. The public began to realize that air travel was the fastest and most convenient way to travel.”

The DC-4 was a pioneer introducing many to air travel—including my parents.

This was my first airplane trip! Once we finally arrived in Penn Yan the only evidence of our activities are snapshots and one other more formal photo of the family group. Possibly they had a late celebration with Dad’s family of their second wedding anniversary on June 10. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Paul and his two brothers shot baskets together or played touch football—they were active, young men. His youngest brother Roger was a junior in high school. Judging from the snapshots grandmother Edith enjoyed getting to hold the new baby. Paul’s sisters, Rosemary and Jean, were part of the celebration, too. Within a few years, Rosemary would join us in south Florida.

I did not have the chance to really know my paternal grandmother Edith since we lived so far distant. However, she let us know she was thinking about us as we grew up. As children, we each received a birthday card and a crisp dollar bill on our birthdays. At Christmas, we came to expect a brown paper-wrapped parcel full of her homemade Christmas cookies. Usually they were cut into shapes like bells or reindeer and covered in sweet, sweet icing. Edith had 13 grandchildren which means she put a lot of effort into sending each of us reminders of her affection.

After two weeks visiting in Penn Yan, our small family boarded a series of southbound trains for Richmond, Va. where Marie spent her early years. Can you imagine traveling with a 10 month old child on this trip—that’s why I describe Marie and Paul as intrepid adventurers.

On To Richmond, Virginia in late June, 1946

Marie’s girlhood is shrouded in mystery. When she left her parents, why her parents separated, and why she grew up in her mother’s older sister’s household is unclear. Her female relatives sent gifts for the birth of her first child with clear indications of interest and goodwill. Her mother, Mamie and the three aunts in Richmond showered her new baby with gifts. More presents arrived for the child four months later at Christmas. On the baby’s first birthday, Marie recorded a long list of gifts ranging from a silver rattle to handmade sweaters to nightgowns and booties. Of course, part of Marie’s reason for keeping an accurate list was to be able to send thank you notes for each one.

After a long train trip, Marie, Paul and the child arrived in Richmond to visit Marie’s family. Soon, Paul boarded a train to take Paula back home while Marie stayed a week to visit. Marie summed up the experience with “A good time was had by all”, so I am prepared to believe she enjoyed her stay.

Streetcars were a familiar sight here and in other large cities so transportation around the city would have been easy. Perhaps they visited the famous department store, Miller & Rhodes in downtown Richmond to have lunch and do some shopping—even window shopping. When traveling downtown, Marie and her friends could not miss seeing the imposing structure of Old City Hall built in 1894 of local gray granite in the Gothic Revival style.

The building occupies its own city block in downtown Richmond! The massive and ornamented nature of the design makes me want to visit it myself! Imagine this: the interior centers around a large skylit atrium surrounded by four levels of cloister-like arcades, linked by a grand staircase. The building housed city offices and courts until the late 1960s. It was restored in the early 1980s and is now used for offices and special events. Of course it is designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Other days they may have played bridge or canasta with friends. Marie had a chance to visit, to laugh and to enjoy the freedom rarely available to a new mom. While she was in Richmond, Paul had a chance to bond with his new daughter as the primary caretaker.

This would be the last time she was in Richmond. As I’ve mentioned, we later took numerous family camping trips, stopping in nearby states, but never did visit here. Add this to the list of mysteries.

Richmond was a bustling city with two major train stations. Both stations were referred to as union stations! Which of these elaborate train stations did my parents use in 1946? I enjoyed this sleuthing challenge. First I discovered that “union station” simply means that the station serves one or more rail lines which makes changing trains easier for passengers traveling on different lines. The two or more railroad companies using the station actually paid for the building of that station. In Richmond there were two union stations—one on Main Street downtown and one on Broad Street, as pictured above.

Further inquiry convinced me that Paul and Marie must have arrived at the huge Broad Street Station. Traveling from the north, they probably used the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, the principle line using that union station. Broad Street Station was built in 1917 in the neoclassical style featuring an elegant central dome and ten columns across the symmetrical facade—no clock tower here. This station is now the Science Museum of Virginia.

Departures: when they each boarded a train for home they left from the elaborate Main Street Station, in the downtown area, with its dominating clock tower as part of its Renaissance Revival architecture. This is an ornate six-story tower with four clock faces. Built in 1901 by two rail lines—one was the Seaboard Air Line Railroad which, as the name implies, served the eastern seaboard down to Key West.

From 1915 to 1958, this station was the principal departure point for all passengers heading south—passengers like Marie and Paul. It is quite a grand building—nothing like the Miami train station. Main Street Station and its train shed (an over-arching roof above the arriving and departing trains) is one of the last surviving train sheds of its type in the nation. Both were added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today the station serves Amtrak passengers.



Here’s another question.
Were they traveling on a steam or diesel fueled locomotive train? In the 1940s, diesel locomotives began to be introduced on U.S. railroads in large numbers. Steam and diesel locomotives ran side by side for a brief time in the 1940s and early 1950s, but new diesel locomotives took over as they radically cut maintenance and operating expenses.3 Answer: probably both given the number of trains used on their trip.

More than likely on the train trip south, both adults would have been traveling in segregated rail cars! In my research, I found this photo of a rail car built in 1924 by the Pullman Company. “The car was built with a dividing wall in the middle of the passenger car denoting it as a segregated or “Jim Crow” car. The Central of Georgia Railroad used this car in regular service, relegating African-American passengers to a separate section complete with segregated restrooms until the end of that era on railroads in the 1950s.”4

Remember that during WWII the armed services of the U.S. were segregated! Not until the executive order by President Truman in July 1948, was discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin” abolished in the United States Armed Forces. This executive order did not legally obligate public establishments such as lunch counters, stores, restaurants, and theaters to open to all on an equal basis. Civil rights advocates sought equal access to transportation. Prior to the 1960s, segregation on streetcars, buses, and railroad cars was consistently challenged by blacks and their allies, both in courts and through direct action including boycotts especially in the south.5

Home Sweet Home
Reunited for a second time this small family started making plans for another dream—a home of their own! Miami Beach was expensive and housing was limited since it was primarily a tourist town. They soon learned that to take advantage of the GI Bill’s mortgage loan assistance for veterans, one could only seek a loan for new housing. Mortgage loan assistance was not available for existing housing. This requirement limited their options.

Only this week did I find, in 1940 census records, that Marie had worked as a “saleslady” prior to WWII. In 1946, with an infant at home, her possibilities for bringing in a salary were non existent.

Paul was working and attending night school studying to be a land surveyor. Until he had a job, they would not be eligible for a loan to buy a house for their growing family. In January 1947, the couple could tell Paula she would have a sister or brother just after her second birthday. They needed that new house!

Transportation would be an essential part of the answer to where Marie and Paul would live. Today, while we are in the midst of this Covid pandemic, we can now see how our transportation options and choices affect each of us personally and as a society. Choosing to stay home is not an option for everyone.

Working for an airline, working for a transportation company, for 16 years brought benefits and complications to me personally. The thrill of flying captivates many people—for many different reasons. As I tell my story, I’m weaving the complex strands of the personal and political realities of a young woman coming of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s. All these tangents matter! Each is part of the whole.■

Postscript one:
I learned that Richmond had the first successful electrically powered street railway system in the United States. Designed by electric power pioneer, Frank J. Sprague, the trolley system opened its first line in January 1888. Richmond’s hills, long a transportation obstacle, were considered an ideal proving ground. The new technology soon replaced horsecars.

As part of a national trend, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the electrically powered street railway systems accelerated Richmond’s expansion. To generate traffic and fuel sales of property, amusement parks were created at the end of the lines at Lakeside Park and other spots.

After WWII ended in 1945, the network of trams was bought up by Virginia Transit Company to close it down, almost at once, and substitute it by a bus system. So, perhaps that streetcar trip was unavailable when Marie visited in 1946 depending on how quickly the transition happened.

As roads improved in the early 20th century with generous support from federal and state government funding, streetcars were unable to compete with automobiles and buses.



Postscript two:

Last week when I searched for a photo to illustrate the land surveying work done by my father on Miami’s highways, I found an aerial photo of the I-95 interchange built in the 1960s. When I read the article about the section of I-95 to be built in Miami, I was struck by the decisions of the federal, state and local officials who made the crass decision to run the interstate through the historical Overtown neighborhood thus destroying or dividing that historic African-American community.

This week I discovered the same tactic used in Richmond. In the 1950s the toll road, approved by the state of Virginia, led to the destruction of many historic locations, vistas and the built environment, including blocks of homes and businesses in Jackson Ward, Richmond’s oldest historically African-American community. This highway became I-95 which now has a raised highway a mere 75 feet away from Main Street Station. This is right at the level of the clock tower as you can see in the photo.

Notes
1 After Marie’s death, I found notes about the clubfoot exercises added to the card with the list of recommended Exercises for Infants she received from her doctor in 1945. That card indicates that she was doing clubfoot exercises on me as an infant! Those exercises were taken from the book Baby’s Daily Exercises by Dr. E.T. Wilkes
2 https://airlinefiles.com/virgin-america/81-national-regional-airlines/528-national-airlines-original-3
3 What Happened to the Railroads? https://americanhistory.si.edu/america-on-the-move/lives-railroad
4 Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga, TN https://www.tvrail.com/about-us/equipment/passenger-cars
5 Looking Back on the Fight for Equal Access to Public Accommodations https://www.epi.org/publication/fight-equal-access-public-accommodations/

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Dad’s “Can-Do Attitude” Served Him Well

Often stories tell us more about a person than facts. In describing my father, Paul, I’m going to start with a true story. In early 1944, Paul and a few of his army buddies are walking down Lincoln Road, the well-to-do shopping area of Miami Beach. Paul notices something sparkling in the asphalt along the edge of the road. With his ever-present pocket knife, he carefully digs out an impressive ring with a large faceted stone. He and his friends gawk—one offers to buy it from him. Paul declines. Later he takes it to Marie and asks her opinion. She describes it as “too gaudy”. Then she volunteers to take it to her jeweler to get a professional opinion about its worth.

Marie is told that this good-size stone is, in fact, a diamond! The two decide to have the stone set in a simple, elegant platinum setting to be mother’s engagement ring! False pride did not deter them for taking advantage of this opportunity. They were willing to seize the moment! This is part of what I describe as a “can-do” attitude.Yet, Marie and Paul did not share this unbelievable story with just anybody.

Today my youngest sister has transformed that special diamond into a necklace she wears every day. She enjoys telling the story when asked about her unusual necklace.


William Paul Neilson grew up in a large family living in a beautiful area of farms and forest near a pristine glacial lake. These are the green rolling hills of western New York state long known for its vineyards. During the late 1800’s and through the mid-to-late 1900’s, Penn Yan and surrounding Yates County were home to a large number of dairy farms, many settled by Danish immigrants and their descendants—like the Neilson family.

Born in 1921, Paul was the oldest boy. He had two sisters and two brothers. In those early years they lived on a farm near Penn Yan, New York. Penn Yan is the village located at the northern end of Keuka Lake, the central lake of the eleven Finger Lakes. Once you’ve seen a map (see the map below) you’ll understand the name for this group of long, narrow lakes. More than 100 million years ago, glaciers moved south with the huge ice sheets gouging out deep crevices in the land. When the ice receded, the crevices became these pristine group of lakes. All the creeks and lake waters drain from south to north to Lake Ontario.

This area is known as part of “upstate New York”. I’ve learned that any part of the state not in New York City is upstate, with downstate referring only to the greater New York City area!

About age twelve (1933), their father left the family and would soon start another family. Paul’s mother, Edith, moved her family into the unheated attic of a house belonging to her brother. This must have been a desperate move for a woman—divorced during the Depression and struggling to support her five children. Her youngest was still a toddler. The move to the village of Penn Yan would have been difficult for the children after knowing the freedom of farm life.

Edith depended on child support payments from their father. Often the payment would be late or not arrive at all. Edith struggled to care for the children. The population of the small village of Penn Yan was 4,517 in 1920. It had only grown to 5,308 by 1940, so employment for the mother was difficult to find. Eventually Edith found work in a men’s clothing factory and worked there until she retired about 1955.

My Uncle Bob, dad’s younger brother told us all these details after my father’s death. He described being sent to the post office to get the support money, and then, the many times it was not there. As boys, he and his brothers had blamed their mother because they thought “she had pushed father away”. Bob described how the boys hunted along the railroad tracks searching for any coal that had bounced out of the coal trains in an effort to heat their rooms. As teens, he and Paul had worked as golf caddies—not great wages, but sometimes decent tips. Probably they made money shoveling snow in the long winters. Bob told me they also made money as “pinboys” setting up the tenpins by hand in the early bowling alleys.

During these conversations with Uncle Bob, he vividly remembered Paul giving him money for a movie and a soda so Bob could pay for a date with his best girl—who became my Aunt Jean. Bob graduated from high school just two months before Paul went into the army in 1942. Bob seemed to hold Paul in high regard. He and I had a good rapport in sharing memories about Paul. Since my dad talked little about his early life, I’m still appreciative of Bob’s willingness to tell us about those years. It’s helped me to understand Paul better.

During his high school years at Penn Yan Academy, the local public school, Paul was a “big man on campus” because of his athletic abilities. Paul captained the football and basketball teams, played baseball and ran track. One of the few stories we heard from him about these years was a love story. He was a kid from a poor family and his high school sweetheart was from a wealthy family who did not approve of their dating. After graduation in 1940, her parents sent her to an out-of-town college in an effort to break their connection. Both Paul and this young women asserted that the separation would not change their relationship. But, as Dad told the story, apparently it did. He did not share any more details of this story.

Uncle Bob was quite surprised that Paul had told me about this love story. Bob confirmed that it had been hard on Paul. Perhaps this episode came up because Aunt Rosemary mentioned it first. Rosemary was four years younger than Paul. She moved to the Miami area about 1950 and was the only relative I ever had living nearby while growing up. In some ways, Rosemary was the big sister I never had.

There is no way to know if that broken romance was part of the reason Paul moved to Rochester sometime after high school graduation. Rochester was the largest city in the region. When Paul was inducted into the army in July, 1942 the records show he was 6’1” and weighed 162 lbs. That same record indicated he was working at a hotel in Rochester in an unknown position. One likely clue: the records on his induction papers list his civilian occupation as “clerk, general office”. Three years later on my birth certificate in August 1945, Marie listed Paul’s occupation as “accountant”. Those years in the army before he was sent overseas are a blank for us now—except that we know he met Marie while training at Miami Beach.

In 1945 he served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines preparing to take part in a possible invasion of Japan. Paul had been promoted to Staff Sergeant. He was a hard worker and comfortable in the company of men. In the baby book Marie kept about me, she recorded that Paul brought a silk kimono home as a gift for me—and one for her. Paul understood that Marie was interested in beautiful fabrics. From notes in that same baby book, I learned that they lived in an apartment at 1518 Drexel Avenue, Miami Beach.

Those Drexell Avenue apartments are now part of the historic district of Miami Beach! The twenty-eight unit, two story building was built in 1926 in the Mediterranean Revival style popular in that period. After returning from the Philippines and being demobilized in January 1946, Marie, Paul and infant Paula began their life together. They had a number of things to figure out.

How to make a living in civilian life? We know Paul worked for a time at the Biscayne Kennel Club, a popular dog racing and gambling facility on Miami Beach that only recently closed. We know he went to night school to learn to be a land surveyor—a job necessary for the growing cities of south Florida. Paul like working outdoors and was good with numbers. He helped survey some of the early cloverleaf entrances and exits to the new highways of Miami. He spent most of his working years as a surveyor for the City of Miami Beach.

I-95-construction-in-1960s

We are formed by the events that progress at our coming of age,” observed Robert Trout, news broadcaster for seven decades in a NPR interview. I thought about my father! By age twelve Paul had lived during the beginning of the Depression, saw his family split apart, moved from country to a village, struggled with poverty, became an admired high school athlete and shortly after school was drafted into the army and shipped 1500 miles away to train for war. Before being sent overseas he married and soon knew that his wife was pregnant. Each of these events did shape the father I grew up with. He wanted the best for his children, but we did not always agree on what was best for us.

Set for Adventure! Both my parents were interested in seeing our country. Once the youngest child reached five, we took family camping trips all across the U.S. However, their first adventure was aboard an airplane! Dad returned from WWII in January 1946. In June the small family boarded an airplane to visit his relatives in Penn Yan and her relatives in Richmond. Traveling with a ten-month old infant is always an adventure and a challenge–here is another example of their can-do approach This was my first airplane trip! And the last one they would take for almost twenty years.

Postscript

Of Note:
The Finger Lakes region is a central part of the Iroquois homeland. The Iroquois tribes are also known as The Haudenosaunee, or “people of the longhouse” which refers to their dwellings. The Iroquois confederacy includes the Seneca and Cayuga nations, for which the two largest Finger Lakes are named. Lake Keuka (pronounced KYOO-kah) is about 20 miles long and 187 feet deep at its deepest point. It is perhaps the Finger Lake that stands out most due to the Y-shaped channel at the north end, near Penn Yan, with a scenic bluff rising over 700 feet above the water level.

The unusual Y-shape contrasts with the long and narrow shapes of the other ten Finger Lakes. Formerly, Keuka Lake was referred to as Crooked Lake. Keuka means “canoe landing” in the Iroquois language and “lake with an elbow” in the Seneca language. Even today the crystal clear water water of Lake Keuka is used as the public water supply for Penn Yan, Hammondsport, Branchport, and Keuka College.

Nearby Seneca Falls was the site of the first women’s rights convention in the U.S. Attended by almost 200 women, the Seneca Falls Convention advertised itself as “a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman”. The convention met July 19–20, 1848. It was organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two abolitionists who met at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London.

The proposals put forth by the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, which was presented at the convention, reflect the strong association between Iroquois women and their culture and with the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention. The positive influence is clear. Willow Michele Hagan writes more about this connection:
https://www.centerwest.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/iroquois_native_american_hagan.pdf

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Maternal Ties: More Than Apron Strings


Marie and Paul came from quite different worlds. Both had experienced difficulties in their childhoods. Both my parents have been major influences on me and my life choices. I’m starting with Marie’s story because she was the original resident of Miami Beach where the story began. Marie grew up on Miami Beach when it was barely a city. Dad was sent from upstate New York to south Florida for military training.

By her high school years Marie Virginia Donovan was an accomplished athlete despite the fact that she had been born with a clubfoot (talipes equinovarus). At school and in community organizations she ran track, played volleyball, softball, and badminton. Her 1939 Fisher High School basketball team was the state champion! Mother was tall. She was 5’7’’–tall and slender. When I was a teenager and moaned about my height of 5’10 ½”, she recalled that she was as tall for her generation as I was for mine. I was unaware of her earlier disability until, on a hike, one of my Girl Scout friends asked, “Miz Neilson, what’s wrong with your leg?”

Marie calmly explained, to my nosy friend, that she had been born with a clubfoot which meant her leg had been twisted to the side pulling the foot, calf, and leg out of line. Without help this would have kept her from walking. Later we, in the family, learned that as an infant and toddler she had worn a metal brace on that leg. Her mother removed the brace several times daily to move her leg, to stretch, and to massage it. Rarely did Marie discuss this part of her early life with her children, so our knowledge is spotty. Somehow she healed and began to walk and even run.

Until I began genealogy research several years ago, I believed what I was told: that she was an only child. However, census records revealed that her parents had a daughter, Margaret, born two years earlier. Census records also indicate that Marie’s parents separated not long after her birth. More census records indicate that Marie and her mother, Mamie Coghill Donovan, lived with the Coghill relatives in Richmond, VA. Her father, Albert J. Donovan, who had been a policeman moved from Richmond to Toledo, Ohio. He worked as a structural iron worker until his death there in 1947. His body was sent back and buried in the same cemetery as that of his estranged wife. Certainly a series of unknowns among these bare facts.

In Richmond, as a youngster, Marie was sent to Catholic School but apparently “acted out” and was then sent to public school. At another time she described this childhood escapade: before going to have a formal photograph taken, she took scissors and chopped off her long hair. Her mother then cut it straight across and they went for the portrait anyway. We heard these stories as children. We did not have a context or perception to ask more questions—or perhaps they were deflected.

One way to describe the child she told us about is as a “willful child”–this was seen as an especially odious character trait in a girl. It seems Marie, as a young girl was a “handful”! Perhaps this is why Marie, sometime around age 10, was taken to the wilds of 1929 Miami Beach, Florida to live with her mother’s sister Anne, her husband and their adult son. Perhaps the Depression may have been part of this decision. Now we will never know why. Her aunt Anne was known to her family as, “Duckie”, a nickname, a ubiquitous southern custom at the time. Marie was raised by her Aunt Duckie. The two seemed to get along well. When I was born in 1945, I was spoiled as a young child by this woman who I, too, knew as Aunt Duckie.

Marie moved to Miami Beach and became part of her aunt’s family. Duckie and her husband were part of the “social set” of Miami Beach in the 1930s. When Marie, as a 16 year old, went to the police chief and asked for a driver’s license he asked her if she could drive. “Well, I drove myself here!” she replied and she got that driver’s license—never did take a driver’s test. My maternal grandmother Mamie Coghill (Marie’s mother) stayed with her family in Richmond. Again, we do not know why…. The large Coghill family (eight children) in Richmond seems to have been well-off judging from the few photos Marie has saved for us. Marie’s Miami Beach family lived with fine china, Duckie wore furs and they shopped on Lincoln Road, still a wealthy shopping area today. The few family photos I have from this time period seem to indicate some wealth as you saw in the above photos.

Marie regularly attended Miami Beach Community Church evidenced by the delicate attendance pins she passed along to us. Additionally within a month of my birth she had enrolled me in what was called the Cradle Roll of that church. Her high school friends included Celia Mangles who became our family dentist—rare to have a woman doctor in the 1950s. I remember Dr. Mangles office because her mother was the receptionist and she always had a small dog with her behind the desk. Even then I liked dogs.

Miami Beach of this era was a “sundown town” meaning African Americans were not to be in town after 6:00 p.m. Black workers needed a police-issued “pass” to avoid police questioning after 6 p.m. Black tourists were not allowed in hotels, but those hotels did book black entertainers to amuse their all-white guests. Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and others were required to stay the night in the segregated Overtown neighborhood of Miami. Even in the 1960s and 1970s when Diana Ross and the Supremes performed on Miami Beach, they could not stay at those hotels.1

Anti-Semitism had long limited property ownership and housing opportunities for the Jewish population. “Gentiles Only” signs were common among local businesses and hotels. In some cases Jews and Gentiles were required to use separate entrances. In 1949, by a local ordinance, anti-Semitism, was officially outlawed, but anti-Semitism thrived in many forms despite a large number of Jewish residents and visitors.2

Mother seems to have destroyed an earlier scrapbook containing photos of her girlhood. Each of the five photos I have of her and her sports teams has swaths of glue across the back where they had been pasted somewhere else. I’m glad to have these photos to give a picture of Marie as a young woman in the late 1930s and early 1940s. We see, in these photos, her commitment to athletics and being part of the teams she enjoyed.

Mother was an accomplished seamstress when she married in 1944. From my earliest years, she was always interested in fashion and fabrics. I have fond memories of shopping for fabric for casual outfits for my sisters and later, memories of choosing the luxurious fabrics mother used to make formals for me or for the elegant ballet tutus for my sister. Until we were teens, mother sewed new “Easter dresses” for each of us—often with drawstring purses she made to match our dresses. At Halloween, Marie used her imagination and her sewing skills to provide us with unusual costumes.

Marie taught me to sew as a young girl. I sewed some of my clothes even while in college. Sometimes today, when I am sewing, I recall a particular sewing skill she taught me. Example: in 1966 she created a beautiful white silk formal for me, but as she was joining the bodice to the skirt she got a drop of blood on the white silk of the skirt. I was there watching as she dabbed a bit of her own saliva on the spot to wipe away the blood stain. It worked! She explained it worked because our saliva is much the same composition as our blood. I know that my own eye for fabric combinations began at home with her guidance.

When I left for college in 1963 mother helped me plan my wardrobe. She sewed two reversible wrap-around skirts popular that year. She helped me pick out two blazers and then skirts to mix and match. She knit me two beautiful mohair sweaters—one soft pink and the other forest green—both were stunning (and also itchy). In 1963, leaving home on that Greyhound bus for college in Tennessee was my first big step “out of the nest”.

Decades later I learned that my father had said to her, “If we only have enough money to send one child to college, it should be Karl because he is the boy.” Marie did not confront his sexism directly. She just said, “Let’s take it one step at a time and see how it goes.” I had no idea about this attitude while I was growing up since I had always done well in school.

Now you’ve met my mother, Marie, and you now know some details about her people, where she lived, some about our relationship and a sense of who she was in the world. Marie, in my experience was a kind woman–especially kind to me during my difficult teen years. Her sense of humor could have us all laughing at times.

Notes:
1 https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/100-years-the-dark-and-dirty-history-of-miami-beach-7552169
2 https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/100-years-the-dark-and-dirty-history-of-miami-beach-7552169
3 History of Religious Freedom in Florida https://www.statutesandstories.com/blog_html/history-of-religious-freedom-in-florida/

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Recreation: Carefully Managed

USO activities during WWII. Note the young woman’s official USO armband! She was an “approved” junior hostess–approved by the USO, that is!

1943, Miami Beach, Florida
What do I know about these two people who grew up more than a thousand miles apart, who would meet and marry in 1944? What did I know about the social norms of that decade? I do know my mother and father met on Miami Beach when Marie, as a resident of a community inundated with GIs, did her part “to keep morale high” before the men were shipped overseas. My mother, Marie, mentioned in passing having participated in social activities, like dances, to entertain some of the soldiers. She was a “hometown girl” doing her civic duty! Marie never mentioned volunteering as a USO junior hostess, but from my reading this seems most likely.

Paul, my father, was a tall, athletic young man from upstate New York sent to warm, sunny Florida for military training and then an unknown future. He was doing his civic duty to fight the war overseas. The Great Depression was part of the background for all of these recruits and for the local residents of every community swamped with military men. Military installations became a great boost to the local economy. The tidal wave of young men also became a burden to local communities.

The Challenge of a Dramatically Expanded Military
As Time described the situation, “the United States had to meet the challenge of housing a dramatically expanded military that was stationed at home indefinitely. Officials and citizens alike fretted about what would happen as more men volunteered or were drafted. How would towns adjacent to military bases cope? How would the men fare while they waited? What was the best way to rein in the power of the waiting ground force as it prepared for the bloodiest war in history?” 1

On Miami Beach, hotel rooms became barracks, hotel dining rooms became mess halls, a movie theater became a testing center, hotels became administrative offices, hotel pools and the ocean were used to teach life saving techniques, golf courses became parade grounds, and the beach was used for rifle ranges and physical training.2

German submarines, or U-boats, aimed their torpedoes at tankers and freighters along the eastern coast of the United States to disrupt delivery of supplies as well as to lower morale; sinking ships burned within sight of American civilians. The Germans sank 24 ships in Florida waters during the war, eight of them off Palm Beach County between February and May of 1942.” Reports of Germans coming ashore from submarines were also of ongoing concern for all the residents along both coasts of Florida during the war years.

Note the oversize portrait on the far left. FDR overlooks the GIs in the Dayroom of this UFO Hall
as the soldiers enjoy their “Home Away From Home”.

What was the purpose of the USO
USO clubs were intended as a “Home Away from Home” for the military personnel and workers in wartime industry located in more than 3,000 communities in the Western Hemisphere. They provided soldiers a place to eat, write a letter back home, play games, or simply relax. The USO provided all services including meals, snacks, overnight accommodations for free except for a few items like packages of cigarettes. The organizational framework for the USO was highly structured at the national and local levels including a USO Manual for Community Conducted Operations even though it was considered a civilian agency. Only the Director and the Assistant Director were paid. All the female volunteers were very carefully screened and never compensated.3

Basic premise: The newly formed USO would handle “on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces” and would operate separate from military control.

The USO both reflected the social conventions of the era and reinforced those conventions. Racially integrated USO facilities were the exception. The women who became those “unpaid female volunteers” for the USO took their organizational skills learned in their homes, religions and other community organizations to build those 3,000 or more USO community centers. Class and race distinctions as well as age distinctions dictated who would pass the “screening tests” for a woman to be chosen to serve either as a “senior hostess” or a “junior hostess” at the USO facilities. Religious participation was encouraged by the USO. On weekends, churches were filled with young soldiers who came from bases all around. At times, families invited the soldiers to their homes for Sunday dinner.

Sex discrimination was evident everywhere. Women who participated in the war effort as WACs, WAVES, military nurses, or as pilots ferrying planes were harassed and often labeled “unwomanly”. One historian wrote, “life as a female member of the military carried its own unique set of burdens, discriminations, and humiliations. Many Americans… could not imagine female military personnel serving any purpose other than to grant sexual favors to servicemen.”4

Historic background of the USO
also known as the United Service Organization for National Defense

President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted the morale of military personnel to remain high and believed that current service organizations would be better suited for the job than the Department of Defense. In contrast, the Department of Defense felt that they should control every aspect of the soldier’s life. However, the leaders of The Salvation Army, Jewish Welfare Board (JWB), National Catholic Community Service (NCCS), Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), and National Traveler’s Aid Association all believed that their organizations were better suited for the responsibility.

Fortunately, a compromise was reached. The United Service Organizations for National Defense (USO) resulted from a Presidential order February 4, 1941. The USO was incorporated in New York state as a private, nonprofit organization, supported by private citizens and corporations. The six civilian service organizations would be in charge, and the military would provide building supplies, locations, and labor when needed and available. For example, in a town that did not have a suitable building to use as a club, the military would build a structure using supplies and labor from the local military base.5

Good Girls, Good Food, Good Fun: The Story of USO Hostesses During World War II was an excellent book to answer many of my questions about the USO program and the role of junior hostesses in particular. Good Girls, Good Food, Good Fun by Meghan Winchell, writes that “making light conversation was part of the hostess’ overarching role: to provide G-rated entertainment that would keep the men away from alcohol and prostitution.” Winchell used oral histories or questionnaires from seventy women who volunteered in the United Service Organizations (USO) as junior and senior hostesses. Winchell works as an associate professor and the history department chairwoman at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. Her expertise was featured in “USO — For The Troops,” a television documentary that aired on Public Broadcasting System in November, 2016.

Traditional “woman’s work”: supporting men
Winchell believes hostesses don’t receive more recognition regarding their World War II service because what they were doing was considered fun and just traditional “woman’s work”. Additionally Winchell said, “I argue that they were crucial in maintaining morale. “One [hostess] I interviewed said she would go back home and write letter after letter for servicemen, because she wanted to help them.
“Dancing was fun, but they danced their shoes off, often through midnight, never with the same guy … They knew these guys were going to get on big transport ships and go off to war.”6

Young women had to be approved by a local USO committee to be allowed to volunteer. Some USO facilities required fingerprinting as part of the application. All required the junior hostesses to carry official USO identification before being admitted to a USO facility including volunteering at the popular USO canteens. The men were expected to wear their military uniforms to any USO event. The women were instructed to wear civilian clothes. No slacks were permitted.

Interview with Elizabeth Zimmerman, a Brooklyn junior hostess in the 1940’s

Diane Lade, a writer for the Orlando Sentinel interviewed Elizabeth Zimmerman, now over 100. She was 25 when she was interviewed, fingerprinted and approved as a junior hostess for the USO in Brooklyn. Zimmerman said that doing her duty during World War II meant putting on a nice dress and making conversation. She smiled and nodded, knowing the stranger she was listening to could be heading off to battle and this might be his last cup of coffee with a friendly, young woman.

As a USO junior hostess in Brooklyn, she chatted with servicemen every Thursday night. She danced and played ping-pong with them while they talked about home. Zimmerman added, “My job was to cheer the boys up, to make life more pleasant for them. I made it very clear I wasn’t in the military, but I thought it was important to do something.”

Interviewer Diane Lade wrote that Zimmmerman believed “…her job was to remind soldiers and sailors that American life was worth fighting for without breaching 1940s morality standards.” Lade wrote that Zimmerman recalled, “she was not allowed to drink, smoke or wear slacks. She had to dance with any serviceman who asked, as long as he was not rude or inappropriate. She served under the watchful eyes of older, usually married, senior hostesses.”7

Understanding the Context
Being a hostess and boosting morale was considered civic duty. The presence of women in the USO clubs was also thought to encourage men in battle. If they were treated as protectors and even VIPs by women they met—all the more reason to face combat and win the war.

Hostesses who’d spend their nights jitterbugging with troops also mended their uniforms, helped them write letters home and snagged them drinks, donuts and sandwiches. It’s estimated that 1.5 million volunteers participated during the conflict. Junior Hostesses were required to volunteer a minimum of two hours per week and only registered hostesses could attend social activities for service men. A junior Hostess who worked the minimum required hours from 1941-1945 would have earned 490 hours, just shy of a service pin with one star.

Observations from USO online publication, Thursday, Feb 4, 2016

Article:In the USO’s Early Years, Hostesses Provided a Wholesome Morale Boost
“You have to think of it in context,” said Winchell, the associate professor of history at Nebraska Wesleyan University. “All of the young men who were eligible were in the military. There were very few civilian defense workers. If you were not in [the military] then you were rejected. If you were an 18 to 20-year-old woman, then the USO was the only game in town.”
If games have rules, this one had lots of them, designed mostly to keep the USO in the business of boosting morale among the troops while keeping it out of the dating game.
“No young lady will be permitted to leave the Service Club until the dance is over,” stated Rule No. 7 on a handout of guidelines for junior hostesses. Rule 8 warned, “At the conclusion of the dance, girls will leave only with their chaperones. Those coming in private cars will leave immediately after the dance.”
In “Hail Hostess,” an instructional USO pamphlet from the early 1940s, women were warned away from romance with words like, “The boys have a lot of things on their minds and you are probably not one of them!” They cautioned girls about unmentioned wives and girlfriends back home.

“They wanted middle-class, mostly white women who were considered sexually respectable,” said Winchell. “The USO knew women mattered to morale—the men needed company of women. [But] they didn’t want them having sex.” USO hostesses were prescreened “good girls” who could provide comfort in the way of conversation, dancing and the occasional picnic outing.

While on duty, hostesses were not allowed to smoke on the dance floor, in the canteen or at the front desk, etc., they were not allowed to drink intoxicants, were not allowed to dance with another girl when there were servicemen present, were not allowed to refuse to dance with anyone unless they were being un-gentlemanly, were not to indulge in conspicuous dancing, and were discouraged from chewing gum. They were expected to be a lady at all times. USO also had rules that governed how a Junior Hostess should dress:

Colored socks and high heels too
are very odd looking and just won’t do
so if you’re smart and very wise
Just wear heels and economize.

Don’t wear slacks to the USO
Pants are made for Jack and Joe
Slacks are made for for a time and a place
So don’t wear them here and be a disgrace.

A backless dress will never do
And not too short or loud
The simpler ones are more becoming
And you’ll be stepping along with the crowd.
(USO Junior Hostess Manual – Macon Georgia8

Married women were the senior hostesses, performing “motherly” tasks, while the single women were the hostesses: chaste dates for the servicemen. Hostesses were not supposed to get emotionally or physically invoiced with the servicemen. But while the conduct of hostesses was physically respectable by the USO standards, many found their future husbands at USO dances.

In 1942 the U.S. was recruiting women for war service. Which would you chose? If you even had a choice….

In my fantasy I can see Marie and Paul meeting at the UFO recreation center while playing a competitive game of ping pong. I see them each complimenting the other on a dramatic shot. Then they sat down and drank cokes. Before long they grabbed the paddles and kept playing. Both were accomplished athletes and Marie would have played to win!

Marie and Paul married in June of 1944. Six months later, with his basic training complete, Paul was shipped overseas. At the war’s end, Paul returned from the Philippines in early January, 1946. Two surprises greeted him. He first met his new daughter under a Christmas tree! Since his original release was scheduled to be before Christmas 1945, Mother had decorated and discarded two fir trees. Marie wanted to celebrate that holiday with her new husband and their six month old daughter, Paula. Now she could!

Neither of my parents were interested in talking about their early years or childhoods. Sometimes we would get snippets of information, but that was rare. As children we didn’t know to ask the right questions! We never really questioned them about how they met or about those early years together. I do have some scraps of information from other relatives and from photographs and a memory book mother kept.

These details about the material reality and the social conventions that dominated my parents early years define and describe my own upbringing as a girl. Their experiences during those war years shaped them and certainly influenced me and my upbringing. I was taught to “be a lady”. This was a strong message I received throughout my girlhood.

By 1952 we were a lively family of six involved in school activities, scouting, sports and our family camping trips. Talk about their early years did not often come up. My father worked as a land surveyor. Mother was a homemaker with a full-time job raising four kids while Dad worked long hours outside the home. We knew that mother was an only child and the dad was one of five children raised by his mother after his father divorced his mother. That was about it. Only later did we learn more details and the secrets both kept.

Postscript

“The troops that passed through Miami Beach claimed that they had been sent to ‘the most beautiful boot camp in America.’ Many of these young servicemen and women “got sand in their shoes” and vowed to return if they survived the war.”88 And return they did, packing up their families and heading South to take advantage of the GI benefits and buying the houses that were popping up all over the area. Others returned year after year for vacations. Others returned when they retired. Just as Miami Beach had made an indelible impact on the young GI’s, the returning veterans had a major impact on the economic future of South Florida.”9

1 “The Surprising Fear That Created the USO”, Erin Blakemore February 5, 2016 https://time.com/4205222/uso-75-years/
2 http://www.miamibeachvets.com/
1bb http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/the-enemy-presence-german-u-boats
3 http://www.ww2uso.org/history.html
4 “Fort Lipstick and the Making of June Cleaver: Gender Roles in American Propaganda and Advertising, 1941-1961”, by Samantha Vandermeade https://commons.lib.jmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1043&context=mhr
5 http://www.ww2uso.org/history.html
6 “Good Girls, Good Food, Good Fun: The Story of USO Hostesses During World War II, Meghan Winchell, 2008
7 http://digitaledition.orlandosentinel.com/tribune/article_popover.aspx?guid=f3b52118-c403-467d-9bb3-339241ffaa6e
8 http://www.ww2uso.org/history.html
9 http://www.miamibeachvets.com/

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