Thursday, July 14, 2016

71) Betty is busy with college classes and activities--Jan. 3, 1945

From Betty (Louisville, KY)

Jan. 3, 1945
Wednesday night

Got two letters from you yesterday. The dates were Dec. 12th and 15th. Gee! I was glad to hear from you. It had been about three weeks since I had heard from you. I didn’t have time to write last night, so I’m taking time-out from homework to write tonight.

I’ve struggled with Algebra for an hour and a half and I’ve finally finished it. When I finish this I’ve got some poems to read for English and some Spanish to study. None of these things are due until Friday, so if I don’t do them tonight I can do them tomorrow. It’s nice in college ‘cause you don’t have the same class two days in sucession. You just have each class every other day.

I’m well into school again. It’s awful hard to get up at 6:30 and 7:30 instead of noon. I’m awfully tired ‘cause I haven’t gotten used to it yet. Another thing that made me tired tonight is that I played basketball from 12:30 to 2:30 continuously this afternoon and believe me I wasn’t in condition this soon after the holidays. I’m sore all over.

We have been having some very good and serious discussions in the Student Center out at school. There are two sailors (V-12’s) and another girl and myself. All three of them are swell. The way it all got started was that one of the boys is really crazy about a girl. He asked us how you know a person is in love with you? Then somebody else said that better still how do you know you’re in love with a person? I don’t think there’s any set plan you can follow. It’s little things and things you feel. Then they asked if you should marry before a boy goes overseas. I said yes, but they disagreed. I still say yes.

Let me see, the last time I wrote to you was Satruday night. Well, since then I’ve been on the go pretty much. Sunday night (New Year’s Eve) I went to a formal dance at Fort Knox. It was pretty good. I didn’t meet anybody very interesting. I ate a handful of confetti. I turned around to say something to somebody and just as I did a fellow threw a handful of the stuff in my face. I choked on it. I must say I’ve eaten tastier things. Monday night I went to a party. I had a pretty good time, nothing to rave about.

Yesterday I started to school. Sad Day! Everything went pretty well except I had to clean the kitchen for the first time since before the holidays. It was a mess! It hadn’t been cleaned since our slumber party and you can imagine how dirty it was. It took me an hour and a half to clean it. Usually it takes about 20 minutes. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we didn’t have a dead mouse somewhere in or around the house. We can’t find it, but we know it’s dead. It’s been there since our slumber party. It smells worst in the kitchen. When you open the back door it ‘bout knocks you down. Every five minutes I had to go out and get some air. If I have to clean that kitchen much more I’ll smell like the dead mouse. Enough of this mouse talk!

Sounds like you’ve got a pretty good set up with your tent fixed up and a boy to take care of it. Bring him home with you. We could use him swell.

They’re playing the “Army Air Corps” song on the radio. That’s my favorite branch. Naturally.

I’m so crazy. I know just as well that when you don’t write it’s because you haven’t time, but this time when I didn’t hear from you for so long I had the craziest ideas. I thought well maybe he’s decided he isn’t in love with me and he doesn’t want to write and tell me. I kept thinking about it until I was a nervous wreck. When your two letters came yesterday I was really happy. I’ve felt 100% better since then.

Can’t get rid of this cold. I’ve had it all winter. It gets better and then it snows or rains and I’m off again. I think I’ll come see you. Maybe I’ll get rid of it there where it is warm.

Guess that is all there is this time. I miss you terribly and I love you so much. I want to be with you more every day.

Take care of yourself. I’ll write as often as I possibly can.

All my love always,

  1. Pi Phi House (University of Louisville) -- The Pi Phi House, which Betty mentions so often in her letters, was a little cottage on Shipp Street, near the U of L campus.  In this letter she talks about having to clean the house after the Christmas break- a task obviously given to the sorority pledges.  The sorority girls did not live at the house. The house was used by the sorority for meetings, fellowship, and as a place to host events. The house is no longer standing and long ago the area was incorporated as part of the current campus.   At the time Betty attended the University of Louisville, it was termed a “streetcar college.” Most of the students lived in the Louisville area and commuted to the university, like Betty, on the streetcar. There were no dorms, although there was some housing for the men in the Navy V-12 program. Students who were from out of town often just rented rooms near the campus.   The Pi Phi house provided a nice base on campus for the girls in the sorority to hang out between classes.
  2. Army Air Corp Song--click this link: Bing Crosby Singing the Army Air Corp Song
  3. V-12 Navy Program--The V-12 Navy College Training Program was initiated in 1943 to meet both the immediate and long-range needs for commissioned officers to man ships, fly planes and command troops called to duty in World War II. When the draft age was lowered to 18 in November 1942, the Navy quickly foresaw a shortage of college-educated officers for its operations. Likewise, hundreds of the nation’s colleges and universities feared economic collapse without students to fill suddenly empty classrooms. Help came from the federal government with the creation of the V-12 Navy College Training Program. 
  • V-12 accepted students already enrolled in the Navy and Marine Corps college reserve programs, enlisted men who were recommended by their commanding officers and high school seniors who passed a nationwide qualifying examination. Between July 1, 1943, and June 30, 1946, over 125,000 college-age men were enrolled at 131 colleges and universities throughout the United States in the V-12 program. All those in V-12 were on active duty, in uniform and subject to a very strict form of military discipline. 
  • V-12 schools ran the gamut from the Ivy League and large state universities to small, church-associated colleges in very small towns. V-12 participants were required to carry 17 credit hours and nine and one-half hours of physical training each week. Study was year-round, three terms of four months each. From the V-12 program, most of the Navy trainees went on to a four-month course at a reserve midshipmen’s school, and the Marines went to boot camp and then to the 12-week Officer Candidate Course at Quantico, Virginia. 
  • The curriculum was heavy on math and science for "regulars" -- or those entering college for the first time. "Irregulars," those students who already had some college credit, were allowed to continue in their majors with the addition of a course or two in mathematics and science. 
  • Blacks were allowed to enroll in the V-12 program in late March 1943, nearly a year before there were any black officers in the Navy. One black who gained prominence in the Navy after his V-12 graduation was Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely Jr., the first black to command a Navy warship and the first black to advance to the rank of admiral. 
  • The V-12 program thrust heavy responsibilities upon young men at an early age. At least 38 admirals and 20 generals can trace their first officer training back to the V-12 program. 
  • The V-12 program was an unqualified success in meeting the urgent need for Navy and Marine Corps commissioned officers for duty in World War II. It also had a major impact on American education. Commandant of the 9th Naval District Rear Admiral John Downes remarked on the uniqueness of the V-12 program just 14 days after it began on July 1, 1943. Speaking to the V-12s at Northwestern University, Downes said, "For the first time on any large scale, men are allowed to go to college, not on the basis of social prestige or financial ability, but upon their own merit." 
  • The V-12 program provided educational and military leaders to the nation for the pivotal 40 years after the wars end. 
Source : Schneider, James G. The Navy V-12 Program; Leadership for a Lifetime. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987.

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