WAVES boot camp in 1959

I reported in at Bainbridge, Maryland for boot camp with absolutely nothing except a small handbag with my orders and $5. The recruiting office in Montana had no idea the female they were sending knew absolutely nothing about traveling and surviving the trip! I flew from Butte, Montana to National Airport in Washington, D.C. My instructions were to catch a bus or taxi at the airport and go to the train station in downtown D.C. where I would catch a train with several other "brand new female recruits" headed for Bainbridge, Maryland and report in for training.

I made it in pretty fair order until I arrived at the train depot. There a Red Cap came through and collected the luggage of six of us "green" country girls. Said he would put it on train car for us. To make a long story short, our luggage disappeared for the next three months! We were called to board the train and could not find our bags nor that "helpful" Red Cap. The uniformed Yeoman who was our chaperone and guide ordered us on the train as it was going to depart: my first actual "order" of my following six years in the US Navy.

For the next two weeks I washed the same dress each evening and hung it to dry for wear the following day! Nothing dries in Maryland in a nine-hour night. I was amazed I didn't look like a prune after two weeks of wearing damp clothes every day. I have never worn a yellow dress since that time passed and I had my uniforms to wear for the next six years.

My next very memorable boot camp event was swim time. We discovered that every WAVE was required to swim the length of the standard pool and return to entry point. To this day, I swim just like a rock, a large rock. I had no problem going up the tall tower, wearing a navy life preserver we then stepped off to land in pool and upon getting to surface we "floated" until we paddled to side and got out. Next we jumped off with no life preserver but rather removed our dungarees and made a flotation device of them and gently paddle to the side of pool.. I have not, to this day, learned to swim. Despite all this, I loved my time in service.

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