Cynthia Ramsey worked as a typist in the Women’s Army Corps in Wilmington, Delaware, from 1944 to 1945. Over the course of her service, she met her husband, traveled to New York, and enjoyed being a WAC. She describes her reasons for disliking President Franklin Roosevelt, and her work experience as an army typist.
Sitting in a B-29
One day, one of the soldiers, I think I had a date with him. Anyway, there was a B-29 parked there, and nobody was ever allowed to get near them, too near them. But he had a key or the door was unlocked. I had the opportunity. I climbed into the plane then stuck my head out of the window by the pilot seat, and he took a picture. So I have that picture of me on a B-29.
Being a Typist
Well, a typist types up the papers, and I did not have to do short hand which I didn’t know how to do. I taught myself to type when I was 12, and I had taught typing to employees at college. And the army gave a test to see how fast you could type and other things. I don’t remember what other things they tested. The typewriter was a big, heavy office typewriter that I never used and very hard to work, and I didn’t think I would do well. But I decided I would just go as fast as I could, never mind the mistakes that I knew I would be making. Well, apparently, when they check the tests, they did not look at mistake; they just looked at how far you got, and how fast you went. So I got the job as the clerk typist. Clerk would mean writing down things by hand now and then, I guess. I don’t remember what I did other than typing up papers to go on the plane with the pilots and so on.
On the Plane Alone
I was the only passenger. Of course, I could stand up in front of the plane behind the pilots and watch, look out, and talk to the navigator and the mechanic maybe. There were two pilots, and the navigator and a mechanic. That was all besides me on the plane — great big plane that was going to load tanks and goodness knows what all to take to China or India. And my friends who went to that theater, called the CBI, China-Burma-India Theater, they got to ride from Karachi, I guess was the base, which is now Pakistan, I believe. They had a trip into China, like a weekend trip or something like that but I was not there.
FDR’s Final Blow
Well, Franklin Roosevelt had never been a person that I liked. I had grown up with my grandfather saying how awful he was, so I was a Republican, very much so. And Franklin Roosevelt dealt me the final blow when he died on the day that caused us to have to put off our wedding because my husband was a military police at Hyde Park, Franklin Roosevelt’s home. And that’s where the funeral was going to take place. And I had to wait until after the funeral, and they didn’t know just whether they’d let the men off or not after the funeral on Sunday. We were planning to marry on Saturday. On Sunday, he called up, and he had gotten off so I quit. I was nearby and I took a bus and got out of the bus and couldn’t cross the street to where he was waiting because the parade of Roosevelt’s funeral processions came right in front of me. Just started just then. So I had to wait for that whole parade and go across, and then we managed to [get married]. I had got a minister to put the wedding off a day, and so we got married that Sunday afternoon.
Hearing of the Atomic Bomb
I was on KP, peeling potatoes. KP means kitchen, kitchen, I don’t remember. Anyway, I was cutting, peeling potatoes or something like that when the atom bomb was dropped. And I’ll never forget how happy we all were. By that time my husband was on his way; he was in the Pacific Ocean on his way to invade Japan. And none of those boys would have survived, I think. So I was very happy when the bomb was dropped, saving so many of our lives.
How’d you hear about it while peeling potatoes?
Well, it wasn’t until I got off, got out of there. People were all talking about it. I heard it from others. I didn’t read newspapers then, I don’t believe, and we didn’t have a radio either. But, other people read newspapers and had radios.
A Narrow Escape
One of those times, it was late at night that I was trying to get a plane back, I usually took the train back. But that time for some reason, I was in the subway at three in the morning. And this awful character appeared beside me saying, “My name is Ed, what’s your name? My name is Ed, what’s your name?” And I was sort of scared to death but it wasn’t as bad in those days as it is now. I mean I wouldn’t be doing that I guess now. But, I said, “I’m meeting somebody,” and luckily came to a passage in this catacomb underground that would take me to the right to the subway, to the airport I guess I was going.
WACs Looked Down Upon
Everybody thought WAC’s were not much good. I just joined up there at the college without asking her or telling [my mother] or my father. I didn’t remember that very well. But I remember running into the headmistress of the school, of the prep school of the high school that I graduated from. She never liked me much because I was sort of a naughty girl. And I ran into her in my army uniform on the street in Colorado Springs when I was in the army. By this time I had left her school six, seven years before. She looked at me, she said, “You would do that!” (laughs) She meant join the you-know what. They thought the girls were promiscuous which I suppose a lot of them were. I mean you were there with a lot of men, and you weren’t in your home.