Mary Metcalfe

Document Type

Personal Letter


Dearest Mommie,

What a rat race! We are down at the station having a little breakfast before taking off for Camp Patrick Henry, (Rec. Hall) Va[1]. There are 12 of us going on this assignment including Ruth, our roommate + several other of the girls we like especially. This is supposed to be a good assignment, very much like what we shall run into overseas. We are told that we sleep in regular barracks guarded by an MP, + I think we eat with the WACs. We shall know more about that when we arrive this aft at 3 P.M.

Ruth + I left here Sat aft. at 4:30 + arrived in Quantico about an hour later. Davie + Jack Myers came down + got us. We wore our uniforms as we had just graduated + had to rush around so we would be ready to go. We threw a few things into our Army musette bag[2] + that was our suitcase.

Well here it is Wed. night and this is the first chance I have had to sit down + take up my pen.

We made the mistake of checking our bags through from Washington so they did not arrive until this afternoon.

We are quartered all together about 20 of us including those who were already here in a long barracks, a stove at each end + beds all along the walls. Our latrine is out the back door about 100 yds away. It is a long building with lots of wash stands, rows of johns with no doors to each little booth, + a big shower room with three showers grouped together at a time.

Ruth + I are assigned to two different service clubs, she at Service Club D which is quite close to our barracks + right next to the WAC mess hall where we eat. I am at S.C. A which is about a mile from here + a mile + a half from the mess hall.

There are boardwalks all along the front of our barracks which is on the main street of this camp. There are tall trees all around us + it is very pretty except for the lack of grass.

Today we all went to the warehouse + purchased WAC shoes for $4.02 as we were advised to save our own black expensive ones. When we came in yesterday (by Army truck from the train) it was quite warm. Early this morning it began blowing + it rained hard so we got a first hand demonstration of the mud we had been told of by some of the girls who had been here before.

We have been to the WAC PX where they have most anything you want including plenty of Hersheys, gum(not Beeches) but Teaberry, Juicy fruit, etc., boxes of cookies, soap, lux, towels + washrags.

We have spent most of the day having meetings with the special service officers, Army Hostesses (who run the service clubs + we assist them) and getting our identification cards.

Each club has a recreation club in connection with it. At our club we serve coffee and doughnuts from 10 to 11:30.

This afternoon we played volley ball with some of the boys at the Rec. Hall. In this business race, color, or religion makes no difference. One of the boys playing with us today was colored. I think I told you that there were three colored girls in our class at the Univ., all very nice.

We have just discovered that all the address that should be put on our letters is Camp Patrick Henry, Va c/o A.R.C.[3]

We have no sheets here. We sleep on a mattress cover and have two khaki (sp.) colored comforters to put over us. They are very soft. Last night we had to sleep in our slips or nothing at all since our suitcases didn’t get here on the same train we did. We had to change trains at Richmond + go to another station clear across town. We just barely had time to make the train.

There is a U.S.O. show here for the next four days + some of the girls in the troop are staying in our barracks but I haven’t seen them yet.

So far we haven’t gotten into our duties yet, but we shall be doing everything from serving coffee + doughnuts, taking care of the cash register, working in the library of the service club, working in the Rec. Hall, talking to + planning entertainment for the boys to scrubbing floors.

If I seem to skip around from one time to another, it is because there is so much happening all the time + I start and stop so often, that I put things down as they come to me.

I didn’t tell you about Quantico.[4] We slept in the annex of the Waller House which is a guest house there. Our room was the kitchen in which was a stove, two ice boxes, a sink, a kitchen table, two beds and about four laundry baskets full of used bath towels. We had a buffet supper at the Waller House then went to the Bachelor’s O.C. which was a grand club. They were having a dance Sat. night. Jim Hook + his wife Dot are most attractive. They all liked Ruth so much, especially Jack who told Davie he thought he had been born about 7 or 8 years too late he thought Ruth was so attractive.

Davie came back to Washington with us Sunday noon. We ate at O’Donnells where we had very tough swordfish. We all went and had our pictures taken. Davie + I together + separately. They are going to send us the proofs. I hope some of them turn out well.

Thanks for the rubber toe holds and the name tapes. I don’t know what I am going to do with the strap from Herkert + Meisel[5] as that is attached some tricky way under the canvas.

We almost went crazy trying to put the correct things in our foot lockers + barracks bags to store at the Res Hall until we return in 3 weeks and try to bring the proper things down here. I brought my big suitcase + my musette bag down here.

By now you may have received the things I sent home. I think Jane will be glad to see the coat + the green suit. I sent the plaid dress home because I was afraid that place under the arm would wear out. It wasn’t such a good idea to stitch it as the stitches pulled the material being so thin.

I shall be glad to get rid of this big suitcase. Once I get it locked it is almost impossible to get it unlocked.

Phyllis Boyes, our roommate at the Women’s Res. Hall is assigned to the same club as I am so that is nice.

I must go out + take a shower now + wash my shirt + stockings.

Please give everyone my love + pass on any news you think interesting. As I said before many times it is almost impossible to write. Tell Lou Ella I enjoyed her letter so much + will answer as soon as possible. Tell May that home was never like this. It is fascinating though.

Lots of Love, Chichi

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[1] Camp Patrick Henry was decommissioned after World War II. Before that it was a United States Army base which was located in Warwick County, Virginia. The camp was redeveloped as a commercial airport known today as Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport and became part of Newport News Virginia.

[2] A canvas bag that had straps that allowed it to be carried like a backpack most often associated with WWII paratroopers and used during airborne operations

[3] Fort Patrick Henry is a decommissioned United States Army Base which was located in Warwick County Virginia. After World War II the site was redeveloped as a commercial airport and became part of the City of Newport News in 1958.

[4] Quantico founded in 1775 as a Naval base for the fleet. During World War II Quantico was used for training officers. What had been there between 1921 and 1941 were also largely Marine based training but in 1941 much of that was removed from Quantico to Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point N. Carolina.

[5] Herkert & Meisel Trunk Company, founded in 1888 in St. Louis Missouri is still in business in Missouri.