Oral Histories

Dorothy R. Rossignol


Dorothy Rossignol

Q: Did she have top clearance?

A: She was black and white. The newspaper and photographers came and that was an all-day event. They never did figure out how that cat got in there. And when her kittens were old enough she took them and left. We never saw her or her kittens after that. You speculate how.

Q: Did you have a very large WAVE group there?

A: No, Well, yes, there were a lot. There were only about twenty in our class at Norfolk and then everybody scatters. Some of them go to different schools.

Q: The base was right there?

A: Yes, I’ve been on the big “Mo”. I rode the big “Mo” from Washington to Norfolk. I’ve been up and down the East Coast on a ship. They are not boats, they are ships. I’ve been on the F.D.R. the aircraft carrier.

Q: The majority of your time you were on land in an office?

A: Yes,

Q: The other was part of your service or on your time off?

A: Time off. You found a fellow who would take you on a plane or on a ship and you would go. And it didn’t cost you an arm and a leg to go. You had to wear a uniform, though.

Q: Did you wear your uniform all the time on Base?

A: On the base you did. You could have civilian clothes off the base after 4:30 at night. And you always wore a hat. In the summer you didn’t have to wear a tie.

Q: You are so tiny; I’m surprised you made minimum requirements?

A: I was overweight. Ten pounds overweight when I went in. They said you swim three hours a day. It doesn’t take long to get rid of ten pounds. In the Navy we got to wear our own underwear. It’s not government issued. The Army stiff stuff and khaki. Marine green. Navy you could wear any color, cotton or nylon, and your slip.

Q: Were you in for four years?

A: Not quite. Three years, nine months, and twenty-seven days. There was something like breaking-up; I don’t remember what it was. That’s a long time ago. So I got out.

Q: Did you return to Montana at that point?

A: Yes, But it is really, really hard to become a civilian again. When somebody tells you when to get up, when to eat, what to wear, and all of a sudden you’ve got to do that on your own, it’s hard.

Discipline. The Navy has one of the strongest disciplines for their people. Haircut did not touch your collar, didn’t touch your ears. You see this on TV with their hair buns around their ears and all that. No way.

Q: The women’s hair was real short, too?

A: Yes, You could have a permanent, but when inspection day came, they’d pull it down. And it better not touch your collar. In boot camp we had a gal from Arkansas, down in the Ozarks, and Boy, nobody was going to tell her what to do. She wouldn’t take a bath. And her hair was kind of strait and stiff so we gave her a bowl haircut and we gave her a GI shower. When you get through with that, you are lucky to have your top layer of skin left. (“We” being the other girls.) We had permission to do it. You can’t live with 50 people in a bunkhouse type thing and have one that won’t take a bath. She was told, and warned, and told. So one day she got a bath. We never had to say anything again. One time and you take a shower everyday.

Q: So you are back in Montana and where does the husband come into all of this? Were you dating when you got back?

A: I hadn’t even met him. His brother was a logger for the Butte mines, he logged all the timber for the Butte Mines. The guy that lived across the street from my folks where I was living, worked for his brother. When school was out she (his wife) and the kids were going to move to Ovando, Montana, where the logging camp was. So I wasn’t doing anything so I told them I’d help them move. I helped move and then Bob was cooking for his brother in the cookhouse in Ovando. This was in October. I went up a couple of time and helped move and I met Bob in October. I just met him on one of those trips up there. Then, the next time, I went up to stay for a little while with this gal because she told me it was kind of lonesome for her in this logging camp; the guys all out working. So I went up to stay and I met Bob again and he invited me to come to the cook shack and have lunch with him. He baked his own bread; he cut his own meat; he did all the pies and cakes. Well, I’ve never been a cook and I never will be. I thought, hmmm. We just hit it off that October. Then November, I didn’t go up, but Christmas I went back up for a few days. He invited me to go to the Ovando dance. This town had about as many people as Thompson has. We went to the dance. He said that after the first of the year he needed a flunky. When he had ten men or more, he could pay a flunky. So I thought, that would be a nice job. I’d stay with this woman I’d had helped to move up and it was just like walking from here over to the courthouse from the bunkhouse.

Q: As a “flunky” you didn’t have to cook?

A: As a flunky, I didn’t have to cook so the wheels started turning. The Fourth of January, I went to work for him. But, I was supposed to wash dishes, set the table, and do the laundry. They had all the facilities, but I couldn’t wash dishes fast enough to suit Mr. Rossignol, I couldn’t even peel potatoes fast enough to suit Mr. Rossignol; I did the laundry pretty good. Then, when he got ten men I could get paid to do these things that he was doing that I couldn’t do fast enough. In February they had a Valentine’s Dance and some of the single workers that worked in the woods, the sawyers and such, told Bob, if you don’t marry that woman, we’re going to. So on the 26th of February I got my ring. The 27th of March we got married. I knew him just about 4 months.

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