Evelyn Urich

Interview with Evelyn Urich Einfeldt urichconducted by Curt Dalton of the NCR Archive at the Montgomery County Historical Society Oct. 18, 2001 during the 2001 Runion.

CD: I am Curt Dalton and this is October 17 (I believe), 2001 Could be the 18th, I can’t remember. It’s Friday anyway, and you are Evelyn and what was your maiden name?

EE: Urich, like Robert Urich on the television.

CD: Oh, yeah. Now if you just had his money.

EE: I’ve said that many times.

CD: Now, I really don’t know where to begin so: You were how old when you joined?

EE: I joined January 1943 and I was 20 years old.

CD: That was the age you had to be, wasn’t it?

EE: You had to be 21.

CD: So you had to get your parents’ permission?

EE: I got my mother to sign, I signed my dad’s name, because he would not sign.

CD: He would not sign.

EE: No, and even though I was going to be 21 in 2 or 3 months I still had to have their permission. That was because you had to be 21 then.

CD: They changed it later.

EE: They changed it later.

CD: Now, why did you want to join? I mean, do you remember?

EE: I suppose for patriotic reasons. You know, mostly. And Arkansas was having a big drive. That was the first thing I ever knew about the Navy. They were having a big drive, the wanted to get 100 women to send to Hunter College. We only got 97.

CD: From the whole state, or just from your city?

EE: From the whole state, because one of the gals that came up was from Texas. She joined right on the Arkansas border and she was from Paris, Texas and so she came up and joined, but mostly it was women from Arkansas.

CD: Why didn’t your Dad want you to join, do you know?

EE: He was in World War I. Oh, yeah, I knew why he didn’t want me to, he didn’t think it was proper. You know, it was different back then.

CD: Your Mom didn’t care?

EE: No, she didn’t really care. That was fine, I was old enough to do what I wanted to do, she thought, because I had always had ambitions of going to college. Well, I had graduated high school at 17. You couldn’t get a job hardly during the Depression and couldn’t go to college. People didn’t have money except if you were well to do. And, so I always wanted to go to college, so I went and lived with my aunt and my grandmother for a year and a half after I got out of high school in Des Moines, Iowa. I found better conditions up there. You know, you couldn’t get a job anywhere if you don’t have any experience. I was just about over 17 when I got out of high school. But I had moved from Texas to Arkansas so I was ahead of them. Arkansas didn’t have very good school system. And, so I got out right away. I only went to school there about 2 years. And, I was working when I joined. I was working in a defense plant and I was making about $80 a week.

CD: More than you were making in the Navy.

EE: Yes, yes. And, because they had already started recruiting for defense plants and I had only worked there 8 months, but I was a line leader. And, that meant-you know, they ran machines to make bullets and every time they had a blow you had to shut the line down and fix the machine that the girl had worked on and make sure she wasn’t hurt. And, I was very adventurous. I just thought that I’d like to go in the Navy when I heard they were recruiting. I passed by a recruiting office and looked in the window and I thought, “I’ll just go in and look.” Well, if you go in and look, you were signed up. I didn’t know that so-but, anyway, I was never sorry I joined.

CD: Good. Well, uh. Yeah I heard from a couple of other women they really kind of tricked you into signing up before you knew it.

EE: Well, that’s about true. You know, they were doing it for a good-if you were even interested, and I was so I was signed up and that was alright, but then I thought I’m not going to get to go if my Dad doesn’t sign. And so-

CD: Some how his signature appeared on the paper.

EE: That’s right.

CD: We don’t know how, but

EE: He lived in Oklahoma then and I sent it to him. He sent it back and said, “No way.” That’s all he had on the letter and I thought, “Okay, Dad.” So I signed, oh, he finally got over it. He wasn’t very happy, but he finally got over it. He knew I was going to do it. I was pretty soon old enough to do what I wanted to.

CD: By the time you came back home. Did you get to visit any while you were in the Navy?

EE: We did not get boot leave and I did not take a leave after we came to Dayton. I didn’t take a leave until ’44. I saved my leave days. I guess, whatever you say, and worked on because everybody couldn’t go at once anyway. A lot of the girls went home at Christmas. I never did. It was too far. I was going to save my money to go to college. I was a kind of a tightwad. And so, I was going to save my money to go to college. I didn’t go home until’44. My mother got ill and the Red Cross called me home and I went home for a month.

CD: Oh, wow.

EE: Yeah, my mother was ill and then I think I stayed about a month and went back then. That was the only time I went home during the service. If I had any leave at all like a 3-day pass, I went down to Des Moines, Iowa, because I lived with my aunt there and so I would just go to Des Moines and back.

CD: How far, I mean, how long did that take?

EE: I don’t know. You take the train to Chicago and then down from Chicago. So I don’t remember how long that would take, but it must not have taken too long because I would just have a 3-day pass maybe. But, you didn’t get many leaves, really and truly, and they always wanted girls to stay over the holidays, you know, because a lot of the girls wanted to go home, because we didn’t just close down. You know, maybe you’d have Christmas off and maybe, you know, you just didn’t close the line down all the time the first couple of years.

CD: Now, you went to Hunter College first.

EE: Yes, Hunter College New York.

CD: And how long was that?

EE: Uh, we stayed 6 weeks. The 2nd Regiment, 6 weeks, because-That’s why they had so many gals that kind of knew each other because we were all in the 2nd Regiment, and so when we went to Washington we did all this testing. You know, Dayton was just opening up and they were looking for a big crew and so, if you could pass the intelligence test, what ever they gave and we had 2 weeks of testing in Washington D.C. And so, if you could pass. And yet, if some of the girls passed and they really didn’t like working what we did and so some of them went to Wright Field, I believe, and some of them went back to Washington to do something different. I don’t know how they picked names to stay in Dayton. I have no idea and I don’t think anybody else does. I don’t know if they went enee, meenee, miney, moe or whatever.

CD: You probably had to be good on the test to begin with just to come to Dayton, maybe.

EE: I would imagine, you at least had to be, you know pass the intelligence test. Well, you had to pass the security test, I know, because my mother told me that there were a couple of gentlemen, you know, asking questions in my neighborhood and so, right away, of course I knew they found out I might sign my name and -One of my roommates happened to be married to a fellow that was in pilot training which was a no,no and Mary Spencer said to me, “Don’t go and tell them, because then they might start investigating all of us and they’ll find out she should have not even have gotten in or he would have been thrown out.” That was really a serious thing. And she said, “Just wait and let them get you,” and so I really didn’t go and report it. I watched my P’s and Q’s most of the time. I didn’t go downtown and look in a bar or anything, because I thought what if they catch me. So I really was a tad more careful and I liked it. You know, I liked doing that work and just the Navy life.

CD: Now, you came to Dayton here afterwards?

EE: Yes, I came here May 3rd. That was the first contingent of girls that came. May 3rd. CD That was ’43?

EE: ’43.

CD: How long did you stay here then?

EE: I stayed-we left, most of the girls left in June, July and August of ’46 to go to St. Paul. After the girls got out, you know, after they had enough points to get out, a lot of the girls were anxious to get out, some of them were married and so I stayed on and then when we went to St. Paul, Captain _________said we need somebody to go back and do office work because, in the end, I was kind of doing office work. When the girls left I was working in the office. And he wanted people to sign over so we could go to St. Paul and we could move the office to St. Paul. So I thought, “Well,” I-he said if we could pass the test we’d get an advance in rank. And I was a first class petty officer and I could see that old chief’s salary up there. It was probably about $59, I don’t remember, and so I started studying for the test and I signed over for another year, I thought. It turned out it would have been 3 years ’cause I stayed in ’til ’49, 2 years in reserve. And so I stayed here until October, then I went to St. Paul and I came back and stayed a month.

CD: October ’46?

EE: October’46 I went to St. Paul and I just got up there and turned around and found a place to stay and they had closed the Naval Air Station up there. The girls were all staying on the Naval Air Station. They closed the Naval Air Station, so we had to move our stuff and find a place to rent. And so I found a place to rent and then I immediately came back, another girl and I came back and closed the rest of the office and we stayed a month in a rooming house here.

CD: So, you never went to Washington D.C. at all?

EE: Not ’til the discharge. We were discharged in the Spring of ’47.

CD: So, when you first came here, you worked on the Bombe?

EE: Yes, we worked on the Bombe. I was called Power Supply because I worked on the power supply. That’s everybody called me. I have no idea what different it was, but that is what I worked on.

CD: So, you didn’t do the rotors. You actually-

EE: I actually was wiring the power supply, I guess. That is all I remember. I have a lot of pictures that say “To the Power Supply.” That always kills me, but you know that is just what I happened to-I suppose I was good at that or, I don’t have any idea.

CD: Did that involve soldering or-?

EE: Yes, the same thing, but it was probably to the power supply.

CD: Probably.

EE: So, any way that is what I did.

CD: And, how long did you do that? I mean, did you become a supervisor or anything?

EE: Nope. No, I sat at my same place probably ’til I started working in the offices.

CD: That was Building 26?

EE: Building 26, yes.

CD: Power supply, what in the world did they look like, any idea, do you remember?

EE: I have no idea. I’m sure we soldered, did the same thing, but it could have been a little different shape than the commentators, because I can see my work station. I worked in the back here, I looked at a wall and you sat on benches like a line. I mean on stools just like the line and we had benches, whatever we did. And we did that. And then, I worked in the office, probably part of the summer of ’46 because the gentleman. I had that girl at lunch today and her dad taught me how to drive. We only had one car in my family at home and I had never been behind the wheel and Mr. Walman taught me how to drive and at the time, I think the station had only like 4 cars. Maybe 2 station wagons and another car and if Captain Meader needed to go to the airport or something a lot of times they’d ask for somebody to drive the Captain to the airport. Well, I passed my driving test and so I’d say I’ll drive him to the airport. If we didn’t have anything left we had the delivery wagon and the driver sat here and it was empty, not 2-seated and Capt. Meader would sit on this little box. Here’s the Captain being driven by a Petty Officer. That was good. You were supposed to be driven by a Petty Officer. I don’t [know] that Capt. Meader ever drove. I have no idea. Debbie seems to think that he drove a Nash, but I really don’t remember. I used to drive him up to Desches if he needed to go to Desches after some of the officers were gone. But, most of the time I worked on the power supply.

CD: You probably actually got to talk to Meader more than anybody else there, I mean-

EE: Probably. Oh, the officers were really nice. I mean they weren’t above us. Hottenstein was really the greatest, Ensign Wiley, they were really good to the girls. Rank didn’t make any difference. Just respect. They were all a great bunch of gals. They all were maybe 8 to 10 years older. Of course most of them had graduated from college already.

CD: Oh, really.

EE: Uh huh, the officers.

CD: Did you ever get to talk to Joe Desch at all?

EE: You know, I was at the Desches one time and I probably spoke to him. I had taken the Captain up and I went in, I suppose, to wait for him. Some of the other girls had gone to the Desches house a lot more than I did, but I had taken Captain Meader up and sat in the house for maybe an hour and Joe was in there, but I didn’t-and he came to Sugar Camp a lot but I really didn’t talk to him that much. But I recognized his pictures and everything right away and Mrs. Desch was very nice to-a lot of the gals went up and helped her, but I never did because I had met this other family here and, if I had any free time, I spent time with them. Their girls, Wanda and ________ were so enamoured of the Waves. You know, we went out all the time. Wanda met, oh, the reporter, Jim Bussey. She met him because I had mentioned her to him and she was telling about how they got started taking servicemen in and then when the Waves came, we went to a Mother’s Day banquet at United Brethren Church. They had an announcement on the bulletin board and about 4 of us said, “Oh, let’s go.” They were going to have a dinner, there was food I suppose, and they had chosen a couple of the Waves to be their mothers, so that they were sponsored and then they invited us to their house and so there would be 4 or 5 of us there. That was on a Sunday night and I wonder how she ever found enough food. I know exactly what we had. She always mad toasted cheese sandwiches and she baked the best cakes. We went on Sunday night. They had open house, a lot of time they would have soldiers from the USO and their youngest girl played piano and we would stand around the piano and sing on Sunday night, just an old type homey thing. I have kept in contact with them. Their mother and dad, we called them Mom and Pop, were the greatest people. He was a postman and so they had always had a little money. You know, not money, but he always had a job and they were so gracious to the Waves.

CD: What was their name again?

EE: Walman.

CD: Do you remember their first names?

EE: Art Walman, I believe. Yes. I believe his name was Art. For the life of me, I can’t think of her name. The daughter came to the ceremony today and I said to Wanda, “Oh, wouldn’t it have been great if your mom and dad-they never knew what we did.” And she said that would have been so great, but they are both deceased.

CD: How do you spell their names?

EE: Wahlman.

CD: It would have been nice if they could have.

EE: Well, Wanda married Bud Ford and he worked for NCR for a long time. So, Wanda’s lived in Dayton all her life. Her sister married and moved to New York, but Wanda’s lived in Dayton all her life. And I have always kept in touch with her, with Christmas cards and birthday cards because we were really good friends. They were really good to me. As a matter of fact, my husband and I were married in St. Paul and, that was in July ’47 and we came back to Dayton on our honeymoon and we stayed at their house. Well, because I wanted them to meet him. You know, I wanted them to meet him so we came back to Dayton on our honeymoon and stayed at their house. There was another family that was good to the Waves, too, and their name was Varvel. They had 3 kids and Mrs. Wahlman and Mrs. Varvel would take care of the girls. Mrs. Varvel, I think, had one or two girls married at her house. She helped them with the wedding, Evelyn Berbacker was one of them and I forgot the other one. So the people of Dayton were absolutely, I thought they were the best people in the world. If you just got out on the street and started walking down the road to Johns Avenue or Brown or wherever the trolley ran, they would pick you up. You couldn’t do that today. We would just jump in any old body’s car, you know, if they would stop and say, do you girls want a ride. So, you couldn’t do that today. That’s changed. But, the people of Dayton were really, really nice to us.

CD: Now, you marched to work, is that right?

EE: Yes, we marched to work. You walked home, I mean back to Sugar Camp, independently. You couldn’t hardly march up that hill, I don’t think. But going down it was great. We marched to work. The day shift only. When there were lots of girls here and we had 3 shifts, you only marched the morning shift, I mean the day shift. Everybody liked that day shift though because you could-at lunch hour you could go over to NCR and they sold sandwiches in the hall and then you went into movies and you would have the movie like 3 or 4 days a week. Boy, everybody loved the day shift.

CD: But, you switched from shift to shift, didn’t you?

EE: Yes, at times. Not the whole time that we worked 24 hours a day. We did, probably the first year, we worked 24 hours a day, you know, shifts. And then after the contingent was down, we usually worked the morning shift or the afternoon. We didn’t have to work the midnight, so.

CD: Now, you worked how many days a week, seven? 19:02