Second World War: Parade at Mount Holyoke College

Female Navy cadet at Mount Holyoke College during the second World War escapes an embarrassing situation.

| Good Old Days

I had worked my way through college and had little money to spend on new clothes. Upon graduation in 1943, I received orders for Navy active duty training at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. The Navy worked hard to turn us landlubbers into immediate midshipmen, emerging after 90 days as all-knowing ensigns. Not only did we spend a lot of time in classes, we also held daily drills, marching to the "hup, two" of the drill instructor. One couldn't help but be proud to be one of a ship-shape group of navy blue uniforms, marching en masse, with white-gloved hands swinging back and forth against the navy blue background. 

Occasionally the companies of the battalion would parade in precision down the drill field and past a reviewing stand, where our skipper, Capt. Underwood, would stand and return the salutes of our company commander as we strutted by with "eyes right." On one occasion like this we were marching down the field for the review. Since I was a shorty I always ended up in the last row of the company. We executed our final turn and were ready to march past the reviewing stand when I felt a strange sensation in my lower back. Of course, I kept right on marching and swinging my white-gloved hands like everyone else. But all too soon I became aware of big trouble - my hose began to sag, and little by little my stockings were slithering down my legs. I realized that the strange feeling was the deterioration of my old garter-belt hooks, which held up my stockings. Soon that tacky garter belt would be dangling between my legs, and eventually I would be tripping on it. I was in a panic. Luckily, there was a large tree right beside our marching path, so I hitched up my skirt front and aft - in a far-from-military posture - and marched right behind that wonderful tree and out of sight of the reviewing stand. I remained hidden there until the parade was over and everyone had left.

I returned to our quarters and secured the offensive garment with a big safety pin. Of course I was told to report to our commanding officer. I explained my strange behavior, expecting full well to be tossed out of the Navy. I'm almost certain that he had a hard time keeping a straight face, but somehow managed a stern countenance. I was sentenced to two weeks on "The Tree" (no liberty) with an admonishment to keep my undergarments in more wearable condition. That was a close one.

Cmdr. Evelyn N. (Dene) Sooy
U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)
San Diego, California

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 

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