WORKING DAYS

I started my first job at 15 - baby sitting Charles K. Peters III, who lived next door. He was six months old, an only child with older parents who would take the baby for a car ride to get him to sleep at night. Sometimes I would rock him.

When Mrs. Peters rocked him, she sang the hymn "There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood" as his lullaby. Her choice of a lullaby seemed to comfort the baby!

The summer before my senior year in high school, I worked in my father's office. His secretary, Bernice Pickens, taught me to type. Bernice and I became great friends. She was never jealous of the fact that I took over some of the work that she could do. I learned office procedure and to be at ease answering the phone and taking messages. These skills would help me later in any position that I might obtain. I received no pay for this but was willing to work for the experience. In the Corsicana school system we graduated after the 11th year.

In November 1939 after I returned from California I enrolled in Navarro Commercial College. The College was located on the second floor of an office building in downtown Corsicana. My picture appeared in the Corsicana daily paper August 30, 1940 under the heading "Winner." The caption reads, "The Navarro Commercial College announces Virginia Seale as winner of a Gold Order of Artistic Typing Emblem. This is a national contest." I still have a pin earned by taking shorthand at 120 words per minute and transcribing the copy correctly. The scroll-shaped pin is engraved with the characters for "shorthand" followed by "120 wpm."

After completing the secretarial course at Navarro Commerical College, my dad encouraged me to go to Dallas looking for work as the prospects for work in the city were much greater than in a small town like Corsicana. I had letter of recommendation from a friend of my father's, an attorney that I had worked for when his secretary went on vacation, and my school transcript that showed that my grades were acceptable.

I moved in with my sister, Emily. She had completed her nurse's training and was working in the maternity ward of Florence NightingaleSchool of Nursing. Her efficiency apartment was located within a few blocks of where she worked. I would board the inter-urban at the corner and go to the center of downtown Dallas.

My father had given me several leads to insurance offices. I became very discouraged when over a period of weeks I had no prospect of a job. However, with no office experience no one wanted to give me a chance. It was only after my father made some phone calls to some friends of his at the Home Insurance Company that finally I was accepted in the Claims Department of that company. My dad was a representative of this company which sold automobile insurance among other types.

My job was typing checks to pay approved claims. This I did for eight hours a day. The only claim I can remember was for a fire in the back seat of an automobile. On the form, there was a question that asked "State reason for claim". The answer was, "Friction in the back seat".

We had a small lunch room so most of us brought our lunch because we were on the tenth floor. By the time you got the elevator and went down on the street to a restaurant you had spent most of your lunch hour. Besides, bringing your lunch was less expensive. I was thrilled that my salary had started out for $50 a month. My lunch menu was usually the same - bologna and lettuce sandwich on white bread, always with mayo, an apple, or an orange, or a banana, and something to drink. To this day I cannot enjoy a bologna sandwich without thinking back to those lunches.

During the time I was living in Dallas, my sister, Emily, and I planned a vacation together. We took Mother along with us and vacationed in southern Texas. We stayed in a German community, New Braunfels, which wasn't far from San Antonio. We had a cabin along the Guadalupe River and we swam in the river. Mother always went swimming with us. One of our side trips was a visit to the Alamo.

"December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

"I believe I interpret the will of Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

"With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounding determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God."

These words were spoken by Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 8, 1941. For those of us who were old enough to remember that date, each of us can think back to where we were on December 7, 1941 and how this news affected our lives.

At this time, I was a member of a civilian defense group in Dallas. If an air raid siren blew, it was my duty to patrol the street, making sure no lighted windows were visible, etc. I think the organization appealed to me because we wore light blue uniforms. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my first thought was, "What can I do to serve my country?" I immediately started looking into the possibilities of joining the Women's Army Auxillary Corps (W.A.A.C.) At that time a young woman had to be at least 21 years of age, and I was only 20 on December 10, 1941, three days after Pearl Harbor.

Sometime in the early 1940's, Margie Handly and I were living together in an efficiency apartment, after my sister, Emily, joined the U. S. Navy. Jack McDaniel and his wife, Sissy, were living in California. He worked for Lockheed and they were transferring him back to their Dallas plant. The McDaniels needed a place to live when they returned. We all four went apartment hunting and rented an apartment in Oak Cliff. Jack, Margie and I had jobs and Sissy agreed to stay home and do the cooking.

Margie, Sissy and I loved to stay up late and talk, talk, talk. Jack, being the only male in the household and not being particularly interested in "girl talk", always retired early. One night, after we girls had been gabbing until late, Sissy went to bed and moved over to kiss Jack goodnight, when a loud crash indicated to Sissy that one of the slats beneath the mattress must have fallen to the floor. However, Jack jumped out of bed and headed for the bathroom. Margie and I joined Sissy to see what the noise was all about and waited for Jack to come out of the bathroom. When he didn't come out right away, Sissy knocked on the door and asked if he was all right and asked what he was doing. His reply sent the three of us into hysterics. He said, "I don't know what you all are doing, but I'm getting ready to go to work". He thought the alarm had gone off, and when the slat fell and awakened him, he started shaving, preparing to go to work at 1:00 a.m.

In March 1942 my Mother and Father moved from Texas to California, where my Father was to help his brother, Homer T. Seale, operate a Screw Machine Products Company. This Company would be one of many to do its part in the war effort.

I made a decision to give up my position with Home Insurance Company and make the move to California to join my family. My first job in California was as a switchboard operator for an attorney located in the Arcade Building in downtown L.A. Later I took a civil service examination and worked at Camp Santa Anita, which was an Ordnance Depot during the war.