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Oral history interview with Virginia S. O'Brien, 1997.

Author: Virginia S O'Brien; Mark D Van Ells; Wisconsin Veterans Museum.
Edition/Format:   Archival material : Cassette recording : English
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Virginia O'Brien, a Madison, Wisconsin native, shares her experiences in Madison with home front war efforts during World War II, including work as a telephone operator and involvement with USO dances. O'Brien recalls hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor while babysitting and states after that "everything became a war effort." She touches on stamp drives, scrap drives, Red Cross classes, food and shoe  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Home front
Personal narratives, American
Named Person: Virginia S O'Brien; Marvin O'Brien; Glenn Miller
Document Type: Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Virginia S O'Brien; Mark D Van Ells; Wisconsin Veterans Museum.
OCLC Number: 657397074
Event notes: Interviewed by Mark Van Ells on April 18, 1997 in Madison, Wis.
Description: Sound recording : 1 sound cassette (ca. 54 min.); analog, 1 7/8 ips. Master sound recording : 1 sound cassette (ca. 54 min.); analog, 1 7/8 ips. Transcript : 18 p. Military papers : 0.1 linear ft. (1 folder)

Abstract:

Virginia O'Brien, a Madison, Wisconsin native, shares her experiences in Madison with home front war efforts during World War II, including work as a telephone operator and involvement with USO dances. O'Brien recalls hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor while babysitting and states after that "everything became a war effort." She touches on stamp drives, scrap drives, Red Cross classes, food and shoe rationing, and prom being cancelled. While still at Central High School, she describes working at a telephone company as an "A-Operator." With so many young women working, O'Brien says it seemed "like everybody had their shoulder to the wheel." She remembers crying when she heard musician Glenn Miller went missing in action. As the writer of the music column in her high school paper, O'Brien recalls doing interviews with musicians, seeing shows in Madison and at Truax Field, and spending time at places like the Campus Soda Grill where servicemen spent free time. Too young to be an official USO hostess, O'Brien describes slipping into the dance halls anyway to dance and talk with servicemen. She states, "I think more than anything they talked about home." She says the biggest rule for hostesses was no dating, but that friendships developed through the exchange of telephone numbers and writing letters. She speaks of meeting Marvin O'Brien, an Air Corps mechanic, while he was home on furlough, being courted through exchange of letters, and planning their wedding while he was in the service. She says he would often talk about a night when he went to town and returned to find the plane he normally slept in had been hit and men he knew were killed. After her husband's passing, she talks about standing up to Veterans Affairs to get "Air Corps" put on her husband's grave instead of "Army." O'Brien details her involvement in a group of hospital entertainers that performed shows and radio broadcasting for the VA hospital.

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Primary Entity

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