INTERVIEW WITH MARGARET REYNOLDS

BY

DONNA ATWOOD & NANCY WILSON

Start of Tape 1, Side A 
Donna Atwood:This is Donna Atwood and Nancy Wilson,we are conducting the Oral History Interviewwith Margaret Reynolds as part of the IUS Oral History (project) for the class of History in the Twentieth Century. We are here at her home and we would just like to thank you, Margo, for taking the time and the effort to speak with us today. 
I would like to begin and ask you to give us a little background about yourself.Whatyour name was, where you were born, raised, and a little bit about your early childhood.

Margo Reynolds:Well, my legal name is Margaret Rice Reynolds, but I am called Margo Rice and I was born in Austin, Texas.When I was six months old, my folks came back to Indiana.I was raised in Indiana.I went to school, I graduated from high school at Monticello High School.That was right in the midst of the big depression. I went to the University of Illinois one year. Then my sister and I had a marionette show, that we showed over Indiana and Illinois schools, and clubs and things.Then I decided to make some money, so I could go into nurse's training. I went into nurse's training in 1937, at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago.It was a wonderful hospital and I had a wonderful experience there.The war broke out in about 1941, so I decided to go in as a nurse, into the service in 1942, from Chicago.

DA:What made you become interested in nursing?

Reynolds:In nursing in the first place?Well, I had an aunt who had been a nurse. I had a lot of relatives that were medical people.I don't know, I have been interested in people. I have always liked people, I guess maybe that was the main reason.I had to do something and at that time, you either went into nursing or you went in to teaching school.I didnít want to teach school. [Laughter]DA:Okay.Well, then how did you become interested in joining the service once the war broke out? 

Reynolds:Well, in the first place everybody was . There was a lot of loyalty after Pearl Harbor. Everybody was enthusiastic about going and most of my friends went into the service. That's when ... the reason I decided, loyalty and all the friends going in.

DA:What branch of the service were you a part of?

Reynolds:The Army Nurse Corp

DA:Okay.What was your family's reaction when your told them that you were going? That you were joining the ArmyNurses Corpand you were going.

Reynolds:[Pause] They didnít tell me not to. [Laughter]I donít know, they were down in Indiana and I was up in Illinois.I went down to see them, they didnít discourage me from it.People didnít discourage people from doing any thing like that then. It was just done.

DA:Whatwas the reactions of your friends? ? Just the community in general, about the war and what was going on.

Reynolds:It was all after Pearl Harbor. Everybody was ready to just do anything they could.So that's what we did.We did what we could do.I was teaching at St. Lukeís, and there were people there that tried to discourage my going, because they said they would need nurses back in the States as well,but I was not swayed.

DA:So, you were already done with your nurses training in 1941, when the war broke out?

Reynolds:Yes

DA:Okay

Reynolds:In fact, I had been working as a graduate nurse.

DA:Okay.So you enlisted in the Army.

Reynolds:I became an officer. I was an officer. I went in as an officer.

DA:At what rank?

Reynolds:At Second Lieutenant. All nurses went in as Second Lieutenant.

DA:Okay.Could you tell us a little bit about that initial..... You signed up, and then what happened?

Reynolds:Well, I went down to headquarters. I donít remember just exactly how it was, but then they asked me if I would recruit nurses? to go to Amarillo, Texas. So I stayed in Chicago, in that area, to recruit nurses and I didnít like recruiting nurses. I stayed there until it was a few months, and finally, I went down to Amarillo, Texas.

DA:Where was your first station at?

Reynolds:Well, the first one was in Chicago because I was recruiting nurses.

[Telephone Rings]

Nancy Wilson:Pausing for a phone call.

DA:So you went into the service in Chicago.

Reynolds:Yes

DA:Did you have to go through Boot Camp?

Reynolds:No.Nurses didnít have to.They went in as officers. They didnít have to go into Boot Camp at that time.I donít know if they do now or not, I donít think they do.

DA:Other than your nurses training, did the Army give you any additional training in anything else?

Reynolds:Not particularly, except that there were classes that all the military had to go to from time to time.Like, when we had to wear gas masks. We had to go through a period of having to wear gas masks, and there were other things. They also had classes directed at everybody on the post.

DA:Okay.Then they transferred you to Amarillo.

Reynolds:Yes

DA:Amarillo, Texas.Okay. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Reynolds:Well, I went down there as an Assistant Chief Nurse. I was there for about a year and a half I think. I was not fond of the Chief Nurse and she knew it.She wasn't too fond of me either, but when she was transferred to another place, everybody was really delighted in that.There wasnít an awful lot that was really unusual that went on in Amarillo. I met people.Actually, I met my husband there,but we didnít get married until after the war was over.

DA:Okay.Where did you go after Amarillo?

Reynolds:I was transferred to Topeka, Kansas for three months, and then I received orders to go overseas.

DA:Were you happy about that?

Reynolds:You just took it as it came along. [Laughter] You had some question about it, but you knew that it was expected. I kind of took it as it came along.

DA:Where were you stationed overseas?

Reynolds:Actually, I had to go to Camp Miles Standish first. We were there for a week or two weeks, I can't remember which.That was close to Boston.They gave us classes and told us how to pack and so on.How to pack our clothes, and what we should take, and so on.Then we left from, I believe, it was Boston, on ship. Actually it was the S.S. Washington, which was largest ship the United States, hadat that time.It took us six days to get across which was a fast trip, but just before we landed in England, there was a big storm that came up. So we had to go back out and we had to come back in again the next day. So it took us seven days to get over there.Then we went straight across England on a train, and they dumped us in South Hampton. They forgot where they dumped the nurses. They got everybody else collected to go across the channel. They had to hold up until the next day, because they finally found us late in the afternoon. It was raining cats and dogs.We got on this ship and went across the channel the next morning. First, we went to Omaha Beach. They didnít know what they wanted to do with us so they took us to Utah Beach. We go out there and the mud was clear up to our knees practically, and they've landed us in a class _A_ uniform.So, then it was towards eveningand they still didnít know what they were going to do with us. So they put us in, I guess,it was a bivouac area. These tents, they had dirt floors, and they told us to roll out our bed rolls and get ready to go to sleep. They would take care of us the next day .Then they found a place in a hospitalfor us. They had some beds. So they finally loaded us up and we went to this hospital, so we had real beds to sleep in that night.We were in Carentan, France that night. We eventually took over this hospital where we had spent the night. I thinkwe bivouac for aboutthree days, no about a week. I donít really remember how long.

D A:How many nurses come over with you in your group?

Reynolds:I donít know.I donít know how many there are in the general hospital.It was a full supply of nurses for our hospital.I donít remember how many there were.

DA:Did your unit or your nurseshave a number or name?

Reynolds:It was 180th General. 180th General Hospital, in Carentan, France.Wetook over a tent hospital, and we lived in tents through one winter in France.

DA:Whatwas your first post like?

Reynolds:You mean in Carentan?Well, it was a tent.I was the supervisor of the surgical ward.I had 19 wards to supervise and there were probably about 30 patients on a ward.Everybody worked to make it a good hospital. They eventually really made it ... a really comfortably hospital. There was a contest for all of the hospitals in the Normandy area and the one that came out on top got to choose where they were going to go further up towards the front. Ours came out first.The C.O., the commanding officer, was gone for awhile and we went to look over several places. By that time, before we left there instead of taking care ofsoldiers, American soldiers, we turned the hospital over to the German? prisoners of war.So they all had to be treated, to be taught. So first the warden, the German warden came in, and this other nurse who spoke German. I wrote the courses and she gave the classes. I attended the classes. We gave the classes, teaching the war men what they were supposed to do. Then German nurses came in, and then I had to write another course, courses for them. This other nurse told it in German and we had classes for them. Then the doctors had to, and then the German doctors came in. They had to do the same thing. They were all trained and were ready to take over the prisoner of war hospital.Well, the prisoners of war were there for awhile. The funny thing was, one day, some there were prisoners of war in the operating room and they said, _You people are going to go up to Metz, France._ We didnít know how in the world they found it out, but later on they said, _No you are going to go up to Frankfurt, Germany._ How they ever found out that's where we are going, but that's what happened.The commanding officer had gone to Metz. He had looked that over and he had about decided. Then they had a chance to go on up to Frankfurt, Germany and it was a beautiful hospital that we took over in Frankfurt.Then later, we went up by train.It was about a three hundred mile trip and it took us five days on the train to get there.

DA:How long were you at your post in Carentan, France?

Reynolds:We got up in the first of October, the last of September and we left in,I think it was the last of April. Itwas about the last couple days of April because the war ended in England, I mean in France, and Germany in May.Ithink it was about the 5th or 6th and we were in thehospital when the war ended in Germany. 

DA:So you stayed at that one hospital during your whole tour in France?

Reynolds:The whole total in Germany?

DA:Do you know approximately when you arrived in France, the first of October of what year?

Reynolds:I believe, let me think ... it must have been 44.But that may not be right, but I think it was 44.

DA:And then you stayed through April of 45.

Reynolds:To where?To Carentan?

DA:Yeah

Reynolds:Yeah

DA:Then from there you went to Frankfurt, Germanyfrom April until how long?

Reynolds:In August, they wanted to send us to CBI which is China, Burma, India.So we went back to Reims and waited for our orders there. While we were there the war ended in CBI. The war ended so we didnít have to go back up, but we did have to set up a hospital again in northern France, at Soisonne.

DA:Can you describe to us what a typical day would be in the hospital,inCarentan?

Reynolds:Ugh...

DA:What time would you get up?

Reynolds:Let's see, we had to be on duty at 7:00am orthe people who worked days had to be on duty at 7:00am, so I guess then we had to have breakfast before. I probably got up at 5:30 or 6:00am.We had to be on duty at 10 minutes of 7:00.Then I made rounds of these 19 wards. We had a lot of rain and a lot of mud and I thought well, the nurses should have a break about 10:00 o'clock and have coffee, andhave maybe something else.So I finally got permission from the C.O. for them to have that. So they would come down to my office, little perimeter tent and they would get coffee from the mess hall, and sometimes we would have rolls, or sometimes we would have something else to go with it. They would always see that the wards would be covered.One person or two people would come at a time.

DA:So yours was more of an administrative type of job.Did you have any of the direct care of soldiers?

Reynolds:I didnít. Now there was a word that came from the chief nurse that this one patient was complaining a lot.They couldn't figure out why, so finally I went in there and went into this one ward to find out.I asked him what was the trouble. He gave me about a list of 17 different things, three fourths of them that couldn't be taken care of.All of the other patients that were up, were around there sitting and laughing at all of the things that he said. Sometimes I would say, _ Now, you know that we canít take care of that,_ but I saw to it that about three things were taken care of that day. Then everyday after that when I would make rounds, why they would all collect around to see what he had to complain about. After he left in England, I got a letter from him which was surprising.I canít remember what it was but it was something about appreciating and I donít know what. 

NW:That'snice.

Reynolds:One time when I was making rounds, it was raining.You could always count on that it was raining.Some of the patients that were up were sitting on a cot, up at the front and there was a heating stove. They were pretending like there was a dog. Theysaid, _Here FIFO ... here FIFO ... come on, come on, come on._They were playing with that dog the morning long and finally, it was time for them to go to the mess hall. They had to walk aboutthe distance of about two blocks and they started out. Theygot about half the way there and one of them said, _Oh,we forgot FIFO!_ and here it was raining cats and dogs and one of them turned around and went back calling FIFO... FIFO... finally, they got to the mess hall with FIFO.

NW:What were the living conditions like for you?

Reynolds:I lived in a tent.We all... there were eight of us in a tent.Everybody lived in a tent.

NW:Okay.By tent, do you mean my definition of a tent?Like outside, like a regular tent? 

Reynolds:Well, it was a military tent.There were eight of us that slept in it.Which was, I mean,it wasnít the kind of a tent you tent out camping with.There was a concrete floor.I think there was a concrete floor.I donít know if there was a concrete floor or not. No, there wasnít a concrete floor.It was on a dirt floor.

NW:Okay.You slept in cots?

Reynolds:Pardon?

NW:You slept in cots?

Reynolds:We slept in cots.

NW:Okay

Reynolds:There was a little potbellied stove.When they shipped them over, they would separate; one would fit down in the other one. Each tent had a potbellied stove to keep warm.

NW:Okay.What about recreation?What did you do on your time off?Did you do anything?

Reynolds:Well, let's see... we had Ping-Pong tables.We always had a dance every weekend.We did some reading and a lot of writing of letters. We were always glad to get letters.Oh, and then there were groups that had been over there a lot longer than we had been, not hospitals, but various military outfits, and they liked to have parties. They would have to come to the chief nurse and say they wanted so many of the nurses to go to their party. So the chief nurse usually came to me and asked me to get a certain number of people to go to a party.We went in a military vehicle.We had to go in one, all together, and come back in one.

NW:Who would attend the dances and where would the dances have taken place that you spoke of earlier?

Reynolds:Who would attend them?

NW:Besides the nurses.

Reynolds:Well, the people that had them were G.I.'s. I remember one dance that they had, it was in a barn. There was a post that went up in the middle of the barn and there was a trough that went around it, some kind of a yolk. They would have a horse go around with this thing that would go in the trough, and it wouldsquash the grapes and things to make wine.There were a lot of interesting places where we had parties.

NW:Could you tell us a little bit about the reaction of the male service men to you, to the women nurses being there, if there was a reaction?Was there any reaction?

Reynolds:They showed respect.NW:They did?Okay.

Reynolds:As far as I was concerned. I think that most everybody felt that they showed respect,and were appreciative.

NW:Good.

Reynolds:We were all in the boat together. So everybody kind of worked together and knew what it was.I know there was one tent of nurses in our outfit, there were six or eight of them. They were all really lovely people, but they would come off duty and then come back to their tent and gripe. None of the rest of them did. Everybody else participated in what was going on.Now one time, when I was at Carentan, there was this chief nurse, asked me if I would go with her and a couple of other people to Mont St. Michel. She arranged my hours so I could go. We had a wonderful trip and every once in awhile you could go off, something like that.

NW:You stated earlier that you met your husband in Carentan, France?

Reynolds:No, in Amarillo, Texas.

NW:Oh, Amarillo, Texas. So when you were in Carentan, France you had already met your husband and he was back in Amarillo?

Reynolds:He was in Amarillo, and he tried to get out, and he tried to get out, and never could get out in the whole war.He had to help set up the military base in Amarillo.

NW:Okay.Was it difficult for you then, to leave him in Amarillo and be in Carentan? Was there any kind of emotional distress?

Reynolds:Well, sure there was, except you kind of accepted it as it came along, cause you just had to, that was all.If you didnít, you better not be there.

NW:What about the difference, if you would see any difference, from the way that you lived in Amarillo, Texas or in Indiana to the way you lived in Carentan?Was there a big difference?Was there a cultural difference?

Reynolds:Well, of course ? we just associated with the military.Nowwe had thereacross the field somebody that lived ... a French woman. We could take our laundry over there and she would do it.We had a French woman come in and clean our tents ever so often, but you had to hide everything because they would take whatever they could.They werenít really very clean.

NW:Okay

DA:Well, thatís different.

NW:Right

Reynolds:I had a permanent while I was in Carentan.

NW:A hair permanent?

Reynolds:Yeah, a hair permanent.They had these machines that heated up.There was no control on the heat and they put these aluminum ... these ammonia wrappers, and then they would put the clamper on. They heated up real fast. There was no control on the heat on your hair.The man who did the permanent ... he had a comb, and he usually took your comb. You took your shampoo because he used the same shampoo over and over until the shampoo was gone. He had a comb and if you didnít bring your comb with you, he would first comb through your hair and then turn around and comb the hair of the person behind.So they werenít as ... we might have been too clean, I donít know, but they werenít clean enough.You needed to strikea happy medium there some place.

NW:Okay.How did you feel knowing that you were responsible forwards and the nurses?Were you stressed by the maximum responsibility that you had by making sure that the soldiers were taken care of in sense?I know that you stately earlier that you really werenít in direct contact with them. You were more of administrative responsibilities.Was that hard or difficult for you or did it come naturally?

Reynolds:Natural I think.I mean it went kinda along with what I had... I had enough experience before.Now what was stressful, I did have to stand inspection. Greeted the inspectors in a certain way and show them the wards, also the linens in the kitchen and all of that stuff.

NW:Right....right.

DA:How did the nurses react to you?

Reynolds:All of us were really good friends.All of us were.

DA:I was going to ask this question later, but I will ask it now.Is there any of the nurses that you bonded with over in France that you still keep in contact with today?

Reynolds:Up until last year.She was in San Antonio, Texas.Now I did keep in touch with some of them, for awhile, but you know that was over fiftyyears ago.I should write again to this one in San Antonio, Texas, but some how or the other you kind of let things drop by the wayside.I kept in touch with her up until the last couple of years.

DA:How easy was it, do you think, to be in the military during the 1940's?

Reynolds:How easy?

DA:Or how difficult, being a woman in the military?

Reynolds:I think there was a difference being an army nurse or being a WAC or a WAVE.See, army nurses have been in the military for a long time.But the WACS or the WAVEShave not been.Army nurses have had strict training even in nurseís training. So it wasnít that big of a difference in the chain, going into the military as it might have been for a either the WACS or the WAVES because they hadnít have any kind ofexperience at all. That you had to discipline yourself.Thatis just my impression.

DA:Did you have contact with WACS or WAVES?

Reynolds:Very little.

DA:In what you did have contact,do you think that they had a more difficult time than the army nurses?In their experiences?

Reynolds:You mean the WACS and the WAVES?

DA:In making the transition into nursing.

Reynolds:I canít say. Iwasnít around them enough to know.Now the only time that I was around them,we were getting ready to come back to the states. We had orders at Reims.We were there for about a week and even then they were in a certain area and we were in a certain area.I really didnít have much contact with them.

DA:Okay.I was reading a report that said that over 200 army nurses were killed in the line of duty.At any time were you or your unit in danger because of the war?

Reynolds:We could have been.We could have been in danger coming across the ocean, but luckily, we were on a fast ship. We zigzagged so that we couldnít be picked up by a submarine.Then one time, one night, the chief nurse and the commanding officer said for us to turn off all of our lights because there was some Germans in the area.When we went upto Frankfurt we were ... well, we got a Battle Star for going up to Frankfurt. You never knew when you were in danger and when you werenít, but we all felt pretty secure. 

DA:Okay.So you did not really experience the front line battle.

Reynolds:Just the fellows that came back from the front line.

DA:Approximately how far back do you think Carentan was from 

End of Tape 1, Side A

Beginning of Tape 1, Side B 

DA:This is side two of tape one.I was talking to Margo again. How far back was your unit from the main body?

Reynolds:Well, I think the main fighting was probably in Brussels about that time, and we were in Normandy, back in Normandy, in France.So, I donít know how far it is.Anyway, that is about the distance. Then they proceeded to go on, the fighting proceeded to go on up in Germany.

DA:Okay

N W:I have a question. The soldiers that you were taking care of, you said that they were coming from the front line.Could you tell us a little bit about that, about the condition of the soldiers, maybe the mindsets of the soldiers?Did you hear any stories about the front line?Being around the people who were.

Reynolds:One of the main complaints that we heard, they said, _There were radios all over the front lines why canítwe have radios back here._So, I was invited, there was a group of us that was invited, to thisspecial services group. They had radios and stuff.I told them the dilemma that we were in.They said, _ Well, I can get you a radio,then all of the nineteen wards that you have, it can be hooked up to them, butit took quite a whilefor him to get it.I was about ready to, I thought, I am fed up with this fella. [Laughter] I was about ready to not see him anymore,but then he finally gave it to us. It was a very, very sensitive radio, so that the people in our special services said, _We know if we put this out here in about three minutes the men will be fooling with this and then it wont work, so can we put in the officers club._I said, _You can do with it whatever you want._They said, _Weíll take the one out of the officerís club and use it for the wards._Anyway, I think it was in the officerís club about five minutes and the officers started fooling with it, soit didnítwork and they did it three times. Finally, they took it out of the officerís club.

NW:What about the physical conditions of the men that you took care of?

Reynolds:First, they would go to a station hospital and they were treated there. Then they were shipped back to us.Then from there, they were either shipped back to England or else the United States.As soon as they were able to go.

DA:You said after you left France and you had your orders to go to Frankfurt.... What was like to go into Germany at the end of the war?

Reynolds:To go into Germany?When we crossed the Rhine, we were tied up there for one day, over a day, because there was no bridge across the Rhine. The bridge had to be built.There were trains waiting, and waiting, and waiting, to get across. Coming back,you could always tell the French trains, because the Frenchmen had their wives with them; why, I donít know.I guess they always took their wives with them.They had the trains all decorated with flowers and everything, all over the place. You could tell, there goes a Frenchmen, cause that is the way they were.But one time we were in Germany and we hadnít gotten to Frankfurt yet. It was raining and there was a big area that hadAmericans, but they were all out in the rain and evenoutside, they had seats for toilets.They were just out exposed to everything and they were going to the toilets and so on, it was really a sad situation. I don_ t know exactly, it was a prison place.And letís see...What else did we see?When we got to Frankfurt, the hospital that we took over at that time was one of the most beautiful hospitals you could have wished for.It was a beautiful hospital.It had been just built for the Luftwaffe, whichwas the Air Force, but there was one area that had been bombed. It was not supposed to have been bombed. The English, and the French, and the Americans had decided that it would not be bombed, but one of them made a mistake and bombed one end of it. It was shaped like a U. I was in my office one day and I looked across and I saw this... it was a tree that was sticking up on theroof of the building, cause the building had not been completed to where they were repairing it. I asked somebody what that was for, and they said, _Well, the Germans always put a tree in the roof until the roof is completed, it is supposed to bring good luck.

DA:Whatwere the physical conditions of the country, when you all went in?

Reynolds:At first, when we were first up there,it was daylight up until almost ten oíclock.Mobs and mobs of people were walking, walking, walking. They were coming back to their... to their homes, I guess.I wish I remembered that better.We were just amazed at the number of people. They also had an area outside of the city where they could go and work until a certain time, andplant gardens. They were all of them going out there they were always busy.It was such a big contrast between the French and the Germans, because the Germans were so busy and so thorough and the Frenchmen were lazy. They liked talking more and so on.

DA:How was the supplies in France and in Germany for the nurses, as far as, like medical equipment, medicines, bandages?

Reynolds:How did we get them?

DA:How did you get them and was there enough?

Reynolds:I never heard that there werenít, so I guess there were.

DA:So, you never struggled to get supplies?

Reynolds:Not that I know of.

DA:Okay

Reynolds:Of course there was a lot that goes in hospitals that you donít know.

DA:Okay.I was just wondering, there in Germany if you had access to supplies or....

Reynolds:One of the things, when we were teaching the German prisoners of war to take over the hospital, our thermometers are about the size of a small pencil. That was one of the hardest jobs teaching those Germans ... how to read a thermometer. After we got to Frankfurt, Germany, we found some thermometers that they had and they were flat. They were about that wide, with great big numbers on them and you could read them. It was so hard to teach the prisoners of war to turn it a little bit and then you could get that.

DA:How did the German people react to you as an American or to the Americans being over there?

Reynolds:Actually, see it was right at the end of the war. We were there three days before the war ended.This was back in Frankfurt.The warwas in Berlin.We had people coming in and working in the hospital. The women that come in and cleaned our rooms, they were so unhappy if they couldnít get every job done.They worked so hard and the chief nurse would say for them to go on home, they didnít want to go home until the job was done.They were wonderful workers.And they had a good attitude.

DA:So you donít think there was any animosity?

Reynolds:Oh, I am sure there was.

DA:But you didnít....

Reynolds:Well, when I first went up there, I was in charge of this.... there were eighty? six on this ward and it was emergency, accidental gun shotwounds, and burns. One day, we received seventeen fellows that had accidental gun shot wounds.Youíd say how did you get this?_Oh, a Fraulein and I were out fooling around and she pointed a gun at me and shot me._Now what exactly, what it was I donít know. Whether she didnít know that there was ... it was loaded, I donít know exactly,but this was not unusual for this to happen day after day. So whether the GI's were going out with the Frauleinby that time ... What the feeling was I donít know.They could go into town.The hospital could go into town and get the people to come out and finish out the roof and the work that needed to be done.

D A:Could you describe to us the living conditions you seen in France and Germany?The local people ... What their living conditions were like?

Reynolds:Well now, in Carentan, France, it was more like it was kinda a country area.Carentan itself was a town.See, we were outside of the town.There were farmers around and there weresomehouses, were pretty old. Some of them were...but they did keep their places clean. Even the French kept their places clean, the ones that we saw.It was pretty country side.There were a lot of hedgerows.

DA:Did you get to try the French and German food?

Reynolds:Not an awful lot.Actually we were restricted, becausethey used human fertilizer for fertilizing the soil. Since we had not grown up into that kind of living, we were more exposed to ... We had more of a chance of picking up something.So we were not supposed to go to theoutside but people did.People did, but we werenít supposed to.

DA:Thatís interesting.What did you think about the German and French culture when you were over there?Was there anything that really struck you? 

Reynolds:We werenít thrown with them too much.In France, we were there at Christmas time and there were a group of little French children. They came around and sang Christmas carols. We sang Christmas carols back to them, which we appreciated.But we werenít really thrown with them too much, we were some.We saw the French people, they always wore black.The French people always said, you could always tell the American nurses because they always looked scrubbed.But we werenít thrown with them an awful lot.

DA:What did you like about being over in Europe?Was there anything?

Reynolds:It was wonderful.Ifthere hadnít been a war, it was really a wonderful experience, and I enjoyed it.I was ready to come back.Actually, there were several of us and they asked if we wouldnít stay on. We would get a promotion and so on, but we were all just ready to come back.But it was a good experience.

DA:Did you bring home any souvenirs?

REYNOLDS:Yes I did, but I donít have any.I gave them to my daughter who lives in Atlanta.I donít think I have any.

DA:What were you able to bring back?

REYNOLDS:Well let me think.I couldnít bring back an awful lot.I tell you, I did bring back ... It was Chanel, you know perfume and Platine.I forgot what the other was, there were three of them.I brought a little of that back.I canít remember what I brought back.I brought back presents for the .... I brought back some jewelry.In fact, that was a beautiful thing that I got in Brussels.Thenecklace it was like a lov?a?lier.I gave that to my granddaughter.

DA:You were in Brussels also?

Reynolds:Well, I was in Brussels on leave.I was in Brussels on leave and in Switzerland on leave. At the end of the war they didnít like for people to stay around idle, so they made arrangements for them to go on leaves. Then we were allowed to go on leaves a little bit during the war.

DA:Did anything neat happen to you when you were on leave? What was some things that you got to see?

Reynolds:Well, I got to Paris a couple of times. I went to Mont St. Michel. I went to Nancy, France. I went to Brussels. I went to Switzerland, thatís quite a few.

DA:Yeah, yeah that sounds pretty good.Did you make friends with any of the local people?I know that you said that you kind of were kept in your unit, did you meet any friends?

Reynolds:We didnít have a chance to, except we always enjoyed going over and talking with the lady that did our laundry.A lot of the places in that area we had to be careful where we walked, cause there was still land mines that were planted. There was a lot of stuffthat was still there from World War I.

DA:Like what?

Reynolds:Land mines that were planted. The French were just slow in cleaning up things. The French were different people than the Germans, and the Swiss.

DA:Could you contrast some differences there?

Reynolds:All you had to do was go across the line and you could tell the difference.

DA:How so?

Reynolds:Things were clean across the line.If you go into Switzerland, they were just spotless and go into Germany and they were spotless, in France they were not.One way you could tell, by their restrooms.Somebody could write a book on the restrooms over there.The farther east you go in Europe the more you could write a book on the restroom conditions there.

DA:I was wanting to ask you a question. You said you received the Battle Star.

Reynolds:One Battle Star.

DA:One Battle Star?Was there any other medals that you received while you were over there?

Reynolds:Well, we received what was called a toilet seat on your sleeve, because that was when we were in the hospital that was picked first to go, because we had won in Normandy. That contest that I mentioned before.Letís see, then of course, we got every year that we were in the service, we got a marking. Every year we were overseas we got another thing, I donít remember .

DA:What was your reaction when you heard that the war was over?

Reynolds:Well, you mean the war with the Germans or...

DA:The war with the Germans.

Reynolds:Well, when we got up to Frankfurt, Germany, the first thing that we did was to scrub the hospital.We scrubbed the beds and everything else and we were scrubbing the beds and it came over the loud speaker that the war had ended in Germany and we made a few comments and then went on scrubbing beds. [Laughter]

DA:What was the reaction of the soldiers in the hospital?

Reynolds:We didnít have any patients in it yet.

DA:Oh. Okay.What was the reaction of the locals, theGerman people that they heardthe war was over?

Reynolds:We werenít around them at that time.We didnít know.But I think everybody was glad to hear it.

DA:So, once the war had been officially over.... then you were in Frankfurt, correct?

Reynolds:Yes

DA:Okay. What happened say from Frankfurt then on, while you were overseas?

Reynolds:You mean after we left Frankfurt?

DA:Yes, how long were you in Frankfurt?

Reynolds:We were in from the last of April to ... I think it was about the middle of August, cause I think the war ended towards the end of August with the CBI. Anyway, we had received orders to come back to Reims, France to wait for orders to go to the CBI and do you know what CBI is?China, Burma, and India.We werenít looking forward to that. We didnít sit around and moan about it though.

DA:How so?

Reynolds:How so what?That we didnít sit around and moan about it?

DA:That you werenít anxious to go to China, Burma, and India.

Reynolds:That would have been really rough.That was a really rough assignment and that was where a lot of the rough war was going on at that time.We felt like we were ready to come back to the United States, but anyway, the war ended so we had a celebration. Then we got orders to go and set up another hospital in Soisonne to take care of the GI's. The GI's that had developed venereal diseases andhad to all be cared for before we could send them back.So we werenít happy about that either. [Laughter]

DA:Okay.So then from August when you left, how long were you overseas?

Reynolds:It was the latter part of August that we left Reims. We went up to Soisonne and there were three of us, they were sending people out on points. There were three of us nurses that had higher points than the rest of them. So they took us by jeep to Metz to join another outfit that was coming back.We were there for a few days and then we went up to wait for a ship to bring us back to the States.

DA:So from August, how long did it take you to get back to the U.S.?

Reynolds:I was on the ship on Thanksgiving. We had thought of all of these foods that we were going to eat in the United States when we got back. [Laughter]

DA:Okay.So then somewhere in November you got back to the United States?

Reynolds:It was right at the last because we were ... I think our first day over there off the ship was Thanksgiving Day.We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

DA:Where did you go to in the United States?

Reynolds:We landed in New York. It was about two or three oíclock in the morning. They picked us up on a bus and took us to, I think, it was Ft. Dix. Seems to me it was Ft. Dix.Then they served us some scrambled eggs and something, and told us we could have one long distance call free, the next morning.

DA:Who did you call?

Reynolds:Well, the funny thing is after I had left the outfit, the 180th General. No, just before I left, I got a letter from my mother and she said, _We are moving._ She didnít say where they were going and that was the last I heard of her until I got back to the States again.I wasnít sure, so I finally called my sister and they were down here in New Albany.So when mother answered the phone she said,_Where in the world have you been?_ [Laughter]I thought to myself,she knows Iíve been over here for a year and a half, but they kept announcing groups of people that would come back. They said the people from the 90th General, the officers from the 90th General had arrived two weeks before I got there. Those were the male officers, they didnít say anything about the nurses. So anyway, she was waiting for two weeks wondering why we hadnít landed.

DA:You said something that I wanted to ask you.You were talking about points, what was a point and how did you get them?

Reynolds:You got so many points for the certain length of time you were in, and you get so many points for being in Europe, being overseas, and for how long you were over there. I donít remember anything else, but there were so many points and I had. In the 180th General, I had been in as a nurse a lot longer than most of anyone else.

DA:Do you know how many points you had personally?

Reynolds:I donít remember.

DA:How many points it took to get out first? What the magic number was? [Laughter]

Reynolds:I just know the three of us had more points.

DA:Okay. So then when did you get decommissioned, once you come back to Ft. Dix?

Reynolds:I had a lot of leave coming to me. I got a letter saying that I had been promoted to Captain by that time. I think it was in January, finally that my leave was up.

DA:January of 1946?

Reynolds:Yeah, _46' or _45' ... _46' or _45' ... it must have been _45'.

DA:Where did you go after you were out of the Army?

Reynolds:Well, I came here to New Albany, that is where my folkswere and my sister was here.I stayed here and then I got a job in the VA Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, but I didnít like it.So I went intoPsychiatric nursing at an institute in Connecticut...a couple of years.

NW:What about your husband, he wasnít your husband at this time, correct?

Reynolds:We didnít get married until after the War was over.

NW:Okay.So the whole time you were in Carentan and also in Frankfurt you were courting?Is that correct, you were together but not married?

Reynolds:But we werenít even together because he was in Texas and I was....

NW:Right, so when you came back to New York and then to New Albany.... When did he come into play?

Reynolds:Letís see, I think I called him after I got back to the States.Then I remember his calling me this one time, and how our lines ever crossed, when I was in Dayton at the VA Hospital. Our lines crossed luckily and we talked then, but I had talked to him before then. I donít remember.

NW:Okay. When did you all get married and where did you live together?

Reynolds: We got married in _48', so it was after he got out. He got out after I did. He was in the service longer than I was.

DA:Did you all write letters during this time?

Reynolds:Yes, he wasnít a very good letterwriter, I mean, he wrote a good letter but he didnít write as often as I had liked for him to.

NW:Do you feel that being a nurse in the World War II changed your perspective on life or did it have any dramatic changes on you? 

Reynolds:Oh, I think that it did.

NW:Any that you can think of?

Reynolds:I think one of the things I was most thankful for was living in a tent hospital, because you could find out you could live with people, and get along with them and enjoy them. You didnít need a lot of material things.I think that is the most outstanding thing, but people really got along. They tried to get along, and they enjoyed each other.

NW:What about anything negative? The con?side, do you regret anything, shall I say?

Reynolds:I donít think so.I think you make up your mind. It may be wrong, or it may be right, but at the time you think you are doing what you think is right.So, I donít think so.

NW:What do feel was your biggest contribution to the War effort?

Reynolds:[Laughter] I donít know, I guess it was just going along and enjoying the experience, but thinking it was a terrible thing, but you might as well make good thing out of it. If youíre going to do, whatever youíre going to do.

NW:Do you have anything that you would like to talk about that we havenít asked you?Or any comments that you would like to make, or any questions of either one of us that you would like to have stated on record?

Reynolds:There were just a lot of interesting experiences that we had. It was a great experience.Now Ill tell you, there were officers that joined our outfit that had been over there for three years, or more, and you could tell it was really draining on them. The worst thing was, we didnít know how long it was going to go on.Everybody wanted to get back home.There were some great people that I remember. I remember the Doctor particularly, he was so ... When he joined our outfit, he had been over for three years. You could tell that there was a certain amount of bitterness except he wasnít a bitter person.When they had been in England, he had met a nurse in England. They were keeping correspondence. He was married back in the States, and his wife, I think, shewas probably not a very understanding person.When we got up to Frankfurt, he wanted so badly to go back to the States. One night he had, a little too much to drink and he wrote a letter to his wife and a letter to his girlfriend, this friend in England. He switched the letters.Then it was shortly after that, he was wanting so badly to go home and he got the orders, and then he didnít know if he wanted to go or not. [Laughter]I saw him afterwards. Hiswife was not a really, an outgoing person but they were back together again.

DA:You said that you had a lot of neat experiences over there.Would you like to share any of those?

Reynolds:Well, letís seeifI can think of any... [Pause]Mostly it was dances and where we went, there were really interesting places.

End of Tape 1

Beginning of Tape 2, Side A

NW:This is tape two side one, finishing with Margo...

Reynolds:We went up to Kronberg Castle. There were several parties up there, which was quite an interesting place.I think it has been mentioned in history several times since then.We went to parties at S.C.A.F.E.Headquarters.Actually,when we went up to Frankfurt that was mainly what we were supposed to take care of.We also had what was called an open mess, which was people pulling ones from the front line.They would stop for meals and you would go in the dining room one day,and you had no idea who you were going to bump into.There would always be someone in there that you had known someplace else.One time there was somebody that was outside of my... there were four or six of us living in a room. Somebody was outside and they said, _Is there anybody here that used to be at Amarillo, Texas?_They said,_Well yes,MargoReynolds, or MargoRice_ at that time.So he came in and I saw him.He looked as if he was about fourteen or fifteen, but he was a little bit older than that.He said, _Do you remember how scared I was to come overseas?I got you to write my mother so you could tell her that you thought I was doingwell, and that I was going to get an advancement one of these days and so on.__During the Battle of the Bulge, I was in the midst of it, and there was a woman that was having a baby and I had to deliver the baby._ [Laughter]He said, _I found out that there were a lot of things that I could do that I didn't think that I could do._ 

DA:Just one last question... If there would be anything that you would like people to know about what your generation did over there, what would it be?What would you like to leave to people?

Reynolds:I would like to leave this: The people in the military are getting a lot of credit for what they did, but, I think that the people that stayed here in the States had just as hard a time as the people in the military.I think they should be remembered too.They had to do without a lot of things that we didn't have to do without.They didnít know where we were,they didnít know what was going on, and there was a lot in their minds because they didnít know what was going on.And I think they need to be remembered too. 

DA:Well, thank you, Ms. Reynolds, we really appreciate your time and we hope that we do a good job in transcribing this for you. [Laughter]

Reynolds:I hope that it turns out all right.

DA:It will, thank you.

End of Interview