Kelsey: Where were you born and
was born in Orange Memorial Hospital in Orange, New
Where did you live when the war started?
Were you married then, or single?
Oh, no, no. No, I was single.
Why did you decide to go to work in a defense plant?
went because when I graduated from high school at
age seventeen in 1943, I was fortunate enough to get
just really for the two months, because I was going
to college in the fall. But evidently they were
that they would even take someone at that age just
for a couple of months. So I went to work at Monroe
Calculating Machine Company in Orange, at the upper
end of Central Avenue near West Orange, and that was
convenient for me to get to. And we inspected
airplane parts. The only problem I had was that
very shortly I
learned, in sitting at the work bench, I was
allergic to the oil that they would soak the
airplane parts in. And I very
quickly developed a very unsightly rash from right
here by my hands, up to my elbows—which, of course,
terrible for a seventeen-year-old. They sent me to
the infirmary—and this is what I thought might amuse
people—they sent me to the infirmary where the
doctors gave me some salve to put on, told me that I
had to have
clean strips of material on the bench so that my
arms would not rest against any of this oil, and
that I should wear
long-sleeved blouses, which, of course, was in July
and August. And I worked there for the two
summers. At the
same time, I guess they decided to take a blood
sample, and for the first and only time in my life,
I watched them
withdraw blood, and I passed out. (laughs)
What else I remember was at
Monroe Calculating, it was a new building. I don’t
remember how many
stories, but it was a new building, which was almost
at the top of Central Avenue and near Scotland Road
Orange. And there were no windows
whatsoever. I don’t know how they controlled the
air, because they had big
floor fans—but of course all that did was blow the
stale air all around. And on the one wall, they had
a big plaque,
and it had a red light and a green light, and the
green light meant it was nice outside, and the red
light meant it
was raining. (laughs) And those were really my
memories of working, and I worked the summer of ’43
summer of ’44. And then of course in ’45 the war
was ending—you know, blowing down—so that was it.
Why did you decide to go to work there?
Well, it was close. And an aunt of mine worked at
the Mutual Benefit in Newark, and she could drop me
frankly, I don’t remember how I got home. Maybe she
picked me up, I don’t know. But we didn’t go out
day. There was a lunch room where you could eat.
And I know that the women, the mothers of two
mine, they would come in on a shift that came in
probably around eleven until maybe four. Now, these
women that had never worked outside of a
home. But they’re the workers that are all dead and
gone now. But I
was delighted to get a summer job, pick up some
spending money for when I went to college.
So you did go to college?
Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Went to college, then went
to graduate school.
Did they try to convince you to stay and keep
No, because I had told them right off that I would
only be able to stay for basically July and August.
So it was a
very good opportunity for me. The people were very
nice. They had a club for—I forget what they call
something—people over six feet tall, which didn’t
apply to me. But I remember there was this one
woman who was
about six-foot-two, and I don’t think I’d ever seen
a woman that tall before. They had a regular social
club. It was a
nice [unclear]. I remember the names of the floor
people, the floor supervisors that came in on
shifts. It was a nice
place to work. I would not have wanted to stay any
longer than I did, though.
So basically that’s what I thought
might be of interest—kind of a fun thing.
Yes, it sounds very interesting. Nice after-school
job, or college summer job.
Okay. Well, thank you very much.
[END OF INTERVIEW]