Signal Corps Girls Have Jolly Times - 1918

The Girls Having Tea, Seated around the Table on 15 January 1919

Living Quarters and Clubrooms. The Girls Having Tea, Seated around the Table on 15 January 1919, Left to Right: Elenore A. Brown; Melanie Van Gastel; Marie A. Ganyon; Marjorie Persons, Pouring Tea; Marie Lemaire; Miss E. G. Hunter. Sig. Corps, Telephone Operators, 2d Army, Toul, Meurthe Et Moselle, France. Photograph by Lt. Fox, Signal Corps. National Archives and Records Administration, 111-SC-49625. NARA ID # 86705356. GGA Image ID # 19a1739eb7

Nine months ago, when the great army of signal corps girls was being recruited in New York and throughout the country, one of the warnings given to applicants was that there would be no parties and dances for workers, and "party dresses" were taboo in packing overseas kits.

Stories of the courage and bravery of these signal corps girls have been coming to us by almost every cable; stories of how these girls worked long hours under unusual strain; and of their loyalty to duty.

But it has been only recently that we have had an inkling of the parties that have afforded recreation and relief from the strain of signal corps work and made it possible for the signal corps girls to endure the long hours at the switchboard.

The parties were YWCA parties. Despite the "no party" clause in signal corps recruiting literature, the recreation proved such a benefit to the workers that signal corps authorities highly commended them.

Miss Esther Sleight of Mt. Vernon, N. Y., a YWCA secretary at Roanne, tells of the festivity of some of these parties:

The girls of the signal corps often bring their soldier friends, and some of the prettiest parties I have ever attended were hurriedly thrown together in the odd times that these busy girls could spare.

We usually had long tables with many candles. The glittering lights through the trees at the other end of the island, with people darting to and fro or dancing on the grass, looked like a fairy scene. After most of the suppers, the crowds gathered on the river bank and sang old camp songs or made roaring bonfires and told stories and sang songs.

During our French days on the island in August, the W. A. A. C.'s came in great numbers and many American soldiers. One W. A. A. C. came in one day when we were having breakfast under the trees and wanted to know whether it would be possible to bring her brother, who was on leave from the front.

She was so happy to share with him the place that had been home to her, and later in the day, her friend came with another Tommy, and these four had a regular English tea party, a birthday party for one of the boys.

There were English, Americans, and French at our parties, and we could not always talk together. One Sunday, I remember a little French refugee girl brought her violin to our tiny cottage, and we went down to the riverbank where she played to us in a language we could all understand. She told her sorrows, her hopes in the tones of her violin, and the signal corps girls all contributed to helping take care of her.

We didn't wait for the boys to come back wounded before we gave them entertainment—instead, we had parties for them before they went away, and the signal corps girls always helped us. We joined with the Y. M. C. A. women in giving a glorious party for 300 enlisted men who were en route through our island.

A group on crutches came over from the hospital. Some of the soldiers brought their band instruments, and we had gay music. There were candles on the piano and a bonfire over by the river where one of our Y. W. C. A. secretaries successfully made a batch of doughnuts over an open fire.

“Signal Corps Girls Have Jolly Times,” in the Grand Forks Herald, Saturday, 23 November 1918, p. 3.

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