Oral History Interview: Alice Lain of Urbana

March 07, 2008

Alice Lain served in the WAVES Women’s Navy Reserves from June 1944 to March 1946. She installed radar in the torpedo bomber Avenger and the Wildcat fighter.

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Transcript for file: alicelain2008-03-07.mp3

00:00:00

this interview is for the veterans history project of the Library of Congress
American Folklife Center and it is with Ellis Lillian water
Watson Lane Mrs lane with a wave serving from June 1st 19th
18442 March 819 46th Ave today
what today is Friday March 7th 2008 my name is Harriet Williams
William Henry Radcliffe is the director of sound and lighting and is also the videographer

00:00:30

also in the studio with Mrs clean husband Lloyd
Lloyd Chesterland who is a veteran of the United States Navy
we are in the television studios will in Urbana Illinois
why on the University of Illinois campus
plane to start would you like to talk about when and where you were born in
prep villa Siena little bit on your parents and your background in the
where you go up and talk about

00:01:05

various school that you attend the well I was my father was
who was the coal miner from Illinois and every spring
winner they went on strike so that’s why
why I was born in River Rouge
sober Detroit Michigan and then
that’s why I came
I came right back to know I was just a baby when I came back

00:01:40

came back and then my father left my mother
when I was 18 months old so I
yeah they got a divorce and twin living at my grandpa
grandparents sins Andrea Lopez facts
I was almost adopted this couple the doctor and his way
Prince wife took me for a while and when they found out my mother of Us
going to give me up they brought me home right away

00:02:15

anyway uh Whittier
my mother my dance sisters and brothers
favor from Scotland they came they had migrated
rated tunes Detroit area and thats why im
I was born there of a Vera fisting my grandparents
anyway uh Bayer
my mother went to Detroit cheapest Abed

00:02:50

around Champaign Urbana and she went to Detroit
to work for real rich people in Grosse Pointe
anyway she got married to a gentleman of Bulgaria
Darien whose name was smiling Cisco of Anna
I was 5 years old I think of a song for when they got the divorce
mother dead but I was 5 when we went to Detroit
Detroit to live that was 19280 before the

00:03:25

depression head and things for long pretty good
Milan my stepfather and played in Henry Ford’s fan
very musical saw I learned a lot about offers
anyway the presence is heaven
things went downhill my mother couldn’t she was working at Hudson
Hudson’s painting a stripe around the cars and then just
I just got so bad we had to come back to Illinois and my father had lots

00:04:00

with my grandparents 12 acres next to my grandparents
there a nerve Ana so we moved in with my granny
my grandparents for a while I was 9 years old when did that
and Grandma was still using a horse and buggy
did the liver vegetables and things anyway
Martha Stewart homes and we live there until the room Snow mother
mother force worked in town by stepfather

00:04:35

I’ve been really didn’t hangs from like royalty or something in bulk
Bulgaria he could a currency going out getting a job
jobs that and we couldn’t have WPA because they could
big wooden work for those because we had 12 acres so
anyway I want to marry at school
and that I think was a great and then I went Urbana High
44 years and then I have my first job

00:05:10

first job with the union Union building in there dishwasher
washing room sinks warts still work very good new country
Anna I Roseville Cayman
Cayman dedicated to Union Building when I was there in December
I got to say are they let us all go upstairs in Sayre forget her black clothes
photos anyway uh what why were her clothes after using
what are clothes were black nor the stockings were black

00:05:45

okay anyway later my mother was working for this
professor how Robert Howard Lewis have
House of Franklin Roosevelt’s right hand man in
canon the wifi off and it was his daughter married
married to the professor and not another word for earlier but anyway
anyway alright Rosevelt came and stayed with her Vista the head dinner
and set the table help set the table in everything anyway

00:06:20

where but here after I was out of high school I got married
proof bar Mesilla station antennas
Anna I live in Syracuse for a while
and then I work did General John
General Electric out of work done the first 10
pancare units radar used on ships
and they play Smith number one on the same bloodline

00:06:55

just to put a little dream around but I could die help building
Luminox repair than everything that’s what gave India
yeah I did I said I wanted to working when I join the circus and then I came home
home and I got a divorce running around and then
and then I went back and work in Syracuse that a Crouse Hinds
painting
things that they use for identifying weather strips

00:07:30

f*** friend or foe is khaki
Megan and I work there 6 months and I went home
how I got tired of that way home and I thought I saw the answer this
trying to get women to join this way so I thought that’s a good day
a good idea in my mother thought it was a good idea to
so I went into mine and I had to wait that was
enlarged but I had to wait till May this June 1st

00:08:05

actually be called up
and then I went to the
New York Central 200 College
which is now Lehman College and went ahead
my boot camp there for 6 weeks
Anna we got one weekend off the Paramount Theater
Theater studios were the Sun filming

00:08:40

movie here come the waves so I got the March too late
lace which was really hot girls
girl fainted but anyway we got all we got from Paramount was
what’s the next weekend in New York City so then
I didn’t pass the test to go to her school
so they just sent me to Mercer field facility
fill in the Trenton New Jersey which is better in ass

00:09:15

San Diego and I got my
girlfriend ever News said its
set a sink in San Diego
but I was lucky I got radio radar what side s4
s4 and I put the
the first day I had to make coffee cuz the 13th was real
really mad cuz we came in first what is saline made of

00:09:50

latest make coffee so that’s what we’re going to do it anyway
anyway he got shipped out in about a week and we put
but the radio radar in the TVM
Easter date TV F by Graham invent the TV
General Orders and not say Avenger in the wild
ok whats is fm2 and then dies
picti FF gear on the course

00:10:25

Corsair and one time smoke was coming out of it
playing in iPhoto my guys and it was about a million
vine but it wasn’t
call in the radio and tell him that says OK
and while I was so one day a big torpedo bra motor came
UK man that was the cause of the pregnant and had all of they
they had round the clock dirty little sweeties

00:11:00

it had always so underneath the radar
all kinds of that I don’t know what it was anyway I was Quietus
excitement little saying failed to protect and while I was there too
where to once in awhile the Marines wear at the gate
did it once in awhile we had to go to bed in
escort people back to their planes hangers
and one day this fellow that aren’t you throw a bandana into headband like

00:11:35

my teacher is later he was head of the ship someplace
life anyway that was interesting but if
it and I play basketball for the ways
is today we had our instructor of coach was a Harvard professor
batter the same one that taught me how to get my rate
anyway we didn’t live when when a game is foot the way had fun
can I back up for a minute I want to go to a couple of questions when

00:12:10

when you were at Hunter in bootcamp what was the tree
training that you receive their will
just out of actin in a VIN

wake up and shots im ever Busta
web presses everyday were the classes about technical things
cool things are worthy oh not really I don’t I don’t really care what they say

00:12:45

what they were once you got some Mercer field and you were involved in install
installing this read or what what was the purpose of the radar in the airplane
airplane foot powder how did the radar function what’s in it what was the purpose of it for the love
pilot longest to say where are the planes for
in another thing

what time is this admission

00:13:20

radio in radio man with all up
with a mechanic but this time they had to go back up solavei
so they didn’t have to have it ready I am in so they let me go up
right after I ate lunch and live full out over the ocean
the ocean and I got sick really sick
must have been an exciting experience letter E in LA
in the plane old was I just in this one supply line

00:13:55

buy lobster cheaper in a braclet everyday she got sicker
well I didn’t have a period
the parachute didn’t get with parachutes
what is it hard to 50 radar into the plane or
or what was the tight quarters in there for a little then is pretty good size
tits size but I had to climb up a lip Lions
wings to get in them

00:14:30

the back you know where they put the ready already there so the radar was in
NORAD radar was in the back of the phone is in the roses
have a walkway of Mexico
it’s all up to the pilot
they were there in the Gunners uniwar up above
but there was the plank oriental wok up
The Westin steps for anything its just how many planes would you work on

00:15:05

each day I don’t remember would it be
you know a couple or would it be wrong with Leah stuff and 11
Oregon on the plants when it was raining out limit of paint
Haley paint inside the haters so what were you were you planning
painting the planes as well no just think there’s a hair in which they are
they also let us go to class
this Harvard professor she is

00:15:40

Utada Scioto all about the electrodes
Andale Andale Lexus sedan
so you were learning more about the night then I finally got my rate
when the a heads there was a compliment in the
Anna on the station so many of a Cartesian
Gino’s in the after the war of sulfur they started shipping in Mass
getting that out so that’s why I got the right but I had I had the march of

00:16:15

metropolitan in strip of 44 so what was your Altima
ultimate rank them when you were in the way of Zen where you at Willow Bend
interprete killer squadron or division
adjust Mercerville okay it was a
Aviation radio technicians made a change that
just before I got out of surgery just performed 46 ideas
say it was a change that the aviation electronics technician

00:16:50

nations made third class at the beginning when you get to Mercer
field you were sent off to make coffee do you feel that
while you were in the wave that people that you were working with
appreciated in recognize the value of having women in the mills located
did the phrase s*** cuz that meant they had to go overseas
so they say there was a lot of house still there
I mean so much to me not all over

00:17:25

that was just a few of the sailors that they knew that the
they would have to leave you know yes sir we were in the service
so did you feel that you received for treatment by the
buy those people no not really the things that were said
Ben 10 and then after the war
I think of a sentence September I once they send us
Sara luvv bus to Jacksonville for a week

00:18:00

trying to figure out where to send this from there so we’re
soƱar una transitional place
which was a big year were most of the Devils train in Jacksonville
Tamela Mann worth
tool of Opa Locka this is my voice call
call the Miami area station what’s the slogan miles out of stuff
Miami and the first night we stayed alcapones

00:18:35

Casino Animas skaters gay men
Damian Marley it was old fashioned wooden windows
mosquitoes came in the liver terrible
the boy for the gonna be like this but I never saw another

full of roaches what what were you doing when you were in Florida what was your first
first wife of state of Ivory soap in administration

00:19:10

I typed with the time 9 happens
Brian koppes tunes to send a sailor’s back
back to the ships they would come into the hospital and we would have
does it have to type papers to send it back to the ship
while you were typing that was that something did you learn kind of the story about that person
person and what happened to hit no no no I never know it was just pretty much
how long are 6 month huh do you want because I had that rating

00:19:45

rating I got out earlier if I live in a human sex
sex for months now what’s up towards the end of the war in Europe
when your looking forward to after the war ok so after you lose thigh muscle
the Florida because the war was over well maybe I should go back in
bad to the chronology when you left you cancel into Mercer field how many
how many months were you there in Lafayette IN
in then in 45 you were at Mercer field 44 2

00:20:20

September 45 to 1st July
Tamiya the middle of July till
how old was just a little over here I guess it can you
can you talk it all about the may be any of the feeling that
surrounded you while you were at Mercer filled with her sense of urgency or
or anything like that because of the war and the fact that you were working
working on the plane yes

00:20:55

12
it was for you know but we never got papers for women
Deneve know how much you know how it was going really
I didn’t even know D Day was cuz I was traveling
I want to be in a Hunter College windy day
so I didn’t know much about that but the
hell no I don’t you wish you were filled you wanted to

00:21:30

wanted to mention one of the very well known people that you worked with singer that wall
that was all Harry Guggenheim he was hurt Harry what time was
when was her commanding officer I love to play tennis
pendant Eve toys want to play with the man tennis player
thing in life anyway
the best uratic you but I guess before it and it was a war war
105 s pilot

00:22:05

pretty nice guy when I was there Mercer feel we went you
when is to going to New York City in
Philadelphia cuz we’re 90 miles from New York City in 60 miles
miles from Philadelphia and we were right near me
Washington’s crossing in which they took his phone a picnic therapy
where Washington crossed the Delaware and we used to build
hunting son’s baby

00:22:40

the Asbury Park when is the hitch height
this berry park in those they said it was a lot longer
longer if you took the bus terminal
and we even headshots in New York City one time Cyril of us
how do you feel about the time that you spend at work
Matt Mercer field was it a good experience for you
very good I really enjoyed the work I did

00:23:15

one time I had to wells River
putting something together and they asked me to go and I help them
what is it really
it really I thought was really enjoyable
was there any danger involved in the work that you were doing not really
no how long would live
would let those planes be at Mercer fuel before they took off and were just a few days

00:23:50

today’s youth so they didn’t they test for them
right away and then put them in the Hat
hangers we had a lot of
what is there working supplies
Apartments for those playing man flown to other
naval bases or to Aurora Florence of California in apt 2
aircraft carriers and I was supposed to come one

00:24:25

one time to champagne I don’t wear with a phone
unobtainium but it was winter and I was
I had to leave to come home and it snowed in Ohio
I am sorry I didn’t get this guy had to come by on train but you
usually they went the southern route special in winter
and one night this marine
she’s kind of smoothies she slept above me in the bug and the next day they’re playing

00:25:00

Pinecrest and she was killed soul brother
BMX crash ya say anything naked
Deb constantly people were coming in flying out the proposed
poster what I guess that goes to Ben going to California that’s why we have
I wish I had it when we did guard do day we had to escorts
to be able to fit hangers wholesale everything is confidential
Airport they didn’t want people you

00:25:35

going into the hangers how many waves for Mercer
Mercer to do you have a feeling for how many women were there at the time
propofol 111
it’s not that many Facebook I have
this not that many ways in a metal door
cold out where in your boot camp at Hunter
oar hey babe also been tried in Lillian al them know you don’t know any of them

00:26:10

so there wasn’t a lot of inter mixing of people
no and I when home one time days
2 Syracuse weather what is and that I said let’s go
clover Tula procyons and just visit
set for the factory was Anna they live
they would let me and I said its a different plant
Eunice and what I said I used to work here and I said only

00:26:45

NFL giving me a 2500 bond in Athens
prescription subscription to a magazine for several Harrison die
I never knew that when I left I didn’t know why anal
realize I was going to be joining the service
food that was supposed to surprise and I got to go
to go up to Boston one time what’s up
one of the girls in Long Island winter wedding outfit

00:27:20

Long Island so I got this
epic plot in those little over here
what what was the date on when you left the service Merced
but that’s 1946 and what happened to you after you left
do you left a server and I was the most the mustard out and I
Great Lakes I went to beauty school
on the GI Bill of an iPhone

00:27:55

iPhone. I would have been accused the right ear for years
away in and then I got married mid for children
how did you meet your husband well we were at this night
nightclub my girlfriends sister where’s celebrate
celebrating birthday and
cars with her sisters car wouldn’t start so Lloydminster
just friends were sitting there Lyris so they took my home

00:28:30

so that’s how I meant it know your husband you and your husband are both
are both in the Navy did any of your children toiletry
I tried to get him to trust me how do you think the experience
has influenced your life Las Vegas
is it supposed influenced my life quite a bit I really enjoyed
what I didn experience and I was recently talking to her
the girl I talked into going in inthevip

00:29:05

what is it baby and she said that was the best thing that ever happened to her
she read she’s been active in the American Legion in the Bible
im a lifetime member of the VFW
Annabella
I don’t feel very often are there people that you have kept in touch with
through the year for several years I did
but I don’t love one girl but I play basketball shoes for sale

00:29:40

Cedar Rapids Iowa Sister Sister
turn sikm is this is us
there’s no ins and I think she must have died haven’t heard from her
informed her for a couple years neglected I ask you a little bit more
lil bit more about the basketball experience when you were in the military with Madden
that an important activity for people on the base in did you play other
at other bases are travel around or the play the camp

00:30:15

app killer is wherever they are made in the winter
went out of the when they went over say wave in them
and then we found out why later
is there star player was playing at night any way that they had been dating for
furlong to the way played mostly just
the citizens the band played we went on
man on the bus with them in fires. And they said they would though we would play

00:30:50

how to play first and then they would play replay
Easton Pennsylvania member and federal
Brookston ana brenda Trenton Isleta
women’s team in the ass like that
we didn’t have those around here we didn’t have the best
basketball but they call call me red
read my girlfriend make all the circles

00:31:25

twins without it important activities for people at that time
yeah well we I spend a lot of time shooting baskets direct
rec hall was right across the street they had that
the mens barracks for one side of the tennis court
little side was us and I tried Tenison at 1 hour
real early in the morning and night men to hang out the window laugh
so I like to play in we saw a lot of ice a lot

00:32:00

movies are there in direct snakehead
I had church every Sunday is there anything else
elephant you would like to mention during this interview that something anything that we did not
he did not talk about what is important to you that you would like to say
I have 44 Billy Ray children
when will is enough Menifee California Inland live
SpringHill just south of Nashville Tennessee Anna Sun

00:32:35

listen listen Urbana daughter
Joyce and champagne Steve lives in Urbana and Roger listen
California and Gladys listen Tennessee Seoul weather
who is this legal to California in the winter
go to Tennessee when you are with your children do they ever ask
ask you about your experiences or have they ever ask you about your experiences during the war
war yeah I think fast and I work to almost 20

00:33:10

23 years at the school Urbana school district
I typed my husband went to business college after the war
true or after we got married I typed letters for a man
crime and I got interested in typing so I bought a typewriter
anti for students for 10 years number 1 on the LA
Illini so I did a lot of typing on this old man
man it was all my goodness and then I went to work at their Banos school district in

00:33:45

in the 6 day 1 and I work for the Droid
director of personnel specialist at first and then I was director
personal secretary 4
about 20 years in the last 3 years my boss Wilson
is director of personnel anyway and he was made super dentist soul I was
I was his name is administrative assistant career this
why would a school that was really in charge of so I know a lot of teachers

00:34:20

I’ve been there a lot of people who over there
degrees to you for all the typing that you do but I type
30 thesis I have a record of all of these is that it
but if that was the hardest what state is nowadays it wasn’t there
is there a problem at all is there anything
anything you might like to make sure we add to this interview

00:34:55


irola scared of my husband
iPod touch
clubbutts we did everything
ice skating in New York Syracuse New York City Trenton
Chicago to translate you are very athletic love some more
sports well thank you very very

00:35:30

very very much for your time today and reenter that you can
came into this interview thank you
very much