From WILL - World War II Central Illinois Stories -

Oral History Interview: Alice Lain of Urbana

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(Duration: 35:45)

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
    soñar 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