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Interview with Jeanne Beasley [8/7/2009]

William L. Browne:

Good morning. Today is 7 August 2009. My name is William Browne. I'm conducting an oral history interview at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, Maryland, with Jeanne Beasley. Good morning.

Jeanne Beasley:

Good morning.

William L. Browne:

For the record, could you please state your name and address.

Jeanne Beasley:

Jeanne L. Beasley, Armed Forces Retirement Home, 1197-3700 North Capital Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C.

William L. Browne:

Okay. I'm going to ask you a couple of questions here that might help jog your memory. Were you drafted or did you enlist?

Jeanne Beasley:

No, I enlisted.

William L. Browne:

And what service did you enlist?

Jeanne Beasley:

In the Army.

William L. Browne:

In the Army. What organization were you a member of?

Jeanne Beasley:

Women's Army Corps.

William L. Browne:

Women's Army Corps. Where were you living at the time that you enlisted?

Jeanne Beasley:

I just graduated from high school. I was living at home.

William L. Browne:

And where was that?

Jeanne Beasley:

In Cleveland, Ohio.

William L. Browne:

Cleveland, Ohio. Now why did you join?

Jeanne Beasley:

Just for job opportunity. Very poor year for job opportunities that year, and recruiter came to our high school and said they needed clerical people. And so since I had taken clerical courses, I had filing, sales, and typing, so I enlisted. And it was my first job at a desk and I was typing and I had a good time.

William L. Browne:

And what year was that?

Jeanne Beasley:

1949.

William L. Browne:

1949. Why did you pick the Army?

Jeanne Beasley:

Because it went by is so many lottery. That was the only service open right then.

William L. Browne:

Okay. Do you recall your first days in service? Did you go to boot camp or some sort of training?

Jeanne Beasley:

At that time we had 16 weeks of training. I was at Fort Lee, Virginia, and so I completed my training there. And then after that I had two months of leadership course, and then I was assigned permanent party cadre.

William L. Browne:

Okay. Now, in your training did you do any sort of weapons firing, or was it marching and drill maneuvers?

Jeanne Beasley:

Mostly marching and drill, close-order drill. We had what they call weapons familiarization, not the program now where the women fire. We only fired that one time. But now they have a regular program for them.

William L. Browne:

Okay. Were there squad leaders and platoon leaders in your group?

Jeanne Beasley:

Right.

William L. Browne:

Okay. And were you a member of a squad?

Jeanne Beasley:

When they picked us for leadership school, we came back. Then we were squad leaders.

William L. Browne:

Okay. What did it feel like to be -- when you got to your initial training and you were sort of being indoctrinated, what was that experience like?

Jeanne Beasley:

I just felt like I had a little advantage over some of the others. We were all just coming out of high school. But they joined for different reasons. Most of them wanted to go in the medical field. Everybody avoided food service. Nobody wanted to go in to be a cook. But I knew right away from my first day of going to school I typed 54 words a minute. They said, "You're not going to school; you're going to go on-the-job training." So I was just -- I was just happy to be out and get a job because there was no jobs available.

William L. Browne:

I see. Do you remember your instructors at the school area? Did you have drill sergeants or anything like that?

Jeanne Beasley:

Yes. I still write to them. There's several I still write to because we're all in our 70s now. But I still write to a couple that are still living.

William L. Browne:

Okay.

Jeanne Beasley:

And I'm stationed there at the service home. There's four of us that were stationed together in 1950.

William L. Browne:

Wow. Can you tell me their names?

Jeanne Beasley:

There is Catherine Bowie, Naomi Plumer, and Gwendolyn Henry.

William L. Browne:

Fantastic. Now, you seem like you had a pretty good time in the training and it didn't stress you out very much. Was there anything you needed to do to sort of get through that training with the drill and the marching and all that?

Jeanne Beasley:

I hated swimming. That was the one thing I tried to get out of. Everything else was real nice. We had field training in the fifth week. We went to field training for a week and lived out in the field. I wasn't too crazy about that. Other than that I enjoyed it all in basic training.

William L. Browne:

So what kind of swimming did they have you do, like fully clothed jumping in or saving people or what?

Jeanne Beasley:

We just regular -- just learned to swim. We had to learn how to swim.

William L. Browne:

Okay, all right.

Jeanne Beasley:

And it was terrible. We looked terrible in our swimming suits so I always avoided it.

William L. Browne:

I gotcha. All right. Were you involved in any of the wars? Did you serve during any of the wars?

Jeanne Beasley:

During the Korean War. Second team major support in Yokohama, Japan, logistic support, personnel.

William L. Browne:

Okay, all right. So you were in Japan?

Jeanne Beasley:

Right.

William L. Browne:

How did you guys get to Japan? Did you fly to Japan, or were you on a ship?

Jeanne Beasley:

I went on the slowest ship available to the Navy, the USS General Mann. It took us 21 days to get there.

William L. Browne:

My goodness.

Jeanne Beasley:

And we developed a leak, and they came out and met us. They were saying, "Oh look, there's Mount Fuji." And we were all day long to get there, and here they were afraid we weren't going to make it into port, so they came out and escorted us in.

William L. Browne:

So how did you -- what was your day like on the ship? You had 21 days there. What did you do day-to-day? Did you have jobs, or did you just hang out?

Jeanne Beasley:

We took care of dependent children because if the wife was sick, which everybody was then, we took care of the children. It was something to do, you know. So sometimes I was assigned to it; sometimes you volunteered. Just play cards and games and took pictures.

William L. Browne:

Okay. Did they show movies?

Jeanne Beasley:

Yes. There was a movie every night.

William L. Browne:

Okay. Do you remember, recall what some of those movies would be?

Jeanne Beasley:

Yes, and one was terrible. They were talking about the Titanic, and I thought I'm on this ship and it's sinking already. But I don't remember now. I'm watching a lot of movies more.

William L. Browne:

Okay. So you were in Japan. How long were you there?

Jeanne Beasley:

Only a year because I only had a year left on my enlistment, and I would have to reenlist to complete the tour. We had a tour of three years, and that was my first time that far away from home. And I said no, I don't want to go back. We used to call the United States the land of the round doorknobs because everything was a hook in Japan.

William L. Browne:

That's interesting, land of the round doorknobs. So you were in Japan for one year?

Jeanne Beasley:

Just one year.

William L. Browne:

Okay. And what were some of your job duties while you were there?

Jeanne Beasley:

I worked in personnel.

William L. Browne:

Okay. So you checked people in, make sure they got paid. Anything else? Any collateral duties like, okay, so you're done with this, now we need you to go do that for the rest of the day or just strictly --

Jeanne Beasley:

No, I had an eight to five job working in personnel, and we would rotate in and out, busy all the time. Sometimes we had to work in the evenings because we were rotating troops in and out of Korea.

William L. Browne:

Gotcha, all right. Tell me some of your most memorable experiences in your time serving.

Jeanne Beasley:

Well, the recruiter came to my house, and my father was a deacon, and he was upset about me going to war. And she said, "No, they're the first group of 18-year-olds we're taking in. There is not going to be a war." And I went in September of '49. And I was coming back from the dining hall, and it was June 25th, 1950, and a girl stopped me, said, "Did you hear the news?" I said, "No." She said, "We're at war." I said, "Can't be. The recruiter told my father we're not going to war." And we got the Truman Extension because he was President, and nobody could get discharged. Everybody got nine months extension onto their enlistment, even if you were getting discharged the next day. Everybody was frozen for nine additional months. And then my father wasn't too happy. He said, "I had to sign for you to go in. How can you extend her term? She's not 21." So that was just a done deal, so couldn't do anything about it. But that I always remember. And then I remember I never wore PFC stripes because I was coming from the PX one day and a girl I was in leadership school with said, "Why aren't you wearing your stripes?" I said, "I'm a private." She said, "I heard two weeks ago you're not a private, you're a PFC." So I ran back to the company. I said, "Guess what? I'm a PFC." And she looked at me and she said, "If I had promoted you, I would have told you." I think I cried the rest of the day.

William L. Browne:

Oh, no.

Jeanne Beasley:

The next day I went in and got corporal stripes, so I never wore the PFC stripe so that was good.

William L. Browne:

Now did you get out as a corporal?

Jeanne Beasley:

No. I retired first sergeant, E-8. I just retired.

William L. Browne:

Oh, oh, so you retired?

Jeanne Beasley:

Forty years ago I retired.

William L. Browne:

Okay. I misunderstood when you said you were in for three years and didn't want to reenlist.

Jeanne Beasley:

That's first enlistment.

William L. Browne:

Okay, all right. So let's talk a little bit about your second enlistment. When was that?

Jeanne Beasley:

Second enlistment. See, if I went in '49, '53 to '56. And then when I came back from Japan USO was really nice to us in California, took us to everything that was going on in California. And then they told me one day, said, "You know, if you're not going to reenlist, you have to work every day before we process you. And you're past your ETS," my expiration term of service. That was the day I was supposed to get discharged. "So you passed it already." So then I reenlisted. If you reenlist for six years, you got this big bonus, maybe $1,200. I never had that much money before. So I said, "What can I get?" I said, "I want to go to Europe." I said, "I don't like ships." Well now, so I reenlisted for a year, but I had to do 18 months in the states. So he said, "I'll put you close to home," so I was stationed in Fort Dix, New Jersey, so I served there 18 months and then I shipped to Germany.

William L. Browne:

And what was the station in Germany?

Jeanne Beasley:

I was first in Heidelberg, Germany, and then transferred to Frankfurter, Germany.

William L. Browne:

And while you were over in Germany how did you stay in touch with your family?

Jeanne Beasley:

You could call. You had a deal, I think it cost us $2 a minute. And we would all go, somebody would call home. We did that about once or twice.

William L. Browne:

$2 a minute?

Jeanne Beasley:

Yeah.

William L. Browne:

What would that be like in today's money?

Jeanne Beasley:

Well, my nephew's there. We got five mark pfennigs for a dollar. They get 88 pfennigs. That's all they get for a dollar. I think maybe about 15. We only got about five or six dollars it was. This one girl had a phone, so we would go to her apartment and use her phone.

William L. Browne:

What was the food like in Germany?

Jeanne Beasley:

We ate at the mess dining hall, what they call battalion dining hall two blocks down from our billets.

William L. Browne:

So did you guys go off base very often?

Jeanne Beasley:

We were in town. We were stationed in Frankfurter. It was in town.

William L. Browne:

Okay. But you still ate -- rather than eating at restaurants out in town you ate --

Jeanne Beasley:

We used to go to Stark's Cafe. I loved that one. Duesberg Strauss. We used to go to Landstrauss they called it, and it was you ate outside. It was the first time I ate outside on the table so we used to stop by there. Yeah, we loved it. I never drank beer until I got to Germany.

William L. Browne:

Oh, so you had some German beer?

Jeanne Beasley:

It was good.

William L. Browne:

So what would one of the meals be that you had in one of these places? Was it like a German bratwurst, or was it steak and potatoes?

Jeanne Beasley:

Weinersnitzeler, always had the weinersnitzeler and potatoes. And if you had pork, you know, they did those apple slices up. That was really good. Always went to a restaurant to get that.

William L. Browne:

Some of your friends at the time, were you guys a close-knit group, your platoon or your office?

Jeanne Beasley:

No. I have four. It was Amanda Taylor and Shirley Taylor and -- we always hung out together. We all worked in personnel, and I think only one's still living. The others died already.

William L. Browne:

Goodness. Now, did you ever run into any sort of hassles with superiors or other people of your same rank? People give you a hard time or any sort of, I don't know, mean people?

Jeanne Beasley:

No. You know what I used to say every time I had a boss that I didn't get along with, either he got transferred or I got transferred. It worked out that way. Tell you the truth, I was very spoiled I think the whole time I was in the service. I always got the good breaks because when I got to Japan, we were in basic, they were still PFCs and I was sergeant already. I made sergeant in three years like that. So I think every place I was at I think I was really spoiled because in fact the general that's here now, General Foote, when I finished platoon sergeant work, she needed a first sergeant and I said no, because I had been four years down here with the troops. I don't want no more troops. I want an office job. She was so nice. I didn't even know her. She told me that I'll try to get it. I went up here, got up here in March, and she promoted me to E-8 in June. Everybody's, "How you promoted so quick?" I had some really good breaks in the Army.

William L. Browne:

So how many years were you in when you got promoted to E-8?

Jeanne Beasley:

I had 17 years.

William L. Browne:

Seventeen years, okay. And how many years did you do total?

Jeanne Beasley:

A little over 20.

William L. Browne:

Okay. And did you retire as an E-8 or an E-9?

Jeanne Beasley:

Right.

William L. Browne:

E-8, okay. What were some of your duty stations? You know, take us from the beginning. You had, you had, Japan and then you had Germany. Take us on down chronologically.

Jeanne Beasley:

From Germany I came back and I was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds -- not Aberdeen, intelligence center, and then transferred up to Aberdeen Proving Grounds. And then from Aberdeen Proving Grounds I got sent down to Fort McClellan, Alabama, to be a platoon sergeant, and I really hated that at the beginning because I was in ten years of personnel, a desk job, and here I was going to get up at 4:30 in the morning and run around like a crazy. And in fact my mother called, my minister called, the school called, everybody was calling. And one night I went to the club. The girl said, "I want you to meet someone." This is Sergeant Christly. He said, "Is my name familiar to you? I was the one that shipped you down to Alabama." I said, "Aren't you sorry you shipped me now you met me?" "Everyone is calling us." And that was the best four years of my life at Fort McClellan.

William L. Browne:

So what was so good about it?

Jeanne Beasley:

Because we were platoon sergeants. Very strict, get up every morning 4:30. You just really stuck together, helped each other, and that time our recruit was high and you had two platoons training at one time. Sergeant Osowski, she was the scheduling NCO. I'll help you. I'll tell you the troops and the little training would march then, and she was so proud that she was my platoon sergeant. So I just really had a good time. And the worst thing about platoon sergeant, your time was never your own. You're on duty from 4:30, went to bed at 9:30 at night, then you're doing the paperwork and starting all over again. And it's hard if you haven't done it in ten years. It really took a toll, but it was real good. We had our morning march. We would call what we called march out once a week, and the kids would love that because the band would play all around the school area. We had what we called the clan march when we would do a night march with torches coming down the street, and then we had the competition for the best marching platoon and you got extra streamer on your guidon, and the singing competition. And so there were just so many. Everybody would say -- we were Bravo Company, and we said we had the best officers, and we did beat Charlie Company and Eagle Company and Delta. You get good officers and good commanders. I just had a wonderful time.

William L. Browne:

And what year was this?

Jeanne Beasley:

I served there from 1962 to 1966.

William L. Browne:

Was there any segregation at the time?

Jeanne Beasley:

Oh, yeah, yeah. Because I got there actually the year they burned the Freedom Bus in town. So after they did that the general said we couldn't eat in town. We had to go to a special section, so actually off limits to all military personnel. So he says -- the town, the businessmen stopped that, they were losing so much money, they lived off of Fort McClellan.

William L. Browne:

Right.

Jeanne Beasley:

I went into town to the restaurant, and it was an Indian girl, Hawaiian girl, and me and two white girls, and we went to the restaurant. Come in, have a seat and all that. So we came back. We had to have a meeting and he asked -- it was wonderful, they're very nice to us. I said, "The college kids, they wouldn't let them come in." And he said, "Well, I can just be concerned about the military." He said, "Dr. Martin Luther King will take care of that. They'll do the protest march," but that was the only time. Like I said, if anybody asked me about it. I remember though the first time I came home and I came by bus. That's the cheapest way. And after we left Washington, D.C. and came back, all the blacks have to go to the back of the bus. I'm going to get off this thing, I'm not staying on here. There was some guys, they said, "Come on, Jeanne, sit back here with us." And I told my mother about it. She said, "Don't worry, we'll fly you back. Don't go back on the bus." And that was the worst thing, you go into Petersburg. It's a hick town then; it's beautiful now. And the best thing about it, you look at the changes that have come about. We used to have our training center at Fort Lee, Virginia, and we would go back there for our reunions, and we had our convention in Little Rock, Arkansas, and we had a good time down there. I think all that school desegregation they had, it's just altogether different, you see changes.

William L. Browne:

Now, within the military when you first entered the military was there segregation within the military?

Jeanne Beasley:

Yeah, but they didn't tell me. When I got down there, Fort Lee, the white girls went to a different company, but we would see them all day long so they were segregated. I went in September of '49, and remember but 1945 Roosevelt died and Truman carried on his policy, and he had said they must be integrated because by that time the Tuskegee Airmen had served and had all those awards and everything. And then what happened, they saw German prisoners getting served and German prisoners going to the places that they couldn't go in. And then Mary McLeod and Eleanor Roosevelt, she was the one, and it would be so funny. Mary McLeod would call Eleanor Roosevelt, said, "Tell your husband he needs to see me." So Mary would have to ask for appointment with him. But Truman said it was going to be integrated and not until years later where I read where Hap Arnold, the general for the Air Force, said no, they can't be any flag fliers and after Tuskegee Airmen established. Then he said yes but then he had to fight against General Eisenhower and General MacArthur to how things would change. By the time the war came up, General Ridgeway was in Korea, and they needed troops, and the command said we don't have any troops, just the 69th infantry came. That's all black unit. "I don't care what color they are, we need people to get up there." So they integrated much faster within the armed services. And the same thing happened to the Tuskegee Airmen. They flew -- their claim to fame is they never lost a bomber while they escorted them over to one of the details, so then they always want them. And then General Mark Clark came up through Italy up through after Cam Ranh Bay. The best thing I say you have a 761st infantry was all black tank battalion, and they came up through Italy. And when they got stuck in the Battle of the Bulge, General Patton said, "I need somebody to get out equipment up here, and I need more troops." He said, "Well, they have transportation, all black and redball express," they called them. So he used them and he told the 761st nobody sent you to fight, so if you embarrass me I'll never forget you. And when he bought them into the light, that's how they broke through the line, German lines so they got a lot of awards for what they did.

William L. Browne:

Now when you were going through school and you said you got there and found out that all the white girls went one way, was the training integrated but the sleeping quarters segregated, or was it all segregated?

Jeanne Beasley:

It was separate, no, separate company, separate companies. So I went in September '49 and then in June, after Korean War started, they integrated the Army so everybody went to different places, and I stayed there at Fort Lee. And they sent me down officers training detachment, and I was the only person in that company. I was like a typist. They sent me more to get coffee and little cook over there, said, "Come on in the door. You ain't going to get no coffee standing at the door." Every night she would bring me the cookies and I think she likes me. She gave me a blouse for my birthday. I tell you, I was spoiled all the way, and then when I got here to the Armed Forces Retirement Home, she was here. But I managed first, I went to Fort McClellan as a platoon sergeant. She told my trainees, "I knew her when she was a private." I just felt bad when I met her, she was an E5, retired as E6. Here she comes as a private, she retires as E8. I met her here. I met my recruiter when I was in Japan. She was there. I met a lot of people. But I really had never really had trouble. I know other people said they had trouble with different things, but I never really had trouble.

William L. Browne:

That's fantastic. You seem like a lady who's very easy to get along with and who is very intelligent. I mean, you came up in the ranks very, very quickly. I mean, that's probably a testament to you.

Jeanne Beasley:

I came from such a poor family. I was so glad to get three meals a day and a place to sleep. I didn't know what to do. I didn't care. I just wanted to be happy. It was the first job I had.

William L. Browne:

That's fantastic. Okay. Let's move on to your sort of diaries. Did you keep any personal diaries or a record of life at your duty station where you wrote down things that you did?

Jeanne Beasley:

No, I just kept all my orders. Everybody had what we called our 201 file, which I promptly threw away when I came to the retirement home. I've been retired 40 years, don't need this thing no more. There's a girl there 1942 still saving it.

William L. Browne:

Goodness. Now, what were some of the things you guys did for entertainment?

Jeanne Beasley:

I know mostly clubs. At that time first started and I was in the south, there was no really good place to go. Or people invited you to their house. I was on a bowling team. I liked to bowl. I didn't like baseball. I would play volleyball, which I didn't know what I was doing. I was afraid I would break a fingernail. I didn't have anything, just travel. I loved to travel.

William L. Browne:

What are some of the traveling you did in conjunction with your service? I mean, you go to like Japan, did you travel outside of Japan or travel outside of Germany?

Jeanne Beasley:

Well, my brother was in the Navy. He was at Osaka. My other brother was in the Air Force. He was at air base. So about once a month in Tokyo three of us would be together. But when I was in Germany I did a lot of travel there.

William L. Browne:

Do you have any photographs from the time that you were --

Jeanne Beasley:

I just have all my pictures when I was platoon sergeant. You took a group in there.

William L. Browne:

Okay. Do you recall the day that your service ended? Did you have like a retirement ceremony?

Jeanne Beasley:

Oh, yeah, big retirement. Twenty of us retiring. We all stood there. Cried when they played, you know, "America the Beautiful," the general comes by and shakes your hand. But my father had a stroke so I really didn't want to retire because I was due for promotion again, but I had to go home and help my mother. So it wasn't a happy time that day I retired.

William L. Browne:

So you retired early to go back and help your family out?

Jeanne Beasley:

Right, right. Because a lot of people stayed over 25 years, but I just did the 20 and I got out to go help my mother.

William L. Browne:

Okay. And what year was your retirement?

Jeanne Beasley:

1969. He wasn't born?

William L. Browne:

I was born in '66, but she was born in '69. And where was your last duty station where you retired?

Jeanne Beasley:

Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

William L. Browne:

Fort Belvoir, okay. What did you do in the days and weeks just afterward? Did you go home or take some vacation time?

Jeanne Beasley:

I went directly home because I was sick. I always had a lot of female problems, and they said by then we're going to give you a surgery because I wanted a hysterectomy. Anyway, they sent me to the VA Hospital in Cleveland, so as soon as I got out I was in the hospital six weeks there to go through all the surgery. I wasn't really a help to my mother when I first got out.

William L. Browne:

Now, what was your job afterwards, or did you go to school?

Jeanne Beasley:

I went to school for licensed practical nurse.

William L. Browne:

Okay. Did you use the GI bill for that?

Jeanne Beasley:

Yes.

William L. Browne:

And where did you go to school?

Jeanne Beasley:

Jane Adams School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio.

William L. Browne:

Did you work as a nurse?

Jeanne Beasley:

For 22 years I did.

William L. Browne:

Wow, very good. An RN or --

Jeanne Beasley:

No, licensed practical nurse, LPN.

William L. Browne:

You already told me a little about the close friendships you had while you were in the service and that you're now living in the same home as some of them, which is fantastic. Any other relationships outside of that long distance that you still keep with other people?

Jeanne Beasley:

Oh, yes, all my nursing friends. I used to have open house every December, and the same thing would happen because I would clean, get everything ready on Thanksgiving, have the house decorated so when they came that first Friday in December. She would always get on the phone, this one girl, "We're going to have to get our Christmas decorations out. This lady has her house all decorated. Jeanne's having her big open house." I always looked forward to that. Then we have our convention, like I'm leaving to go to our convention in Arizona, and there's three girls there that went to basic with me that went to the convention. It's so sad. We're so old now. This one's got arthritis.

William L. Browne:

What's this convention, is it a nursing convention?

Jeanne Beasley:

No, Women's Army Corps Veterans.

William L. Browne:

And are you a member of any sort of military sort of group like Veterans of Foreign Wars?

Jeanne Beasley:

I'm on the board of governors at the Women's Memorial, just American Legion.

William L. Browne:

Okay. And outside the one convention you told me about, do you go to any other sort of conventions?

Jeanne Beasley:

Our class reunion, we still have that.

William L. Browne:

Okay. What class is that?

Jeanne Beasley:

Class, everybody that went to Central Senior High, we have a school reunion, and the last one I went to was our 50th.

William L. Browne:

What did you go on to do -- I've already got there. You were a nurse in your career after the military. Now you were a typist and then platoon leader and troop leader and basically a first sergeant while you were in the military. How did you decide to become a nurse?

Jeanne Beasley:

Because my father was sick and he only lived a year after I retired. And my two sisters were nurse's aide's all their life, so going to get a license. But I didn't want to go for four years, so just solitaire.

William L. Browne:

How has your service in the military affected your life since?

Jeanne Beasley:

I think I've much more stamina. I always remember this girl when I was working nursing they said, "Jeanne, will you run over and take the lab because you got your work caught up." And I said, "You realize I'm 20 years older than you are." And they said, "You've got more stamina. You always walking around whistling." So I used to tell them all the time that it really helped me. And then we did what we call -- we got a stipend from working student nurses, and so after we got certain point in the training we went to work on the floor seven to noon, ate lunch, and went back to class. Well, they paid us a hundred dollars a month for this, and I worked at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation because we're the fourth hospital in the United States, and we had all the Arabs come over for surgery and they bring the whole family and all that stuff, so we're kind of big wheels in Cleveland. And they paid us that stipend. And I stayed there at the Cleveland Clinic because I took my practical there, and it wasn't far from home. And then after five years you get a pen for working and at the ten years you start to get a thousand dollars every year on your anniversary, and so when they gave me the five-year pen I said "No, I've only been here four years." And what they did when we started working practical they had to give us employer number in order to pay us. So they consider that my employment and because I stayed there, started working, I was a year ahead of the rest of my class because they went to different hospitals. So I got my thousand dollars a year ahead of them when they started working because they had lost out. They had worked someplace else for two or three years.

William L. Browne:

Is there anything you'd like to add that we haven't covered in this interview, whether it's really fond memories or just something that you think's important that you'd like to have on the record that I haven't talked about?

Jeanne Beasley:

Well, Jill Vaught at the Women's Memorial said we had to write down something specific about our career, highlight. I just said my whole 20 years was my highlight because I just enjoyed it so much, and I was just so thankful for the opportunity because I had a chance to get a job. Because the other people in my class, they still had no jobs, and I just thought I had a wonderful career and I had wonderful future from being in the service, so I was just really happy. I don't have a husband, but I'm really happy.

William L. Browne:

Well, that's fantastic. It occurred to me, people said that you had a lot of stamina because you can get your work done early, and I think it might be stamina, but it's probably just work ethic and the fact that you're not someone who likes to stop and sit down.

Jeanne Beasley:

Yeah, yeah. I get things done. Not now that I'm older. I procrastinate. I'm going to do this tomorrow, I'm going to do this tomorrow. But I think it helps you with your relationships too with people that you work with because you work with all kind of people. You met all kind of people and all that travels I did. People look at my pictures, it didn't make no difference. We all were going. I've been to Japan, I mean I've been to Russia, Egypt, China. I just went every place.

William L. Browne:

As far as discrimination goes, it doesn't sound like you ran into a lot of that in your military service.

Jeanne Beasley:

I really didn't, not until I was in the south, and that was only -- in fact, we were in a town. "Where are you all from?" "Oh Marlton," some place in Carolina. They said, "Where are you from?" It just was amazing. And it was so bad that when we were in Germany coming home from work I gave Bergly my ID card to get into the PX because she didn't have it, and she flashes the ID card. "Wait a minute, wait a minute, let's see this card." That's when it donned on me you were a different race, and I was using your ID card to get into the PX, so it's been good.

William L. Browne:

Listen, I think that's about it as far as the questions I have for you. It was very, very, nice talking to you.

Jeanne Beasley:

I talked you to death. Get this lady out of here, she's going crazy.

William L. Browne:

No, not at all. And really, if you have anything to add, I'd love to hear it.

Jeanne Beasley:

I'm just thankful and grateful for my life and the opportunity I had, and I wouldn't trade my experience for nothing in the world, nothing.

William L. Browne:

That's fantastic. That's good to know. All right, thank you.

 
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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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