First Class of WAVES, Norman, Oklahoma 1943
Military Postcards, North America, Postcards

Making WAVES in the Sooner State [1944 – Oklahoma] US Navy

Norman Oklahoma 1944, USNavy postcard image lg.png

A Naval base in the middle of Oklahoma? It may be hard to believe, but thousands of male and female Navy personnel spent time training in the wide open spaces of the Sooner State during World War II.

This post card was sent by a Navy service member stationed in Norman, Oklahoma, and depicts the hydroelectric Quanah Parker Dam to the West in what is now Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Perhaps the sender, Russell, found time for a weekend trip to this scenic part of the state during a reprieve from his hospital duties in 1944.

Just south of Oklahoma City, the U.S. Navy established a Naval Air Station, Naval Air Technical Training Center, and Gunnery School in the town of Norman. Construction on Navy facilities began in 1942, and the Navy developed a close relationship with nearby Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma University. The airfield, newly built by the university, was leased to the Navy for the duration of the war and was used to train Naval pilots (source). Machinists and aircraft maintenance technicians were also trained at the installation.  WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) and SPARS (US Coast Guard Women’s Reservists) were trained on Oklahoma A&M’s campus, and the college boasted the largest enrollment of WAVES in the country, at over 10 thousand during the war (source).

You can see an image of the dedication of the the Navy Hospital on the website of the Norman Museum. Another exterior photo, as well as one of an actress visiting a patient, allows us to peek into the world in which this postcard was written.  The museum also features an impressive number of fascinating historic photos of aviation and ground operations that took place during the war: https://www.normanmuseum.org/wwii-navy-bases.html. I recommend you take a peek.

Norman Oklahoma 1944, USNavy postcard message.jpg

Dear Betty,

Received your card sure was glad to hear from you. I may be home soon. How are things at the shop. Gee I sure miss you. Please write when you can.

Love Russell

From: R SAYSF USN Hospital, Norman Oklahoma

To: Miss Betty Pavler | Ecorse, Michigan

Postmark: U.S. Navy Aug 16 1944

 


Navy Operations in Norman, Oklahoma during World War II

NH 86160 Norman Oklahoma Naval Training School
“WAVES at the Naval Training School, Norman, Oklahoma, lower an airplane engine onto a block, July 1943.” Source: US Navy, Naval History and Heritage Command.

NH 95359 First Class of WAVES Norman, OklahomaThe featured photo of this post shows “Members of the first class of WAVES to graduate from the Aviation Metalsmith School, at the Naval Air Technical Training Center, Norman, Oklahoma, 30 July 1943.” Source: Naval History and Heritage Command.

 

 

Quanah Dam 4-1-17
Quanah Parker Dam today, by Larry Smith via Flickr

 

 

Medical, United States

Had My Operation [1942 – Excelsior Springs, MO]

Excelsior Springs, Mo 1942- Medical Postcard lg

Though occasionally vacation postcards can be entertaining, they often contain the most ironically mundane commentary regarding the weather or scheduling. I find the most interesting postcards are the ones that involve births, deaths, marriages, relocations, war, homecomings, graduations, illness, and even lost pets. Those are the ones where I find the most interesting tidbits of individual humanity and anthropology on a larger scale.

An article published in 2005 by the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes “Not only can the illustrations on postcards reveal a considerable amount of information about hospitals in the early twentieth century, but the messages, addresses, postmarks, and stamps can also offer a glimpse of the lives of ordinary citizens and their perceptions of the health care system.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1175805/)

Here we read about one such hospital experience. The sender expresses relief in having made it through surgery, and makes note of the diversity of her fellow patients inside McCleary Hospital near Kansas City, Missouri. I think most people have mixed feelings about hospitals — perhaps, not thrilled about yourself or a family member falling ill, but grateful to have a hospital where you can seek care. I’m glad that Mrs. Goetsch seems to have had a mostly positive hospital stay.

Excelsior Springs, Mo 1942- Medical Postcard message lg

Dear Mable,

Here is the place I am and I guess the place to get well. Had my operation and am over the worst I hope so. Sure meet people from all over the country, young and old, fat and small. Hope from now I will feel better.

Mrs. Goetsch

Postmark: Excelsior Springs, Missouri – May 18, 1942

To: Mrs. Mable Kueck – Janesville, Wisconsin

 


Kansas City Patient 1948
Patient receiving care in Kansas City, Missouri in 1948. Flickr, The Commons

 

McCleary Thornton Minor Hospital

McCleary Clinic and Hospital remains in existence as McCleary – Thornton – Minor Hospital in Excelsior Springs.

History of McCleary Clinic and Hospital