She Also Served: Letters from a Navy Wife

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9781495944703: She Also Served: Letters from a Navy Wife
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What was daily life like for a Navy officer’s wife in California during World War II? In China amid civil war? In London and Europe during the Cold War? She Also Served: Letters from a Navy Wife offers an up-close and personal account of one woman’s life during extraordinary times. With an eye for detail and an irrepressible sense of humor, Virgilia Short Witzel (1910-2004) tells the lesser-known stories of the Greatest Generation, those of a woman who served behind the scenes.
Through skillful reporting, she reveals the dedication (and stamina) required to protect her family, support her husband's career, and represent the best of America, at home and overseas. Her younger daughter, Christine Witzel, sifted through hundreds of private letters, compiling the most entertaining and historically interesting selections. The result is an eminently readable collection. In the process, Christine, born in 1950, discovers a side of her mother that she had never known as well as a window into history as it unfolded.
With her husband stationed in the Pacific, Virgilia moves into the “Snuggery,” a guest cottage behind her parents’ home in Menlo Park, California. She plants vegetables in a victory garden, rolls bandages for the Red Cross, and tries to achieve a sense of normalcy for herself and daughter Joanna amid rationing, shortages, and loneliness:
“Going to weddings without a man of your own is a very bad business,” she writes. “Whoever wrote that book about living alone and liking it was either a fool or a liar. I can see why some women rent escorts! Come on home before I set a trap for the milkman!” (July 4, 1943)
Organizing a wartime birthday party is no easy affair: Woolworth’s replaces candy counters with book displays, her favorite bakery won’t take orders, and nowhere can she find white cotton socks for Joanna. “Can you imagine such a thing?” she writes. (July 20, 1943)
An English major at University of California at Berkeley, Virgilia almost lands a newspaper job. “Mr. Willis (at the Menlo Park Gazette) was willing to give me a week’s trial writing the society news, but his wife said no, so that was that.” (Sept. 8, 1943)
After wartime privation, Virgilia joins her husband in Shanghai in November 1946, where she relishes opulent accommodations, servants, and panoramic views offering “ box seats for a continual newsreel.” The “singing stevedores” captivate her. The tune is “halfway between a chant and a yodel, and in rhythm with their steps, gradually slowing down to one note as the load reaches the bottom of the truck.”
Based in London from 1953 to 1955 (the era portrayed in the “Call the Midwife” and “Bletchley Circle” TV series), Virgilia and her family explore postwar Europe. She brings her sharp eyes to a Buckingham Palace garden party, where she encounters Sir Winston Churchill and Billy Graham. She applauds the elegance of upper-class British women but is less than taken with the Royal Family. “The Queen is much smaller than she appears in photographs and also looked older and more tired than we had expected.” ... Princess Margaret (“looking rather bored and sullen” en route) “is very small and the Queen M is just as short but very fat and quite un-aristocratic looking. The Duke is really a dish—very tall, very slender and full of personality.”
Describing Billy Graham, she writes: “His skin is as smooth and fine-textured as a child’s and some friends wondered if he had on pancake makeup. He’s like a matinée idol—very tall, blond and glamorous. His wife looked pretty much like the usual parson’s wife.” (July 24, 1955)
Virgilia was a brilliant social reporter, and Mr. Willis erred grievously by failing to hire her. Recognizing her mother’s talent, Christine Witzel opens her letters to new audiences.

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About the Author:

Known for her elegance, she was occasionally mistaken for Katharine Hepburn. Virgilia Short was born January 14, 1910 to an old San Francisco family, led the debate team at Girls’ High and entered University of California at Berkeley in 1927, majoring in English. She channeled her flair for writing into private letters that provide a woman’s perspective on key events of the 1940s and 1950s.
Virgilia met Frederick DeBoom Witzel while swimming in the Russian River resort area north of San Francisco, where both families had summer homes amid the redwoods. Soon after marrying in 1931, he joined the U.S. Navy Supply Corps, and she became a dedicated Navy wife, relocating to military posts throughout the United States. In 1936, their oldest daughter, Joanna, was born in Philadelphia.
Their togetherness ended early in 1943, when Fred shipped out to the Pacific and served on Admiral Chester Nimitz’s staff. On the home front, Virgilia and Joanna lived in a cottage at her parent’s home in Menlo Park, California. Her letters reveal how women at home coped amid rationing, shortages and loneliness. Virgilia grew a victory garden, and rolled bandages for the Red Cross.
In 1946, Virgilia and Joanna joined Fred in China, where he served with the US Military Advisory Group during the Chinese Civil War. Although officers’ families lived in luxury, the heat was often oppressive, they were surrounded by poverty, and before the 1948 Communist takeover of Nanking, they had to evacuate in a matter of hours.
The Witzels next settled in Berkeley, near the Oakland Naval Supply Depot, where Fred was stationed. Their second daughter, Christine, was born in 1950, when Virgilia was forty. After other stateside assignments, the family spent two years in London, where Christine started school and acquired an English accent, and they vacationed throughout Europe.
After twenty-seven years of service, Fred retired from the Navy in 1959, joining SRI International in Menlo Park. For the first time, Virgilia had a permanent home to display her Chinese treasures, grow the flowers she loved to arrange, and entertain with style. She volunteered at the local hospital and attended art classes to become a Stanford museum docent. After Fred died in 1988, she joined the Friends of the Menlo Park Library, nicknamed “the Moles” because they sorted donated books in the basement. Virgilia died in 2004, nearly ninety-five years old. She could have passed for eighty.

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Book Description CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Paperback. Condition: New. This item is printed on demand. 212 pages. Dimensions: 8.5in. x 5.5in. x 0.5in.What was daily life like for a Navy officers wife in California during World War II In China amid civil war In London and Europe during the Cold War She Also Served: Letters from a Navy Wife offers an up-close and personal account of one womans life during extraordinary times. With an eye for detail and an irrepressible sense of humor, Virgilia Short Witzel (1910-2004) tells the lesser-known stories of the Greatest Generation, those of a woman who served behind the scenes. Through skillful reporting, she reveals the dedication (and stamina) required to protect her family, support her husbands career, and represent the best of America, at home and overseas. Her younger daughter, Christine Witzel, sifted through hundreds of private letters, compiling the most entertaining and historically interesting selections. The result is an eminently readable collection. In the process, Christine, born in 1950, discovers a side of her mother that she had never known as well as a window into history as it unfolded. With her husband stationed in the Pacific, Virgilia moves into the Snuggery, a guest cottage behind her parents home in Menlo Park, California. She plants vegetables in a victory garden, rolls bandages for the Red Cross, and tries to achieve a sense of normalcy for herself and daughter Joanna amid rationing, shortages, and loneliness: Going to weddings without a man of your own is a very bad business, she writes. Whoever wrote that book about living alone and liking it was either a fool or a liar. I can see why some women rent escorts! Come on home before I set a trap for the milkman! (July 4, 1943) Organizing a wartime birthday party is no easy affair: Woolworths replaces candy counters with book displays, her favorite bakery wont take orders, and nowhere can she find white cotton socks for Joanna. Can you imagine such a thing she writes. (July 20, 1943) An English major at University of California at Berkeley, Virgilia almost lands a newspaper job. Mr. Willis (at the Menlo Park Gazette) was willing to give me a weeks trial writing the society news, but his wife said no, so that was that. (Sept. 8, 1943) After wartime privation, Virgilia joins her husband in Shanghai in November 1946, where she relishes opulent accommodations, servants, and panoramic views offering box seats for a continual newsreel. The singing stevedores captivate her. The tune is halfway between a chant and a yodel, and in rhythm with their steps, gradually slowing down to one note as the load reaches the bottom of the truck. Based in London from 1953 to 1955 (the era portrayed in the Call the Midwife and Bletchley Circle TV series), Virgilia and her family explore postwar Europe. She brings her sharp eyes to a Buckingham Palace garden party, where she encounters Sir Winston Churchill and Billy Graham. She applauds the elegance of upper-class British women but is less than taken with the Royal Family. The Queen is much smaller than she appears in photographs and also looked older and more tired than we had expected. Princess Margaret (looking rather bored and sullen en route) is very small and the Queen M is just as short but very fat and quite un-aristocratic looking. The Duke is really a dishvery tall, very slender and full of personality. Describing Billy Graham, she writes: His skin is as smooth and fine-textured as a childs and some friends wondered if he had on pancake makeup. Hes like a matine idolvery tall, blond and glamorous. His wife looked pretty much like the usual parsons wife. (July 24, 1955) Virgilia was a brilliant social reporter, and Mr. Willis erred grievously by failing to hire her. Recognizing her mothers talent, Christine Witzel opens her letters to new audiences. This item ships from La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9781495944703

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Book Description Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. What was daily life like for a Navy officer's wife in California during World War II? In China amid civil war? In London and Europe during the Cold War? She Also Served: Letters from a Navy Wife offers an up-close and personal account of one woman's life during extraordinary times. With an eye for detail and an irrepressible sense of humor, Virgilia Short Witzel (1910-2004) tells the lesser-known stories of the Greatest Generation, those of a woman who served behind the scenes. Through skillful reporting, she reveals the dedication (and stamina) required to protect her family, support her husband's career, and represent the best of America, at home and overseas. Her younger daughter, Christine Witzel, sifted through hundreds of private letters, compiling the most entertaining and historically interesting selections. The result is an eminently readable collection. In the process, Christine, born in 1950, discovers a side of her mother that she had never known as well as a window into history as it unfolded. With her husband stationed in the Pacific, Virgilia moves into the "Snuggery," a guest cottage behind her parents' home in Menlo Park, California. She plants vegetables in a victory garden, rolls bandages for the Red Cross, and tries to achieve a sense of normalcy for herself and daughter Joanna amid rationing, shortages, and loneliness: "Going to weddings without a man of your own is a very bad business," she writes. "Whoever wrote that book about living alone and liking it was either a fool or a liar. I can see why some women rent escorts! Come on home before I set a trap for the milkman!" (July 4, 1943) Organizing a wartime birthday party is no easy affair: Woolworth's replaces candy counters with book displays, her favorite bakery won't take orders, and nowhere can she find white cotton socks for Joanna. "Can you imagine such a thing?" she writes. (July 20, 1943) An English major at University of California at Berkeley, Virgilia almost lands a newspaper job. "Mr. Willis (at the Menlo Park Gazette) was willing to give me a week's trial writing the society news, but his wife said no, so that was that." (Sept. 8, 1943) After wartime privation, Virgilia joins her husband in Shanghai in November 1946, where she relishes opulent accommodations, servants, and panoramic views offering " box seats for a continual newsreel." The "singing stevedores" captivate her. The tune is "halfway between a chant and a yodel, and in rhythm with their steps, gradually slowing down to one note as the load reaches the bottom of the truck." Based in London from 1953 to 1955 (the era portrayed in the "Call the Midwife" and "Bletchley Circle" TV series), Virgilia and her family explore postwar Europe. She brings her sharp eyes to a Buckingham Palace garden party, where she encounters Sir Winston Churchill and Billy Graham. She applauds the elegance of upper-class British women but is less than taken with the Royal Family. "The Queen is much smaller than she appears in photographs and also looked older and more tired than we had expected." . Princess Margaret ("looking rather bored and sullen" en route) "is very small and the Queen M is just as short but very fat and quite un-aristocratic looking. The Duke is really a dish-very tall, very slender and full of personality." Describing Billy Graham, she writes: "His skin is as smooth and fine-textured as a child's and some friends wondered if he had on pancake makeup. He's like a matinee idol-very tall, blond and glamorous. His wife looked pretty much like the usual parson's wife." (July 24, 1955) Virgilia was a brilliant social reporter, and Mr. Willis erred grievously by failing to hire her. Recognizing her mother's talent, Christine Witzel opens her letters to new audiences. Seller Inventory # APC9781495944703

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Book Description Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. What was daily life like for a Navy officer's wife in California during World War II? In China amid civil war? In London and Europe during the Cold War? She Also Served: Letters from a Navy Wife offers an up-close and personal account of one woman's life during extraordinary times. With an eye for detail and an irrepressible sense of humor, Virgilia Short Witzel (1910-2004) tells the lesser-known stories of the Greatest Generation, those of a woman who served behind the scenes. Through skillful reporting, she reveals the dedication (and stamina) required to protect her family, support her husband's career, and represent the best of America, at home and overseas. Her younger daughter, Christine Witzel, sifted through hundreds of private letters, compiling the most entertaining and historically interesting selections. The result is an eminently readable collection. In the process, Christine, born in 1950, discovers a side of her mother that she had never known as well as a window into history as it unfolded. With her husband stationed in the Pacific, Virgilia moves into the "Snuggery," a guest cottage behind her parents' home in Menlo Park, California. She plants vegetables in a victory garden, rolls bandages for the Red Cross, and tries to achieve a sense of normalcy for herself and daughter Joanna amid rationing, shortages, and loneliness: "Going to weddings without a man of your own is a very bad business," she writes. "Whoever wrote that book about living alone and liking it was either a fool or a liar. I can see why some women rent escorts! Come on home before I set a trap for the milkman!" (July 4, 1943) Organizing a wartime birthday party is no easy affair: Woolworth's replaces candy counters with book displays, her favorite bakery won't take orders, and nowhere can she find white cotton socks for Joanna. "Can you imagine such a thing?" she writes. (July 20, 1943) An English major at University of California at Berkeley, Virgilia almost lands a newspaper job. "Mr. Willis (at the Menlo Park Gazette) was willing to give me a week's trial writing the society news, but his wife said no, so that was that." (Sept. 8, 1943) After wartime privation, Virgilia joins her husband in Shanghai in November 1946, where she relishes opulent accommodations, servants, and panoramic views offering " box seats for a continual newsreel." The "singing stevedores" captivate her. The tune is "halfway between a chant and a yodel, and in rhythm with their steps, gradually slowing down to one note as the load reaches the bottom of the truck." Based in London from 1953 to 1955 (the era portrayed in the "Call the Midwife" and "Bletchley Circle" TV series), Virgilia and her family explore postwar Europe. She brings her sharp eyes to a Buckingham Palace garden party, where she encounters Sir Winston Churchill and Billy Graham. She applauds the elegance of upper-class British women but is less than taken with the Royal Family. "The Queen is much smaller than she appears in photographs and also looked older and more tired than we had expected." . Princess Margaret ("looking rather bored and sullen" en route) "is very small and the Queen M is just as short but very fat and quite un-aristocratic looking. The Duke is really a dish-very tall, very slender and full of personality." Describing Billy Graham, she writes: "His skin is as smooth and fine-textured as a child's and some friends wondered if he had on pancake makeup. He's like a matinee idol-very tall, blond and glamorous. His wife looked pretty much like the usual parson's wife." (July 24, 1955) Virgilia was a brilliant social reporter, and Mr. Willis erred grievously by failing to hire her. Recognizing her mother's talent, Christine Witzel opens her letters to new audiences. Seller Inventory # APC9781495944703

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