Editor’s Note: The Chestertown Spy has teamed up with the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience at Washington College to share the stories of local residents who experienced World War II, either on the Home Front or as Veterans. Students and staff have already interviewed over a hundred people about their experiences during World War II. Each installment presented in The Spy includes an audio clip of an interview, along with the corresponding transcript. You can find more audio clips and interview transcripts at storyquestproject.com. If you have a story or artifact to share, please contact Deputy Director of Starr Center, Pat Nugent, at [email protected] or 410-810-7161.
Doug Gates: Female Defense Workers
Probably the most influential thing that I can remember is that we had a fairly large house, and we took in defense workers — females. I think one male we had at one time, but they were generally females. They worked in shipbuilding in Wilmington. They had small plants, and they had other things too, I guess. I can’t remember. But the thing that is most memorable for me is that in the evening (you know, no television in those days), we’d get down in the living room, and we had a piano. And the girls, there was always a piano player there seemed to be. The girls would get down there and gather around the piano with me, because I always stuck my nose in there, and sing songs. As a result of that, you know, my head right now continues to be full of nineteen twenties, thirties, forties songs. That’s what we sang, and that’s what I memorized with those gals, and it was wonderful. You know, this little twerp standing there and they’re having a grand time, and I’m having a grand time too. I loved it (laughs). And they’d pat me on the head [and say], “Oh, Dougie, you’re such a cute little kid,” (laughs) and I knew I was, of course (laughs).