You will recall, from our last thrilling episode, that we were discussing postcards designed for servicemen to send home to let the folks at home know they were doing well, enjoying much of their life getting ready to fight the enemy. There were some humorous drawbacks to being employed by Uncle Sam—having to wash dishes and do laundry—but these were things that could be laughed off. The reality of fighting island to island in the Pacific or storming beaches in Italy was left to eh newspapers and Life Magazine. That allowed some distance. The postcards tried to keep spirits high.
But there was at least one line of postcards which aimed to do the same for women in the service, specifically women who joined the Women’s Army Corps, or WACs. There was a Naval counterpart (the WAVES, and a Marine equivalent (shout out to Muriel underwood, who enlisted in the Marines during World War II and was told on the first day that there was no funny acronym for them to learn. “They told us we were Marines, period.”)
Bur the Beals Company of Des Moines, Iowa, proud of its postcards with their Glo-Var Finish (whatever that was) concentrated on the Women’s Army Corps. The lettering was unique and the art consistent, and if someone in the Great Interwebs Community knows what artist was responsible for these women, I’d like to hear about it. But these cards did for the WACs what the earlier cards did for other branches of the service.
First of all, they let the folks at home know they were safe and well out of harm’s way. That was, after all, the chief aim of the whole Postcard War.
And they passed along the information that Uncle Sam was keeping them busy and out of mischief.
Recalling that once upon a time, one could slack off while doing exercises with radio fitness programs, but now things were taken more seriously.
A constant theme the WACS tried to reinforce in much of their publicity was that this was war, and the women were not just signing up to be decorations. They learned to march and perform just like the boys.
They did the same kitchen chores.
Sometimes under conditions of peril.
Though they did get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Many of them were put into office work, freeing men for combat duty. (Men also learned these same chores, but I haven’t seen any postcards pointing this out.)
But they had not joined the Army to be uniformed secretaries. Many WACs found themselves working with other mechanical equipment.
All types of military hardware.
Including some invented just for this particular war.
Altogether, the Beals postcards (and there were more than I have room to show you here) indicated that a woman had a place in the military, a place she could be proud of (look back at the top of the column) and, which, frankly, offered a way of contributing to one’s country that was natural, fulfilling, and fu;;y acceptable. (Talking like a soldier came with the territory.)