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"To make the boys feel at home": USO senior hostesses and gendered citizenship.

In 1943, Helen Scheidel and her sister, Marge, attended USO dances at Mayor Kelly's Servicemen's Center in Chicago, once a month on Saturday nights. As a single eighteen-year-old, Helen represented the typical junior hostess, famous for jitterbugging across the dance floor with fresh-faced soldiers and sailors. Helen and the other junior hostesses at the center "tried to not let someone sit by themselves" and eagerly listened to servicemen's stories about their homes and families. When a soldier or a sailor seemed especially anxious or distraught, however, Helen recalls that she and her peers were "not mature enough to talk about their problems" with them. What they needed in this instance was someone who was there "to take Mama's place." Helen and Marge referred these "boys" to senior hostesses, because they were there "to do serious talking." Although mending shirts, baking cookies, and "listening" were hardly revolutionary undertakings for middle-class women in the early 1940s in the same way that working in factories or joining the Women's Army Corps were, USO senior hostesses transformed these activities ordinarily performed daily at home into a public fulfillment of their obligations to the wartime state. (1)

Senior hostesses, usually married women over the age of thirty-five, clocked hundreds of thousands of hours at the USO, where they not only served as informal counselors, but also sewed insignias on servicemen's uniforms, baked sweets and made sandwiches, and chaperoned male soldiers' and sailors' interactions with junior hostesses. Their activities did not threaten the patriarchal order or existing gender or sexual norms; however, women's domestic work and their emotional labor in USO clubs were important. In her assessment of the modern welfare state, political scientist Laura Balbo details the invisibility, yet necessity, of women's unpaid "emotion work," such as cooking, "counseling," and "mothering," in upholding a capitalistic society. Sociologist Arlie R. Hochschild takes the idea of "emotional labor" into the public sphere to argue that feminized service professions require women to "feign" happiness and enthusiasm in order to perform their duties successfully. Similarly, senior hostesses engaged in emotion work by censoring their feelings while working in USO clubs to shield the servicemen in their care from anxiety created by the war. They donated their domestic and emotional labor to the military and the wartime state for personal and patriotic reasons. In doing so, they performed private tasks, previously reserved for their families, for strangers in a public setting. (2)

While the Great Depression magnified the importance of women's domestic skills for a short time by highlighting their ability to tighten the household budget, women's household labor regularly went unnoticed unless it was absent. Historians have given female volunteers, senior hostesses in particular, much the same treatment. Senior hostesses completed work for servicemen and women in USO clubs that women had always done, and this helped to erase its historical significance. For example, historian D'Ann Campbell concludes that women's volunteer work for the USO and the Red Cross did little to affect the prosecution of the war. Instead, their volunteer efforts served to make elite and middle-class women feel good about answering the government's call for women's wartime support. Campbell more thoroughly discusses women's volunteer work for the Red Cross than she does for the USO, and this might have prompted her to conclude that senior hostesses' work had little real value. Furthermore, when the USO does creep into popular memory, it is junior hostesses like Marge and Helen Scheidel who seem to represent the organization, not their older, married counterparts who kept the clubs functioning throughout the war. (3)

Senior hostesses reinforced their primary peacetime roles as mothers and caregivers, and made their services as such available to the military, thereby performing a gendered form of citizenship. According to historian Linda Kerber, liberal citizenship entails a set of reciprocal obligations in which citizens repay the state for a general sense of security and basic provisions with their service and deference. During World War II, the state expected men to take up arms in the nation's defense, but contributed to the "popular understanding [that] define[d] women as fulfilling their civic obligation within their homes," even as it encouraged some women to work as welders in heavy industry. Senior hostesses felt privileged and obligated to volunteer their time to an organization that was assisting sixteen million service persons, mostly young men, in uniform. These women converted clubs and canteens into "feminine" spaces by infusing them with the behaviors, amenities, and cuisine of home. As they nurtured American "boys" in the armed services, senior hostesses implicitly consented to the loss of their own sons. By replicating the sentiments and structures of home these women performed a vital task for the military. Their actions tacitly encouraged young men to sacrifice their careers and perhaps their lives as civilians, lives from which they were physically and even emotionally disconnected. (4)

Prescriptive literature about World War II generated by the media claimed that it was women's responsibility to contribute to the war effort through volunteerism that included domestic activities sponsored by the USO. In her 1943 advice book, Arms and the Girl, Mary McBride argued that "the intangibles of morale have always been women's peculiar concern." The USO Bulletin attempted to harness women's caretaking work for the war when it advised local clubs to enlist women in its projects because "maintenance of morale can be largely a housekeeping job." The National Catholic Community Service (NCCS) believed that women could uniquely contribute to the USO because, "All of them have a prayer in their hearts, either consciously or subconsciously." In its view, women possessed an innate spirituality necessary to lift soldiers' spirits. Many women agreed with this sentiment and responded by offering their time to the USO. When Hattiesburg, Mississippi, opened a USO club for white servicemen in 1941, it had fourteen senior hostesses. By 1942, 1,022 senior hostesses were volunteering there, and these numbers reached their peak in 1943 with 1,824 senior hostess volunteers. Volunteer work appealed to those women who did not have young children at home or who could afford to hire someone to watch their children in their absence. At the same time that opportunities were growing for women in industry and in the armed services, many middle-class women continued to find their niche in volunteerism. In fact, one-fourth of American women volunteered their free time to various relief agencies throughout the war. (5)

The USO valued its female volunteers and recognized that they formed the basis of most club operations. Senior hostesses' volunteer work, in particular, decided "the tone of the entire USO operation." In March 1942, national USO campaign chairman Prescott S. Bush named Mrs. Elizabeth Luce Moore the chairman of the USO's National Women's Committee. Moore acknowledged the importance of women's contributions to the USO by saying, "Women's place in the USO effort cannot be too greatly emphasized." She went on to outline women's specific obligation to the USO and the war endeavor. Moore declared: "Americans should not ignore the need for preservation of the national spirit. That is women's biggest duty now, to prove in every way that we are united behind our fighting men." Moore neatly placed women in a necessary yet secondary position to that of men. (6)

African American as well as white women took this role upon themselves. Mrs. Mallie B. Williams responded to the USO's request for volunteers and asked the NAACP for information to help her create a USO club in Jacksonville, North Carolina. She had volunteered previously for a USO club in Massachusetts and had recently moved to Jacksonville. She observed that African American servicemen there "badly" needed a club. Williams believed that it was "the colored peoples [sic] fault here why they haven't been entertained and treated as servicemen should be treated. The white [sic] have a USO and I feel sure that we should have one." Williams implied that the African American community in Jacksonville had not taken the initiative to form a club, as she was doing. Cash shortages within the local black community, more than lack of interest in servicemen's well being, might also have explained the absence of a USO club for black marines in Jacksonville. As were thousands of women throughout the country, Williams was "eager to give [her] service" to soldiers and sailors through the USO. (7)

It is evident that the USO wanted to encourage women from elite, middle- and working-class backgrounds to volunteer for the organization, but the unpaid nature of the work made it more amenable to women who did not work for wages full time. Middle-class and elite women had free time to donate to the USO. The USO Manual clarified its general selection advice by indicating that senior hostesses should come from diverse "social and economic groups," reflecting the pervasive discourse of the day that in order to win the war Americans from all facets of society would have to cooperate and participate. The national USO suggested that councils look for senior volunteers in those organizations that were dominated by middle-class women, such as "women's clubs, business and professional groups, and school and college faculties." It also suggested that councils recruit volunteers from working-class unions and industrial organizations. Finally, it stated that churches, community groups, and "other responsible organizations" might provide senior volunteers. Local USOs usually staffed their canteens in shifts of several hours at a time, making it most appealing to women who had large blocks of time in the mornings, afternoons, or late evenings free. Mostly middle-class and elite women lent their time and customary respectability to the USO's image and endeavor. (8)

Many women chose to volunteer for the USO as senior hostesses because they felt emotionally obligated to support the work their sons or husbands were carrying out in the military. Given the sensitive and patriotic context of war, USO service had the potential to bring women closer to their male loved ones in spirit. As senior hostesses immersed themselves in USO activities, they could comfort someone else's son or spouse in the same way they hoped someone was comforting theirs. According to one soldier's letter reprinted in the USO Bulletin, when GIs "let the women sew on [their] buttons--they act[ed] as if it were a privilege to do so." He concluded that senior hostesses performed these domestic tasks because they "hope[ed] someone else [was] doing [them] for their sons." Fashion writer Ethel Gorham advised married women to fill their time with volunteer work because "every moment of idleness will make [a husband's] absence more painful." In some cases, women volunteered at USO clubs to ameliorate the pain of losing a family member. For example, a women from New York who lost her son in combat dealt with her "emptiness and loneliness" by volunteering her labor in a local USO kitchen. USO work provided women with female and male companionship and in its ideal form lightened women's emotional load by distracting them from personal concerns and fears. Female volunteers in NCCS-USO clubs rarely discussed their "own griefs or misgivings concerning [their] loved ones--instead [they were] concentrating [their] efforts on making other people happy, and relieving their minds of worry in various and sundry ways." Time spent volunteering at the USO helped women sublimate their own fears about friends and relatives at the same time that it deterred them from questioning their government's participation in the war itself. (9)

As they used USO work to put their own problems aside, senior hostesses performed the emotion work of mothering by guiding young soldiers and sailors through their problems and fears in informal counseling sessions. Paul McNutt, Director of Defense Health and Welfare Service for the Federal Security Administration believed that servicemen "want[ed]--unconsciously perhaps, but often quite desperately--to keep hold of their private and personal past," and USO volunteers "must" help them do this. According to a junior hostess who entertained GIs passing through one of the American Theatre Wing's Stage Door Canteens, "the boys worry about a mother who is ill, a problem-child kid brother, a sweetheart who hasn't written." Women of all ages listened to young men's concerns, but usually senior hostesses provided a shoulder to lean on, as a mother would for her son. For example, Mrs. Elizabeth Moore, praised "the mothers and the aunts and the older, pleasant, delightful people in the community who were just coming to the centers to sit around and be there for the men to talk with about their problems." Moore recognized the importance of the intangible work that senior hostesses performed for servicemen. By listening or passing a kind word to a stranger in uniform, these women conducted a service that neither the government nor the military could adequately perform. While the military made an effort to disconnect servicemen from their families in order to create a fighting force, it depended upon senior hostesses occasionally to remind men of their humanity and the family and community life for which they were fighting. (10)

The minimal amount of training that the USO offered to some clubs reveals that it implicitly expected women to provide informal counseling services for men by way of their "natural" nurturing qualities. According to the NCCS, women possessed a "sixth sense" that made them ideal listeners. As wounded men returned from the war, women spent more time talking to particular servicemen about their reconversion to civilian life. At a meeting in April 1942, USO directors requested that the Joint Army and Navy Committee on Welfare and Recreation (JANCWR) provide minimal training for USO volunteers because servicemen often sought out their support concerning personal and family issues. JANCWR responded by saying that volunteers ought to be taught to distinguish between common problems and a more "complicated situation" that required referral to professionals. Horace Sprague, Red Cross Assistant to the Administrative Services to the Armed Forces, conversely argued, "a kindly, understanding, wholesome person may be closer to the men and learn more about their trouble than a person who has had a good deal of training in counseling." Senior hostesses embodied this "kindly" person. Colonel Livingston Watrous, Assistant Chief of the Special Services Branch, cautioned, however, that USO staff and volunteers should not disrupt the chain of command between soldiers and their commanding officers by serving as counselors. The army expected soldiers to seek counseling from army chaplains and army hostesses. Senior hostesses were outside of the military structure, so servicemen who talked to the women about homesickness and isolation could simultaneously assuage those feelings and hide them from the army or navy. These informal conversations had the potential both to benefit the military and to subvert its hierarchy. The anonymous nature of servicemen's interactions with senior hostesses provided a type of safe zone in which men could preserve their masculinity and their reputation within the military. The military depended upon women's unpaid labor to extend and offer an alternative to its own morale and support services, as long as those services did not breach army chain of command. (11)

Despite the need for female counselors, the American public and the military looked suspiciously toward mothers when loneliness and homesickness developed into real problems for servicemen. Homesickness plagued men overseas who missed their homes and female relatives. Some were "obsessed" with going home. According to historian Ann Pfau, a minority of army officers blamed mothers for fostering their son's dependence on home and family. This charge was indicative of a wartime fear in which mothers became subversive elements in families and society when they gained too much power over husbands and sons. Political scientist Michael Rogin contends that filmmakers wove this assumption into cold war films. He locates the roots of this trend in the 1942 publication of Philip Wylie's bestseller Generation of Vipers, in which the author defines this belief as "momism." One might assume that senior hostesses enjoyed immunity from attacks on their mothering skills because their volunteer work strengthened pervasive gender norms. This was not the case. For instance, the USO cautioned senior hostesses against "misplaced motherhood" that attempted to "possess" servicemen and control clubs. When they chose a conventionally feminine form of patriotic service, the vigilant wartime culture still did not spare women from criticism. This USO warning admonished senior hostesses to avoid over-mothering servicemen, and told them not to see USO clubs as domains in which they could wield complete power. (12)

For the most part, the USO encouraged a sense of contained motherliness in its clubs, especially when women could help a soldier through an ordinary bout of homesickness. According to the Salvation Army, "Servicemen appreciate[d] the presence of these mature sympathetic women. Lonely boys, homesick boys, troubled boys with personal problems will talk by the hour to them." It also believed that directors and hostesses could cure loneliness with "a smile or a kind word of sympathy." While it was probably difficult to "heal" homesickness with one or two conversations, at the very least, senior hostesses helped servicemen put aside their sadness for a short time and feel comfortable in USO clubs. The navy argued that parents and communities did not adequately prepare sailors to be away from home and to live in a community of men. These types of sailors visited the USO and needed its services especially. According to the Salvation Army, "Just Let Me Talk To You" was one of the requests "senior hostesses hear[d] every evening, usually with the comment, 'You look a lot like my mother.'" Indeed, servicemen often associated senior hostesses' words of kindness with a resemblance to mothers. After all, senior hostesses' abilities to smile warmly and occasionally offer a wise word or two were exactly what families and society expected mothers to do for their children. Only in this case, women were doing it for America's children. (13)

In most clubs, visitors referred to one woman as "Ma," but each senior hostess contributed her share of "mothering" to the club's atmosphere. Servicemen and volunteers affectionately called Mrs. Virginia de Barril of the Tivoli USO Club "Ma," while Mrs. Israel Goldstein acted as "Ma" to visiting servicemen of the Philadelphia Jewish Welfare Board USO. The reassuring presence of a devoted female volunteer lent to the stability and "homelike" atmosphere of the USO Clubs. Soldiers and sailors even gave women who did not have children of their own the title "Mom." To servicemen, any older woman who volunteered in the USO club was a motherly person. For some women, USO work wholly satisfied their specifications for wartime patriotic service. For example, a "woman who look[ed] like any of a million mothers in America" managed the white USO club in Montgomery, Alabama. She "love[d] all of the servicemen who visited the club [and] enjoy[ed] doing all [she could] for them" because that was her "part in this war." For Vera Ruth Prentiss of Montgomery, being a temporary mother to thousands of servicemen was the most important donation she could make to her country during the crisis. Her choice in patriotic service was a logical and safe one that resulted in praise from the community and did not require any social risks on her part. (14)

Inside USO clubs, the mere "presence of ladies" afforded a direct contrast to the army's "masculine" atmosphere and promised servicemen respite from the regimentation of military life. According to one USO regional history, when serving beverages, senior hostesses "pour[ed] with a daintiness in stark contrast to the ruggedness of a mess line." This description denotes the ways in which a serviceman's perception of a female presence could alter the meaning of an ordinary act. In a "mess line" men distributed food to other men without much care, but when women performed the same mundane task it took on a "motherly" quality that reminded servicemen of "home." This example reinforces Balbo's contention that "unless something is added to material goods in order to link them to what a specific individual expects or wants, personal needs are not satisfied." As a young private first class, Larry Wakefield "felt like [he was] in a different world" when he stepped inside a USO club because the hostesses "couldn't do enough for you; you felt like you were at home." By making friendly eye contact with servicemen or patting them on the shoulder, senior hostesses added personal touches to material tasks, therefore heightening their value. (15)

Senior hostesses in most USO clubs spent so much time focusing on the emotional needs of servicemen that they lost sight of the interests of servicewomen. Francis Keppel, secretary of the Joint Army and Navy Committee on Welfare and Recreation, reported in 1942 that female staff members of the USO "have been incapable of giving consideration to any but the needs of the men in the service." Local clubs' neglect of servicewomen was due in part to the difficulty that senior hostesses and the public at large had in reconciling the new category "female soldier." This problem was evident in the policies of the American Theatre Wing Stage Door Canteen (SDC) in Washington, D.C., where the director explicitly stated that "service women [were] not desired at the SDC." She explained that USO staff provided "Wacs, Waves, Spars and Marinettes" tours of the canteen and then required them to leave. While inside the canteen, senior hostesses forbade servicewomen to "sit at the tables or to sit on the balcony, dance, or partake of food." The director's rationale for this practice was that "the club was set up to offer men of the service an opportunity to enjoy themselves free from all military restrictions and atmosphere. Women in the armed forces [lent] further military appearance and action to the club while civilian hostesses [gave] a feminine touch to the project." In the view of the SDC, servicewomen were not real women. They could not take male soldiers' and sailors' minds off of their military status by granting comfort and basic physical contact to men like pastel-clad junior hostesses and motherly seniors could. (16)

National USO rhetoric emphasized Wacs' and Waves' femininity and their prewar identities as ordinary women to persuade senior hostesses and staff to include them in USO activities. Pearl Case Blough, director of USO Services for Women and Girls, advised clubs that the USO could do much in facilitating public recognition of servicewomen in general by treating them with the same warmth that they treated servicemen; after all, "service women [were] only the civilian girls we [knew] before the war in different clothes ... they want to enjoy ... the things normal girls in civilian life want to enjoy." In other words, servicewomen were not a threat to common definitions of femininity because, in reality, they were the same virtuous women they had always been. Colonel Martha Hamon of the Salvation Army contended that female soldiers were "tomorrow's homemakers," so they deserved special attention from the USO. The Women's Army Corps also touted servicewomen's femininity, and one Wac officer requested that the USO "help preserve those feminine qualities we want women to keep." Blough argued that servicewomen wanted to spend leisure time in feminine surroundings after living in the army's "masculine atmosphere" day after day. Despite these efforts to feminize and humanize servicewomen, as late in the war as 1944, female soldiers and sailors as a whole felt that USO clubs sponsored programs to suit men's interests, not women's, and this discouraged them from visiting USO clubs. Senior hostesses did not know how to incorporate female soldiers and sailors into their mother-son model. The existence of independent female soldiers helped to make ambiguous senior hostesses' otherwise clear feminine role as caregiver and supporter to a force of masculine protectors. (17)

The USO, with the support of the army and the navy, was interested in safeguarding those same protectors when it attempted to capitalize on its familial atmosphere to lure men away from brothels and into policed USO spaces. There was a general concern throughout the nation that when military service removed young men from their homes they became "easy prey" for procurers of sex and alcohol. Statistics from the Social Protection Division of the Office of Community War Services show that venereal disease cost the U.S. Army seven million days of service during World War I. The military did not rely upon penicillin to cure venereal disease until 1944. Therefore, venereal disease was a significant problem for the armed forces, and elements of social control were involved in the senior hostesses' relationship to young servicemen. These women embodied "home" and symbolically reminded men of their mother's disciplinary power. The Salvation Army's publication, The Red Shield, illustrated in rather contrived terms the association between senior hostesses, the USO, and motherhood in the following story. A serviceman had just been listening to a senior hostess play the piano when he said, "You have brought home and mother nearer to me tonight, gee, how I miss my mother." The senior hostess responded with the following warning, "When you are off duty again, please don't stop where you did tonight, as drink only serves to get a man into trouble. Come to the club, where you are always welcome. I know your mother would like to think of you spending your free evenings in a USO Club." From this story, Salvation Army members who were parents of servicemen could take comfort in the efforts of "Army" senior hostesses to keep their sons on a moral path. This story also reinforced the Salvation Army's long history as a temperance society. Every time a senior hostess distributed a sandwich or cookie to a male soldier, she was tacitly reminding him that "mom" was watching, and she would be disappointed if her son disrespected her by drinking in a tavern or soliciting a prostitute. (18)

Typical male visitors to USO clubs had distinguishing characteristics that made it easier for senior hostesses to mother them, and, in some cases, infantilize them. In 1943, the National Opinion Research Center conducted a nationwide survey, through questionnaires and interviews, of approximately 12,500 soldiers who visited eighty-three USO clubs or who lived in one of thirty army camps. The study's objective was to construct a profile of soldiers who visited USO clubs and to discern their opinions of the clubs as a whole. The study revealed that the majority of men (65 percent) who visited USO clubs on a regular basis were under the age of twenty-five. This was somewhat more than the proportion of men under twenty-five in the army at that time (60 percent). Since younger men tended to patronize USO clubs, it was logical that senior hostesses, who had to be at least thirty years old, and sometimes at least thirty-five, referred to and cared for them as "boys." Senior hostesses fashioned themselves as mothers, and sailors and soldiers as children. In doing so, they gained a corollary power within USO clubs because authority accompanied the "mother" title. Furthermore, by portraying servicemen as boys in need of motherly care, the USO and the home front population in general could corral and attempt to control this large and potentially frightening group of men who might turn to prostitutes, or worse to local "good girls" for unchaperoned female companionship. (19)

The USO counted on senior hostesses to be motherly, and it expected them to behave in a nonsexual manner. A Salvation Army poet penned the following poem that described senior hostesses as both mature and maternal:
  Let Juniors jive and get their thrills,
  The Seniors have their subtler skills,
  They greet, they smile, they have allure
  (Not over-ripe, but just mature).
  Men love to see them 'round the place,
  Like Mother or like Cousin Grace.
  The Service Stars they often wear
  Bear loving witness why they're there! (20)

This poem aptly illustrates the key components of an ideal senior hostess. She had a child of her own in the military, she knew how to listen with her "subtler skills," and she resembled "mom" or another older female relative. That senior hostesses had "allure" and were "not over-ripe, but just mature" warrants some explanation. With this statement, the poet attributed to senior hostesses a sexual maturity that junior hostesses, eighteen to twenty-five years old, did not yet possess. Furthermore, senior hostesses who were not "overripe" eschewed the desperate sexuality of "oversexed" women.

At the same time that the USO depended upon junior hostesses to use their beauty and sexual appeal to entice men into USO clubs, it contributed to the construction of older women, and mothers, as asexual. As the poem illustrates, the USO hoped senior hostesses would resemble a sexually neutral, yet warm Cousin Grace. Medical literature from the 1920s and 1930s suggested that menopausal and postmenopausal women enjoyed a "heightened sexuality," perhaps because they did not have to worry about birth control. Other doctors believed that older women's sexuality was "pathological." This "pathology" could manifest itself in nymphomania, lesbianism, or attraction to younger men. Historian Lois Banner concludes that doctors and media associated menopause with sickness and "with a deviant sexuality from the 1920s on-ward." According to these medical discourses, senior hostesses had the potential to be scary sexual predators, so the USO constructed them as asexual women and used rules to enforce this construction. For instance, the Concord Dance Hostess Committee (CDHC), in Massachusetts, maintained strict age limits (eighteen to thirty) for its junior hostesses. To enforce this policy, it went so far as to remove from its roster one junior hostess over the age of thirty who also happened to be a widow, Maria Phillips, who wanted to attend dances as a CDHC member. The club retained two other women over the age of thirty because the previous director "unofficially" added them to the list and they were "grand girls and an asset to [the] organization." The CDHC, led by junior hostesses, determined that it was inappropriate for Phillips to continue entertaining servicemen in the capacity of a junior hostess. The fact that the woman in question was a widow only seemed to augment the CDHC director's distrust in her. Phillips had engaged in a regular sex life and might not have been sufficiently proper in her desires or behavior as a result. The CDHC's dismissal of Phillips had several implications: first, that the men with whom women would be dancing were young; and second, that the job of a junior hostess was sexual at its core. The CDHC also revealed its predisposition that older women who wanted to dance with soldiers were at best socially unrespectable and at worst sexually experienced, or even abnormal. (21)

Male soldiers and sailors sometimes treated senior hostesses as sexual beings rather than as asexual "moms." One "boy" caught up with Mary Agnes Good-son, thirty-two, a married senior hostess at work one afternoon. She had met him on a Thursday night at the USO. He told her that he was "shipping out" and wanted to give her a goodbye kiss. Mary Agnes characterized herself as a "mother" to servicemen just as she was to her own two small sons. When the soldier appeared at her mother's beauty shop where she worked and asked if he could kiss her, she "thought, that was normal for a son to want to kiss his mom good-bye." Although Mary Agnes, a chaperone, occasionally danced with servicemen when there were not enough junior hostesses to go around, she never saw the young soldiers and sailors in a romantic light. Consequently, Mary Agnes was shocked when the soldier did not give her a "child's kiss," but instead "grabbed [her], hugged [her]" and gave her a "prolonged kiss" on the mouth, outside, in front of the beauty shop. The physically intimate and public nature of the kiss made her feel "terribly" uncomfortable. Mary Agnes was a Tucson resident whose husband worked as a civilian employee at Davis Monthan Field. The kiss embarrassed her because she did not want to mislead the soldier or damage her own reputation as a senior hostess or as a wife. (22)

Many senior hostesses reinforced their identities as asexual mothers by cooking food for servicemen. Second to the "girls," servicemen often spoke most highly of the food that they enjoyed in USO clubs and canteens. For example, according to Private First Class Robert Williams, GI food was "monotonous," whereas the food at the USO "tasted like home." He proclaimed, "those mothers were good cooks." Similarly, First Lieutenant John Kelly said USO food was "better than Army chow." Historian Ruth Schwartz Cowan's notion that "feeding the family ... [was] a way to encourage feelings of family loyalty and affection" was prevalent in USO clubs. "Food and fellowship" were cornerstones of USO hospitality. The USO advertised itself as a "home away from home," but its version of home had particular connotations. The USO attempted to recreate a homelike atmosphere where senior hostesses mothered servicemen by baking and cooking for them. This gendered division of labor represented a middle-class lifestyle in which men worked for pay and women maintained the home. Not all of the men who visited USO clubs experienced this type of upbringing. Most working-class mothers likely combined domestic work for their families with some form of waged labor. The USO catered to soldiers and sailors from economically diverse backgrounds, including those who were working-class and poor, while it modeled the ideal middle-class home for them. On a national scale, the USO transformed women's homemade cakes and pies into symbols that it hoped would motivate men to uphold and fight for values such as stability, fidelity, and familial love. It encouraged men by its example to embrace an "American dream" predicated on middle-class gender norms. (23)

USO leaders discouraged volunteers from distributing meals and sandwiches for free as a rule, but they also said that clubs should give away food at special events. In doing so, they made a tacit distinction between the meanings of sweets in opposition to meals. National USO policy on serving food recommended that local clubs charge a nominal fee for snack bar items such as sodas, sandwiches, and cakes. The USO did not want to overburden communities with requests for monetary and food donations for clubs. Furthermore, the "USO in all of its services want[ed] to encourage the sturdy American spirit of independence and self-respect." It believed that giving away food would diminish these qualities in servicemen and women. Here the USO revealed its middle-class Anglo roots. On the heels of the Great Depression and Roosevelt's New Deal, the USO did not want servicemen and women to expect a handout from the USO. The USO Cheers for Volunteers pamphlet emphasized, however, that "parties [were] another matter." These were the occasions during which the USO heartily endorsed the unpaid domestic labor of senior hostesses in their own kitchens or in club kitchens. Special occasions such as parties and USO dances warranted homemade cookies and cakes. Large USO clubs held dances and other parties at least on a weekly basis and frequently more often than that. Small clubs sometimes did not have snack bars but almost always held one dance or two each month. When one looks at the USO food policy in practice, it becomes evident that it reinforced the notion that sandwiches and meals had monetary value because they provided nourishment. Therefore, service personnel should pay for them. Cakes and pies, however, represented motherly love and community appreciation, so the USO ought to give them away free of charge. (24)

In the midst of government food rationing, senior hostesses baked dozens of cookies and cupcakes for servicemen. This type of domestic labor contributed to the "homelike," feminine atmosphere of the canteens and embodied the contributions of "virtuous" or traditional women to the war effort. The San Diego Women's Committee of the USO asked its female volunteers to make hard candies, cakes, cookies, and cupcakes to stock in the canteens and to serve at USO dances. The San Diego clubs convinced the Office of Price Administration to set aside rationed goods, including coffee, for their USO kitchens. The Valdosta USO Club in New Jersey held a birthday celebration complete with cake and junior hostesses for several servicemen and mailed photographs of the party to the men's parents. In a letter to the club, Mrs. Gertrude Lill wrote to "thank you from the bottom of my heart for thinking of us Mothers and sending the picture of my Boy, it was a glad surprise," and the photo sent to Mrs. Anna Bliss made "[me] feel that [my son was] being personally looked after" by the women at the Valdosta Club. This story represents the connections between senior hostesses and mothers across the country who worried about and missed their sons. Middle-class homemakers' volunteerism for the USO illuminated and brought to a grand scale otherwise private acts of baking, cooking, and overall "mothering." (25)

Sweets helped to create a friendly feminine atmosphere inside USO clubs. Proud clubs kept their cookie jars teeming with homemade cookies. According to the National Catholic Community Services, cookie jars were "one of the most popular features of any USO club." The Salvation Army included a monthly recipe in the The Red Shield "Cookie Nook," so readers could add a "welcome delicacy" to their club's jar. According to nutrition and food studies scholar Amy Bentley, prior to and during the war, American society associated sugar with femininity and meat with masculinity. Families and communities praised women throughout the twentieth century for baking treats for their families. Women, in turn, associated baking with pleasure and their own self-identities. Wartime ration policies reduced the amount of sugar that went into American homes, so women substituted honey and molasses as sweeteners. One "Cookie Nook" recipe recommended honey cookies as pleasing substitutes to deal with the "sugar shortage." Bentley astutely argues that "providing ... special, home-baked desserts symbolized and was an actual part of a woman's love and nurture for her family." Mrs. Hugh B. Horn's actions confirm this theory. She baked twenty-one separate birthday cakes for soldiers at the El Paso USO club to celebrate her absent son's twenty-first birthday. She could not bake a cake for her own son who was in the military, so she used her baking skills to make cakes for other women's sons. In the process, she made herself feel better about being apart from her son on his birthday for the first time. Women like Horn made USO clubs inviting places for men to visit and renew their connections with Mom, her homemade treats, and civility. (26)

The Christmas season was a difficult time for men and women in uniform who were away from their families, and senior hostesses made a special effort at this time of year to comfort them with reminders of civilian life. It was in 1942 that Bing Crosby first made Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" famous in the film Holiday Inn. Servicemen and women helped to make this a popular wartime song because it reminded them of faraway family and friends. USO volunteers remade clubs into Christmas wonderlands at a time of year when family and home dominated servicemen's minds. The Baltimore YMCA Volunteer Hostess Club held a special Christmas night dance for soldiers and sailors who had "planned on a home-Christmas" and instead had to "spend Christmas away from home." Senior and junior hostesses did their best to remake USO clubs into places where soldiers and sailors could find holiday cheer and appetizing food. A 1944 "Christmas Message from the USO" advised clubs to have tree-trimming parties, invite Santa Claus, and provide small gifts and stockings for servicemen. Peggy Jane Peebler was the paid secretary for the Spokane, Washington, USO-YWCA. One Christmas Eve she received a call from a military police officer. He told her that a large troop train full of servicemen was passing through town and the officers would like to "give them a little break" by stopping at the USO. Peggy Jane watched the men walk up from the train depot. They appeared to be older men who could have been husbands and fathers. The servicemen looked "miserable," "they did not know how to march," and "they had on uniforms that were too big or too little, and here they came, shuffling up the street." The volunteers who had assembled at the club "pounced on them." Senior hostesses and male volunteers took them to the food buffet and "stuffed their pockets full" of food, because they could only stay for a short time. Peggy and the others "just stopped what we were doing and did whatever we could for them." When the enlisted men left "their step was just a little lighter." Peggy Jane noted with conviction and tears in her eyes, "We [knew] we did something for them." USO service had a lasting effect on some individuals. For years afterward, Christmas was a painful time for Peggy Jane because, as she said, "I just kept thinking of those kids who were away from home. We did our best, [but] we could only do part of it" to make them feel special at Christmas. This episode illustrates that some USO volunteers believed their kindness carried weight and made a difference in the lives of servicemen. This service was emotional at base. It was intangible and this made it hard to measure. (27)

In addition to providing a festive atmosphere in which to celebrate cherished family holidays, senior hostesses in some clubs did servicemen's holiday shopping, wrapping, and mailing for them. Cultural historian Karal Ann Marling argues that women in the United States have been responsible for doing the necessary work at Christmas such as decorating, baking, and shopping to fulfill their family's holiday expectations. Similarly, historian Elizabeth Pleck argues that by the 1850s middle-class women had become the family's primary Christmas shoppers because society understood them "to be caring, concerned with relationships, and had the time to do it." In its 1944 Christmas memo, the USO made its view clear that female volunteers would perform this gendered labor for the club. It suggested that USO clubs set up a "Christmas Shopping Service." It declared, "Many of the men especially will heartily endorse this shopping service because very often their leisure time is limited and to have someone else do their shopping proves a great convenience to them." While it was true that servicemen had minimal free time during which to shop, this service was yet another example of how senior hostesses handled male soldiers and sailors as dependent offspring. Shopping could be inconvenient, time consuming, and, for some men, boring. Female volunteers at the USO wanted to perform these tasks for servicemen just as they likely would for husbands and sons in peacetime. The USO emphasized the gendered nature of Christmas shopping when it concluded, "Since most of the gifts to be bought are for women, the only really satisfactory shoppers are women." The National Catholic Community Service emphasized that wrapping and mailing committees should "select persons especially skilled in wrapping Christmas packages" and reminded USO volunteers that "men skilled in wrapping packages for mailing [emphasis added] should also serve on this committee." In other words, women generally did a better job than men at wrapping presents in holiday paper, while men might be more adept at putting packages in boxes and preparing them for shipment by the post office. The NCCS and USO's assumptions about women and men's labor demonstrated the organizations' primary dependence on women for delicate "feminine" tasks and its desire to call on men when the task appeared more "masculine." (28)

If senior hostesses were not wrapping packages for servicemen, they frequently were doing their sewing for them, and there was a lot of sewing that needed to be done throughout the year. Every private first class wore one chevron and the insignia of his corps on his shirt and jacket. The number of a soldier's chevrons and badges increased and changed with rank, corps, and division assignments. Field Manual 21-15 specified that soldiers keep their uniforms "clean and neat and in good repair ... [and to replace] missing insignia and buttons ... quickly." Seamen in the navy wore a minimum of two stripes on their "dress jumpers." Petty officers, next in the chain of command, wore three strips on the cuffs and between one and three chevrons on their upper left or right sleeve. The number of chevrons and stripes on a sailor's uniform increased according to rank. Each sailor also wore a badge that represented his corps. The army and navy issued every private and seaman a sewing kit so they could affix these insignias and chevrons to their shirts and jackets, reaffix buttons, and mend holes in socks. Some men used their sewing kits on a regular basis or at least when they could not find a fellow soldier to sew for them. Private John Hoza earned extra money sewing patches on his buddies' uniforms. Some did not know how to sew, and others did not want to deal with the tedium of threading a needle, embroidering patches to their uniforms, darning socks, or replacing buttons. (29)

When it came time for sewing, soldiers and sailors longed for a visit to the USO because they usually found a senior hostess there who was happy to complete this tiresome chore for them. In its "Policies and Procedures," the national USO listed a sewing machine as one of the most important items for volunteers to acquire for local clubs. Mayor Kelly's Servicemen's Center in Chicago advertised that a man could find a "friendly hostess to sew that new chevron on his uniform" in its USO club. While she behaved as "friend and counselor," a Salvation Army-USO senior hostess was also "custodian of the sewing box." She used its contents in "the replacing of a button, or the mending of a torn sleeve, or the sewing on of a proudly displayed new chevron or service stripe." Private First Class Robert Williams took advantage of senior hostesses' sewing skills when he visited USO clubs. He asked senior hostesses to "mend his uniform or sew on a patch" because the "younger women did not know how to sew." According to Williams, this was one more thing that senior hostesses did to make him "feel at home." These senior hostesses duplicated tasks for servicemen that they performed for their own family members at home. Appreciative soldiers and sailors repaid women with instant gratitude and recognition for conducting this patriotic work. Senior hostesses who sewed saved servicemen time and energy, and granted an unpaid service to the military. By performing this historically feminine task, USO hostesses helped to maintain the division between male and female labor during the war. (30)

During the war, the Hillcrest USO in San Diego, California, received a letter from the grateful mother of a soldier who thanked the female volunteers at the club for their "untiring efforts to make the boys feel at home, and all of the motherly attention [they showered] upon them." Families throughout the United States appreciated the "motherly attention" senior hostesses' paid servicemen. This consideration had the potential to make soldiers and sailors feel like nurtured individuals, because these women volunteered at the USO club out of concern for their well-being. Women coupled this loving supervision with more tangible unpaid labor that required their physical energy. They cooked meals and prepared snacks for millions of off-duty servicemen and women. In addition to cooking, they mended countless shirts and pants, darned socks, and sewed emblems on thousands of uniforms. Women rendered this labor under the guise of emotion work since they were doing it out of compassion for "boys" in the service, sometimes to the exclusion of servicewomen. Many senior hostesses concealed sore eyes, dishpan hands, and aching muscles with their kindness. Women's unpaid labor reduced military costs for support services, and the military depended upon and would have missed middle-class women's cooking, sewing, and general domestic labor if they had not done this work for soldiers and sailors at USO clubs. Senior hostesses met their obligation to the wartime state, and more personally to men in uniform, by completing this gendered labor. (31)


A shorter version of this paper was presented at the American Historical Association Pacific Coast Branch Annual Meeting, August 2001. For their comments on earlier versions of this essay, I thank Karen Anderson, Sarah Deutsch, Beth Bailey, Lydia Otero, and Joan Jensen.

1. Six civilian organizations came together in February 1941 to form the United Service Organizations for National Defense, Inc. Comprised of the Salvation Army, National Catholic Community Service, Jewish Community Centers Association, YMCA, YWCA, and Traveler's Aid, the USO provided "wholesome" activities for servicemen and women in their off-duty hours outside of military camps. By the end of the war, 1.5 million people had volunteered their time to the USO in clubs across the country (Frank Coffey, Always Home: Fifty Years of the USO, Official Photographic History [New York: Brassey's, 1991], 3, 5-6). Helen Scheidel Hoza and John Hoza, and Margaret Scheidel Bowley and Don Bowley, interview by author, tape recording, Phoenix, Arizona, March 26, 2001. For narrative purposes, I refer to the women whom I interviewed by their first names.

2. Laura Balbo, "Crazy Quilts: Rethinking the Welfare State Debate from a Woman's Point of View," in Women and the State: The Shifting Boundaries of Public and Private, ed. Anne Showstack Sassoon (London: Routledge, 1992), 63; and Arlie Russell Hochschild, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 11.

3. Jeanne Boydston, Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 46-47. D'Ann Campbell, Women at War with America: Private Lives in a Patriotic Era (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), 68-69, 71.

4. Campbell, Women at War with America, 71. Linda K. Kerber, No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship (New York: Hill and Wang, 1998), 250.

5. Gulielma Alsop and Mary F. McBride, Arms and the Girl: A Guide to Personal Adjustment in War Work and War Marriage (New York: Vanguard Press, 1943), 263, 265. USO Bulletin, May 26, 1941, 1. Address by Lilias H. Smith at the opening of San Angelo Club, March 16, 1943, Records of the National Catholic Community Service (hereafter NCCS), box 7, Department of Archives/Manuscripts, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Summary of Yearly Totals, USO-YMCA Program and Services, August 1, 1941--December 31, 1945, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USO Club Records, McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi. Campbell, Women at War with America, 66, 7.

6. Elizabeth Luce Moore, USO National Women's Committee, to Walter White, executive secretary, NAACP, August 27, 1942, NAACP, General Office File, box A 641, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress; and "Women's Division of National Catholic Community Services," First Annual Report of the secretary to the board of trustees, November 8, 1941, NCCS, collection 10, box 3. Field Service Bulletin No. 33, USO Senior Hostesses, Office of Community War Services (OCWS), record group 215, box 20, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland. Press release from United Service Organizations, Inc., New York, March 19, 1942, NAACP Legal Files, box B191, folder "USO, 1942," Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

7. Mrs. Mallie B. Williams to NAACP, July 23, 1943, Jacksonville, North Carolina, NAACP General Office File, box A641, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

8. Campbell, Women at War with America, 66. "USO Manual, Community Conducted Operations," record group 215, box 19 (OCWS). Barbara Abel, Cheers for Volunteers, USO Committee on Volunteer Service, 15, The Archives of the National Board of the YWCA, Empire State Building, New York; and Arthur Plaut, The Story of the USO in Cincinnati, 23, Salvation Army Archives and Research Center, Alexandria, Virginia (SA).

9. USO Bulletin, February, 30, 1944. Ethel Gorham, So Your Husband's Gone to War! (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran and Co., 1942), 53. Many former junior hostesses believed that this was why senior hostesses they knew volunteered for the USO. See Marjorie Hawkins, Winchell Oral History Questionnaire (WOHQ), 3/24/01; Alene Gwinn, WOHQ, 3/20/01; Nora O. Robertson, WOHQ, 3/13/01; Susan Collins [pseudonym], WOHQ, 5/6/01; Shirley Gippner, WOHQ, 3/26/01; Mildred Reca, WOHQ, 3/15/01; Betty TePoorten, WOHQ, 3/2/01; Shannon Kelley [pseudonym], WOHQ, 3/28/01; and Edith Richards [pseudonym], WOHQ, 4/23/01. USO, Five Years of Service, Report to the President (New York: United Service Organizations, 1946), 28. Smith, Address.

10. Proceedings, USO War Activities Conference, April 12, 1942, Records of the Bureau of Navy Personnel (BNP), record group 24, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland. Deena Clark, "At the Stage Door Canteen," Reader's Digest, July 1943, 108. Proceedings, USO War Activities Conference, May 12, 1942, Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C., BNP, record group 24, box 72.

11. Smith, Address. Report of the Committee on Discharged Servicemen, Philadelphia USO Council, March 8, 1944, National Urban League, box 66, Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress. "Conference Re: Counseling Training for USO Staff, April 8, 1942, Joint Army and Navy Committee on Welfare and Recreation (JANCWR)," Record group 225, box 44, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland. The army and navy Special Services Division hired and paid hostesses to coordinate recreational activities for soldiers and sailors in Army Service Clubs and Navy Ship's Service clubs in camps. Approximately 350 senior, junior, and canteen hostesses, three per camp, worked with Morale Officers and with community volunteers to do this. These paid hostesses coordinated the camp dances to which the USO and other civilian organizations sent busloads of hostesses. As of 1942, twenty-two thousand women applied for these hostessing jobs. The military trained hostesses at the Special Service School at Fort Meade, Maryland. Raymond B. Fosdick, "The Leisure Time of Democratic Army," Survey Graphic, June 1942, 281-82, General Welfare Files, Series USO, record group III, box 54, Rockefeller Center Archive.

12. Ann Elizabeth Pfau, "Miss Yourlovin': Women in the Culture of American World War II Soldiers" (Ph.D. diss., Rutgers University, 2001), 14, 18. Michael Rogin, "Kiss Me Deadly: Communism, Motherhood, and Cold War Movies," in Ronald Reagan, the Movie, and Other Episodes in Political Demonology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 242. Abel, Cheers for Volunteers, 5.

13. Brigadier William J. Parkins, National Program Director, the Salvation Army, "The USO Work of the Salvation Army," record group 215, box 5. This same sentiment is expressed in "On the Job Day and Night, USO Hostesses Combine Mother, Nurse, and Advisor Roles for Service Men," in the Salvation Army's The Red Shield, September 1942, 4. "USO Club Directors Solve Problem of Lonesome Boy," The Red Shield, October 1942, 4. Lt. Commander F. S. Mathewson, "What Does the Navy Expect of the USO," USO Volunteers Conference, Highland Park, Illinois, record group 24, box 26. "Women's War Work," The Red Shield, October 1943, 4.

14. George W. Turner, USO in Panama, 1942-1947 (Panama: USO, 1947), 110. USO, Five Years of Service, 27. Katherine Scarborough, "Servants of Service Men for More than 4 Years," The Neal World War II Homefront Collection, PP 151, Prints and Photographs Department, Maryland Historical Society. A. N. Culbertson, aviation cadet, Maxwell Field, Alabama, "No Tough Situation Here," Vera Ruth Prentiss Papers, State Department of Alabama Department of Archives and History.

15. Turner, USO in Panama, 52. Balbo, "Crazy Quilts," 52-53. Larry Wakefield, interview by author, telephone interview, March 18, 2001.

16. Speech by Francis Keppel, secretary of JANCWR, USO Club, Washington, D.C., December 15, 1942, record group 225, box 44, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland. Leisa Meyer, Creating GI Jane: Sexuality and Power in the Women's Army Corps during World War Two (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 3. Bertha F. Stone, executive director of the ATW SDC of Washington Lafayette Square to Commander J.L. Reynolds, director of WR Division, U.S. Navy, April 14, 1943, record group 225, box 44, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland. Lt. Commander CLP Nichols, USNR, to Commander J. L. Reynolds, April 23, 1943, record group 225, box 44, National Archives II.

17. Pearl Case Blough, "Report of Trip to Pacific Coast," January-February 1944, record group 225, box 45, National Archives II. "Colonel Martha Hamon Resumes USO Activity," The Red Shield, January 1945, SA; and Meyer, Creating GI Jane, who argues that the Women's Army Corps also held this opinion (55).

18. Eliot Ness, director, Division of Social Protection, "What About Girls?" record group 215, OCWS, box 2. Allan Brandt, No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States Since 1880 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 161-62. "On the Job Day and Night, USO Hostesses Combine Mother, Nurse, and Advisor Roles for Service Men," The Red Shield, September, 1942. Diane Winston, Red-Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 134.

19. Soldier Opinion about USO Clubs, United Services Organizations, Inc., National Headquarters, New York, N.Y., SA. This study is particularly useful because it focuses on soldiers' use of USO clubs, not camp shows, mobile services, or transit lounges (3, 5).

20. Abel, Cheers for Volunteers, 3. Also printed in Plaut, The Story of the USO in Cincinnati, SA.

21. Lois Banner, In Full Flower: Aging Women, Power and Sexuality (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992) 292, 294, 308. Pseudonym, letter [probably from Helen] to Mrs. Servais, May 24, 1943; and letter from Mrs. Servais to Helen, May 18, 1943, Concord Dance Hostess Committee Records (CDHC), series II, box 1, folder 3, Concord Free Public Library.

22. Mary Agnes Goodson Usher to author, February 2001, and interview by author, tape recording, Goodyear, Arizona, September 17, 2001.

23. Robert Williams [pseudonym], interview by author, telephone interview, June 3, 2001. John S. Kelly Sr., interview by author, telephone interview, February 26, 2001. Ruth Schwartz Cowan, "The 'Industrial Revolution' in the Home: Household Technology and Social Change in the Twentieth Century," in Women's America: Refocusing the Past, ed. Linda K. Kerber and Jane Sherron De Hart (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 380. Abel, Cheers for Volunteers, 14. Frank Coffey, Always Home, 5.

24. Some USO clubs did not follow this particular USO policy. Mayor Kelly's Servicemen's Center in Chicago, Illinois, became famous for its motto, "Everything free." Some of the items it gave away to servicemen during the war included 7,946,710 hot dogs, 8,110,500 sandwiches and 9,550,200 pieces of cake. "Housewives," male and female members of local community groups, and stores contributed food to the club (Memo from Chicago Servicemen's Center, record group 215, box 13). Abel, Cheers for Volunteers, 14; and Bulletin No. 8, "Policies Regarding Services and Sales and Distribution of Materials in USO Clubs," USO, New York, N.Y., record group 24, box 75.

25. Edwina Kenney Hegland and Sheridan Hegland, USO "The Heart of San Diego": A History of USO in San Diego City and County, 1941-1946 (San Diego: San Diego USO Council, 1946), 27, 12. James D. McKinley, Field Recreation Representative, to Mark A. McCloskey, May 27, 1942, record group 215, OCWS, box 13.

26. Smith, Address. "The Cookie Nook," The Red Shield, August 1942 and September 1942. Amy Bentley, Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 102, 105, 39, 46. "Proxy Sons from USO," The Red Shield, June 1943, SA.

27. Elizabeth Pleck, Celebrating the Family: Ethnicity, Consumer Culture, and Family Rituals (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 55. Winfield Adam, secretary of the Young Men's Division, Baltimore YMCA, to VHC'er, December 19, 1941, Baltimore YMCA Records, series I, box 75, folder 7, Langsdale Library, University of Baltimore. "A Christmas Message from USO," USO Program Services Division, 1944, box 29, NCCS; and Arthur Plaut, The Story of the USO in Cincinnati," SA. Peggy Jane Peebler Nickerson, interview by author, tape recording, Scottsdale, Arizona, March 5, 2001.

28. Karal Ann Marling, Merry Christmas! Celebrating America's Greatest Holiday (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 349. Similarly, Micaela Di Leonardo argues that women perform the "kin work" in families, including sending Christmas cards, hosting holiday dinners, and maintaining ties between relatives (Di Leonardo, "The Female World of Cards and Holidays: Women, Families, and the Work of Kinship," Signs 12:3 (1987): 440-53. Pleck, Celebrating the Family, 50. "A Christmas Message from USO," Christmas Planner, 1945, Program Department, National Catholic Community Service, Washington, D.C., NCCS, box 29. The USO in Cincinnati also had a shopping service and a "wrapping service ... because [they] found out that most of the men [had] a pretty tough time with all of the fancy string and paper that goes around Christmas packages" (Plaut, The Story of the USO in Cincinnati, 14).

29. Philip Katcher, The U.S. Army, 1941-45 (London: Osprey, 1995), 16-17, 4. Andrew Mollo, Naval, Marine, and Air Force Uniforms of World War 2 (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1975), 182-83. Helen Scheidel Hoza and John Hoza, and Margaret Scheidel Bowley and Don Bowley, interview by author.

30. "USO Policy and Procedures," USO Manual, Community Conducted Operations, USO, Inc., New York, N.Y., May 1943, record group 215, box 19. Chicago Service Men's Center, April 2, 1945, record group 215, box 13. "On the Job Day and Night"; "Women's War Work," The Red Shield, October 1943, 4; Narrative Report for July 1944, Army-Navy YMCA USO Club, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, McCain Library and Archives; and USO: Five Years of Service, 28. Williams, interview by author.

31. Hegland and Hegland, USO "The Heart of San Diego," 20.
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Title Annotation:United Service Organization
Author:Winchell, Meghan K.
Publication:Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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