FEBRUARY 16, 1943
DES MOINES, Iowa, Monday—We reached Des Moines yesterday a little before noon and, as I had breakfasted at 5:30 a.m., I was very glad that our first stop was the mess hall. There, a young WAAC officer showed me through the kitchen, the storeroom and the iceboxes, and told me that they fed around two thousand people in a little over an hour.
Our table was charmingly decorated and no one could have asked for better food. The thing that strikes one immediately in looking at a large group of these girls and women who have come into this auxiliary army service, is their look of health and alertness. I saw no one who looked lackadaisical or uninterested. Life is so busy one must be interested, if not, I think one would fail and drop out.
I saw several barracks, including those for the colored group. Substantially, they have the same conveniences in the way of baths, showers and laundries. Some of them have double-decker bunks, as so many of the men's barracks have, but everything was clean and neat.
This is the army behind the fighting forces. One gets a sense of ordered discipline. I still think that the lack of privacy must seem hard to the older women, particularly when they first come in and yet, all of them seem to adjust to it easily. There must be many backgrounds in this group of 9000 women and there are a great variety of skills and educational achievments. In fact, I was told that in looking through the classification cards almost anything that was needed could be found, but so often, people who had done a certain thing in civilian life would much rather do something entirely different in the Army.
We watched a parade and drove around the entire post, but there was much that we did not have time to see. In the city itself, several hotels have been taken over and the motor transport school and administrative specialist training is carried on there. This group marched into the coliseum and then went over and had supper at one of the hotels, where, again, the food was excellent.
At 7:30, we attended a reception in the Officers' Service Club at Fort Des Moines and enjoyed very much the singing by the chorus and the playing of the band. I finished the day by speaking at Drake University at 9:00 p.m.
This trip is giving me a glimpse of what the women are doing in the war effort. I am sure that if all people in the country could see it, they would be as enthusiastic and as full of admiration as I am about the training and the women who take it.