Oral Histories: SOUTHWEST PROVING GROUNDS HISTORY

Interviewee: Jeania Anderson

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: February 17, 1992

Jeanie Anderson was a clerk typist for the Southwest Proving Ground. She also worked on the firing line. Ms. Anderson worked there from September of 1944 to December of 1945.

 

Interviewee: Martha Blackwood

Interviewers: Beth and Joe Whisenhunt

Date: February 8, 1992

Martha Blackwood went to work at the Southwest Proving Ground in May of 1942. She worked in the communications section of the Proving Ground. After the war, Ms. Blackwood worked in personnel, supply and wherever else she was needed until the Proving Ground was closed in c.1946.

 

Interviewee: Dorothy Cross

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: March 2, 1992

During the war, Dorothy Cross worked at the Proving Grounds for two years and then went to work at the Draft Board up until the war was over. From there, she went on to Fayetteville to finish up her schooling. While at the Proving Grounds, Ms. Cross worked as a proof director.

 

Interviewee: Mildred Galloway

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: February 8, 1992

Mildred Galloway finished high school in 1940 and went to work as a clerk typist for an employment office. After that she started working at the Proving Grounds, testing how fast the bullets would go. She also took pictures of employees for their badges and worked in the Photostats and blueprint department. From there she became the one of the first ones from her department to go work for the government. Then she moved to Louisiana and took a course in telegraphy. After which, she moved to Los Angeles to live with her sister. She then moved back to Hempstead County and worked at the Myers’ Bakery for twenty-five years. After retiring, she realized that she wanted to go back to college and learn what she could. She attended Henderson University for three and a half years. She is now into extension homemakers and works with her church.

 

Interviewee: Alouise Hart

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: March 4, 1992

Alouise Hart graduated high school in 1941 and attended Henderson University for one year. She intended on just working at the Proving Grounds through the summer, but ended up staying there till the war was over. While there, she worked in the administration building. From there she became a proof director and then an aerial observer. When the war ended, she quit the Proving Grounds and went back to the university and graduated in 1948.

 

Interviewee: Dora & Frank King

Interviewer: Beth & Joe Whisenhunt

Date: February 8, 1992

Dora King attended two years of college and worked as a secretary for Graves and Graves law firm before working at the Proving Grounds. While there, Ms. King worked as a secretary for Armitage’s office and also the commanding officer’s office. After the Proving Grounds, she went to work in Chicago and then to Gulfport. From there she went to San Diego, Los Angeles, and then Long Beach.

 

Interviewee: Ruth Lewis

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: February 17, 1992

Ruth Lewis worked in a department store, where she was a bookkeeper and a sales lady. While working there, she met some women that worked out at the Proving Grounds and they asked her if she wanted a job. When Ms. Lewis went to work there, she worked as the assistant to the head of the office. Her job was to check the work of the girls that did the typing. When the Proving Grounds closed, she worked at the Arkansas Revenue Department. After a few months, she went to Hope Auto Company and worked as an accountant and office manager for thirty-five years.

 

Interviewee: Maude McNiel

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: March 1, 1992

Maude McNiel graduated from high school in 1941, where she went on to attend Henderson State Teachers College. The summer after her first year there, she went to work at the Proving Grounds. Ms. McNiel got so caught up in the war like everyone else, that she didn’t go back to school, and stayed at the Proving Grounds until 1945, working as the head of the Field Artillery Testing Group. After V-J Day, she quit the Proving Grounds and moved to Atlanta, Georgia to work as a secretary for a bank and has lived there ever since.

 

Interviewee: Marjorie Norton

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: February 17, 1992

Marjorie Norton finished college in the spring of 1941 and went to work at the Proving Grounds that fall. While there, she worked in the fiscal area and later became head of the fiscal division. Since she had her teaching degree, she taught for a while after the Proving Grounds closed. She then moved to Texarkana and worked at the Lone Star Ordinance Plant until she married and then she went back to teaching. After she had her family, she quit teaching and became a full time homemaker.

 

Interviewee: Milree Parsons

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: February 18, 1992

Milree Parsons finished high school in the spring of 1941 and went to work at the Proving Grounds in January of 1942. When she first started there, she worked as a typist in the mail and records section. Six months later, she was named the head of the department until June of 1946. After that, she transferred to Red River Arsenal in Texarkana, where she worked until April of 1972, when she retired.

 

Interviewee: Imogene Royston

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: February 29, 1992

Imogene Royston graduated from high school in 1938 and went to work as an assistant postmaster in a small post office. Then, in December 1942, she was hired at the Air Force: 616th Air Corps Detachment at the Proving Grounds, where she was the first women to be hired in that department and the last to leave, in August 1945. Her duties there consisted of taking care of equipment records, checking out supplies for the aircraft, sending teletypes, and writing letters for the lieutenant that was in charge of the supply department. When the Proving Grounds closed, Ms. Royston lived at home for a little bit, then moved to Texas and took a job there as a typist for Stuart Title Company. After about nine months, she moved back home to help take care of her mother and she lived here the rest of her life.

 

Interviewee: Verna Stutsman

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: February 18, 1992

Verna Stutsman worked as a secretary to the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce in Prescott, Arkansas until she went to work at the Proving Grounds in February 1942. Ms. Stutsman started out as a receptionist, then became secretary to the assistant adjutant, and finally she was promoted to secretary to the commanding officer, where she worked until she transferred to Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland in November 1944. Ms. Stutsman worked there until the war ended. She and her husband then moved to Indiana, where she worked as a secretary to the post engineer at Indiana Arsenal. After their second child was born in 1951, she quit working and became a full time homemaker.

 

Interviewee: Margaret Tate

Interviewer: Beth Whisenhunt

Date: February 29, 1992

Margaret Tate graduated from Perry Business School in 1940 and then moved to Hope, Arkansas. When she first went to work at the Proving Grounds, she worked at the garage, checking cars in and out and keeping the books. Ms. Tate then went on to work for the man in charge of the property section of the Proving Grounds and after that she worked for Captain Penny. In 1944, she and her husband moved to Pennsylvania for 3 months, and then moved back to home where she became a fulltime homemaker.