Pensacola, Florida / Texas / Hawaii: circa 1940s.
Hardcover. Quarto measuring 10" x 12". String-tied blue leather over stiff paper boards with "Naval Air Station Pensacola, FLA." stamped in gilt and gilt decorations on the front board. Contains 313 sepia-toned or black and white silver gelatin photographs measuring between 1" x 1" and 8" x 10" with captions. Very good album with rubbing and edgewear with about near fine photographs.
A photo album kept by a US Navy mechanic, Vangie, stationed in Florida, Texas, and Hawaii during World War II. He documents his time with the Navy where he repaired sea planes with images of fellow mechanics, various bases, and leisure time. Vangie captions his photos extensively, usually with humorous quips about friends and situations, often referring to himself as "the Greek." Featured throughout the album are an extensive collection of photos of WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) he worked, whom he often refers to as “Gremlins.” The photos include tongue-in-cheek captions usually about their looks and personalities such as “Stella, some doll,” “Some punkin,” and “good gal.” One photo of two men swimming with their girlfriends reads, “that’s the life for sailors,” and another reads, “we were in seventh heaven for 2 weeks.” Vangie described his position as “head trouble shooter on the WAVE line” and thus roughly half of his colleagues were female. Many of these photos involve their work on planes with images of women repairing vehicles in coveralls smiling for the camera. Although he tends to discuss superficial qualities of the women in his photos, he gives these women credit as hard workers and good mechanics. One photo shows a woman posed by a plane with a caption that reads, “Patty, my assistant trouble shooter – best mechanic in USN.” A group photo of the women on a beach reads, “they were the greatest ladies and mechanics” and another reads, “fantastic mechanics.” Of course these beach photos also include comments on their looks calling one woman a model and writing “not bad” and “tender” under another photo. The day to day work on the airfield is documented throughout the album with numerous photographs of WAVES repairing planes, on breaks, and during furloughs.
The WAVES was the women’s section of the Naval Reserve established during World War II. The WAVES began in 1942 and eventually served at 900 shore stations, the Hawaiian Islands were the only overseas station. The women were able to take over male dominated roles such as doctors and engineers as well as clerical posts and labor intensive jobs such as parachute riggers and aviation mechanics.
A unique collection of photographs depicting enlisted women during World War II through the lens of an enlisted man.