"Jane Doe, American"
Mary Aaronson

Episode#3, "Jane Doe" M.Karasick
W H E C: March 26, 1943
5:25-5:30 P.M. For: WAVES


ANN: This is the diary of "Jane Doe, American."


ANN: Last week, Jane Doe decided to join the WAVES . . . As she makes another entry into her diary
. . .

On Sunday, December 7, 1941 I was in the kitchen of our home at 117 Hurstbourne Road, Rochester, New York. We were washing and wiping the dishes after our Sunday dinner when we heard the radio announce about the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

We were stunned. There was no movement or speech from any of us for close to a minute. Then my father looked at my twenty-six year old brother and said, "Well son, youíre in it." As a twenty-three-year-old female my participation was unknown. In September of that year I had worked in the cafeteria of the school where I was teaching, dispensing sugar rationing books. At that time our war efforts centered around sending assistance to Great Britain and her allies by Congress voting in the Lend-Lease law.

In retrospect I realize that it took close to a year before the national war effort became the huge well-oiled machine that marked the years from 1941 to 1945.

In 1942 women were accepted as a part of the U.S. Army. I could not join in the rush to enlist because I was bound by a teaching contract, but in 1943 I was able to enlist in the WAVES (Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Services). I felt unfortunate when I did not pass the physical. However, I did assuage my burning desire to become a part of the war effort by volunteering for the local WAVES recruiting office. For a year as Jane Doe, American, on the radio I read the scripts sent to me by the recruiting office.

By June 1944 I had completed my teaching contract and had been hired by Eastman Kodak Company to be Personnel Director of their V-Mail operation in San Francisco.

The trip from Rochester, N.Y. to California was made by troop train. Because I was a civilian engaged in war work, I was allowed on the train. Civilians did not have pullman or dining car privileges, but the tedious journey was exciting because the scenery could be enjoyed by all.

There was no pause in the work of the V-Mail lab. There were letters from home to be photographed and the reels of film to be stored in cans ready to be picked up by the Army Post Office couriers. The Army letter carriers arrived with films of letters to be printed that were written by members of the active combat forces. Sometimes that film had to be cleaned of mud and blood three or four times before it was ready to print. The printed letters came out of the processing rooms in a long roll. Individual letters were separated by paper cutters and sent to waiting relatives, wives, and sweethearts.

The V-Mail laboratory operated twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week non-stop. After V-E Day the San Francisco operation continued functioning, because Japan had not yet surrendered. Three months after V-J Day the San Francisco lab closed its doors.


Mary Platt Aaronson was born September 14, 1918 in Rochester, New York. She completed her elementary and secondary education there. After graduating from Geneseo Normal School, she taught four years in Rochester. In June 1944 she moved to San Francisco where she was employed as Personnel Director of the V-Mail Lab. When the Lab shut down at the close of World War II, she attended San Jose State College, where she completed her B.A. in Education. She later completed her M.A. at the same school. She taught nine years in California, during which time she met and married her husband, Louis. In 1957, the couple, with infant son Stanley, moved to Reno , where Lou had accepted a job with Western Printing and Publishing Company. Soon after the birth of their daughter, Maryanne, Mary returned to teaching. After transferring from her two year stint at Huffaker School, she spent fifteen years teaching at Kate Smith School in Sparks. She retired in 1978, having dedicated thirty years to her profession in three different states. Her husband Louis died in 1996.

After both Aaronsons retired they converted the ìfamily room" in their Sparks home to a Bridge School where they taught contract bridge and ran bridge tournaments. Throughout their bridge careers, Mary and Lou donated their net earnings from the school (many thousands of dollars) to various local organizations. Their contributions to the Committee to Aid Abused Women (CAAW) prompted that organization to present each of them with the Hannah Humanitarian Award.

Maryís memberships include Alpha Delta Kappa Hadassah, P.E.O. Sisterhood, and as President, she chaired the 42nd State Convention in Las Vegas. She also served five years on the board of Temple Sinai and ElderCollege. Her present enjoyment comes from reading, working crossword puzzles, traveling, playing bridge, volunteering at an at-risk school, and being an avid TV sports spectator (specifically baseball, football, ice skating and tennis).

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