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JOAN L. (JANECEK) TRAPP

USNR, MM2/c


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I was born in Marinette, Wisconsin and moved to West Virginia when I was three. We moved to Washington State in 1936 and have lived in Millwood in the Spokane valley every since.

I graduated from West Valley High School in 1941 and attended Washington State University (when it was WSC) for one year...worked a year and then went back to college for another year, worked the next summer and then joined the WAVES in the fall of 1944.

I was part of the 75 young women who went from Spokane as the "Spokane WAVE Platoon," we were really the Inland Empire WAVES. We left Spokane October 15, 1944, with a lot of fanfare.

In Hunter College in the Bronx I attended boot camp for my basic training. I stayed there to attend Mailman School and graduated January 25, 1945. I had the choice of Fleet Post Office in New York or San Francisco. I took San Francisco because it was closer to home. We lived sometimes in apartments in San Francisco because there wasnít enough housing for all the WAVES and the rest of the time I lived in the Western Womenís Hotel which became a WAVES barracks on Sutter Street.

The Fleet Post Office was in the old John Deere building down near the waterfront. We worked nine hour days for seven days and then had a day off. I first sorted mail, then worked in a damaged parcel department rewrapping and sending on damaged packages. Then I moved to the NIXIE section. We "deciphered" addresses and also coded mail being sent out to the fleet. Each day a Marine detachment brought in the revised code books under armed guard and we gave each letter a code number...we got so we could tell where a ship was going by the code.

We celebrated VJ Day in August 1945 and then because of the EXCESSIVE celebration that verged on rioting with a lot of property damage, we were restricted (all military personnel) and could only be on the street going to or coming home from work. As the war slowed down the Fleet Post Office was moved to Oakland and there were a lot more civilian worker than navy personnel and it just wasnít the same. The Navy offered the chance to be separated from service or stay in and be booted up rank/rating. I chose to leave the WAVES and was separated at Balboa Park and came home to finish college.

I graduated in Home Economics in 1948 and worked for General Motors in the Frigidaire division and had some training in Dayton, Ohio, at the factory. I did demonstration work and was a trouble shooter for the large surrounding area of Spokane, including western Oregon and the Idaho Panhandle. From there I worked at the Inland Empire Paper Company, doing payroll and met my husband Ken and left in a year.

We raised 4 children here in Millwood. When Ken retired in 1978 we started going to Yuma, AZ, for the winters and bought a lot and mobile in 1987. Ken died in Yuma in 1989 and I came home. One winter here and I have been driving back and forth each October to March with my poodle for almost 10 years now.

I have a son and daughter-in-law and grandson in Rathdrum, ID, one son in the Spokane Valley, a daughter in Everett, who works for the Snohomish county division of aging and extended care, and a daughter who is a teacher and lives with her husband and the two granddaughters in Sunnyside, WA. The sons are both tool and die makes and have a business in Idaho. Me, I do a little feeble gardening and look forward to visiting the children and grandchildren and then going south to my new friends, who are mostly in my age group.

I kept in touch with two former WAVES and a couple friends from college and even a few from high school. Itís hard to keep track of the women though ... they marry and I canít "find" them. I found one former high school acquaintance who also went to WSU and through her roommate (and my friend) learned she lives in Spokane. . .ALSO had joined the WAVES and was in the same Spokane WAVE platoon I was in in 1944 AND that she has also joined our #140 Unit!!! It is indeed a small world. I am looking forward to seeing her at the June meeting: Kay Ellsworth Porter.


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