Mom enjoyed her brief stint in the Navy. She only served three years, but she spent the rest of her life talking about her experiences in the armed forces.
I always thought Mom’s fun-loving nature seemed contradictory to the serious activity of serving in the military, but Mom’s perfectionist ways made her a good recruit. However, she did squeeze in a bit of fun, as this lighthearted portrait in a Navy publication illustrates.
Mom was photographed for a two-page centerfold feature in the July 26, 1963, edition of the Seahorse newspaper. Titled, “A Typical Day in the Life of a NavSta Wave,” the text that accompanies the photos says, “Janie Kyker, HM3, has been aboard U.S. Naval Station Long Beach for two years. A native of Tennessee, Janie finds life in the Navy exciting and challenging. Happily for Janie – and the lucky sailors pictured here – life in the Navy isn’t all work. In addition to her duties at the Station dispensary, Janie manages to find plenty of recreation aboard the Station. As the pictures show, life is anything but dull!”
Mom is photographed in nine images, following her from getting ready to begin her busy day to breakfast in the galley, work and then some fun activities, in the form of ping pong, pool, enjoying an ice cream soda with a couple of sailors and shopping. There was an outtake which included her dancing with a sailor. Mom kept the original photos and a copy of the newspaper, which is in good condition.
Mom was quite proud of the photo shoot. A couple of things that I found interesting was that she was referred to as “Janie” which I don’t remember my mom being called. She preferred Jane, “plain Jane” as she always said. Maybe because it was a fluff piece they went with a nickname, instead of the formal Kyker (her maiden name) or her legal first name which she never liked: Eleanor.
I also was fascinated by the Chow Call section in the paper, which featured that week’s menu. I feel bad for anyone who liked vegetables at the time. The menu was a carnivore’s delight. Breakfast: Broiled pork sausage links, fried and scrambled eggs; Lunch (which they referred to as Dinner): Southern fried chicken; Supper: Bar-B-Q spareribs, Bar-B-Q ground beef. Wow, that’s a lot of meat! Maybe that’s why Mom was practically a vegetarian later in life.