ALUMNAE answered the
call during WWII, serving on both the
homefront and the front lines.
The troops called her "Red the Rebel." Not only did she have red hair but she was from Virginia. Harriette Vaden Price, Class of 1940, was in the thick of it during World War II as a volunteer member of the American Red Cross, serving in both North Africa and Italy.
Harriette (second from right) with her compatriots and their trusty clubmobile.
As a graduate of the State Teacher's College Class of 1940, Harriette was aware that the world was changing, but her world in Farmville had not yet been affected. As she put it during a recent interview, "There wasn't a whole lot of talk about war in Farmville." With her brand new college degree in hand, Harriette pursued a career in teaching, as did many STC graduates of that era. "There were very few jobs for health/physical education majors in those days," she stated, "I was lucky to get a job teaching fifth and sixth grades in Colonial Beach, Virginia. I enjoyed working with children but it was hard for us to get supplies. Back in those days, we were just coming out of the Great Depression so you had to be resourceful and innovative. Once, we made a ball out of twine."
Like most Americans of her time, Harriette remembers quite vividly where she was on December 7, 1941. "I was in my little car, my Ford coupe, and my mother was with me and we'd been down to see my sister who was married and lived down on the Rappahannock River. We were driving home and we heard a newsboy yelling, 'Extra Extra, read all about it Japs bomb Pearl Harbor!' Of course, most of us didn't know where Pearl Harbor was but I jumped out, bought a paper, and we drove home where Daddy was listening to the radio. I was excited and I wanted to get involved in some way."
The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his famous "Day of Infamy" speech to Congress and war was declared, changing the lives of a generation and the world forever. Now, not only did everyone know where Pearl Harbor was located, but "Remember Pearl Harbor" would become the rallying cry for a nation.
In 1943, Harriette volunteered to join the American Red Cross. She trained in Washington, DC, and New York before shipping out from Newport News to Oran, North Africa, in 1944 where the Allies had opened the long-awaited second front in 1942. On the way over, her troopship was on its own no convoy, no destroyer escorts. U-boats were a constant worry but they finally arrived safely at their destination.
After a staging stopover in Africa, it was on to Naples, Italy, as the Allies continued their methodical assault on Hitler's Fortress Europe. Harriette remembers: "They flew us over to Italy on a C-47, so low you could see the waves. It was a rocky trip and we had a bucket on board because everyone was getting sick, everyone except my roommate, Maggie. I was so mad at her we were sick as dogs and there she was eating a SPAM sandwich. We flew right over Mount Vesuvius and landed in Naples."