Jane Fox was born on August 26, 1921 in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. She worked at a law and real estate office between high school and business school and later worked as a secretary at Fort Dix. Jane’s mother was involved with organizing USO dances, while her father was an air raid warden. After marrying her husband, she worked as a veterinary assistant for him. Jane currently resides in Heron Point where she carves and paints birds.
In this interview, Jane discusses how she knew she wanted to be a secretary since she was a child and, after business school, was able to work as one at Fort Dix where she would verify signatures on wills. Jane speaks about her family’s involvement in the war along with the effects it has on the young men who got drafted. She and her husband Owen moved to Maryland when the war ended. She concludes by speaking on the life she and her husband enjoyed.
Working at Fort Dix
Well, that was quite something, it really was. I started out at Post Headquarters, not Post Headquarters, Quartermaster, and that was the finance department. The finance office was upstairs, and we were downstairs. And then from there, I went to Post Headquarters, and I stayed there probably, I can’t remember exactly, maybe a year. And then my final place was at Post Judge Advocate which was the legal department of Fort Dix. And we made out wills and also had to witness them when someone was killed which wasn’t—I had a very, very tragic thing. This boy who I wasn’t particularly—I didn’t—but he was hanging around my desk all the time, and they said, “Oh, Jane, go ahead and go out with him, you know, give him a break.” I invited him down. He sat on my mother and dad’s porch, and all he did was talk about home. He wanted just to talk, and that was it. So lo and behold, it wasn’t long after that, he went overseas, and then he was killed. And it was a very, very tragic day for me because I could just remember all the hopes that he had to return, and then he was killed. Needless to say, it wasn’t very pleasant. He was the only one, actually, that I had a personal contact with. The rest of them were just witnessing, so.
The only brick building was Post Headquarters and Quartermaster. The rest was mud. “Tent City” they called it because the boys were sleeping in tents at that time. And we wore overshoes every single day in order to get from our cars to the office. It was really something. No roads.
Bus to USO Dances
But my mother and Elizabeth McDonald, who is Dr. McDonald’s wife in our hometown, ran a bus every Friday to Fort Dix to the USO where we had to go up and dance with the boys. Even if I worked all day, I had to go on Friday night to dance with the boys. So that was a lot of fun, and I met a lot of very, very, very nice young men.
Making Out Wills
He was inducted, and they had to come through and make out a will, you see. That was the thing. If they didn’t have it, then they had to make one out. Some of the boys were able to do it from their hometown, but he was the one that did that. I can’t remember why he came in the office so much.
Duchess at Fort Dix
Interviewer: So, we heard your boss called you “Duchess.” How did you get the name “Duchess?”
Jane: I haven’t the slightest idea. Now this was another old Army sergeant; he was a master sergeant. The master sergeant has three at the top, and three at the bottom, and hash marks, and he thought of me, I guess, as a daughter or something because [he was] an older person. That was a personal name that he called me. And he always would get me a requisition, a fan, because I’d have it right down by my feet under the desk. And he’d say, “I’ve got to get my Duchess a fan.”
History of Fort Dix
It was an older—my father was inducted there in the First World War. It was a very old, old fort. There were some regular army men still working there that had been there for years. In fact, there was an old sergeant—he smoked cigars and chewed on them—a little short guy. My hair just would be permeated because we had absolutely no air conditioning. We were all in this one great big room with typewriters, and it was quite something. But as I say, we all did survive and pull together and made things happen the way they did.
Muddy Fort Dix
Muddy? Because it had not been developed, you see. During the First World War, they had tents also. And, of course, they were taken down. But nothing had been built. They sure got buildings. They had a hospital built there, and it was like that all over the country. How they ever were able to get all the airplanes and all the boats built in the short period of time is beyond me, but they did. It was amazing. If it rained, they just had to put up with it. Now that probably wasn’t true of all of the military posts, but it was at Fort Dix.