By Courtenay Mims ’04
Recently, Mrs. Bessie Rice Ball ’44, Mrs. Virginia Manning Moses ’44, and Mrs. Ann Davison Marion ’47 shared their experiences from World War II with current Converse faculty and students. Hosted by the Office of the Chaplain in honor of Women’s History Month, the event was designed to help students understand the potential impact of a war on their lives.
“The students of today have read more and seen more pictures of war than we were ever exposed to,” said Mrs. Ball. “However, I have lived through wars and these girls have never done this before.” After graduating from Converse, Mrs. Ball played for the USO (the United Service Organizations) as an accompanist in Japan and the Philippine Islands for six months. “I did this out of appreciation for what they did,” she said. “These boys were so close to our hearts and they had done so much.”
While she was a student, Mrs. Marion also supported the war effort by becoming a member of the Converse College Auxiliary Corps. The purpose of this organization was to organize all activities connected with the war on campus. She told of making her bed, keeping her room neat, knitting for the war effort, and generally conserving everything. “We looked to the upper classmen for support during this unsure time,” she said. “Most everyone knew someone in the service.”
Mrs. Marion also told stories about the shortages in the country, causing difficultly in getting around. The buses were crowded and any means of transportation was difficult. Because of these circumstances, people created homemade entertainment. She spoke of writing plays and newspapers, taking photos, participating in intramurals, such as swimming and riding, and attending recitals.
Mrs. Moses spoke of the horrors of war. She transferred from Converse College to Smith College in North Hampton, Massachusetts. While at Smith, she lived in a French-speaking house with refugees from Europe. Upon graduation she married, Col. John Moses who was quickly called to active duty in Europe. “While in Europe, I saw the horrors of war first hand, bombed buildings and women looking through garbage cans for food,” said Mrs. Moses.