“A very proud American woman.” That’s how Treasured Garment Restoration specialist Duane Schumann describes Mary K. Larson, a former Navy WAVES service member who allowed us the special privilege of cleaning and preserving her uniforms.
Larson joined the U.S. Naval Reserve (Women’s Reserve), or Navy WAVES for short, in 1943, with the intent of serving her country during the trying times of World War II.
Founded just a year earlier in 1942, the WAVES, which was short for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, was a division of the Navy consisting entirely of women. It marked the first time women had been accepted into the Navy, or any U.S. military branch for that matter.
Though the Army had its own version of the WAVES, called the WACC, these women were considered to be serving with the Army, not in it! For all intensive purposes, WAVES members were an official part of the Navy.
Members of the WAVES were not allowed to serve aboard combat ships or aircraft, but this doesn’t mean their contributions weren’t important. For example, while serving, Mary was a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive, or CTI. CTI’s specialize in communication and intelligence work, all vitally essential military functions, and even more so during wartime.
Treasured Garment Restoration was honored to work on Mary’s uniforms, which included a blue grey pinstriped seersucker uniform and several “dress blues”. The garments definitely needed some work, as you can see in the before and after photos below.
“The uniforms,” Schumann said, “give us a great glimpse into history, and 1943.”
From all of us at Treasured Garment Restoration we’d like to thank Mrs. Mary K. Larson for her service to our country, and for allowing us to preserve such prized possessions!