In 1917 General "Black Jack" Pershing began his search for bilingual switchboard operators to improve communication between commanders and troops on the European front. The women needed to speak French, be college educated and single. Over 7000 women applied and 450 were selected. Upon completion of military and Signal Corps training at Camp Franklin Maryland the ladies were issued their Army regulation uniforms complete with US crests, Signal Corps crests and dog tags.
By the end of the war over 200 women had served oversees as part of the Hello Girls. The women had been sworn into service, were considered combatants and one of their own, Grace Banker, was awarded the Distinguished Medal of Service by Congress. However, upon returning to the States the Hello Girls were denied veteran status as all military regulations had been written in the male gender. One of the operators, Mearle Eagan Anderson, spent fifty years advocating on behalf of the Hello Girls. Her diligence was rewarded in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter signed a bill recognizing the service of the Hello Girls and awarding them veterans status.
And now a (Mixology Monday) toast to our bilingual fore-broads!
The French 75
2 oz Gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar or 1 tsp simple syrup
Shake the gin, lemon juice, and sugar in an iced cocktail shaker. Strain into a champagne flute. Fill with Champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist.