Jim Dougherty was right when he said that his wife was dependent on him.
Whatever could have been her unspoken desires, Norma Jeane felt very unhappy when he was sent (on his request) with the Merchant Marine, on the Pacific Ocean and Asian South-East operations field.
Jim could only promised him to start a family when he would be back.
Whatever could have been her feelings ambiguity towards Jim, his leaving awoke her former fears. She wanted something, someone, constantly within her grasp. Jim Dougherty remembered of her tears and her anxiety when he left.
He shipped out on the "Julia S. DuMont" cargo ship, bound for Townsville, Australia.
Ethel worked as a nurse at the Radio Plane Munitions Factory (a factory founded by the actor Reginald Denny, who produced target planes for the antiaircraft exercises) located at the Metropolitan Airport (which later became the Burbank Airport).
It was Doc Goddard who had helped her to obtain a job at the Radio Plane.
the beginning, Norma Jeane tried to run the house and to take care
of the housework, while Ethel was working. But getting bored and
also wanting to contribute to the war effort, she ended by asking her
mother-in-law to find her a job at the Radio Plane.
The economy of South California leapt forward during the war thanks to the defense and the aeronautics, and there were thousands jobs for women.
Ethel found a job for Norma Jeane at the Radio Plane. She first worked in the "doper-brush" room where she varnished the planes fuselage. She had to spray a foul-odored varnish on the fuselages (it was called "working in drugs")
This thankless work however guaranteed her a regular income. She earned 20$ a week, for 10 hours of working a day.
Life with her mother-in-law was relatively pleasant, but she missed Jim's presence.
At the beginning, their mail was frequent. During their 2-years separation, they summed not less than 200 letters.
Wednesday, April 19, Norma Jeane took part in a picnic in Balboa Park, with her colleagues of the Radio Plane :
Thursday, June 15 : Norma Jeane wrote to Grace McKee-Goddard in West Virginia : .
Marilyn later admitted she had embellished the passage about her wedding, with loyalty towards her husband, and with some respects to please Grace Goddard.
During holidays, Norma Jeane left California for the first time, to visit Grace. This one was temporarily employed in a laboratory of film developing in Chicago.
She was forced to leave Virginia because, even if she had a stable job, she had started to drink.
She also visited Bebe Goddard in West Viriginia, and followed her road to Detroit where she stayed with her sister Berniece
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Back to California, she went back to work at the Radio Plane, where her new task consisted in checking and folding parachutes,
She still earned the minimum salary : 20$ a week for 60 hours of working.
She was an exemplary employee because she obtained a certificate graded "E" for excellence.
During her holidays, Norma Jeane often visited Ana Lower. During Jim's absence, it was Ana who became her family substitute.
A photographers team belonging to the Army First Motion Picture Unit came to the factory.
Their mission consisted in testifying about the women part in the war effort. They had to take some snapshots for publications commercial as long as military and silent movies, showing that the most pretty girls of the country were fervent patriots.
Corporal David Conover () was transferred there for a mission : he had to make movies and pictures for the Army, designed to stimulate the troops on the front, and to prove them that their efforts were supported by the most pretty girls.
For this occasion, Norma Jeane was pushed forward. Corporal Conover expressed his interest by taking several color pictures
She wrote to Grace, a little late, to thank her to have offered her a new dress and to have welcomed her so kindly in Chicago ; her letter, dated from Sunday December 3rd 1944 , referred to a sum of money she had sent to Grace: .
Jim went back for the feasts and his stay brought a happy smoke screen to Norma Jeane's daily routine. She continued to follow him around.