• Courtney Hittle

November 9, 1958

Listen to a recording of the letter below

GAD! What does all of this mean?

More about the references made in the letter below...

Col. Katherine A. Towle in her custom Mainbocher gown for the Marine Corps' 175th Birthday Celebration, held in Washington, D.C. on November 10, 1950. It wasn't until 1964 that a simpler version of this gown would be available for all officers (Stremlow). The Marine Birthday Ball was held every year from 1921 through the 1950s. Below is a list of traditions from the ball, established by Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. in 1952 (Matheison):

  • "Color Guard presents the colors

  • National Anthem is played

  • Celebrate with a banquet or ball complete with dancing and food

  • The Commandant of the Corps recites a “Birthday Message”

  • A cake is escorted out followed by a cake cutting ceremony which symbolizes the passing of experience and knowledge from the older to the young. A sword is used to cut the cake and the first three pieces of the cake are given out:

  • The first piece is presented to the guest of honor

  • The second piece is given to the oldest living Marine present

  • The third piece is passed to the youngest Marine present"

"Davidson Suprises Redskins 16-7 As Fumbles Cost Homecoming Tilt." College of William and Mary Yearbook, The Colonial Echo, 1959.

Virginia Beach, 1958

Virginia Beach, 1950s

1958 Catalina by Sutex Swimwear Ad.

1950s Swimsuit Competition

Women at Beachside Cabana Huts, 1950s

South Pacific Film Poster, 1958

South Pacific, 1958 Original Trailer

"There Is Nothin' Like A Dame" from South Pacific, 1958

Homecoming, College of William and Mary 1959 Yearbook, The Colonial Echo

Want to do more research? Check out the sources I used below!

Logan, Joshua. "South Pacific (1958) ORIGINAL TRAILER [HD 1080p]." Youtube, uploaded by HD Retro Trailers, 13 December 2019,

"Love These Beach Side Cabana Huts." Vintage Dancer, Accessed 9 April 2020.

Mathieson, Mele. "Omni Military Loans Blog:Marine Corps Birthday Ball Traditions." Omni Financial, Accessed 9 May 2020.

MFMain. "Mid-Century Photo Friday: We Have a Hankering to Travel!!" Mid-Century Style Magazine, Accessed 9 May 2020.

Rodgers, Richard and Hammerstein II, Oscar. "There Is Nothin' Like A Dame." Youtube, uploaded by Rodgers & Hammerstein, 31 January 2014,

"South Pacific (1958)." IMDb, Accessed 9 April 2020.

Stremlow, Col. Mary V. "A History of the Women Marines, 1946-1977." History and Museums Divison Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1986, Accessed 9 May 2020.

"Swimsuit Contest: Who Would You Choose To Win?" Vintage Dancer, Accessed 9 April 2020.

Witzman, Penny and Bacon, Carolyn. "Colonial Echo 1959." Colonial Echo, Vol. 61, College of William and Mary, 1959, Accessed 9 May 2020.

"1958 Swimsuit with Elastix for Extra Stretch." Vintage Dancer, Accessed 9 April 2020.


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