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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Between the Lines: The OSS

During her time at the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), Julia came alive. She was surrounded by "missionaries, geographers, anthropologists, psychiatrists, ornithologists," and academics. All through Julia's childhood, she'd been in a palace made of glass. She grew up in a world of pleasure, where everyone  had enough money and time to do anything, but all anybody ever did was lay around, go to parties, golf, and eat. Now her glass palace was shattered to bits, and she was having the time of her life. 

Julia's original plan when she left Pasadena in 1941 was to enlist in the military, but she was turned away because of her height. Instead, she joined the OSS, an office set up to organize, "collect and analyze strategic information and to conduct special operations not assigned to other agencies." At first, Julia's job was to type names of thousands of little white notecards, but soon she got sick of that job. She soon tired of that, so she worked for with the Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, developing shark repellent. After that, she flew to Sri Lanka. There she was set the enormous task of organizing the Registry, which processed an extremely high amount of classified documents from Eastern Europe. 

Julia met Paul Child in the summer of 1944, in Ceylon, and they became very good friends. Paul encouraged Julia to come out of her palace even more- he taught her to think more broadly about many things, including music and more importantly, food.

♥ ♥ ♥

Julia's work at the OSS did more than develop shark repellent for the world. It opened the eyes of one of America's greatest chefs to new ideas, new people, and new ways to think about food. In went an overgrown girl who'd written "No occupation decided. Marriage preferable" on her college application. Out came a 6'2" woman with ideas and opinions of her own, and an ambition- to marry Paul Child.

1 comment:

Flavsi said...

What is shark repellent?? Is it like a spray or something one wears when swimming around sharks?