Based on two interviews of Frances Smalley Mitscher conducted by Etta-Belle Kitchen in January 1971 and two interviews of Mary A. Smith conducted by John T. Mason, Jr., in March 1978 and October 1978 The volume contains 227 pages of interview transcript (63 for Mrs. Mitscher and 164 for Mrs. Smith). The transcripts are copyright 1986 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewees have placed no restrictions on their use.
Both Frances Smalley Mitscher and Mary Alger Smith married ensigns from the Naval Academy class of 1910, but they describe in strikingly different tones the lives they led in the demanding and important role of Navy wives. Mrs. Mitscher's perspective of her famous husband offers glimpses of a public figure that only a wife can see. Through her discussion of Admiral Mitscher's habits and idiosyncrasies, she presents a picture of his private side that greatly shaped her own life. Both Commander and Mrs. Smith were Navy juniors whose family lines are punctuated with illustrious naval figures. In a feisty style, Mrs. Smith recalls her childhood spent on the Naval Academy grounds at the turn of the century, being courted by midshipmen in her teens, and 35 years of moving her family from place to place to follow her husband. Her account of living in China in the mid-1920s while Commander Smith served in the Noa (DD-343) is both frightening and hilarious.