Nash brings vibrant history into her Rifle retirement
Beverly Nash, 89, was one of just a handful of eligible young women living at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California, in 1942.
“I went to town every night to dance with the sailors,” Nash said. “Because there was such a shortage of ladies, I could only dance once with each of them.”
The then 17-year-old ended up in California after her father came home one afternoon in Denver and announced he had joined the Navy.
“We didn’t believe him,” Nash said.
Her father was 44 years old, which she and her mother thought made him far too old to join the military. But he had been a police officer, and the Navy needed police officers on the trains.
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Nash grew up in Colorado and lived most of her life on the Front Range until retiring to Parachute. She now lives in Rifle. But some of her fondest memories are from the few years she spent in California.
She and her mother worked in the supply department at the Navy Yards.
“We had a book in the vault that told the location of every ship that was in the Pacific,” Nash said. “I would go in there and find out where a ship was and requisition supplies for the war. It wasn’t for another 20 years that I realized the knowledge I had.”
On one occasion, a ship ordered toilet paper and there wasn’t any, so Nash sent wiping papers instead. A few years later, she ran into one of the men on the ship, and he asked how that happened.
“Once he understood, he thought it was funny,” Nash said.
The next day, he sent her a sheet cake at work with a roll of toilet paper stuck to the top of it.
While she was there during World War II, she didn’t remember it being a frightening place to live. The war didn’t come to the shore.
But one night when she was dancing with the sailors, a gentleman asked her to Jitterbug. Just then, a huge explosion knocked everyone to the ground.
Three ammunition ships had blown up, she said. They were all manned with black sailors. No one knew exactly what happened, but one theory was that the black sailors weren’t given gloves. And handling explosives with cold hands — someone might have dropped the wrong thing at the wrong time and it all went up in flames.
Not long after that, Nash and her parents moved back to Denver, where she worked at the Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center.
“There was this really obnoxious guy,” she said. “The week after I started there, he said he was going to marry me.”
That was Edwin Nash, and he was right.
He was a good man who had been in President Eisenhower’s Honor Guard. Nash remembers a time when they went to watch the president play golf. They were standing on the sidelines, and Eisenhower stopped when he saw Edwin to shake his hand because he remembered him.
Beverly helped Edwin raise his two sons from a previous marriage, but the two didn’t have children of their own.
Nash worked as a receptionist for a Houston-based oil and gas company for several years after Edwin died.
“I had read so much about Parachute,” she said. “Most of my friends were working. I needed to live somewhere where people were retired.”
She had a modular home there. But when the lot rent climbed from $220 a month to $300 because of the influx of gas workers, she decided to move to Rifle’s senior housing.
She always has someone to talk with and things to do now. She loves her adopted community.
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