Woman of the Week, Elizabeth Prescott, Evening Telegram, 1947, March 15, p.16
Strange to find a woman working as a wireless operator? “Not at all,” shrugs 24-year-old Elizabeth Prescot [sic] of Toronto. “There were twenty of us went out on ships during the war. There are six of us left now.”
And thus, women have invaded another field. And, if the job proves as fascinating to other women as it does to Miss Prescott, the switchboard of more than one ship will be manned by a woman, if the expression may be used in connecting with the gentler sex.
“Radio,” said small, dark and attractive Miss Prescott, “is my pride and joy. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a wireless operator on the ship. I’ve been sailing on ships since 1945 as operator, but I’ve been four years working at wireless.”
Miss Prescott received her technical training at the Radio College, Toronto, where she took the nine months’ course. Her ship, the “Apollo”, is at present unloading a cargo of coal at Cashin’s wharf, and expects to carry a cargo of sugar next trip. The ship, which is owned by Norwegian company, is manned by Norwegians, but Miss Prescott says she has no difficulty with the language, “I’m glad of the opportunity to learn it,” she says, “as I hope someday to take a trip to Norway.”
The “Apollo” was bought and converted during the war by the Americans to a war cargo carrier, and has seen much service. She has arrived here from Norfolk, Virginia, taking five days for the trip, and will up anchor on Sunday.
Miss Prescott has seen a great deal of the world since she first started to sail the seas. She has been to the Dutch West Indies, England, Scotland, Belgium, France, Germany, all over the United States, “and,” she adds, “Newfoundland. “The weather is lovely here,” she enthused. (Of course, we didn’t tell her that this was exceptional weather. Crafty, aren’t we?) “I enjoyed a long walk all around the city last Wednesday. It was a perfect day.”
During the war, Miss Prescott served with the Canadian Pacific Airlines, in conjunction with the R.C.A.F. Part of her job was to maintain contact with the flights. “It was a headache,” she said, “if we lost contact with a ship.”
The job as wireless operator on a ship carries with it a great responsibility. Messages for the ship are received, and the operator must be on the alert in event of another ship running into difficulties. The switchboard carries an automatic alarm for this purpose, a safety device for distressed ships. When Miss Prescott goes off duty (the hours are two on, and two off). She sets the alarm, and if an SOS sounds, the bell in her cabin arouses her to action.
Miss Prescott says she was terribly seasick on her first voyage, but that since that, she is never troubled with the “mal-de-mar”. Her ship sails for Halifax and thence to Cuba, on Sunday. Good sailing, Elizabeth Prescott!