“War-time conditions always bring an increase of those parasites who attach themselves to our servicemen and capitalize on their loneliness and marry them only for their allowance checks.” —J. Edgar Hoover, Director of FBI.
By Frances Spatz
FULL TEXT: Private First Class Steven Blaine was on his way to Japan for occupation duty in August, 1949. With time on his hands in Los Angeles he drifted into a side street cafe and ordered, a drink. There he noticed an attractive girl seated at the next table fumbling for a match. He furnished the light and then asked if she would sit with him.
The girl told him her name was Sylvia Clarke. Before the day was over the lonely soldier thought he was in love with her. Three days later they were married and Blaine arranged to have his wife receive the $50 monthly allowance check to which a serviceman’s wife was entitled. In another few days he sailed for Japan.
Letters were regular at first from Sylvia and they spoke of her love and her hopes for his early return. Last spring, however, the letters dwindled to about one a month. In June when the Reds, invaded South Korea and Blaine was ordered to the battlefront, he decided to have his mother go live with his wife. When Blaine’s mother arrived in Los Angeles site found that her “daughter-in-law” had married a lieutenant in the Marine Corps and was living in the apartment her son had rented.
The mother called the FBI and Sylvia Clarke was exposed as another “Allotment Annie,” which is the name that has been given the type of wayward girls who marry servicemen for their allowance pay. Blaine wasn’t Sylvia’s first. Before him, and still paying when the FBI arrested her, was a sergeant stationed in Germany.
In October, 1950, Sylvia pleaded guilty to violation of the Servicemen’s Dependent’s Allowance Act of 1942 by receiving a wife’s allowance from two servicemen at the same time. The FBI had stepped in before allowance checks could start rolling in from husband number three.
Sylvia received a sentence of one year and a year’s probation.
A new crop of predatory women sprang up right after the Korean War started, according to J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The FBI in discharging its duties,” Hoover told The American Weekly, “has brought to justice the perpetrators of one of the most despicable war-time frauds — multiple marriages by women for the purpose of obtaining dependency allowance checks from the Government.”
So far, Hoover added, half a dozen sentences have been handed out.
In another case a 19-year-old Allotment Annie from Arizona was ordered to pay back $400 to the Government after she gets out of jail.
Hundreds of Allotment Annies were convicted of preying on servicemen during and after World War II. Convictions totaled 242 in 1946 but dropped to 47 in 1950, The effects of the Korean War will not be known for some time.
One of the most notorious cases in World War II, Hoover recalled, was that of Mimi Caraway who married five sailors without divorcing any of them or her first husband, a civilian, who finally divorced her.
All the sailors paid her their allowances and when the third sailor, her fourth husband, was killed in the Battle of Midway, Mimi collected $2,200 in back pay as well as his Government insurance. She even accepted his Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart. Before his death on April 6, 1942, she had already married the fourth sailor and had received a total of $2,063 from him in allowance checks.
On April 8, 1946, she pleaded guilty in a Los Angeles court and was sent to prison for a year.
Gladys Goude’s record is probably even worse than that of Mimi Caraway. She married 15 times—11 civilians, all war workers, and four servicemen. The FBI started investigating her in February, 1944, after her 15th husband, an army corporal, became suspicious of her conduct. She refused to live with him at a Romulus, Mich., air base, so he began his own investigation. Once when he visited, her Detroit apartment he found a check which carried her first name but a different last name. He informed his superior officer and the FBI stepped in. Gladys went to prison for two years and was fined $2,000.
One of the stiffest sentences dealt out in the last war went to Beverly Peterson who married three G.I.s and received allowance checks from each of them amounting to $2,700. She successfully eluded the FBI for months from coast-to-coast but was finally arrested in Texas.
She pleaded guilty in Amarillo, Texas, and was sentenced to four years in prison. Like all Allotment Annies she found that multiple marriages do not pay in the long run and that Uncle Sam and the FBI are constantly on the alert to protect servicemen and though sometimes it takes time the frauds are usually brought to justice in the end.
(All names in this article are fictitious in order to protect (the innocent victims of fraudulent marriages.)
[Frances Spatz, “Allotment Annies are at it again,” The American Weekly (San Antonio Light) (Tx.), Dec. 17, 1950, p. 2]
For more cases of this type see: “War-Marriage Vampires”& “Allotment Annies"