Muriel Gould, daughter of John and Hattie Gould of Okotoks, joined the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service in 1942 at the age of 22. She trained in Galt, Ontario, Digby, Nova Scotia and Esquimalt, BC.
In the history book, A Century of Memories, Muriel writes: “At that time I wondered what I had gotten myself into, as it was a rigorous and strict training, and also very lonely. I remember receiving parcels from my sister Elsie which was great – cookies, cake and chocolate. Needless to say, my friends and I would eat everything before the day was out.”
A highlight for Muriel was in 1944 when she was chosen to represent women in the naval service at the Jack Benny Victory Loan celebration in Victoria where she met American comedians and actors Jack Benny and Edmund Lincoln Anderson, more commonly known as ‘Rochester.’ Muriel and Rochester were featured in the newspaper which appeared first in Victoria and then in the Calgary Herald.
In April 1944, famous radio comedian Jack Benny, his partner Mary Livingston, Rochester and the rest of his radio entourage visited Vancouver and Victoria on a War Bonds tour. Jack (as well as other Hollywood entertainers like Bob Hope) did dozens of shows, particularly United Service shows (USO shows) in the United States and overseas to support the troops and boost morale or help raise funds for war bonds/victory loans. Jack Benny was the star of the NBC radio show “The Jack Benny Program,” and Rochester was his valet on the show. Rochester became the first Black American to have a regular role on a nationwide radio program. The radio program continued until 1965.
Following the war, Muriel married John Christensen of Okotoks in 1945. John also served in the Canadian Navy.