Gaylord Nelson Papers, 1954-2006 (bulk 1963-1980)

 
Contents List
Container Title
Box/Folder   4/13
No.   1255A/216-217
McKinstry, Virginia,1994 January 26, McFarland, Wisconsin
Biography/History: Virginia L. (Kastner) McKinstry was born on July 10, 1922 in Lancaster, Wisconsin. Her father was born in Austria and her mother was born in Lancaster and is of German/Irish/Welsh background. She was raised in Lancaster along with her younger brother and was graduated from Lancaster High School. After graduating she went to Rockford, Illinois and worked in a welding shop. Ms. McKinstry then moved with her family to Platteville, Wisconsin. She then went to work at a powdered egg plant in Platteville, and later she taught welding at the Platteville State Teacher's College teaching to graduating high school boys. Her family then moved to Madison, Wisconsin in 1942 where after working in a restaurant as a waitress she enlisted in the marines. She went to boot camp at Hunter College in New York City. She was then sent to Aviation Machinist Mates [AMM] school in Millington, Tennessee for welding and was quickly transferred to a similar school in Normal, Oklahoma. She was graduated in December of 1943. She was then stationed at the Galeta air base near Santa Barbara, California until V-E Day. She met and married Howard McKinstry in 1945 while at the air base. She was discharged from the marines after V-J Day but stayed on at the base with her husband until he was transferred to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. She then moved back to Madison and lived with her parents. The couple had the first of five children in 1946 and the rest followed in 1948, 1952, 1956, and 1959. They moved to San Diego, California in 1946 and lived there for a year and a half until Mr. McKinstry put in his discharge from the marines and they moved back to Madison.
Scope and Content Note

Ms. McKinstry begins by talking about her reactions to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the changes she first noticed as a result. She discusses her job at a powdered egg plant in Platteville, Wisconsin and her position as a welding teacher at the Platteville State Teacher's College. She describes her decision to join the marines and having to wait for women to be allowed to enlist. She talks about the tests she took in Chicago when she was called to report for duty. Ms. McKinstry describes her trip to Hunter College in New York City where she reported for boot camp. She discusses the training and classes they took at boot camp and the feelings of the marine men toward the women. She describes the regimental review they received at the end of boot camp attended by Eleanor Roosevelt and Madam Chiang Kai-shek. She talks about being sent to Aviation Machinist Mates [AMM] school in Millington, Tennessee for welding. She discusses the quick transfer of the recently arrived women at the AMM school to Normal, Oklahoma, because of the arrival of a company of black sailors to the school. She describes the relations between the men marines and the women marines at the school. She talks about being graduated from AMM school in December of 1943 and her trip home for Christmas. Ms. McKinstry describes her transfer to the Galeta air base near Santa Barbara, California. She describes her first impressions of California and life at the base. She discusses teaching the men about welding and about their planes. She then talks about working at the Post Exchange and the bond drives on payday. She describes her life at the base, including leave time in Hollywood. She discusses the racial and sexual discrimination that she came into contact with on and off the base. She then describes how she met her husband, Howard McKinstry, who had just returned from overseas, and how they got married. She goes on to describe the celebration of V-J Day, and the immediate discharging of the enlistees. She talks about staying at the base with her husband while pregnant with their first child.

Ms. McKinstry then describes her return to Madison while her husband was sent to Quantico and about their subsequent move to San Diego, California. She talks about their return to Madison as a result of her husband voluntarily discharging from the marines. She describes her family life in Madison and her children. She then discusses the close contact she and her husband kept with friends they made while marines. She talks about gays and lesbians in the military and the special treatment she received from the men at the base. She describes how the progress of the war was closely monitored by everybody to keep track of the different squadrons that had come to the base. She also describes the visits to the base of Tyrone Power, Pappy Boynton, and Veronica Lake. She discusses her reaction towards the death of President Roosevelt. She describes the reactions of her family to her marriage and the different lifestyle that marine life afforded. She describes her visit to the marine boot camp in Savannah, Georgia in 1988 and the differences between this camp and the ones at Hunter College and Santa Barbara in the 1940s. She discusses how the war changed her life and her expectations for her life after the war. She talks about the ration stamps that were used after the war and of the shortages in products. She ends with discussing what being a marine has meant to her.