This blog was named for Keith, my dad, and his love of airplanes. The gray background surrounding the posts is a reminder of him. He would wear steel-gray cotton trousers with cuffs and dance around the living room to the records he played on our stereo. Sometimes he would grab me and twirl me around.
The time has come to share about Keith’s life. Keith, my dad, was born in International Falls, Minnesota in 1910. Being younger than his siblings he went to high school at Gonzaga in Spokane. He spent his school years from 1925 to 1929 at Gonzaga participating in several different sports and taking the mechanics course. After graduation Keith would enlist at various times in the National Guard, the Army, and Air Corp. All this happening during the 1930’s and during the Great Depression. While in the military he would learn about airplane mechanics. Keith would eventually become employed as a U.S. Air Force Inspector at Boeing. He was also an inventor and a little bit of a political activist in his later years. He would eventually make Seattle his home met his further bride, marry and raise a family.
Here is a review of the posts I have written on this blog about Keith’s early years.
“Keith’s Parents: Ronald and Grace’s Marriage!,” dated February 20, 2010
Ronald and Grace McDonald, Keith’s parents
“Ronald and Grace’s Children,” dated February 27, 2010
McDonald Children circa late 1910
“A Baptism in International Falls,” dated March 13, 2010.
“Riverside Drive, International Falls,” dated March 30, 2010
Keith and brother Gordy about 1911
“Ronald and Grace: Family Life!” dated April 11, 2010
Ronald and Grace’s children: Vivian, Gordy, Miriam holding Keith, Eddie scowling and Jean – Keith is the little boy in the middle.
Keith was born on the 13th of March, 1910 to Ronald S. McDonald and Grace Amarilla Barclay. He was the sixth child of this couple and second son. His siblings were: Leola Vivian (1902), Ronald Gordon (Gordy – 1904), Miriam Audrey (1906), Edna Lorraine (Eddie – 1907), Laurie Jean (1908) and Keith (1910). There were two babies that did not survive. One was born before Vivian and is buried in the family plot in Brainerd. The other baby girl was born after Keith and named Grace Elizabeth. She is buried with her mother in International Falls.
The 1910 U.S. Federal census is the only census where all of the family of Ronald and Grace McDonald is listed. Keith is 1/12 of age. He barely made it into this census.
Line 21, 59/70, McDonald, Ronald S., head, male, white, 46, married, 12 yrs., born Canada, parents both born in Canada, working, can read and write, owns house. McDonald, Grace, wife, female, white, 28, married 12 yrs, 7 children born, 6 living, born in Minnesota, father born in Connecticut, mother born in Iowa, speaks English, no occupation, reads, writes and speaks English. McDonald, Vivian, daughter, female, white, 8 yrs., born in Minnesota, no occupation, speaks, writes and reads. McDonald, Gordon, son, male, white, 6 yrs., born in Minnesota, no occupation, speaks, writes and reads. McDonald, Marian, daughter, female, white, age 4, born in Minnesota, no occupation. McDonald, Edna, daughter, female, white, age 3, born in Minnesota. McDonald, Laura, daughter, female, white, age 2, born in Minnesota, no occupation. McDonald, Keith, son, male, white, 1/12 age.
Source: 1910 U.S. Census, International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, April 15/16, 1910, FHL#1374720 ED 92, SD 8, Sht#4A, pg. 7499.
I have written about Ronald and Grace McDonald in past posts on this blog. Ronald was born in 1866 in Chichester, Quebec to Archibald and Mary McDonell. I have shared a great deal about Archie and Mary McDonell, Keith’s grandparents, on this blog in search of their story and their ancestors.
Unfortunately Keith’s mother Grace died of pneumonia after giving birth to Grace Elizabeth, about 18 months after he was born. I doubt he knew his mother. This tragedy even affected me for it changed the family. I shared about the loss of Grace in the following post.
“An Unexpected Tragedy!,” dated July 18, 2010
About five years later, Ronald left International Falls and took the children to Grand Prairie, Alberta where he had a store. Keith, was only about 5 years old when they left Minnesota. How much my Dad remembered of his birth town, I do not know.
“R.S. McDonald Leaves International Falls!” dated October 5, 2010
The Store in Grand Prairie
“Ronald’s story Continues! Revisiting Grand Prairie, Alberta and mention of Albany, Oregon,” dated January 3, 2013.
Keith and his sisters in Grand Prairie July 4, 1916
I don’t think that going to Grand Prairie was a happy memory in my Dad’s life. As you can see from the photo they all look unhappy. After Ronald lost the store to his partner’s gambling he must have headed to Albany, Oregon. Various comments Eddie writes in her Collection of Junk indicate that they were in Oregon for at least a year.
By 1920 Keith and his family were living in Cheney, Washington and it is this part of the history of the family that is closer to me through their stories and comments. Aunt Nellie was with the family and was now helping Ronald in taking care of the children. It is not clear exactly when Ronald’s sister joined him, but she is there as of 1920.
“R.S. McDonald Family Settles in Cheney, WA -1920,” dated February 14, 2013.
R.S. McDonald Family circa 1922: R.S., Jean, Gordon, Eddie, Miriam, Vivian, Nellie and Keith
Keith is the boy in the very front – right in the middle of the picture.