1951 to 1954: Aircraft Mechanic General to becoming a U.S. Air Force Inspector!

Keith about mid 1950's

Keith about mid 1950’s

The Korean War started on 25 June, 1950 and this meant three more years at the U.S. Naval Air Station for Keith. This halted the closure of the Naval Air Station at Sandpoint in 1950. Keith worked in the Overhaul and Assembly Department during this time as an Aircraft Mechanic General. The Korean War ended on 27 July, 1953 and the process to close the U.S. Naval Air Station began a new. This meant that Keith had to start looking for work.

In the last post I described his auto mechanic interests and his auto log which revealed to me the trips we had taken and when. He took us to California on a trip but he also did some job hunting while we were there. I was too little to understand and just thought it was all a big adventure.  I remember the Red Woods and that tree you can drive through. I do not know where we stopped at that interested him. Another time he drove us across Washington State and visited some air fields.

Lumberwagon Auto Log, by Keith.

Aug. 15, 1953 – pg. 41 Ale…..can’t read, Portland, Madreas, Oregon, Chimult, Diamond Lake, Crater Lake, Kalamath, Medford, Ore., Calif., Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, CA, Alameda?, Park & San Jose, Hayward, CA, Hayward Motel $8, August 21. Hayward to Frisco, San Rafel, Lakeport, Uriah, Aug 26 Eureka, Arcata, CA, Trees of Mystery, Cresent City, OR, Oregon Cave Junction, Oregon Caves Aug. 27, Umpqua OR. Eugene, Toledo, WA, Rainier, WA Home Friday Aug _______. 

June 21, 1953 Lake Wenatchee St. Park, Lke Chelan, Entiat Gas, Spokane Greger fld – Fairchild, Greenacres Spokane Lake Rowan, Clarksfork.  (Was he looking for work?)

NOTE:  As far as I remember we did not visit any family in California which was unfortunate because a cousin Robert R. MacDonald a descendant of Duncan was living in Eugene and maybe northern California at the time of our trip.  Duncan was a brother to Mary McDonald Keith’s grandmother.  At present I know Robert’s daughter who is in her middle 90’s.  There were also Barclay cousins living in the San Francisco area.

During 1951 to 1953 he sent out letters seeking work.

August 1952 Job Hunt

August 1952 Job Hunt 85th Squadron Paine Field

There is a 4 page form letter send to him on November 8, 1952 titled:

Aircraft Inspector, Department of the Air Force, Western Air Procurement District, Boeing Airplane Company, Seattle, WA, GS 1872-8, BO-808, Quality Control Branch, Flight Area & Mod., Section. 1. Nature and Purpose of Work. 

This form letter goes into detail about the Job Duties 2.5 pages, Scope and Effect of Work, Supervision and Guidance Received, Mental Demands, and person work contacts. Notice the title of the job position – Aircraft Inspector. Things are getting very interesting.

On the 25th of November 1952 a letter arrived titled Headquarters of the 4704th Defense Wing, Central Civilian Personnel Office, McChord Air Force Base, WA.  Referring to this application to Paine Field. In the event you are interested in employment at this installation, it will be necessary that you file and receive eligible rating in order to be certified for employment.  They enclosed a form for Aircraft Mechanic, Ordnance to be sent to Board of U.S. Civil Service Examiners in Seattle: Forms 57, and 5001 ABC.

In 17, June of 1953 he received another form letter suggesting he update his application and return it to the Central Civilian Personnel Office, McChord Air Force Base, Washington.  He had 20 days to complete this task. This AFB is still in existence but it is now titled Lewis-McChord as of 2010.


On the 4th of August, 1953 he received a letter from Fairchild Air Force Base regretting to advise you that we currently have no vacancies for aircraft mechanic and do not anticipate any in the future. The Maintenance Depot was deactivated three months ago. This base was located 12 miles southwest of Spokane.

In 5 August, 1953 he received a form letter from the United States Air Force, Central Board of U.S. Civil Service Examiners, McChord Air Force Base, Washington titled Applicant Supply File Notice of Eligibility. On the form was  the location of Larson AFB, Washington.  This base was located five miles northwest of the central business district of Moses Lake, Grant Co., Washington.

Oh dear, just think I could have grown up there in the eastern part of the state. I am sort of partial to trees not desert. The Genealogy society did not survive in Grant County because I visited a museum there once and they had the remaining collection? Larsen closed in 1966 and became an airport.  Life would be so different.


Meanwhile the U.S. Naval Air Station was closing down.

In April of 1953 he had to fill out a Tool Box sheet, he writes in 1970 that it is a souvenir. He probably received another one closer to the end.

Tool Box Check list

Tool Box Check list

The U.S. Naval Air Station Closure:

The U.S. Naval Air Station issued a General Notice letter of Reduction in Force on 29 April of 1953. It stated that positions in your competitive level will be terminated at the close of business on 30 May 1953. Specific notice will be issued to you prior to the effective date of this action. The name of the station and the status is changed from Naval Air Station, Seattle to a Naval Air Reserve Station.  Keith writes at the top in 1970 that this was the first notice of closure.  Signed by Cecil B. Gill.

This following announcement was apparently attached to the above Notice.

April 2 1953, Reduction in Force

April 2 1953, Reduction in Force

Two form letters came on 1 October, 1953 from The Naval Air Station.  The first letter explained what applicants needed to do to find a new position.  The second form letter stated that Keith would be terminated on 27 November 1953.

The United States Civil Service Administration sent him a Notice of Rating with an Exact Title of Examination – Inspector, Aircraft, date of examination 1953. Your rating is GS-9 and GS-8…Eligible. This was signed October 27, 1953.

On November 25, 1953 he received an extension of his final date, instead of 27 November 1953. He would be terminated on 29 December 1953 because of the workload in your department.

Well it didn’t quite work out because on December 6, 1953 he received the Navy Department Notification of Personnel Action:

Nature of Action: Separation – Transfer (To: Dept. of the Air Force, San Bernardino Air Materiel Area), From Aircraft Mechanic, General U.S. Naval Air Station Seattle, to _____________. Competitive Status, Performance Satisfactory, Loyalty completed 2/4/18. All annual and sick leave to be transferred to the Department of the Air Force, San Bernardino Air Materiel Area, Los Angeles Civilian Personnel Branch, P.O. Box 3849 Terminal Annex, Los Angeles 54, CA. 

Another form followed from the Air Force

The Department of the Air Force, San Bernardino Air Materiel Area, Los Angeles Civilian Personnel Branch, Notice of Personnel Action, Date of Appointment: December 7, 1953:

From _____ To Metal Parts QC Inspector, Pos. No. BO-807, Quality Control Div. Plant II, Boeing Airplane Company, Seattle, WA, Headquarters: Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Field. Signed by Margaret M. Conklin, Personnel Assistant, LA Civilian Personnel Branch.

So on December 7, 1953 Keith B. MacDonald became an U.S. Air Force Inspector at Boeing in Plant II.  HE DID IT!

He survived the closure of the U.S. Naval Air Station and started to work for the Air Force at Boeing and would continue in this capacity till retirement, with a little change in title through the years. Plant II would be in his home base.  He would work all the shifts day, swing and night.  He did take his birthday off regularly and 3 weeks in August for our family camping trip.

The following March of 1954 he received a promotion – Indefinite. This changed his title from Metal Parts Quality Control Inspector to Aircraft Quality Control Inspector and he got a raise.

In June of 1954 he enrolled in a course at Edison Technical School called Production Control which involved 72 hours of instruction.

On November 21, 1954 he would receive his 20 year service certificate for faithful Federal Service from the Department of the Air Force and signed by J.F. Zoechler a Brigadier General, USAF. Commander, Western Contract Management Region.

Keith shaking hands with the man on the left, receiving his 30 year certificate

Keith shaking hands with the man on the left, receiving his 30 year certificate

30 years of Federal Service

30 years of Federal Service

The man I knew was always a U.S. Air Force Inspector at Boeing.  It has been interesting to see how it all evolved for him.  He was still with airplanes and that was what he loved and now he was back with the Air Force which he loved as well.

Posted in Boeing Aircraft Company, California, Fort Lewis, Keith B. MacDonald, McChord Air Force Base, Naval Air Station at Sandpoint in Seattle, Paine Field, Washington State | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keith the auto and boat mechanic, or anything with an engine mechanic….

Keith was an airplane mechanic but that also extended to auto repair, actually anything that was an engine including outboard motors like Evinrude.

To repair the boat motors he would attach the boat motor to the top rim of a barrel, fill with water and test the motor, make repairs or do maintenance.

In April of 1949 he purchased the 1940 Chevy from his sister Miriam. This was a cool car with running boards on the sides. On occasion a member of the family would stop the Old Chevy at the intersection south of our house and me and the neighborhood kids would climb onto the running board.  We would hold onto the open window area and ride up the street for about half a block.  It was brief but fun.

Keith had to make modifications to the Chevy. It had a switch on the dashboard to turn it on and the choke was involved, it was a step-by-step process to turn it on. It was a manual meaning you used the clutch pedal. It sat high up so the headlights would shine into the interior of the newer cars and their mirror and they would get a little unhappy. Oh yes, he years later he painted it with a brush. He chose navy blue on the bottom with yellow on the upper area. It wasn’t fancy but it worked and prevented rust. He had his paint can collection in his basement workshop. This area had a table saw, drill press, a workbench, glass jars with screws and nails, his tools and more.

1940 Chevy a little bent

1940 Chevy a little bent – Only MAM knows what happened.

Keith liked to name his toys and he called this car the Lumberwagon.

The Chevey on the right

The Chevy is on the right

He would maintain a car log on the details of his cars lives such as when he would buy gas, make a repair, what parts he bought, and a description of the service he did to the automobile.

Camping with the Chevy.

Camping with the Chevy.

Here is an example of his devotion to his craft, the Lumberwagon auto log, which appears to be the only surviving auto log?

Auto Log Book

Auto Log Book

Preface to Auto Log Book

Preface to Auto Log Book

The page above reads:  Preface:  This log is dedicated to the Lumberwagon. This car was named by a studie champ salesman when Mam (sister Miriam) announced to him her choice, 1940. However, no car will ever take the place of “Priscilla.” In the following pages – the Log of the Lumberwagon begins…

On another page not shown: Chapter 1 See Miriam A. McDonald, Only Mam knows what happened?  (He was referring to the auto accident in the photo above.)

Maybe this was Priscilla, his car

Maybe this was Priscilla, his car – his first? Chanute Field 1936-37

In the photo below is a picture of a page from the log book, you can see how precise he was in keeping track of the maintenance of a car. I have a similar car log but not quite as detailed.  There were 64 pages in this 2.5 x 5 inch booklet.

A page from the Auto Log book

A page from the Auto Log book

Here is the page at the back of the book about his design for the Elephant Pit.  It was a structure he built so he could work on his cars from underneath.

The Elephant Pit Design

The Elephant Pit Design

He writes and draws plans for the Elephant Pit probably about 1957. At the east (back) end of the garage he had doors where he could open them out and drive a car over an area that he dug where he could work on the cars from underneath. It was cemented to hold the weight of the car with an alley way dug in the center and covered with boards to close it up when not in use.  For years he parked the Dutchman Camper Trailer (teardrop style) that he refurnished and I used as a play house on the platform. Who knows what it is filled with now?

Because he was a mechanic he would buy used cars and fix them up. So over the years he had several different cars. I remember a Nash about 1955 that was several colors with brown, beige and a slight dark red? The next car was the Dreamboat a 1957 Nash Embassador Country Club which was an automatic. It was dark blue on top, with a lighter blue on the body and white side panels.  He then bought a Ford Fairlane which was totally white. He made modifications to the foot pedal so those who were small could drive it. Any mirrors on the car would be modified with bigger mirrors because it would pull a trailer.

Keith by his Nash - the Dreamboat

Keith by his Nash – the Dreamboat

He purchased a 1956 Ford (from sister Vivian) with green and white to be used by me his daughter to drive to school. It was a manual shift and so I had to learn to drive it after learning in the Dreamboat (automatic) from my Dad. I would drive the side streets to school learning how to coordinate the shifting.  As you can see the Ford doesn’t look to good. I think this was taken when we sold it because the clutch had worn out and it was not worth it to repair.

The 56 Ford

The 56 Ford

He would write letters to me at college in the late sixty’s and some topics were about car stuff:

The stuff you buy for the Ford is 1 head lamp for a 1956 Ford 12 Volts system. Windshield de-icer spray (about 59 cents). Engine Start spray fluid $1.00. Starting fluid has ether in it. Spray it in the air cleaner on top of the carb.  Jan. 29, 1969. 

Posted in Keith B. MacDonald, King County, Miriam McDonald, Vivian McDonald McKanna, Washington State | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

1948 to 1952: The Naval Air Station – Storage Project to Overhaul

The highlight of 1948 was my arrival on the scene.  Little did I know that at the time of my birth, my dad was taking a course on Jet Engine Theory.  Times were a changing in the aircraft industry and he was motivated to keep up with those changes.  One thing my father valued was education.

He received his Certificate of Award from the State Board of Vocational Education and the Seattle Public Schools.  He took this class at the Edison Technical School on Capital Hill in Seattle.

Jet Engines - Theory of

Jet Engines – Theory of

This was the original name for the Seattle Community College School District. It would expand to four campus’ throughout the Seattle area and more.  He paid $3.00 for the course.

The photos below list the courses offered back then.  Just click on the photo and it will open in a larger window, then remember to click your back button or close the window to return.

ECI Course

ECI Courses

ECI Courses more

ECI Courses page 2

One thing about the government is that you can count on raises, at least in those days. On November 1, 1948 Keith received a raise.  He was designated an Aircraft Mechanic General Leadingman at the U.S. Naval Air Station.  He was still with the Boeing-Renton Naval Storage Project, unfortunately, I have not been able to find out much about it.

In December of 1948 he moved back to Sandpoint to the Overhaul & Repair Dept. He stayed there till 1952.

Describe this job:  12/20/48 to June 1951, Assembly Div. Fixed equipment: installation of seats, lockers, brackets, floors, turrets (PBY), armor plate or misc. body installations. June to Oct. 1951 Flight Control, installation of control actuators, cables, pulleys, rigging.  October 9, 1951 to June 1952, disassembly, complete disassembly of PBY & PBM aircraft and delivery to planners for dispatching to repair shops. Routine duties of shop supervisor including time sheets, material and parts ordering, requests for engineering information, efficiency rating, shop equipment ordering, some design, shop planning, correction of materials, inter shop coordination. Supervisors: G. Leach, E. George Quarterman, about 20-28 in the department. 

Again in 1950 and 1952 he took more classes through the Navy Training School.  In April of 1950 he took the Initial Supervisor Training and then in 1952 he took a course titled Supervisor Development.  Now, I think he would have been great as a supervisor for he was very good at teaching me how to drive a car.  He never yelled and he just treated me like I was an equal.  He carefully explained things to me.

In August of 1951 he received his Airman Card from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Civil Aeronautics Administration. It has his name, address, signature, height, weight, color of hair, date of birth and place of birth, date of issue and it was signed.  This card is no longer used because all these different departments were split up and moved to other departments like the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA.  You can try to read this article at Wikipedia but it is very complicated.


The following is a picture of him that was on his Airman Card.  Well I see that the balding has almost become complete. There is a little fuzz on the top still.  This is the man I knew.

Keith in 1951

Keith in 1951

More changes was coming and Keith was going to get caught in the closing of the Naval Air Station at Sandpoint:

From the HistoryLink website:  Final Decades for the Naval Air Station

Peace came in August 1945. NAS Seattle found itself in a substantially reduced mission and by June 1946, the combined military and civilian staff dropped to about 3,000. Vast quantities of surplus supplies flooding onto the station and Sand Point became responsible for the preservation of 89 flying boats at Renton. Repair and overhaul of aircraft continued through the 1940s, but the Navy announced that the base would close permanently on September 1, 1950.

World events once again overtook the station when the Korean War erupted in June 1950. Closure plans were first held “in abeyance” then canceled as the base went to a six-day work week overhauling and modifying aircraft, training reservists, supporting operations at Whidbey Island, and supplying the fleet. That conflict ended in 1953 and so did the station’s responsibility for overhauling aircraft. The number of civilian employees dropped from 1800 to 200.

This would not necessarily be a bad thing for Keith as we shall see, he didn’t think of himself as a Navy man instead he was Air Force.

Posted in Keith B. MacDonald, King County, Naval Air Station at Sandpoint in Seattle, Seattle | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

July 1947: Ronald S. McDonald passes. A Tribute!

Nellie passed in May and just two months later Ronald’s life ends. On 22 July 1947 Ronald S. McDonald died.  He was father to: Vivian, Gordy, Miriam, Eddie, Keith and Jean and brother to Nellie.

Ronald's Funeral Card of Rembrance.

Ronald’s Funeral Card of Rembrance.

In Remembrance – In Memory of Ronald Sanfield McDonald, July 24, 1947:  In Memory of Ronald Sanfield McDonald, Date of Birth July 25, 1866 Quebec, Canada, Passed away July 24, 1947, Yakima, Washington. Requiem Mass Celebrated at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Saturday, July 26, 1947 at 9:00 A.M. Recitation of the Rosary, Friday, July 25, 1947 7:30 P.M. Bearers: William Lee, Hilary McKanna, Robert McKanna, Roscoe Davis, Keith McDonald, Gordon McDonald. Interment Calvary Cemetery. Arrangements by Langevin-Meyer Funeral Home.

The bearers of the casket were family members. William Lee was husband to Katy, daughter of Roscoe and daughter Jean McDonald Davis. Hilary McKanna was husband to daughter Vivian McDonald McKanna. Robert McKanna was Hilary’s nephew.  As you can see Keith also participated in carrying his father’s casket along with his brother Gordon.

Obituary for Ronald S. McDonald:

Source: McDonald – Ronald S, Yakima, Washington, Yakima Daily Herald Newspaper, July 25, 1947 (Reel May-August 1947, Page 15, Yakima Regional Library Microfilm: 

McDonald – Ronald S. McDonald, 81, died Friday in St. Elizabeth Hospital. He was born in Canada and lived 10 years in this district. He is survived by two sons. Gordon and Keith of Seattle, four daughters, Mrs. Vivian McKanna, Miss Miriam McDonald, Miss Edna McDonald, and Mrs. Jean Davis, two brothers, John and Alexander of Minnesota, and three grandchildren. Funeral services will be held Saturday morning at 9 o’clock at the St. Joseph Catholic church, and Rosary services will be held Friday evening at 7:30 o’clock in the church. Pallbearers are Keith McDonald, Gordon McDonald, Roscoe Davis, William Lee, Hilary McKanna and Robert McKanna. Langevin-Meyer has charge of arrangements.

Ronald S. McDonald's Tombstone in the Calvary Cemetery in Yakima, WA

Ronald S. McDonald’s Tombstone in the Calvary Cemetery in Yakima, WA

Ronald is buried next to his sister Nellie (Ellen Elizabeth), with his son Ronald Gordon (Uncle Gordy) and his daughter Miriam in the Calvary Cemetery in Yakima.

Before I leave my grandfather, who I never knew, I would like to share some more photos that are part of the Keith B. MacDonald Photo Collection. The time period is from about 1920 to the end of his life.  I start with the photo below showing that my grandfather was a very handsome man.

R.S.McDonald in the early years.

R.S.McDonald in the early years.

Ronald S. McDonald married Grace Barclay in 1898.  The photo below came into my possession recently through a cousin.  It is part of a collection found in a book titled Eddie’s High School Annual.  This is and collection in addition to Eddie’s Collection of Junk that I have featured on this blog.  The people in the photo are a lady on the left who is a friend, I am assuming.  Ronald is in the middle holding on to several of the children. Grace is hiding behind Vivian on the right. In the front row starting on the left is Eddie (Edna), Miriam, Gordon, and Vivian. There were two other children, Jean (June 1908) and Keith (March 1911) who are not yet born. So I guess that Grandma Grace was probably pregnant with Jean or about to be.  Why Grace’s hair is so short, I do not know?

The Happy Family 1908

The Happy Family 1908 – a very rare photo of the McDonald family

Sometime before 1920, grandfather shaved off his wonderful mustache, much to the dismay of his children.

Here is Ronald in Cheney, Washington.  He also used R.S. and I am told they nicknamed him Sandy.  His middle name was Sandfield after the Canadian Premier. He always dressed nicely and well.  As you can see there is a “d” in that version of the name.




Ronald looking very dapper in a hat and suit.

Ronald looking very dapper in a hat and suit.

This is a little more casual but Ronald, grandfather, still is dressed well.

This is a little more casual but Ronald, grandfather, still is dressed well. He liked his pipe…and was very proud of his straight back.

This is another photo below from Eddie’s High School Yearbook. Grandfather Ronald, is on the far left. Next on the right is Gordon, Jean, Keith, Eddie, and probably Miriam but hard to say. This is a very fun picture of all of them. I wonder who all the people were in the background but it is hard to see them.

The Watermelon contest 1928

The Watermelon contest 1928

Below we have Ronald with his brother Jack (John Archibald) and sister Nellie (Ellen Elizabeth) in about 1937.  Jack lived in International Falls remaining there till his death. Jack was also Mayor of that city for about 2 years.

R.S. with his two his siblings

R.S. with his two his siblings

R.S. with his brother Alex (from Minnesota) and sister Nellie

R.S. with his brother Alex (from Minnesota) and sister Nellie

Here Ronald is gathering firewood and he still looks good even at work:

R.S. doing some chores

R.S. doing some chores

The family would gather at various camping or picnic areas in the summer to visit. It could be at Mt. Rainier or wherever they chose.  Here are a few of the pictures of grandpa enjoying the day, probably in the early 1940’s. Grandpa seemed to like to read and he had a Yakima Public Library card and also a liquor card. HA!

He was still a Third Degree Member of the Knights of Columbus in 1945.

Knights of Columbus membership 1945

Knights of Columbus membership 1945

RonaldDarkHatCars RonaldOutdrBoxMts RSbycarTrunkwithPipe RSMcDonaldinSuitbylog RSMcDonaldSuitPkgLot RSNewspaperInWoods

This time a straw hat...

This time a straw hat…

This looks like it was taken at the house and R.S. still has a hat on but this time he is wearing a sweater.

This looks like it was taken at the house and R.S. still has a hat on but this time he is wearing a sweater and always a tie.

Ronald and the firewood

Ronald  always nicely dress even when getting firewood and he seemed to like wearing ties. One of my favorites…

R.S. caught napping on pile of logs - probably my favorite

R.S. caught napping on pile of logs – probably my favorite

I believe this following photo was one of the last of my grandfather, Ronald.

Ronald Sandfield McDonald 1866 to 1947

Ronald Sandfield McDonald 1866 to 1947

Well, he certainly had an interesting life being born in Quebec in the Upper Ottawa River Valley across from the Isle Allumette and migrating to Minnesota and then to Alberta, Canada and probably Eugene, Oregon and then to Cheney, Washington and on to Yakima. He worked as a lumberman most of his life.  Married Grace Barclay in 1898.  I know that the loss of Grace changed everything for the family but they managed.  He had six children to raise who were devoted to him.  He must have been proud of them all who became teachers, nurses, airplane mechanics and more. I wonder what he thought of the Barclays?  Can you imagine all the stories he could have told me, sigh!

Posted in Alexander McDonald, Barclay Surname, Calvary Cemetery Yakima WA, Eddie L. McDonald & her Collection of Junk, Gordon McDonald, GRACE & RONALD MCDONALD, Hilary M. McKanna, Jean McDonald Davis, John (Jack) A. McDonald, Keith B. MacDonald, MCDONALD/MACDONALD etc., McKanna Surname, Miriam McDonald, Vivian McDonald McKanna, Washington State, Yakima | Tagged , | Leave a comment