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

May 1947: Nellie McDonald passes….

Nellie McDonald, Sister and Aunt to the McDonald children

Nellie McDonald, Sister and Aunt to the McDonald children

The year 1947 would be a tough year for Keith and his siblings.  He would lose his Aunt Nellie and his father Ronald within months of each other.

Nellie was probably the only mother he knew, since his natural mother Grace had died when he was 18 months old.  Nellie took on the role of caring for Ronald’s children about 1920, maybe earlier, but I have not been able to establish a good date.

Nellie’s formal name was Ellen Elizabeth McDonald.  She was born on 26 November, 1870 in Chichester, Pontiac Co., Quebec to Archibald and Mary McDonell.  I have featured Nellie in several posts on this blog. She migrated with her parents to Minnesota in 1901 and lived with them till their deaths. We find Nellie with Ronald in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census in Cheney, Washington so by that time she was totally committed to Ronald’s family.  Nellie never married instead she chose to stay with her brother Ronald, and help raise his children.

It was very interesting to me to see that Nellie acted as her own informant on her death certificate.  This is usually not done.

Death Certificate for Ellen Elizabeth McDonald. She died in Yakima, Yakima Co., Washington having lived in the community for 10 years. She died in the St. Elizabeth’s hospital where she had been only one day. Nellie died May 8, 1947. She was listed as single. Her date of birth was given as Nov. 26, 1870. She was 78 years old, 4 months and 15 days at her death. Her birthplace was Quebec, Canada. She did not have an occupation listed. Her father was Archibald McDonald also born in Quebec, Canada. Her mother was Mary McDonald who was born in Canada. She was the claimant on her hospital record. She was to be buried in Calvary and Langevin-Meyer were handling the arrangements. She died of [apolelez] and polycythemia and something about diverticulitis and the work massive next to it. Difficult to read the last part. Source: Certificate of Death for Ellen Elizabeth McDonald, May 10, 1947, #188, Reg No. 189, Yakima County, Washington 

Miss Ellen McDonald, Obituaries:

Obituaries: McDonald – Miss Ellen Elizabeth McDonald, 75, died last night in St. Elizabeth hospital. Born in Quebec, Canada, she had lived in the Yakima district 10 years. She is survived by three brothers, Ronald of Yakima, and Alexander and John of International Falls, Minn; four nieces and two nephews, all of Yakima. Langevin-Meyer has charge of funeral arrangements.  Source: Yakima Morning Herald, Friday May 9, 1947, pg. 18, Yakima Public Library, Yakima, WA.

Nellie is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Yakima, next to Ronald, her brother. Years later her niece Miriam and nephew Ronald (Gordon) would be interred with them. Miriam held Nellie in great esteem.

Nellie's grave stone in Calvary Cemetery, Yakima.

Nellie’s grave stone in Calvary Cemetery, Yakima, Washington .


Posted in ARCHIE & MARY MCDONELL's FAMILY, Calvary Cemetery Yakima WA, Chichester, Nellie McDonald (Ellen Elizabeth), Pontiac County, Yakima | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

1942 to 1947: Sandpoint (U.S. Navy) to Boeing (Air Force) and back to working for the Navy…

War Service Certificate 1946 given by U.S. Navy

War Service Certificate 1946 given by the U.S. Navy

Once war was declared in December of 1941 things got really difficult for workers like my father, Keith.  The war effort was in full force and production was key in getting airplanes ready for defense of the country and winning the war.

Keith had been working at the U.S. Naval Air Station and on 21 February, 1942 he asked for a release from the Commanding Officer at the U.S. Naval Air Station. What follows is a summary of the letter he wrote.

942 – 19th North, Seattle, Wn. Feb. 21, 1942

To: Commanding Officer, U.S. Naval Air Station, Sandpoint, Seattle, Wn.

Via – Commanding Officer, Assembly & Repair Dept.

Subject: Release, request for.

Quote: Executive Order No. 8760 – “refuse examination to — any person employed in the government service — unless written assent of the department or office in which he is — employed to taking such examination.” Applications from government employees will be given no consideration by the Board until they submit either the required assent, or an official statement to the effect that they hold a temporary appointment.”   http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/1941.html

Reason for: Request for a release is to submit an application to the Civil Service Board for the position of Senior Inspector, Engineering Materials….

Explanation:  On Monday Feb. 16, 1942 at 4:45 pm he asked for release and was refused. It was further stated that if he could afford to be laid off for 90 days he’d automatically have a release.  

He writes:  It is know that there are vacancies for the position of material inspector and appointments are being made. It is also know that there is a shortage of qualified men to fill these vacancies…he feels he can qualify.  He goes on to state his current work conditions are unsatisfactory for him to perform his duties and asks for a Labor Board interview.

On February 26, 1942 they responded by refusing his request.

In view of the present emergency and lack of qualified personnel in your trade, this Command will not assent to your participation in Civil Service examinations for employment in other Federal Agencies.  Then they go on to tell him he can resign and wait 90 days.  

However, on 10 June 1942 he was transferred from Assembly & Repair Officer at Sandpoint to Assistant Inspection & Survey Officer

Subject: Transfer of MacDonald, K.B. to this Inspection & Survey Department Request for:

1. It is requested that MacDonald, K.B., now employed in the Assembly and Repair Department as an Aircraft Mechanic General, Maximum be transferred to the Inspection and Survey Department as an Associate Inspector of Engineering Materials….

2.  Date of entry into this position is requested for Tuesday, June 16, 1942. Signed by J. Wade Flaherty, Ensign, USNR, Assistant Inspection & Survey Officer.

On 1st October, 1942 he is again promoted from Associate Inspector of Engineering Materials to Senior Inspector of Engineering Materials at the U.S. Naval Air Station.

The work involved the assembly and repair of naval aircraft.  He writes that there were 5-10 inspectors and it was 40% of production.  His supervisor was Lt. Hornsby.

His duties: Senior Inspector Eng. Math Aero were: inspection of final delivery, pre-flight, final assembly, fuselage, wing, tail, landing gear, fabric, doping, engine build up and installation, run up, flotation, Co2, small parts. This period I inspected the overhaul, repair of aircraft from the time it was received, dismantled, repaired, assembled, test hopped and delivered. Wrote up the inspection forms and procedures and instructed production personnel. 

Reason for leaving this job was not good: physical and mental exhaustion from overwork caused by lack of organization of production.  

Somehow Keith ended up back at Boeing and worked there from June 1943 to October 31, 1944 as a Procurement Inspector.

In February of 1944 he gets a raise and the form reads: “Continuously employed in War Department since 6/7/43, War Service Appointment (Reg. IX).”  No change in the job title he is still a Procurement Inspector.  The form is on War Department stationery, Army Air Forces out of the Material Command, Western Procurement District in Los Angeles, CA.  Job duties are:

Inspector, Flight & Aerodynamics B29, B8. Renton. Final Assembly, Night Supervisor, Fabrication, receiving inspection, inspection of incoming materials, assistant, inspection of rework, electrical, parts mfg – B17 sub assy. B29 sub assy, Night Supervisor of body, wing structure, installation, power plant buildup and installation. Major assembly of entire aircraft. 1st fun test, pre-flight to Seattle. Salvage board work, about 10 persons on shift. Helping fabrication as necessary. B8 inspection of B-29 – Entire Aircraft. Inspection general duties – watch dog. 

Another version of his work duties:  Specific duties: receiving inspection – incoming AN standards GFE, FI, Raw materials. Final Assembly, Salvage Board – Body – wing – structures & installations.  Assy of components to major assemblies. Power Plant. Buildup – installation & run up – B-8 – Inspector of B-29s – covered entire ship. 

War Department Army Air Forces, Change in Status, effective 2 February 1944.  Procurement Inspector at Boeing.  

In August of 1944 he relieved of duties:

Effective 21 August, 1944, A.A.F. Inspector Keith MacDonald is hereby relieved from inspectional duties on B-29 production airplanes, and reassigned to inspectional duties under Supervision of A.A.F. Inspector T. King, Experimental Flight Test Inspection.  Dated 16 August, 1944 on Army Air Force Boeing Aircraft Company Inter-Office Memorandum.

On September 9, 1944 he is in receipt of another Inter-office Memo (form letter) Assignment of Duties by Boeing Aircraft Company and his title is AAF Inspector in the Pre-Flight and Ground Operations Area.

A couple of months later on November 1, 1944, Keith receives a United States Navy personnel form with nature of action:  Appointment by Transfer (War Department) from Head Procurement Inspector Army Air Forces Material Command at Boeing Field to Inspector of Engineering Materials (Aero), Administration Department (Inspection and Survey), U.S. Naval Air Station, Seattle, WA.

He scribbled on the back of one of the forms – Last day in October 31, 1944 with Army AAF Inspection and back to Sandpoint and 9 years of hell. 

Based on notes written on his forms years later he writes about cracked turbo shrouds and missing bolts.  He said it upset them learning of these problems.  They then changed the AFF Inspector job responsibilities so he stalled and proceeded to get out, although he apparently regretted leaving Boeing.

Brother Gordon and Keith with a very big fish circa 1941 to 1945

Brother Gordon and Keith with a very big fish circa 1941 to 1946

So it was back to Sandpoint.  In January, 1945 he received another personnel form with the subject: Transfer and Demotion (War Services).  He was demoted from Inspector of Engineering Materials (Aero) to Aircraft Mechanic General at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Seattle.  Interesting for it was not yet the end of the war.

So here are his duties as an Air Mechanic Leadingman from Jan 1945 to 1946: Emergency Repair – Minor repair to F6F – FM2 Fighters, Modification of SB2C – F4F – Privateers & Miscellaneous type of Naval Aircraft, including engine and aircraft repairs. Pre-flight (Similar to U.S. Aero Repair) PBY & JRF Reconditioning. Final Assembly – completion of overhaul program on PBY. JRF Aircraft. Preparation for fly away. Routine Supervision and duties. Production planning – shop – work order & inspection record handling, troubleshooting – instruction of mechanics. 70 to 30 mechanics. Reason for leaving: Deactivation of Assembly and Repair. 

In October of 1946, Keith became involved with the U.S. Navy Preservation Project at Renton. It involved the Flying Boat Preservation of PBM & PBY.  His duties were a Transfer and Change to a Lower Grade effective on 28 October, 1946. He went from Aircraft Mechanic General Leadingman to Aircraft Mechanic General Maximum from Assembly & Repair.

Here is an article about the PBM Mariner at uboat.com


This website shows the PBY aircraft.


So Keith was an Air Mechanical General and he continues to work at this position into 1947.  His duties were as follows and if being in salvage was what was happening then I understand why he was not happy.

Preservation of Ordinance material – Shop Supervisor – Material Handled – Martin PBM Turrets – M-2-50 Ca & 30 CA) Machine & Guns. Bomb Racks, waist gun mounts, mooring equipment. Ammo CANS & Shutes, Loose equipment – Operations – cleaning Examine – Stop Corrosion – Assemble preserve – screening sort and store. 

Wow! It appears that working during the war and after was very complicated for Keith. He was working for Boeing, then left and went to work at the U.S. Naval Air Station, then he left that job and returned to Boeing and something bad happened and he ended up back at the U.S. Naval Air Station.  Things would not get any easier, the Naval Air Station was scheduled to close by 1950.  The Korean war added three more years before it actually happened.

The war was over at the end of 1945, however, something called the Cold War which included the arms race was about to begin.


Another factor that would change things for Keith, was the next big step in aircraft design. It had started during World War II.  It would take over and Keith was going to have to learn about jet engines in order to keep up with the ever-changing world of aircraft.


The “turbojet”, was invented in the 1930s, independently by Frank Whittle and later Hans von Ohain. The first turbojet aircraft to fly was the Heinkel He 178 prototype of the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe, on August 27, 1939 in Rostock (Germany).

Hans von Ohain of Germany was the designer of the first operational jet engine, though credit for the invention of the jet engine went to Great Britain’s Frank Whittle. Whittle, who registered a patent for the turbojet engine in 1930, received that recognition but did not perform a flight test until 1941.

The jet engine would ultimately revolutionize the airline industry, shrinking air travel time in half by enabling planes to climb faster and fly higher. History Channel.

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