Sunday, May 27, 2007

Happy Memorial Day!



Here is a little tidbit of McSister family history in honor of Memorial Day (I hope I have this right - though I'm sure one of my sisters will correct me if I'm wrong)

We live on Schofield Barracks, in Hawaii. A long long time ago... before WWII... before my grandpa met my grandmother... before my dad was born... my grandfather, Mark, was station here with the Army Air Corp. Right here on Schofield Barracks. There are some interesting old barracks on this base (some being remodeled, some still housing soldiers) built in the 1920's that I'm sure my grandfather must have lived in.

My memories of my Grandfather mostly consist of visiting their St. George Condo and playing "Oh When the Saints" on the electric keyboard. And my Grandpa turning down his hearing aids when we kids were toooooooo loud (often!) And a song about a Monkey and Diego? But I feel a weird kind of closeness to him here.

I wonder what the island was like when he lived here - was Wahiawa really the pineapple capital of the world? - was he stuck here in the middle of the island, or was he able to go to the beach and learn how to surf? or to the Temple? Did he look rather dapper in his brown uniform? What was his job here? Was he a drill instructor by then, or was he a young recruit? Did he ever see any Hula Dancers in grass skirts? How did a young man from Tooele, Utah end up in the Army in Hawaii?

One thing I do know about grandpa, is that he really wanted to be a pilot, but he was color blind. My sources say that you still cannot fly for the military if you are color blind. So, back in the day, the color blind test was somehow administered with yarn. Grandpa had figured out a way to cheat on the test, and therefore, enter the Army Air Corp and learn how to fly. But just before he was able to take the test, they changed it to the dot test that is still used today.

Grandpa never learned to fly, but he continued to serve in the Army. He was later stationed in Texas where he became a drill instructor, met my grandma, Ella Gant, and the rest is history!

Happy Memorial Day


(p.s. I would love to hear stories about life as a military wife during the forties. Grandma doesn't talk about that much, other than to say that she was always prepared to whip up extras of dinner for anyone my grandpa brought home with him. I imagine her in heels and pearls and a starched apron.)

11 comments:

compulsive writer said...

I love that story about your grandpa cheating on the color blind test because he wanted to fly so badly.

(p.s. I want you to know you and your family are one of those I was thinking of and whom I appreciate as I wrote my post.)

Mary said...

Wendy, I have vague memories of the yarn story. Poor grandpa! For some reason, I didn't think he was in the Army until after he was married. I thought he went to Texas with his dad for something to do with their wool business and that's when he met grandma. And that he was a drill sergent after dad was born during WWII. I'm so confused and sad I don't know more about that great guy! It's too bad Grandma McB isn't easier to get real facts from when she's telling stories. Now I'm going to have to call dad and ask him for info!

About grandma - one time she started in on the "My husband was in top secret work..." story and I said, "Oh, so is mine!" and she ignored me and kept on telling her story. Wah. I thought we had a chance to bond :)

Thanks for the great post! I love that Grandpa was there where you are now. That is very cool.

Terina said...

my grandpa was in the navy. he knew that he would be drafted during WWII, so instead of letting them do that, he decided to choose which branch he wanted to go in. he took care of airplanes on an aircraft carrier. his aircraft carrier actually captured a german sub! but before he went to sea, my grandma took the train from utah to virginia to go see him before he left. when she got there he had everything ready to get married. a ring, flowers, and someone to do the ceremony. and she did it! without telling her parents i'm thinking. i can't remember if she stayed in virginia or not, but i do know that they were both in virginia, and my grandma was pregnant, and they were trying to get back to utah. my grandpa had arranged for her to fly, and he hitchhiked most of the way back. because of some bad weather, he actually made it there before she did!
my other grandpa came home from his mission to south africa, and started dating my grandma. then he got drafted into the army for the korean war. they got married about 6 weeks before he left for basic and then was gone for an entire year. i don't think she got to see him between basic and when they flew him to korea. he was there for a year, pretty much on the front lines the whole time. i have his pictures from his time in korea and half of his letters he wrote my grandma. i have always loved the show M*A*S*H, (i grew up watching it) and now i know why my grandparents always would watch it.

Tori :) said...

Thanks so much for sharing your stories about your grandpa. The yarn test... that's crazy! I'm so sad he didn't get to fly.
Happy Memorial Day!

wendy said...

Compulsive - I really enjoyed your story. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

Mary - last time I saw grandma I told her we were coming here, and hoped to hear a story about grandpa, but it didn't work. Poor grandma! Dad did tell me that grandpa was here before he met grandma.

Terina - what a crazy time! I love that he had flowers and a ring waiting for her. I wish I knew more about my grandparents.

txmommy said...

fun story! We are from a big AF family and my heart can't help but swell when I think of their courage and sacrifice.

PS, where do you find those great graphics? I really want to steal it for my post today!

JoyceMcB said...

Wendy, I read your blog to your dad and you are right, your grandpa was in the Army Aircorps and was stationed there at Schofield before the war. He and his brother Bill were stationed there together. They were recruited during the depression era and were told of the great life they could lead in Hawaii. He played on the Pacific champion football team while he was there and he rode horses. He did talk of going to the Temple grounds and he was active in the church while there.

After 3 or 4 years he left the service and went back to Utah where he and his father started the wool business which took them to Texas. There he met your grandma. During the war, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he re-upped and went back in as a Sargent there in Texas where he worked drilling the new recruits, preparing them to go to war.

Your colorblind story was correct.

I wish we could get your grandma to tell these stories so we could record them. Thanks for writing and making us think of grandpa. He was a great man. Love ya, mom

Toni said...

What a great story- thanks for sharing with us! If you get a chance, check out my newest blog:
Being An Air Force Wife

Mary said...

Mom, thanks for filling us in on the rest of the story! How neat that Grandpa took advantage of his time there in Hawaii. I'm sure he loved it.

And I was at least right about the wool business taking him to Tejas :)

wendy said...

How fun to get the scoop from mom! I didn't know grandpa had a brother named Bill. That's nice that they were able to be here together.

I had no memory of the wool business!

No Cool Story said...

That was so cool. I love it that you know that story and shared it with your sisters. Genealogy at work! And now we know it also, how awesome is that?