“I don’t know of anyone who went to a nursing home when I was a kid. They were all taken care of by relatives.”
When my friend told me she knew a woman who had been a “Rosie The Riveter”, I was very excited. I have interviewed many men who served in World War Two, and women whose husbands had, but not yet a woman who had been involved in the war effort herself.
Grace had me to her home, and the first thing I noticed was the color on the walls. Turns out Grace is a very talented quilter, and is pictured in front of a massive tapestry she designed and sewed depicting a scene from the Wizard of Oz.
Grace Mary Stinton was born September 16, 1922 in Tiverton, Rhode Island. She lived on the east cost for her younger years, moving to Kentucky and then Michigan later in life. After the depression she was lucky to get a scholarship to go to Providence College for her undergraduate, and another for her Masters degree at Clark University in Massachusetts. Her family was poor – her dad entered a Veteran’s Hospital as she graduated high school (he served in World War One) – and even with the scholarships, she had very little. She asked that her Masters scholarship be deferred a year so she could teach Social Studies in Connecticut and save some money, though it wasn’t until after her 9th child was born that she was finally able to finish the degree.
“I don’t think that [job] would even be allowed, now, with the safety and security laws… It was fun for one summer but it’d be terrible if you had to [be a riveter] for a long time.”
As mentioned above, Grace spent time working as a “Rosie the Riveter” during the second Great War. This took place one summer working to support herself during college. She spoke in great detail about it:
It was during this time that a friend put together a blind double date for her. The man was Mike Stinton, whom she married. Though Mike was from Michigan, they didn’t move there right away. Shortly after their engagement, he shipped out (it was 1944) to help finish World War Two. When he returned, they married and made the move.
Grace’s girlhood was marked by a good deal of time spent on her grandparent’s farm. It is something that we discuss often in this project – the distance between families in modern life. In this short clip, she describes her childhood:
The famed building featured in “The Little Brown Schoolhouse” book was right in Grace’s hometown. In fact, she frequented the schoolhouse to get books to read. She admitted she would check out an armful of Oz books on Saturday, read them all, then return them and rent even more before they closed to read throughout the week.
“Families were a lot closer, and generations stayed together.”
I always ask how things have changed during an interview. I really liked Grace’s response. She focused on family, but not in a Conservative America kind of way. Rather, she highlighted our ability (or lack thereof) to share with and care for family members.
As I transcribed her interview, I wondered if I should have simply uploaded Grace’s entire interview. When I broached the topic of technology, she concisely described the things she’s seen, her childhood versus the way things are today, that I couldn’t help but publish the rest of interview. I usually edit myself out, but in this case, you’ll hear me ask each question.
“I can still remember the first time I saw television… the first thing I saw was a very big fat lady singing, and all I could think of was, ‘this would have been so much nicer on radio where I could have been imagining the whole thing.'”