North American Aviation

Displaying 1 - 10 of 11

Interview with Adolf Ridgway. Ridgway, born in 1890, discusses his family and early life in Arkansas, dropping out of school at the age of 6 to help his mother, picking cotton, coming to Kansas City in his late 1920s to work on the Santa Fe Railroad, and his memories of the two world wars and the Great Depression. He also shares his thoughts about past American presidents, the boxer Jack Johnson, leisure time activities, and working at other jobs, including North American Aviation.

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Interview with Dr. Eugene E. Fields. Dr. Fields discusses his family background and early life in the St. Louis area, his memories of segregation in his childhood and the Great Depression, graduating from Lincoln University, his work for the National Youth Administration North American Aviation during World War II, his experience with prominent leaders and Black intellectuals in St. Louis and Kansas City, meeting his wife, and becoming a teacher and administrator at numerous Kansas City Public School District schools. He also discusses attending graduate school, including receiving a PhD from the University of Kansas, his experience of school integration, the burgeoning Black political and activist environment in Kansas City, and protests that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his ordination as a minister, and his thoughts about the future of Kansas City schools.

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Interview with Eugene Salvay about his life and his family's experience with the Kansas City garment industry, with additional information provided by his nephew, Craig Solvay. He discusses his childhood in the 1920s, and his education in aircraft engineering which lead to job in World War II working on B-25s at the assembly plant in the Fairfax District in spite of antisemitism in the hiring process. He recalls his father's work as designer at Fashionbilt before moving on to mail-order company National Bellas Hess, and operating his own business designing custom coats. He also shares stories about his family roots in Lithuania, his Jewish identity and ancestry, and meeting Harry Truman in the 1930s. Solvay also mentions his participation in developing Israeli aviation and his relationship with Moshe Arens.

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Interviews with 14 individuals conducted at a 2006 reunion of former employees of North American Aviation, Inc. - Kansas (NAAK). Interviewees worked in various capacities, including as Rosie the Riveters, as artists, and assembling B-25s and P-80s. They discuss their jobs as well as their personal lives, accidents at the plant and in test flights, and memories of World War II.

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Interview with Harry Brown about his family, childhood, and education in Kansas City, Missouri, working for the William Volker Company, and later being joining the civilian war effort by working for North American Aviation and Technicraft assembling and inspecting aircraft and aircraft components at their Fairfax Airport facilities. Mechanical aspects of the job and test flights are discussed in detail. He also discusses his day-to-day life as an adult, his rejection from the draft, and the 1951 Flood.

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Interview with Hazel Thomas about her experience training as a welder through the National Youth Administration and working for several aircraft manufacturers, including building B-25 Bombers at North American Aviation during World War II. She recalls parts being delivered by people on roller skates, receiving pay equal to that of the men, and marrying and having children. She also discusses going on work for decades in other manufacturing and maintenance jobs in the Kansas City area, growing up in northwest Missouri, Colorado and Rhode Island, and shares photographs and stories from her family.

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Interview with Helen Yarsulik about her experience working on the B-25 Bomber at North American Aviation during World War II.She begins by discussing her parents' immigration to the United States, her childhood in the Strawberry Hill area of Kansas City, Kansas, and her parents' work in the meatpacking industry. She describes the day to day work at the plant, including her job in the tubing department, transportation to and from the site, and security to prevent against sabotage. She also recalls meeting her husband Bob after he returned from the service, wartime manufacturing at other sites in the Kansas City area, and getting to know coworkers who came from small Kansas towns for jobs at the big manufacturing hub.

Video Recording

Interview with Mary White about her experience as a "Rosie the Riveter" during World War II. She discusses growing up in rural northwestern Missouri, and coming to Kansas City at age 18 to work at the North American Aviation plant building B25 Bombers as part of the war effort. She later worked for a top secret project for Aireon Manufacturing, which she later suspected was an early radar system. She recalls rationing and shortages, people lost in the war, meeting troop trains and going to USO events; and also recounts the story of finally getting to see a complete B25 in 2012, and learning that it was one she worked on. She also discusses working for Sears and other companies after the war, her family, and life in retirement, as well as her thoughts on whether the level of patriotism reached in the WWII era will ever be reached again.

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Interview with Elaine C. Wills about her experience as an aircraft sheet metal mechanic during World War II. She discusses attending the Aviation Institute of Denver with her husband, and their move to California to work at two different aircraft manufacturers until her husband was drafted into the Army Air Corps. She mentions moves to Nebraska, Texas, and back to Kansas City, and describes her experience repairing aircraft damaged in the war and as a woman working alongside men and as a mother managing childcare while working. Elaine later worked for Luzier Cosmetics in Kansas City and was working on finishing her college degree in her 80s, and also discussed rationing, what she enjoyed in her personal time, and her education, marriage and family life.

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Interview with Lydia Rocha Estevez about her life and Kansas City's Westside neighborhood. Born in 1919, she recalls living within a few blocks in the Westside neighborhood for over 50 years, memories of school and social activities from her youth, protesting public swimming pool segregation, the poor condition of Adams School, which served the predominantly Mexican Westside neighborhood, and being punished for speaking Spanish at school. She also discusses working with her father and brother in wheat fields during the Great Depression, working as a B-25 bomber riveter during World War II, moving away from Kansas City with her husband's job in the foreign service, and working at the Kansas City Public Library and Penn Valley Community College after their return to the area. She notes that her son, Richard Estevez, was principal of Douglass School at the time of her interview.

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