Early Life

Start of the War

Brothers at War

Defense Work

Rosie the Riveter

Reflections

Annotation

June Tinker was born in Coal City, West Virginia in July 1925. She grew up there until she was six years old then moved to her grandfather's log cabin and farm in Blue Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. She stayed there until the third grade then moved again, this time to a coal camp on the Big Coal River. Tinker attended various schools along that river until she reached the eleventh grade when she joined the United States defense industry. Tinker considers Lewisburg as her hometown. During the depression years, her father worked as a coal miner. He had been gassed during World War 1. He probably had black lung disease. He passed away in his early fifties. Her mother passed away prior to reaching 50 years of age. Her passing may have been due to constantly moving plus the impact of Tinker's brother dying on Iwo Jima. There was not a lot to eat, but there were plenty of youngsters to play with. Tinker had three sisters and two brothers. Her mother had lost another child during an epidemic of the bloody flux. Bloody flux was another name for dysentery. Tinker and a sister also had the disease but recovered from it. Her brother was put in a small plot in the woods but Tinker could not attend because she fainted. Fainting has been a problem for her through the years. Today there is no indication of the cemetery where her brother was buried. She does not know if the graves were moved. She finds sadness in not finding the location where her young brother was buried. When she was young, Tinker played music and sang songs to entertain her friends and family. She learned to play the guitar when she was 13 years old. They had no radio for entertainment or news. Her father played many instruments and the family enjoyed singing and playing music. The sisters would harmonize on hymns while they washed and dried the dishes. They attended a local church. News would come from her mother and father hearing about events from others who could afford to get newspapers. Tinker's mother took in sewing and laundry to help make ends meet and made clothes for her daughters.

Annotation

June Tinker was 16 years old and living in Pax, West Virginia when Pearl Harbor was attacked. She heard the news after coming home from either playing or church. By then, the family had a radio. Her brothers had joined the CCC [Annotator's Note: Civilian Conservation Corps] and worked in an environment almost like the Army. President Roosevelt [Annotator's Note: Franklin D. Roosevelt] had set up the program to help the country out of the desperate times of the depression years. Her brothers quit school and joined the CCC. The CCC gave young men an opportunity to learn a trade and get paid. There was a CCC camp near the family home. Her father would visit the camp. He would bring home leftovers from the camp. Hog dogs and ham from the camp would be a big treat for the family. The times were very hard but Tinker and her family had food, education, and clothes. She does not remember going without a meal, although meals might have been sparse. The family moved quite a bit because her father changed jobs a lot. Tinker never liked moving. She did not know what Pearl Harbor was when it was attacked. Her mother explained it to her, because she was a school teacher and very knowledgeable. She always sought news on current events.

Annotation

June Tinker's mother started worrying about the impact of the war on her sons soon after Pearl Harbor. Tinker's two brothers enlisted soon after the news of Pearl Harbor. They signed up at different times because they were in different areas of the CCC [Annotator's Note: Civilian Conservation Corps] camp. The older brother was always a friend to his sisters. He stood up for them. The other brother could not be trusted because he showed no friendship to his sisters. He always argued with them. Tinker wrote a song called Gold Star Mother about her older brother who was a Marine and was killed on Iwo Jima. The younger brother came home and was married twice and had six children. He became Tinker's best friend after the war. He suffered after the war from the wounds he received at Guadalcanal. It seemed as if he was changed by the war. Tinker does not remember getting the news of her brother's wounding at Guadalcanal. Her sister was at home when the word of her oldest brother's death on Iwo Jima was received. The news came by telegram and her father picked it up at the train station. Her brother's loss is a sad thing even today. [Annotator's Note: Tinker shows emotion during her remembrance of the loss.] Tinker had to make the decision of where her brother would be buried. She elected to bury him in Hawaii [Annotator's Note: at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific near Honolulu, Hawaii]. She has visited his grave twice over the years.

Annotation

June Tinker's older sister went to Patterson Field, Ohio for defense work training. Tinker went to Charleston, West Virginia to train in welding in order to work in the shipyards in Baltimore, Maryland. She also trained as an office worker. She never welded when she went to work. She trained to be a riveter and went to work in the Patterson airplane factory. She did sheetmetal work on damaged aircraft. She learned to read blueprints as part of her work. When things were slow, she would also do office work. She did not like working on the midnight shift because she was used to going to sleep at night. The NYA [Annotator's Note: National Youth Administration] was where Tinker gained entry into defense work. Tinker bunked with her sister and other girls while she worked. Tinker joined the NYA because her brothers were in the service and her sister talked her into it. The girls wanted to help in the war effort and earn money to eat better and buy clothes. Her sister would eventually join the WACs [Annotator's Note: Women's Army Corp]. She is still close with her sister even though she lives far away from Tinker. The NYA had a large plant in Charleston, West Virginia. All types of trades were taught at that plant, mainly to young women. Tinker learned acetylene welding, as well as typing, and filing at the school. She would eventually use the office skills and work as a bookkeeper. Tinker would ultimately retire as an accountant from Fort Benning, Georgia. The sleeping facilities were maintained by house mothers who did not have to feed their residents. When the trainees arrived by bus at the NYA in Charleston, they would be fed in a large mess hall. The food was great. They had food they had never eaten before. They stood in line and had the opportunity to meet some guys who were also there.

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Older male workers would cater to the young women like June Tinker who came into the work force. The men would flirt with the young girls. Tinker has fond memories of her male coworkers, since they liked to work with the girls. The young girls worked hard. One girl would be the riveter and the other girl would be the bucker. Tinker was a bucker, since she was petite and could crawl into small areas of an airplane. She would hold pressure against the rivet using a piece of heavy metal while the riveter operated the rivet gun from the exterior of the plane. The rivet would be flattened out on Tinker's side as the rivet gun pressured the rivet through the metal to be joined. At the time, Tinker had no idea how important her work was to the war effort. She joined the Rosie the Riveter Club after the war. She met an Iwo Jima survivor through the club. The survivor gave Tinker a vial of sand from Iwo Jima. Women in the workforce became more important as men went into the service. The defense industry created many new jobs and women were eager to join the workforce and help. It was a change in history. Tinker did not join the WACs [Annotator's Note: Women's Army Corp] because she was reluctant to join the service but she did look up to her sister since she was a WAC. Tinker had her first child in 1944. She did not go back to work after that. Tinker remembers the end of the war but does not remember where she was, or how she celebrated it. She remembers learning how to cut metal, gauge metal thickness, and read blueprints while working at the Patterson aircraft plant. She rode to work in the car of a man and his wife who worked at the plant. After her sister left for the WACs, Tinker moved to a home with a German couple. Eventually, Tinker would be asked questions about the German couple. She was asked if she had heard any talk from them. She had not.

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June Tinker met her husband when she was 16 years old. He was a neighbor near the water pump where Tinker had to draw water. She fell in love with him. He went into the service, and she went to defense work. He left the service under circumstances less than honorable but not dishonorable. She worked for awhile after being married. She got pregnant and had a child. That marriage did not last. Tinker raised her child until she was ten years old. She then married a soldier who had been stationed in Korea with her brother-in-law. Tinker's most memorable event of the war was leaving home, getting into the workforce, and making friends. It was something big to be involved with. She remembers returning home to visit family while she was working. She enjoyed spoiling the children in her family at home. At the defense plant, she would climb into the planes and work with the sheetmetal. Working with the older guys in the plant was enjoyable. She also liked working in the office. World War 2 taught Tinker responsibility. It also taught her to love her country. The Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance both affect her emotionally in a patriotic way. She is blessed with good children. She has a good place to live. She has a good mind and can still sing so she is fortunate. She is blessed to live in the United States.

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