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Transcript of oral history interview, Charleston, S.C., March 15, 2013.
Interviewed by Kerry Taylor, Director of The Citadel's Oral History Program and Assistant Professor in The Citadel History Department and by Virginia Ellison.
Transcript 52 p., 1 CD 120:12.

Born in Charleston in 1922, Virginia Elizabeth Robinson Bonnette attended Memminger High School before graduating from Murray Vocational School in 1939. Her father worked for the City of Charleston and her mother took in laundry. In this interview, she discusses her Catholic upbringing as well as the strategies her family used to survive the Great Depression, during which her father was paid by the City in scrip. She describes King St. in the 1940s and reflects on her first jobs at a five and dime and at Read Brothers, which is still in operation at 593 King. At 17, she began working at the American Tobacco Company on Bay Street, where she was a hopper feeder in the cellophane department. She describes the work in considerable detail. Shortly after the United States entered WWII, she began working at the Naval Shipyard as a clerk in the pipe shop, where she was one of the first five women in the department. She eventually trained as a pipefitter and it was there that she met her husband, Augustus K. “Gus” Bonnette (1921-1983). They married in 1944 just weeks before Gus joined the Navy. Other highlights of the interview include her reflections on life in the Liberty Homes in North Charleston and the war’s impact on working women.

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