Virginia Mae (Sullivan Livingston) Morris was born February 22, 1925, to Joseph and Laverna (Kracht) Sullivan on her Grandfather Kraft's farm in Hayes Township.
Her mother's family consisted of four brothers: Harold "Pat," Orville "Sam," Ivan "Buster," and Robert "Bob," and one sister, Ruth Mae.
Laverna married Edward L. Livingston November 1, 1928, when Virginia was three years old and made their home in Manning. Ed worked at the Manning Creamery Company since he was 17 years old. Ed had three younger brothers: Jack, Sam, and Jim, and three sisters: Florence "Tiny," Edna "Sis," and Beulah "Babe." Their father, Sib Livingston, was a rural mail carrier.
On December 7, 1941, the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed, Virginia and her younger brother, Donald, were in Sunday School, and their teacher, Miss Carson, told them all about the war. The Livingstons didn't have TV, so their teacher was the best source of information; Virginia was 16 and a sophomore in High School. Throughout high school, the students collected copper and iron from anyplace they could find them - in farmers' fields, if they had an old plow, anywhere. The students would bring those things to the collection area at the back of the high school, and once a month, military officials from Omaha would cart it off. Gas and sugar were rationed during the war.
Most of Virginia's earnings and wages during those four years of high school went to war bonds. Each bond cost $19.25, and could be cashed out at $25 ten years later. During Virginia's senior year, her mother started working nights at Priebe & Sons, to earn extra money during the war. Her dad, Ed, worked different delivery jobs for the Manning Creamery.
Virginia would baby sit of for Manning school superintendent, Amos Lee, and she also babysat Richard Rix. Another job she had was taking tickets at the Crystal Theater for about 8 months for Fred Dethlefs.
When Virginia was in 10th grade, she got a paper route for the Omaha nightly paper that also came out on Sunday mornings. All through her high school years, she also worked at a grocery store and also worked at Ben Franklin's Variety Store. Another job was with the Manning Creamery office.
During the summer between her junior and senior years, she worked nights at the Virginia Café waiting tables.
Virginia's Uncle Bob Kracht joined the Navy in 1942. Bob was one of the reasons she joined the military; she really looked up to him.
Virginia's father, Ed, and his good friend in Manning, Willard Bailey (father of Shirley Bailey), left for the Portland/Vancouver area to work in the Vancouver Kaiser Shipyard.
Virginia graduated from Manning High School in May of 1943. Shortly after graduation the Livingston family moved out west to Portland, Oregon.
Her mother, Laverna, got a job in the Administration building at Kaiser Shipyard. Ed would not let Virginia work on the Ways and Docks at the Shipyard, because the men and women working there were too rough. Virginia worked at the pipe shop inside the shipyard as a secretary where she made $2.75 per hour. The women who worked on the Ways and Docks made $4.00 per hour. Virginia's classmate, Shirley Bailey, worked in sheds, handing out tools to the men who worked on the ships.
In March 1944, Virginia went to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland for a two-week camp where she followed nurses and helped them. She wanted to see if she could get into the Navy nursing program. The Navy would pay for four-years of nurses' training, and then they would be obligated to be Navy nurses for the next four years. For two days straight, Virginia vomited and fainted as she performed her duties, including emptying bedpans, giving patients baths, and watching while the nurses changed bandages. After those two days, the doctors, nurses, and supervisor of the program "suggested" that Virginia find a different field of work.
After that nursing experience, she got a new job at the shipyard in the Administration building as a telephone switchboard operator.
Virginia then enlisted in the Marines on her birthday, February 22, 1945, because her parents would not sign the papers to allow her to enlist before then. Virginia was scheduled to report for duty at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for boot camp on April 4, 1945.
She left on the train, from Portland at the end of March, with several other girls on their way to Camp Lejeune. Virginia wore new brown Oxford shoes for the trip, and got terrible blisters on both heels, so she missed getting off of the train in Washington DC (to sightsee and change trains).
Most of boot camp was cold and rainy. One time Virginia saluted with her left hand, so she got EPD (Extra Police Duty). Those letters were placed on the dirty mops that stood in a stand and had to be washed every night; her hands would become sore because of the bleach used to clean them.
Virginia had a cold most of the time in boot camp because she slept on the top bunk, right next to a window the rest of the girls in the room insisted stay open at night. Every morning, the female drill sergeant would inspect their beds by bouncing a quarter on top of the sheet that was folded down and tucked over the blanket, and then tucked under the mattress. So Virginia didn't fail these inspections, she would slide down into her covers at night and never actually un-tuck the blankets.
She was in boot camp for eight weeks. The men drill officers were pretty nice, but the women were "hell on wheels." During morning inspections, the women drill officers would check their ties which Virginia could not tie properly, so she had someone tie it for her, so she didn't get even more EPD; Virginia finally made it through boot camp.
There was an opening in San Diego for someone with phone operator experience, so she was sent there. There were six operators on base in San Diego who had been together for years so Virginia was considered the "young, stupid, Iowa farm girl" to them. She was then put on night shift with one other girl.
Virginia had kept in touch with a sailor friend, Jimmy Milterberger, and one day about a month after she arrived, they met near her base while his ship was being repaired. Jimmy had a friend with him, from the radar base, by the name of Roy Morris. Jimmy asked Virginia is she had a friend who could come along with Roy when they were to go out the next Sunday.
When they met up, Virginia thought Roy was very cute, and looked like John Wayne. Roy said he thought he had seen Virginia at a Penney's store earlier that week. That was the start of their summer of dates: trips to the beach, the movies, walking around San Diego, and so on. Roy was night watchman in the office at the Radar Base, and Virginia continued to work the switchboards. He would call her several times every night to talk, tell jokes, and check in.
Roy turned 21 years old in June, shortly after they met, and he had been in the Navy for 3 1/2 years. He was stationed in San Diego because he had signed up for four years, and had to serve the remainder of his enlistment on base after his ship had been de-commissioned.
In July, Virginia bought a car with her war bond money. After about two months of dating, Roy asked her to marry him - the war was coming to an end about this same time. She went home to Vancouver at the end of August, on a five-day leave, to visit her parents and brother and tell them that she was engaged.
They planned on getting married in the fall, so Roy went to his superior officer to ask for an early release, which he received, since the war was over and there were lots of men coming back from overseas. Virginia went to the officers at her base, and even though she hadn't been enlisted a full year, they gave her an early release, since there were so many Marines coming back who needed to finish their enlisted time, and could fill Virginia's position in the office.
The wedding was November 1, Virginia's parent's anniversary. The wedding was in the Marine chapel, and the reception was held at the reception hall at the Grant Hotel in San Diego. They stayed in a little cottage near the base that first night, and then went back to their separate bases for the next three weeks.
When they were discharged, Roy and Virginia left for Little Rock, Arkansas, on November 22, 1945, where Roy's family lived. Roy's older half-brother, Frank, had been killed by the Japanese three years before when his Army troop landed on a Pacific Island in a PTA boat, as a first wave soldier.
After Thanksgiving, Roy got a job at a little grocery store. The owner had a son in the Veterans' hospital in Little Rock with a brain injury from the war. At that time Virginia got a job at the Unemployment Department in downtown Little Rock. Veterans received $20 per week for one year after the war; some Veterans lived off this stipend at first but Roy and Virginia were able-bodied, and decided not to take it. Roy worked six days, and made $25 per week, and Virginia still had money from her war bonds, so she purchased a lot at 700 South Oak, seven blocks from Roy's mother's house. They went to the bank in downtown Little Rock in April 1946, and met with Roy's cousin, Wallace Cunningham, who approved a home loan for $4,800 (with a cheaper interest rate thanks to the GI Bill). Roy's mother, Hassie, had two step-brothers, who were in construction and they built the home.
Virginia and Roy had four sons: Roy Jr., Frank, Jim, and Ed. Roy passed away in 1991 and Virginia died on July 15, 2014.