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Hollywood resident Virginia Rasor (née Kastner) was born in 1922 in Brier Hill, a small town in New York’s St. Lawrence County that was home to about 200 residents at the time.
“My mother passed away giving birth to me,” she shares. “She was twenty-five or twenty-seven, the same as my father.” Five years passed and her father re-married.
“We all knew our neighbors and everyone looked out for one another,” recalls Rasor. An only child raised by her father and stepmother, the family ran a general store from a garage which also housed the local post office. ”
We sold groceries, meats and produce. I sorted mail, read magazines, and, I read everybody’s post cards. I got to know everybody and had a great time.”
Rasor graduated from her small high school in 1939 and began studying nursing at Syracuse University where she was one of only twenty freshmen in her three-year program. Toward the end of her time at Syracuse, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered World War II.
“I heard the news that Japan had attacked the U.S. Naval base in Pearl Harbor in the recreation room listening on the radio,” she recalls. “It was very sensational and yet looking back on it I don’t have a recollection of being concerned. I felt safe. Truly, for the most part I was unaware of what was happening so far away from school and outside my small home town.”
World War II era
A newly Registered Nurse, Rasor enlists in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps as the war begins to escalate. She was first assigned to a ward at the Sampson Naval Base in the Finger Lakes area of New York State.
“My duty was simply to be helpful during the recovery process of the men sent to us. I dressed wounds and performed other minor treatments,” recalls Rasor. “I was now so much closer to that distant war then I was just a short while back. The men appreciated everything we did for them.”
Affectionately nicknamed Miss Kay, after six months of service in the ward she was reassigned to supervisor of food services, an assignment she would hold until her resignation in 1945. “It was a plum job. I worked eight to five only and never had to pull night duty again.”
In 1944, Rasor met Lt. Commander James Dick, a four-year Naval Officer who had been sent to her ward for a period of recovery. After being introduced by friends at the officer’s club, they dated and were married a year later. However, Naval policy at the time prohibited married personnel from remaining in the service together.
“One of us had to resign,” said Rasor. “I can say if the decision as to who was to resign rested with the Navy, I would have been the one they selected.” Instead, they chose to resign together.
Home in Hollywood
The couple moved to Indiana, where Lt. Commander Dick finished his studies at Notre Dame and settled in New Jersey, where their daughters Ginna and Laurie were born. After Dick’s work routinely brought him to Florida, the family decided to relocate to Hollywood in 1951, where their son Jay was born.
“My husband found work as comptroller at his uncle Bill’s Hollywood Dog Track where he worked until his passing in 2011. James and I divorced in 1980.”
Six years later, Virginia was introduced to Ed Rasor at a square dance event at the Hollywood Rotary Club. “We courted and were married on April 24, 1988,” she recalls. And with the addition of his three children her family quickly grew.
Together, they watched as Hollywood changed and grew. From the expansion of residential and commercial areas, an increase in population, and the coming-and-going of shops and restaurants and movie theaters.
“I remember there used to be a nice woman’s dress shop, two movie theaters, a Fowler’s, and a lovely family-style restaurant nearby on Young Circle.”
Fowlers Great Southern Hotel Restaurant in the 1950s
Her responsibilities as a mother kept her very busy. “I remained in the home for the benefit of the children,” she explains. “Outside the home and apart from my domestic duties I was a member of the Hollywood Women’s Club, enjoyed socializing playing bridge and square dancing.”
“All of this has changed,” she said. But overall, “we’ve enjoyed our lives together in Hollywood.”