“She’s making history, working for victory” — Evans and Loeb

March 28, 2010

"Rosie the Riveter"poster from World War II era

Like many  people,  I guess, I frequently brood over the questions I should have asked when I was a kid. One category that came to mind today is related to my father’s work in an aircraft assembly plant during World War II. All I know is that Dad was not drafted into military service, but was assigned to work at the Curtiss-Wright Corp., I presume in Caldwell. He was 29 years old when my brother was born in 1941, and his age might have had something to do with his exemption. He told me that he worked in my family’s grocery store during the day and at Curtiss-Wright at night, but how long he worked at the plaht and what he did, I didn’t ask. Along about 1976, it became too late. I can’t blame it on the ignorance of youth, either; by the time Dad died, I was in my 30s, and I still  hadn’t asked.

Fortunately, most people are smarter than I am, including some filmmakers who are tracking down women who worked in the defense industry during the war — the fabled labor force that shared the sobriquet “Rosie the Riveter.”

Women at work in a defense plant during World War II

I saw a note on the web site of the Detroit Free Press indicating that the filmmakers plan to visit Michigan next month looking for women in that state who had supported the war effort by building aircraft and manufacturing munitions and other matériel.  This is a project of New York University’s Tamiment Labor Archives; it’s explained in some detail at THIS LINK.

Several years ago, a project in Morris County, here in New Jersey, conducted several lengthy interviews with women who had been part of the Rosie brigade. The interviews, and photos of those women, are available at THIS LINK.

The term “Rosie the Riveter” was first used in 1942 in a song by that name written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. In poking around on this subject, I also learned that the women who did this indispensable work have been commemorated in the Rosie the Riveter Charter High School in Long Beach, Calif., a school that gives girls an opportunity to learn non-traditional trades.

A student at Rosie the Riveter Charter High School learns to operate a power saw.


4 Responses to ““She’s making history, working for victory” — Evans and Loeb”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    This is so exciting. My mother, who is 92 and living independently, was a “Rosie the Riveter” in Rock Island, Illinois during WW II. The kind of plane she worked on escapes me just now. She’s presently busy reading your blog and the links, which I printed off and took to her. sShe loves to talk about it, and I need to begin getting some of her stories down – now!

    • charlespaolino Says:

      Good idea. There might be an oral history project in your town … maybe at the public library. If you think of it, would you ask your mother if she ever knew an actor named Tim Moore in Rock Island?

  2. Eddy Collins Says:

    I love your “Rosie the Riveters” image–is it yours? We would like to ask permission to use it in print and web ads for my father’s political campaign, to illustrate the work his mother did during WWII at a bomber plant near Oklahoma City.

    Thank you for your prompt consideration,


    • charlespaolino Says:

      No, that isn’t my image. That poster was used by the US government during World War II. It’s probably in the public domain, but I don’t know that for sure.

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