Hooray for Rosie the Riveter — without “her” we wouldn’t have won World War II
I was so pleased to see a powerful contingent of “Rosie the Riveters” in the Constitution Day Parade. Again rearing its ugly head is male chauvinist piggery, as voiced by certain male politicians, who shall remain nameless to protect the ignorant. “Rosies” need to be networked out across the land in this close election year to protect everyone’s rights while protecting their own.
Do you know that our newest national park is Rosie the Riveter National Park? In honor of all the women who did so many jobs so well in the second World War. They freed men to go to war and fight the enemy on two fronts. It’s located in Point Richmond, Calif., by the old FORD battle tank factory and the Kaiser shipyards. Moored alongside is the last remaining victory ship the Red Oak Victory, named for the town in Iowa which lost so many of its young men in the Battle of Kasserine Pass in Africa. After Kasserine Pass, President Roosevelt disallowed family members in the same unit.
The second World War was called the war of liberation. Yes of course, of Europe and East Asia, but it was also about the liberation of American women. Wartime demands for manpower had to start including women. Many in jobs thought too tough for women, who were called “the weaker sex,” even though women have outlived men for generations(7.5 years now).
Women’s image shifted to a higher level of long-overdue respect as a result of their participation in WWII. It will never be the same. “Rosies” were not all riveters. In Eton Canyon, above Pasadena, Calif., an undisclosed number of Gutsy Grannies assembled highly sensitive fulminate of mercury fuses for Navy bombs and shells. They worked alone in little individual cabins spaced 100 yards apart so in case one blew up others would stay safe. The work was so dangerous that the Navy hired only women beyond child-bearing age, so no young mothers might be lost. Fortunately we lost no Grannies, either.
Many were Pasadena socialites, who went off to work in their fine jewelry, designer jeans and carrying their lunch buckets. The WASPS (Women Air Service Pilots) were hastily formed to fly new planes from factories to U.S. air bases, where the guys would then add drop tanks and fly them overseas.
One day in 1944, 14 women pilots flying P-51s took off from the North American Aviation factory in Inglewood, Calif., 13 arrived at their destinations. One was never found, until last year, 2011, about 1,000 yards offshore from a popular bathing beach and 200 feet down below the surface of the Pacific. Her remains were still strapped in her seat. Her engine had quit on takeoff and she was too low to restart it. She bellied in and sank.
Gale E. Boulton, age 88, is a WWII AAF pilot veteran. He lives in Grass Valley.
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