Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Ludie Mitchell, Ollie Hawkins, and Ruth Powers - Three Rosies

Rosie the Riveter was the symbol of the women who worked to support the military effort in World War II.  The Historic National Park honoring these women, and the other workers, is full of information and I'm going to just offer a bit over several posts.  I don't want to load people down so you skip things.  These are personal stories that tell a lot more than the facts.  But I'll give a few facts too.

Sorry, it's too small to read.  Here's a bit from this description of Ollie Hawkins who was born in 1913 and would be celebrating her 100th birthday this year:
"Ollie felt the urge to help out during the war, which is one of the reasons why she came from out of state (Flagstaff, Arizona) as many others did, to work in the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond.  She recalls that it was really hard for women alone to find a place to stay.  Sometime, one woman would sleep in a bunk during the day and at night another woman would take her place.  It was a problem on their days off!  She went to the Housing Bureau and insisted on her own place, threatening to go back home if she didn’t get one and, of course, she got one.  By the time the war ended she had become a journeyman welder.  The welding lines weighed about 200 pounds each -- a person had to have lots of strength and endurance."

Ruth Powers worked at day care centers for the men and women working at the shipyards.

“Being strong-willed, Mrs. Ludie Mitchel told us of the pride she felt while working in the war effort.  “Like all learning,” she said, “welding was difficult.”  and she cried often when she was unable to do it correctly.  Eventually she mastered the craft and was allowed to work on high corners and main joints.”
It also says she went on to appear in
“many television commercials and was an extra in the Clint Eastwood film True Crime.”
I think this info plaque gives a sense of the impact of the war on women working.

I'll add more in a later post.  There are also stories about Blacks working in the war effort.  And the high death rate among defense workers - they said more died at home in the war effort than in battle!

Here's another post on this National Historic Park.

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