NOTE: Yesterday was Hiroshima Day, the unforgettable day of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, that triggered the end of WWII. While I was too young to remember this day, I do remember Rosie the Riveter stories and happy there is a museum dedicated to her and others who helped our country during the war.
Museum’s website: https://www.nps.gov/rori/index.htm)
Richond had factories where items were made for the war and the museum is very interesting to tour: small, yet packed with information, much of which I knew very little about.
First, the museum is part of the National Park Service, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, so I was glad to have a double celebration of Rosie and the Park Service.
Second, there is a rally next week on Saturday, August 13th to take back the title in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people dressed as Rosie: red polka dot bandana, red socks, and blue pants and shirt. My daughter and daughter-in-law plan to go, so I am eager to find out the results.
More importantly, I learned at the museum that not only young women were “drafted” for the war effort, but also older Americans, people with disabilities, and African Americans, both men and women. These Americans had a difficult time finding work before the war, and as young men went off to war, their jobs were filled by people back home. And these were people who may never have worked outside the home before, so the “migration” from home to factory or other place of work must have changed the home front landscape considerably.
There was a small gift shop area in the warehouse-type building to purchase memorabilia and books. For Rosie the Riveter Day you could buy the polka dot bandana and red socks as part of your “costume” for the rally on the 14th. (If you live in the Bay area, consider going to the rally and sending me photos: firstname.lastname@example.org)
I purchased one of the books at the gift shop and read it while on vacation. The title is Dancing in Combat Boots by Teresa R. Funke. As the back cover states:
The eleven fictional stories in this remarkable collection are based on real women whose experiences were at once typical and extraordinary….From the topsy-turvy days following Pearl Harbor, through four long years of hardship, to the post-war campaigns to put women back in their place*, these stories reveal the many facets of women’s lives as they gave their all for the war effort.”
There is also a website for the author who does performances and readings related to this and similar topics. That website link is:
*Note: I underlined “to put women in their place,” because as the book reveals, many of these real life women did not want to return to the kitchen, and after reading this book, I believe that this is where the women’s movement of the mid-1960s began.
So, if you are in the Richmond area, please go the museum. If not, consider purchasing the book by Teresa Funke and learning more about the women who served at home during WWII. The stories based on real lives are fascinating, and the true identities of the women are listed and explained at the end of the book. Funky has written other books on the war that I hope to find.
This museum was one of the highlights of our trip to California last month and I want to thank my daughter and daughter-in-law for taking my husband there. I also plan to wear my own red polkadot bandana on the 13th!