Big News: Our Favorite New Rosie the Riveter Socks!

by Matilda Butler on September 3, 2017

Post #85. Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Below is a fun video. Take a peek at one family who shows how much fun you can have when you are wearing Rosie’s Toesies— our all-new Rosie the Riveter Socks.

If you are familiar with the “We Can Do It” poster, then you know that we only see Rosie from the waist up. However in the Norman Rockwell poster, we see the full Rosie the Riveter, including her red socks. It is the Rockwell version that has influenced the Rosie action figure and even the specifications from the Guinness World Records organization.

Now that several organizations, such as the Rosie the Riveter Trust and the Yankee Air Museum, host annual events to break the previous Guinness World Record for the most Rosies gathered in a single place, Rosie socks have become quite important. And according to sock rigor, the socks just have to be mainly red. They don’t need to be plain red, which is sort of boring. We’re sure that Rosie wasn’t boring.

That let us imagine what fun Rosie would have had with some polkadot socks. So, we put on our design hats and came up with something quite special. Yes, red background with large white, randomly placed polkadots. We took the blue of her work shirt and put it into the toes and heels of the socks along with the upper band.

But wait, that was all right but we wanted to include our special logo — a silhouette of Rosie the Riveter from the “We Can Do It!” poster along with our custom message, “We Can Do It! Pass It On!” After moving our logo from one location to another, we settled on its placement on the back of the sock. Just perfect! It doesn’t get in the way of the red and white polkadots and yet it is there proclaiming the powerful message of strength, courage, and empowerment.

At first, we agreed to make these socks for women. Then we talked about all the women who have contacted us over the years saying that they wanted Rosie costumes for their daughters as well. So we decided to also make these socks — now called ROSIE’S TOESIES — in a child’s size.

And the final decision? As we showed our designs to test panels, we had men tell us that they wanted to wear these spectacular socks. After all, they had mothers and wives and girlfriends and they wanted to show support for them. Well that request puzzled us for a bit. The size was easy. It was the message that seemed a bit off. You know, the “We Can Do It!” part. Then we found the obvious solution. We hope you agree with our decision. Our socks for men say, “She Can Do It! Pass It On!”

Interested in a pair of Rosie’s Toesies? We have just added them to our RosiesLegacyGear shop on Etsy. Here’s the link.

Want to get them at a special price? Sign up in the box to the right and get a $3 off coupon you can use when you purchase a pair. With Halloween coming, this is a “must have” accessory. Of course, you’ll want to start wearing them immediately. They are that much fun!


Want to Create the “We Can Do It!” Look? Check this out.

by Matilda Butler on August 2, 2017

Post #84. Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

How to Get the Rosie the Riveter Look!

It’s easy. We can show you how we got the “We Can Do It!” look.

It all started back in 2007 when Kendra and I wrote what became the award-winning collective memoir Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story. At that time, we had no idea that we’d be helping thousands of women recreate the Rosie the Riveter look of a strong, courageous, empowered, creative, resourceful woman.

ITEM #1: Rosie’s Bandana

It all began with a red and white polka dot bandana, just like the one that Rosie wore in the “We Can Do It!” poster.

Well, actually, it began when Kendra and I were invited to give presentations about our collective memoir Rosie’s Daughters. We thought it would be fun to wear a polkadot bandana. How hard could it be to find one?

Without going into all the details, it was basically impossible. Why? In the poster, Rosie’s bandana had large polka dots and they were displayed in a random pattern. Everything we could find had small polka dots and were orderly organized in rows and columns. Ugh. Rosie just wasn’t going to be put in a rigid pattern! So we decided to have a few red bandanas silk screened with white polkadots in the random pattern shown in Rosie’s poster. We did and it was fun to have something fairly close to the look we all know from the We Can Do It! World War II poster.

Then, once we got into the nitty gritty of this Rosie the Riveter look, we found that typical bandanas are 22″ x 22″ while Rosie’s was 27″ x 27″ — a size mandated by the Department of the Army. It’s the bigger size that makes it possible to easily tie the bandana around the head like Rosie did. No one wanted the women in the factories to get their hair caught in machinery so bandanas were often compulsory. And the Women Ordnance Workers (WOW) had to be doubly careful since static electricity could cause explosions. Keeping hair under a headscarf was the obvious solution.

Back to the making of our Rosie’s Legacy Bandana. Our early silk screened bandanas were fun to have. When we gave presentations about our book, we often got requests to purchase a bandana just like ours. So we have more made up and they began to sell quite well. We kept looking for ways to make a better bandana. It took us a couple of years to get everything just right — the size of the polka dots, the randomness of the pattern, the correct dimensions of the bandana, …and… finally, fabric made just for us. You can’t imagine how relieved we were to no longer have to rely on silk-screening because there simply are no screens that allowed us to print edge to edge as we now have with our soft, 100% cotton bandanas. We keep the fabric thin so that the white polkadots are visible from both sides and so the bandana is easy to tie in the necessary knot. We tried all kinds of fabric over the years and are thrilled with what we now have.

Click here if you are interested in the Rosie bandana.

For a while, we thought this was the end of the “We Can Do It!” look.

ITEM #2: Rosie’s Employment Badge/Collar Pin

But the Rosie Bandana wasn’t the end. Women, happy with their polkadot bandana, started asking us if we knew where they could find the collar pin shown on Rosie in the J. Howard Miller poster.

Take a look at the “We Can Do It!” poster. Rosie proudly displays her employment badge. She couldn’t get into work each day without wearing it. J. Howard Miller, as you probably know, was the graphic artist who drew the “We Can Do It!” poster. He had been hired by the Westinghouse Company to create a series of motivational posters that would only be displayed in the various Westinghouse factories. Each was to be displayed for two weeks. It made perfect sense for him to use one of these Westinghouse employment badges in his poster.

Again, we started researching the badges. When World War II ended, most women were given pink slips and told to turn in their employment badges as their help was no longer needed. Jobs were to go to returning veterans. Fortunately for all of us, a few women kept their badges to honor their war work and we were able to find a few (alas, a very few) on the Internet. Initially, we were able to create a pin that was similar. We designed a pin just like the actual ones worn in the Westinghouse Electric Service factory. Then we used the drawing of Rosie from the poster as the face of the employee to display. And since the artwork was done in 1942 (and displayed in February of 1943), we used 1942 as the employee number.

We were excited to offer women a collar pin made using our artwork printed on clear acetate that allowed the brushed steel of the button to show through. We loved the effect and so did the many women who purchased this item.

BUT, we knew that the real badges were made of metal and were three dimensional…not flat. We kept looking for someone who could help us make a Rosie the Riveter Employment Badge / Collar Pin that would be historically accurate. We’ve finally had success and can offer the second important item in creating the “We Can Do It!” look.

Now, our Rosie Employment Badge Collar Pins are:

• Made using 3-dimensional, molded and embossed metal
• Hand-colored using enamel cloisonné technology (each
one is slightly different, part of the hand process)
• Designed with a photo-etched screen print of Rosie’s image
covered with clear coating
• Sized with 1.25″ diameter (just like Rosie’s original)
• Attached with single post/butterfly clutch fastener
• Delivered on a full-color, commemorative card

Click here if you are interested in the Rosie Collar Pin / Employment Badge.

Now you have the two critical elements to create the “We Can Do It!” look!

What about the times when Rosie worked?

I recently found a photo showing that oranges in 1942 were selling for a penny each. Probably a special sale, but it certainly peaked my interest. So I did a little research that I thought I’d share with you.

In 1942:

New homes cost between $3770 and $6950
Average wages ran between $1800 and $2400 per year
Gas cost between 15 cents and 19 cents per gallon
Rent for a house was about $35 per month
Coke cost 5 cents a (glass) bottle
A new car cost between $920 and $1100
Bread could usually be found for 9 cents a loaf
Milk, meanwhile ran between 12 cents and 60 cents a gallon
Postage was just 3 cents a letter
The stock market? It was around 119.

As more and more materials were needed for the war effort, everyone was asked to donate scrap metal and scrap fabrics. There were regular scrap days and schools were often the donation site. Reports show that many children brought up to 10 pounds of metal weekly.

Oh, By the Way…

During the month of August (2017), we have a special sale on our Rosie Combo that gives you a great price on the combination of a Rosie the Riveter bandana and our Rosie the Riveter Collar Pin / Employment Badge.

Click here, if you are interested.


39 Uses for Your “We Can Do It!” Bandana and the Connection to Duck Tape

by Matilda Butler on June 21, 2017

Post #83. Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Let Me Count the Ways…

“What can I do with my We Can Do It! Rosie the Riveter bandana?”

That’s a question we keep getting. So, with a nod to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Let me count the ways”, we’ve put together a list of uses for your red-and-white polka dot, “We Can Do It!” bandana. If you have additional suggestions, let us know. We’d love to add more uses to our expanding ways to celebrate Rosie the Riveter.

AND, If you read to the end of our list, we have a real treat of a story for you. It is a World War II, NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED tale of a woman ordnance worker (WOW) who made a huge difference in the lives of soldiers and sailers during the war and in most homes today. A fascinating bit of history.

[Once you read all these fun things to do with your Rosie’s Legacy Bandana, you just may want one for yourself and for a friend or family member. Just click here to go to our Etsy Store where we have the authentic, red and white polka dot bandanas and even more Rosie the Riveter goodies.]

#1. Tie your Rosie’s Legacy Bandana around your head and portray your inner “We Can Do It!”

#2. Wear (on your head, as a scarf, dangling from a pocket) your Rosie Bandana to a a party and take a second one along as a hostess gift.

#3. Protect your neck from mosquitoes by tying your bandana snug around your neck.

#4. Dip your red and white polka dot bandana in a cool mountain stream (or in cold water from the faucet) and tie it around your neck on the next hot day.

#5. Pack a lunch (or two) inside your huge Rosie Bandana, tie it shut, and go for a picnic. Even better, make this “hobo style” by attaching your lunch-filled bandana to a stick and slinging your lunch over your shoulder as you walk to a nearby park.

#6. Make a purse from your bandana…perfect for the hobo chic look that’s popular.

#7. Explore the beach but keep sunburn away by protecting yourself with your bandana.

#8. Host a party and set the table with Rosie bandanas. Or roll up the individual silverware settings in bandanas and tie them with kitchen twine or a decorative ribbon. Then invite guests to take their bandanas home as a remembrance. So much better than a paper napkin.

#9. Stay warm in winter by tying a Rosie bandana over your ears.

#10. Make a bandana halter top for summer wear.

#11. Have an ache or bruise? Put a bag of frozen peas inside your bandana to make a quick ice pack. Our Rosie bandana is large enough at 27″x27″ that you can also loosely tie the pack to the affected area, keeping the cold right where you want it to be.

#12. Make a sling from your bandana if you are more seriously hurt while out in nature. It will help until you can get to the doctor.

#13. Or, if you sustain a cut, use the bandana as a tourniquet. Then get to the hospital pronto.

#14. Tie the bandana on a pole and put it in front of your house to mark the location of your party. This idea is super great when you have a get together at a nearby park where there are multiple picnic areas. Just tell your guests to look for the Rosie the Riveter Legacy Bandana.

#15. Wrap a gift in your eco-friendly bandana. No wasted paper and the person gets two gifts instead of one.

#16. Wash your hands or face with a bandana while hiking or camping. You’ll find a child loves the unexpected playfulness of a Rosie Bandana used for cleanup.

#17. Take a pillow outside and cover it with your bandana. Rock your dots on what just may become your new favorite resting spot. It’s easy to wash your bandana so you always have a clean place to put your head.

#18. Pick up interesting rocks, shells, leaves on your walks? Just pull the folded bandana out of your pocket and you have a perfect wrap for your treasures.

#19. Find yourself at a ballgame where the seat is “less than clean”? No problem. just shake out your bandana and sit on it. When you stand up no messy food crumbs or sticky soda pop areas on your skirt or pants. Meanwhile, fold in the dirty side of the bandana and wash it when you get home. No fuss. No muss.

#20. Love your dog? Treat her (or him) to a Rosie bandana. Don’t dogs look cute decked out in a bandana!

#21. Clean those smudges off your sunglasses with your We Can Do It! bandana. There’s always a corner just waiting for this application.

#22. Keep the sun off a sleeping child in the car by securing your bandana in the top of the window. Heat and glare don’t belong on your precious baby.

#23. Travel with your toddler and you just may need a makeshift bib. Keep a Rosie bandana in your purse for just such an emergency. The meal will end without having to change your precious one’s clothes!

#24. Decorate a dorm room with a couple of bandanas — over a window, on a pillow, or draped around the edge of a lampshade.

#25. Shut out the light when you want a rest in the afternoon by using your red and white polka dot bandana as a sleep mask. Just fold it over your eyes or even tie it on if you are a restless sleeper.

#26. Wear your hair in a ponytail or in a braid? Secure it with your bandana for a bright look that’s good in summer or winter.

#27. Forgot your ruler? Use your bandana as a measuring tool. Our’s is 27″x”27 inches (the official bandana size as mandated by the Department of the Army for WOW: Women Ordnance Workers).

#28. Have a pot or cup that is too hot to hold on your camping trip? Whip out your bandana, fold it over, and turn it into a potholder to protect your hands.

#29. Extend the practicality of a baseball cap, which just keeps the sun off your face. Secure your bandana over the back of your neck by tucking it under your cap. [Think French Foreign Legion style.] This turns your bandana into a havelock, named after General Henry Havelock who popularized this way of protecting British soldiers from the fierce Indian sun.

#30. Work too hard in your garden and sweat will run down your face. Roll up your bandana and turn it into a sweat band. You’ll be more comfortable and you’ll look adorable too!

#31. Wear your bandana “robber style” when in a dusty or smoky area. Then get out as quickly as possible to stay safe.

#32. Dry dishes with your bandana when your kitchen towels are all in the washing machine or you are camping. The bandana will quickly dry overnight and be ready for use the next day.

#33. Bid farewell to a bad odor by placing one or two drops of lavender essential oil (or rubbing a few stalks of fresh lavender) on your bandana and tucking it in the offending area. Later wash it and your entire laundry load will have a light calming fragrance.

#34. Use your bandana to catch minnows for bait the next time you are fishing.

#35. Sew a bandana dress for your toddler.

#36. Use the bandana as a makeshift apron for your young helper in the kitchen.

#37. Wear a bandana under your bike helmet to stay cooler.

#38. Thread your bandana through the loops on trousers…a fun replacement belt.

#39. Want a retro game to play with your children or grandchildren? Use the bandana to blindfold one person and play Blind Man’s Bluff.

— And possibly #40. Filter debris from water with your bandana. It definitely works, but don’t count on it to purify water as it can just remove large contaminants.

Nevertheless, She Persisted

Bandanas are sometimes put in the same category as Duck Tape because they both have many and varied uses. As I researched this idea, I found a fascinating piece of history that takes us back to World War II, again.

I first learned about Women Ordnance Workers (WOW) a number of years ago while reading about Rosie the Riveters and bandanas worn by workers during WW2. Munitions plants were dangerous places to work and the women there had the daily concern about potential explosions. Furthermore, the toxic chemicals caused health issues both during the war and for many of the women throughout their lives. Wearing a bandana was required to help reduce static electricity and official ones were issued by the Department of the Army.

One WOW, Vesta Stoudt, had two sons in the Navy and worked at the Green River Ordnance Plant in Illinois. Her primary job was inspecting and packing cartridges used by both the Navy and the Army.

Eleven cartridges were placed in each box. To ensure moisture could not get to the cartridges, the boxes were sealed with a thin tape made of paper that was then wax coated. One piece of unwaxed tape was left loose so that it could be pulled to open the box. The problem was that the thin paper often broke leaving soldiers desperately trying to open the boxes in the midst of battle. Not a good idea.

Enter Vesta Stoudt. She realized that the boxes could be sealed with a cloth waterproof tape and that would solve the problem. It would be strong enough to not break and would let soldiers quickly get to the needed ammunition. Her supervisors agreed but took no action. She showed her idea to government inspectors and they liked her suggestion, but did nothing.

And here is where Vesta Stoudt became a “Nevertheless, she persisted” woman. No one took her seriously but she persisted. She wrote a letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (February 10, 1943) and said, in part:

“I suggested we use a strong cloth tape to close seams, and make a tab of same.  It worked fine, I showed it to different government inspectors. They said it was all right, but I could never get them to change tape. I have two sons out there some where, one in the Pacific Island the other one with the Atlantic Fleet.  You have sons in the service also.  We can’t let them down by giving them a box of cartridges that takes a minute or more to open, the enemy taking their lives, that could have been saved had the box been taped with a strong cloth tape that can be opened in a split second.  I didn’t know who to write to, Mr. President, so have written you hoping for your boys, my boys, and every man that uses the rifle grenade, that this package of rifle cartridges may be taped with the correct tape.” 

FDR forwarded Vesta Stoudt’s letter to the War Production Board who took the idea seriously. By March of 1943, Vesta received an acknowledgement of her idea and not long afterwards a letter stating that her recommendation had been approved. The War Production Board went to Johnson & Johnson to ask them to develop and manufacture such a tape because of their experience in making surgical adhesive tapes. When they began to produce the tape, it was called Duck Tape as water rolled off it and the munitions were kept dry.

The Duck Tape became a favorite “tool” in the military. It wasn’t long before soldiers found additional uses for it such as repairing vehicles, securing cracked windows, strapping equipment to their clothing, fixing broken items, and the list goes on and on.

Of course, the end of World War II didn’t mean the end of Duck Tape. The housing boom after the war brought about the installation of heating ducts in hundreds of thousands of new homes across America. Duck tape was quickly found to be the perfect solution for sealing the air gap between lengths of metal duct. Soon Duck Tape was manufactured in silver rather than camo color and became called Duct Tape.

So whether you call it Duck Tape or Duct Tape, just be sure to acknowledge Vesta Stoudt for her idea and her persistence. And yes, the Chicago Tribune gave her a War Worker Award for “her idea and her persistence.”

[The research on Duck Tape was conducted by Vesta Stoudt’s great granddaughter, Kari Santo. We send her our thanks as it gives us another story of women working during World War II and their contribution to winning the war. We value Vesta’s Stoudt’s strength and courage, her commitment during the war, and especially her persistence.]


Rosie the Riveter and Nutrition

by Matilda Butler on June 12, 2017

Post #82. Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

World War II, Rationing, and Nutrition

Rosie the Riveter had many new concerns during World War II. We know about her concerns for family and friends who were overseas. We know about her work for the war effort. But you might not have thought about Rosie the Riveter and nutrition.

You are aware that there was rationing during WWII. You’ve probably even seen the coupon books as well as the tokens (vulcanized fiber) given as change when ration coupons were used. Do you know what items were rationed?

Right after Pearl Harbor, the OPA (Office of Price Administration) developed a rationing system as they knew the war effort would use many of the supplies that had previously been a normal part of the American lifestyle. The first item to be rationed was tires and that happened on December 11, 1941. Actually, the OPA simply halted ALL sales of tires until an adequate plan could be put into place and that happened on January 5, 1942. Rubber would be critical for the military since Japan had already taken over the countries that supplied rubber to the US. A way to restrict the use of steel and rubber was to stop the sales of cars (as of January 1, 1942 only to a few designated professions such as doctors) and then by February the manufacture of cars was halted. Factories making cars were almost immediately switched to military vehicles.

Each month saw new consumer products added to the rationed list. For example, in March, typewriters were rationed. In the same month, the manufacture and sale of dog food in tin cans was eliminated. At that point, dog food began to be sold as a dehydrated product in sacks or bags.

Also in March of 1942, meat, cheese, fats, canned fish, canned milk and other processed foods were added to the list of rationed provisions. And how much did you get of a rationed item? Here are a few specifics:

1. 1/2 pound of sugar per week
2. 1 pound of coffee every five weeks
3. 2 pounds of meat per week, per person
4. 4 ounces of cheese per week, per person

What was Rosie to do to ensure that she provided her family and herself with good nutrition when so much was limited?

That question gets to the heart of this article. I found a USDA nutrition chart that came out in 1943 that was meant to help Rosies (and others, of course) know what foodstuffs to eat. It stated that there were other sources of protein since red meat was restricted. The chart showed that protein could be found in poultry, fish, eggs, dried beans, peas, nuts, and peanut butter. What is ESPECIALLY FUN is that the chart specifically shows Rosie. She’s even wearing her polka dot bandana.

Here’s the full USDA nutrition chart. You’ll see Rosie in the upper right.

Want to know about other items rationed? By November 1943, the list included: typewriters (manual, of course), gasoline, bicycles, footwear, silk (think stockings), nylon, fuel oil, stoves, meat, lard, shortening and food oils, cheese, butter, margarine, processed foods (canned, bottled, and frozen), dried fruits, canned milk, firewood and coal, jams, jellies, and fruit butter.

Rosie, fortunately, knew how to be careful with food having just gone through The Depression. Many of those recipes came in handy during WWII. And, I imagine the USDA chart was also a help.

[By the way, Kendra and I include a small Rosie the Riveter Cookbook in our DIY Rosie the Riveter costume kit. We had fun finding and then testing the recipes.]

Do you have a World War II recipe from your family? If so, we’d love to hear from you. We will be expanding our cookbook in the future. Just email me… I’ll get back to you for more details.


Wonder Woman Meets Rosie the Riveter

by Matilda Butler on June 4, 2017

Post #81. Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

The Link Between Wonder Woman and Rosie the Riveter

This weekend (June 2, 2017) Wonder Woman is released in theaters across America. It looks like a real winner with an anticipated domestic box office of $100.5 million. This is the largest opening for a female director, Patty Jenkins, who is the first female director of a female-led superhero movie.

One headline read: “Wonder Woman Shatters Box Office with Biggest Female Director Opening. Ever.”

As I checked data just now, I see that Wonder Woman has a 93% rating from Rotten Tomatoes.


But why talk about Wonder Woman? Since we are about all things Rosie the Riveter, Kendra and I immediately saw a link between these two icons.

–Rosie the Riveter is an empowered woman who is the embodiment of strength and courage. She inspired working women soon after American entered the war post-Pearl Harbor. She first appeared on a poster drawn by J. Howard Miller early in World War II.

–Wonder Woman is the embodiment of female strength in pursuit of peace, justice, and women’s rights. She first appeared in DC Comics early in World War II. The creator of Wonder Woman was William Moulton Marston, a well-known psychologist and inventor of the lie detector (the source of the idea for Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth) who wrote under the pen name of Charles Moulton.

Marston’s psychological research led him to the conclusion that women were more honest than men in many situations and could “work faster and more accurately.”

In a 1943 issue of The American Scholar, he wrote:

“Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”

We may not fully agree with Marston’s logic, but we can appreciate the legacy of his strong, empowered woman, Wonder Woman — a great companion for Rosie the Riveter.

I haven’s seen Wonder Woman yet, but it is on my list for next weekend. Below is the official trailer if you want to know more.


If you are interested in our Rosie the Riveter Legacy Gear, we have a special offer for you. Just click here, to read about our all new monthly specials and how you can get a free Rosie the Riveter Legacy Bandana because you visited our Rosie’s Daughters Store. Details are here.


Happy National Rosie the Riveter Day! March 21, 2017

by Matilda Butler on March 21, 2017

Post #80. Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Finally, [a] Rosie the Riveter Day

Many years ago, Phyllis Gould of California and Mae Krier of Pennsylvania began lobbying for a National Rosie the Riveter Day. And finally, just a few days ago on March 15, the United States Senate passed a resolution authorizing that March 21, 2017 would be National Rosie the Riveter Day.

Thanks Phyllis and Mae and the many women (and men) who worked toward this achievement and who will continue to work for a recurring Rosie the Riveter Day.

The House of Representatives has not passed a similar resolution, so this is not a permanent Rosie the Riveter Day. If given an opportunity (or look for one), be sure to urge your Congressional Representative to vote for such a resolution.

Rosie the Riveters and all the women who contributed to the war effort during WWII helped America win the war.

Rosie the Riveters at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, CA

Rosie the Riveters at the Rosie the Riveter Trust in Richmond, CA

[Richmond Rosies Kay Morrison, Marian Wynn, Priscilla Elder, Agnes Moore, Mary Torres and Marian Sousa at the Rosie Rally in Richmond in August 2016]

To Honor Rosies and All They Represent

Kendra and I have developed a historically accurate employment badge and brought them out as a numbered, limited edition. We still have a few left. If you are interested in checking them out, Click on This Link.

We’ve been hearing from some of the women who have received their employment badge collar pins. And we’re thrilled with their delight. Here’s some of what we’ve heard:

“Wow, I love it!”
“It’s too cute for words.”
“It’s just like Rosies.”
“Your research to recreate this pin is amazing.”

Then there’s this one:

“I’ve been a Rosie Gear fan for years. I have the original bandana as well as the beautiful, soft, fabric-dyed version. Now I’ve replaced my Rosie button with the incredible embossed and enameled pin. It’s like jewelry. I’ll be wearing it a lot—especially to work. Thanks.”

This new Rosie Employment Badge is molded, embossed metal, has hand-painted red enameled background color and a sepia-tone photo etched screen print of Rosie in the middle. All based on careful research of the ones worn by Rosies at the Westinghouse Electric Service factory where the original “We Can Do It!” poster hung.

Get your piece of Rosie Americana.


75 Years of Rosie the Riveter: Stories, Stories, and More Stories

by Matilda Butler on March 7, 2017

Post #79. Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

The Story of the Poster That Continues to Inspire Us

“December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy…”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened his speech to the joint session of Congress with those words, asking for a declaration of war. The Pearl Harbor attack was 75 years ago last December. FDR gave his speech one day later on December 8, 1941. Within months of the tragedy–the worst naval disaster in our history–women began to move into the workforce to replace men leaving for war. Although factories and companies cautiously hired women at first, soon women were actively recruited to help America win the war.

On multiple occasions, I’ve been to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor–built over the remains of the sunken battleship of that name. If you have ever been there–watching droplets of oil still rising to the ocean surface from the fuel tanks that were full on December 7–you also will have felt the emotional tug that is as real today as it must have been 75+ years ago.

As you know, Kendra Bonnett and I are big fans of Rosie the Riveter. We honor her and her efforts throughout our entire Rosie Legacy Gear product line. Today, we want to share with you some of the information we’ve gathered about her.

Back at the Beginning
We’ll start at what might be considered the beginning of the story about Rosie the Riveter and ask the question:

The chicken or the egg…which came first?

The Origins of the Poster That We Now Love

There are a lot of stories floating around about Rosie the Riveter so let’s see where the facts lead us. There are three main characters in our drama
— J. Howard Miller,
— Redd Evans/John Jacob Loeb,
— and Norman Rockwell.

Which one is responsible for a poster that is often called Rosie the Riveter and who thought up her name and occupation?

It seems to go this way: An artist from Pittsburgh by the name of J. Howard Miller was hired under the guidance of an advertising agency to create a series of posters for the war effort. The company paying his salary was Westinghouse Electric Company and they had multiple factories engaged in production during World War II. Miller’s role was to motivate the workers and to keep morale high. He created posters and a new one was put up every two weeks. The date he created the Rosie poster is unknown but thought to be in late 1942.

We do know that one of his posters (he created a total of 42 during the war) showed a woman in a red-and-white polka dot bandana, blue factory clothing, employment badge on her collar, with the words We Can Do It! captioned above her. About 1800 copies were printed and posted in the Westinghouse factories beginning on February 15 and taken down on February 28. That was the humble beginnings of the now famous poster.

And what were the women making in these factories? Westinghouse had invented a resin that they used to make helmet liners. Women working there helped manufacture more than 13 million helmet liners. When and if anyone mentioned the poster, it was simply called the “We Can Do It!” one.

So now we have a poster headed for the dustbin of time and no mention of Rosie.

The We Can Do It! Poster Gets Some Unlikely Help

Rosie Who?
The original J. Howard Miller’s poster had nothing to do with a Rosie. It took a song to give us a name and an occupation.

And where did the music come from? Redd Evans was a lyricist popular in the 40s and 50s. Over the years, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day and numerous others recorded his songs. But back in 1942, he teamed up with John Jacob Loeb, a composer. If you recall the musical score from “Annie Hall,” then you’ve heard Loeb’s work.

Evans and Loeb worked together during World War II and wrote a song they called “Rosie the Riveter.” Although written in 1942, it wasn’t published until 1943, just about the time that J. Howard Miller was posting his We Can Do It! poster in the Westinghouse Electric Company factories in Pennsylvania and the Midwest. However, there was no link between these two events–at least not then.

Here’s the beginning of the Evans/Loeb song:

“While other girls attend their favorite
cocktail bar
Sipping Martinis, munching caviar
There’s a girl who’s really putting
them to shame
Rosie is her name.

All the day long whether rain or shine
She’s a part of the assembly line
She’s making history,
working for victory
Rosie the Riveter
Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage
Sitting up there on the fuselage
That little frail can do more than a
male will do
Rosie the Riveter”

The song became a national hit, fitting the mood of the nation as it went into the second year of the war when women were needed in factories, offices, and government agencies more than ever.

So at this point, we have a poster that still might end up in the dustbin of time and a pop song that would probably fade away as do most such tunes.

Who will bring this all together and yet not produce the most popular image? Not surprisingly, it’s a question of money versus fame.

Putting the Story All Together
At this point we have lyrics and a tune written in 1942 and a poster drawn in 1942. By early March 1943, the We Can Do It! poster was off the walls of Westinghouse Electric Service factories — discarded into what would likely become history’s garbage heap — and the Rosie the Riveter song was beginning to wane in popularity

You may not be familiar with the name Miller, Evans or Loeb. But the next story involved an artist whose name you will recognize.

Finally, a Pose, a Rosie, and…

Norman Rockwell is a name you know as the illustrator who worked for The Saturday Evening Post. During WWII, he created many magazine covers including the famous Four Freedoms based on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s address to Congress in 1942 when the President presented his postwar vision of a world with Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion (that Rockwell renamed Freedom of Worship), Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. Kendra and I traveled to Rockwell’s museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts a few years ago and saw the original oil paintings of the Four Freedoms. Inspiring.

Norman Rockwell\'s Rosie the Riveter

Norman Rockwell\’s Rosie the Riveter

Rockwell’s well-known Saturday Evening Post cover appeared on May 29, 1943. This was after the Evans/Loeb song was popular and it’s widely believed that Rockwell put the words “Rosie” on the lunch pail of his riveter to go along with the song words.

The Question
So if the Rockwell Rosie was seen on perhaps three million magazine covers, why didn’t it become more popular and famous than a poster that only a few thousand people saw? I’m not saying that his Rosie isn’t known. But we all love having the We Can Do It! poster.

The Answer
The answer? This is where copyright and money come into the story. Curtis Publishing owned Saturday Evening Post and wanted to promote the upcoming May 29, 1943 issue of the magazine. They distributed a poster that included the caption “Rosie the Riveter” to news dealers. Then they got nervous. Probably their lawyers told them that Evans/Loeb or the publisher of their song, Paramount Music Corporation, might file a lawsuit for copyright violation. Rockwell’s Rosie would have been widely distributed, but the Post was apparently concerned with violating the copyright held by the song writers.

So Curtis Publishing required a signed affidavit from each news dealer stating that all copies of the poster had been destroyed before they were ever distributed. If this decision had not been made, today we would probably want or own a copy of Norman Rockwell’s Rosie rather than J. Howard Miller’s. Along the way, probably in the 1970’s with the rise of feminism, it was J. Howard Miller’s work that became known as the Rosie the Riveter poster.

We’re Celebrating 75 years of Rosie…
Kendra and I are celebrating 75 years of Rosie the Riveter since the song was written in 1942 (although it wasn’t published until 1943) and the We Can Do It! poster was drawn and possibly even printed in 1942 (although it wasn’t hung on factory walls until February 15, 1943).

And we’ve even tucked the designation of 1942 into one of our Rosie Gear products.


Each employment badge worn in factories during WWII had an employee number. When we developed our Rosie the Riveter badge, historically accurate based on one of the few remaining Westinghouse Electric Service badges from that time, we needed an employee number. 1942 was the obvious choice.

We have just released our all new Rosie Employment badge–a Historic Limited Edition Employment Badge Collar Pin. Not a button…but a real metal pin with raised lettering and hand-applied red enamel. This is a keepsake for you, your mother, your daughter, or grandmother, or a friend. It is the perfect way to celebrate this Women’s History Month — acknowledging the strength, courage, and empowerment of women.

This limited-run of 300 individually numbered and documented pins sell for $25 each.

[UPDATE]We are no longer offering our limited-run, numbered Rosie the Riveter Employment Badges/Collar Pins.

But the GOOD NEWS is that we now have the same, high-quality metal pin but in an unnumbered series. This allows us to offer our exclusive Rosie the Riveter pin at a lower price — $20 each.

Here’s what you get:

–Molded and embossed 3-dimensional metal pin.
–1.25″ diameter size (same size as the original Westinghouse Electric Service pins).
–Authentic red hand-painted enamel cloisonné background.
–Image of Rosie in the middle that’s a photo-etched screen print, covered with a thin acrylic coating to recreate the acetate that would have covered the actual photo back in 1942.
–Pin post attachment with a butterfly clutch fastener.
–Full-color, commemorative card.

This Rosie the Riveter Historic Edition Pin is a true Americana collector’s item you’ll want to wear, share with a friend, and pass on to your daughter or granddaughter.

Click here to get your Rosie the Riveter Employment Badge.


Rosie the Riveter and Valentine’s Day: A Trainer of Riveters Looks Back

by Matilda Butler on February 14, 2017

Post #78. Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

[NOTE: Many of you may remember the World War II stories Bill Thomas has shared with us. We especially enjoyed those from the time he was training the women who would collectively be known as Rosie the Riveters. Recently, Bill sent me the following reminiscences that we thought you’d enjoy.

Thanks Bill. And keep on writing your life stories.
–Matilda Butler

PS Scroll down to the bottom for news about an exciting new Rosie the Riveter product — coming soon from us.]

Valentine’s Day Reminiscences

Bill Thomas

The Fascinating Origin of Valentine’s Day

Legend has it that in the third century Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage. Valentine, a Catholic priest, disobeyed these orders and performed marriages in secret.

The Emperor had Valentine put to death on February 14.

Not sure if you believe that story? Well here’s another one. Possibly Valentine wasn’t a priest at all, but a prisoner who fell in love with the daughter of his jailer and sent her letters signed, “From your Valentine.”

Either way, Valentine’s Day holds many memories for us.

Valentine’s Day and England

We have the English to thank for many of our Valentine customs. For centuries, the English have exchanged small token gifts and cards or verses professing love on Valentine’s Day.

The red heart, the ancient symbol of love, is most often pictured on cards and other Valentine-inspired gifts.

Valentine’s Day and America

Beautiful Valentine cards became popular in 1850’s in America when Esther Howland, a Massachusetts woman, created her own with lace and expensive papers and sold them.

My “Valentine Tribute” to Women

Although I’ve written about my experiences training Rosie the Riveters before I joined the military during World War II, most of my previous “VETERANS VOICES” articles have been written about male veterans, and this being “Valentine Time” I decided to write about the WOMEN who keep life alive, from one generation to the next.

It is WOMEN who give birth to each of us. They are the MOTHERS who nurture us through our growth years, and their SPOUSES in their maturity. WOMEN have always been caregivers.

I remember the 1920’s when I was born, and the loving care from my parents, especially my MOTHER, working at two jobs, helped us survive through the “Great Depression.” One job she had was in a “chili factory” where she worked on the night shift. She was paid in cash, and many large cans of chili and beans. Our family thrived on beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There is no way that I can possibly list ALL the numerous ways WOMEN have participated in our country. WOMEN have always worked strenuously on farms and dairies in rural areas.

And millions of WOMEN came into the cities in the 1940’s to fill the men’s jobs when the men went into the military services. They also cared for their families at home, and they labored on day and night shifts in their work places.

I remember some of the thirty WOMEN I personally trained who became known as “ROSIE, the RIVETERS” while we worked at a war defense plant before I joined the Army.

Millions of WOMEN worked in many professional and business offices, retail stores, factories, etc., and they volunteered numerous hours to collect tin cans; and they gathered various types of items that would help win the war effort. WOMEN sold War Bonds to help pay for the war.

AND many WOMEN also served in the various branches of military service. Some female pilots flew airplanes from aircraft factories to land them on airfields close to combat areas.

A great number of WOMEN prepared medical supplies such as bandages; many others constructed airmen’s parachutes.

Thousands of WOMEN served as nurses and helped our wounded in “field hospitals” and actual operating rooms near combat zones. Unfortunately, many WOMEN were wounded or died while overseas.

WOMEN took the time to write and send many letters to their relatives and friends in the military services. Millions of those letters became known as “V-mail.” They were reduced in size to save storage space on cargo and troop ships.

Dozens of letters and packages were delivered to the troops at daily “Mail-Call” sessions. Untold numbers of letters and packages were never delivered if they had been on the ships that were sunk by enemy submarines. Numerous correspondence items arrived many days or weeks after they had been sent. Nevertheless, all items, including candies, cookies, etc., were greatly appreciated by the men who received them, and shared some with their buddies.

Unfortunately, some men received “Dear John” letters, informing them of romance break-ups and/or divorces. Many guys received appropriate birthday, anniversary, and/or holiday greeting cards and letters, including sincere VALENTINES; and some were humorous “spoofy” types that were more typical at the time.

Many WOMEN musically-entertained the troops, both stateside, and overseas. I especially remember one day in North Africa, after the rain had stopped, and while we sat on our helmets on a muddy hillside, and LENA HORNE sang “STORMY WEATHER” to our troops. (The lyrics in that song, such as “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky, since my man and I ain’t together…” were most inappropriate for many of our comrades.

Back in civilian life again, I must thank my wife of sixty-five years. Soula has borne our three healthy, brilliant kids. She has lovingly nurtured each of us through some rough times and through many very happy years. We’re all blessed to have her love and caring.

I also extend my heart-felt THANKS to all the hundred or so WOMEN who have participated in my health recovery including the WOMEN doctors and nurses at Kaiser hospital, AND the WOMEN physical therapists at the various physical rehab centers I have been in, especially the female Registered Nurse caregiver attending to my current needs.

I still have a few letters and Valentines in a box in our garage that I haven’t looked at for over fifty years) that I received from previous girlfriends over seventy years ago. I wonder what they look like today; both, the letters and the “girls.” They all became WOMEN, and if yet alive, they’d be in their 90’s as am I.

Luckily for multi-millions of us, so many women became teachers in all grades and levels of schooling. (I don’t remember the teacher who taught me my first A,B,C’S. I do remember Miss Darling who taught English and grammar.) And I want to pay tribute to Miss Weldon who taught me how to play my violin, and allowed me to play in the school orchestra.

WOMEN, WOMEN, WOMEN!! What would the world be like without WOMEN?


News About Exciting Rosie the Riveter Product

March, as you all know, is Women’s History Month. Each year, Kendra and I celebrate this important month in a different way. After a great deal of research, we have created an exciting new Rosie the Riveter product that will be offered in a limited edition.

I’ve promised Kendra that I won’t announce it quite yet, but I couldn’t resist letting you know that we’ll have something really special for you soon.


“The Date Which Will Live in Infamy”

by Matilda Butler on December 7, 2016

Post #77. Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

December 7, 75 years ago.

I am currently in Hawaii and the proximity to Pearl Harbor brings the emotions of the attack into sharp reality.

–The first time I felt, truly felt the emotional connection was during a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial. As I stood and read the names of those killed, I saw the name of a father and his two sons. All died within a few minutes of each other. The sense of tragedy was always there, but that moment brought it close.

–Later, I taught a memoir writing class. As we went around the table telling of the most significant event in our lives, one woman began describing being in Honolulu on December 7, 1941. She couldn’t get through her story as tears soon flowed down her cheeks and her voice caught. Someone next to her reached into her purse for a tissue and handed it to her. Time had not diminished her emotions.

–And just two nights ago, I watched a moving special on PBS Hawaii about what Franklin D. Roosevelt called “the date which will live in infamy.” Remember Pearl Harbor included recent interviews with some of those who lived through that experience.

Kendra and I have talked about all of this today. The attack on Pearl Harbor, the declaration of war, and the entire World War II changed not only those who lived through that time but also the generations who came later. Kendra and I want to thank all the men and women who helped bring that war to a successful conclusion. And although we have focused our research and writing on the daughters of the Rosie the Riveter, we want to reach out and thank everyone from the war generation for their strength and courage.


Mama was a W.A.V.E. by Muriel Mahall

by Matilda Butler on September 7, 2016

Post #76 – Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

[NOTE: This is the last in our series of stories that focus on Rosie the Riveter. We want to extend our appreciation to the readers who have shared with us stories of mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and other family and friends. We’ve chosen the best of these and are publishing them to honor all Rosie the Riveters, women who worked during World War II. Today, Muriel Mahall tells us her mother’s story, including how proud her entire family has been of her throughout her lifetime. We think you’ll find the story as charming as we did. It will take your mind back to an earlier period. Thanks Muriel.

Have a Rosie the Riveter story to share? If so, please send an email to Matilda Butler (Matilda [at] RosiesDaughters [dot] com.) There may be more opportunities to have your story published.

Mama Was a W.A.V.E.

by Muriel Mahall

At my mother’s 90th birthday party in 2012, her cousin Ida read a letter from Calvin, a cousin unable to attend. He’d written,

“Georgia Mae was six years older than me, but always seemed to enjoy my company. When the war came, I was a young teen, and we moved to Oakland. One Saturday my family went to Richmond to visit her family. Georgia Mae was dressed in a Navy WAVES uniform. She had joined up. My mouth dropped open. Later we went for a walk and found an ice cream parlor down the street. She bought me a chocolate sundae. I was on top of the world. There I was eating ice cream and sitting next to a beautiful WAVE. Could it get any better than that?”

From a table across the room, another family member stood up.

“During the war, you couldn’t walk into any of our living rooms without seeing a photo of Georgia Mae in uniform. We were so proud of her.”

I was, too.

In her early nineties my mama, Georgia Chumley Todd, has thick, wavy white hair and is always smartly dressed. When I knocked, she opened the door to her apartment and smiled. Wearing gray slacks and a mauve and gray top with matching earrings, she said,

“Come on in. Let’s sit and visit. Let me get you a cup of tea.”

With nearly perfect military posture, she prepared tea, then walked to her favorite chair to reminisce. I wanted to know more about her World War II experiences.

“Did you go into the service because your brothers were Marines?”

“Not exactly. Shortly after the war broke out, Gene was drafted right out of high school. John and Bill were older and already married. They joined after I did.

“In 1942 I quit college and moved with my parents to Richmond. My dad went to work in the shipyards. Then I got a job with the Maritime Commission. I wanted to be a part of the war effort, but the clerical job was boring. Writing down the slow progress of ship-building didn’t feel patriotic enough. So I decided to join the WAVES, the brand new division of the Navy. That stood for Women Accepted for Volunteer Service.

“I had a rough time getting in,” she said, stirring her tea to cool it.

“My weight was a little over their chart limit, but later the weight guidelines were adjusted according to body types, so I applied again. This time, I had a physical exam that showed a heart murmur. I had to drive to San Francisco to get an EKG. Turned out the heart murmur was not a problem, and I could finally be a WAVE. But then I had to go to Oakland to petition the Maritime Commission to release me from the job in the shipyards. A lot of people would’ve given up, I think.”

Mama told me that just before boot camp, her fiancé, who would become my dad, shipped out for overseas duty. He was a Navy Seabee sent to help set up a hospital at an undisclosed location. To bypass the censors, they created the “middle name game.” She was to save his letters, each addressed to her with a different middle initial – “Georgia N. Chumley,” “Georgia E. Chumley” and so on, until his secret destination, New Guinea, was revealed.

The fifth of seven children, my mama was born and raised in rural central California. At 21, she’d never been out of the state.

So it was a big adventure when in September, 1943, boot camp took her to New York City’s Hunter College. A month later, she was marching down Fifth Avenue in the Navy Day Parade. Hers was the first group of WAVES to take part in this event.

“Many tailors worked day and night to finish hundreds of uniforms. We came from the Bronx on the above-ground train, some of us in uniform for the first time. Probably a thousand of us lined up inside the Armory building.

“Such a proud day,” she said. “As we marched out into the sunlight, I smiled and my heart pounded with excitement. I can still hear the crowd cheering as the Navy band played ‘Anchors Aweigh.’

“That was our only liberty in New York City. We had time for a little sight-seeing. Two friends and I took a cab, visited the Little Church Around the Corner, and ended up in a horse-drawn carriage riding through Central Park.

“That same night Frank Sinatra came to perform for the troops.”

“Did you get goose bumps?” I asked. “Was your heart all aflutter?”

Mama laughed.

“Not really. We were excited to see him, especially when he sang ‘People Will Say We’re in Love.’ We applauded until our hands hurt. Frank Sinatra, in person. But before the concert, we had our orders: ‘No swooning.’ I wasn’t exactly the swooning type anyway,” she added.

“Then what?” I said, sipping my tea.

“From New York, I went to Bloomington for ten weeks of storekeepers’ school at Indiana University. Then, because I wanted to be near my folks, I requested duty in the 12th Naval District, San Francisco.”

Sent to Mare Island Navy Yard near Vallejo, Mama was assigned to the commissary. On her first day, the lieutenant commander asked a question that would mold her military career. “Do any of you ladies have a valid California drivers’ license?” Mama and two others, a blonde and a redhead, raised their hands.

“I don’t know why, but he picked me. From then on I was his driver, taking him to the bank in town and to do business on the base. But mostly I drove a small panel truck, running errands for the commissary and delivering groceries to mess halls and officers’ clubs. There was one special delivery of caviar and other luxury food for an officers’ mess on a cruiser docked in San Francisco Bay. I couldn’t help resenting that one. They were dining in style while thousands of G.I.s overseas were eating C-rations.”

Three of those G.I.s were her brothers: John, on Midway Island; Bill, attached to the 1st Marine Division, part of the invasion troops on Okinawa; and Gene, with the 2nd Marine Division which replaced Marines lost on Tarawa. Gene was also part of the invasion of Saipan.

“I liked working at Mare Island and felt I made a contribution to the troops and our country. Each WAVE was doing a job normally done by men, freeing up another sailor for the fight.”

I think, too, staying busy helped keep Mama from worrying about her brothers, fiancé and friends over there in combat zones.

“What do you remember about V-E Day?” I asked.

“Not really that much, but it gave us hope the war might end soon. Everyone was jubilant, but it wasn’t over yet in the Pacific.

“I remember V-J Day much better,” she went on. “It was a long three months after Germany surrendered. I was on duty in the commissary when everyone started cheering. Someone near me shouted, ‘Truman just announced it. The Japs have surrendered.’

“I was so happy I started to cry. A lot of us talked about going into San Francisco to really let loose, but I looked forward to celebrating with my parents. And they expected me home that night. I’d borrowed their car.

“Because of the wild celebrating, especially in The City, all liberties were cancelled. But those living off base could go home. Since my parents lived nearby, I was sure it would be okay for me to go, too.

“After standing in a long line a to get my pass at the base commander’s office,” she said, “I was disappointed to hear Commander England’s response.

“‘Chumley, I’m sorry, but we’re only allowing married personnel to go home. It’s too wild out there. Don’t want anyone getting into trouble.’

“I left his office at a loss. I had to return the car. Then an idea came to me, and I was sure I wouldn’t get caught. My dad’s car was parked at the commissary, off-base. I’d go there and call the barracks to sign out for the night. I figured I’d leave from that parking lot and be home in no time.”

On her way to the car Mama ran into Ted, a young sailor who needed a ride to his sister’s in Berkeley. They stopped at her parents’ house so she could change into civvies. Ted was in his dungarees and without his cap it wouldn’t be obvious he was military, but still he slouched down in the back seat.

There was no problem getting to Richmond, but as they left for Berkeley, Mama remembered her mother saying, “You be careful now. There’s a lot of wildness out there.”

Mama put down her cup of tea and said,

“It was a crazy highway scene: horns honked, flags waved and people shouted out their car windows. But it was too early for drunk drivers. I dropped off the sailor, then returned to Richmond. Happy voices blared from the radio. Uncle Ed and Aunt Hassie dropped by to celebrate.”

Then Mama remembered,

“My mom couldn’t stop smiling even as she dabbed her eyes with her apron. She stared at the framed photos of my handsome brothers in uniform, coming home soon, unharmed.”

The next morning Mama caught an early bus back to the base. She signed in at her barracks, telling the young woman at the desk about spending the night with her parents. The girl responded,

“Oh, Chumley, Commander England called last night. He didn’t leave a message, just said to tell you he called.”

“‘Oh, no. You’ve got to be kidding.’ That bugger, I thought. Now he knows I left without permission. What will he do when he sees me?”

Knowing my mama, I felt she was probably thinking how she’d ruined her perfect record as a WAVE, and was in big trouble. I asked,

“Were you scared?”

“I sure was. I’d been AWOL. What would Mom and Dad think? I wondered if I’d end up in the brig. Luckily when I saw the commander, he didn’t say a word. But he knew.”

“And you didn’t end up in the brig,” I said.

“No, I didn’t.” She laughed.

Four months later, my parents married. Mama was honorably discharged, leaving the WAVES with good memories and a sense of pride that she had served her country.

About the Author:

Muriel writes, “Like Mama, I grew up in the Central Valley of California: Reedley, Dinuba and Kingsburg. After graduating from U.C., Davis, I became a teacher as my mother had. I’ve lived in Sonoma County for over forty years. My husband, Jack, and I raised a son and daughter. Our children are now married and I look forward to soon becoming a grandma, like Mama.


Rosie the Riveter Bandana Rosie's Daughters: The 'First Woman To' Generation Tells its Story -