Rosie Stories: Life in the Dormitory, Part 1 by Barbarann Ayars

by Matilda Butler on April 28, 2014

Post #61 - Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Stories of the Lives of Rosies

Kendra and I put out a call for stories of Rosies. We got some wonderful ones and will eventually put them into an ebook. But rather than wait until we can get that done (always more time consuming than we anticipate), we are sharing them on this website.

Today’s story is a bit unusual and so we decided to put half of it on our WomensMemoirs website and the other half here. Why? The author, Barbarann Ayars, has written this story from her perspective as a child. That makes it the memoir of a Rosie’s Daughter. At the same time, we learn a great deal about what life was like for her mother and many of the Rosies so it is a Rosie story.

If you started on this website, read the first half of the story here and then follow the link at the end for the remainder of the vignette. This is a fascinating story that rings true for many people whose parents found it difficult to provide for their family during The Depression and then had to figure out how to cope during the war, even though there was more money.

Thank you Barbarann for sharing this story.


Life In the Dormitory: Getting There (Part 1)

by Barbarann Ayars

I stand in the foyer holding tightly to my little suitcase packed with a change of clothes, my nightgown, toothbrush, and slippers. I wait for Mama. This is my fourth birthday; she’s taking me to Elkton, Maryland where she lives and works. We’re taking the train! I can hardly stand still. I put down my suitcase, run to the window, climb onto the window seat and watch for her.

“Let’s go, Barbarann,” Mama calls as she enters the orphanage. I jump down from the window seat, so happy to see her. She reaches for my suitcase with one hand and stretches her other hand out to me.

I take her hand as we go outside to the taxi waiting to take us to the station. Mama smiles at my enthusiasm; I’ve never been on a train. We arrive in time to hear the train thundering into the station blowing steam and bell clanging. It makes the hair stand out on my neck. I climb right up her body as I shake with excitement and terror.

“Oh, get down! It’s okay; the train won’t eat you!” She pulls me off.

The engine is huge, a shiny black monster breathing hard as it paws the ground, waiting for me. Once it stops and the doors open, I scramble up the steps into its Pullman car and follow Mama down the aisle. She stops next to an empty row, lifts me up onto the seat next to the window, and puts my suitcase onto the shelf above my head. She places a small hamper beside it and sits down next to me.

“What’s in the hamper, Mama?” I didn’t even notice it before.

“We’ll be on the train until after dinner time,” she tells me. “Our lunch is in there.” She reaches to smooth my hair and retie the ribbon as she tells me there’s plenty to eat for later. I’m not hungry anyway. I’m too excited.

I stare out the window as the train moves forward with a lurch. I skooch closer, thrilled to have Mama all to myself. My siblings are still at the Home for the Friendless Children orphanage. This is my special time. The train picks up speed and the whistle blows loudly as our journey begins. I smooth my pinafore, pull up my frilly socks, and wipe the dust off my Mary Janes. It’s a hot August day, but I don’t care. I feel all grown up, with the pink bow in my yellow hair. Mama opens the window to let in a breeze.

“Don’t I look pretty, Mama?”

“You look very nice, Barbarann. All the girls will fall in love with you.”

She’s talking about the women she supervises. They had, she said, asked to see her little girl, so that’s why we’re on this trip. I don’t care why; I’m with my mother.

“They’ve seen a few pictures of you. They can’t believe your coloring is so different from mine.” She says this with a note of what seems like surprise.

Mama is very dark, with chocolate brown eyes and jet black, curly hair. She’s not petite, but solid and big boned. There’s none of her in me.

“I’m so happy to go away with you, Mama. Will there be lots of girls to take care of me while you work? Where will I sleep? Will there be someplace to play?”

I have so many questions but she says the usual “you’ll see when we get there” that is somehow soothing and normal. I settle into the rhythmic sway of the train and soon fall asleep, its whistle piercing my dreams.

The conductor comes by to punch our tickets as Mama wakes me for lunch. A peanut butter sandwich and a cookie accompanied by two tangerines and a banana make my meal. Mama thinks I’m too thin and always brings fruit when she visits, which isn’t very often. There’s nothing to drink, but it doesn’t matter. Having lunch alone with her is my treat.

It’s dark by the time we arrive at the dormitory and I’m half-asleep. She carries me inside and puts me down on her bed. There are many young women waiting for me; they fuss over me and cover me with kisses, calling me sweet, a little beauty, a tiny princess and other words that make me feel special. I smile a sleepy smile and my mother tucks me into her bed where I drop back to sleep until morning.

Click Here to Read — Life in the Dormitory: An Exciting Time (Part 2)


Barbarann Ayars writes: “I live in a small town in Ohio where I work with writers as I shape my memoir. Writing at Writing It Real and Writers Digest has given me such wonderful exposure to the gifts of others. I can be found at Persimmon Tree and archived at Tiny Lights, Flash in the Pan and soon in another online magazine in June. Writing consumes unreasonable amounts of time and I’m not even sorry!”


Rosie Goes to Washington (and Meets the President)

by Matilda Butler on April 3, 2014

Post #60 - Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

If you are a fan of Rosie the Riveter (and you are since you are visiting this website), then you know about the Rosie the Riveter / WWII Home Front National Historical Park and the Rosie the Riveter Trust in Richmond, California. This week, they brought to fruition a long anticipated trip of Rosies to Washington, DC to meet Vice President Biden. While there, they had a surprise visitor (see the video below). We think you’ll love this modern day view of Rosies who helped us win World War II.

By the way, you just might want to have a handkerchief nearby. I know that I certainly teared up while watching the video.

ABC US News | ABC Business News

The Rosies who went to Washington are part of the Rosie the Riveter Trust. Here’s a little about it:

“In 1997, a group of Richmond citizens formed the Rosie the Riveter Memorial Committee to create a memorial that would honor the women who had worked on the home front during the war. The committee brought together a coalition of supporters to fund the creation of a permanent landscape sculpture and the City of Richmond sponsored an open design competition to select a design team. In October 2000, the Committee dedicated the sculpture in Marina Bay—a former Kaiser shipyard from World War II—with several hundred “Rosies” in attendance.

“Local leaders formed the Rosie the Riveter Trust, and worked with Congressman George Miller seeking Congressional authorization for a feasibility study to determine whether a national park could be established. Congressman Miller then carried legislation and President William Clinton signed the bill that established the Rosie the Riveter/Home Front National Historical Park on October 24, 2000.

“…Since the park’s formation, the Rosie the Riveter Trust and National Park service have worked to designate important historical sites, preserve and restore sites and artifacts, and create many more opportunities for visitor access and education about this catalytic and vitally important era in U.S. history.

“The Trust has been instrumental in helping to establish the Rosie the Riveter Memorial and park, in re-locating important artifacts like the huge Whirley Crane at Shipyard 3, and in completing a $9 million renovation of the historic Maritime Childcare Center, which won a LEED Gold for Schools award and now operates as a living part of the park. In May 2012, the Trust also supported the opening of of the new Visitor Center next to the Ford Assembly Plant, and a Visitor Gift Shop operated by the Trust. Other successes have included development of important youth programs like Rosie’s Girls, a free summer camp for at-risk girls, modeled on the courageous women who tackled hands-on jobs during WWII and in the process, broke barriers for women in the workforce.”

And of course, we are thrilled that most of the Rosies wore our Rosie the Riveter Legacy Bandana. Our Rosie Gear Product Line is now being sold by the Rosie the Riveter/Home Front National Historical Park in their store. If you are near Richmond or visit the Bay Area, be sure to stop by the museum and support their ongoing programs to honor the Rosie generation and future generations of Rosie Girls.

[If you are interested in any of our Rosie the Riveter Gear and won't be near Richmond, you will find description in our Rosie Store on this site. In addition, we now sell all of our items through our Store.]


Women’s History Month — Let’s Celebrate Rosie the Riveter

by Matilda Butler on March 1, 2014

Post #59 - Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett - The Legacy of Rosie the Riveter's Bandana

March is National Women’s History Month. We have so many accomplished women to celebrate, and one jewel is Rosie the Riveter–an icon for courage, grace and strength during WWII. It took a world war and the government’s desperate need for a workforce to first empower Rosie, but she didn’t disappoint. She changed the question of women’s roles from “What work can women do?” to “Is there any work women can’t do?” By war’s end, the answer was loud and clear: “No!”

In late 1945, Rosie went home, but her story was just beginning. To use the vernacular, “she was out there.” Women had shown their mettle, and the millions of individual Rosie stories serve as a legacy of empowerment. They forever changed women’s sense of opportunity, self-esteem and potential. Women knew they could do it. Most important was the message they shared with their daughters. They may have left the overalls behind, but figuratively they passed their red-and-white, polka-dot bandanas to their daughters.

Rosie’s Daughters accepted the opportunities and challenges of that legacy. They opened doors, broke barriers, and never looked back. Their accomplishments are so great and varied that in our book Rosie’s Daughters, we call them the “First Woman To” (FW2) Generation.

With all their accomplishments, it was natural for Rosie’s Daughters to believe that they had successfully passed on the legacy of the bandana given them by their mothers. At least that was the intent. Baby Boomer and Generation X women have certainly lived up to the legacy. Today, however, we see disturbing signs that empowerment and its twin pillars of self-esteem and self-worth are in jeopardy. Many young women are making bad choices largely because they aren’t making their own choices. Media and peer pressure are powerful sways.

It’s time to actively pass on The Legacy of Rosie’s Bandana again. We’re working to create the tools for capturing, collecting and sharing all women’s stories. If you’d like to know more about this or are interested in sharing your story, please give us your comments or contact us through this website.

Iconically it all starts with the bandana, but you can’t buy a red-and-white, polka-dot bandana today. Maybe that’s the problem! We had to design our own and have them made for us. The added bonus, however, has been that it’s given us the opportunity to have our messages of empowerment and sharing printed along the edges.

We encourage you to wear a Rosie bandana to celebrate your life story and to share a bandana with a friend, your daughter, your granddaughter, or a young woman you feel could benefit from the legacy.

There’s an anonymous quote at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial that sums up the imperative of sharing our legacy: “You must tell your children, putting modesty aside, that without us, without women, there would have been no Spring in 1945.”

Today, we all have stories to share that will empower the next generation of young women to help make this a better world. Share Rosie the Riveter’s Legacy.(TM)

We Can Do It…Pass It On.(TM)

UPDATE: Now the official Rosie the Riveter Legacy bandana is bigger (27 x 27″) and more beautiful than ever before. We’ve been getting orders from empowered women who want to show their strength during Women’s History Month. We think that’s a wonderful idea.


He Trained “Rosie” and Went to the Movies with Her

by Matilda Butler on February 10, 2014

Post #58 - Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

First Hand Memory of Working with a Rosie the Riveter

You may remember that we recently published a story by Bill Thomas. Bill helped train women in the art of riveting. His employer managed to keep him for a while, but soon Bill and two friends all joined the military together.

In Bill’s last story, he talked about his experiences in training women to become riveters. Today, he has returned with another story that we think you’ll enjoy because it helps to let us know more about what life was like at the home front during World War II. Movies at 9 in the morning? It makes perfect sense because there were round-the-clock shifts to produce what America needed for the war effort. Yet I’d never heard any stories that mentioned this.

Here’s what Bill Thomas remembers:

BILL THOMAS: While working the “midnight shift” from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., many of us “riveters” would go out for breakfast (or dinner) after our shift ended. Often, we’d go to a theater to see a movie. In those days, the theaters gave “free gifts” like dishes or teapots. This particular day, it was a free teapot with a cover.

Enola, one of the “Rosie riveters” was a beautiful young lady (about 22), and she agreed to accompany me to the movie house. The theater, at about 9:00 a.m., was nearly empty when Enola and I went to our seats so we sat pretty much in mid-theater, and Enola placed the teapot on the empty seat, to her right,

Gradually, more people came in and eventually a couple wanted to sit next to Enola, so I volunteered to move the teapot to the seat on my left.

Again, more people came in and someone wanted to sit on the seat where I had placed the teapot, so I placed the teapot on the floor beneath my seat. In those days (1940’s) carpeting was laid only in the aisles, so the floor under the seats was bare concrete, and smooth.

After the newsreel, “The Three Stooges” came on. As in all their films, they were outrageously hilarious. I kept laughing so much that I didn’t notice my foot “kicked” the teapot so it slid downward on the smooth concrete floor.

Suddenly, a guy, three rows in front of us, yelled out, “Who lost a teapot?” Enola was embarrassed so she slunk down in her seat, but brave lad that I am, I answered, “Hey, that’s mine.” The guy stood up and said, “Well, come and get it.”

He wouldn’t just pass it back over the seats, so I had to wiggle over a dozen movie-viewers to get to the aisle, walk a dozen steps and watch as a “crew” of people passed the teapot from one person to the next until the teapot reached me. A moment later, I noticed the teapot top was missing, so I tried to whisper to the guy who found the teapot, “Do you have the lid?”

Meanwhile, everyone is either laughing at the “Stooges” funny antics, or at my teapot interruption. Some people threw mean remarks at me. Finally, I had a complete teapot but then I needed to wiggle my way over a dozen patrons to get back to my seat.

Moments later, I told Enola, “You can sit up now,” I handed HER teapot back to her.

A month later, I enlisted in the Army, and never saw Enola again

Bill, that’s a terrific story. Thanks for sharing it with us.


Video About Rosie; New Rosie Gift Baskets for the Holidays

by Matilda Butler on December 3, 2013

Post #57 - Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Kendra and I follow all the news related to Rosie the Riveter. We even have our friends on the lookout for us. In today’s email, we received a link to the video below. It just may be the best that we’ve seen. It has high production values…shows the link between the Rosie the Riveter poster, the Norman Rockwell magazine cover, and the song “Rosie the Riveter.” We think you’ll enjoy it.

We have such great Rosie fans who regularly visit this website. Many of you have also purchased one of our Rosie the Riveter Legacy Bandanas or our Rosie the Riveter Employment Badge/Collar Pin or our DIY Rosie Portrait Kit or our award-winning collective memoir: Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story.

Kendra and I want to shout out a big “Thank You.” We love it when you send us your photo wearing Rosie Gear or when you show us your reading group with their copies of Rosie’s Daughters. It’s all just great.

After we settled down from our huge Halloween Season and read the many emails we’ve received, we realized:

1. Some of you want to keep the message of Rosie (strength, courage, empowerment) around you all year long, not just on Halloween. But you don’t want to wear the bandana everyday (although it’s cute enough to do that!)

2. Others of you want to pass on Rosie’s message to your friends and family but you’re not sure that the bandana is the right gift. You know what we mean. You love your mother but she just isn’t the bandana type.

3. And still others, have a dog and would love to see that much loved pet in a cute Rosie bandana.

So we created THREE special gift baskets that we hope you’ll consider giving this holiday season as they respond to the needs to told us about. And since your past support has meant so much to us, we’re offering you each of these at a very special discounted price.

Gift Basket #1: ROSIE AFTER WORK. Rosie wasn’t all work and no play. After a long day on the assembly line, she went home, took a bath, put on her red lipstick and enjoyed an evening out. She just might have traded her red and white polka dot bandana for this great red and white polka dot HairLoom we call “The Bette.” We imagine her wearing it to the movies, an evening at the Hollywood Canteen or even an afternoon tea dance.

Entertainment was part of Rosie’s life after work. The music of Glenn Miller was big throughout the war years, and movies were HUGE. We named this HairLoom “The Bette” because in 1942, Bette Davis was at the top of her career. And together with John Garfield and Jules Stein, she established the Hollywood Canteen to entertain service men and women. The Canteen opened on October 3, 1942, and remained open until Thanksgiving Day November 22, 1945.

Click Here to See More Photos of Gift Basket #1 and to Order.


  • “THE BETTE” HairLoom (with French barrette or with pony tail elastic, your choice) packaged in a clear cello bag and festooned with ribbons
  • ROSIE THE RIVETER EMPLOYMENT BADGE ZIPPER PULL in a precious red and white polka dot box and tied with a gold ribbon, makes this an elegant gift
  • FREE Priority Mail Shipping (within the US)

  • ROSIE AFTER WORK is a $34.95 value that we’re pricing at $29.95. And that’s a great deal. But our SPECIAL price is just $25. Click Here to See More Photos and to Order ROSIE AFTER WORK. We wear “The Bette” all the time. It is so cute. It has a Rosie the Riveter Employment Badge in the center — and that gets us lots of comments and compliments. We think you’ll love it too. And, of course, we have a zipper pull on our jackets, vests, and even a favorite backpack. Where will you put yours?

    Click Here to See More Photos and to Order ROSIE AFTER WORK.

    Gift Basket #2: ROSIE THE READER Rosie didn’t have television for her evenings at home. And obviously, she didn’t have computers, the Internet, Netflix, or any of the other fabulous forms of entertainment that we have. But she did have books; they were an important part of her life. And in the winter, she probably loved snuggling up under a soft blanket or throw. Maybe she sipped hot chocolate? Munched on a chocolate candy bar? Or perhaps she equally loved salty snacks and found roasted and salted almonds to be just the perfect treat.

    We’ve made it easy for you to give the ROSIE THE READER GIFT BASKET to a mother or daughter or best friend. It’s a perfect hostess gift when you’re invited to holiday parties. Take one to your friend’s home and surprise her with this holiday treat. Put one under the tree for your grandmother. No one will have it because we have just put it together. It gives you a great way to say, We Can Do It!…Pass It On!

    We were going to show you what it all looks like when we turned around and found that Kendra’s dearly loved and much played with Teddy had pulled our Rosie red and white polka dot throw around his shoulders, grabbed the Rosie’s Daughters memoir, and had already emptied Rosie’s red and white polka dot mug that we’d filled with hot chocolate and a miniature marshmallow. We never did find the chocolate bar or almonds. At least we captured a picture of Teddy before he fell asleep.

    Click Here for More Photos and to Order Gift Basket #2: Rosie the Reader

    WHAT YOU GET in Gift Basket #2: ROSIE THE READER

  • THE SOFTEST PLUSH RED-AND-WHITE POLKA DOT THROW. It’s a full 50 x 60″, which is big enough to let you really snuggle down. And it’s as soft as a baby’s favorite stuffed toy. The plush is really luxurious.
  • ROSIE’S LEGACY MUG with (you guessed it) red-and-white polka dots. And along the bottom, we added our motto: We Can Do It! Pass It On! This quality ceramic mug is perfect for coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
  • CHOCOLOVE PREMIUM DARK CHOCOLATE BAR WITH ALMONDS AND SEA SALT. At 55% pure cocoa, this is a real treat. And wait until you taste what almonds and sea salt do for chocolate. You usually can only find these bars at specialty natural food stores, but we went to the source and stocked up. Chocolove founder Timothy Moley has been making specialty chocolate in Boulder, Colorado, for the last 18 years.
  • BLUE DIAMOND ROASTED SALTED ALMONDS. Not just a bag of nuts. These are quality Blue Diamond almonds. And it pairs so nicely with the chocolate. This is one treat that you never need to feel guilty about either. Almonds are heart healthy and packed with energy.
  • ROSIE’S DAUGHTERS: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story. Once you are snuggled in by the fire, wrapped in your throw and sipping tea, you need a good book. Rosie’s Daughters is the award-winning collective memoir of the woman born during World War II to a generation of Rosie the Riveters. Rosies proved what women could do. Their daughters went on to set new records for women in sports, education, business, entertainment and government. Rosie’s Daughters have accomplished more firsts than any generation of women before or since.
  • All wrapped in a large cello bag and tied with beautiful ribbons. The gift is ready to give without any more work on your end.
  • And yes, even Free Priority Mail Shipping (within the US)

  • ROSIE THE READER is a $70.14 value that we’re pricing at $59.95. And that’s a great deal. A really great deal. But our SPECIAL price is just $49.95. Click Here for More Photos and to Order Gift Basket #2: Rosie the Reader

    I love the softness of the red and white polka dot throw and it looks great draped over the back of my reading chair when I’m up doing other things like filling my Rosie Legacy Mug with more green tea–a nice winter drink. This is a fabulous gift. Your friends and family will love receiving it. Of course, you might want to give hints to your favorite santa that you’d like to have one this holiday season.

    Click Here for More Photos and to Order Gift Basket #2: Rosie the Reader

    Gift Basket #3: ROSIE’S DOG GIFT BASKET. Did Rosie the Riveter have a dog? We’re not sure, but if she did, we think she might have named her Dot. She would have loved Dot just as much as you–or a friend or family member–love pets. Part of Rosie’s love was expressed by the way she fed her dog. And what is the best nutrition advice for pet owners? We think it is found in the pages of Dog Dish Diet: Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog’s Health This is a practical how-to book written by a veterinarian to keep your dog out of the vet’s office! Yes, many of the typical problems can be solved through proper nutrition. It’s all in this book. Since Rosie wore her bandana to work, we figure she tied an extra one around Dot’s neck.

    Click Here for More Photos and to Order Gift Basket #3: Rosie’s Dog Basket


  • DR. GREG’S DOG DISH DIET: Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog’s Health. It’s a great story packed with illustrations and easy-to-understand explanations of the science behind his discovery. And step-by-step changes you can make to start a puppy off on the right paw, reverse years of ailments, help an older pet stay fit and trim. It’s such a sensible approach that’s easy to put into practice.
  • ROSIE THE RIVETER LEGACY BANDANA…for you or your dog. As you can see from the picture above, dogs stand out in their own Rosie the Riveter bandana.
  • A FESTIVE GIFT: The Rosie’s Dog Polka Dots gift basket is packed in a cute kraft paw print bag and dressed up with ribbons and cello wrap. And we’ll mail it this way to anyone on your shopping list. We even include a cute gift card and can sign it for you, if you like.
  • FREE SHIPPING. Yes, Priority Shipping is included.
  • SATISFACTION that you’ll be helping a few of the pets who are spending the holidays in a local shelter. We’re giving 10% of all sales to a no-kill shelter in Maine right now (called the Ark). As this program grows we’ll expand to other no-kill shelters.


    Order now. ROSIE’S Dog Gift Basket is a $39.95 VALUE that regularly sells for $25. We’re selling this gift basket for a limited time for just $19.95. Plus, it is ready to give in a beautiful gift bag.

    Click Here for More Photos and to Order Gift Basket #3: Rosie’s Dog Basket

    And remember, you’ll be helping abandoned animals at the same time–10% of all sales of Gift Basket #3: Rosie’s Dog Basket will be donated to a no-kill animal shelter in Maine (the Ark). Gifts that help animals. We think Rosie would have liked that idea.

    What’s Your Gift Budget for a Friend or Family Member?

    If $50, consider our Rosie the Reader Gift Basket. (This is a $70.14 value and will be available at this $49.95 price for a limited time.) We only have a few of these special red and white polka dot throws and we think you’ll really love the softness. The book, the chocolate, the mug, and the almonds along with the throw all add up to a fantastic gift.

    If $25, consider our Rosie After Work Gift. The HairLoom “The Bette” and the Rosie Employment Badge as zipper pull are a fabulous pair and sure to please the recipient. (This is a $34.95 value and is only available for a limited time at this special $25 price.)

    If less than $20 ($19.95) — Consider our Rosie’s Dog Basket. Perfect for pet owners and you’ll be helping provide for abandoned animals with the 10% donation to Maine’s no-kill animal shelter. It’s a gift that gives and gives. (This is a $39.95 value and is only available for a limited time at this $19.95 price.) You might want to get several of these — we just got an order for 7 from one woman — some going to her home to give in person and others shipped by us to family members.

    If $15 — Consider our Rosie the Riveter Employment Badge as Collar Pin or as Zipper Pull. Each of these is just $15 and comes tucked into cotton in a special red and white polka dot box tied with a lovely little gold ribbon and bow. And shipping is free. We’ll deliver to your gift recipient via Priority Mail or we’ll ship to you and you’ll have the fun of delivering the gift(s) in person. True, neither of these are actual gift baskets. But if you have limited funds or if you have several people you want to give the gift of Rosie’s message of “strength, courage, and empowerment,” or if you need a “Secret Santa” gift, this is absolutely perfect for you. Just tell us how many you want and we’ll get them right out to you.


    He Helped Train Rosie the Riveter

    by Matilda Butler on November 12, 2013

    Post #56 - Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

    We have a story, and the person behind the story, that we’d like to share today. As we all know, women entered the workforce during World War II as men joined the military. Sometimes they were hired a few at a time and sometimes in large numbers and that varied by year and by industry. They came to factories from farms and from the city. But few, if any, already had the training needed for their new wartime jobs. So an interesting question to ask is: Who trained them?

    Fortunately, one of our readers emailed us his story and with his permission, we are publishing it.

    BILL THOMAS: It may interest you to know I was one of the trainers of Rosie the Riveter. I worked at a plant in Detroit during 1942. There was only the foreman, 40 women, and me. And only being 18-19, I took a lot of “teasing” from the older women at my expense.

    ROSIE’S DAUGHTERS: We’re really interested to know that you helped train Rosies. I bet you actually liked the teasing.

    BILL THOMAS: I neglected to mention we worked at Fisher Body, a division of General Motors. The Rosies placed the rivets into the “nacelles” (the big aluminum ring) that covers the engines of the B-25 bombers. Our Rosies were the women who helped build that part of the bombers.

    As to the teasing, that was fun; but OH some of the stories they told… wow! would make sailors blush…
    And I blushed a lot when the so-called “cougars” came after a shy, naive teenager that I was. I’d say, “I’ve grown up a lot since then.”

    ROSIE’S DAUGHTERS: Thanks for the additional note. I love knowing the details of what the Rosies were doing.

    BILL THOMAS: I looked at the film where “the modern Rosie” is riding in a P-47. What a relic now, but that plane, plus many others, were very important and crucial in winning World War II.

    Here’s a little more of the back story. After a few weeks as a riveter at Fisher Body, I became the rivet repairman for anything that didn’t pass “inspection.” It was my job to drill out the failed rivet(s) and replace them. That means I understood what it took to have a good rivet.

    That’s what led to my job as the “Rosie Trainer.” We had new women employees constantly coming to work to replace the men as they left to enter the military services.

    And why wasn’t I in the military? The company kept getting military deferments for me without my knowledge because they wanted to keep me training new Rosies. But when my two closest buddies draft numbers came up, I decided to enlist so the three of us could serve together.

    The “brass” had other ideas. My friend Perry was sent to the Air Transport Command. He has died. My second friend, Bud, became an infantryman. He died in the “Battle of the Bulge.” I became a “forward observer” in an artillery battalion in N. Africa and western Europe.

    We racked up 565 days of combat time.

    ROSIE’S DAUGHTERS: At the end of our email exchange Bill wrote: “Sorry for the war story It just came out.” We hope that Bill will continue to tell his story just as we urge Rosie’s to tell theirs. We all need to hear them and appreciate them and pass them on to the younger generations. Thanks Bill.

    ROSIE’S DAUGHTERS: Happy Birthday, Bill. Congratulations on turning 90 today — November 12, 2013


    Rosie the Riveter Still Going Strong at 93

    by kendra on September 18, 2013

    Post #53 - Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

    This is quite a story. It appears in the Local section of the September 18, 2013, LA Times and is entitled: “At 93, This Rosie is Still Riveting.”

    Yes, Rosie the Riveter is as popular as ever. She’s reached the pinnacle of becoming an icon for women. The “We Can Do It!” poster resonates with generations of women–young, old and in between. She’s our role model for the strong, independent, empowered woman. And deservedly so. As Matilda Butler and I explain in our book Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story, the generation of WWII women factory workers and their counterparts working in offices, driving delivery trucks and the navigating the skies in cargo planes showed both men and future generations of women exactly what women could do. Everything!

    Well, now this story takes an interesting twist because at 93 Elinor Otto is still riveting at the same McDonald Douglass plant in San Diego where she started working in 1942. She loves life and adores working, and she wields a rivet gun on the assembly line building C-17 Globemaster transport planes. All I can say is may we all be as active when we get into our 80s and 90s. It’s quite a story.

    And I think it’s pretty cool that the story is told at this time of year. So many women enjoy dressing as Rosie the Riveter for Halloween. As we see from our bandana and Rosie gear accessory sales, many women are already thinking about their costumes. And this year, maybe we should all dress as Elinor the Riveter. She is a role model worth honoring.


    Video: Rosie the Riveter Model Gets Ready for a Photo Shoot

    by kendra on September 11, 2013

    Post #52 - Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

    This is a quick post because we want to share this cute video of the behind-the-scenes set up for a Rosie the Riveter photo shoot. It’s great fun. And yes, the model (Petunia Goldsmith) IS wearing one of our Rosie the Riveter Legacy Bandanas. She’s so perfect for this. Petunia completely captures the style of the 1940s. So enjoy.


    Who Will You Be This Halloween? Let Rosie the Riveter Help You Decide.

    by kendra on September 6, 2013

    Post #51 - Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

    There’s a nip in the air. Can you feel it? It’s slight. Ever so slight. But it’s there. We’re still weeks away from frost on the pumpkin, but the dew is heavier. And the nights are cooler. I don’t know about you, but I have a craving for a crisp McIntosh. And I’m looking forward to the smells of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg filling the house as my first pumpkin pie of the season bakes.

    All this can only mean one thing. Halloween is less than 60 days away. It’s time to start thinking costume. Are you in panic mode yet? Well this little video may help you:

    Whether your inspiration comes from the pumpkin patch or this video, Rosie the Riveter is always a good choice. Not only is Rosie a powerful icon for women but her costume is very affordable.

    All you need is a pair of blue jeans and a blue work shirt (some women go with a pair of blue coveralls instead). You’ll need some boots, loafers or sensible shoes although you could wear canvas hightop sneakers. And one woman decided to spice up her Rosie a bit by wearing red patent leather heels.

    And that’s another great thing about Rosie the Riveter. You can personalize your costume in so many ways. We receive so many wonderful photos from women who dress as Rosie for Halloween or other special events; we decided to create another video in order to use some of them:

    Rosie the Riveter is in the Accessories

    The fun of dressing up like Rosie the Riveter for Halloween (or any event) is in the details…the accessories. Here are a few that you’ll need:

    • Bright red lipstick
    • Rosie’s red-and-white polka dot bandana
    • Rosie’s official employment badge collar pin (she couldn’t get into the factory without it)
    • A few rivets to put in your pocket (in case people don’t know what Rosie was famous for)
    • A WWII ration book (Rosie never left home without hers)
    • The We Can Do It! poster (but without Rosie’s famous portrait…this one let’s you be the center of attention

    We created our DIY Rosie Kit to be the ultimate Rosie the Riveter Legacy Portrait Kit. It includes everything you need (except jeans, shirt, shoes and lipstick) for the perfect Rosie the Riveter Halloween costume.

    The perfect Rosie the Riveter accessory kit

    The perfect Rosie the Riveter accessory kit

    It even includes a couple fun additions. We created a great zipper pull that looks like Rosie’s employment badge collar pin. You can put it on your favorite jacket or vest to show your connection with Rosie every day. And we wrote a little cookbook that will give you an idea of how people cooked and ate back during WWII when so many things were either rationed or just not available.

    So, who will you be this Halloween? Rosie has your answer!

    And One More Thing

    Actually, make that two. First, we’ve started a Pinterest board for Rosie the Riveter and all the women who enjoy dressing as Rosie. Hope you’ll check it out. We named it Rosie’s Bandana

    And second, we saw a great idea (on Pinterest) for incorporating your We Can Do It poster into your costume. Glue the poster to some heavy cardboard or foam core board, which you can get at the craft store. Then cut four holes toward the bottom and run a ribbon through the two on the right and the another ribbon through the two on the left. Tie the ribbons around your arms (up by your shoulder) and you can wear the sign behind you.


    Appreciation Shown for a Modern Day Rosie

    by Matilda Butler on August 16, 2013

    Post #50 - Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

    A Modern Day Rosie the Riveter

    Kendra and I love hearing stories of women who remind us of the strength and courage that Rosie the Riveter represents. We recently received the following and decided to share it with you.


    by Rebecca Wallace

    My best friend is celebrating her 40th birthday in a few days. Because of the dynamic individual she is, I bought her a Rosie Legacy Bandana and shirt. I don’t have a picture of her wearing her outfit yet, but I wanted to share with you why she epitomizes your motto–strength, courage, and empowerment.

    Dixie is the dedicated mother of five children, ranging in age from 8 to 17. She is the supportive wife of an active duty Air Force Major, whose career has moved the family several times, and has taken him away from home frequently. One especially challenging assignment had him gone for 220 days a year for four straight years. Often alone, Dixie’s strength held their expanding family together during that time. Her patriotism, sacrifice, and commitment to our nation’s freedom is inspiring.

    As is typical of Dixie, she does not shirk work. Presently, she serves as the head of a large children’s organization at church, with responsibility for over 100 children, a Cub Scout program, a girl’s activities program, and a large volunteer staff of teachers and leaders. This is an unpaid church assignment which consumes a good deal of her time, but one which capitalizes on her excellent administrative abilities.

    Dixie’s hands are never idle. She owns an embroidery business, which she operates from her home. Late into the night, lights can be seen illuminating her studio where project after project is brought to completion. Somehow she finds the time to garden and tend flower beds, which with her care have blossomed here in the desert Southwest–no small feat.

    I don’t remember a day going by when Dixie hasn’t taken a meal to someone in need, or dropped off homemade bread or cookies, or cared for children, or cut hair, or helped with homework, or provided rides, or refinished furniture, or rendered First Aid–her list of daily accomplishments and service to others is seemingly endless. She meets each day with courage and purpose.

    Naturally modest, Dixie would never tell you any of these things, nor find them extraordinary. She sees what must be done, and DOES IT! In our day, where people are more interested in entitlement than empowerment, Dixie is a reminder of the legacy of Rosie the Riveter.

    We Agree

    Dixie, thanks for all you do to make this a better place for your family and for others. We think Rosie the Riveter would be proud of you and delighted to see you in your Rosie the Riveter Legacy Bandana.


    Rosie the Riveter's Bandana With Mug -