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  • Writer's pictureMatilda Butler

You Know a Rosie (I'm Willing to Bet!)

Trust Me. You Have a Rosie In Your Family

Here at RosieCentral, we declared September to be Rosie the Riveter Month. We had great fun researching and writing about various aspects to the lives of Rosies as well as her continuing legacy that continues to inspire us all these years later.

And now we're calling October our Costume Month / Halloween Month. Kendra kicked the month off with a great story about Witch Hazel's Brew. If you haven't read it, please do so. It's such fun and tells the kind of childhood tale that just may inspire you to fashion a Halloween treat for your children or grandchildren.

And Speaking of Stories and Inspiration...

While October is supposed to focus on Halloween and Costumes, I find I still have some Rosie the Riveter stories untold. So I'm going to slip a few more into our blog this month. And I think this one might bring you inspiration for an upcoming family gathering this fall.

As you know...

...Rosie the Riveter is both an iconic image and an iconic name. She has come to stand for all the women who helped America win the war -- not just those who worked in factories. A few years ago, when Kendra and I were giving a presentation about our collective memoir -- Rosie's Daughters: The 'First Woman To' Generation Tells Its Story -- a hand shot up from the back of the room. A woman stood and said,

"If you were alive during World War II, you were a Rosie."

Bold Statement

That was a bold statement and a wonderful discussion followed. Of course, the woman was right. Odds are that you know a Rosie-. Just ask around in your family. Someone in your family who was alive during WW2 was a "Rosie" (with quotes around the word).

An Example

My sister was six years old in 1944 and was already a Rosie. How? She regularly pulled her little red Radio Flyer wagon filled with Mother's empty, washed, and flattened tin cans to a nearby center. That made her a Rosie. She was part of the war effort. She was lucky to have her metal wagon. My parents bought it for Christmas in 1941. By 1942, the Radio Flyer company changed all their production to five-gallon Blitz cans for the military so no wagons were made or sold during those years.

A Second Example

My mother was also a Rosie. Sometimes she had extra bacon grease and my sister toted it to the center as well. Mother would have already reused the fat at least once because she never wasted anything -- a lesson she learned during The Depression.

Bacon drippings were used to fry chicken, to make a warmed salad dressing, even to make the wheels of my sister's wagon stop squeaking.

But the military wanted all the salvaged fat it could get. Why? Fat was valued because it was converted into glycerine, which was used to make explosives. A bridge blown up in Germany just might have been partly attributed to my Rosie sister's walk with Rosie Mother's salvaged fat.

A Third Example

My Aunt Lucile worked as a Government Girl in Washington, DC. She, like many others, left rural areas to find jobs in big cities.

Her husband was in the army and she wanted to do her part. Of the two million female clerical workers during the war, half worked for the Federal government.

My aunt was just one of these million.

Now Find Your Rosie Example

Maybe this holiday season, you'll find out what your female relatives were doing during the war. Did they grow a Victory Garden? Did they turn in tin and rubber and other war-needed items? Did they run the family farm? Did they take over the running of the small family business? I have a friend whose mother volunteered with the Red Cross. WWII was called a "total war" and everyone did they part.

World War II changed the lives of everyone alive at that time. Sometimes in small ways. Sometimes in big ways. Learn about the role that women in your family played. Remember, all efforts were important. Even if you never lifted a rivet gun.

FUN FACT: By late 1943, 33% of the restaurants in Detroit were closed. Why? There was a shortage of waitresses--women who left the low-paying job to help in the war effort and to get into higher paying jobs.


BE A ROSIE with these GREAT Costume Accessories




I knew a Rosie down in North Carolina. She told me wonderful stories about her experiences working in plants and offices during the war. She said is was the greatest time in her life. She passed away in her late 90s. She had a very full life.

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