This past Saturday I had a chance to join in on the Rosie Rally, an amazing celebration at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historic Park , to help break the world record of the most Rosies gathered in one place at one time! Women, men, and children (and a few pups) from all over the Bay area and beyond gathered together in the Ford plant to beat our friendly rival, Willow Run Bomber Plant in Michigan, and win back the world record! 2,270 people donned polka dot bandannas, red socks, work pants and shirts, and work boots to be able to be counted. I have never been so proud to support a time in our history when we truly were "better together" and to learn about so many "firsts" that happened because of strong women who did their part in the war effort. Rosie the Riveter became a famous icon for women in the war movement, and a symbol of American strength.
During World War II women in Richmond and the surrounding Bay area went to work in the local shipyards because so many men had enlisted or were drafted into the army thus reducing the availability of workers in the area. In Richmond alone the women and men in the Kaiser shipyards produced 747 ships, known as Victory ships, that carried men, supplies, and ammunition overseas. This influx of women at work revolutionized federal systems and laws that we utilize today. The effort created one of the first integrated work forces where minorities worked alongside white women, helped to improved health and safety regulations, and created the first childcare facilities which evolved into the childhood development profession.
What makes this even more personal for me is that our house was built in 1942 to house these workers!
We decided to take Hazel with us and she gladly sported her own polka dotted bandanna as she schmoozed around for chest rubs and extra food. Sadly she wasn't allowed in the building, but we did meet quite a few service dogs like this little guy here who's adorable outfit and scarf I couldn't resist! Definitely gave me ideas for the hounds for next year!
The Trust volunteers even helped you to tie your bandanna the correct way, but it was still fun to see all the variations that people came up with. Oh, and the red lipstick! I've never worn it in my life but now I think I might have the confidence to pull it off more often. I loved the vintage pinup look and I couldn't get enough of those curls. I tried it for about an hour at home and couldn't get the bangs right so I sat there admiring all the women who pulled it off! How do you do it?
The building quickly filled up and it was so much fun to see so many women decked out in the uniforms. They had a great singing group entertaining the crowd with music from the 40's, but the best part was meeting real Rosie the Riveters that worked here in Richmond! Two of them were actually riveters, a few were draftsmen, along with some welders. Amazing women who deserve so much more credit for all the hard work they did in an era where women were expected to stay home. We learned today that one of the ships that they built saved over 14,000 lives at once during the Korean war! (The Red Oak Victory served in World War II, Vietnam, and the Korean war before being decommissioned. It is now docked in Richmond and is the last surviving Victory ship built, and one of 10 that carried ammunition.
To learn more about the Rosies and the war effort visit the website, the Visitor Center, or better yet come over to Richmond and join us for a pancake breakfast on the deck of the Red Oak Victory! The food is great, the tours are fun and informative, and if you are lucky you'll get to blow the ship's horn!