29 March 2009

Rosie & Ruth, Women's History Month

A few weeks ago, (see "space cadet" in the archive if you missed it) I gave my Dad credit for me growing up and joining the Air Force. It is true that I learned my love of airplanes and the space program from him (as well as Jim Kirk and crew), but my Mother was a part of it too.

This is a copy of a photo of my Mom, probably in her 20's.

When I attended Quincy Elementary School in the late 60's. I only knew of two Mothers who worked. My best friend Terry's Mom, Mrs. Diploma (who is a very sweet lady and a wonderful cook) worked with her Husband in the family owned grocery store. My Mom was the only other Mother who worked outside the home. She was secretary for the Teamster's Union.

This one was probably taken in the 1960's.

My Mom worked from 8:00 am till 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday until she retired. When my Dad was not working. He drove her to work, then he would pick her up at lunch and she would cook for them both, he would drive her back to work and pick her up at the end of the day. When she came home at the end of the day, they would have a quiet cup of coffee together, then Mom would fix dinner. When he was working, she walked home at the end of the day. We helped, I can remember proudly being allowed to carry the silverware and the bread tray to the table when I was just tiny. I can also remember standing on a chair to help my Sisters wash the dishes before I was tall enough to reach the sink, and learning to iron while standing on another chair.
When I was small, my Mom kept the house clean. We dusted and swept and helped with whatever else we were told to do. (Not always willingly) Mom was the driving force. She worked along side of us and made sure it was right. Our windows were not streaked and the smell of baking bread was not uncommon. My Mom even found time to make a lot of our clothes. In other words, she did everything the other Mom's did, and worked 40 hours a week for a paycheck. All of this with a good disposition. She really was a Super Woman.
Mom had an independent spirit (except where my Dad was concerned) and wanted us to grow up to be independent too. When I was going to "Highland Jr. High" she made me take a typing class I didn't want. She said it was so that if I needed to I could get a job and not have to rely on a man to take care of me. I think I was 11 or 12 before Mom started wearing pants suits. Dad didn't think ladies should wear pants so Mom wore dresses. Occasionally she would wear some Jeans to clean house in, and all the photos I have from their deer hunting trips show her wearing jeans.
I don't remember my parents arguing, they did, just not in front of us when we were small. I do remember my Mom putting her foot down, once. Dad was watching something on TV one Saturday afternoon. Mom asked him to take her to the laundry-matt. He said "not right now". She explained that she had a lot to do and not much time. He said he would take her "when he was ready and not before". (He was not unreasonable, but he was from an earlier generation and he believed that he should be the boss) The following Monday, when Mom came home from work and told him that she was enrolled in Drivers Education and he could either drive her to her classes or she would take a cab and she didn't really mind if he liked it or not. Amazingly, they did not fight about it. He took her and she got her license. I always thought she got away with it because he was in shock.

This is my Mom with (according to age) Margaret, Pete, and Paula. Judging from the size of the children, Mom was probably 39 or 40 years old.
I don't remember this car. She didn't get that license for another decade so she probably never got to drive it.

Fast forward to 1983. When I went home to tell my her I was going to go in the Air Force. I expected her to freak out and tell me not to go. My mind was made up and I had already signed the paperwork. She didn't freak out, she didn't even cry. She beamed! She hugged me and told me how proud she was! She told me to "wait right there", she came back a few minutes later and handed me a tiny black and white photo I had never seen before. It was her as a very young lady, sitting on some steps. She was wearing COVERALLS? Then she told me the story. During World War II when so many men went off to war, there were not enough men to do all the work that needed doing. Rosie the Riveter was a fictional character portrayed on government posters to encourage women to do their part by working in Non-traditional jobs. Most people will recognize the familiar "We can do it" image with the smiling, bandana clad lady, her arm raised to show muscle. There were multiple versions of the poster, this is just the most popular. I have a wonderful book Titled "Rosie the Riveter" that shows several versions and tells some of the stories. It is by Penny Coleman. (For more official info http://www.adcouncil.org/default.aspx?id=128 ) My Mom wanted to do her part too. She told me the photo was taken during a break while she was in Technical School to become a lady machinest. The war ended at the same time she completed her school. The ladies were thanked and then told to go back home and raise babies, "the men can take it from here". That was the real begining of equality. Most of those brave ladies went back to their old traditional lives, with one big difference. They knew that they could "do it". They did go home and raise babies, they gave birth to and raised the Baby Boomers. I was the last of my Mom's children. She never said a word about Rosie till I was raised. What did your Mother do during The War?

My Mom was an amazing lady. She had a wonderful sense of humor and an even better sense of fun. I was proud of her and her job as a secretary, even when I was little, I hope I told her so. She loved us all so much. In her later years, the house was not as clean, and she could be a handful, but none of us ever doubted that we were loved. As for Rosie, she changed the world. Not bad for a fictional character.


  1. WOW - as usual I am impressed. Good job. Love & miss ya

  2. What a fabulous story, and your pride in your Mother shines through. Thank you for sharing :)

    Kim x

  3. She was quite the woman, wasn't she? Great blog post, I learned a few things that I hadn't been told before about her- what a personality, I'm proud to be related to her!


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