Note: The following item was provided by Perry Barrett, who submitted the item for publication for the Polk.Today reading audience to enjoy. – KtE
Rosie the Riveter was the iconic image of a confident, determined woman used in a national campaign aimed at recruiting desperately needed female workers for defense industries during World War II.
As massive male enlistment into the armed forces left yawning holes in the industrial labor force, American women answered the call to enter the male-dominated defense industry and to fill other labor shortage areas as well.
Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased by 35%, with millions of “Rosies” replacing lost male workers as truck drivers, machinists, riveters, bus drivers and assorted everyday jobs. In 1943 alone, women made up 65% of all workers in the U.S. aircraft industry.
That same year, a popular song entitled “Rosie the Riveter” moved up the charts. It was sung by the Four Vagabonds, an African American quartet. In the song, the quartet imitates the sound of trombones, bass and even the sound of a rivet gun as it forces a rivet into place.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, Carol Cain, retired Troup County educator, performed that song with gusto at the Little White House in Warm Springs while attired in the outfit most closely associated with Rosie, from a Normal Rockwell Life magazine cover from Memorial Day 1943.
During her presentation, Carol took on the persona of 7 actual “Rosies” and gave a moving soliloquy as each recounted her true wartime experience as a riveter, bus driver, truck driver, machine operator or general laborer.
For 25 out of the last 26 years (except last year, of course), Carol has performed as Rosie the Riveter throughout the U.S. As Rosie, Carol appears in dark blue coveralls, actual period work boots, and the iconic red headscarf to tell the moving story of fearless women taking on tough jobs in World War II.
Carol performs annually for the American Rosie the Riveter Association and has been featured at events at Fort Benning, World War II Heritage Days in Peachtree City, the Little White House, and the Atlanta History Center. She can be contacted at storytellercarolcain.com.