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Recognizing 'Rosie'

Washington County Free Library and National Park Service call for stories about women who joined work force during WWII

Washington County Free Library and National Park Service call for stories about women who joined work force during WWII

March 14, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

There were openings at Fairchild Industries aircraft plant in Hagerstown. Planes were required for the U.S. forces in World War II.

Women were needed for homefront jobs while "all the boys were in the service," said the former Catherine Slick, now Catherine Pitts.

The young woman joined the factory work force. She learned to glue fabric to wooden wing frames. Later, when wings were made of sheet metal, Slick was trained to rivet the wings.

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"I loved the riveting," Pitts said.

Pitts, now 83, was a real-life hometown "Rosie the Riveter."

"Rosies" are being honored at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial at Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park in Richmond, Calif. The National Park Service is conducting a nationwide initiative to collect stories such as Pitts', and artifacts and personal histories from living "Rosies" and their families.

The nickname originated with the late Rose Will Monroe, a single mother who worked as a riveter on bomber aircraft in Michigan during World War II. While on the job, she became the star of a government film promoting war bonds.

Monroe was pictured on the movie poster, in a red bandanna, flexing her muscle, proclaiming "We can do it!" "Rosie" became the name and symbol for women who joined the wartime labor force.

Pitts worked at Fairchild from 1942 to 1951, helping to construct A-10s, C-123s and C-119s, airplanes for America's fighting men.

"Gee, this is fantastic for the boys overseas," she recalled thinking.

Washington County Free Library is assisting in the effort to record those kinds of thoughts, said Marsha L. Fuller, the library's public relations coordinator.

There will be a reception to honor the local "Rosies," to create audio and videotapes of their stories. Their photographs and mementos will be digitally reproduced and copies sent to the national park for inclusion in exhibits, research centers and historic records, Fuller said. The information also will be available at www.whilbr.org, the Web site of Western Maryland's Historical Library.

"These women have never been honored," Fuller said.

They played an important role in American history that "changed society," Fuller said.

The library invites World War II "Rosies" to a reception Friday, May 14, and requests that they bring their photos and memorabilia. World War II veterans also are welcome. A light lunch will be provided.

Call 301-739-3250, ext. 128, to reserve free tickets.

If you go ...

Rosie the Riveter Reception

11 a.m. Friday, May 14

B/C Meeting Room

Washington County Free Library

100 S. Potomac St.

Hagerstown

Free

Call 301-739-3250, ext. 128, to reserve free tickets.

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