Monday, September 2, 2013

Rosie the Riveter and Doris

On the first Monday in September, the United States observes Labor Day, which pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It also recognizes the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and betterment of our country.  It was created in the late 19th century by the labor movement and became a federal holiday in 1894.  Labor Day is symbolic of summer's end and is celebrated with events from parades to sports.

I'd like to honor women (and a special woman) in this post in recognition of a defining moment in history, in which women made an impacting contribution during World War II.  Thousands of women took up traditionally masculine and dirty jobs in factories, assembly plants and shipyards.  By working in previously male-dominated manufacturing jobs, women helped the United States fight the war while the men fought over seas. Norman Rockwell's painting of "Rosie the Riveter" says it well in his illustration for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943, which was the Memorial Day issue.  Note the price on the cover of 10 cents!

There was a popular song at the time "Rosie the Riveter", the lyrics of which celebrate the female factory workers of the war effort.  It is presumed that Norman Rockwell created his iconic painting in reference to this song.  Rosie shows attitude in confidence and strength in bringing her ability to carry out a job, which was considered a man's occupation.  It was representative of the times, showing American spirit and patriotic symbolism.  With the American flag in the background, Rosie wears buttons and pins on her clothes, including a "V" for victory.  It is interesting to note that Rockwell posed his model to match the Sistine Chapel ceiling image of the prophet Isaiah, painted by Michelangelo in 1509.  The resemblance to Isaiah, even with a halo above her head, implies that she is fighting for the cause of God and to preserve the American Way.
An excellent website for more information on Rosie the Riveter, can be found at:

The special woman I referred to is not in regard to Rosie but rather to Doris, my mother-in-law, who is now 91 years of age.  She was an original Rosie the Riveter in the shipyards of California for a short time during the war effort.  An able-bodied woman, fierce in dignity and independence, she did what she could to survive during hard times.  With her gumption to stand up for herself, combined with a keen wit and pointed words, she was a force to be reckoned with.   Doris is now in a care facility, her able body now withered and confined to a wheel chair and her mind confused with bouts of dementia.  In her more lucid moments, and to her credit, she still has her keen wit and pointed words - a reminder of a woman who had to make her own way in a world that was not as gender friendly as we know today.  If you take a close look at the first photo below of Doris and then closely look at the painting of Rosie the Riveter, you can catch the similarity in attitude of the two women; one created in an artist's mind and the other created by the experience of life.

Yesterday's challenges with attitude
Today's challenges with resilience
We must always be mindful of the contributions that the majority of the elderly have made in our society, both men and women.  They may not have always done it right, but they did the best they could with the knowledge and emotional makeup that they had throughout their years.  From generation to generation, their hands were "put to the plow" to eke out a living and were a driving force in changing the face of America in the progress of industry and technology.  They are to be admired and respected for their enduring length of years in contribution to the workforce, the backbone of America.

Salute to Doris!... a survivor who was a woman determined to get through tough times, proving herself in a man's world.  She was a crack shot, teaching her sons how to hunt, shoot, kill and skin a deer for meat on the table.  For a time, as a single Mom, she rolled up her sleeves and joined the workforce in diversified occupations from beautician to store clerk.  She was an expert rider and could match a man in rounding up sheep and cattle as a hired ranch hand.  To this day, she still retains a love for horses and enjoys looking at photos in horse magazines and watching western movies.  And yes, she also was a "Rosie, the Riveter".

See you again at the Turn-Up Patch, two weeks from now on Monday, September 16th.   


  1. what a great article and tribute to women, particularly Doris!! Thanks for sharing the photos. I LOVE Doris' young, saucy pic...

  2. Hello Colleen, So good to know you through your profile on the Blogger. I am also glad to stop by your blog "The Turn Up Patch" and the recent post on it. Your photography and the creation of greetings cards out of it is very creative. I am more blessed by your christian testimony which is the connecting thing for me. well I am in the Pastoral ministry for last 33 yrs in the great city of Mumbai,India a city with great contrast where richest of rich and the poorest of poor live. We reach out to the poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring people to Christ. We also encourage young people as well as adults from the West to come to Mumbai to work with us on a short term missions trip in the slums of Mumbai to bring healing and give new hope, future, purpose and life to the most underprivileged in the slums. We would love to have you come and help us in the photography of our ministry in the slums. Looking forward to hear from you. My email id is: dhwankhede(at)gmail(dot)com and my name is Diwakar Wankhede