Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Richmond: Record-Setting Rosie the Riveter Rally

Twelve years ago Sharon Moore founded www.rosiesworkwear.com, an online store named for the iconic composite of women who entered the workplace in nontraditional roles during World War II. Moore's company sells industrial work wear for women, and business has been so good she recently purchased a van for her San Luis Obispo-based company.

Saturday that van was parked near the Rosie the Riveter Memorial in Richmond's Marina Park, where rows and rings of Rosies, wearing blue coveralls, red socks, and red bandannas with white polka dots, gathered in an attempt to set a Guinness Book world record for the most Rosies gathered in one place at one time since World War II.

"I've been supporting and donating to the Rosie the Riveter the Museum for a while," Moore said. "When they sent out the notice for this event we thought, 'How cool!' Everybody I talk to knows somebody who's part of a Rosie. I had an aunt who was one.''

The attempt to set a world record, surpassing a gathering of 776 Rosies in Ypsilanti, Michigan, was tentatively successful.

"I think we got it, guys," Sue Fritzke, acting superintendent of Rosie the Riveter World War II Homefront National Historic Park, told the Rosies after they had spent five minutes inside a roped-off area. Guinness will have to authenticate the record after studying photos to get a head count, and to make sure all the Rosies conformed to uniform specifications -- which detailed the acceptable size of the polka dots on their bandannas. Fritzke told the crowd more than 800 bandannas had been sold before the group-up.

The timing of the event, just one day after the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender that marked the end of World War II, was no coincidence.

"We wanted to make sure we did an event that would recognize people who were the real Rosies before they're gone," Fritzke said. "If we'd waited until the 75th anniversary, a lot of them wouldn't be with us anymore."

It wasn't just women who took jobs vacated by men who were fighting the war. But the Rosies are credited with empowering young girls and redefining a woman's role in the workplace.

"Speaking as a child of the feminist movement, I think that this is amazing history for people about breaking barriers," said Marsha Mather-Thrift, executive director of the Rosie the Riveter Trust. "But it's more than just Rosie. This park is dedicated to homefront workers, so it's not just women. What happened here in Richmond is astonishing because it planted the seeds for so many social movements that came after."

The crowd was treated to an Andrews Sisters tribute trio, the Blue Stars of the USS Hornet, who sang 1940s-era tunes. Just before the official gathering of the Rosies, a Rosie statue by artist Seward Johnson was unveiled. It will be on display in Richmond when it isn't crisscrossing the country as a traveling exhibit.

Kendra Lewis' grandmother was a Rosie. Lewis, 19, traveled to Saturday's event from San Luis Obispo.

"I never got to really hear her story about it," Lewis said. "But my dad would talk about it and it's really cool. I'm here for her in her spirit."

 

See the original article here.

Rosie the Riveter Trust (ID # 94-3335350) — PO Box 71126, Richmond, CA 94807-1126 — (510) 507-2276

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