Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Rosie the Riveter historical park gets prized WWII work uniform

Roger Graham and his wife Sue Graham, of Oakland, donated the work coveralls worn by Roger Graham’s mother, Sue Gaiser Graham, to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond. Gaiser Graham worked on three different types of bombers at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver during World War II. Roger Graham and his wife Sue Graham, of Oakland, donated the work coveralls worn by Roger Graham’s mother, Sue Gaiser Graham, to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond. Gaiser Graham worked on three different types of bombers at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver during World War II. Photo courtesy of Roger and Sue Graham, via East Bay Times

RICHMOND — During World War II, Sue Gaiser Graham worked on Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, aircraft that helped the Allies win the war. Soon, her work coveralls will go on display at Richmond’s Rosie the Riveter Park, donated by her son and daughter-in-law.

Roger and Sue Graham, who live in Oakland, donated the work uniform to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park on Dec. 22, said Isabel Jenkins Ziegler, a supervisory museum curator with the park.

“We were excited when we heard from (the Grahams),” Ziegler said. “It’s always exciting when people call and share their unique stories.” The coveralls will likely go on display this spring, the curator said.

The Richmond park includes the former Kaiser Shipyard No. 3. During the war, tens of thousands of shipfitters, welders, riveters, tackers, painters and electricians churned out 747 warships at the park. Now, it serves as a memorial to the women across the United States, colloquially referred to as “Rosie the Riveters,” as well as the men who did the work.

“Our collection is made up mainly of contributions from individuals and their families. They might have photos, their shipyard worker badge, receipts from when they got paid. We have stories of people who worked all over the country,” Ziegler said.

“It’s not just this object or this photo. What makes the collection is special is that we have a personal connection with the donors and can tell a little bit about the people who did the work,” the curator said.

Before she married Dick Graham, a World War II veteran, Sue Gaiser worked on three different types of bombers at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver during the war.

In addition to the B-17, “Sue equipped Boeing B-29 Superfortresses and North American P-51 Mustangs for specialized missions or purposes such as installing cameras or special mounts or other equipment,” Roger Graham said in an email.

Sexual harassment, a topic often in the headlines today, also affected the women who turned out to help the war effort, he said.

“She worked on an all-female crew, ‘Leary’s Missing Links,’” Roger Graham said. When men catcalled the women, the women would stop work and form a line turning their backs to the aircraft, signaling to their manager that they were being harassed, he said.

Sue Gaiser Graham lived in Denver throughout her life, marrying her husband in 1949 and raising three children. When her son Roger told her about a visit to the Rosie the Riveter museum, she asked that her uniform be donated to the museum.

“My mom passed away in August at 92. This is a great remembrance of her,” Roger Graham said.

Sue Graham added, “I think it is important to honor (Gaiser Graham) and the service of other women to our country. I am thankful that the park service has created such a great place to keep alive the memories of the extraordinary people who did so much for this country.”


Original Article: East Bay Times

By Janice Mara

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

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

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