Phyllis Gould waited 12 years for the moment when she, one of the six original "Rosie the Riveters," made it to the White House.
Gould, 92, and her five fellow "Rosie the Riveters," who worked in a shipyard during World War II, were invited by Vice President Joe Biden Monday after a decades-long letter campaign by Gould that began when Bill Clinton was in office.
The Rosies are finally off to Washington DC to get a "real hug" from Vice President Joe Biden.
The six elderly women from the Bay Area were sent off in style, with Virgin America rolling out the red carpet and donating premium cabin seats for their trip.
To anyone who knows Phyllis Gould, it's no surprise that at age 92 she's making news. As a woman who's lived her life with fierce independence and fearlessness, her persistence in gaining recognition in the White House for female World War II defense workers is merely her latest exploit.
Gould is the organizer of a week-long trip to Washington, D.C., for a group of California "Rosie the Riveters," beginning this Saturday.
AFTER WRITING LETTERS to the White House for many years, Phyllis Gould of Fairfax and four other Rosie the Riveters are set to fly Saturday to Washington, D.C. to meet Vice President Joe Biden.
Gould, 92, worked as a welder at the Kaiser Richmond shipyards during World War II and has been writing letters since 2008 petitioning elected officials to recognize the contributions of Rosies such as herself. Biden invited the Rosies to the White House in October. The visit was made possible by a fundraising campaign that began late last year.
The Rosie the Riveter Trust Board of Directors invites you to attend Growing a Rosie Future, our Annual Benefit Dinner 2018. This event will honor living Rosies and other home front workers who transformed American industry, society and culture, and help raise funds for our youth programs. Enjoy a special evening to benefit programs of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.
Join us at El Cerrito’s historic Berkeley Country Club on Saturday April 7, 2018, to enjoy a special homage to WWII’s Victory Gardens, as we commemorate the many ways ordinary people stepped up to overcome global challenge, and came together as a society. Meet surprise guests and help us raise funds to inspire new generations with vital historical knowledge and a 21st Century “We Can Do It” spirit.
Early bird tickets are $180, available here: https://rosietheriveter.givezooks.com/events/annual-dinner-2018
RICHMOND — Fundraising efforts have begun in earnest to send five women — including one from Fairfax — who served as defense workers in World War II to Washington, D.C., in April to meet Vice President Joe Biden.
The invitation was extended by Biden in a personal phone call in October after an extended letter-writing campaign of several years by Phyllis Gould, 92, a Fairfax resident who worked at the Kaiser Richmond shipyards during World War II.
RICHMOND -- They came to this city's national park from as far as Georgia and Germany, ages ranging from 4 to 83.
The draw was a rare Bay Area treasure, a government worker made famous by a government shutdown.
The historical markers are important embellishments to Richmond’s waterfront and a significant component of the new Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. Punctuating over two miles of spectacular shoreline, they link several of Richmond’s parks and the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, as well as the Ford Assembly Building, future home for the National Park’s Visitors Center.
The markers describe a broad range of home front experiences and the dramatic changes that Richmond experienced during World War II – from the incarceration of Richmond’s Japanese-American community to the city’s lively wartime nightlife, advances in civil rights and other legacies.
In Richmond, war stirred thousands to roll up their sleeves and build new ships. They shared a single goal: to win against the enemy. War kindled fear and long-held prejudices, and America’s own citizens became suspect. Immigrants from Japan and Italy who’d lived in Richmond for decades were labeled "enemy aliens."
Japanese Americans were forced to shutter their businesses and piled onto trains, each passenger clutching the two suitcases they were allowed to carry. They were incarcerated, behind barbed wire, in Topaz Relocation Center, Utah. Italian-American families were split in two: non-citizens were forced away from the waterfront, while others could stay in Richmond. Yet citizens of both communities enlisted to defend US ideals. Despite the wounds of war, many who were sent away returned to Richmond. They rebuilt. The greenhouses filled with roses and carnations.
As war in Europe escalated, Parr convinced Henry Kaiser to build shipyards here. The enterprise further shaped the Inner Harbor into a tidy rectangle of pre-fabrication yards and shipways for the frenzied activity of building wartime vessels.
For the next 50 years, Lucretia Edwards and other activists launched petitions, raised money and convinced officials to open miles of wave-lapped shore. Each generation’s vision shaped the view we have today.
Although life in Richmond was a great improvement, Jim Crow practices followed migrants from the South. At church, at the movies, in Scout meetings and in the union halls, black residents were separated from their white neighbors.
By 1945, Richmond’s NAACP was one of the most influential civil rights organizations in the region. Their call for equality and interracial solidarity inspired the next generation of activists.
This marker uses its proximity to the founding place of Richmond’s NAACP to discuss racial discrimination on the home front and struggles for civil rights during and after the war.
This "forced melting pot" labored together in shipyard crews. Workers transformed discord into harmony, braving discomfort and danger to toil together, three shifts a day. To boost morale, Kaiser management organized lunchtime entertainment. Hollywood stars brought glamour to bare wooden stages, costumed dancers whirled and shipyard musicians in overalls and hard hats played swing and bluegrass. When the work was done, ship launchings celebrated shared accomplishment.
As patriotic anthems swelled and champagne sprayed over the new ship’s bow, each worker took pride in what they’d built, and could believe in the slogan “United we win.”
Three shifts a day, crowds from Richmond and surrounding cities made the journey to the shipyards, walking miles on foot, organizing carpools, hopping the shipyard train and hanging onto bus straps. "Downtown was suddenly just a mass of moving people of all kinds," recalled Phyllis Gould.
At shift’s end, the human tide changed direction. Shoppers jostled in the streets. Fingers snapped to blues bands at Tapper’s Inn; jitterbugged to "Jersey Bounce." Folks went to church, had dinner and a game of whist. Mexican movies played at Rio Theater and the Moose Club held a Friday night fish fry. The city danced with lights, music and Saturday night joy.
War work swelled the city’s population from 23,000 to 100,000 in three years. American Radiator and Standard converted from making "bathtubs to bombs."
Fifty-five other businesses produced everything from aviation fuel to vitamins for defense. Jobs outnumbered beds despite 25,000 units of federally-sponsored defense housing, so newcomers slept in chicken coops, cars and took shifts in rented “hot beds” still warm from the previous occupant.
With World War II officially ended, Richmond filled with celebration in September 1945. Years would pass before residents fully understood how much the war had changed their lives. A wave of new civilians bought homes and enrolled in college thanks to the "GI Bill."
Although "old-timers" expected them to go home, most wartime migrants remained in the Bay Area. Having fought for democracy, veterans of home front and battlefield would not accept second class status; the path to integrated schools, fair housing and workplace equity was worn by their marching feet. Women had succeeded at men’s work, and they wanted more.
From 1942 to 1945, the Ford Assembly Plant prepared tanks for the battlefront while Kaiser Shipyard Three, across the channel, added to the mechanical din. When the buildings turned to civilian life, cars rolled from the Ford plant; Shipyard Three became the first campus for Contra Costa College and later the Port of Richmond. Plans to level everything in sight, including Brooks Island, followed in the next decades.
Congress recognized Richmond’s national significance in 2000, passing this law: "In order to preserve for the benefit and inspiration of the people of the United States as a national historical park certain sites, structures and areas located in Richmond, California... there is established the Rosie the Riveter /World War II Home Front National Historical Park."