Monday, April 27, 2015

Rosie the Riveter, R. I. P. (again)

You may be old enough to know who “Rosie the Riveter” was, but my guess is you don’t really know who she was.

More correctly, you don’t really know who they were.

On April 21, 2015, Mary Doyle Keefe, 92, died in Simsbury, CT. When she was a 19-year-old telephone operator in 1943 in Arlington, VT, she posed for Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter” cover portrait in the Saturday Evening Post.

Rosie was a potent motivator in World War II recruitment and Liberty bond sales, and her likeness appeared on many patriotic posters and in other formats during the war. Rosie was the exemplar of American women who answered the call to “take a man’s job” in factories and industry, and fill the place of a husband, son or brother who went to a combat zone. After the war, the experience of all those Rosies led to a decades-long expansion of women’s participation in the work force.

Mary Keefe was one of several exemplary young women whose faces were used by various artists and photographers to create the Rosie personae.

Geraldine Doyle (1924-2010) was another Rosie who was working in a metal factory in Ann Arbor, MI, in early 1942 when a UPI photographer took her picture on the job. It became an inspiration for an artist who created the iconic WWII “We Can Do It” poster. Unlike Mary, Geraldine didn’t know for more than 40 years that she had been famous during the war.  A family member read a 1984 magazine article that linked her to the poster.

A salute to Mary and Geraldine and all the other Rosies!

Requiescat in pace.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.

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