|Events Celebrate Richmond's
June 16, 2005
MEMORIES OF THE HOME FRONT
On Tuesday, June 14, about 65 former Rosies from all over and a host of other dignitaries gathered at Richmond’s Rosie the Riveter Memorial to celebrate the release of a book of wartime memories, "Memories of the Home Front," compiled by Atria Senior Living Group, which operates 113 senior communities in 28 states. A story from yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle is copied below. Atria gave Rosie the Riveter Trust, represented by board members Tom Butt, Mindell Penn and Rosemary Corbin, a donation of $1,000 for projects to benefit the Rosie the Riveter WW II Home Front National Historical Park. Information about the book should be directed to Leslie Hawk of Atria at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TELL YOUR STORY!
The Richmond Redevelopment Agency & Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park are looking for a few good women (and men) to tell their stories about the home front in World War II at two events on July 16 and 29. See information below and flyer attached:
We Need Your Story!
Atchison Village – Atchison Village Annex – Canal War Apartments – Cutting War Apartments
Esmeralda Court – Harbor Gate Homes – Nystrom Village – Pullman War Apartments
Seaport War Apartments – Triangle Court – U.S.M.C. Dormitories
Please join us for an informal event to show your snapshots and mementos and share your story about living in one of Richmond’s housing projects in the 1940s and 1950s. Wednesday June 29th, 11 AM – 12:30 PM Nevin Plaza Community Room, 2400 Nevin Avenue.
Saturday July 16th, 2-3:30 PM Booker T. Anderson Community Center, 960 S. 47th Street
Memorabilia will be photographically reproduced during the workshop. The photographs will be used for a research project documenting Richmond’s wartime housing program. Sponsored by Richmond Redevelopment Agency & Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park
Mary Gadd was just a teenager when World War II broke out, and she quickly became the epitome of Rosie the Riveter, working in factories in San Francisco, where she riveted fighter plane nose cones, made electrical harnesses for machine guns and cameras, and assembled land mines.
Just 16 years old when she started at Hammondale Crafts in 1942, she worked near two blind men, Bill and Al, who sorted rivets by size, width and length.
"They were geniuses, but they were sitting there sorting rivets," said Gadd at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial in Richmond on Tuesday. She is now 80 and lives in San Mateo. "I was going to teach Al to rivet. (The boss) said, 'He can't do that,' but he did it faster than anybody else."
Gadd, who was supporting her cancer-stricken mother with her wages, quickly learned to tolerate male co-workers who weren't always as nice as Bill and Al. Once, while working at Soule Steel in San Francisco, a painter came up behind her and grabbed her breasts as she was working on an assembly line.
"I was just 104 pounds," she said, adding that she had a wrench in her hand. "I pushed him right back to the bulkhead and said 'You leave me alone.' There were a lot of dirty words used by the men around the factory. I used all of them that day. From then on, the boys were bringing me cookies and pieces of pie."
Gadd and other Rosies who, during World War II, worked in factories, wrapped bandages or took other jobs traditionally handled by men, gathered Tuesday at the memorial for the dedication of a book, "Memories of the Home Front," compiled by Atria Senior Living Group, which operates 113 senior communities in 28 states.
The women shared proud stories about how they helped keep America running while many of the men were serving overseas.
"I wanted to join the Navy, but my father said no," Grace Fardella, 80, of Daly City, said as another woman called out "I hear that one!" from the crowd of about 100 people gathered for the dedication. Fardella instead got a job at Butte Electric in San Francisco, where she made signals that ships used to communicate with each other.
"I believe that women who responded to the call to work in defense or those who stayed home did a heroic job, and should be recognized," Fardella said.
Josephine Cloonan, 89, a native San Franciscan who now lives in Daly City, worked at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, at a Marine Corps center and at the Rincon Annex post office during the war while her husband served in the Pacific Theater with the 73rd Naval Seabees. She recalled hearing one day while working at the Marine Corps center that the Seabees may have had casualties.
"I cried, and one Marine said 'What are you crying for? It's only rumors, ' " she said, recalling how that comforted her. "I made a lot of friends. You didn't have too much time to think about yourself and be lonesome because you worked around so many nice people."
Cloonan, who stopped working when her husband, Edward, came home, said the experience was "absolutely excellent."
"They really couldn't have done it without us," Cloonan said. "The boys needed our help. We did what we could."
The Rosie the Riveter Memorial is part of World War II Home Front National Park at the site of the four Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, the largest and most productive shipbuilders of the era. The park, at a number of sites around Richmond, includes the Red Oak Victory ship and the Ford Assembly plant, which will become the visitor center.
Thousands of Kaiser workers built 747 Victory, Liberty and troop transport ships during the war -- nearly one a day, said Park Ranger Howard Levitt, who added that meeting former Rosies is a highlight of his job.
"It's a completely energizing and exciting experience to meet the women and men who made home-front history," Levitt said. "This is a fantastic park with very many stories to be told. I'm reminded of what a remarkable period that was. It's completely inspirational."
E-mail Erin Hallissy at email@example.com.