Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rosie Rally 2015

Did you know I'm a Guinness World Record holder? Well... sorta.

On Saturday, August 15, I joined a bunch of other folks young and old dressed up as Rosie the Riveter* at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial Park in Richmond, California, for the Rosie Rally!

The Rosie the Riveter Museum hosted the event to try to beat the existing Guinness World Record for people dressed up at their favorite female icon, set last year at the Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan, when they gathered 776 Rosies and Rosie lookalikes.

It was a fantastic afternoon! I got to meet some many really interesting and inspiring women. We sang songs, danced, took lots of pictures, and -- most importantly -- came together to commemorate the amazing women who worked so hard on the assembly lines to not only help the US win the war, but to carve out a place for women in history. Plus... I mean... a park full of people dressed up as a feminist icon? How awesome is that?!

I didn't get to visit the museum after the event as we had to boogie back home for a friend's party that evening, but I did check out the small display of photos and markers they have at the park itself in the hour or so before the event. In addition to photos of women on the assembly lines, there were images of blueprints and specs, paired with appropriate quotes from the women themselves and their families.

"My doctor assure me that I didn't have the body structure -- ha! We tacked the beams to the bulkhead. I always liked outdoor work better than cooking and housework."

"My mother's first shipyard job was in plate layout. Later she became the first female inspector. She tells a lot of stories, mostly about the guys who gave her a hard time for being a woman. She went on to work for unions. She fought for peace, civil rights, and a living wage. She often says, 'Many remember those times with a rosy haze over their riveter eyes -- but we fought hard for social justice!'"

They had a special tent set up for some of the original Rosies who came to celebrate. It was great to see these amazing women. I wish I'd been able to chat with some of them, but they were swarmed by news reporters and the like. Fortunately, one of them was invited to speak to the crowd about her life working for Boeing. Turns out, she was just laid off last year at the age of 95!

We were entertained by a the Swingin' Blue Stars, who sang all the greatest wartime hits. At one point, there was an all-Rosie conga line going. Of course, I joined in as soon as I snapped this photo.

The biggest hit was this poster where all the Rosies could get a photo of themselves.

In order to officially break the record, we needed to be counted and photographed as a group. So we filed into the seating area to await our orders patiently.

Well... sorta patiently. There was a lot of jumping up to get photos and wave at friends. And with the music still going, occasionally a dance party would break out.

It was wonderful to be able to look around and see some many interesting women. Like this fun lady seated next to me, Ellen. She was practically giddy. To be honest, we all were.

And, of course, there was the obligatory call for everyone to do the Rosie pose one last time for the camera as they unveiled the new statue they commissioned from artist Seward Johnson.

Afterward, I absolutely had to get a photo with Rosie!

"You must tell your children, putting modesty aside, that without us, without women, there would have been no spring in 1945."

It's true. The war could not have been won without the work of everyone involved, and especially the women who picked up the tools and built the ships and planes and everything else. Modesty has no place in this history. Which is why this event, this memorial park and this museum, are so important.

*So, before you go off on a rant, I know this isn't Rosie the Riveter. This is Rosie the Riveter. Although, technically, all women working in factories during the war were referred to as Rosie. The phrase was used in a variety of artwork, songs, poems, etc. I also know that the image they're using for this event was created as an anti-union poster. Check out my blog post about its model, Geraldine Hoff Doyle. It seems this image has taken on a new life as a feminist icon, and while it's important to remind ourselves of its history, I think it's also important to recognize its power in the present.
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  1. Great pics! Glad you were able to go!

  2. These are just wonderful photographs. I hope you enjoyed a lot in this event. I love such local events. It is a great way to spend quality time with family. Anyway, I am also planning a family party at rental halls in Philadelphia. Can anyone suggest me the best website to book the venues?