Real ‘Rosies’ celebrated at Ford Point
on December 18, 2009
They were kids when they joined the war effort and were given that iconic nickname, “Rosie the Riveter.” Some were still in high school and lied about their age so they could join six million American women working industrial jobs during World War II.
On December 11, 11 of these women were a part of a group of about 20 who gathered at the BoilerHouse restaurant at Ford Point in Richmond to celebrate the unveiling of eight memorabilia tables. The tables feature pictures, posters and documents relating to Rosies. The event was hosted by Orton Development, the owner of the restaurant, and rangers from the National Park Service.
The Rosies are now in their 80s. Though they are now friends, most didn’t know one other back when they worked in factories around the Bay Area.
“Even if we did, we wouldn’t remember,” said Betty Soskin, an 88-year-old National Park Service ranger who served as a union office clerk during the war.
The women worked at industrial sites like the Ford Assembly Plant and the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond. On this day, they gathered to chat, dine and check out the tables in a restaurant located inside the same Ford Assembly Plant where some worked.
Agnes Moore didn’t work in the Ford Plant, she worked as a welder at the Kaiser Shipyards. She said she still got a thrill seeing that the restored Ford building looks like she remembers it did in the 1940s.
“It’s so distinct, you never forget it,” said Moore, 89, of Walnut Creek.
Moore said she thought the tables were “wonderful.” Maria Holmes, a project manager for Orton Development, designed the tables. Holmes said she received a collection of 60 photos from the National Park Service, and spent a couple of days collecting artifacts at the Richmond Museum of History. Then she had the challenge of piecing it all together.
“I’ve done a lot of graphic design, but this is the first collage I’ve done since high school,” she said.
After an introduction from ranger Ric Borjes, and before they ordered lunch, the group lifted tablecloths off to unveil the tables. Then they returned to catching up and talking about what it was like when they were young.
“Our era knew real patriotism,” said 83-year-old Marian Sousa of El Sobrante. Sousa lied about her age so she could became a draftsman at the Kaiser Shipyards while still a 17-year-old high school student. “There was just this feeling of energy.”
Priscilla Elder, 89, of Pinole, used to be an electrician at the Kaiser Shipyards. She said she has missed the past couple of Rosie get-togethers because her husband has been ill.
Elder said she enjoyed not just seeing all her fellow Rosies, but visiting the city that is much different from the one she worked in more than six decades ago.
“It’s been a treat for me today,” she said. “I lived on 14th and Virginia (in Richmond). Richmond has really grown up. When I was here, it was just this beautiful little city.”
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