Goodbye to timeless icon "Rosie the Riveter"

Goodbye to timeless icon "Rosie the Riveter"

“During the World War II, more than six million American women made significant contributions by going to work at plants that produced munitions and other war supplies. First popularized in a 1942 song, the name “Rosie the Riveter” has since become an iconic symbol of women’s achievement.
At the height of the war years, the Curtiss-Wright facility in Wood-Ridge, N.J., employed more than 12’000 workers, many of them women who faithfully did their part for the war effort. The facility produced the Wright Cyclone engines that powered aircrafts essential to victories in Europe and the Pacific.”
— Marble memorial for “Rosie the Riveter” made by sculptor John Giannotti, Wood-Ridge, New Jersey
Woodridge Rosie.jpg

Who’s Rosie the Riveter? The name reported on the marble memorial here above did not sounded familiar to me until last evening when, while surfing the online news, I was finally able to associate this name to the female charismatic wartime character on the famous WWII propaganda poster “We can do it!” by J. Howard Miller.
I coud not wait then to find out more about Rosie. As far as I know by reading about the making of the poster, Rosie the Riveter was the star of a 1943 US government campaign aimed at recruiting female workers for the munitions industry during the WWII and became perhaps the most iconic image of working women of that time. 
The motivational poster showed a woman in a shirt and red polka-dot head scarf at work during the war, flexing her bicep with the caption "We Can Do It!”. An iconic image of a strong woman used to attract thousands of female workers to fill the gap left by their men. That was a unique event for the time. However, I started wondering whether artist J. Howard Miller got inspired by a physical entity or was it just the figment of his imagination? 
 

 "We can do it!" WWII propaganda campaign poster by J. Howard Miller depicting female inspirational image "Rosie the Riveter", 1943

"We can do it!" WWII propaganda campaign poster by J. Howard Miller depicting female inspirational image "Rosie the Riveter", 1943

It all began in March 1942, when a photographer touring the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California, snapped a photo of a young woman wearing a stylish red-and-white polka dot bandana while working a vertical turret lathe in the station’s workshop. Her name was Naomi Parker-Fraley, she was 20 years old and completely unaware that she would have later become the source of inspiration for Miller’s propaganda legendary poster in 1943. Nor she didn’t have a clue she would eventually become the ephemeral incarnation of "Rosie the Riveter".

 Naomi Parker, the real-life "Rosie the Riveter", 1942. The original caption read: "Naomi wears heavy shoes, black suit, and a turban to keep her hair out of harm's way." 

Naomi Parker, the real-life "Rosie the Riveter", 1942.
The original caption read: "Naomi wears heavy shoes, black suit, and a turban to keep her hair out of harm's way." 

However, it took nearly seven decades to make the connection between the photo of Naomi Parker-Fraley at a lathe and the poster of Rosie the Riveter. That happened in 2011, when Mrs Parker-Fraley and her sister attended a reunion at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, that Naomi noticed a familiar photo displayed as the inspiration for the poster, under an unfamiliar name. "I couldn't believe it because it was me in the photo” she said. "I knew it was actually me in the photo". She could clearly recognise her in the 1942 picture of the woman that inspired Miller’s poster. Years were spent by journalists and professors looking for the real identity of Rosie the Riveter and finally the long time mystery was solved in an ordinary day.

 Entrance of the Visitor Center of the  Home Front National Historical Park  in Richmond, California, where Naomi Parker-Fraley attended the Rosie the Riveter/World War II reunion in 2011. 

Entrance of the Visitor Center of the Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, where Naomi Parker-Fraley attended the Rosie the Riveter/World War II reunion in 2011. 

 Inside the Visitor Center of the Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California.  This place can be considered a true memorial of "Rosie the Riveter" iconic inspirational female character of WWII.

Inside the Visitor Center of the Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California.  This place can be considered a true memorial of "Rosie the Riveter" iconic inspirational female character of WWII.

 Inside the Visitor Center of the  Home Front National Historical Park  in Richmond, California, where Naomi Parker-Fraley attended the Rosie the Riveter/World War II reunion in 2011. it is during this gathering event that Naomi found out she was the real-life Rosie.

Inside the Visitor Center of the Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, where Naomi Parker-Fraley attended the Rosie the Riveter/World War II reunion in 2011. it is during this gathering event that Naomi found out she was the real-life Rosie.

 An article appeared on March the 26th 1942 on "The Milwaukee Journal" showing a picture of Naomi Parker-Fraley with the description of her working outfit while operating a lathe in the naval air station at Alameda, California.

An article appeared on March the 26th 1942 on "The Milwaukee Journal" showing a picture of Naomi Parker-Fraley with the description of her working outfit while operating a lathe in the naval air station at Alameda, California.

During the 2nd World War, an estimated 16.1 million American soldiers served between 1939 and 1945. The high number of men enrolled to support the allied lines left gaping holes in the industrial labour force. As a result, it was unavoidable that women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers during World War II. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent - one out of every four married women worked outside the home.

Most of the great effort made by the US government in recruiting female workers and convince them to apply for a job could not be possible without the help of an iconic, proud and strong woman called “Rosie the Riveter” screaming “We can do it!”, used as a call to inspire women workers to play their part in joining the war effort. This motivational poster has been (and will always be) both seen by women as an embodiment of female empowerment and used to fight against gender inequality. 

 A woman operating a turret lathe, 1942 (Wikipedia)

A woman operating a turret lathe, 1942 (Wikipedia)

 Assembling a wing section, Fort Worth, Texas, October 1942 (Wikipedia)

Assembling a wing section, Fort Worth, Texas, October 1942 (Wikipedia)

 A woman rivets an airplane wing at a munitions factory, 1940s

A woman rivets an airplane wing at a munitions factory, 1940s

 A male and a female riveter work side by side at a factory in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1942.

A male and a female riveter work side by side at a factory in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1942.

 A woman inspects  machine gun bullets at Remington Arms Company's Bridgeport, Connecticut, near the desk a photo of her husband who is serving overseas, 1940s

A woman inspects  machine gun bullets at Remington Arms Company's Bridgeport, Connecticut, near the desk a photo of her husband who is serving overseas, 1940s

 Members of a riveting team at an aircraft factory use rivet guns and bucking bars to work on a basis trainer plane wing center section, 1940s

Members of a riveting team at an aircraft factory use rivet guns and bucking bars to work on a basis trainer plane wing center section, 1940s

 Women went to work on both sides of the Atlantic. This picture, taken in England, shows women working in a munitions factory, 1940s

Women went to work on both sides of the Atlantic. This picture, taken in England, shows women working in a munitions factory, 1940s

 female factory worker, 1940s

female factory worker, 1940s

 Women Factory Workers on the Home Front, 1943

Women Factory Workers on the Home Front, 1943

 Norman Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post 1943 cover featuring Rosie the Riveter

Norman Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post 1943 cover featuring Rosie the Riveter

 a woman welding a part of a cockpit for the new Army Air Forces TC 4-A training glider in 1942. (picture by Daily News)

a woman welding a part of a cockpit for the new Army Air Forces TC 4-A training glider in 1942. (picture by Daily News)

 Doing their part during World War II, women work along the rails for the Long Island Rail Road, 1940s (picture by Daily News

Doing their part during World War II, women work along the rails for the Long Island Rail Road, 1940s (picture by Daily News

 Female railroad workers, 1942 (picture by Daily News)

Female railroad workers, 1942 (picture by Daily News)

 All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Also baseball was effected by men sent to the war. The women's professional league formed in 1943 in response to minor league teams disbanding. Here, Dottie Ferguson Key (left) and Dorothy Kamenshek (right), Rockford Peaches players. (picture by Daily News)

All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Also baseball was effected by men sent to the war. The women's professional league formed in 1943 in response to minor league teams disbanding. Here, Dottie Ferguson Key (left) and Dorothy Kamenshek (right), Rockford Peaches players. (picture by Daily News)

 Women polishing bomber nose cones doing their part during WW2, 1940s

Women polishing bomber nose cones doing their part during WW2, 1940s

 Women Ford Factory workers, 1947

Women Ford Factory workers, 1947

Naomi Parker-Fraley died last week at the age of 96. "I didn't want fame or fortune, but I did want my own identity.” she said about her willing to be associated to Rosie the Riveter iconic character.

Rest in peace "Rosie". 

Naomi Parker as Rosie the Riveter-2.jpeg
If you don't fall 10 times, then you are not learning it right!

If you don't fall 10 times, then you are not learning it right!

... Walking in a winter Wonderland

... Walking in a winter Wonderland