Rosie Gets Her Dues

With the dedication of the Rosie the Riveter Memorial in Richmond, Virginia, World War II women workers are getting the recognition they deserve. The memorial is 441 feet, the same length as Liberty ships women helped build and includes a walk with a timeline of facts and memories from female workers.

The memorial brought back memories for Phyllis Gould, a welder on the San Francisco Bay. When Gould’s husband and friends joined the ship-building effort, she wanted to help too. She met opposition and was told “no women and no blacks.” She cried the third time she was turned down but as she left, ran into a man who helped her get a job.

The job was rough, but Gould performed well and made sure she looked good while doing it. Behind her mask, her lips were lipsticked and her hair tied in a kerchief. She always made sure her bandanna matched the color of the shirt collar poking from beneath her sweats.

Marian Sousa, Gould’s sister, was a draftsman in the war. About the memorial, she said “we never expected to be recognized. Everybody worked. They did what they could.”

Sousa had an easier time entering the war effort later because female workers were commonplace by then. She took a crash course in drafting at The University of California Berkeley in 1943 at just 17. Then, got a job when her mother lied for her.

Sousa’s job was to correct blueprints. “I remember just endless, endless papers of erasing two bunks and making them three bunks.” She said the people she worked with were great. “I was expecting my daughter and those men gave me a surprise baby shower.”

Recognition for all of “Rosie’s” war efforts was greatly overdue.

from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel