Were you Rosie the Riveter? Alabama-founded group wants you

By SHELLY HASKINS | (Birmingham) Alabama Media Group | Published: August 11, 2019

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Tribune News Service) — In 1944, Mabel Myrick wasn’t the coverall-wearing, muscle-flexing factory worker most people associate with Rosie The Riveter.

Then 18 and fresh out of high school in Kimberly, Ala., she did her part during World War II taking shorthand and typing for military officers in the War Department at the Pentagon.

Before graduation, she took a civil service exam, hoping to help the war effort however she could while her four brothers served in the military. After the exam, the civil service board would send a letter with one’s results and assignment.

“When I got mine, it had a train ticket for Washington, D.C.,” said Myrick, 93, who still lives in Kimberly.

Many women did work in defense factories and did other industrial jobs like the woman on the Rosie the Riveter poster — including Dr. Frances Tunnell Carter of Birmingham, who founded the American Rosie the Riveter Association in 1998.

At 18, Carter, now 97, moved to Birmingham from tiny Springville, Miss., to work in a defense factory.

“It happened to be a riveting job. I really was a riveter in the factory, on B-29s,” Carter said.

But you didn’t have to be an actual riveter to be a “Rosie,” said Myrick, who is the ARRA’s corresponding secretary. Any woman who was in the workforce or found a way to contribute to the war effort from the home front is considered a Rosie and can join the American Rosie the Riveter Association.

“A lot of women that had children at home that couldn’t leave home, they collected scrap iron, they saved grease that was used for ammunition, they bought war bonds,” Myrick said.

Just like the soldiers who served in World War II, most of the Rosies are in their 90s now and “are beginning to fade away,” said Myrick.

So the American Rosie the Riveter Association is on a new mission: to find as many Rosies as possible across the country so they can recognize them for their service and chronicle their stories.

Even if you weren’t in the workforce, you can still be qualified to join, said Carter.

“We have one little girl, when the war actually came on, she was 4 years old,” Carter said. “I asked her what she did to help, and she said she took her tricycle and ran around Sun City, Ariz., picking up chewing gum wrappers and cigarette cases with aluminum,” and contributing those to the metal drives.

“You can be a Rosie if you did something in any way to help win the war,” Carter said.

The association currently has 6,200 members nationwide, but they know there are thousands more who are eligible to join, and that includes descendants of Rosies. Members get certificates recognizing them as Rosies, along with newsletters and access to annual conventions.

“These women have stories of their WWII experiences that are of historical value and perhaps have never been told,” the association said in a news release asking for help finding Rosies.

Are you a Rosie?

If you are a woman or a descendant of a woman who worked during World War II or otherwise contributed to the war effort, visit the American Rosie the Riveter Association’s website at www.rosietheriveter.net, call 888-557-6743 or e-mail americanrosietheriveter2@yahoo.com.

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