Jack’s Mid-Missouri Memories: “Mom Was a Riveter Too”
Everyone has heard about “Rosie the Riveter.” Well, my mother was a riveter too. She didn’t put planes or tanks together, but like Rosie, it was hard work done by hand, for not much pay, and it helped her win her own private war.
Mom Was a Riveter Too
In 1947, my mom was a young widow with two children to finish raising. When dad died, my sister was 12 and I was nine. Mom had no training, and it wasn’t easy to find work to pay the bills dad’s illness had left. In those days there were not many job opportunities in Sedalia, especially for women. There was plucking chickens at Swifts Inc, a sweat shop laundry, or J.A. Lamy’s Overall Factory. Mom felt lucky to be hired by Lamy’s, even at less than fifty cents an hour, because that paid the rent and kept us fed and clothed. Not in style, but we didn’t complain.
Mom was a riveter as I said; her job was to put that little brass rivet at the pressure points and pocket corners of denim pants. There were no machines for the job in those days, so it was all done by hand using an odd looking little hammer, a punch and lots of perspiration. The times made heroes, and rightfully so of those women, who worked in defense plants during the war. They worked hard hours to produce the materials the nation needed to fight, and contributed in no small part to this countries ultimate victory in WWII.
Mom battled in the post-war era, and the enemies called hunger and need were fought daily with her flat nosed hammer and punch of a riveter. It was not until I was grown that I realized how hard it must have been on her and other widowed mothers of that period, whether it was because of the war or other circumstances. Mom didn’t get any medals for her blisters or a citation for the long hours of work she put in on her riveting job, but she did raise two children during a very difficult period, when a woman had to work twice as hard for half the pay of men.
I think her greatest achievement was teaching my sister and I the rule of a good work ethic that anything worth doing is worth doing right. She may not be famous like Rosie the Riveter, but she won the war that all parents wage to raise a family in difficult times, and I believe she thinks of her children and grandchildren as her medals and citations for a job well done.
Tune in to Jack Miller on Newstalk 1050 KSIS every Monday morning to hear excerpts from his book of Mid-Missouri memories, titled ‘Unhurried Days.’