Rosie the Riveter: Women Working During World War II

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Jacqueline F. Nelson

January 1944

original photograph size: 3"x2"

I was born in Chicago , Illinois on June 14, 1923 . I attended Chicago Public Schools and graduated High School in 1941. I lived in Chicago until the age of 20 when I moved to LaPorte , Indiana to again live with my parents. I am and always have been single.

My family background: My Mother was from an aristocratic family on both sides. She did not work outside the home while raising three children. She died in 1977. My Father was from a working class family. His father, of whom we were very proud, started his career as a ship’s carpenter and circumnavigated the globe 3 times as a young man. My Father served in the Navy during WWI. He then became an Accountant then a Comptroller for a manufacturer. He died in 1950. While living in LaPorte, IN. my Father belonged to the Elks, Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce. He was well known and liked in the town. He and my Mother had many friends and enjoyed a social life.

I had an older sister who served in the Waves during WWII in Washington DC . She is deceased. My brother, who was younger than me, is deceased. They left no children.

I felt very patriotic about WWII so decided to try to work or the war effort. I was successful in obtaining a job at a Government Ordnance Plant in LaPorte , Indiana living with my parents. I believe this little town welcomed all of us. I became friends with a woman coworker and we kept in touch for about 30 years. There was not much social life in this town except eating atone of the nice restaurants or going to the movies, or visiting friends. Occasionally I boarded the NY Central to attend the theater in Chicago and returned later that evening.

I corresponded with two childhood men friends during the war. They were both in the military: one Navy; one Army. Soon I became restless living in a small town . albeit my Parents were happy there, so I enlisted in the WAC where I spent the remainder of the War. I was stationed in Washington , DC with Headquarters Squadron, Army Air Corps. I was honorably discharged Dec. 7, 1945 .

My family all came out of the war unscathed and went on with our lives.

I continued my education on the G.I. Bill at the University of California at Santa Barbara , California .

My worthwhile experience because of the war gave me lifelong friends. I experienced meeting many types of people I had not known before.

Before entering the WAC rationing was very evident in my life especially getting gasoline for the car. The item which hit home for my family was the shortage of butter and other foods.

The night we were told the war had ended most of my Army buddies went into Washington , DC to celebrate. My best friend went to Church. For some reason I was morose and stayed in the barracks. When someone came in announced the Capitol was lit up I dashed outside, stood in the middle of the road with pounding heart as I looked straight ahead and saw the most beautiful sight in the world. This told me all was well and we could all go home. We had done a good job.

I believe the war had changed our lives to the extent that we now became a mobile society, moving to different areas many of us had learned about during the war. I have lived in California most of my life. I am not living in Windsor , California .

April 17, 2004

 

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