Rosie the Riveter: Women Working During World War II

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Tessie Hickam Wilson

1943

original photograph size: 5"x3"

MEMORIAL TO “ROSIE THE RIVETER”

In regard to the memorial for “Rosie the Riveter” I, Tessie Hickam Wilson, was part of the work force that helped in winning/ the World War II.

I was born in Seymour , Texas , Baylor County , on September 5, 1917 . My father Oliver Hickam worked for the railroad, and when I was 3 months old, we were transferred to Chickasha , Oklahoma . After awhile he decided to take up farming.

My mother, Mary Ella Hickam was a house wife. She never worked outside the home. After awhile, we moved back to Texas near IOWA Park and spent a year there on a farm.

Then we moved to Portales , New Mexico . We lived on a farm and I graduated from high school in 1936. I enrolled in Eastern New Mexico College . During the first year, I met Charles R. Wilson and we married. Jobs were hard to come by so in 1941 we moved to Albuquerque , New Mexico . Charles worked at Maisel’s Indian Trading Post as an accountant. I worked at Creamland Dairies. I did several jobs there. In the laboratory I decorated ice cream cakes. I folded cartons of ice cream.

We were in a theater when war was declared. We answered ads for aircraft workers in San Diego , California . In 1942 we moved to San Diego and were employed immediately in Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation. I went to training to learn how to operate machinery and how to rivet, etcetera. My first assignment was in Assembly and the part I assembled went into the B-24. Later it changed to Convair.

I was transferred to the Brake Department where I was a power brake operator. I stayed in there until the end of the war. The parts I formed went on the B-24.

We women who were working during the war opened the door for women working – and we proved we could do it!

It was a hard time, but we felt like we were doing our part, and all the people we knew were doing their part. We had rationing. Sugar, coffee, gasoline and meat were some of the items that were hard to come by. We had ration books every so often, and we had to use them sparingly. We bought savings bonds to help in the War Effort.

We also had radios and record players, and when we could afford it, we went to the movies. And even though there were hard times, we did what we could in the War Effort, and I will always be glad I was part of it.

 

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