To many, the “Rose the Riveter” icon was a symbol of American patriotism.
But to 97-year-old Adeline Beach, a resident of Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo, Rosie the Riveter was her life.
Beach, along with hundreds of other women, worked as an electrician and a riveter on B-24 bomber airplanes during WWII. Their unique roles and contemporary uniforms earned them the title “Rosie the Riveter,” a name given to working women as part of a national campaign to recruit female workers for the munitions industry.
“When I married and moved to San Diego with my husband, we were employed at a local factory that made and serviced airplanes,” Beach said. “We had to put 78 wires on pegs which were in a small assembly in the bottom of the plane. I used a stick the size of a match to add each wire to a peg, then bend it down and solder it. Once we caught up on the wiring, I was sent to buck rivets on the planes.”
While they worked, the women wore blue uniforms with pants. Wearing pants was a new phenomenon to many women who had only worn dresses, but Beach was used to it because she’d grown up on a farm. Her husband worked at the same factory until he was drafted and Beach moved back home with her parents to care for their baby.
“My husband said that the war left horrific images in his mind,” Beach said. “He will never forget driving through fields and towns in Germany, looking up and seeing tortured dead bodies hanging from buildings and trees.”
Six months after the war, Beach’s husband was finally able to come home. The couple moved to their own farm where they shared 62 years of marriage and raised their seven children.
Catch the rest of Beach’s story here in the San Angelo Standard Times.