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  • Last modified 3515 days ago (Feb. 4, 2009)

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Looking for Rosies

Are you a “Rosie?” Or maybe a “Rosebud?”

The Marion County Record, Hillsboro Star Journal, and Peabody Gazette are seeking to identify local women who individually played a role as “Rosie the Riveter” during World War II (1941-1945).

Many young women went to work in factories throughout the country, building and repairing military equipment for the war effort. Others volunteered their services in various ways.

Young girls often left the farms and homes where they were raised to travel to nearby or distant cities to be trained and work at various jobs.

Many women were trained to install rivets; therefore, anyone involved in the war effort at home later became identified as “Rosie the Riveter.”

An American Rosie the Riveter Association was established to preserve and pass on these women’s stories to future generations. Its latest publication is a paperback book, “Rosie Romances and Other Rosie the Riveter Stories.”

Helen Beckham of Marion recently donated a copy of the book to Marion City Library. It contains brief, two-or-three page stories by Rosies or their descendants about their experiences.

The book includes an account written by Beckham about her mother, Julia June Barney.

Barney married young and had three young children when her husband died. She was 28 years old at the time and took a job washing dishes at night in a café to support her family. She also took business courses at El Dorado Junior College.

At the onset of America’s involvement in World War II, Barney took a job at Boeing Aircraft Co. in Wichita.

According to Beckham, her mother was one of the first women to be employed in the plant. As she arrived for her first day on the job, she overheard a fellow worker say, “What is this world coming to? They’ve hired a woman and a half-pint at that!”

Barney advanced to clerk supervisor in tool engineering and kept a journal of her activities. Sometimes she added personal thoughts and observations. The journal is among archives at Wichita State University.

Barney worked 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week. She commuted 70 miles round-trip on a Boeing bus until the family moved to an apartment in Planeview, a housing project for Boeing workers.

After the war ended, Barney worked for the Reconstruction Finance Co. at Boeing.

“We were raised by an absentee single, working mom who was very successful at both jobs,” Beckham said.

If any of our readers has her own story to tell or that of a relative, please contact Rowena@marionrecord.com or call the Marion County Record office at 620-382-2165.

Last modified Feb. 4, 2009

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