Friday, July 10, 2015

Back at the Rosie the Riveter Visitor Center

When my friend Diane came to visit me for a few days this week,our big outing was to the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Park in Richmond, CA.  It is one of my favorite and most special places to go.

Because it was Diane's first visit, we spent all of our time in the Visitor Education Center where there are educational and interactive exhibits.

Every Friday at least 4 or 5 Rosies who live in the Bay Area are there to tell their stories and to chat with visitor.

Since we went on a Thursday, I emailed my Rosie friend, Marian Wynn, to ask if some of the Rosies might be there for some special event.

Immediately, Marian offered to come over to spend time with us.  Marian is typical of the Rosies in that she has retained her energy and enthusiasm and "I can do it" spirit for her entire life.  She was a welder at the Richmond shipyards during World War II a year after she graduated from high school.
What a special treat it was to have her meet Diane who now has an up close and personal insight into what awesome ladies the Rosies are and were.

There are always National Park Rangers at the Visitor Center and we lucked out this visit to have Betty Reid Soskin there telling her stories. Betty, at age 94,  is the oldest active full-time National Park Service Ranger. She grew up in Richmond and did office work in the all-black auxiliary of a segregated boilermakers union.  During her wartime working career she was not working with the Rosies at the Kaiser Shipyard and admits that she really didn't know what was going on right at the shipyards. As she puts it, the story of the Rosies is "really a white woman's story."

Later in life, Betty was part of the planning group for the Rosie the Riveter Park. In this period she became a Park Ranger. Now she is stationed at the Visitor Center and gets to tell her story as well as to talk about what the city of Richmond was like during the booming World War II period and to talk about the Rosies.

The Visitor Center is staffed by National Park Rangers, all of whom are passionate about this park. They are eager to share their knowledge with visitors.

Of course, we had lunch at Assemble, the wonderful restaurant in the building that was the Ford plant where the Jeeps and tanks for the war were built.  It's just a few steps from the Visitor Center.

All told, a wonderful day...and thank you Marian for making a special trip to be with us.