Yesterday I wrote about the antics of my dad and my uncle, and after reading that story, my cousin, Tim and I spoke about some of the stories we knew about my aunts, one of whom is his grandmother, Laura. After hearing the things he told me, I feel like I know a lot more about my aunts, and I am very proud of both.
My aunts, uncle and my dad were young when our country was in the grip of World War II, and being patriotic people who wanted to help in any way they could, my aunts decided to join the mobilization effort by signing up for jobs in the shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin. Feelings were very raw at that time because people felt betrayed by the administration…betrayed and unprotected. But feelings aside, they stepped up and took on a man sized job. My aunts worked in those shipyards as welders on the ships. It was in the dead of winter, and the winters in Superior are bitterly cold. They feared for their health, and it was due to those frigid winter days, that they both decided that Wisconsin was not where they would want to spend their lives. Both would move to Washington state, and Aunt Laura would finally end up in Oregon. She would later say living out there was like living in the tropics by comparison. Eventually a sign was posted to commend the work of the many women who joined that movement, but they erred in calling them “Riveters” because they did not rivet the ships, they welded them, and that was a much harder job. Our Uncle Bill hated that error, and tried to get the sign changed, and after failing to get anyone to move on the correction, corrected it himself, because he has always paid close attention to detail and hates seeing an error go uncorrected, especially such an important historic event as the women of World War II who were heros in every sense of the word.
This is a part of my aunts lives that I had no idea had occured, and I truly thank my cousin Tim for sharing it. You see, this picture of my aunts is very foreign to me. My Aunt Laura was always an elegant lady, with a beautiful home, which I can still see in my mind to this day. She had so many beautiful and I’m sure precious things. My Aunt Ruth was a little more of a tomboyish person who liked the outdoors, but a welder…no…I could never have pictured it in either of them. They were two women, in a difficult time, who stepped up and did more than they knew they could. And I am very proud of both of them.
I did get a small glimpse of that toughness in my Aunt Laura one time, when she had just purchased a mobile home and while it was set up that Friday night long ago, the electricity would not be turned on until the next morning, and it was a bitterly cold winter night here. I insisted that she come and stay at my house that night, which she graciously accepted. Bob was working nights, so we had a little slumber party at my house…just us girls. We had such a wonderful time, and my Aunt Laura got to experience something that she really never would any other time in her life…little girls. You see she had sons, grandsons, and a great grandson…no girls. She had a great time with my daughters, and they thoroughly enjoyed playing with her. It was a treat for all of us, and a night I will always treasure.