The March meeting of the Hillsboro Woman’s Club took a leap back in time when the members met an original “Rosie the Riveter.”
Georgia Hufford, formerly of Hillsboro, brought her sister, daughters and a granddaughter to give a rousing and amusing account of Georgia’s job during World War II. Before that time, women were discouraged from working outside the home because it took jobs away from men. However, during the war most men were serving in the Armed Services and women were recruited to work in U.S. aircraft and munitions factories, which resulted in some of the highest production rates in history. This was considered to be the beginning of the “women’s movement” in America.
When Georgia’s father traveled to Michigan to work in the Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, Mich., Georgia and her older sister, Virginia, joined him, leaving their mother and seven siblings behind in Kentucky They stayed with a relative until they were hired, trained and had received their first paychecks. They joined 42,000 workers at Willow Run to build more than 8,600 B-24 bombers.
Virginia was placed as a driller/riveter. Georgia was a rivet bucker, meaning she held a 10-inch long by 2-inch wide iron bar that was used to flatten the rivets. It was hot and noisy work, but she liked the pay (75 cents per hour, with the top pay at $1.15).
They first lived at Willow Lodge, which was comprised of 15 buildings containing 1,900 rooms. Pre-fab houses were brought in by the truckloads to provide homes for 2,500 families. They contained four, six or eight apartments with up to three bedrooms in each apartment. Each had a small coal stove for cooking and heating, an icebox and a coal box outside. The West Court buildings contained 1,000 apartments. Of the two trailer projects consisting of 1,000 trailers, one was for government-owned expandable trailers (equipped with gas and water) that could be rented and one was for trailers that were privately owned.
Rosie the Riveters became a cultural icons also known as Women War Workers. Nearly nine million women held various jobs during World War II.
Georgia Hufford is known locally for her nearly 50-year business, Georgia’s Bridal Shop, were she stayed active until she retired at the age of 89.
Georgia’s daughter, Scarlet Hufford Thomas, told of the trip she and her mother made to Washington, D.C. in March of 2016 as part of the celebration and recognition of women’s contributions to the war effort. There, Brigadier General Wilma Vaught thanked all the Rosies in attendance. At Arlington National Cemetery they were given front row seats for the Changing-of-the-Guard Ceremony. A special, silent tribute was given the Rosies and they had been told to watch for it. During the ceremony, when a member of the Guard scraped his foot while walking, it was actually a tribute to the veterans present, as well as for the Rosies.
There was one more big surprise. A member of each branch of the U.S. Military formed a line, in full dress uniforms. Georgia said, “The girl over there looks like my daughter, Paige. Aww, that is Paige!” Members of Rosie’s family had been flown in from Detroit and they were all holding the famous “We love Rosie” signs.
Following a delicious luncheon and a brief business meeting, members enjoyed meeting Rosie and her family.
Submitted by Gretchen Huffman.