Rosy the Riveter - Revisited

by Linda Allen

My strong right arm built the ship,
Built the ship that sailed to war.
My strong right arm built the ship,
Built the ship,
And what was that all for?

In 1941 the war had just begun
Jim was so young, but soon was off to hold a gun.
I was 19, our child was on 3
When the papers said the shipyards needed me.

I moved to Bremerton in 1942.
I learned to weld; I was the best one on our crew.
The work was hard, the heat would burn my lungs all day.
But when the paycheck came, we girls would feel O.K.

In 1943, August, eight a.m.,
I'd not been sleeping well, my mind was full of Jim.
There was a knock, a man in uniform stood there.
He said my Jim was dead.
I hadn't seen him in two years.

In 1945, the war came to an end.
And on that very day the big boss, he came in,
He smiled and said, "My girls, the boys are coming home.
You've earned a rest. Go home. Your wokr here now is done."

Picked up a scrap of metal and I carved my name full bore,
So my child would know I was a welder in the war.
No place to go, I was a widow with a child,
So I waitressed, and I cooked,
And I married in a while.

Sometimes I see that scrap with my name carved in so deep,
And I recall the day the boss told me to leave;
How I felt like some old rag they'd tossed aside,
As useless as my patriotic pride.

My strong right arm built the ship.
Built the ship that sailed to war.
My strong right arm built the ship,
Built the ship,
And what was all that for?

Janet Stecher and Susan Lewis of the group Rebel Voices, who arranged and recorded this song on their 1993 CD "A Little Look Around" (for more information, contact 1234 NE 104th, Seattle, WA 98125 or write wrote: "Doing research for the Washington Women's Heritage Project, Linda Allen came across the following quotation from someone who had worked for Boeing during World War II, which was the based of the song 'Rosy the Riveter - Revisted': 'And the day the war ended, every women in there GOT IT. Leadman came 'round and says, Frances, tonight you can hang your torch up, your job's done; the war is over. And on that day, I picked up a piece of scrap iron and lit my torch and wrote my name on it. That was in 1945. This is my proof for my grandchildren and great- grandchildren that I really was a burner in the wartime.'"

Women wipers of the Chicago and North Western Railroad cleaning one of the giant "H" class locomotives in Clinton, Iowa, April 1943 - Mrs. Marcella Hart and Mrs. Viola Sievers, as photographed by Jack Delano.


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Last modified: Thursday, 31-May-2007 09:41:52 EDT