A MOUTHFUL OF RIVETS by Nancy Baker Wise


Women at Work in World War II
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 Folksy, good-natured recollections from some of the two million women who took jobs in factories and shipyards during WW II. Nancy Baker Wise, who worked in the Office of War Information, and her daughter, Christy, a journalist, record here the oral reminiscences of women who became welders, drill press operators, riveters, drafters, truck drivers, civilian pilots, aircraft inspectors, and so on. How they got their jobs, the training, and how they were treated by the men are the main topics here. Most served only as placeholders and were unceremoniously shoved aside when the men returned from the war. A majority, according to these statements, were happy to get back to their normal lives and start families. A few, though, managed to keep their jobs when the fighting stopped. A machinist who got into the union at the Ford plant in Des Moines refused to quit her position and retired from it 30 years later. Among those interviewed are a riveter who worked on the B-29s for Boeing (she volunteered 50 years later to help restore the planes for the Seattle Museum of Flight) and a flight line electrician at Biggs Field in El Paso, Tex., who remembers being told ``to get sidearms and to wear them at all times'' in case of German attack. The first woman machinist to work in the New York shipyards recalls how her male coworkers' initial resentment was dispelled when she brought her own tools, while the only female on a seismic testing crew looking for oil drilling locations notes that to get along she ``just became that charming girl who insulted them and giggled.'' These women experienced interesting and difficult times, but the authors' brief, insubstantial excerpts from their testimony make them all sound like the same good ol' gal telling a variation of the same story. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1994
ISBN: 1-55542-703-0
Page count: 292pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1994