Do you recognize this woman?
She’s Rosie the Riveter. You know, the name of the popular song that celebrated the strong woman that supported the war effort by filling tens of thousands of jobs that were left behind by men to fight overseas? Yeah. She’s real.
Elinor Otto, 93, was one of the original Rosie the Riveter girls. Otto wakes up at 4-o-clock in the morning and drives to the Boeing plant in Long Beach, California. She’s not there to deliver cookies, she’s there to work! Otto’s job consists of inserting rivets into the wing sections of C-17 cargo planes. Talk about strength.
In fact, Otto has worked at numerous aircraft assembly plants, but it all started with Rosie the Riveter girls in 1942. “We were part of this big thing,” Otto explained. “We hoped we’d win the war. We worked hard as women, and were proud to have that job.”
Her job paid a mere 65 cents an hour. That’s 39 dollars less than what she makes now. But she enjoyed the work, the routine, the camaraderie, and the visits to the dance hall on the weekends to kick back with her friends from the plant.
With the end of the war, so came the end of the Rosie the Riveters. “Within days we were gone,” states Otto.
Otto tried other fields of work, but office jobs never appealed to her. She worked as a carhop for a short while, but left when they told her she had to perform the job on roller skates. Luckily, SoCal’s aircraft industry came out of the war booming. Otto was an “ace” with the rivet gun, which earned her a spot on the line doing the job she loved- riveting.
She buried her mother, went through a couple marriages, had a son, had a grandson, but happily took her spot on the assembly line month after month, year after year, decade after decade.
Otto explains, “I’m a working person, I guess. I like to work. I like to be around people that work. I like to get up, get out of the house, and get something accomplished each day.”
And, oh boy, what she has accomplished. The list is long. Her most important accomplishment, however, is serving as an inspiration.
“When I think to myself, ‘Why am I slowing up? Why am I home?’ I think that, ‘Elinor is at work and Elinor is 93!'” Her boss, Don Pitcher, explained.
But she isn’t just an inspiration to her boss, her co-workers adore her, and Long Beach honored her with a Rosie the Riveter Park this month.
More importantly, and the reason why I am sharing this story with you on my blog, Elinor Otto serves as a strong inspiration to all women out there. The Woman’s Empowerment Movement has come a long way, and she’s been there through it. She plowed through traditional gender roles and followed her passion, despite what others had to say.
How long will she work? Her answer was simple– As long as she can. Most likely, until sometime next year when her Boeing plant finishes off their last and final contract for those C-17 cargo planes.
“I’ll be the one that closes that door,” Otto said. “I’ll be the last one there.”
Now that’s leaving with a bang. A bang that only a strong woman could deliver.
(Information from NBC News sources)