By Ofelia Saenz, Staff Writer
About 80 people gathered last Saturday afternoon for a naming ceremony of Rosie the Riveter Park in Long Beach and to pay homage to the many women who responded during World War II to the billboards and posters calling on women to “Do the Job He Left Behind.” “This park is living history,” said Councilman Patrick O’Donnell (4th District).
Formerly known as Douglas Park, the newly rechristened park at the corner of Conant Street and Clark Avenue is the first in the nation to honor women who worked in the various aircraft plants such as Douglas. The only other Rosie the Riveter Park, which is located in Richmond, was dedicated to the Rosies who worked in the shipyards.
“[During the War], women were a key part here at Douglas,” said Steve Chesser, senior manager for community relations at Boeing (formerly Douglas Aircraft). “Women remain a vital part of our workplace today.”
During the ceremony, Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske (5th District) presented eight women who worked as “Rosies” with certificates of recognition honoring their contributions to the war effort. They were also given Rosie the Riveter lunch boxes and commemorative buttons with the Rosie image and the name and date of the dedicated park.
Ceci Julian, 1942 to 1945 Douglas, Janice Wills, 1942 to 1945 Douglas, Connie Lopez, 1941 to 1945 Douglas, Marjorie Grommé, 1941 to 1942 Westinghouse, Rosa Morales, 1942 to 1945 Lockheed, Mildred Strittmater, 1942 to 1944 Lockheed, Gladys Donohue, 1942 to 1945 Proving Ground, and Francis Cottrell, 1945 Pacific Parachute Company, were each brought on stage in a show of appreciation.
One of the honorees, Ceci Julian, also took the stage to entertain the enthusiastic crowd with some swinging renditions of popular big band era hits such as “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.”
Other Rosies who were members of the audience were asked to stand and also be recognized.
The image of Rosie the Riveter was popularized in the early 1940s when illustrator J. Howard Miller created the “We Can Do It” posters that beckoned women to play an essential role during the country’s time at war.
Following the United States’ entry into World War II in 1941, some six million women entered the workforce, many assuming what were traditionally male roles in the defense industry and manufacturing.
Shannon Clancy-Boone, a young Rosie enthusiast, attended last week’s ceremony in full Rosie the Riveter regalia. The elementary school teacher from Huntington Beach found inspiration in the iconic image while battling cancer and has since adopted the persona to help teach her students about the important role women have played throughout U.S. history.
The gathering concluded with refreshments, photos and the final unveiling of the sign bearing the park’s new name, Rosie the Riveter Park.