Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cellist, Inspiration for "Rosie the Riveter", Dead at 86

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From a Washington Post story:
"Geraldine Doyle, 86, who as a 17-year-old factory worker became the inspiration for a popular World War II recruitment poster that evoked female power and independence under the slogan "We Can Do It!," died Dec. 26 at a hospice in Lansing, Mich."

"Rosie the Riveter", who, in this famous poster, was neither named "Rosie" or a "riveter", has symbolized to this day a "can do" attitude on behalf of women everywhere. No shrinking violet need apply. No fainting couch needed for Ms. Riveter!

...One day, a photographer representing United Press International came to her factory and captured Mrs. Doyle leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red and white polka-dot bandanna over her hair.

In early 1942, the Westinghouse Corp. commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce several morale-boosting posters to be displayed inside its buildings. The project was funded by the government as a way to motivate workers and perhaps recruit new ones for the war effort.

Smitten with the UPI photo, Miller reportedly was said to have decided to base one of his posters on the anonymous, slender metal worker - Mrs. Doyle.

For four decades, this fact escaped Mrs. Doyle, who shortly after the photo was taken left her job at the factory. She barely lasted two weeks.

A cellist, Mrs. Doyle was horrified to learn that a previous worker at the factory had badly injured her hands working at the machines. She found safer employment at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor, where she wooed a young dental school student and later became his wife.

Ms. Doyle spent just two weeks in a factory but sixty nine years symbolizing the strength of the American woman.

Rest in peace, Ms. Doyle.

H/T Memeorandum

Cross posted at Lady Cincinnatus

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