SUISUN CITY — These four women helped build the ships and planes that America used to win in World War II.
Kay Morrison, Marian Wynn and Linda Faraday of Fairfield and Priscilla Elder of Pinole filled the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” role, doing industrial jobs traditionally done by men as the men fought overseas. They shared their stories Thursday at the Suisun City Veterans Memorial Building.
Wynn, Morrison and Elder worked at the Richmond shipyard.
“While you veterans were on the war front, we were on the home front trying to help you get home,” Morrison, 90, told the gathering. “That was our mission.”
Morrison was a welder and made $1.38 an hour – the same, she noted, as the men in the same position. Women need to make the same amount as men today, she said.
“I worked with a lot of fine people,” she said. “We were all unified. Unfortunately, we are not today.”
Wynn, 87, welded pipes for the ships and got paid $1 an hour on weekdays, $1.50 an hour on Saturdays and $2 an hour on Sundays. The extra pay for the weekend hours helped her support her family.
Elder, 94, came to California from Iowa to work at the Richmond shipyards as an electrician. Meanwhile, her husband served overseas under Gen. George Patton, taking part in such battles as the Battle of the Bulge.
Faraday, 93, learned to fly a small sea plane at the beginning of World War II.
“It made me feel qualified to work on airplanes,” she said, adding she’s not sure why she felt this correlation.
So she went to work on planes for the war effort, installing gearboxes into Grumman Wildcat fighter planes on Long Island. Work went from about 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, with quitting time shortened to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
“Most of our lives were in the factory,” she said.
Wynn, Morrison and Elder were honored in April in Washington, D.C., along with three other “Rosie the Riveters.” Among other things, they had breakfast with Vice President Joe Biden and went to the White House.
Then, in a surprise, President Barack Obama entered the room and sat next to Morrison. Morrison told him that she understood his grandmother was a “Rosie” and Obama said ‘yes’ and that he was so proud of her and that she ended up becoming vice president of a bank.
Morrison could relate. After the war, as the men came home, she could no longer get a welding job. She got a job at Bank of America in Oakland as a bookkeeper and safe deposit clerk and worked her way up to bank manager.
An Internet video and photos show Morrison welcoming Obama to the room with a hug and then a kiss to the lips.
“I hope Michelle forgives me,” she said.
The “Rosie the Riveters” spoke in Suisun City at an event hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Simmons-Sheldon Post 2333.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.