Rosie The Riveter


Bernard Lehrer


I was an RT2 on my way to Alaska and the Aleutians during WWII by way of Seattle. We were at a receiving station just outside of Seattle with weekend liberties into town. I made friends with the "old man" of the construction outfit I had been assigned to. He was all of 31 years old, a Plumber's Mate. Jim suggested we go in to town together. 

We went to the U.S.O. with the usual friendly but dull results. Afterwards we went to a Chinese restaurant. This was the first time I saw curtained booths in a restaurant. We sat at the open tables in the center. Suddenly I noticed fiery red hair and green eyes protruding from a booth staring at me. A little smile and some giggles let me know that I might have some company that evening other than the plumber. 

An elderly man emerged from the booth heading for the John and I followed surmising that this was her father. He said, "Go to it sailor, I'm just shacked up with her mother." 

Jim understood and I joined them in the booth and took off on a strange Seattle adventure. 

She was extremely shapely and quite pretty. But she worked in a shipyard as a riveter which her fingernails confirmed. The first place she steered me to was "The Boulder Cafe" for dancing. Going down the stairs I heard the roar of servicemen at their leisure. The problem was that they were ALL MARINES. I tried to make myself invisible while, one after another, the marines mauled "my girlfriend" on the dance floor. Eventually she tired of that and suggested we go to an all night movie. 


I took that as a cue that it was "fun time" so as we settled in this elderly movie house with about ten sleepy patrons scattered about. I surreptitiously reached over her shoulder and down her dress. Whereupon she shouted in her loudest riveter voice, "NOT NOW" waking up all the customers. Again I tried to become invisible. We ended up at the bus station waiting for the bus to take me back to base. It was cold and we cuddled in the vestibule of a closed shop. That was as close as I got to a naval victory that night. 

We made a date for the next weekend with promises from her of ecstasies beyond compare. The week went by quickly. The brass explained we were to construct a radio direction finder station to help the bombers on their return flight after bombing Japan. 

When the weekend came Jim wisely suggested that we go in to town together "just in case." Of course it was a "no show" and, after the U.S.O. visit we took a hotel room. Now, the most embarrassing event in my life!!  While sleeping in the same bed with Jim, in my frustration, I dreamt I was with "Rosie" and reached out to touch her hair. When I felt the sailor crew cut I woke with a start. 

Jim never mentioned it.

Next the Inland Passage to Ketchikan. But that's another story.

Return To Coast Guard Stories

Rosy the Riveter - Revisited

by Linda Allen

My strong right arm built the ship,
Built the ship that sailed to war.
My strong right arm built the ship,
Built the ship,
And what was that all for?

In 1941 the war had just begun
Jim was so young, but soon was off to hold a gun.
I was 19, our child was on 3
When the papers said the shipyards needed me.

I moved to Bremerton in 1942.
I learned to weld; I was the best one on our crew.
The work was hard, the heat would burn my lungs all day.
But when the paycheck came, we girls would feel O.K.

In 1943, August, eight a.m.,
I'd not been sleeping well, my mind was full of Jim.
There was a knock, a man in uniform stood there.
He said my Jim was dead.
I hadn't seen him in two years.

In 1945, the war came to an end.
And on that very day the big boss, he came in,
He smiled and said, "My girls, the boys are coming home.
You've earned a rest. Go home. Your work here now is done."

Picked up a scrap of metal and I carved my name full bore,
So my child would know I was a welder in the war.
No place to go, I was a widow with a child,
So I waitressed, and I cooked,
And I married in a while.

Sometimes I see that scrap with my name carved in so deep,
And I recall the day the boss told me to leave;
How I felt like some old rag they'd tossed aside,
As useless as my patriotic pride.

My strong right arm built the ship.
Built the ship that sailed to war.
My strong right arm built the ship,
Built the ship,
And what was all that for?