It’s 11:40 pm and I am welding wing fittings for my little Piper. The temperature has cooled down to the mid 80’s from the high today of 103 so the torch isn’t as hot in my hand. Welding this afternoon at 103 degrees was, to say the least, miserable. But I have to smile as the salty sweat stings my eyes; I smile as I think of my Mom, of all of the “Baby Boomers” Moms, they were tough ladies. Oh, we knew they were tough when we crossed our Moms as kids; we knew that as they kept life in ordered bedlam; we knew that as they scraped us off the street after yet another bike crash; we knew they were tough and fearless. So, back to my welding. Why the smile?
As we approach another 4th of July celebration, many of us will be reminded of the great sacrifice made by so many to keep this nation free. Many will attend air shows around the country. As we watch the display of aircraft twist and turn, loop and roll, we will be delighted with the spectacle. Then, if we are lucky, we will hear that roar as that mighty WW II aircraft comes into view and we are transposed to a day, long ago, when the sky was filled by these warplanes. No, they were not in the skies then to entertain us; they were there to keep us free. They were flown by teenage boys from the farms; college kids; new Dads from the city; young Black pilots from the Deep South; flown to guarantee our freedom. And our Moms?
Well, Mom was a young teenage girl, fresh out of high school, She was watching her brothers and cousins enlist and drafted. She was watching them leave the farm, the city, and go off and fight …… and die for our freedom. And she too was called to sacrifice, to accept change, to do things she never dreamed of while growing up. She was called to build. She was called to leave the life she knew well and go off and build the tools America needed to fight. Sure, we have all seen the glamor pictures of “Rosie the Riveter” We have seen the pictures of our “Moms” in her late teens and early twenties riveting the bombers; glamorous pictures no doubt. But was it glamorous?
They were building aircraft in cities all over America. In cities like Stratford, CT; St. Louis, MO; Evansville, IN; Farmingdale, NY; Burbank, CA; Bethpage, NY; and Trenton, NJ. Do you think these were “glamorous” jobs, or were they hot, and dangerous, and sweaty? The welded in El Segundo; riveted in Oklahoma City; they bent sheet metal Long Beach; they installed engines in Buffalo. In Downey they built trainers; Wichita the B-29; Seattle more bombers; Chicago transports. In Lockhaven they built Cubs and in Inglewood the Mustangs. And then our Moms jumped in those bombers and fighters and flew them to their brothers and cousins who would take them into war. Some 6 million of our “Moms” worked for an average of 60 cents an hours in those hot factories. Yes, some were lucky to work in the first air-conditioned plant building B-29’s in Marietta, GA. But I bet there were some hot summer days building aircraft in Fort Worth, TX and Willow Run, MI.
So, as I weld my plane here in the heat of Southern California’s desert, I don’t complain. I have a lot of freedom to do as I please. Am I as tough as our Moms? Well, I’m smart enough not challenge that one!
With the Fourth of July just a few days away I encourage you to think about what our Moms and Grandmothers did for us during those days. I encourage you to seek out those tough Gals who built our fighting machines; who worked in the offices; and who tended to America during those dark days. Listen to their stories, and just say thanks. Thanks Mom!