West Virginia Rosies share war experiences



Published: Friday, March 11, 2011

Updated: Friday, March 11, 2011


Marcus Constantino | The Parthenon

Mary Lou Maroney, one of the West Virginia Rosies, was one of five presenters at a program Thursday at the Francis-Booth Experimental Theatre in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. The program honored the women who served on the home front as defense workers during World War II.

Women who worked during World War II shared their stories and experiences at the Francis-Booth Experimental Theatre on Thursday.

Anne Montague, founder of "Thanks! Plain and Simple, Inc.," has organized these women into the Rosie the Riveter Project, and Montague's mission is to unify veterans in West Virginia to lead these projects.

"Projects are so important for unifying people. Projects are tangible, and with a tangible beginning, middle and end, people will embrace it," Montague said.

   Montague said her goal for the project is for people have a better concept of the strength of a veteran while getting veterans involved.

The Rosies are one of the events Marshall University is hosting to celebrate Women's History Month. This year's theme is "Our History is Our Strength."

"The lives of these women here tonight, women who helped to win World War II, whose strength and determination held this country together in its darkest time, represent the heart of this year's theme," said Kat Williams, women's studies faculty.

Mary Lou Maroney, Fayette County, W. Va., graduated from East Bank High School and riveted in Detroit, Mich., where she mostly made wings for B24 and B29 airplanes.

"Along came two men and they were recruiting people to go to Detroit to work," Maroney said. "They would pay our transportation and do our training so we could become riveters in the aircraft work."

Maroney later joined the Navy and was assigned a store keeping position.

Gloria Farmer, Logan County, W. Va., also went to Detroit, Mich., after graduating high school. Farmer, her sister and her cousins riveted at Ford Motor Company working on B24s. Farmer's rooming house caught fire with her and the other women inside.

"I was the heroine and broke the glass with my hand and pushed my sister out," Farmer said. "The sad part of it is my cousins upstairs were killed with a girl from Kentucky and a janitor. By the grace of God my sister and I got out."

   Farmer said the hardest adjustment was leaving the comfort of home and going to a big city. She said nobody ever offered her and her sister blankets or shoes after they escaped the burning house.

   Mazie Mullins, Nicholas County, W. Va., left her family farm and riveted on B26 and B29 aircraft wings in Akron, Ohio.

   "I really enjoyed my job. It was a noisy job and is probably why I have to wear hearing aids now!" Mullins said. "I felt like I was really doing something."

   Mullins had a boyfriend in the service and was supposed to meet him in West Virginia on his leave so they could get married.

   "Just about 10 days before he was to come home, he was killed," Mullins said. "I got the telegram and it was so sad."

   Mullins said she continued her work until the end of the war because she felt she was helping to save some other boy's life.

   Montague said one common theme she has found among the 150 Rosies is they pulled together then and they can do it again.

   "We learn about dedication, patriotism and courage from them," Williams said. "We stand here today a better, stronger country because of them and as women, we stand taller because of their efforts."

   Kelley Bugler can be contacted at bugler@marshall.edu.



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