Tuesday, March 4, 2014

World War II - Life on the Home Front

Poster  Encouraging Women
For a story idea, I’ve been researching what life was like on the home front for women during World War II. In my searching, I came across a little book called Women Remember the War 1941-1945, published by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Rosie the Riveter Poster
Almost all of us have heard of “Rosie the Riveter” who was a fictional icon the government used to promote the war effort and to encourage women to step up and take the place of the male workers who had joined the military. Among the many posters that encouraged all people to do their part, a poster that later became known as “Rosie the Riveter” depicted a woman flexing her muscle and saying “We can do it!”

A very real woman named Rose Kaminski lived in Milwaukee and had been a housewife and mom until Pearl Harbor was attacked and her husband went to war. Her name may have been Rose, but she wasn’t a riveter. She actually learned how to operate a crane. She’d first began doing her part with a factory job, which she found boring and tedious. When the crane operating job came up, she applied, and within three weeks she found herself sitting atop a very high crane lifting parts up, over and down into the Howitzer gun barrels the company made for huge guns like the one in the picture.
WWII Howitzer

Ad for Victory Garden Supplies
Rose held the job until the man whose job it belonged to came home from the war. That’s how it was during those years. Women went to work to replace the men who had gone off to war with the understanding that they would give the jobs back when the men came home.

Everyone was of a like-mind that for the country to win the war, everyone had to do their part. No job was unimportant, whether it was replacing the men on the job, growing victory gardens, collecting scrap iron that could be melted down and turned into weapons, driving on bald tires, and doing without in many other ways.

Most everyone, except for those who were kids during World War II, have passed on now. I wish I’d asked my parents more questions about what life was like during WWII on the home front.

What about you? Do you have artifacts from relatives who either fought in the war or stayed home and helped the war effort in other ways?

A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago, an hour's drive away from her hometown which she visits often to dig into its historical legacy. Her novels include Thyme for Love, and Love Will Find a Way,  contemporary romantic mysteries and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva,Wisconsin, released in April, 2013. She can often be found speaking at events around Lake Geneva or nosing in microfilms and historical records about Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas.


  1. I live in S. California and visiting the Rosie the Riveter NHS is on our bucket list. It's in the San Francisco area, I believe. Thanks for your post. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. Hello Pamela. Yes, I remember WW ll very well I was from 9 to 11 when we were living in Houston, TX. so my dad could go to work in the shipyard. He said their was also a woman welder working with his bunch. My mom didn't get a g-regular job since she had a big family to tend. But, she and most all ladies did whatever was needed that they could do for the war needs. I remember how all of the people pulled together to help. Not always complaining like so many do now. My sisters helped entertain at the USO. And, mother usually had 4 or 5 servicemen for Sunday dinner. My brother was a medic and on leave, he brought me a Medical symbol and mother made me a white dress and sewed it in the top center. I still have it after all these years. I also have a old letter written by a friend of the family who had written to my grandmother. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com