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Local 'Rosie the Riveter' shares memories of war and work

Local 'Rosie the riveter' shares memories

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Rosie the Riveter is one of the most iconic images of World War II, representing women who went to work in U.S. factories, while the men were overseas at war.

Though no one ever called her Rosie, Mary Evelyn Umphrey was one of those women and felt the calling to help after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

"We were miserable at that time, just plain miserable," Umphrey said.  "Whatever we could do, we did to help out."

Umphrey left Alabama and took a job at Detroit Diesel. She worked on the main assembly line, helping to build and assemble parts for U.S. military tanks.

"I knew there was a great need for people like me to do minute things, you know, something that would help," she said.  "Some of my classmates who I went to school with lost their lives during that time. That brought it closer to home."

Umphrey also met her husband in the factory.

"I come along and I thought, 'Gee, that's a nice looking guy,'" she said.  "He put the bolt in and I put the little tab on the molding that he put in. So he kept getting closer and closer to me, and I kept working faster and faster so I could meet him. After we met in January, we married in June."

Her experience in the factory inspired her to get an education. She went on to teach kindergarten for 25 years.  

It's the lessons of war and work that now, at 95 years old, she shares with her children.

"Be patriotic, get your education, and marry and have a family. What else is there?"

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