Richmond’s Home Front Effort is Still Making Waves
Come dressed for the ‘40s at this year’s Rosie Rally
By Matt Larson
Richmond’s efforts during World War II account for some of the proudest moments in Bay Area history. Building ships faster than the enemy could sink them was what the city became known for, but the longstanding impacts that the war effort had on modern day society is what the Rosie the Riveter Trust is most interested in, and that will be the message for this year’s annual Rosie Rally Home Front Festival on August 11th.
“The focus is really on the domestic side, and not the military side, for us,” said the Rosie the Riveter Trust’s Executive Director Marsha Mather-Thrift. Honoring “Rosies” who are still with us today is really what led to the festival first getting started, as they wanted to find a way to formally acknowledge these trailblazers.
“They made enormous advances for women’s rights and for women in the workplace,” Mather-Thrift said. “But the reality was that they weren’t just women. There were men who couldn’t go to war for various reasons, there were disabled people who were brought into the workforce—so it was men and women working together, learning new ways of getting along, learning more skills in the workplace; there were amazing social change efforts that came out of the war.”
Many original Rosies (and “Rogers” for their male counterparts), some of whom are now in their 90s, come to the park every Friday to serve as docents. They spend their time presenting to students and visitors, and they also come to meet the young girls at the Trust’s free summer camp for underprivileged youth as well. “Part of our mission is to really inspire the next generation, so they understand the importance of the kinds of changes that were made during this period,” Mather-Thrift said. “And one way to do that is to get older women and younger women engaged in coming to an event like this.” The festival usually kicks off by honoring any original Rosies in attendance, so don’t be late!
If by now you’re thinking about that time that Richmond broke the Guinness World Record for the most people dressed as Rosie the Riveter in one place, this is the festival that did it! The record has been bouncing between them and some friendly competitors in Michigan who currently hold the title, however this year, breaking world records is not part of the plan.
You can still come dressed as Rosie if you like, but the Trust is also encouraging attendees to think outside the box in order to depict a fuller representation of the war effort. For example, you could come dressed in authentic ’40’s attire, come as a non-Rosie home front worker, find a creative parent/child costume, or really use your imagination and come dressed as your favorite interpretation of home front history! “So, you can come dressed as a Victory Garden, or a recycling effort, or a rationing effort,” Mather-Thrift suggested. “Any piece of history that you’d like to replicate—in a costume!”
During past events many local businesses provide special deals and discounts if you come in wearing something that identifies you as part of the Rosie Rally, so there’s even more incentive to dress up! All details about what businesses are participating, as well as details about transportation shuttles from BART or Tideline’s commuter ferries can be found on their website. For the latest news join their e-mailing list at rosietheriveter.org. The Rosie Rally Home Front Festival is held at the Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way S, Richmond, on August 11, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit their website or call (510) 507-2276.
This year vendors are all encouraged to provide interactive exhibits. Some may be construction related, others may focus on gardening, but all that matters are that admission is FREE, and everyone has a great time. “People have so much fun and they really feel empowered and strong in learning this history of what these women did,” Mather-Thrift said. “You see that ‘We can do it!’ image for women really expressed on this day, and I think that’s really important.”