Rosie the Riveters and COVID news
Posted on 06/17/2021
Mayor Brian Turnbull Northvillians,

This week, we will explore our community’s connection to the World War II efforts through the eyes of the women in town … especially the impact of our local “Rosie the Riveters” and their stories.

But first, let’s look at the latest COVID updates …

• Moderna has requested FDA clearance for their COVID vaccine for U.S. adolescents ages 12-17. The study cited by Moderna included more than 3,700 adolescents. Moderna has already submitted authorization approval for use in Canada and Europe, similar to Pfizer. (CNBC.com)

• As the economy continues to open up and employers strive to keep their employees and customers safe, the State of Michigan has launched another round of funding for the Michigan COVID-19 Safety Grant Program. These grants will provide small businesses, including eligible childcare centers, matching funds of up to $10,000 to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread through the purchase (and training) of safety and health-related equipment. Additionally, the Michigan Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) launched a new “Back to Work” effort to highlight programs and services that help businesses and their current workforce needs. (Michigan.gov)

• In Michigan, all outdoor restrictions were lifted on June 1 along with easing indoor requirements. On July 1 there will be no indoor restrictions. (Michigan.gov)

COVID-19 confirmed cases: Northville has had 260 cases/8 fatalities, Township: 2,217 cases/51 fatalities, Michigan 997,000 cases/21,000 fatalities, Nation: 34 million cases/606,000 fatalities, Global: 176 million cases/3.8 million fatalities. (CDC.com)

Now let’s take a look at the stories of women in our community who served in various capacities during WWII. Some of them are the trailblazers known as “Rosie the Riveters.”

• The Northville Record in 1991 featured an article on women who served during the war years. They interviewed several ladies in the community, including:

o Bettie Johnson, of Novi, who enlisted in the Navy’s W.A.V.E.S. program (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). My Aunt Marion, who grew up in the Historic District, was also proud to be a Navy WAVES enlistee during this time.

o Marry Nunnery, who was the first woman to take 400 hours of aircraft engineering at U of M and also be trained on aircraft oxygen systems. She competed with the men on passing the pressure chamber simulating flight tests at 40,000 feet. Some men got sick but she didn’t. She went on to become the only female inspector at the Alabama Modification Center where B24 aircraft were prepared for combat.

• Some local independent women also served as “Rosie the Riveters” in the War effort. A 2010 Northville Record article spotlighted the incredible women from WWII who helped win the War. Some highlights:

o Some local women still carry a rivet in their pocket from the B24 Liberator Bomber aircraft plant at Willow Run in Ypsilanti, where they worked.

o The war effort slogan at the time was “We Can Do It” and posters featuring Rosie the Riveter were part of the campaign. The article featured Rose Kaupp, who said that when she was an 18-year-old riveter at Willow Run, she honestly believed she was in the heart of the “Arsenal of Democracy.” She knew my mother, who also worked at the B24 plant producing an aircraft every 55 minutes, 24/7.

o My mother was an electrical inspection supervisor but was proud to be considered a “Rosie the Riveter,” just like all women who worked at the plant. She was paid $1.15 an hour and received extra gas rations to drive all the way from Northville. My mother would tell stories about her ladies’ B24 carpool that would meet at her house on Dunlap and High St. at 6 a.m. every morning.

• FYI – The B24 Liberator Bomber plant was the largest production facility in the world at the time and was designed by the famous architect Albert Kahn. The plant was 3.5 million square feet and included dormitories and housing for 15,000 workers (of the total 42,500 work force). The B24 was and still is the highest volume bomber ever produced in the world.

• The concept of a women’s work force started long before the war. In fact, some say the precursor to the “Rosie the Riveter” concept was developed by Henry Ford, whose Phoenix Lake Plant on Northville Road employed only women workers. This plant was first a grist mill (1840-1905) named after the Phoenix village (1837-1880) and became Ford’s third Village Industry factory in 1922. The Phoenix plant made voltage regulators and switches and employed up to 200 women at its high point. In WWII, the plant made components for artillery guns.

Northville can certainly be proud of its rich heritage of many trail blazers in the Rosie the Riveter era.

You can see that many in our community were fully engaged in the War effort. Patriotism has always been a top priority in our town.

There are still many opportunities to share your time and talents on community initiatives such as the River Walk, the Farmers’ Market and Ford Field Task Forces, as well as other projects to enhance City life. Reach out to me directly to get involved. I thank you for assisting our town in getting through this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Keep hope in the future as we work together for the benefit of not only us, but our children and the next generation.

Keep that Northville Faith and let’s move forward together!

Brian Turnbull
Mayor – Northville
BTurnbull@ci.northville.mi.us / 248.505.6849

WomenWhoWorkedInFactoriesDuringWorldWarII