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Rosie the Riveter - the Home Front during World War II (Violet McCarney)

Violet McCarney - 
Fairchild Aircraft, Hagerstown Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


Violet McCarney

When did you start at Fairchild?

I started August the 3rd in 1942. I worked from ‘42 until ‘55, and then we had an automobile accident. One thing led to another and I got all scarred up, so I quit. I took one medical leave after another until I just phased out. I went back in 1967. And Fairchild had a record of laying off a lot. And I guess it’s because of the government, you know, working for the government. They promised us 10 years that we would work, but we only worked a year, and then was laid off again, and then that was the end of it. When they had a lay off it was just everybody.

Will you explain how a riveter and a bucker worked together?

It would take two people; you had to work in partners. Whichever you did you were Rosie the Riveter. It takes two people, one shooting from the outside with a rivet gun, and the other on the other side bucking them down. A rivet is soft and they have to be shot down at a certain length, so that they hold.

What did you stop the rivet with?

A bucking bar. A real steel bar that you hold in your hand, and you hold it on the rivet while the girl outside shoots it. I would have it go down and flatten it down a little bit. The one on the outside shooting them and the one on the inside bucking them, they had to kind of work with each other, so she knew how hard to shoot it, and I had to know how hard to hold that bucking bar on there for it to go down. It had to be the right flatness or else we had to take it out and do it over again.

What planes did you work on?

PBM-3 bomber. I think the next one was the C-82. The PBM bomber, that was, we built the wings, and the other part, the cargo part, was built by Glen L. Martin in Baltimore. They shipped our work down to Baltimore, to be fastened onto the cargo part.

What was it like working for Fairchild? ?

I loved it. I loved it. Maybe everybody didn’t, but I did. I just liked that kind of work. And the people was great. I knew that what we were doing was for the war effort.

How much did you earn at Fairchild?

My first job, I was working what they called the 3rd shift. I would go in and go to work at 4 o’clock and I would work until 1 o’clock in the morning. And I got paid, for that I would get 50 cents an hour. The second shift I think would get 55 cents, and then I think the day shift you would get 55 cents. They always had need of men. We had a leading man which was over this small group, and then we had a foreman which was over everybody in the whole area. And then they had the general foreman which was over the whole plant. It was a big place, but I didn’t know of any woman who was a foreman. We never thought much about it then.

Has your life been different because you worked at Fairchild?

Well, it teaches you a lot when you go out and work in a place like that. You’re working with people, and a lot of different people. Everybody is a little different. And you learn to be tolerant and everything. Yea we made a lot of friends, lots of friends, and lasting friends. I’ve seen a lot of those today.

There was an activities director, and he got together a softball team for each plant they had in Hagerstown, and they had a lot of plants all over Hagerstown. I happened to be with the big plant. So he would always be at our games. Like I say he was activities directory. He was the head of all. They had basketball, and I’m not sure, I think they had bowling too. I wasn’t a basketball player, I was too short. I was the captain and we would go out and play and practice. When we practiced if we got tired and wanted to go to the movies, we just gathered up our balls and mitts and stuff and go to the movies before we went into work at 4 o’clock.

Oh the Fairchild Follies. I was just on the Follies. I didn’t have pretty legs, I wasn’t a great dancer or anything, but it just took somebody had the nerve to go up there and try out for it, that’s all. And so a girlfriend and I did that. It was at the Academy Theatre downtown.

And your pin?

That’s for 10 year service. I have what they call an Army Navy E. pin. Fairchild got an award for excellence and the E was for excellence. It was like the American flag. Now I don’t know what become of it, because I’ve searched every place and tried try to find it. But everybody that worked in that plant got it.


Violet McCarney



Collection Location:
Washington County Free Library

McCarney, Violet, 1921-2005; Aircraft industry--Maryland--Hagerstown--Employees; Fairchild Aircraft Company (Hagerstown, Md.)--History

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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