Rosie the Riveter - the Home Front during World War II (Dan Whetzel- Allegany County during World War II)
I teach history at Allegany High School and have been there for 26 years. This is year 27. We’ve published 6 books in 6 years on local history – the Lonaconing Silk Mill, the theaters of Allegany County, all the ones that you remember.
JUNE REEVES: One of my friend’s grandfathers owned one in Westernport and Piedmont.
DAN WHETZEL: We have those. The Star.
JUNE REEVES: The Star and in Piedmont was…
DAN WHETZEL: We just focus on Allegany County’s. We didn’t cross the river. The third publication was the great depression in Allegany County, all the survivor stories. We have Work and Wait which is the story of the Home Front. We have the stories of WW II, the WW II veterans. In fact when we started World War II it got to be such a large project we really split it into 2 volumes, the war stories and the home front. And last year we published a book on the 1950s called Prime Time.
JUNE REEVES: They were great years.
DAN WHETZEL: That’s why we called it Prime Time.
JUNE REEVES: That’s the best years.
DAN WHETZEL: What we do is to have our students go out and locate residents about a particular area or subject, Rosie the Riveters. They interview, they come back, they transcribe the interview, they write the articles, they lay out the book, they do a complete publication. We write and publish books.
Of course this is about Rosie the Riveter. We have the stories you mentioned here. We have a detailed explanation of Kelly Springfield, their production changes from tires to 50 caliber machine guns and shells. They also made pontoon boats. Growing up I had always heard about the 30 and 50 caliber machine guns, never pontoon boats. We located a woman who actually put them together.
We have the black outs, the rationing coupons, war bond rallies. Hitler’s coffin on Baltimore Street. Hitler’s coffin was a gimmick for war bond sales. Every time they reached a particular dollar figure they would take Hitler’s coffin up and down the street. Tojo was there as well. After the war they buried Hitler by the B & O crossing. I can’t find out what happened to him (laughter). I suspect when they put Queen City Drive through somebody dug him up.
JUNE REEVES: How about scrap drives?
DAN WHETZEL: We have photographs of scrap drives, civil defense, Avengement Day. Rosenbaums selling black out curtains, Gold Star mothers and then we have our Rosie the Riveter story. Hundreds of women worked at Celanese and Kelly Springfield. If you notice the photographs, we have a good photograph collection, there are many many women on the shell line. You may be able to recognize…
JUNE REEVES: My mother
DAN WHETZEL: Perhaps. So, we take great pride in trying to do a first class job with these books. We try to reach out to as many people as we can. But invariably we miss a person. That’s a short summary of what we do at Allegany High School. By the way we donate these books to the local libraries and to lots of folks so they are available. The only two that we have in print are the home front and the 50s book, the others have sold out, but they should be in your library system.
Washington County Free Library
Allegany County, World War II; Celanese Corporation of America.
Western Maryland, 2004