Rosie the Riveter - the Home Front during World War II (Gertrude Kifer)
ANCO, Patterson, New Jersey
I live in Cumberland now, but I did live in New Jersey, northern Jersey at the time, and I worked in Patterson, New Jersey, in an ANCO company plant that made motors. I thought they were for the Navy, but my friend that I write to for 55 years, she said it was for the Army. We made them from scratch. They had an armature and this colored man put that together, these laminations and made the motor. And we put wires on it, they put wires, you know, the wires you need for a motor and we tested them. And they were shipped out from there to the army I guess.
Well there were a lot of women who worked there. Met a lot of nice people. They were all young people really, what they were. Well, there might have been a couple of men, but I remember the colored, well he'd be black - I'm saying it wrong- he put together the motor, the laminations on the armature.
What did you do before the war?
Before the war I was in school. I went to school. But I did not graduate. I left school and went to work. I worked in a 5 and 10 like this other lady there. I worked in a 5 and 10. But I got my graduation here in Cumberland, what do you call it – GED?
Why did you leave the 5 and 10?
The 5 and 10? Well I guess we didn't make that much, and then the war come on. I don't know, well, I guess I met this girl and we decided we go and work for the war plan and all.
What kind of training did you get?
They just showed us how to do everything. You take that motor - it went from one to another down the line where different things were done. I was mostly in there where they were testing the motor. But they showed us how to do it and all. We learned a lot, different things, I probably could have been almost an electrician...
Was it a large factory?
It was no big place like Kelly. No. Not very big. In fact most of those places up there were small, you know. Now, this lady I know at the nursing home, she did work at a former Westinghouse up there but that was in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Of course they went from here, up there. I couldn't believe it when she told me that, you know. They lived there during the week, they got an apartment, the whole group would stay there and then they’d come back to Cumberland on the weekend or whenever they had time off. I didn't really realize that.
But a lot of the people were young. They were young girls. A lot of young people. I didn’t anyone who was married. A lot of them were young people. I remember some of the girls, we went to their house for lunch and different things, but they were mostly, they weren’t married, not that I know of. I do remember we had a black girl there that was real nice. She was a lot of fun, you know. But we were mostly working till we left for the day.
Did you have blackouts in Paterson during the war?
Oh yes, we had blackouts. It was pretty black, what I remember. Everything, you know, you had to close up everything. It was pretty black at nights and all
And then there was rationing. I think I still have some of the ration things, unless I threw them away. I did have, you know. We had a hard time getting a lot of different things that you need for every day like sugar and gas and different things.
What did you do at the end of the war?
I don't remember too much about that at the end of the war. I remember when we first heard about the war, I remember that, I was younger, I remember that real well. I don't know why but I do remember that. It kind of made shivers go over me when I heard it.
But I met my husband there -he was in the service in the Air Force. They had an Air Force place there. And I came to Cumberland every now and then on the train with him, we came down, which was very interesting. We were crowded. And then later on, we got married. I still live here now.
Washington County Free Library
Gertrude Kifer, Paterson, ANCO
Western Maryland, 2004