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Rosie the Riveter

Yesterday, May 29, in 1943, Norman Rockwell’s famous painting of a woman riveter that he titled “Rosie” appeared on the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post.” It is also on the cover of my book “Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II.”   Rockwell’s model, Mary Doyle, was a nineteen-year-old telephone operator, in Arlington, VT, where Rockwell lived.  “She really is a beautiful girl,” Rockwell told a reporter, “but since I wanted to portray a girl of husky proportions, I had to distort the picture.”  While researching my book, I located Mary, now Mary Doyle Keefe, and found out that she really was tall–six feet–and really had red hair.  Rockwell originally had her wear saddle shoes, and at the time of the painting the ham in the ham sandwich in her left hand was 11 ration points per pound. Neither she nor Rockwell knew a riveter named Rosie.  And he tucked the gold trimmed white compact and lace-edged handkerchief in the pocket of her overalls, lest anyone think that “Rosie” wasn’t “all-girl.” I sent Mary two copies of my book, one to keep & one to autograph & return for me.  She wrote: “Reading this book brings back great memories when the “Norman Rockwells” lived in Arlington, VT.”

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