Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Revisiting Our Historical Communities: Melissa the Riveter

 In March, I blogged about creating a context for our personal images . In that post, I included a photo of me doing something a bit unusual for most people and said, "What conclusions might one draw about me based on this image? What do you think I'm doing here and why? Do you think this is an important part of my story or just a simple snapshot? (This is in fact a highly significant moment in my life and an activity that has an ongoing presence in my household almost ten years after this photo was taken." A reader asked me to explain the story behind it. So here it goes....(Sorry to take so long Jacqi)
In this picture with the safety goggles and goofy grin, I was sitting in our former home where my husband had a remarkable basement workshop. In this workshop, my husband began building his airplane. Yes. It is a real airplane - a two seater that he will pilot in the air and not from the ground. When I tell people that he is building and airplane, they usually think I mean the model airplane kind. Nope. It's the real deal.

The plane now sits in parts in our newer home and at the airport. The completed wings are in the hangar at the airport and I requested (insisted?) that the body of the plane remain on his side of the garage so that I can keep my car on "my" side. We were a little disappointed that we didn't manage to obtain a three car garage for our new home so that my car, his truck, AND his plane could sit comfortably under shelter.

So this picture is of me in the great workshop. The kicker is that I was pregnant at the time it was taken. (pun intended.)  I had been helping my husband build his plane, but about half way through my pregnancy nine years ago I stopped. The baby didn't like the sound of riveting. (Go figure!) Zip, Zoop, bam. (That is the sound of riveting and then a baby giving me a good solid kick in the gut.) "Cut it out Mom!"

A few months down the road as I slept off labor. My husband followed the nurse down the hall of the hospital and peeked in the window where they tested babies' hearing. He held his breath. He was sure that we had damaged her with a few "zip, zoops." Baby is actually perfectly fine, but this image remains to remind me of it all.

I chose to re-address this image today because yesterday I had the opportunity to talk again about our historical communities. I've mentioned in this blog in the past how we should all think about those who helped create a path for us to live in contemporary society. Perhaps most especially, thinking about historical communities is a great way to get kids to appreciate history and to understand what archives are. When I talk to kids, I explain about people in the past who did things that people still love today. A little league player can relate to old photos of Babe Ruth. Dancers (like my babe) can related to motion pictures of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. We all can reach back and find historical figures that shed light on our own activities and interests.

I am proud to call Rosie the Riveter part of my historical community - as a woman, an American, and a riveter!


  1. Thank you, Melissa, for not holding out any longer on that back story! I would never have guessed! Even given the context, it is still a pretty amazing project.

  2. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing!

  3. My pleasure. Thank you for reading. I think we all have family stories like this that bring back wonderful or funny memories. I hope that I can help inspire people to document their own snapshot related tales.