Friday, December 4, 2015

Wrapping up the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II

Victor Jorgensen's
"Kissing the War Goodbye"
(public domain)
     When it was announced in August, 1945 that Japan had surrendered and WW II was over, unbelievable jubilation broke out! Though the official signing of the surrender would not happen until September 2, 1945, most who were living during that time remember August 14-15 as the time of celebration --click here to see a Newsreel video about it.

Isn't this a great picture? My mother and my daughter,
Sarah, both with the Rosie spirit! Sarah had just won the
Southern Museum of Flight's "Why Are You
a Modern-Day Rosie?" Facebook contest.
It has been 70 years since the end of the war. The fall edition of the American Rosie the Riveter Association's newsletter, Rosie's Mail Call, tells of the varied ways that families, ARRA Chapters, communities, and historic places around the country celebrated -- see that issue here. We owe a debt of gratitude to the veterans and Rosies who kept our country intact and--well, still our country--during that time.

And here's a pictorial recap of how some of us commemorated the anniversary through the summer, into the fall, and on through Veterans Day, in and around Birmingham:

ARRA's National Project for the 70th Anniversary was "Rosies Rally 'Round the Troops!" -- a campaign to
write letters to currently deployed troops. Thousands
 of letters from 21 states came through our box and
we sent them on to 
Operation Gratitude to send to Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen overseas. And it's not too late -- if you'd like to participate, send cards or letters simply expressing your thanks to:
Rosies Rally 'Round the Troops,  P. O. Box #1, Fultondale, AL  35068.
Even 18-month-old granddaughters can get in on the letter-writing fun--
I told the Soldiers she drew fireworks for them!
In August, we set up a letter-writing table at an Honor Flight reunion.
Of course, GranFran didn't wait for people to come to us -- she went table to table recruiting people
to write letters on the spot! And how nice that they were glad to oblige.

Here's GranFran with Bessie Coleman
(aka Nikki Johnson of the Bessemer Airport Authority)
at the Southern Museum of Flight's Bombers and Bombshells Ball.
We also had a letter-writing table at the Bombers and Bombshells Ball. . . 

. . . as well as a letter-writing event at the Gardendale Public Library. With us are Mabel Myrick, a Rosie who helped host the event, Lisa who is the Adult Services Librarian, and my sweet husband, Jim.
We attended the Spirit of '45's commemorative program at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo, AL,
along with our friend, Ralph Jones, who is a WW II veteran and an ARRA Rivet.
All of these ladies are real-live Rosies in our Birmingham ARRA Chapter,
celebrating the 70th Anniversary at our quarterly meeting. We meet at the historic Irondale Cafe,
which inspired Fannie Flagg's 
Fried Green Tomatoes  -- how fun is that!!

GranFran appeared on "Talk of Alabama" on Birmingham's ABC affiliate,
Channel 33/40, with host Nicole Allshouse.

We welcomed the MVPA (Military Vehicle Preservation Association) to Tannehill State Park near Birmingham, as their
  historic 29-day convoy from Washington, D. C. to San Diego made a stop. The convoy traced the original
1920 Transcontinental Motor Convoy route along the Bankhead Highway.

We visited with some of the participants, like these ladies from California . . .
. . . and reconnected with old friends Bonnie and Auston McNeill of the Spirit of 45 Day Express,
and Robert Corpus from the Spirit of '45 organization.

In November, the Columbus, GA/Phenix City, AL Chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association
held a "Rosie Social" at Fort Benning, GA to honor veterans and Rosies. 

Chapter President Jonnie Clasen organized a spectacular event 
with more than 250 in attendance.

More letters!! Thanks to Snow Rogers Elementary students (Tiffany Reno, Librarian),
who wrote letters to deployed troops for our Rosies Rally 'Round the Troops project!

. . . and students at Irondale Community School (Kathryn Bailey, Librarian), who also wrote letters . . .

. . . and students at Gardendale Elementary (Elizabeth Lochamy, Librarian),  who ALSO wrote letters!
These three schools sent hundreds of letters to the troops.
Way to go, students!

GranFran marched into the annual National Veterans Day Awards Banquet 
in Birmingham, to sit at the head table. I enjoyed sitting with a delegation from 
the Blue Star Salute FoundationWhat a great time we had, honoring our nation's veterans!

On November 11, Rosies, Rosebuds, and Rivets waved flags and honored veterans and Rosies as our Birmingham Chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association participated in the Birmingham Veterans Day Parade.(It's the oldest and largest Veterans Day parade in the country, by the way!) 

The parade is always so much fun -- it was a beautiful day, and the Birmingham crowd is SO supportive! Our family had four generations representing Rosie in this vehicle.
We had a wonderful time on November 23 at the Homewood Public Library,
sharing the Rosie legacy with kids and adults. (Photo by Homewood Library)
Many thanks to Homewood Children's Librarian, Laura Tucker, for planning such a
fabulous event and inviting us to come along! (Photo by Homewood Library)

There is so much to celebrate in our great country! We owe such a debt of gratitude to all the veterans and those on the home front who brought WW II to a successful end 70 years ago. 

May we all know peace again soon.

Monday, October 5, 2015

We loved visiting with the IBEW 6th District in Detroit!

What a great time GranFran and I had visiting with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, District 6  (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) Women's Conference in Detroit! It was great to meet so many women who are involved in electrical careers and to hear their stories. And the men really turned out for the Women's Conference, too. Can't say that I blamed them - the whole morning was great.

GranFran spoke at the end of Tuesday morning, and the audience was so receptive and wonderful. People came to speak to her during the breaks even before her time on program, and they gave her a standing ovation as she made her way to the platform. There was a wonderful lunch, and then came perhaps the most fun time of all -- the photo booth! Women and men alike lined up to have their picture taken with GranFran in her Rosie outfit, then to have her autograph on their prints and books.

GranFran and IR Cheri Stewart
We will never forget the kindnesses of the trip, especially how Cheri Stewart, International Representative (and the only woman IR for District 6 by the way, so way to go Cheri!) took great care of us, getting us to and from the airport, settled in our hotel, etc. All around, District 6 has it going on!

GranFran and Tracy
in the airport shuttle van

And you might be interested to know that this fun time came about because of our 6:00 a.m. airport shuttle ride when we were leaving the Rosie convention in Richmond, CA in June -- that's right, our airport shuttle! The van picked us up at our hotel to go to the Oakland airport, then wound through Berkeley and Oakland to pick up three more passengers. The third passenger was a lovely lady named Tracy Torbert, who was on her way home to Michigan. As we all chit-chatted (albeit a little bleary-eyed at 6 a.m.!) Tracy discovered that GranFran was a Rosie and had been to a Rosie convention. She was VERY familiar with Rosie and so excited to meet an actual one -- turns out she is the President of her union, and District 6 has been embracing Rosie and her "We Can Do It!" spirit for several years. We snapped this quick photo while the van driver unloaded the bags, and -- long story short -- in a few weeks the invitation came to speak to the Women's Conference in Detroit, and we are so glad it did! (I guess the moral of this story is -- anything can happen, even at 6:00 a.m.!)

Thanks, Tracy, Cheri, and everyone else who made this a memorable event for us!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wonderful students at Trace Crossings Elementary

     Do you know what a STEAM school is? It is a school that has elected to concentrate on education through Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Mathematics, and Trace Crossings Elementary in Hoover, AL is one of them. They have been talking about Rosie the Riveter all fall as part of their emphasis, and they used R is for Rosie the Riveter in classes. So we were thrilled when they asked GranFran to come and speak to all the students and share real-life Rosie experiences!

     What great students and teachers we met in three presentations. Many thanks to librarian Stephanie Farnlacher for working out this special day!

      Keep STEAM-ing forward, Trace Crossings!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Such a fun day at Russellville High School

Mrs. Carroll's Hobbies class -
note the Flat Stanleys!
       Many thanks to librarian Debbie Nale of Russellville High School, who invited us to speak to RHS students! We enjoyed so much meeting the wonderful students there. Here is a picture of Mrs. Rachelle Carroll's Hobbies class -- that's right, a class on Hobbies! Wish that class had been around when I was in high school. They were participating in a Flat Stanley project with high school students in South Korea. Students from RHS took pictures with Stanley experiencing different aspects of American life, wrote explanations of what Stanley was doing, and sent them to South Korea. As Mrs. Carroll says, "RHS students will now be able to introduce students across the globe to Rosie the Riveter and make a connection between America's proud history of military service and modern-day students in South Korea." What a great idea!

The Book Lovers Club was a delight, as well. This community service club is active and involved in many charities, and truly has a "We Can Do It!" spirit. You'll notice a lot of teal was worn that day, because of their Ovarian Cancer Month project.

And thanks to Debbie for piloting our book sales fund-raiser, in which schools can take the orders and handle the transactions, then keep a percentage of the book sales! (Email me at if you want details for your school.)

Thanks, RHS - we thoroughly enjoyed our visit!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rosies Going Strong at 2015 Convention in Richmond, California!

      All of the lovely ladies that you see here are real live Rosie the Riveters! They are women who went to work during World War II - building airplanes, ships, and lots of other jobs that were needed to win the war. They live all across the U. S., from Maryland to Pennsylvania to Alabama to Texas to Iowa to Oregon to Kansas to Arizona to California, but they all traveled to Richmond, California last weekend for the 2015 convention of the American Rosie the Riveter Association - and what a convention it was! GranFran and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Click here to meet some of these amazing women via the local KTVU  evening news spot during the convention.
One of many WW II scenes in
the Park's fabulous Visitor Center
     Why Richmond? Because during the war, thousands of men and women were working in four Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, building ships for the war effort. Today, Richmond is the home of the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park, and it was our privilege to tour the Park's wonderful Visitor Center and other historical sites throughout the city. The above picture of the Rosies was taken at the Craneway Pavilion, part of the old Ford Assembly Plant that stopped making civilian cars during the war and made tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other military vehicles instead. The historical building is now a venue for weddings, roller derbies, and lots of other events.
Rosies who volunteer as docents
at the Visitor Center, sharing about
their trip to meet with Vice President
Biden in May 2014.
     We met several of the spunky Rosies who volunteer as docents at the Park's Visitor Center each Friday. In May, 2015, they traveled to Washington, D. C. at the invitation of Vice President Biden. Watch this CUTE video of Lara Spencer's (Good Morning, America) coverage of their trip.
 ARRA National President Yvonne Fasold
with Rosie Elinor Otto, age 95 -- who
JUST RETIRED from the job as a riveter
that she started in 1942!
We also met Elinor Otto, age 95, who started working as a riveter in 1942 and JUST RETIRED from riveting at Boeing this year--at age 95! And I don't think she was too happy about retiring when she did - what a dynamo! Here is an NBC video of Elinor on the job when she was a mere 93.
    All of these women are an inspiration - it is not only
  fun to hear their stories, it is also amazing to realize what they accomplished, and what a legacy they have left for us. Thanks, Rosies!
The Rosies also brought their daughters and granddaughters (Rosebuds),
sons and husbands (Rivets), and guests to the Convention.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Super time at two great conferences!

GranFran and I enjoyed two wonderful days with "book people" this week. The Alabama School Library Association's annual workshop was great! When I was a librarian, the conference was always a boost, and now, as an author in the Author Alcove, I found a new kind of fun connecting and reconnecting with fellow authors and librarian friends. And we had even more fun presenting at a breakout session about our books and giving a sample of our school visit presentations.
     Well, after all, you can't help but enjoy being around several hundred people who love books for kids!
                And also . . .


       We had another great day when we participated in the Southern Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa - great speakers and workshops, and we enjoyed meeting fellow authors in the Authors Room. If you are interested in honing your writing skills and managing the business end of writing, you might want to check out this excellent conference that is organized as a ministry of love by three generations of the Sloan family. Next year will be their 25th anniversary!
We shared a table with fellow author  
Lawayne Childrey, and as it turns out, he
remembered Mother because he narrated a 
DVD about Alabama Rosies that 
Jeff State Community College 
produced about 12 years ago.
How cool is that!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

GranFran and 13 other Rosies were honored by the Dutch Embassy

    It was quite moving to be part of a ceremony at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, D. C. last weekend, when 14 representative "Rosie the Riveter" working women of World War II were honored for their service in helping to liberate The Netherlands 70 years ago. My mom, Dr. Fran Carter (fourth from the left in the photo) was one of them.
14 Rosies represented all the Rosies who helped
 make Operation Chowhound a reality, pictured here 
with organizers.

    By the winter and spring of 1945, the war had taken its toll on so many countries in Europe. Still under German occupation, citizens of The Netherlands were starving. You can read more about The Hunger Winter in The Netherlands here and here.
     In late April and early May of 1945, Allied bombers dropped food, including military rations, into the countryside. The British wave of drops was called Operation Manna and the American wave was named Operation Chowhound. Click here to see some great historical footage of actual sorties and drops in this humanitarian effort. Though distribution was a challenge under such difficult circumstances, the operations provided more than 10,000 pounds of food, as well as hope for Dutch citizens. Rosies had helped to build the planes, the parachutes, and even package the food that was dropped, so The Netherlands honored these 14 Rosies as representatives of the many who helped. The military who participated are being honored in a separate ceremony.
GranFran (front, right) with a
fellow Rosie, Ambassador Bekink,
and Commodore Reefman.
It was exciting to be a part of
this ceremony with GranFran
and my brother, Wayne.
   Dr. Hugo Keesing, who was two years old in The Netherlands at the time of the airdrops, helped to organize the thank-you, as one of the children who was saved by the drops. A prolific collector and archivist of pop music, he arranged for a presentation of popular songs from the '40's: "Lady's on the Job," "Sweetheart in Overalls," "Mama, Put Your Britches On" and one we knew very well, "Rosie the Riveter." Also expressing gratitude to the Rosies were Ambassador H. E. Rudolf Bekink and Commodore Ralph Reefman, Defense Attache.
     Other organizers were Thanks, Plain and Simple, which is a West Virginia-based non-profit that honors Rosies, and a club of Dutch residents in the D. C. area called D. C. Dutch.
     What a day!

Friday, May 8, 2015

The 70th Anniversary of V-E Day!

     Did you realize that on May 8, 1945, the fighting was over in Europe? What a day that must have been!
    In Free-Falling for Freedom and also Some Sidelights of Operation Dragoon, my dad described his experience of trying to report back to his Headquarters, which meant navigating Paris in two open jeeps:

My dad, John T. Carter, in 1945
 "The entire city of Paris was one big celebration. The streets were crowded and blocked. I was driving, and there were many human traffic jams, so we had to stop often. The Parisians were so jubilant, they would pile into the jeep and celebrate, even if we wouldn't get out. Every time I had to stop, the French passengers would jump out and another batch would jump in. It was by far the most fascinating battle I had participated in!"

     Now 70 years later, GranFran and I celebrated the 70th anniversary of V-E Day with visits to two awesome schools.
Advent Episcopal School and Church
     First, we visited Advent Episcopal School in its beautiful downtown Birmingham location. We were so fortunate to be there on the day of their weekly chapel service, in which students participated and also took leadership roles. Second grade teacher Beverly Crawford had arranged for us to share with students in grades pre-K through 8 about the legacy of Rosie the Riveter. What amazing students we met there!
     Then, we were with Williams Intermediate School in Pell City on the actual V-E Day. Under the direction of 6th grade teacher Amy Martin, ten classes of sixth graders rotated to six stations that emphasized patriotism and the legacy
GranFran with sixth graders at
Williams Intermediate School
that we all received from World War II. A WW II veteran answered questions at one station, they learned the proper way to fold a flag at another, they learned some kickin' 1940's dances at another--and Rosie the Riveter (aka GranFran) shared her experiences at another! The local VFW Honor Guard provided a moving 21-gun salute and Taps, and to top it off, their school choir sang. The students were fabulous, and we were so honored to be part of their special day!

Monday, April 13, 2015

We are so excited! Free-Falling for Freedom has won a Gold Medal!

We were humbled and honored--and of course THRILLED--
to learn that Free-Falling for Freedom received a Gold Medal this weekend in the Young Reader Nonfiction category of the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards! We always knew my dad was a good storyteller! What a privilege it is to share his stories with a new generation.