Wednesday, November 12, 2003

What a day of mixed feelings!

Lots of media for 12 old ladies wearing hardhats (we got to keep them as souvenirs), sound trucks, limos carrying Ford executives who flew out for the occasion, city officials including the mayor and council members -- and -- Rep. George Miller, himself, who got the legislation passed that created this new national park.

We were serenaded by a trio of 'ole folks' who entertained in the USO during the war, two of whom were women. There was something a little bizarre about an 80 year old woman playing a sax, but then who am I to talk? May be just as bizarre to have a field representative of a state legislator who's still working full time among them. This was the first time in more years that I can recall where I was surrounded by my contemporaries, it felt strangely uncomfortable. Probably need to look at that. There were group photos taken that appeared in today's local papers. Then individual interviews. Hated every minute of it, but mostly because my "war stories" didn't match those of the other women. How does one celebrate having been a clerk in a segregated union office when you're surrounded by women who'd actually earned their hardhats as welders? Felt like a fraud.

We were photographed sitting in and around an old WW2 jeep, and with our arms raised -- in a gesture to show our muscles (the stereotype of the Rosie photos). Was so glad this morning when I open the paper and found that I'd carefully found a way to stand in back in a way that had the raised arm of another Rosie blocking out my face! You couldn't even tell that I was there -- and for that I'm grateful! It all felt pretty silly, and as if we were simply the object of a campaign to sell the Ford Motor Company. I figured that it would have to be a pretty slow news day for anyone to want to run such photos. Sure enough, didn't see much on the eleven o'clock news last night except Veterans Day Parades and footage of distant wars.

After the photo shoot we had individual interviews. I got to make my little speech about my "role" in the war effort. Did it quietly and without anger or discomfort. Made a pitch for how grateful I was that Ford was giving us the opportunity to re-visit a time in history when the country had less to be proud of, and that now we have a chance to do it right. I did notice that when I checked out the web site, some African American Rosies have been included in the photo gallery. Ya nevah know ... maybe we raised some awareness.

Learned also that last night the interview that I participated in a couple of weeks ago, the one done at the Rosie Memorial site (great spot) was to be "put up on the satellite." I understand that to mean that -- as in "put into the wire service" -- there's no way to know where it will turn up as a Public Service Announcement, because it has simply been made available to whoever wants to use it. We may never see it. On the other hand, I'm liable to run into myself at some point when I least expect to.

After the event concluded I climbed into a bright red Corvette convertible with Eddie Orton of Orton Development, who will be restoring the beautiful old Albert Kahn-designed Ford Building. I was deeply disappointed when his firm got the contract for this multimillion dollar project. Had my heart set on another concept and had worked hard to support it. We made our peace during the party and he invited me to lunch and for a drive to look over the old historic core of the city where I have visions of helping to bring into being an Arts & Entertainment District. But, of course, I have big dreams and no funds, but during the several hours that we spent exploring possibilities and coalitions and economic development and arts and culture -- Rosie got left behind in the dust. By late Tuesday afternoon I was already well into Wednesday.

...and Wednesday went very well, thank you.