Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 22
COURTESY EARLINE GAI
'People were different back then. Everyone was
so cooperative and willing to do whatever it took to help win
the war. But it was also a scary time ...'
NE GAITHER FAM
defense work in Dearborn, Mich., " Gaither says. " He and a
friend left first. Two weeks later, I took a Greyhound bus from
Mississippi (where I grew up) to Dearborn by myself. I was 17
years old. "
It was hard for the Gaithers to find a place to live.
" First, we lived with an older couple who had converted a
room in their house into an apartment, " she says. " The government eventually moved in some prefab houses, and we lived on
one side of a unit. My uncle and aunt lived on the other side. "
Willow Run in Dearborn was a manufacturing complex
built by the Ford Motor Co. to mass-produce aircraft, especially
B-24 Liberator heavy bombers. By the middle of 1944, one B-24
rolled off the mile-long assembly line each hour.
" I worked alongside the men at the end of the line, " Gaither
says. " I was small-about 100 pounds-and one of my jobs was
to crawl up to the top turret and oil the guns. I also installed the
instructions that outlined the night-flying procedures.
" People were different back then. Everyone was so cooperative and willing to do whatever it took to help win the war. But
it was also a scary time ... I get angry when I hear of people who
don't believe that there were actually concentration camps and
suffering. I saw pictures in Life magazine and newsreels when
we went to the movies. It was real and such a tragedy. "
After the war, she and her husband moved to Georgia.
Ralph Gaither worked in the avionics industry, and Earline
Gaither made a career as a manager at Sears, Roebuck and Co.
in Marietta. They raised two children: Judy and Ralph Alan.
Gaither says she is working on writing down her life story.
Far left: Ralph and Earline Gaither, shown here in the
1940s, moved to Michigan soon after they married to help
with the war effort. Left: Earline Gaither sits on the steps
of her prefab house near the Willow Run manufacturing
complex in Michigan.
Like other Rosies, she exhibits a humble nature. She eagerly
shares her story, but she's shy about special recognition.
In December, President Donald Trump signed a bill
collectively awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to the
16 million women who worked to build vehicles, weaponry
and ammunition during the war.
" We all had a job to do, " Gaither says. " It was as simple
as that. "
Amber Lanier Nagle is a freelance writer who lives in
Calling all Rosies!
The American Rosie the Riveter Association (ARRA) recognizes
and preserves the history and legacy of working women, including
volunteers, during World War II.
Rosie: any woman who was employed in an industry or agency
directly related to the war effort or who was employed in a capacity
usually held by a man, thus releasing a man for military duty.
Rosie Volunteer: any woman who participated on a sustained basis
in one or more volunteer activities related to the war effort
(collecting critical materials, growing victory gardens, etc.).
Rosebud: any female who is the direct descendant of a Rosie or a
Rivet: any male who is the direct descendant or spouse of a Rosie,
Rosie Volunteer or Rosebud.
For more information about the ARRA, visit rosietheriveter.net.
For 25 years, LaGrange storyteller Carol Cain has pulled on a pair of coveralls
and work boots, tied on a bright-red head scarf and portrayed a " Rosie the Riveter "
for crowds gathered at Roosevelt's Little White House State Historic Site in Warm
Springs for World War II celebrations each June.
" I'm a 'Rosebud,' meaning that the American Rosie the Riveter Association
recognizes me as a member because my grandmother was a Rosie, " Cain says.
" My grandmother rolled bandages during the war. Because our real Rosies are all
over 90 now, it is more important than ever for all of us to keep their stories alive. "
To learn more about Cain's character or to book her for an upcoming event,
visit her website at www.storytellercarolcain.com.
Keeping stories alive
Georgia Magazine - March 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - March 2021
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 4
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 5
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