April 17, 2013

Rosie the Riveter patrons pay tribute to WWII home front “SHeroes”

The Honeybee Trio, an Andrews-Sisters-style singing act, bring three Richmond, Calif., "Rosie's Girls" on stage to perform WWII-era favorite "Six Jerks in a Jeep." From left to right: back row, Sarah McElwain, Karli Bosler, Natalie Angst, front row, Malaih Ware, Ariel Norwood, and Hadassah Williams. KP Heritage photo.

Fans and benefactors of the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park gathered April 13 to get the latest on the park’s outreach programs and additions of artifacts and interpretive displays.

The Rosie the Riveter Trust, which helps support the park, sponsored “Rosies — Then & Now,” a fundraising event that drew about 200 revelers of all ages to the site of the former Kaiser Richmond Shipyards.

Some guests toured the 11-month-old National Park Service Visitor Education Center museum for the first time, and some took in the park’s “Home Front Heroes” film before dinner.

The tone was set early on with the energetic harmonies of the Honeybee Trio, three Vacaville (Calif.) high school girls who performed nostalgic songs from the era, many of those made famous by The Andrews Sisters.

The trio hit the right note with the audience: with five years’ experience on stage, their act is polished and could be mistaken for the original.

In one of their numbers, the Honeybees brought back the irreverent “Six Jerks in a Jeep,” calling on three Richmond girls from the audience to take a seat on stage in an imaginary jeep.

Young Rosies on stage

The Honeybee Trio, from Vacaville, Calif., is made up of three Will C. Wood High School girls: from left, Sarah McElwain, Karli Bosler and Natalie Angst. KP Heritage photo.

The selected guest performers are part of “Rosie’s Girls,” a six-week summer program supported by the trust. The program for girls from designated disadvantaged neighborhoods focuses on teaching the students traditionally male skills, such as carpentry, welding and fire fighting, and introduces them to positive female role models they call SHeroes (female heroes).

The girls, Hadassah Williams, 11, Ariel Norwood, 16, and Malaih Ware, 16, took center stage for the evening as modern-day “Rosies,” along with the wartime shipyard Rosies who were honored as well with special introductions.

Another honored guest was Morris Collen, MD, a Kaiser Permanente physician and researcher who started with the medical group in the Kaiser Richmond Shipyards in 1942. Dr. Collen, who spoke a few words at the podium, will celebrate his 100 th birthday on Nov. 12.

Lucien Sonder, NPS community outreach specialist, presented a recap of the “Rosie’s Girls” 2012 summer camp; NPS Ranger Matt Holmes gave a report about “Hometown/Richmond,” a year-round park program that helps youth faced with environmental risk factors such as crime, violence and poverty.

Community support for event

The Rosie Trust got support to produce the event from many businesses and individuals in the community. Among the sponsors were: the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders and Blacksmiths, Forger and Helpers, AFL-CIO, and Local 549; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan; Chevron; the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions;  Northern California Carpenters Regional Council; The Permanente Federation; and PG&E.

Eddie Orton and the Orton Development company donated the use of the Craneway Conference Center for the evening’s event.