'Rosie the Riveter' Still Working: Elinor Otto Has Factory Job at 93

Friday, 27 Sep 2013 03:02 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Rosie the Riveter is still riveting.

Elinor Otto, 93, one of the original famed brigade of working women who supported the World War II effort, remains employed. She rises each morning at 4 a.m. and drives to the Boeing plant in Long Beach, Calif., to start her 6 a.m. shift inserting rivets into C-17 cargo planes.

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She has been doing it since 1942.

"I was born working," Otto told The Press Telegram last month. "I love to work and get out of the house and get something accomplished. The little I do on the airplanes with all the people makes me feel like a part of something bigger."

Otto was a part of something huge in the early 1940s, when the "Rosie the Riveter" girls filled tens of thousands of assembly plant jobs made vacant because men were fighting. She earned 65 cents an hour then.

"We were part of this big thing," Otto told NBC News. "We hoped we'd win the war. We worked hard as women, and were proud to have that job." 

Otto kept doing it long after the war ended, despite the majority of "Rosies" returning to their homes. She also held various office jobs and had a brief stint as a carhop. Eventually, she returned to what had become a booming aircraft industry in Southern California.

Her longevity is an inspiration for everyone she meets.

"When I think to myself, 'Why am I slowing up? Why am I home?' I think that 'Elinor is at work. And Elinor is 93!'" her boss, Don Pitcher, told NBC.

Though Otto said that she'll work as long as she can, she concedes that she would be content leaving some point next year, after Boeing completes its last contract for C-17 cargo planes.

"I'll be the one that closes the door," Otto told NBC News. "I'll be the last one there."

Rosie the Riveter was a cultural icon in the U.S., representing all American female factory workers during World War II. The image is often associated with women's strength. The term was introduced in 1942 in a tune written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. 

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Rosie the Riveter Factory Set for Demolition Gets 2-Month Reprieve

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