Tuesday, May 29

Norman and Rosie, a Riveting Story

By Art Cashin

On this day in 1943, the Pictorial Chronicler of Americana gave us yet one more image to sum up a special time. Assuming you didn't sleep through all your history classes, you will probably recall that in 1943 we were in the middle of something called World War II.  You may also recall that fighting a world war required a lot of men.  (Before the politically correct 90's men were considered the more expendable of the two sexes.  This was based on a natural selection corollary that to preserve a species you needed lots of women since one woman could bear one child per year, whereas one man....er....how did we get from History to Biology and Sex Education.....just see "women and children first!" under maxims.)

Anyway, with most of the men occupied in wartime pursuits, who would run the factories to make the machines of war.  Naturally.....America's women. And to depict this image of selfless sacrifice, the master chronicler - Norman Rockwell - created the image of "Rosie the Riveter" - sitting demurely on a dock piling, a rivet gun in her lap and a ham sandwich in her hand, with the U.S. flag billowing as backdrop.
For "Rosie's" face Rockwell used Mary Doyle a telephone operator from Arlington, Vermont.  The body, however, was a problem.  All the models including Mary were shaped like women, which was probably good for their social life if the men ever came back but it tended to confuse the image. So Rockwell put Mary's face and red hair atop a body copied from Michelangelo's "Isaiah the Prophet" - all decked out in coveralls and snood.

The image caught the fancy of America and was used as a morale booster for the troops ("she's fighting for you, at home) and a recruiting tool to bring more women into factories. To mark the day toast the efforts of a hard worker of the opposite sex but stop before your image gets distorted.

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

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