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Calendar to honor Washington working women

Sun., Dec. 29, 2013, midnight

Twelve women from Lewis County who spent World War II working at the Boeing plant in Chehalis or farming the fields around the county are all featured in the 2014 Washington Women in Trades calendar.

The Washington Women in Trades calendar honors women around the state who worked during WWII in the same spirit as Rosie the Riveter with the same “We Can Do It!” attitude.

The 2014 calendar focuses on 12 women from Lewis County, who come from hometowns including Centralia, Chehalis, Adna, Pe Ell, Mossyrock, Salkum, Napavine, Bear Canyon, Tono and Lincoln Creek.

“They are an amazing group of women,” Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund said. “I’m hopeful that some of our younger kids will look at these women and get an idea about their history in their own backyards.”

Fund, along with local historian and Centralia Chronicle columnist Julie McDonald, worked with the Washington Women in Trades to set up a calendar shoot and interviews earlier this year for the 12 women.

The women in the calendar include Doris Bier, Shirley Erickson, Margaret Langer, Eva Hauck, June Deskins, Dorothy Powell, Ethel Nelson, Sarah Zopolos, Helen Holloway, Mardelle Hadaller, Margaret Shields and Loretta Downey.

“They are excited girls. They said, ‘We never thought we would be calendar girls. We never thought it was important,’ ” Fund said. “But they were here and they were working. They would go to school and hitch a ride into town to work at the Boeing plant.”

Copies of the calendar are available at the Lewis County Historical Museum or on the Washington Women in Trades website.

The calendar, titled “A Living Patchwork: The Lewis County Rosies,” was unveiled at the museum earlier this month during the “Evening with the Authors” event.

“We appreciate their service and what they did for this country,” Museum Director Andy Skinner said. “It’s our way of appreciating them and saying thank you.”

Skinner said longtime museum volunteer Margaret Shields, Ms. November in the calendar, is enjoying the recognition.

“She said, ‘I was disappointed because I didn’t get to wear my swimsuit in the calendar,’” Skinner said. “She is having fun with it.”

Along with a photo of each woman, the calendar features each woman’s first-hand account about working during the war.

“Most worked at the Boeing sub plant in Chehalis, and yes, they all have stories to tell,” Washington Women in Trades wrote about the calendar. “Many were farm girls; hard work was not an innovation to them – they’d spent their childhood years milking cows, tilling the earth, walking to school and preserving the harvest from family gardens. Speaking of preserving, that’s what this project is all about. Preserving the stories and the spirit of these women.”

Fund said Washington Women in Trades, based in Seattle, was impressed with the Lewis County Rosies. Some local women qualified for the calendar, but couldn’t make it because of health problems or the fact that only 12 could be in the calendar, Fund said.

All the women in the calendar still had old photos of themselves and even some love letters sent during the war. Some of the old photos are used in the calendar.

“We were not in that era, but they certainly inspire us,” Fund said.

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