Program from the 10,000th Boat Ceremony. The National WWII Museum, 0000.045.001
July 23, 1944, was a milestone in production for Higgins Industries. Seventy years ago today, Higgins Industries held an enormous celebration upon the delivery of the 10,000th boat to the Navy. The 10,000th boat, an LCM, was completed a day earlier and transported on a platform to the site of the celebration, New Orleans Lakefront. Not even two months following the D-Day landings at Normandy, Higgins staged a reenactment of those landings at New Orleans Lake Pontchartrain. A ship anchored in the lake unloaded troops onto landing craft which invaded the seawall of Lake Pontchartrain where thousands watched the display. PT boats also played a role in the show, patrolling the shores, and aircraft flew as if in defense against enemy aircraft. The ceremony was attended by Bureau of Ships chief Rear Admiral E.L. Cochrane, who in his address to the crowd called Andrew Jackson Higgins “a pioneer” in the field of landing craft. He praised the work and achievements of the men and women of Higgins Industries.
Ceremony for the 10,000th Higgins boat on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, 23 July 1944. Gift of Louis Gilmore, 2008.379.023
Ceremony for the 10,000th Higgins boat on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, 23 July 1944. Gift of Louis Gilmore, 2008.379.024
Ceremony for the 10,000th Higgins boat on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, 23 July 1944. Gift of Louis Gilmore, 2008.379.038
Ceremony for the 10,000th Higgins boat on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, 23 July 1944. Gift in memory of Andres N. Horcasitas, 2009.428.010
Ceremony for the 10,000th Higgins boat on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, 23 July 1944. Gift in memory of Andres N. Horcasitas, 2009.428.011
Ceremony for the 10,000th Higgins boat on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, 23 July 1944. Gift in memory of Andres N. Horcasitas, 2009.428.012
Antoinette “Toni” Miller (later Tamburo) worked as a clerk at the Higgins Aircraft facility in New Orleans. Like many other women who worked during WWII, Toni saved her pay stub as reminder of her wartime contributions. The pay stub in the gallery below dates from seventy years ago today. Toni worked over twenty hours of overtime and also put $11.25 of her total $88.11 toward war bonds. Following the war’s end, Toni was laid off from her job, only to be rehired months later in a reclassified position at a lower wage. Toni Tamburo devoted the bulk of her post-wartime career to teaching.
Toni (right) and friend at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. Gift of Theresa Tamburo, 2013.072
Like many other women who worked during WWII, Toni Miller saved her pay stub as reminder of her wartime contributions. Toni worked over twenty hours of overtime and also put $11.25 of her total $88.11 toward war bonds. Gift of Theresa Tamburo, 2013.072.002
Antoinette “Toni” Miller (later Tamburo) worked as a clerk at the Higgins Aircraft facility in New Orleans. Gift of Theresa Tamburo,2013.072
This week, April 6-12, 2014 is the Week of the Young Child™, an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In conjunction, this week’s Worker Wednesday touches on childcare in WWII.
April 1944 marked the end of the Higgins Industries publication, The Eureka News Bulletin and the rise of the new Higgins publication, The Higgins Worker. The new publication was more like a newspaper than a magazine—printed on newsprint, shorter in format and available to employees every Friday. The topics were current and concerned matters of everyday employee life, like childcare.
The need for womanpower during WWII brought to the forefront the issue of what to do with the kids while mom is at work. For the first time, there were more married women than single women in the workforce, some of them mothers. Childcare centers were opened around the nation. Federal subsidies from the Federal Works Administration provided extra support for communities, employers and families in need of childcare. Families paid fees which were capped at 50 cents per day in 1943 and 75 cents in July 1945. Some of them, including the one at Higgins Industries, even operated 24 hours a day, for mothers working evening and night shifts. The daycare at Higgins, opened 70 years ago this week, was located in Shipyard Homes, a public housing project established in 1943 to house employees and their families. In July 1944, there were a peak 3,102 federally-subsidized child care centers, enrolling 130,000 children. The center at the mammoth Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California could accommodate over 1,000 children. At the end of the war, many of the subsidized childcare facilities were closed under the assumption that the need was no longer there. California, the state with the most children enrolled in childcare, mounted the loudest protest against withdrawal of funding and some funds continued to flow into the program through early 1946. By July 1946, less than 1/3 of the wartime centers remained open.
On this first day of the World Series, our installment of the Worker Wednesday series adds another New Orleans production facility (and a baseball connection) into the mix. We recently received the donation of newsletters from Todd-Johnson Dry Docks Inc., an affiliate of the Todd Shipyards Corporation. Todd-Johnson’s publication was called the Todd-Johnson Keel. Todd-Johnson was a smaller operation than others in New Orleans, including Delta Shipyards and Higgins Industries. What’s the baseball connection? In this issue of the Todd-Johnson Keel, employees learn about their famous coworker, baseball great and future hall of fame right fielder Mel Ott. The native of Gretna, Louisiana, was 34 when he began work in the personnel department at Todd-Johnson for a “winter war job,” while off-season as manager of the New York Giants. Ott, a World Series champion with the Giants in 1933, was the first National League Player ever to hit over 500 home runs.
Diverging from our standard Higgins Industries and Delta Shipbuilding Co. Worker Wednesday fare, this week the feature is a set of photographs from the Pratt & Whitney factory floor. The photographs were shot in the summer of 1943 at the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Corporation of Missouri engine plant in Kansas City, Missouri.
Gift of Joe Robertson, 2009.274.006
Gift of Joe Robertson, 2009.274.008
Gift of Joe Robertson, 2009.274.013
Gift of Joe Robertson, 2009.274.016
Gift of Joe Robertson, 2009.274.017
Gift of Joe Robertson, 2009.274.021
Gift of Joe Robertson, 2009.274.015
Gift of Joe Robertson, 2009.274.026
Pratt & Whitney produced more than 360,000 engines in support of the Allied war effort. See the Museum’s R-1830-90D Twin Wasp Engine, a gift of Pratt & Whitney on display in the US Freedom Pavilion: the Boeing Center. The Twin Wasp was a 14-cylinder, twin bank, air cooled radial engine. It as used on a great number of aircraft, particularly the B-24 Liberator, Grumman F-4F Wildcat, and Douglas C-47.
The July 1943 issue of the Higgins Industries publication, the Eureka News Bulletin featured this cartoon, courtesy of the Ingalls News (Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, MS). Although Rosie the Riveter is now the most well known characterization of the female worker during WWII, other figures stood beside her (some clad in bathing suits). Bertha the Burner, Wendy the Welder and Jenny on the Job were just a few of the others.
In her book, Our Mothers’ War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II, Emily Yellin quotes one ordnance worker as saying,” There is no glamour in pressing a lever five thousand times a day.”
This sentiment was illustrated on the cover of the 1943 Memorial Day issue of the Saturday Evening Post. On 29 May 1943, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter made her debut. Rockwell’s inspiration was a 1942 song written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb, and recorded by Kay Kyser. Rockwell often used his neighbors as models for his works and his Rosie was a 19-year old telephone operator from Arlington, Vermont, Mary Doyle.
Rockwell’s Rosie is a true multi-tasker. She balances a rivet gun in her lap, eats a sandwich, and nonchalantly steps on a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.Rockwell ultimately illustrated over 300 covers for the Saturday Evening Post with the “Rosie” issue becoming one of his most popular. The original painting would go on the auction block at Sotheby’s and would sell to a private collector for close to $5 million. Fan correspondence and images of Rockwell’s work can be seen here in the Collection Highlights from The Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
J. Howard Miller’s “We Can Do It” propaganda poster is the image that is most often associated with Rosie the Riveter—a little thinner and a little more made-up.
Whichever image of Rosie you prefer, the idea of Rosie the Riveter continues to inspire and also continues to adapt.
Make your own Rosie poster (J. Howard Miller’s version) in our Kid’s Corner!
Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.