ROSIE THE RIVETER

TRANSCRIPT OF AN INTERVIEW WITH ELIZABETH MCWILLIAMS


 

October 20, 2005

6:11 minutes

Interviewed by Ann Kelsey

Filmed by Michael OíHagan

For the County College of Morris, Learning Resource Center

Randolph, New Jersey

Rosie the Riveter Project

Transcribed by Jardee Transcription, Tucson, Arizona


Kelsey:  Where were you born and raised?

McWilliams:  I was born in Dover, and raised in Kenvil, New Jersey.

Kelsey:  When the war started, were you married, or were you single?

McWilliams:  I was single then.

Kelsey:  Did you get married during the war?

McWilliams:  Uh-huh, thatís why I left Picatinny, to get married.  He came home from overseas, and I wanted to go with him.

Kelsey:  When did you get married, what year?

McWilliams:  I was there in í44, I got married in í45.  Thatís when I left Picatinny.  My maiden name was DeRienzo.

Kelsey:  And how do you spell that?

McWilliams:  D-E, capital R, I-E-N-Z-O.

Kelsey:  So when did you go to work at Picatinny?

McWilliams:  I went in í44, and left in í45, like I said, to get married.  Our first base was Oklahoma, we went to

             Oklahoma.  He came back from overseas.  He was in the Air Corps, in the Navy.  Heíd been stationed on an

            aircraft carrier.  He came home, his next base was going to be Norman, Oklahoma, and wartime, you know, I

            had to be with him.  So I left and we went to Oklahoma.  In fact, we were in Oklahoma when the war was over in

            Germany, and his next base was Florida.  We went to Jacksonville, and the war was over there in Japan.  Thatís

            where we were.

Kelsey:  Why did you go to work at Picatinny?

McWilliams:  I donít know, it was like a wartime thing.  It was something you thought you had to do.  My whole family

            worked at Picatinny.  My father was head of the stores area there.  I went to work in the ordnance department,

            though.  Thatís the only place they would let me work there.  My mother workedóI was just telling [Mr.

            OíHagan], my mother worked first there.  She sewed the bags that they put the powder in.  And when she

            stayed there working, after the war was over, she became a timekeeper there.  But that was my fatherís only

            job.  He went there when he was nineteen, and worked there until he retired, in the stores area.

Kelsey:  And you worked in ordnance.

McWilliams:  Uh-huh.

Kelsey:  What did you do?

McWilliams:  I started out as a messenger, actually, with blueprints.  I did all the work with blueprints, taking them to

            different departments, wherever they needed them.  And after that, I became a file clerk in Building 171.

Kelsey:  And those were the two jobs that you had?

McWilliams:  Uh-huh.

Kelsey:  How old were you when you went to work?

McWilliams:  Sixteen.  Got married when I was seventeen.

Kelsey:  Did you graduate from high school?

McWilliams:  I left in my last year.  And donít ask me why I did that, either, because I donít know!  I had this thing about

            being in the war, and that you had to do something.  I was fortunate enough that I had parents that were lenient

            and let me do it.  But it worked out fine for meóit did work out fine.

Kelsey:  And were you glad that you did that?

McWilliams:  I was, yeah, because I had a good marriage, I have three children.  My husband died just before our fiftieth

            anniversary, so I had a good life.  I really had nothing to complain about.  So it was good.

Kelsey:  Did you work after the war at all?

McWilliams:  No, I was a homemaker all my life.  I was from a generation usually where the menóthat was his job.  And

             I always had family around me, always family to take care of.  My mother lived with us after my father passed

             away, until she passed away.  So I always said I raised other peopleís children, so I was content, I had a good

             life.

Kelsey:  When the war was over, [and you were in] Florida, where did you go after that?

McWilliams:  You mean when we left?  Well, he was in the service for another year, and then we came back.  We moved

            to Succasunna, and he built our home when we were going to have our first child.  And Iím still in that house.  A

            lot of additions on it all the way aroundóup down and around.  The house got bigger through the years as more

            people came.

Kelsey:  Thatís terrific.

McWilliams:  One of my sons was in Vietnam.  I have two boys and one girl.

Kelsey:  Thatís wonderful.

McWilliams:  And five grandchildren, and two-and-half great-grandchildren.  (laughter)

Kelsey:  Thatís terrific!

McWilliams:  And Iíve really had a good life.  I canít complain.

Kelsey:  Thank you for talking with us.

McWilliams:  Yeah.  And Iím still moving around, which is good!

Kelsey:  Yes, you are!  And very well, too.

McWilliams:  So itís good.  But I just wanted to tell you, I was happy, all my family worked there.  I even had aunts that

             worked there.  So it was good.  And Iíve had a good day today, thank you very much.

Kelsey:  Good!  Iím glad.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

 

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