October 20, 2005

8:21 minutes

Interviewed by Ann Kelsey

Filmed by Michael O’Hagan

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?

Fiedler:  Bogota, New Jersey, 102 Queen Anne Road.

Kelsey:  Where were you living when World War II started?

Fiedler:  Louisville, Kentucky.

Kelsey:  Were you married then?

Fiedler:  No.

Kelsey:  How had you gotten to Louisville from Bogota?

Fiedler:  I had been living in Indiana with my parents, which we had moved there from Ohio.  It was during the Depression years, you know, and my father found a job in Indiana, so we moved.  So then I was in high school there.  Then my older sister had gone to Kentucky to live with an aunt, to go to business school.  Then she got married after a while.  Then she asked me if I wanted to come down and live down there, because we lived in a small town in Indiana, not much to do, not many jobs around there.  So I went down there to stay with her.  Then I, from there, that’s how I got started.  I worked down there as a nurse’s aide, and selling makeup, and stuff like that.  And finally I took the civil service test.

Kelsey:  Were you doing the other jobs before the war?

Fiedler:  Before, yeah.

Kelsey:  And then why did you decide to go and try to work in a defense plant?

Fiedler:  Well, I couldn’t get a job.  I got tired of being a nurse’s aide, and selling cosmetics wasn’t too—nowhere to go.  So then I saw this—I don’t know where I got the civil service thing, but I said, “Oh, just try it,” you know.  They had a test, and I took it, and I thought I’d never pass.  It was mechanic learner, and I didn’t really know what that would be.  But I took it anyway just so maybe I’d get it, get a job.  So then I took it and didn’t hear anything.  I thought, well, I probably flunked it.  Then one day I got a letter in the mail that I should report to Bowman  Field, sub depot, for a mechanic learner’s job.

Kelsey:  And was this in Louisville?

Fiedler:  Yes, Bowman Field, which was a civilian airport at that time, but they turned it to military.  So then I worked there.  I started sheet metal mechanic, putting patches on airplanes, riveting.  Then I did that for a while, and then they decided they was gonna send some of us to air repair school, which was engines.  So I went there, started studying there.  Then after that they had too many people, then they had to put us in different departments.  So I wound up in a fabric department, where I was sewing the fabric wings, you know, and patching up them.

                        So then after I was there for a while, they wanted people up in Baer Field , Indiana, to work.  So I volunteered to go up there.  So when I got up there, I was in the fabric department, worked there ’til I finally left the job.

Kelsey:  What year did you start working there?

Fiedler:  I started working there in, I think it was ’43, and I stayed there ’til the end, ’til I quit and was getting married, so I quit and was leaving Indiana.

Kelsey:  What year did you quit?

Fiedler:  ’43, December ’43.

Kelsey:  So you went to Indiana to work in the plant….

Fiedler:  I didn’t tell you about the first part.  When I passed the test, then they sent me to Nashville, Tennessee, to go to school.

Kelsey:  And what year was that?

Fiedler:  That was ’42.  Then after I finished the course, I went to Bowman Field.  That’s the way that was.

Kelsey:  And then you went to Indiana?

Fiedler:  Yeah, transferred.

Kelsey:  And then you left in….

Fiedler:  I left Indiana, then I went back to Kentucky.  I gave my job up because I was getting married and was going to be in a different state.  So….

Kelsey:  Was your husband in the service?

Fiedler:  Yes.  He was in the service, yes.  I met him, and he was stationed in Georgia.  So then we got married, and that was the end of my job.

Kelsey:  And then what did you do then?

Fiedler:  Well, when I went there, I just picked up any job that I could find.  I didn’t go back into civil service work.

Kelsey:  That was in Georgia?

Fiedler:  Yeah.  I didn’t go back in that kind of….  Well, they told me I abandoned my position, so I couldn’t get another job anyway, because of this.

Kelsey:  Did he stay stateside?

Fiedler:  He stayed stateside, yeah.

Kelsey:  Then what did you do after the war was over?

Fiedler:  Then we came back east.  He was from New Jersey, so we came back here to live.  Then after that, I just more or less was—I did work then, part-time, yeah.

Kelsey:  So you started in New Jersey….

Fiedler:  I was born in New Jersey—well, my family moved around a lot.  They moved from New Jersey to New York state, to Ohio, to Indiana.  Then I went to Kentucky, then I went to Nashville to go to school, came back to Kentucky, worked there, then I transferred to Indiana again—Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Kelsey:  Where did you actually meet your husband?

Fiedler:  I met him in Fort Wayne.  I was still working at an air base there.  And he came up from Georgia.  He got my name somehow, and my address.  I think it was a thing they put out, a booklet or something with these names of soldiers in there, and they put….  It was from our church—I think it was a church in Indiana or something—some kind of a Catholic paper, and they put out these things so people could write to the soldiers.  A lot of soldiers weren’t getting letters.  His brother got the book, and I got it.  He was looking through it one day when he was on furlough.  He saw my name in there, so he just started to write to me.  Then we corresponded, you know, and finally met each other, and got married soon after.  I was a war bride, I guess you’d say.

Kelsey:  Did you enjoy the work you did?

Fiedler:  Yeah, I did.  I did enjoy it, yeah.  I did, but then my plans changed, I got married.  They claim I abandoned my job.  I did, in one way, but I wasn’t going to be there anymore, where I was working.  I was moving on, you know.  He was in Georgia, and I’d be in Indiana, so….

Kelsey:  So you resigned?

Fiedler:  Yeah, I resigned.  Well, they accepted it.  I wrote them a letter and they accepted it, but they still say you abandoned your position, because of wartime.  You’re not supposed to do that.

Kelsey:  Okay.  Well, thank you very much.

Fiedler:  You’re welcome.  That was sort of wrangly, trying to recall all that stuff, you know.

Kelsey:  No, that’s fine, just fine.

Fiedler:  It’s hard after all these years to think of everything.

Kelsey:  You have a good memory.






The Learning Resource Center at the County College of Morris

214 Center Grove Road, Randolph, New Jersey 07869