October 20, 2005

5:34 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 and raised?

Dow:  I was born in Orange Memorial Hospital in Orange, New Jersey.

Kelsey:  Where did you live when the war started?

Dow:  West Orange.

Kelsey:  Were you married then, or single?

Dow:  Oh, no, no.  No, I was single.

Kelsey:  Why did you decide to go to work in a defense plant?

Dow:  I went because when I graduated from high school at age seventeen in 1943, I was fortunate enough to get a job

         just really for the two months, because I was going to college in the fall.  But evidently they were desperate enough

         that they would even take someone at that age just for a couple of months.  So I went to work at Monroe

         Calculating Machine Company in Orange, at the upper end of Central Avenue near West Orange, and that was

         convenient for me to get to.  And we inspected airplane parts.  The only problem I had was that very shortly I

         learned, in sitting at the work bench, I was allergic to the oil that they would soak the airplane parts in.  And I very

         quickly developed a very unsightly rash from right here by my hands, up to my elbows—which, of course, was just

         terrible for a seventeen-year-old.  They sent me to the infirmary—and this is what I thought might amuse some

         people—they sent me to the infirmary where the doctors gave me some salve to put on, told me that I had to have

         clean strips of material on the bench so that my arms would not rest against any of this oil, and that I should wear

         long-sleeved blouses, which, of course, was in July and August.  And I worked there for the two summers.  At the

         same time, I guess they decided to take a blood sample, and for the first and only time in my life, I watched them

         withdraw blood, and I passed out.  (laughs)

                        What else I remember was at Monroe Calculating, it was a new building.  I don’t remember how many

         stories, but it was a new building, which was almost at the top of Central Avenue and near Scotland Road in

         Orange.  And there were no windows whatsoever.  I don’t know how they controlled the air, because they had big

         floor fans—but of course all that did was blow the stale air all around.  And on the one wall, they had a big plaque,

         and it had a red light and a green light, and the green light meant it was nice outside, and the red light meant it

         was raining.  (laughs)  And those were really my memories of working, and I worked the summer of ’43 and the

         summer of ’44.  And then of course in ’45 the war was ending—you know, blowing down—so that was it.

Kelsey:  Why did you decide to go to work there?

Dow:  Well, it was close.  And an aunt of mine worked at the Mutual Benefit in Newark, and she could drop me off.  And

         frankly, I don’t remember how I got home.  Maybe she picked me up, I don’t know.  But we didn’t go out during the

         day.  There was a lunch room where you could eat.  And I know that the women, the mothers of two friends of

         mine, they would come in on a shift that came in probably around eleven until maybe four.  Now, these were the

         women that had never worked outside of a home.  But they’re the workers that are all dead and gone now.  But I

         was delighted to get a summer job, pick up some spending money for when I went to college.

Kelsey:  So you did go to college?

Dow:  Oh, yes.  Yes, yes, yes.  Went to college, then went to graduate school.

Kelsey:  Did they try to convince you to stay and keep working?

Dow:  No, because I had told them right off that I would only be able to stay for basically July and August.  So it was a

        very good opportunity for me.  The people were very nice.  They had a club for—I forget what they call it—the tall

        something—people over six feet tall, which didn’t apply to me.  But I remember there was this one woman who was

        about six-foot-two, and I don’t think I’d ever seen a woman that tall before.  They had a regular social club.  It was a

        nice [unclear].  I remember the names of the floor people, the floor supervisors that came in on shifts.  It was a nice

        place to work.  I would not have wanted to stay any longer than I did, though.

So basically that’s what I thought might be of interest—kind of a fun thing.

Kelsey:  Yes, it sounds very interesting.  Nice after-school job, or college summer job.

Dow:  Uh-huh.

Kelsey:  Okay.  Well, thank you very much.






The Learning Resource Center at the County College of Morris

214 Center Grove Road, Randolph, New Jersey 07869