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Bessie Young, A Real Rosies

My play, Rosies: The Women Who Riveted The Nation held its world premiere on May 3, 2018 at the Flashback Theatre in Somerset, Kentucky. Rosies performance brought to life characters that I imagined, with the exception of Rose Monroe, who was a Science Hill, Kentucky native and she was cast in a war bond film that was shown before the feature film in movie theaters across the nation.

Too my great surprise, I was introduced to another Rosies that was born in Keavy, Kentucky. Bessie Young, 94, was able to attend the May 5, 2018 performance. When I met Bessie I burst into tears. Here in front of me was a living emblem of everything I believed in. My producer and the director of my play, contacted Bessie’s family earlier in the week to see if they would be interested in attending. Sommer Schoch arranged Bessie’s attendance without informing me as she wanted to surprise me. Surprise does not define the emotions I felt and still do.

After the play, I was able to visit with Bessie and discovered that her life experiences during the war were every bit as interesting as the experiences of my characters in Rosies. What sounded like a romantic tale of adventure and intrigue became Bessie’s life.

She and her sister-in-law took a bus to Indianapolis, IN to work in an appliance factory. From there they worked their way to Detroit, MI where she met her future husband. This meeting was even more fortuitous as he was a London, Kentucky native and they never met while residing in Kentucky .

The most mysterious component of her work during the war was she was employed in an atomic bomb plant. Of course, at the time no one knew what they were building. She said everything was top secret and they were not allowed to talk during their shift.  She said that she did not know it was an atomic bomb plant until many years after the war.

She recalled a curious incident while working there. The bobby pins that the women wore became magnetized. I asked her if that scared her and she said, “No, I never wore those things.”

As I reflect on my meeting with Bessie, I have realized that these women continued to be Rosies long after the war ended. Their independent spirit did not dissolve. Bessie had children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The family was and still is her greatest joy. She still quilts, gardens and insists on cooking all the holiday dinners without help.

I asked her if she liked the play and she said, “I loved it, but I have hearing aids. Did you make a book?” I suggested to her that I would be glad to send her a copy of the script. My top priority for today is to take Rosies: The Women Who Riveted The Nation to the post office, so a real Rosies can read it. If there is a more rewarding experience out there, I can’t imagine it.

 

The Rosies Paradigm

The play, Rosies: The Women Who Riveted The Nation, will have its world premiere on Thursday, May 3, 2018 at Flashback Theatre in Somerset, Ky. If you are familiar with the play, Rose Monroe was born in Science Hill, Kentucky which is only a stone throw away from Somerset. She was a very visible Rosie in that she became the face of Rosie the riveter in the war bond films that ran before the feature in movie theaters across the nation during World War II. The play chronicles the life experiences of Rose, Margie, Kay and Doris.

What I found enlightening about being the playwright and ultimately witness to its full production is the paradigm of the ripple effect of the message of the play. That being, that all working women that support one another are Rosies. These women trudge through their days with all of the stresses life offers, yet still lend a hand if their sisters are in need. The enlightening part for me was witnessing the participants in the play’s production that exemplified the Rosie paradigm. These women worked diligently to support each other through the process. They displayed a positive outlook and supported their sister cast mates.

Not to say that this is a gender specific setting, but from my personal experience women as a rule have not displayed the all welcoming, we are all in this life boat together kind of empathy. Which leads me to think that the special circumstances of women working during World War II was a time capsule that was waiting to be sprung open now. This message would not have the impact during the upheaval of the Gloria Steinem era. I’m old enough to remember her on the Phil Donahue show and the hostility from the audience still gives me chills. Here was a very modest, quiet spoken woman trying to give her message and the audience wasn’t buying it. The most hostile remarks were from other women.

I am not taking a stand on her message either way. My point is I truly believe the climate for women is now one of acceptance of voice. That is not to say I agree with a lot of what women are espousing today, but I agree that whatever they are saying they have a right to say. The trend that I’m noticing is that women are creating their voice and now the powers that be are also listening. My personal example of this is I’ve written a play that will be produced. I’ve written a screenplay that will be produced. I’m in collaboration on a musical that I believe will be produced. This is a glorious time for women with a message. What are you waiting for? Get out there and say what you have to say.

 

 

Rosies: The Women Who Riveted The Nation

Amber Frangos

Rosies: The Women Who Riveted The Nation, will have its world debut in May 2018 produced by Flashback Theater.  The labor of love that I can’t wait to see on stage. The thought that brought this play to light was grounded in what  I consider one of the most important components of women working together: Positive Networking.

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Positive networking is that ability of women to shoulder the responsibilities of each one of us. When a woman succeeds we all succeed. When a woman fails we all fail.

The secret to empowered women is not forging ahead blindly alone under the assumption that it’s lonely at the top. It’s lonely at the bottom if you do not have a support network. And, it is lonely at the top if you don’t have a support network. You won’t be up there long without the foundation of those who helped you get there.

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Rosies: The Women Who Riveted The Nation

Rosies: The Women Who Riveted The Nation, will have its world debut in May 2018 produced by Flashback Theater.  The labor of love that I can’t wait to see on stage. The thought that brought this play to light was grounded in what  I consider one of the most important components of women working together: Positive Networking.

1-p0pYYhG1DL7vLZMgPpzDnQ

Positive networking is that ability of women to shoulder the responsibilities of each one of us. When a woman succeeds we all succeed. When a woman fails we all fail.

The secret to empowered women is not forging ahead blindly alone under the assumption that it’s lonely at the top. It’s lonely at the bottom if you do not have a support network. And, it is lonely at the top if you don’t have a support network. You won’t be up there long without the foundation of those who helped you get there.

With those thoughts in mind my play, Rosies: The Women Who Riveted The Nation was born. With the onset of WWII a unique situation held the nation. Men were at war; women had to replace them in the job force. What resulted was women working together in all areas of their lives. Without their concerted effort we would not have won the war. These women made their effort personal and universal.

If you happen to be in Somerset, Kentucky the first two weekends of May 2018. You will meet Rose, Doris, Margie and Kay. Four women that were part of a team that built B-24 and B-29 bomber planes. Four women that fought together daily on the production line; four women that shared their  pain and tears when news of a loved one was lost overseas.

Together these women became the women that riveted the nation when they were our only hope to do so.

 

Rosies receives Grant

The Kentucky Foundation for Women awarded Flashback Theater Company a  grant of $1000 to further develop my play, Rosies. During the February gathering of Let’s Play (The educational leg of Flashback Theater Co.), several scenes were read and  staged. This was the first time I was able to view the characters  in their environments. To say I was happy does not come close. I can’t wait for this to be work shopped by Flashback Theater in July 2017. The feedback I received on the partial reading has helped me tremendously in areas that I felt needed bolstering. On to the next phase! Each time I read Rosies I am further motivated that this story needs to be told. And, it needs to be told in the theater.

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