I went for a run last night. I found a wrench and a penny from 1995. I decided to leave the wrench where I found it, right outside a dwelling near the driveway. It was an open-ended wrench and well used. Rosie the Riveter died on Saturday. I don’t want the surviving generations of Rosies to be deprived of their mislaid tools so I left the wrench where it might be recovered by an Allison, Ashley, Brittany, Abigail or Madison the Wrencher. Personally I like Madison the Cranker better than Wrencher. Or Wrench Wench, which is bound to happen. Either way, Americans don’t seem to name their girls Rosie much anymore.
I found the penny on another block. This I took.
The internet went public in the year of this penny, 1995. The internet tells me the name Rosie ranks somewhere around #340 in popularity in the US today. I try to remember how we learned things like this before the internet. I probably would have gone the library and looked it up in a book. The information would be only as current as the date of the book’s publication. In a small-town public library it’s a safe bet it would be several years out of date, but before the internet came along we accepted these kinds of limitations.
Famous Rosies of my generation who come to mind without googling are the Riveter, actresses Perez and O’Donnell, and the Rosie who cheated at the Boston Marathon. With the benefit of the internet I’ve learned the majority of famous Rosies work in the entertainment industry, with a few politicians and athletes sprinkled in. There’s a novelist, a journalist, and one man from the Dominican Republic who shortened Roosevelt to Rosie. But jeez, there are pages and pages of actresses, musicians, stunt-ladies, makeup artists, directors, models, etc. It would seem that if one wants a baby girl to become employed in film-making, music-making, or modeling, Rosie is a particularly auspicious name to give her.
The “We Can Do It!” riveter wasn’t named Rosie at all; her real name was Naomi. Since Naomi’s face became the Rosie the Riveter illustrations, she followed the Rosie formula and became an accidental model. To my surprise, the “We Can Do It!” posters did not the depict the original Rosie the Riveter; folks didn’t begin calling her that until the 1980s. Original Rosie looked much different. Again, the wonders of the internet. This article is one of the best I’ve read on the topic, covering war-time working women, including one Norma Jean Dougherty, who would become Marilyn Monroe. Who knew Marilyn was a Rosie? Women of color were Rosies too. And the government provided child care so the Rosies could work. So much I didn’t know. So much I might not have bothered to learn.
I hope you’ll check it out.