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W.Va. Rosie the Riveter project to expand nationally, leader says

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Buddie Curnutte was a Rosie the Riveter when America entered World War II more than 70 years ago.

Curnutte, 89, of St. Albans, and hundreds of other women served on the home front during the war by taking control of jobs traditionally held by men. She still recalls the atmosphere of the production plant where she worked in Buffalo, N.Y., riveting airplane wings.

"There was no playing around. It was just straight business," Curnutte said. "Somebody was going to fly that plane in the air -- it had to be perfect."

She went on to join the U.S. Coast Guard before the war ended in 1945.

Curnutte is a member of Thanks! Plain and Simple, a nonprofit in Charleston dedicated to supporting soldiers and veterans. Part of the organization's mission is helping West Virginia Rosies tell their stories through quilt making, music and a documentary.

Curnutte said she feels important when telling her story for the project. 

Anne Montague, founder and executive director of Thanks! Plain and Simple, announced Thursday that she is taking her organization to the national stage.

One of Montague's goals is to unify the national Rosie the Riveter community with various projects and community service work. Any community that is interested in honoring its Rosie the Riveters can contact Montague at 304-776-4743 to join the project, she said. She announced the project Thursday during a taping of Highland Highlights, a public access TV show hosted by Highland Hospital spokesman Jim Strawn.

Community leaders in Brunswick, Md., have recently expressed interest in honoring the Rosies, Montague said. Her organization would work with them to collect stories, artwork and music from as many Rosies in Maryland as she can find. She wants to do this for all 50 states.

The national effort to honor Rosie the Riveters is long overdue because most of the remaining women are in their 90s, Montague said.

"It's disappointing that it took almost 70 years to honor them," she said.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.

 


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