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Kathleen Thomas

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Kathleen Thomas

Honoring WWII Women on the Home Front and Correcting a 60 Year Old Misconce
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The Evolution of Don't Call Me Rosie
By Kathleen Thomas   
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, July 27, 2007
Posted: Friday, July 27, 2007

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Kathleen shares how the writing of "Don't Call Me Rosie" evolved.

When I was young, I knew that my mother and two aunts were welders in the shipyard during World War II because my mother would occasionally talk about it. I had no idea that the ships they worked on were LSTs nor did I even know what an LST was. I was very proud that she did this non-traditional job.

In 1999, a former crew member of LST 743 somehow found out about my mother and two aunts and asked them to attend the LST 743 reunion banquet being held in Pittsburgh. My mother was so pleased to attend this banquet and receive recognition from the LST 743 crew.

After listening to her talk about the reunion, I decided that I wanted to write a book about the women welders. Finally, in October 2001 on a visit to Pittsburgh, I interviewed my mother and two aunts. At that time, I still didn’t know anything about LSTs. I had no idea what shape this book would take. I only had one chapter – my mother and aunts’ stories.

Several months later I was having dinner with a few Board members of a women’s business group. I mentioned that I was writing a book but wasn’t sure how to find other women welders. One of the Board members told me about Reminisce Magazine. I emailed the magazine in April 2002, asking if any of their women readers were welders during World War II and if any of the men wanted to share their stories about the LST. It took approximately nine months before the magazine published my request.

I can still remember the day in February 2003 when I received my first letter from a Reminisce Magazine reader. I then received over 40 letters from Reminisce Magazine readers. Many of the women who wrote were welders in the Portland area shipyards. They identified with me because I lived in Portland.

As I read the men’s letters and began researching the LSTs, I soon realized that the LSTs were made in only certain shipyards. My book outline then took shape. Each chapter would talk about women in a specific shipyard interwoven with stories of the men from ships from that shipyard. Of course, I now had many letters of women who were welders on other types of ships so I included them in the chapter, “Other Ships/Other Trades”. I also received a few letters from men who served on an LST during the Korean War and included them in their own chapter.

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