It was a sweltering summer in 1943 and along with most war-weary Americans, Rosie the Riveter needed a day off.
In the heat and stickiness of summer everybody was tired, dog tired, completely fed up with neckties, girdles, time clocks, cook stoves, typewriters, telephones, ration coupons and endless shortages.
There was only one way to win the war and get the job done -each of us had to give everything whether it was on the home front or in a war plant making the ammunition and tools our men needed to win
WWII Man Shortage
Everyday hundreds of men were leaving civilian jobs to join the armed forces.
In their place marched in women, who were “carrying on” work that had to be done to keep America’s war program going at top speed.
There could be no letting down, no slacking until the peace was signed, until our men returned
For overworked Rosie the Riveter, the romance of the beach beckoned.
But what good was the beach without a beau to rub suntan oil on her, admire the curves of her swim suit?
Rosie had learned to live with less butter, eggs, and meat, but it was the darn man shortage that drove her batty.
The absence of an entire generation of men between the ages of 17 and 30 left a lonely void.
Even though she and her crowd of girls enjoyed playing bridge and having hen parties to fill up those lonely weekends, Rosie couldn’t help wondering if they were not rationing love too.
If she were headed for the beach, she needed some ammunition to attract whatever available men were still around.
Last word in Swim Suits
Luckily the stores still stocked the new curve allure Jantzen swimsuit advertised in Life Magazine that promised not only to give you lines that were thrilling but make you the most radiant star of summers bright stage.
The swim suit ads not only prompted you to be patriotic and “buy war bonds today to be free to enjoy tomorrow” they reminded you “to make each moment something to remember because this was a different kind of summer”
Like most industries Jantzen had retooled to manufacture military items to support the war effort manufacturing sleeping bags, and gas mask carriers but thankfully some swimwear still rolled off their assembly lines.
Empowered by the uplifting capability of her new Jantzen bra, the heavenly slimming fabric magic of Lastex , she was ready to catch the eye of any wacky khaki
With glamor and glow she and her pals hopped into her pre-war De Soto and headed to the beach, having carefully saved her dearly rationed gas allotment so she could make the excursion.
The crowded beach was a picture of muscular grace and bulging waistlines, of smooth tans and freckles, of sunburn oil, adhesive plaster and bathing suits which had obviously been in mothballs since the early 1920s
After 3 straight summers of crisis, war-weary Americans needed a little relief. So they undid their stays, let their hair down and dug their toes happily in the sand- without dignity, without care.
Establishing her beachhead among the other brown backs on the pristine white sand, Rosie settled in for a healthy burn.
So long pale face.
Suddenly out of thin air, looking trim in his tailored trunks appeared Stanley, a khaki Casanova , who swept her off her feet.
The dream guy she was always talking about had really come to life.
She couldn’t remember very much what they talked about …except when the soldier asked her to go dancing that very evening, “Fate, she thought, “you’ve got a finger in this…and who am I to fight you!”
The evening would reek of romance.
Now that perfume was also very dear due to alcohol shortage, she was glad she used her favorite Cashmere Bouquet, the soap with the fragrance men loved.
A girl had to lure a man with something!
While sharing a conga line together, the sizzling rhythms, the drums and maracas filling her mind, Rosie remembered all the articles she had read, all the movies she had seen, all the songs she had heard, and it all help confirm what she knew in her heart to be true.
This was indeed love! It all added up…the starry eyes…the fireworks in the bloodstream…this was what the songs sing about…this is what little girls are made for…this is what she washed religiously with Ponds for!
This was why she scrimped and saved to buy a Jantzen suit !
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.