Neva Rees: Ohio’s own Rosie the Riveter

September 3, 2018

The article below was written by Neva Rees, 96, of Marietta. It’s an honor to have Mrs. Rees — one of the original “Rosie the Riveters” — support our campaign. On this Labor Day, we honor workers like her who did so much to break barriers for women and workers everywhere. Please join us in signing our Labor Day card to stand with Mrs. Rees in supporting Ohio’s workers.

My name is Neva Rees. I’m 96 years young. And I was one of the original “Rosie the Riveters.”

I grew up on a dairy farm near Fairmont, WV. I was 1 of 12 children, so I was expected to work the farm from a young age.

In 1941 when the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor my boyfriend was drafted off to war and sent to the jungles of New Guinea.

There was such a strong feeling of patriotism at that time. We all wanted to contribute, so I was so very excited when I was asked to help on an assembly line in Akron. I worked with hundreds of other women, assembling motors in a hangar for the Goodyear Blimp. I earned $0.93 per hour.

We were so proud to contribute, but the conditions weren’t very good. There was no lunchroom. If you went to the restroom during work hours they would dock it from your pay. I wasn’t allowed to take even a single day off for months at a time. I got very efficient with my electric drill.

Once you start to work all your life, you can’t stop. Even now at 96, I still work everyday. I bake 12 dozen cookies each week for the homeless, a Boy Scout Troop, the church, and for people with mental health problems. I love to work and there’s always more to do!

This year, I’m doing everything I can to help Rich Cordray become our next governor because he cares about workers like me. The “Rosie the Riveter” movement in the 40’s opened the door for women in our country. I’m so happy to see that women are getting more involved. And Rich cares so deeply about making sure that women are respected and treated fairly at work. He’s going to make a great governor.