Five Minutes With: Heather Thies, who portrays Rosie the Riveter

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comJune 15, 2012 

  • Heather Thies presents Rosie the Riveter at 7 p.m. June 18 at Pinckney Hall in Sun City Hilton Head.

    Details: 843-707-7308

Rosie the Riveter wasn't a real person. She represented the spirit of the women who stepped up and worked in factories during World War II. But Heather Thies tries her best to make Rosie come to life.

Thies is the education director at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Savannah. She's appearing as Rosie to talk about the role women played in the war effort at the Sun City Veterans Association meeting June 18.

Thies explains how she gets into character.

Question. What's the main theme you try to get across when you appear as Rosie?

Answer. It's really focused on the fact that there was a full effort by the United States of America during the war. Every single American worked on a daily basis in one way or another to bring this war to a conclusion. At the museum, we talk about what young men did during the war. But we wanted to incorporate the kids, at first. We talk about what they would have done. Then we start getting into what their mothers would have done.

Q. Where did the image of Rosie the Riveter come from?

A. Norman Rockwell painted a cover for the Saturday Evening Post of a Rosie the Riveter. The name comes from a song, "Rosie the Riveter." Norman Rockwell actually used a model, but made her a bit more muscular, as if she had just come off a hard day working at a factory. That image was more famous during World War II. The "We Can Do It" poster, which wasn't associated with Rosie at the time, became more popular starting in the '90s.

Q. So you dress up as Rosie herself?

A. The whole get-up. I'm a combination of the "We Can Do It" poster and the Norman Rockwell painting. But I will be cleaner. Not so dirty. No rivet gun, either. Or sandwich and lunch pail.

Q. A rivet gun might be hard to come by.

A. Yes, that would be a little heavy to carry around, too.

Q. When you present for kids, do they know who you are at first?

A. Depends on their teacher. Sometimes they come in and say, "I recognize you." Other times they look at me and think I'm just dressed in overalls and I'm kind of weird. But then I explain everything.

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