“She was determined to keep us together as a family.”
Joyce Butler remembers her mother, who worked in a shipyard during World War II, in an interview with her daughter, Stephanie.
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JB: After the divorce there wasn't much money. So, my mother worked in the laundry and different places and she finally got a job at Montgomery Ward's department store. And these young women would come in all dressed in these big boots and these kind of rough overalls and they would have checks of six hundred dollars to cash. And she finally asked one of them, "where do you work that you make so much money?" And they said "in the shipyard." So my mother went over, and the man who interviewed her said, "did you want to be a welder or a burner." And my mother said, "which pays the most?" And he said, "a welder." And she said "that's what I want to do" and he said "oh, mercenary huh?" And she said "no I have four children to take care of." It was bitter cold in the winter going into the bowels of those steel ships. They had to wiggle into narrow crawl spaces and lay on their backs and weld overhead. And I remember her neck and her chest here all spotted with burn marks from the sparks, and her shift was midnight to six A.M. so she could be home with us during the day. I remember her dressing the the heavy clothing, men's clothing. Once she fell and hurt her ankle and they brought her home in the middle of the night, and she was weeping I remember that. After the shipyard closed she needed to have two jobs to make enough money and we kids were more or less on our own and that was not a happy time, but still she was determined to keep us together as a family.