Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Looking for the Boom Boom girls

Here I am, whipping along writing my memoir, reading rewrites to my husband, who asked me what was my mother doing while her soldier was trying to hold himself together...literally, on a beach in Normandy. I knew what she was doing, literally. She was making bombs and mega bullets at a munitions plant. Yes, he said, but what were her days like? And just like that, I had a whole new chapter to write. Seems I'm not gaining on this, trying to tighten 120 k words down to something reasonable. I don't know yet where reasonable is.

There are more stories here than I suspected. A day's worth of net searching readily show me there is interest in this period in the lives of a generation of women, but bits and pieces, not hinged together with any completion of a tale.

Six million women kept the nation together while all able bodied men went to war. I'm trying to piece together 900 of them , with few of them still living. Means I'm going to be collecting their conversations from sons and daughters, like me.

Anybody reading this is welcome to tell me anything they ever heard from mom or grand mom or an aunt.

I have my own recall of my mother's conversations about that vivid part of her life, and in fact I was actually in the barracks (she called them dormitories)with her for a weekend as a small child. My memory of that is full of girls and clothes and bandanas and curling irons and all the paraphernalia girls need to convine themselves they're beautiful.

What I need are the stories of others. Any help out there?

Mom made ordinance and lived through five explosions at Triumph. The 1943 disaster killed at least 15 and injured 125 people. Was she working that day? Perhaps not. She was a supervisor, at least ten years older than the average worker, and a widow. She often worked double shifts of twelve hours each.

But she did experience that daner, for she described being blown right through a wall, or across a room, or through a door. She developed powder poisoning and her skin was a sickly pea green for months and all her teeth fell out.

There must remain others with their own tales. I'd love to hear them.

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