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Six Million Men and Six Million Women Came Together for World War II Victory
The filmmaker refers to the women who stepped into manufacturing jobs on the home front, substituting for able bodied men who were overseas fighting the Second World War.
Having completed film school in Los Angeles, Bumgarner had just moved home to West Virginia when she met Anne Montague, executive director of Thanks Plain and Simple at the film office in Charleston. “I offered my services as a cinematographer. The Producer was B.J. Gudmundsson, and the Executive Producer was Montague.
Ms. Bumgarner shot the oral histories of the West Virginia Rosies featured in the documentary. She became so close to each and every one she described the relationships as like having a “hundred grandmothers”.
Most of the women, now in their 90s, had not shared their legacy of factory work.They did not think it was important.
“From the very beginning when Anne stood up and [explained] how she was working with women who changed America, I had a passion for that. I believe women can do anything. As I have met them, by learning their stories, we can learn something as a younger generation”.
Speaking in familiar “pull together” team work terms, the young woman explained, “They were not selfish at all, where our generation is. We are the “me, me,” it has to be about us. These women gave everything --- some left their families and young children--- to help America in its time of need.
She stressed that a lot of people in her generation need to “learn from their stories as a way to put our lives into prospective“.
Reflecting that her generation has had an easy life compared to the women of the Forties, Ms. Bumgarner explained, “We don’t have to ration anything. That changed us. And, not for the better”.One example of rationing pertained to nylons. Many who have watched a film produced in the World War II era have watched scenes of women borrowing nylons or in some cases painting a black mark (seam) on their legs before going out.
“Those stories brought chill bumps while filming the women,” the cinematographer said, adding,“the things they describe are so moving. Gloria Farmer talked of how she would make friends with a neighbor to go get a cigarette because they did not have ration stamps”.
The women speak of building airplanes, working at shipyards, or working on the railroads. Their “rich history” goes beyond their jobs.
“They are human beings and they have an amazing human story about giving up a lot [for their country].
Generally forgotten before the Thanks Plain and Simple project to preserve the women’s life stories and incorporate their experiences into today’s nation, the young filmmaker and mother praised Montague for “an amazing job of bring these women together and recognizing them. The women did not think they did anything”.
Time and time again during interviews of the Rosie women, they have said, “this is not anything special. Why do you want to talk to me? They don’t realize all the changes they made in this movement that they created for women and for America.”
Shooting scenes from the Blenko Glass Artwork unveiling at the Pullman Plaza, Tijiah recognized that her “great journey” is not over. “I still love these women. It’s been a life changing event”.
She’s on board for the long haul, which someday leads to the documentation of all oral histories, integrating their experiences into the 21stCentury, and working together for a Rosie monument at the Washington, D.C. World War II memorial.