Fair thee well, Geraldine Hoff Doyle

As the old year fades, we look forward to the new day, obviously. However, it is also time to take a moment to think about and honor those not with us for the dawn of 2011. I lost two friends this year, and another with very poor prognosis. Death is just as much a part of life as being born, though.

However, this isn't about personal goodbyes; this is a nationwide farewell to the 86 year old Geraldine Hoff Doyle, who passed away last week. You've never heard of her personally, she was a retired housewife to her dentist husband, Leo Doyle. But, Geraldine was --like so many other women in the War Generation-- invaluable to kindling the can-do spirit of the ladies who made the economic and war engine run.

 And, she was a world class beauty to boot...

See Geraldine was working one day at the GE munitions factory in Michigan (her home state), when a young UPI photographer snapped a photo of her, hard at work pressing sheet metal...

I don't understand why men wouldn't want this in the workforce 

An in-house graphic artist loved the photo so much that he thought he'd use a stylized version of it, perhaps make it a bit spiffier, to give the ladies at the munitions plant something to be proud of, to be motivated for. What he created, and what Geraldine and others took inspiration from, is as iconic an image of Americana as you will ever see. You, of course, know that painting as Rosie the Riveter.

 Yes, yes you could.  And did.

Later adopted as a signpost of feminism, gender equality, GLBT issues and many many others, Rosie's face has graced everything from toilet paper to toothbrushes; tee shirts to torpedoes. But, while it's too often used for movements based upon otherness or issues that are divisive (wrong-headedly, I add), let's think for a moment about what this really was: A time when we really did band together to save humanity from the horrors of true fascism and of true tyranny, and millions upon millions more dead (no matter how loosely we use those words today, we have no idea what the face of evil looks like; our grandfathers saw those faces).

Hubris aside, we owe Rosie, Geraldine and all of the others far more than we ever paid back. Let's start by adding a few words to your dark prayers. 

 Fairwell, Geraldine Hoff Doyle, the hero to millions of Americans, for more than one generation and more than one cause.  
Dead at 86.



  1. Grats also to the (unknown) designer of this poster campaign ...


  2. Hi Carola, I knew the gentleman's last name, but omitted it. The designer of the iconic image is J. Howard Miller.

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