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Remember the 'Rosie the Riveter' image pretty much everybody knows? It's not what you might think.

There are icons of our culture that sometimes aren't what they seem to be. Or maybe they evolve over time to become something else.

Remember the 'Rosie the Riveter' image pretty much everybody knows? It's not what you might think.
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Rosie the Riveter was somebody who made it into a popular song, the cover of a Saturday Evening Post, and the modern feminist movement. But like many things in our culture, her actual appearance was different from what the media portrayed. In researching this, I was rather amazed at the number of women who were supposedly the real Rosie.


Rosie the Riveter was not really just one person. She was a composite of all of the women who went to work, many for the first time, during World War II. These were the jobs that men used to do — factories, assembly lines, welding, taxicab drivers, business managers, and much more. 6 million women became Rosies all over the country. From 1940 to 1945, the female workforce grew by 50%. The phenomenon even created a secondary need that wasn't very much in demand before that: child care workers.

By 1944, the movement increased the number of working American women to 20 million. Some were African-American, Latina, and other backgrounds who were previously underrepresented in the workforce.

Rosie the Riveter first came into our nation's consciousness via a popular song. Our country was already experiencing women in the workforce, and the effort to recruit women was being spun up. In 1942, Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb penned a song, “Rosie the Riveter," about these women who were going to work in massive numbers.

It was later recorded by several different people and made famous by James Kern “Kay" Kyser.

Then, Norman Rockwell painted this famous cover for the May 29, 1943, edition of the Saturday Evening Post. The model he used, Mary Doyle Keefe, died in 2015. Note how muscular and rugged she looks; it's a pretty stark difference between that and what has more recently become the popular image of Rosie the Riveter:

In 1942, J. Howard Miller created this now-famous poster for Westinghouse Co. that actually wasn't meant to be Rosie the Riveter, though it was meant to help the war effort as a morale booster.

It was in the early 1980s that this image became what most of us now think of as Rosie the Riveter. It was more or less adopted by the feminist movement as a symbol of women's power, and it remains that way today.

The fact that women entered the workforce in record numbers didn't change the sexist attitudes of the times, however. The average pay for a man working in a wartime plant was $54.65 a week. For women? $31.21.

Even though the war eventually ended and many of those servicemen got their old jobs back, that was the turning point for women proving themselves in the workforce. One thing was for sure: After the war was over, they were not all going back to being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

Here's a pretty concise video about Rosie the Riveter if you prefer your history in video form:

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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