Slacks And Calluses: Our Summer In A Bomber Factory

  • ISBN13: 9781560983682
  • Condition: New
  • Notes: BRAND NEW FROM PUBLISHER! BUY WITH CONFIDENCE, Over one million books sold! 98% Positive feedback. Compare our books, prices and service to the competition. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
  • Manufacturer: Smithsonian Books
The classic, firsthand account of two women who assembled B-24 bombers during WWII.

In 1943 two spirited young teachers decided to do their part for the war effort by spending their summer vacation working the swing shift on a B-24 production line at a San Diego bomber plant. Entering a male-dominated realm of welding torches and bomb bays, they learned to use tools that they had never seen before, live with aluminum shavings in their hair, and get along with supervisors and coworkers from all walks of life. And they learned that wearing their factory slacks on the street caused men to treat them in a way for which their "dignified schoolteacher-hood" hadn't prepared them. At times charming, hilarious, and incredibly perceptive, Slacks and Calluses brings into focus an overlooked part of the war effort, one that forever changed the way the women were viewed in America. 30 b/w illustrations.
"You build bombers!" they howled. "An art teacher and an English teacher!"

In 1943 America's defense industries were so desperate for workers that school teachers were asked to work in factories during summer vacation. Slacks and Calluses is the story of two women--the image of "dignified schoolteacher-hood"--who went to work for Consolidated Vultee Aircraft, building bombers on the swing shift. Constance and Clara Marie traded their linen suits and "swooping" hats for blue cotton factory slacks and sturdy shoes, filled out dozens of government forms, packed up their few tools in what they hoped would pass for tool boxes--"small lunch boxes, the unpleasant color of unripe green olives"--and presented themselves for work. Over the next two months, they learned to use a wide range of tools, climbing in and out of B-24 Liberator bombers performing final installations--electrical wiring, seatbelt brackets, life rafts, bomb bay doors, the works. They also learned to deal with aching muscles and feet, grimy hands, lost sleep, and "dural termites"--slivers of duraluminum from the aircraft walls that worked their way under the skin. Even more trying was the change in the way they were treated--because they were wearing slacks. Female sales clerks were no longer polite, while men no longer offered their seats on crowded buses yet felt free to grab or whistle at them on the street. "Clothes, we reflected sadly, make the woman--and some clothes make the man think that he can make the woman."

Throughout the summer, the women kept pencils and notepads in their toolboxes, Constance noting stories and profiling her coworkers, Clara Marie making sketches. A few months later, in 1944, their memoir was first published. The resulting text sparkles with immediacy and with the women's ebullient wit. With its first-hand look at women war workers and its behind-the-scenes look at the building of the B-24, Slacks and Calluses provides a refreshingly different angle on World War II. --Sunny Delaney

Customer Reviews

Refreshing look at a unique slice of american history, January 14, 2000
By Bonnie Hines

This Book evokes a unique time and experience for women in this country. It accurately depicts the rigors and effort that came as a surprise to all of the work force as women pitched in for the war effort. That it is cleverly done with good humor and the ability to poke fun at the situation, makes it even more of a jewel.

A First Hand Account, June 12, 2002
By Martha E. Crites

This book is a find--a first hand account of two Rosie the Riveters. The contemporaneous memoir of two school teachers who spent the summer of `43 building B-24s in San Diego fascinates with details--getting hired, what was security like in wartime factories, how were these two educated women treated differently when they donned slacks and became factory workers? The writing is quick and humorous, like Betty MacDonald's The Egg and I which has remained popular since 1945. Constance Bowman Reid's epilogue, written in 1999, is a touching finale. You'll want to know what she's been up to in the intervening 50 years.

Highly recommended!, October 14, 2003
By prfb

This is a wonderful little book! Written in an easy and unpretentious style, it has merit not just for "women's studies" readers, but for anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of period airplane manufacturing and indeed, the whole spirit of Homefront America in World War II. This book is both very entertaining and a real slice of "you are there" in a bygone era. Good history and good writing.

brings back memories, April 7, 2010
By Ed C. Fields Jr. "Doctor Perverso"

I plan to order a copy on payday. My mother worked in that plant at the same time that those women did. Farm girl from the hills of Eastern Kentucky becomes Rosie The Riveter. I wonder if the authors ever met my mom.

Slacks and Calluses, July 4, 2009
By J. M. Perry "teach"

I loved this book. It shows the point of view of two female workers in a aircraft factory during WWII. It was an interesting and often times humorous look into this time period and women's roles during this time.

Amazing read!, June 28, 2007
By Robin Leaette "Robin Leaette"

I love to read about women war workers of WW2. I have many books about the subject and this is hands down my favorite. Perfectly written. Very descriptive. Detailed. My only's not 500 more pages! It left me wanting more...much more. If the author ever reads these comments, I want to thank her for her service during the war. Way to go!

Outstanding real world depiction of WWII life!, June 3, 2007
By P. Nailon "Screnwriter"

"Slacks and Calluses" was exactly what I'd hoped it would be and then some. The honest, unvarnished depiction of daily life for young women war workers at a bomber factory. The two women recount the insane process for getting their jobs (after an interview that consisted mainly of being asked, "Are you available? Good, you're hired.") and the many stations and stamps and officials that they were required to endure. Their training in building bombers was scant - they were responsible for not terribly important parts at first, but the parts still had to go on, and the factory had to have bodies to put them there.

Co-workers were - then as now - a collection of the hard working, the working hard at hardly working, the brilliant and the stupid. Bosses were much the same, but more to be listened too. Life outside the plant - the officers who were no gentlemen for refusing to give up bus seats to these women who were building 'their' bombers, the sadistic woman ice-cream vendor who flat out refused to serve the women, the never ending attempts to wash all the dirt, aluminum dust, grease, and oil from skin and hair, and the inability to have any time for a real life outside of work.

The authors were two high school teachers, who subjects - English and Art - made them the perfect duo to write this book.

Too often books are written solely because the author wants to; this book would have been missed by the world if not written.

More Reviews >>>