Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, Richmond, CA
Dedicated to celebrating the Rosie the Riveters of World War II, this relatively new national park
opened in Richmond, California in 2000. That makes sense, because between 1941 and 1945 747 ships were produced here - more than any other location in the U.S. They included 519 Liberty Ships, 15 landing ship tanks, 142 Victory Ships, 35 troop transports, 24 small liberty ships, and 12 frigates.
When I visited here recently, I was impressed with the human interaction that is fostered. Real Rosies (home front workers) are scheduled on-site regularly, and if you visit then you can hear their stories first-hand. Among them are six women and one man. My "Rosie", 90-year-old Mary Torres, worked here from 1943 to 1945 as a journeyman welder. She took a group of us back in time and kept us riveted with her stories from that era.
Changing exhibits are on the airy first floor, along with a theme-oriented gift shop. I participated in a fun activity there that involves guessing what is in a lunch box. I guessed wrong, and as it turns out a right guess gets you nothing, but either way you get a chuckle when you find out what is inside.
Screened in a basement auditorium, the film "Home Front Heroes" provides background about life in Richmond during the war. This area of the museum also holds archives with Rosie stories. And I was surprised to learn that the National Park Service is oldest ranger works here - 92-year-old Betty Reid Soskin! Adjacent to this small museum, Craneway Pavilion www.craneway.com is where jeeps and Sherman tanks were made during the war. It is now repurposed as the largest event space in the San Francisco Bay Area. A very good restaurant, Assemble
is now in what used to be the building's boiler room. It's the perfect spot to have brunch or lunch, with housemade barbecued potato chips, chicken pot pie with cheddar cheese crust, and . . . German chocolate cake on the menu.
A short path leads to the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, a waterfront park built on the site where the Kaiser Shipyards once operated. You can further immerse yourself in the era, by heading over to the Red Oak Victory Liberty Ship www.ssredoakvictory.org
for a tour. It is the only remaining Victory ship built here in the Kaiser Shipyard.