Rosie the Riveter and the “Sister” Beers
On January 20th, 2019, Washington resident Naomi Parker Fraley passed away at the age of 96. Ms. Parker was widely believed to have been an inspiration for the iconic wartime factory worker Rosie the Riveter. We can assure you that she is absolutely the inspiration for two of Armstrong Brewing Company’s “sister” beers - Naomi and Rosie.
After the United States entered World War II, most of the nation’s working class men joined the war effort and were sent abroad to fight in Europe and the Pacific. This left a huge void in the country’s manufacturing sectors, which were ramping up in order to support the military and the war effort. As a result, 6 million women entered the workforce as machinists, factory workers, and nurses. As Harrison Smith of The Washington Post writes, “they welded, lathed, and - on occasion - riveted, and with their sleeves rolled up and hair pulled back their efforts served as a demonstration of feminine strength and resolve, immortalized in a poster bearing the slogan ‘We Can Do It!’”
Many people believe Rosie the Riveter was an actual person. However, contrary to popular belief, she is an amalgam of several women who served on the American homefront during World War II, and she has been represented in many different artistic genres. During the 1940s, for example, Rosie the Riveter was a popular song written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb in 1942, which was itself based on a woman named Rosalind Walter (during WWII, Walter worked as a riveter on fighter planes). Most scholars now believe that the song would inspire the iconic 1943 Norman Rockwell illustration on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell was purported to have been inspired by the Rosie the Riveter song and to be based on his neighbor, Mary Doyle Keefe.That same year, an artist named J. Howard Miller would create the iconic “We Can Do It” poster for the Westinghouse Electric Corp. Interestingly, this more recognizable image wasn’t widely distributed until the 1980s.
It is Miller’s poster that has come to embody Rosie the Riveter and has become a symbol for female empowerment. Armstrong has long understood that the brewing industry hasn’t always provide the same type of opportunities to women as they have to men. We have always tried to actively diversify our staff and include diverse perspectives in our decision making. As co-founder Jason Cardoso recalls, “From the start, Armstrong has always valued diversity. Women have always been represented at Armstrong throughout the organization all the way up to the ownership. We’ve always been comfortable organically breaking down barriers in the beer industry.” In honor of the all the women who work in our industry and who have served our country, we have brewed the “sisters” - the Rosie and the Naomi.
Rosie is a Belgian strong ale barrel-aged with rosemary and blood oranges in Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from Flying Suitcase Wines. It has a 7.6 ABV, and is an ideal beer for cooler nights.
The Naomi Belgian provides the base recipe for the Rosie, and it is named after another inspiration for Rosie the Riveter - Naomi Parker. During World War II, Parker served as a machinist at the Alameda Naval Air Station. In 1942, she was photographed by the Ace news-service with the caption: “Pretty Naomi Parker. Looks like she might catch her nose in the turret lathe she is operating” (Photo Above). Donning the iconic red and white polka dot bandana, Naomi Parker is working heavy machinery, cracking out the materials needed to support the war effort at home and abroad. This photo would eventually be housed in the Rosie the Riveter/ World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, just miles from where it was taken. Unfortunately, for decades, the photo caption incorrectly identified Mary Doyle Keefe as the machine worker, a misunderstanding only just cleared up in 2016 by Seton Hall professor James Kimble (who found the original archived newspaper with the Acme photo and caption).
Like the Rosie, the Naomi Belgian Strong is barrel-aged in Flying Suitcase’s Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. However, the Naomi has a higher ABV, coming in at 9.1%. With such a high alcohol content, the Naomi is a great sipping beer for evenings. Both the Rosie and Naomi are available in the taproom on draft and in 16 oz. cans while supplies last.
The mythology and urban legends around who inspired Rosie the Riveter is more a testament to the cultural and feminist importance of the image than any one woman. She is the amalgamation of many women who served this country during World War II and has come to embody the fight for gender equality in the United States. As Parker would explain in an interview with People magazine, “The women of this country these days need some icons. If they think I’m one, I’m happy about that.” Armstrong celebrates Naomi Parker and all the strong women of this country. We look forward to sharing these exquisite beers with our guests and toasting those who inspired them.
For more information about the Rosie, click here.