Héctor de Souza

YOU WILL DISOWN ME THREE TIMES - The woman from the photo

“We Can Do It!”

Somewhere in Longview, Washington, there is a modest house where an elder woman lives. In the main room, sitting in front of an oval mirror, Naomi holds a poster in her hands. “I just wanted my own identity”, she whispers. She looks at the portrait of a young woman, dressed in a blue uniform, wearing a red bandana with white polka dots. She believes she sees herself in that poster of a woman who was seen in a photograph of a woman in a factory. Years ago, she saw the photograph for the first time in a publication. She realized it was her who appeared operating one of the machines at the Naval Air Station Alameda in 1942. She recognized herself quite easily, and was surprised to find out that the heading of the picture said it showed a certain Geraldine Hoff Doyle. She intended to fix the mistake and made it known, but her attempts were dismissed.

The elder lady lays the tip of her fingers on the poster of the young woman wearing a red headscarf covered in white polka dots (who no longer looks like her). Softly, she traces the picture that was inspired by a photograph of a nameless woman who later carried a mistaken name stubbornly ratified. The figure lies a false closeness. Things of solitude and distance.

For a long time her anguished eyes have not been the same. Naomi is no longer the young woman who ignored the existence of the photograph. Nor is she the woman who spent many years obsessively watching the poster until James Kimble, a university professor, identified and proved, after extensive research, that the woman in the photograph was indeed her.

Now, over seventy years after the picture was taken, Naomi is invulnerable. Nothing can hurt her. She knows time stops in the mirror, she knows she no longer is who she was, she knows she no longer is invisible to death, she knows how many nights and how many mornings she has left, she knows she is only the story she tells and she knows the poster is something way bigger than her minuscule existence. She knows she was eternally omitted, and she was disowned three times.        

                                                        ..................................................…………………………………………………………………………………

The woman from the poster was widely known as “Rosie, the riveter”.

The creator of this picture, J. Howard Miler, was inspired by the photograph of a woman working at a rivet factory for aircraft parts during World Wart II. The woman, who was photographed by Miller himself, was wearing a blue uniform and a red bandana covered in polka dots for safety, so her long hair did not get caught in the machinery. Later, Miller replicated the photo, designing the poster that would in turn become iconographic.

The picture of “Rosie, the riveter” ended up turning into a symbol of the feminist movements forty years later.

The woman who involuntarily inspired the designer J. Howard Miller was Naomi Parker Fraley, who passed away in 2018 at age 96.

For a long time it was wrongfully held that the woman in the photograph was Geraldine Doff Doyle, who died in 2010, believing she was the woman in the picture.

 

Note: Short story originally published in the book “The plumaje of the birds”, 2024, author´s edition. Translated to English by Victoria Sarasúa Escudero.

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Héctor de Souza.
Published on e-Stories.org on 05/20/2024.

 
 

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