YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – There were tears and laughter as the Direction Home of Eastern Ohio honored four women for their work during World War II and remembered those “Rosies” who passed on with the ringing of a bell.
Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Righetti presented awards to two of the four women at the ceremony.
“I get emotional because my mom was one of you. She worked at Trescon as a riveter,” Righetti said.
Esther Castellano, Ethel McMullen, Mary Callahan and Frances Spahlinger were honored for their work in factories, farms and offices.
Callahan grew up in Virginia and moved to Pennsylvania at 16 to work in a factory making shells.
“I borrowed the money from my dad. I’d never been on a train before. I went to Lancaster, and two days later, I had a job,” she said.
McMullen, 98, grew up on Youngstown’s West Side. After she graduated high school, her brother was in the service.
While McMullen’s father was working in the steel mill, she was working on the line, putting together tracks for tanks.
“The gloves that I was going to throw away, he’d use them in the mill,” she said.
She said as the only girl, he was protective of her and was worried she would have experiences he dealt with in WWII.
She spent long hours on the line at Trescon with dozens of other women.
“I would tack the treads onto it, and somebody further down would put it together,” McMullen said.
McMullen’s son, Wade, nominated her for the award and said it’s important to recognize the efforts of all these women.
“I didn’t understand the concept until I got older, but once I got older I said, ‘Wow, that’s pretty neat. My mom was a Rosie the Riveter,” he said.
Cassandra Valentini, the director of community outreach with Direction Home, said she wanted to recognize their efforts in opening up the workforce to women.
“We would really love it if we could find other women in our community who gave back during WWII,” Valentini said.