CHEW­ING THE FAT

Gun World - - Contents -

World War II was, in­deed, an event that changed the mod­ern world in many ways.

Be­sides di­rectly im­pact­ing the lives of many mil­lions of peo­ple killed in that war, it also changed the civil­ian world in which we live—for bet­ter or worse; there are le­git­i­mate ar­gu­ments on both sides. Here, in the United States, that war, and the de­sire (and ne­ces­sity) to put down an evil regime, led men to take up arms and go into bat­tle.

And, it also greatly and per­ma­nently changed the role of women in our so­ci­ety.

Prior to World War II, women in the United States were mostly rel­e­gated to work­ing in the home or on the farm ... at least that was the role of most “de­cent” women. The war changed all of that.

While men were board­ing planes and ships and head­ing off to places far away, the in­dus­try in this coun­try that made ma­te­ri­als to sup­port the war was lack­ing enough men to pro­duce the nec­es­sary sup­plies to fill the great need. In re­sponse, women en­tered the fac­to­ries and mills, per­form­ing what had pre­vi­ously been jobs filled only by men. Those women, like the men who had gone off to war, did what­ever was re­quired to get the job done.

COM­MEM­O­RA­TIVE 1911 PISTOL

What got me think­ing about this sub­ject was a new cus­tom 1911 pistol pro­duced by Auto Ord­nance. Named “Vic­tory Girls,” the pistol is pro­duced to honor the women who stepped up and filled the jobs nec­es­sary to sup­port our men who were fight­ing the war. This com­mem­o­ra­tive pistol was first shown to me at the 2018 SHOT show by Jodi DePorter, the lady who con­ceived this pro­ject. She is the di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing for the Kahr Firearms Group.

The pistol has a distressed Cer­akote fin­ish and is deeply laser en­graved with im­ages of a clas­sic pinup girl on one side and an up­dated “Rosie the Riveter” on the other. Both sides of the slide are en­graved with the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) roundel. The slide and frame fea­ture en­graved “riv­ets” to sim­u­late the look of World War II fighter planes. It looks very classy. The brown plas­tic grip pan­els are marked “U.S.” and are check­ered in the clas­sic dou­ble-di­a­mond pat­tern. The “Vic­tory Girls” pistol is built on an Auto Ord­nance 1911 G.I. model and fea­tures a 5-inch bar­rel and low-pro­file sights.

WOMEN STEP UP TO THE PLATE

This Auto Ord­nance pistol brought back some fond mem­o­ries for me—not mem­o­ries of World War II, how­ever. I know I look re­ally old, but I wasn’t born un­til 1959. The mem­o­ries are of fam­ily mem­bers telling of things that hap­pened at home dur­ing that time. My dad was just a lit­tle boy dur­ing that war, but he had nine older sis­ters. While their hus­bands were off to war, they went to work, filling jobs that needed filling.

I par­tic­u­larly remember his old­est sis­ter, Myretta, telling of her leav­ing Ten­nessee to go to work in Al­ton, Illi­nois, at the Olin Am­mu­ni­tion fac­tory. Many jobs at the fac­tory were filled by women, be­cause there were not enough men left in the work­force to run the ma­chines and as­sem­ble the am­mu­ni­tion needed to fight the war.

She told me of the day the women banded to­gether and staged a walk­out in protest of the fact that Olin paid the men 10 cents more per hour than it paid the women. She was young and scared but went along. She stood with the other women, who didn’t re­turn to their jobs af­ter lunch. The walk­out was suc­cess­ful, and the next day, the women got their pay raise and re­turned to work—mak­ing the same money as the men in the fac­tory.

All around the na­tion dur­ing that time, women were mak­ing cloth­ing, am­mu­ni­tion, weapons, planes and ships that were needed to fuel the war ef­fort. The amount of ma­te­rial and ord­nance pro­duced by our na­tion dur­ing that war amazes me to this day. Work­ers were pro­duc­ing fighter planes and ships at a rate that could not be matched today ... be­cause they had to. The Ger­mans and Ja­panese were sink­ing ships and shoot­ing down planes faster than they could be pro­duced. How­ever, Amer­i­can work­ers, many of them women, were work­ing long hours to make sure our fight­ing men had the nec­es­sary weapons and equip­ment to fight the war and re­turn home as quickly and safely as pos­si­ble.

KEEP­ING THE MEM­O­RIES ALIVE

As men­tioned above, my dad had nine older sis­ters. At the end of the war, when their hus­bands re­turned home, the fam­ily had a big cel­e­bra­tion, as did the rest of the na­tion.

Our fam­ily killed a hog and had a huge bar­be­cue to wel­come the men home. We still do this ev­ery Memo­rial Day. I have two large cook­ers, the big­gest of which will hold a whole hog, along with sev­eral chick­ens. The smaller cooker will hold sev­eral pork shoul­ders and dozens of ears of corn and other such things.

Cel­e­bra­tions such as this serve as re­minders that the peo­ple of our na­tion, both women and men, have al­ways stepped up to do what­ever is nec­es­sary to keep us free—no mat­ter how hard it might be. GW

The Auto Ord­nance “Vic­tory Girls” 1911 com­mem­o­rates the women who stepped up dur­ing World War II to fill the jobs of the men who were off fight­ing the war. The left side is en­graved with “Rosie the Riveter.”

The right side of the pistol is en­graved with the clas­sic pinup girl who adorned fighter planes of the era.

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