It’s hard to imagine a more shocking change of pace than going from the farm country of southern Illinois to the diesel-fueled factories of Detroit. But that’s exactly what our featured resident, Lucille, did. Whether it was working on the farm or on the assembly line, Lucille’s passion for doing the job well has helped her succeed and thrive even now more than 100 years after she was born.
From the Prairie State to the Mitten
“I’m from Southern Illinois; Buckner, Illinois,” Lucille said when asked about where she spent her early childhood years. Closer to Nashville than it is to Chicago, Buckner’s vast fields and farmlands were where she called home all throughout her adolescent and teenage years. Most of her time was spent helping her family with the daily tasks of the farm, but the tiring work schedule didn’t stop her from having some fun when she could.
Soon after her 21st birthday and just a short time before World War Two began, Lucille received an invitation from her older sister and her husband to come up to Detroit and get a job in the burgeoning Paris of the Midwest. Never one to shy from adventure, that’s exactly what she did – landing a job at Briggs Manufacturing Company in the City of Detroit.
“First, I worked in the sewing room doing different kinds of work, then I went into papering cars,” Lucille said. “That was a good job, and I was there until we shut down for war work.”
Lucille and countless other women in the workforce helped transform Detroit’s auto factories, like Briggs, into the true muscle of the Allied war effort – turning assembly lines into the Arsenal of Democracy. It was during this time that she took on a new role at work, a riveter, making her one of the true “Rosie the Riveters” of the war effort. “The work I did there is how I got the name Rosie the Riveter,” she said, referring to her work during the war.
From Rosie to Retirement
After the allied victory in Europe and Japan, things went back to normal in Detroit. Lucille stayed on at Briggs where she worked full-time all the way up until her retirement in the early 1970s. She then moved from her house on Cadieux Street on Detroit’s East Side and bought a condo in Harrison Township – where she lived until she moved into Oakmont Parkway this fall.
During her retirement, Lucille relished the chance to indulge in her favorite hobbies and pastimes. She traveled often, got in as much swimming as possible, and grew closer and closer to her nieces and nephews – often inviting them to join her for a picnic. Her free time has also allowed her to participate in one of her most meaningful hobbies of her life: crocheting blankets for those in need. Through a friend’s church, Lucille has helped make countless blankets that have been handed out at veteran’s homes, homeless shelters, and other places where people are in need.
Now living at Oakmont Parkway, life for Lucille is relaxed and fun. She enjoys the food in the dining room and the great company of her neighbors. An avid card player, she looks forward to the weekly games that residents enjoy, and never takes a single moment for granted.