A resident at Topeka Presbyterian Manor shares her story on working during World War II

Clara Cooper shares her story of when she worked to help the war effort
Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -Clara Cooper had never left the family farm near Emporia.

But at 19-years-old, she packed up and left home, joining the women we’d later refer to as “Rosie the Riveter”.

“My future sister-in-law was in Wichita and she wanted me to come to Wichita and try to get a job so I went on a train all by myself at the age of 19 with no air conditioning and I’ve never been out of the farm,” Cooper said.

She stepped off the train, and into a factory, working on aircraft to help out with the war.

“I was hoping to get an office job but there was none available so they said I can come to the shops but I would have to go to school,” she said.

Little did she know, this type of schooling wouldn’t involve a notebook and a pencil.

“It meant to learn how to use a rivet gun and a metal saw and I would have to get a toolbox, so I did all that and we had to take a big sheet of metal and form it around the windows and drill holes around the windows,” said Cooper.

Two years later, she graduated to the next chapter of her life...

“They said the war is over take your toolboxes and go home,” she said. Which meant the war was finally over.

Decades later, Clara still marvels at the memories.

“I sit here and I wonder how did I do all of that--the train had no air condition and the windows were open and all the dirt came in and it was just a different way of life, but it was a good life,” she said.

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