WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s been more than 70 years after Connie Palacioz put her touch on B-29 super fortress bombers.
Wichita’s Rosie the Riveter is back again, testing her old spirited metal. She has her tool in hand ready to go.
“Ours was a little bigger, little heavier,” says Palacioz.
Our own Rosie, can still roll up the sleeves and get it done.
“They had to be even, if there was one up you had to take it off and put it back on,” says Palacioz. “When I worked at Boeing, we used to put up about 4-5 pilot sections a day.”
Ergonomics has advanced the way rivets are put in now, and for Palacioz, it’s not the only visible change.
“I recognize all that, but this is different. We had departments,” adds Palacioz.
As an 18 year old, she riveted the nose on B-29’s, including on one of only two believed to be still flying. When the old Doc was renovated years ago, out of the thousands of rivets she personally put in, only a few needed replacing.
“I am surprised there was only seven, so we did a good job,” says Palacioz.
Tough work during a time when the nation fought a war on two fronts, one abroad and one at home.
“When I told them I was a Mexican-American citizen, then they would frown and they didn’t want me when I told them I was a Mexican,” says Palacioz.
She recalls a trusted friendship with her partner, called a bucker.
“She was a black girl. I got there nobody wanted to work with her because she was black,” says Palacioz. “So, I worked with her and she became the best bucker. Then afterwards, everybody wanted her, but we wouldn’t change.”
Palacioz, a polished engineer, set the standard for women in the workplace.
“We worked hard. All the women, all of the riveters that were with me, they were good.”
They call it the greatest generation, people like Palacioz are why.
“That is what I miss now, that I don’t get to see them as much.”