HARRISON – It’s well known that history is important, not only for understanding events and people who have gone before, but also because it affords humanity the opportunity to learn from its successes and to avoid its mistakes of the past.
History does have another aspect, one which rarely presents itself. Such was the moment which happened during the 2019 Clare County Fair when history came alive in the person of Irene Pudelek, an original Rosie the Riveter, as she visited the Veterans Display where a special section this year honored Rosie the Riveter. The memorabilia there was provided by local Rosie maven Maye Tessner-Rood.
Pudelek was 18 years old when she began her home front war work in 1943, and she is now in her mid-90s. When asked if Pudelek was doing all right, Tessner-Rood couldn’t help but laugh.
“Are you kidding?” she said. “When Bob Walsh (who had accompanied the local Rosie group down to Eastern Michigan University for a Guinness record attempt) asked her ‘Hey, are your legs still that good looking?’ she said, ‘Yeah, they just don’t work as well.’
“And the robot came in and proposed to her and she threw him a kiss – all that stuff. She was doing great, loving every minute of it.”
Tessner-Rood said that local military historian Joe Bradley also was overjoyed by the impromptu visit, and made it known all around the fairgrounds that this “diva of history” was onsite and bringing them in to meet Pudelek.
She agreed that such an opportunity for people to “rub elbows with history” is truly a big deal.
Tessner-Rood noted that one of the three Rosie roses which had been donated earlier this year by the National Rosie Association to the Veterans Freedom Park represented Pudelek.
“We re-dug all that beebalm out at the front entrance,” she said. “We moved all three Rosie rosebushes there, and now the National Rosie sign is there. So, now we’re going to be on the national registry – there’s another milestone.”