Recently (or actually it was several months ago) Solanah from Vixen Vintage recommended a book for all of us vintage-minded gals dreaming of Life in the 1940s. First published in 1944, Slacks and Calluses: Our Summer in a Bomber Factory, by Constance Bowman Reid, is a spectacular window into that lifestyle.
What ensues is an enjoyable, easy read about their training, their co-workers, their lack of sleep and copious amounts of greasy clothes. Bowman is very candid about what it was like not only to be trained by men but also to work side-by-side with them. She talks about riding the bus to work in her overalls; not a man stood to offer his seat, and several women turned up their noses. She talks about having to learn the tools and tricks of working on an assembly line. And she speaks with immense pride at having successfully survived their summer.
"We know that a Liberator was built by many people and many hours; and whenever in a newsreel we saw the inside of the tunnel with the oxygen bottles strapped into place, the belly turret hung down in its hole, the electric wires strung neat and firm along the sides, we saw Joe...we saw Jeff...we saw Blondie and Phyllis. After a summer on the production line we looked at a Liberator the way you gaze in awe at a great tapestry when the note under it says that it took a hundred women twenty years to make it."
I would highly recommend this book as a wonderful, first-hand account of the softer side of the war effort.