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Rosie The Riveter Series
Ola Proud Of Her Service
by Maricia Mlynek

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(This is the third in a series of articles on local Rosie the Riveters, women who worked to support the war effort.)

Ola Jarvis Stalfort was born July 1, 1919, in Grantsville, the youngest child of the late Claudius Andrew (C.A.) and Osceola Duffield Jarvis.

 Ola at age 26.

She was raised in Calhoun and graduated from Calhoun County High School in 1937.

“I was raised in a good home. My parents loved each other dearly. They never argued in front of us. Father read the Bible and prayed with us each night,” said Ola.

Soon after moving to Baltimore, Md., in 1940, World War II began.

“I went to work in the Martin Company (which manufactured aircraft). Half of Grantsville was up there. They called us West by God Virginians and hillbillies . . . They asked me what I wanted to do. I said anything that I can make the most money at, and they put me in Riveting School. I didn’t know anything about tools, but a hammer and screwdriver. They gave me a drill. I didn’t know how to stop it. I would get nervous and use my fingers to stop it. I had five fingers bandaged after the first week,” laughed Ola.

Her time riveting was short lived: “I was with a lot of low life. The grammar was pretty bad, and things weren’t good down there. I just wasn’t safe, so they moved me up to the office.”

When her supervisors asked her to move, she agreed, as long as her salary would remain the same. Her request was accepted, but she was not allowed to mention it to anyone.

Her new job was to carry and read blueprints. This task was also foreign to the young Calhoun girl.

She described her first few days in the office: “I had never read a blueprint in my life. There was a lady that was supposed to train me, but she refused because she feared losing her job. I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. I pretended to be ill and they released me.”

Two weeks later, she went to work in Bethlehem Shipyard, where a friend from Grantsville worked in the employment office.

“My friend had a job for me,” said Ola. “She had it all fixed for me, and told me not to let her down. I went to work in the main office with all the big shots. I stayed in this position until the place closed. That is where I met my husband. It was an interesting time.”

 Ola Jarvis Stalfort with a souvenir towel that has a theme of Rosie the Riveters, “We Can Do It!”

She worked on the third floor, with the books. She recalled riding a street car for 10 cents, and the long tiring weeks.

“We didn’t have time for anything during the week. We went to work in the dark and came home in the dark. We worked 56 hours a week, but we went dancing on the weekends,” she chuckled.

The end of the war was a time of great celebration in the city.

“There were a lot of parades going on. The balloons and the cheering were everywhere. It was a grand time,” she said.

Ola married Frederick Howard Stalfort on May 12, 1945. They had three children: Frederick Howard II, Robin Lee, and John Jarvis.

Name plates made from copper for Ola and husband, Howard. 

Ola had several other jobs over the years, but she found her true calling when she went to work with children that had special needs.

“Back then, they were the children that nobody wanted. I loved them, and it was as if God had placed me here to work with them . . . I did that job for 18 years,” said Ola.

After the death of her husband in 1989, Ola returned to Calhoun after 60 some years in Baltimore.

She still looks back on her years in the factories and working as a riveter with a smile.

When asked if she felt like she contributed to her country during the war, she was quick to answer, “Sure I did. I loved every minute of it. I was glad to get out and do something. I liked working. Women were always downgraded to cooking, laundry and having babies. They thought that’s all we could do, but we showed them . . . one of my sisters was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Navy . . . I would do it all again. It felt good.”

At the age of 90, Ola is still active. She attends the Senior Citizens Center regularly and can be seen walking to get her hair done nearly every week in Grantsville.

She is as spunky today as she was those many years ago when she tried to take on the work of riveting and blueprints.

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