jan-berenstains-war-years

Jan Berenstain’s War Years

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Jan Berenstain in 1942

In 1943, Soon after Stan left for the Army  Jan Berenstain (then Jan Grant) took a break from her schooling at The Philadelphia Museum School for Industrial Arts (Now UArts) to begin training to be an aircraft riveter. She describes the decision in Stan & Jan’s Autobiography, Down a Sunny Dirt Road:

“At the end of the school term, though, girls were talking about joining the WAVES or the WACCS or doing war work. I was definitely missing the the inspiration of working with a full class of talented artists, too and told Mom and Dad I was going to take a year off from school and earn some money, starting that summer.

I showed up at the U.S. Employment Office on Broad Street with some second-year work I’d done in mechanical-drawing and jewelry classes. I was sent the same day to join a class of young women forming up at Bok Vocational School in South Philadelphia to train to be aircraft riveters. After 2 weeks of on-the-job training (meaning we were paid), we joined the workforce at Brill’s Trolley car factory which had won a Navy contract to assemble center wing sections for PBY Flying Boats.”

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Jan’s seated on the far left at the graduation celebration for her Riveting class.

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The PBY Catalina Jan worked on at Brill’s served as a Maritime patrol and search-and-rescue seaplane.

Recently Mike Berenstain unearthed an Essay written by Jan after her return to school, describing more in-depth her experience working at the Brill Trolley Car Factory. It is a stream of consciousness writing that vividly portrays the day to day bustle and exhaustion brought on from the tireless work done by Jan and many women left stateside during WWII.

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