Ann Albertson, who turned 100 on Sept. 3, is Chelsea’s own Rosie the Riveter.
The Chelsea Retirement Community resident says she worked at the Ypsilanti bomber plant for about a year and that it was her favorite job.
In fact, Albertson worked her whole life – from the time she as 13 years old, says her son, Bill Albertson, who was one of about 14 family members who arrived at Olive Garden Tuesday afternoon to celebrate his mother’s special birthday.
And, he purchased three different cakes to mark the occasion.
The birthday girl chose the restaurant for her special day because she loves the lasagna, he said.
“I had a beautiful day, a great birthday,” Ann Albertson said as she sat at the head of the table flanked by family members who were in town to celebrate the milestone event with her.
Ann Albertson had three sons, Bill and Jim, who attended the party, and Robbie, who was killed in action in Vietnam.
Born in Ann Arbor on Sept. 3, 1913, “She wasn’t a housewife,” her granddaughter Cammila Collar said.
Ann Albertson had a variety of jobs throughout her life, her sons said, from working in a five and dime during the depression to later working for the Ann Arbor-based Argus Camera Manufacturing plant.
But her favorite job was the one at the bomber plant. “She loved being independent and hated that she had to give it up, Bill Albertson said.
And, although Ann Albertson didn’t physically make B-24 bombers during WWII, she did have an important hand in the process. Albertson drove a little truck with three trailers all over the 83-acre factory delivering parts to those who did put the planes together.
“She had to give up the job when she couldn’t get a good babysitter,” said Bill Albertson. “She hated to leave but there was a shortage of everything during the war.”
In fact, Ann Albertson’s husband, Vern, also worked at the plant. He was a member of the fire department and died shortly after he retired leaving Ann Albertson a widow.
She never remarried, and didn’t think she’d live to be 100 years old, despite the fact that her best friend Mildred O’Toole, also lived through the century mark.
“She and Mildred did everything together, and never had an argument,” Bill Albertson, said.
When asked what her secret of a long life is, Ann Albertson said, “I ate everything I wanted to, I drank everything I wanted to and I smoked until I was 75 years old.”
And, she worked until she was 64 years old.
“She said she’s making more now with all her pensions than she was when she was working every day,” Bill Albertson said.
Cheri Albertson said she hopes her mother-in-law’s connection to the bomber plant might inspire local folks to donate to a nonprofit group, which is trying to save the plant and faces an Oct. 1 deadline to raise about $8 million. They have raised about $4 million to date.
Donate online at savethebomberplant.org.
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