Agnes Novak is a pioneer. When the men went off to war it was woman like Agnes who entered the factories. This week she was honored for her work back then and what's she's doing today.
In her bedroom in Bristol, Agnes Novak is ready to work.
"It makes you feel you're doing something," said Agnes.
Agnes is sewing up fleece hats. There is no pay, it's all volunteer work. These hats will be given away to homeless veterans.
Heather Goodale, Care Coordinator: So we have 50 hats here.
Goodale works through the Adult Family Care Program. She makes sure people like Agnes can live as independently as possible.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Does she ever look at the pile and go 'oh dear.'
Agnes can go at her own pace. Rightly so, because she's about to turn 97.
Carroll: Did you go to college?
Agnes: One year at Castleton.
Carroll: What happened?
Agnes: No money! No money and the war came.
Like so many of her generation, it affected her deeply.
"That was the big thing in our life," said Agnes.
She joined the war effort.
"Three days later I got my notice to go to work at the Springfield Armory. I had no idea what the Springfield Armory was," said Agnes.
Springfield, Massachusetts could be a big city for the Vermont girl. Her job: making parts for the M1 rifle, the mainstay of the U.S. forces in the war.
"Women had never been in a shop like that and the men hated us! Absolutely hated us," said Agnes.
The work was dirty, noisy and hard. Agnes managed it despite her small frame. She weighed less than a hundred pounds.
"I had the best weapons, a sharp tongue and a big wrench," said Agnes.
Agnes was a W.O.W. or Women Ordnance Worker. At the height of the war, more than 5,000 women worked at the Springfield Armory.
Carroll: Rosie the Riveter.
Agnes: We were absolutely.
She worked seven days a week.
Carroll: I think I know the answer. Did you take pride in your work?
Agnes: Damn right. We did as good a job as the men and better.
After the war she returned home to Vermont.
"I didn't have a job or a place to live but I bought a horse," said Agnes.
She married, divorced and raised a son. After retiring she started sewing again. Recently her skills got the attention of George Brewer. He saw an online article about Goodale needing fleece. It piqued his interest.
"There were a lot of wows. This is cool, this is really cool," said Goodale.
Agnes and George became fast friends.
George is a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group of mostly veterans.
"And I thought about it, she really gave in World War 2 and she came back and now she's giving again," said George.
George: We got a ton of fleece.
Agnes: I don't know if I want to hear a ton.
Agnes: George, you realize I'm 97 years old.
For the sassy senior, the recognition is overwhelming. Remembering what Agnes accomplished in the past and present.
"It's a wonderful birthday, the whole thing," said Agnes.
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