READ J. Michael Niotta's 

National Crime Syndicate column 

The Early Days of Los Angeles



“I remember that happening,” says Jeanne Niotta, in regards to the forced relocation of her grandparents not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Out of fear of another attack, much of the areas close to the California coast were deemed a military zone, making them forbidden for any citizen of an Axis country. Jeanne’s grandfather, Christian Ernst Breunle, came to America in 1917, but hadn’t naturalized by the start of the Second World War. Although Jeanne’s grandmother, Nellie Augusta Willard, was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, her marriage to German born Christian Breunle affected her status as an American.

“When my grandmother married my, I guess you’d say ‘illegal’ grandfather—who came from Germany—she lost her citizenship.”


Like Jeanne, I found the situation odd. The story seemed a bit difficult to believe. After a bit of digging though, I came to a rather shocking realization; the very same thing had happened to my own grandmother. Francesca Rizzotto, a first-generation...

The Glenn L. Martin Company began to hire women in August of 1941, first to work the nonmetallic materials used by their planes, such as canvas, felt, cloth, rubber, and asbestos, then later in various areas of aircraft production and other facets of the war effort. Other companies smartly followed suit and before long the ideology of women taking on “a man’s job” forged icons—Rosie the Riveter, Wanda the WAVE, Wendy the Welder, and others. The image embodied by these women spurred billboards, posters, propaganda films, factory tours, and a slew of other ploys all geared at selling war bonds and inspiring a female workforce to push hard and produce more.

The Los Angeles Times, December 28, 1942

Northrop Workers Show 35,000 Visitors How Planes Are Built

Rosie the Riveter and Joe the Jig-builder yesterday showed the folks how they build dive bombers at Northrop. The day-shifters, turning their day off into “family visiting day,” guided mom and dad, sister and Uncle Louie—an estimated 35,000...

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