Acknowledgements:This interview was made possible by the generous support of Sawaka and Michael Katz.
Idamae Mason worked for Consolidated Vultee Aircraft in New Orleans, Louisiana during World War II. She tried to train as a riveter, but her wrists weren’t strong enough to do the work, so she was assigned to drilling holes in aluminum forms. She eventually got metal poisoning from this work and was told to take sick leave with no pay. Idamae refused and insisted on being paid for six weeks while she took night classes at Tulane University in aircraft drafting, and ended up inspecting the castings and forgings that were being machined into landing gear until the end of the war. Before the war, she had worked on her family farm and then later as a tailor altering fur coats for a dollar a day. After the war, she returned to Birmingham, Alabama and tried to work as a tailor again, but the metal poisoning had ruined her hands, so she got a job as a payroll clerk with a gas company.