Mary Rose Dashkevich, 93, made WWII uniforms


Mary Rose Dashkevich, a retired seamstress, died Wednesday of cancer at her Kenwood Avenue home. She was 93.

Born in the former Austro-Hungarian empire, in what is today's Poland, the former Mary Rose Tokarz arrived in Baltimore with her family when she was 8 years old. She spoke no English, but had learned enough to win a spelling bee at the end of her first school year here.

After completing the sixth grade, she went to work rolling cigars at a Fells Point factory. At 14, when she was able to get a work permit, she began what became a 48-year career in the ladies garment industry, then one of Baltimore's largest employers.

For her first 25 years, she worked in a number of garment-making businesses, the so-called shops. She made women's suits, coats and, during World War II, military uniforms.

In 1945, she joined the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. She often spoke of the improved working conditions the union brought and of the friendships she made with union members.

She was employed for many years at Eagle Dress Corp. on West Franklin Street, where she laughed and joked above the din of dozens of loud, high-speed sewing machines.

"The intensity at which those piece workers performed was tremendous," said her son, Joseph Dash, who lives in Catonsville.

Occasionally, a mishap occurred -- a needle pierced a finger. "It didn't take much of a miscue for there to be an accident. Those industrial machines worked at several times of the speed of a home machine," said Dash. "There was no such thing as going to the emergency room."

The injured operator made a quick trip to the medicine chest for a Mercurochrome swab and a bandage and went back to work.

In the middle of the 1960s, she retired and spent her time taking care of her grandchildren who lived next door.

In 1929, she married Joseph Dashkevich, a baker who worked at Levin's Bakery on Patterson Park Avenue. He died in 1981.

A funeral Mass will be offered at 11: 45 a.m. tomorrow at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore Street and Lakewood Avenue, where she was an active member.

In addition to her son, she is survived by nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

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