A native New Yorker, Esther’s father died suddenly when she was a child, leaving her once middle-class family destitute. She worked a number of defense jobs during the war including at the Electronic Corporation of America, All Craft Manufacturing Company, New York City and at Gossack’s Machine Shop in Queens. She speaks about the diversity in the workplace, and of one of her employers’ lunchtime habit of reading Shakespeare out loud to his workers. That group of workers went together to see the famed production of Othello on Broadway with Paul Robeson, Uta Hagen, and Jose Ferrer. Esther was a member of the United Electrical Workers, Local 1227, and travelled by train to Washington DC with the Labor Management Committee. The financial independence she obtained from her work as a Rosie allowed Esther to leave her first husband, a serviceman who she had married after a very short engagement in December of 1941.