Prior to the Great Depression, Klein’s father owned and managed his own café in town. With the stock market crash and the beginning of an economic turmoil throughout the country, her father lost the café and later found work at a local cemetery. Her family, including her two older brothers and two younger sisters, went on federal aid, working on projects of the WPA, a governmental relief agency of President Roosevelt’s New Deal.
At the age of 16, Klein married a man nine years her senior. When the United States entered into World War II, Klein’s husband enlisted and went overseas for a year, making $300 a month.
With many men overseas during the war, Klein and many other women [took] over many of the jobs and responsibilities of the men. At Continental Airlines, Klein worked as one of the many “Rosie the Riveters.” In one of her jobs, Klein inserted and sealed in windows on B-17 airplanes.