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OT ?: Building Liberty ships for the war effort, 1941

The interesting thing about that supply of workers was the variations among them.

There was a mix of ordinary Americans, communists, jailhouse lawyers, ex-"Wobblies", drunks, raging socialists, some fascists, etc. Quite a number of the communists, socialists, and radical union members, the 20s and 30s bred them by the tens of thousands.

And they all ended up coming together to work for one purpose. That is not to say that none of them caused trouble (they did plenty), or that none of them showed up and went to sleep it off behind the lumber pile, etc, (some did). Plenty were the "snowflakes" of that time, and showed it.

Hardly any of them came to the job knowing how to do it. They either had been doing nothing, had been on a fairly primitive farm, etc. Whatever they had been doing , it was mostly not shipyard work.

They were clearly not ideal workers, but they still got the work done.
 
JST:

Your mention of the 'Wobblies" put a smile on my face. It is a chapter in history that is largely forgotten. The IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) was born in an era when the 'barons' of industry were at their peak and labor had no rights. Without getting into a debate as to the principals of unionism, or the IWW itself, suffice it to say that I grew up in a household where old IWW songs were sung by my parents at odd moments. If we were in the car going on a trip, the way to keep us kids amused was often to try to get us to sing. So, we learned "Halleluah, I'm a Bum", "Joe Hill", and "Pie in the Sky" when we were kids. In the area that we live, it used to be quite common to have live music at gatherings or parties. This consisted of guests bringing fiddles, banjos, guitars, maybe a concertina or accordion. Square dances and reels were played and called, and sooner or later, the group would strike up "The Union Maid"- another IWW song. Don;t hear it much in the last few years.

When the shop steward at the powerplant retired, he was an old die-hard labor man, with a graduate degree in fine arts and quite a well read man. He and I used to have some interesting conversations, although we were 'on opposite sides of the table'. When he retired, I brought my harmonica to work. I had made him a gift of a horse-shoe doorknocker (draft horse shoe, track spike and bearings and bearing block and mounting made from powerplant scrap). He came up to my office to thank me, and I got out my 'harp. I began to play the "Union Maid". He grabbed my elbow and the two of us went dancing down the hall with me playing my harmonica and him singing and whooping like a wild man.

I come from a long line of union people, and my son is now a law student. He is planning to specialize in immigration law combined with labor law and human rights law. For the summer, he is a law clerk at the NY State headquarters of the Teacher's Union, his grandmother- my mom- was a NYC schoolteacher and shop steward who walked the picket line in defiance of NYS's 'Taylor Law'- a law forbidding striking by public employees. I gave a copy of the IWW's "Little Red Songbook" to our son along with a tee shirt fromn the IWW (with their 'cat' symbol and 'an injury to one is an injury to all). I've got an IWW sticker on the saddle bag of my old BMW motorcycle along with a 9-1-1 terrorist hunting permit and an NRA sticker. Let the public try to figure me out !
 
I live in Evansville IN where they built LSTs during the war. Even though we are inland (actually because we are inland and away from the coasts) we are on the Ohio river. They built them at the Evansville Shipyard and floated them down river to the sea. We have a LST moored on the riverfront right now, LST325. It wasn't bult here but it is typical.

Evansville built a lot of things during the War. 95% of .45ACP ammo used was made at Evansville Cartridge Company (ECC). We also built P47 Thunderbolts, numerous types of munitions, wings and other structural components for a variety of other aircraft. A block from where I grew up was a tank rebulding area that was fenced off and guarded by troops. I was born in 1954 so I never saw anything besides pictures but there was a gate guarded by troops at the end of our block.
 
JST:

Your mention of the 'Wobblies" put a smile on my face. It is a chapter in history that is largely forgotten. The IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) was born in an era when the 'barons' of industry were at their peak and labor had no rights. Without getting into a debate as to the principals of unionism, or the IWW itself, suffice it to say that I grew up in a household where old IWW songs were sung by my parents at odd moments. If we were in the car going on a trip, the way to keep us kids amused was often to try to get us to sing. So, we learned "Halleluah, I'm a Bum", "Joe Hill", and "Pie in the Sky" when we were kids. In the area that we live, it used to be quite common to have live music at gatherings or parties. This consisted of guests bringing fiddles, banjos, guitars, maybe a concertina or accordion. Square dances and reels were played and called, and sooner or later, the group would strike up "The Union Maid"- another IWW song. Don;t hear it much in the last few years.

When the shop steward at the powerplant retired, he was an old die-hard labor man, with a graduate degree in fine arts and quite a well read man. He and I used to have some interesting conversations, although we were 'on opposite sides of the table'. When he retired, I brought my harmonica to work. I had made him a gift of a horse-shoe doorknocker (draft horse shoe, track spike and bearings and bearing block and mounting made from powerplant scrap). He came up to my office to thank me, and I got out my 'harp. I began to play the "Union Maid". He grabbed my elbow and the two of us went dancing down the hall with me playing my harmonica and him singing and whooping like a wild man.

I come from a long line of union people, and my son is now a law student. He is planning to specialize in immigration law combined with labor law and human rights law. For the summer, he is a law clerk at the NY State headquarters of the Teacher's Union, his grandmother- my mom- was a NYC schoolteacher and shop steward who walked the picket line in defiance of NYS's 'Taylor Law'- a law forbidding striking by public employees. I gave a copy of the IWW's "Little Red Songbook" to our son along with a tee shirt fromn the IWW (with their 'cat' symbol and 'an injury to one is an injury to all). I've got an IWW sticker on the saddle bag of my old BMW motorcycle along with a 9-1-1 terrorist hunting permit and an NRA sticker. Let the public try to figure me out !

Hi Joe, I used to have a copy of " The Little Red Songbook " . It'll be somewhere in my library. Your post got me thinking about the I W W. I've got a copy of " Rebel Voices " " an I W W anthology " edited by Joyce L Kornbluh and published by the University of Michigan Press. It must have every Wobbly song every written in it. Plus lots of articles and cartoons from that era.

I bought it in 1974, the US price then was $4-95. UK price £2-50, how things have changed.

On the fly life it has a dedication to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

Regards Tyrone.
 
Tyrone:

It sounds like we are kindred spirits ! Were you in some reasonable geographical distance of me, I'd suggest we get together and enjoy our favorite "beverages" and probably wind up singing some of those songs from "The Little Red Songbook".

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner gave their lives trying to get blacks in the southern USA registered to vote as well as in the cause of civil rights. They were murdered, local authorities turned a blind eye, and I believe the president of the USA (Lyndon B. Johnson) had to get the FBI to take over the investigation. I do not recall if anyone was ever indicted or convicted of their murders. When we were getting set to build our house, we bought a plot of land from an elderly German immigrant named Rudy. Rudy was outspoken on many issues, and he was a pacifist. As I was to learn, Rudy had had Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner as his houseguests, and had donated a sum of money to them for their trip to the south that summer. Rudy's own son had died young of natural causes, he had also been a civil rights activist. Rudy buried his son and the gravestone has the 'peace sign' etched into it. Rudy is long gone, having died well into his 90's, and your mention of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner brought back the memory of his involvement with them and the civil rights movement in the 60's-70's.

My parents were born in 1917 & 1918. They were dirt poor, and of a generation and group of people who had high ideals. Both Dad and Mom as young people used to go to benefit concerts or poetry readings to raise money for fighting facism in Spain. They gave what little coin they could to help finance the "Abraham Lincoln Brigade". Those were the times they lived in. When WWII broke out, Dad tried to enlist and was turned down due to a torn rotator cuff (jobsite accident). He got a draft notice and was initially rejected for service due to that shoulder. Dad insisted he wanted to do his part, having more of a stake in the matter. Dad went into the US Army combat engineers on a waiver, and after basic training and engineer training, was again offered a medical out. Dad insisted, so an Army surgeon operated on Dad's shoulder. Dad joked he had a 'sea voyage' to recuperate from the surgery- a trip to England on a converted banana boat with umpteen other GI's. Dad went over on the second wave on D-Day, fought thru Europe, was at the Bulge, and was wounded some time after that. That wound got him sent home.

Different generations of people who did what was expected of them, or what seemed the 'right thing', even at risk of their lives. I'd like to think people with those sorts of ideal and principals are still amongst us. Reading your posts on this 'board affirms this belief on my part.

BTW: Another singer/songwriter we used to listen to as kids was Woody Guthrie. If ever there was a social commentator who 'told it like it was' and advocated for the poor, the displaced, and the working people, it was Woody Guthrie. In grammar school, we kids learned the song: "this Land is Your Land, this Land is My Land". Of course, the teachers told us it was a song about how beautiful, bountiful and otherwise wonderful our country was. In actuality, Woody Guthrie wrote it after seeing fruit crops rotting on the trees with 'no trespassing' signs posted around the orchards, while poor people were starving, unable to get any of that fruit.

A sequel song to that is "You Ain't Got the Do-Re-Me". This was the music us kids grew up on, and occasionally, some of my friends who fiddle and pick banjos will strike it up at dances and parties, along with "The Union Maid" (also known as "The Redwing").

If there was a pub accessible to both of us (and plenty more from the group who frequents this 'board), I am sure we would have a high old time of it.

Best regards-
Joe Michaels
 
I bought my copy of the little red song book from the late U Utah Phillips at the folkway in Peterbough NH
It’s in my briefcase now been with me from NH Antarctica South Carolina Caribbean Japan Korea And any Arm pit in Alaska I worked.
I bought it right from Utah durning the break he was just about to sign it for me one worker to another when some banker type fellow come butting in spouting off about Moose turd pie...
Saw him a couple of more times but never got him to sing it
I send his son 25 $ or so from time to time theY moved his Caboose from Vermont to California and are restoring it.
you can listen to his past raido show “ loafers glory” on the ebb and see the progress on the Caboose
 
Tyrone:

It sounds like we are kindred spirits ! Were you in some reasonable geographical distance of me, I'd suggest we get together and enjoy our favorite "beverages" and probably wind up singing some of those songs from "The Little Red Songbook".

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner gave their lives trying to get blacks in the southern USA registered to vote as well as in the cause of civil rights. They were murdered, local authorities turned a blind eye, and I believe the president of the USA (Lyndon B. Johnson) had to get the FBI to take over the investigation. I do not recall if anyone was ever indicted or convicted of their murders. When we were getting set to build our house, we bought a plot of land from an elderly German immigrant named Rudy. Rudy was outspoken on many issues, and he was a pacifist. As I was to learn, Rudy had had Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner as his houseguests, and had donated a sum of money to them for their trip to the south that summer. Rudy's own son had died young of natural causes, he had also been a civil rights activist. Rudy buried his son and the gravestone has the 'peace sign' etched into it. Rudy is long gone, having died well into his 90's, and your mention of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner brought back the memory of his involvement with them and the civil rights movement in the 60's-70's.

My parents were born in 1917 & 1918. They were dirt poor, and of a generation and group of people who had high ideals. Both Dad and Mom as young people used to go to benefit concerts or poetry readings to raise money for fighting facism in Spain. They gave what little coin they could to help finance the "Abraham Lincoln Brigade". Those were the times they lived in. When WWII broke out, Dad tried to enlist and was turned down due to a torn rotator cuff (jobsite accident). He got a draft notice and was initially rejected for service due to that shoulder. Dad insisted he wanted to do his part, having more of a stake in the matter. Dad went into the US Army combat engineers on a waiver, and after basic training and engineer training, was again offered a medical out. Dad insisted, so an Army surgeon operated on Dad's shoulder. Dad joked he had a 'sea voyage' to recuperate from the surgery- a trip to England on a converted banana boat with umpteen other GI's. Dad went over on the second wave on D-Day, fought thru Europe, was at the Bulge, and was wounded some time after that. That wound got him sent home.

Different generations of people who did what was expected of them, or what seemed the 'right thing', even at risk of their lives. I'd like to think people with those sorts of ideal and principals are still amongst us. Reading your posts on this 'board affirms this belief on my part.

BTW: Another singer/songwriter we used to listen to as kids was Woody Guthrie. If ever there was a social commentator who 'told it like it was' and advocated for the poor, the displaced, and the working people, it was Woody Guthrie. In grammar school, we kids learned the song: "this Land is Your Land, this Land is My Land". Of course, the teachers told us it was a song about how beautiful, bountiful and otherwise wonderful our country was. In actuality, Woody Guthrie wrote it after seeing fruit crops rotting on the trees with 'no trespassing' signs posted around the orchards, while poor people were starving, unable to get any of that fruit.

A sequel song to that is "You Ain't Got the Do-Re-Me". This was the music us kids grew up on, and occasionally, some of my friends who fiddle and pick banjos will strike it up at dances and parties, along with "The Union Maid" (also known as "The Redwing").

If there was a pub accessible to both of us (and plenty more from the group who frequents this 'board), I am sure we would have a high old time of it.

Best regards-
Joe Michaels

Thanks for that Joe. I knew about the sad case of the three young lads mentioned on the fly leaf.

It would be nice to have a drink, however since the pandemic started over here I haven't touched a drop of alcohol. I'm not a home drinker these days and I don't fancy a trip to the pub under current circumstances.
I used to love a pint but to be honest I haven't missed it at all. Having said that people tell you " Quit drinking and you'll feel great ". Don't believe it, it's a myth.

I still meet up with my drinking buddy twice a week but we go for long walks instead.

My politics have always been in support of the working man and woman irrespective of where they live. I've done my bit over the years, it's not always been easy, but there's not much I'd change if I had to do it all over again.

Best wishes, Tyrone.
 
I was on two WWII tenders while in the Navy. Both were built on Liberty Ship hulls. The first was the USS Howard W Gilmore AS-16.
It was a sub tender. The second one was the USS Hector AR-7.
Both ships had extensive repair facilities and could fix nearly anything on a sub or ship. I was a machinist (MR) The Navy is where I got my rudimentary(4 years) exposure to machine shop equipment. It was a good experience and a fun time in my youth.
Both ships are longLastVoyage.jpg gone now.
 
My parents were born in 1917 & 1918. They were dirt poor, and of a generation and group of people who had high ideals. Both Dad and Mom as young people used to go to benefit concerts or poetry readings to raise money for fighting facism in Spain. ...

Very polarizing issue these days, organized labor. My mom walked picket lines when nursing was unionized in NJ years ago. Actually roller skated some of the time. My dad was on the managament side in another field and this made for some interesting dinner conversations. Maybe I will see you on 9W someday, driving by the mothball fleet site and we can share a drink.
 
Very polarizing issue these days, organized labor. My mom walked picket lines when nursing was unionized in NJ years ago. Actually roller skated some of the time. My dad was on the managament side in another field and this made for some interesting dinner conversations. Maybe I will see you on 9W someday, driving by the mothball fleet site and we can share a drink.

It's a shame that the early trade unionists ( Wobblies etc ) are all treated as pariahs these days. As far as I can see there were some fine Americans amongst them who only wanted a fair slice of the pie.

Regards Tyrone.
 
Tyrone:

Thanks for the kind words and great post. Without going into a discourse about unionism vs nonunionism, I can say that in the USA, those of us who worked for a paycheck, either as "blue collar" or "Management", reaped the fruits and sacrifices of trade unionists. We owe them the 40 hour week, additional pay for overtime, and much more.

I used to say, when I was working at the powerplant, that we in management benefitted from a 'trickle down' effect. Namely, if the workforce who was represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers got a good contract, middle and first-line management generally got something similar. Corporate was not going to hand out raises or benefits to management out of the goodness of their hearts, and they knew if they did not have some kind of parity with the union side of the house, first line and middle management might up and leave for greener pastures.

In the ensuing years, people in the USA grew contented and complacent, and union representation dropped off. Employers brainwashed legions of employees as to how bad unionizing was, and usually 'threw bones' (i.e., token raises, bonusses, maybe an increase in benefits) to prevent any efforts to organize. Then came globalization.
The Chinese have taken over a number of US industries and enforced their own ideas as to how labor is to be treated. Workforces who were earning a reasonable wage, even as non-union workers in factories in the USA were suddenly told they'd be working for a fraction of the previous wage, loss of benefits, etc. Even then, the workforces narrowly defeated votes to unionize.

We are quite proud of our son. He got his undergraduate degree about 7 years ago, and was unable to find work in his degreed field. He came home and started taking any job he could, picking up work from Craigslist. Work included splitting and stacking cordwood, painting exteriors of houses, loading moving vans, and working on a landscape crew. Being fluent in Spanish, our son got a real insight into how undocumented migrant labor is treated and mis used. Our son then moved to Minneapolis and worked as a contract employee for various large firms doing technical writing. This gave him even more insight into how corporate America treats the workforces. The result is our son decided to become an attorney. He was accepted at Albany Law School, and plans to specialize in a combination of Immigration Law, Labor Law, and Human Rights/Public Interest Law. Being fluent in Spanish and reasonably proficient in Arabic, he ought to be able to dig right into that sort of law. He is working as a summer law clerk at the Albany, NY (the State Capital) headquarters of the Teacher's Union. Their legal department handles grievances and hearings for some of the other public sector unions, so he is getting some great experience. Our son is one of the few people who not only talks about 'changing the world' and wanting to do something on behalf of working people and other disadvantaged groups, getting prepared to dedicate his life's work to it. Needless to say, we are quite proud of our son.

We live in an era when so much of what we grew up with is almost ancient history, or at least outmoded. Common courtesy, manners, standing up for what is right, and basic loyalty are seemingly in short supply. Makes me feel like more of a dinosaur at times when I hold doors or tip my hat to ladies and speak up if something is not right, even if I am not directly affected by it.

As for the Covid-19 and alcohol consumption, I took the same route you did. Our daughter, who is 35 and high functioning autistic, went thru a rough patch. It knocked my wife and I for a loop. We got into the whisky each evening. Daughter, thankfully, was more resilient than either my wife or I could have imagined or hoped for. Some changes were made to her program, she was moved into a 'supervised apartment', and is a new person. Meanwhile, we were getting too used to a nightly drink, rationalizing it by saying it was medicinal or therapeutic. Then my buddy who considers us as his family arrived. He is 72 years of age and had ridden his BMW motorcycle from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a visit with us. The drinking ramped up a bit. After my buddy left to go back to the UP, I decided the drinking had to stop, and haven't touched drop since. I liken my body to a steam powerplant, and decided it was time to give my systems a rest, having been running them harder to process the alcohol. I won't say I haven't missed taking a drink or having a beer or two after a day of welding in hot weather. But, my internal systems are likely thanking me. I did say I'd 'fall off the wagon' (an old US expression for going back to drinking alcoholic beverages, 'the wagon' being 'the water wagon') for my wife's 65th Birthday in about 10 days. Son will be home as well, so with the whole family back home and our daughter doing well, some celebrating is in order.

Ultradog:

No disrespect to your account of being on the submarine tenders. These ships were "Fulton Class" vessels and were 'purpose built' from the keel up. They were not built on Liberty Ship hulls. There are substantial dimensional differences:

-Howard Gilmore: Length 529 ft, Beam 73 ft, Draft 23'-6", Displacement 9400 tons

-Liberty Ships: Length 441 ft, Beam 56 ft, Draft 27'-9", Displacement 14,425 tons

There is no way a Liberty Ship hull could have been reconfigured to the dimensions of the Fulton Class submarine tenders. In addition, the Fulton Class tenders used diesel- electric propulsion. Even if a Liberty Ship hull were put into a graving dock for lengthening, the beam is still 17 ft narrower than the Fulton Class submarine tender hulls.

The ships you were on were WWII era vessels, no doubt about that. They were some of the longer serving vessels in the US Navy. In the early 1970's when I was working on the construction of Millstone Unit II Nuclear Power Plant in Waterford, Connecticut. I'd take the "Gold Star" Bridge between New London and Groton, Connecticut. From the bridge, I could see at least one of the Fulton class of submarine tenders moored on the New London side of the Thames River. I got to go to two launchings of nuclear submarines at Electric Boat's shipyard in Groton during that same time period. The whole region was tied to the US Navy, the US Coast Guard (whose academy is in New London, CT), or the Electric Boat Shipyard. Many of the craftsmen in the building trade (boilermakers, pipefitters, millwrights) came out of the Electric Boat shipyards and many of the engineers on the job were ex US Navy nuke power program, or had been civilian employees of Admiral Hyman Rickover on the early prototype reactor plants for the submarines. I was told in some detail about how well-equipped the sub tender vessels were, and how there were even foundry facilities for pouring castings aboard those vessels. As it was told to me, that short of having to put a submarine into drydock, there was very little in the way of repairs that the submarine tender vessels could not carry out, and very few parts or equipment they could not make right there aboard the vessel if need be. I am sure you got a very solid and widespread grounding in machine shop work and so much else while you were serving on the Submarine Tenders. I've seen online photos and youtubes taken aboard one of the "Fulton Class" submarine tenders before she was scrapped. Even with the ship having been cannibalized, there was still enough machine shop equipment aboard to give a sense of the shop capability. Thank you for your service to our country !
 
Joe,
Thanks.
I stand corrected.
It's been nearly 50 years since I was on the Gilmore so perhaps you'll forgive a lapse of memory.
As to the foundry, yes they could do a lot.
I had a buddy that worked in ours. I did some trading with him and he made me one of these. Usually you had to have a couple/few gold bars on your shoulders to get one.
It's cast brass. 7 3/8" in dia. Weighs about 3 lbs. 2020-07-29_03_09_26.jpg
PS, The Hector AR-7 had much more extensive machine shop facilities.
 
Ultradog:

Thanks for your forebearance in putting up with this old dinosaur (me). I will be 70 in September, and my memory is generally as sharp or sharper than it ever was, with the exception of people's names. For some few years now, it seems I have a little fuzziness when it comes to summoning up people's names, even when I see them face to face. Durned near total recall on engineering, machinery, who-built-what, specifications, historical details, and I am old enough to have started out in life without benefit of 'artificial intelligence' or even pocket calculators. The result is I carry a variety of engineering data around in my head, and sometimes will rough calculate the approximate growth of a part or a bridge span due to thermal expansion in my head. When I was working at the powerplant, I was called a variety of names, which included "the Professor", along with "Uncle Joe" and "The Old Man" (I was the oldest person working at the powerplant when I retired). Old Man was meant as a term of respect, as it is used in the military or in a family.

I am sure you had some great experience aboard the Howard Gilmore. That cast bronze medallion is quite a nice remembrance of your ship. It sounds like a typical navy or jobsite story of some 'horsetrading' to get things done that would not happen by 'official policy'. Knowing how to "maneuver" to get things done was always something I enjoyed in my own career. We used to get a lot done by 'horsetrading' rather than go according to corporate policy or similar. One firm I worked for in the late 1970's used to give each of us in supervision at the jobsites a case of whisky a month. We'd literally call in our orders to the home office, where they had a strong room that had shelves stocked with all manner of hooch- rye, bourbon, scotch, gin, and brandy were kept on the shelves. Once a month, you called the home office from your jobsite and told them what you wanted for your monthly case of booze. The purpose of those cases of booze was not to keep jobsite supervision and site engineers inebriated. Instead, the booze was used to make things happen on the jobsite. If the union business agents came on site, you gave them each a bottle or two of booze. If you needed something done by another contractor on site, a few bottles of booze did the trick. On one occasion, a young oiler was assigned to a Manitowoc "Vicon" crane, a rig with almost 150 ft of boom and then a jib. The oiler's father was the operator of that crane. One morning, the crane operator went to the outhouse. His son got the bright idea that he ought to practice running the crane and got into the operator's seat. The oiler began running the 'whip line'- the single line used to lift lighter loads- up and down. The whipline had a headache ball on it, about 1500 lbs of cast iron, to keep the wire rope nice and taut when no load was on the whip line's hook. The whipline passed over a sheave way up in the sky at the point of the jib. The oiler was running the whipline up and down, and he did not realize how fast the "Vicon" control (kind of a torque converter drive) could turn the hoist drums. He also had compromised visibilty, since he was looking up thru the lacings on the main boom. His depth perception was NFG, and he had no one spotting and signalling him. The inevitable happened. About the time the oiler's father came out of the outhouse, the oiler had the whipline hoist get away from him. He "two blocked" the whipline, pulling the headache ball and hook hard up against the sheave at the point of the jib. The whip line hoist then pulled the jib up, pivoting at on its pinned connection to the point of the main boom. The headache ball then split (it was cast in halves with a steel pin thru it and thru a rigging fitting for the hook and whip line to attach to). The halves of the headache ball then bounced down the main boom, deforming lacings as they went, and then bounced onto the top of the crane "house", denting some of the sheet metal. Up on top, there was an absolute snarl of rigging. Pennant lines used for hoisting the boom and guying the jib were totally snarled, and the whip line had also snarled up, making a colossal bird's nest of wire rope. No way to lower the main boom, no way to untangle the mess.

At that point, we knew we had to do something fast as things could not stay as they were. Another contractor had a crane called an American "Sky Horse" working nearby. This was an even bigger crane than the Manitowoc Vicon which had the accident. We went to that contractor- good news travelled fast- and brought booze with us. They cut the Sky Horse loose from their work and walked it over to our area. Our ironworkers climbed the boom of the Manitowoc and hooked on a sling to the Skyhorse crane's main load block. The Skyhorse operator took some strain and took the load off all the damaged boom hoist rigging on our Manitowoc. The ironworkers handlined up cutting torches and cut the wire rope of the boom hoist, whipline and all else to free up the Manitowoc's boom. The Skyhorse operator then used his main hoist to lower the boom on the Manitowoc.

Plenty of hooch was given out that day, and it took care of most of the emergency work to get the Manitowoc crane in a safe condition with its boom laid down on dunnage. Who knows what walking a Skyhorse crane, plus its crew, and tying it up for a couple of hours would have cost the firm I worked for. Coralling people in the home office for approvals, then the paperwork for the emergency work would have taken more time than we had, and we needed to make things happen right then and there.

It was a common thing to make these sorts of deals, maybe it was to swap 'extra' material or supplies for something we needed, maybe we swapped services, or maybe we just did these sorts of things knowing what goes around comes around. Knowing how to get along in the real world, some which I call 'maneuvering', is a skill not taught in schools. People aboard ships and in powerplants seem to excel at this sort of 'under the radar' means of getting things done. Your cast bronze medallion is as good an example of this sort of thing as any. I am sure you have the memories of how you manuevered to get it.
 
I heard this interview on the radio tonight and thought I'd post the link in this thread .

These real-life 'Rosie the Riveters' just received the top U.S. civilian award​

I'm not sure how long the link will stay up but it should last for a while.
There are several other Rosie threads on this forum but I found this one related to the shipyard in the radio link.
I remembered seeing these magazines and posting on the forum from almost a decade ago
In this thread ,
So I took a look to see if I could find something about the Richmond Ca. Shipyard No.3 and found a few things to share here .
1712969523626.png


1712969609027.png
From another Shipyard
1712969779246.png

1712969824087.png

Jim
 
Some few years back, my mother (then well into her 90's and living in Walnut Creek, CA) suggested we visit the museum in Richmond, CA. The mueseum was dedicated to the WWII shipyard workers. The Park Service interpreter was a woman of color who was in the same age group as my mother. This lady told the story of the Kaiser Shipyards from the perspective of a young woman of color who had moved from another state (I forget which) to work in the shipyards.

As she explained it, despite what WWII propaganda would have everyone believe, things were way different in the shipyards. The posters and propaganda of the times had the message that all Americans, regardless of race, gender, age, etc, were all pulling together for the war effort. She explained how, when she first came to the yards, blacks were held back from skilled jobs. They were assigned to bull work or menial tasks. She also said there were two Boilermakers Local Unions for the same shipyard- one colored, one white. Two pay scales (white & colored), each of which further subdivided into pay rates for men (higher) and women (lower). I forget how and when she said things changed and the yard started allowing people of color including women of color to learn welding. This enabled them to be production hull welders, paid piecerate. She also said a lot of the workforce in the yard had relocated from areas of the USA where 'Jim Crow' laws and practices were the rule. These people did not take kindly to the notion of working alongside blacks and doing the same work as them.

The "Rosie the Riveter' story makes good propaganda but the truth is something less pretty. Women, even in wartime industry, had a lot to overcome. My mother worked thru the WWII years as a statistician for the Office of War Information. Mom told us that her boss had told her that if she (Mom), were a man, he'd be able to promote her and she'd be earning a lot more. I am sure plenty of the women who worked in WWII industry had similar or worse stories. That was a time when terms like 'sexual harassment' did not exist and was often the norm.

Another story comes to mind about the WWII shipyards. The first mechanical superintendent at the powerplant I retired from was a fellow from Maine. He was a heck of a nice guy, old school, laid back and we got on famously. He told me the story of his early years. What prompted that was when I stopped a mechanic from 'slugging a weld'. Slugging a weld is when there is a deep weld with a lot of passes needed, or a bad fitup with a very wide gap. SLugging consists of throwing anything handy like welding rods with the flux beat off them, bolts, nails, or scrap steel into the weld gap. The welder then cranks up the heat on his machine and runs a pass over the whole mess, puddling it and fusing it into the base metal- or so it is hoped. The reality is slugged welds tend to crack due to incomplete fusion and lack of penetration and stress risers set up at the interfaces between junk in the weld zone. I had stopped one mechanic from slugging a weld with a wide root gap and he replied 'every welder here does it... why not ?" I explained the reason to the mechanic and went to the superintendent to tell him we had to put a stop to slugging welds. He whistled thru his teeth, said "Ayup", and proceeded to tell me how he'd worked the 'shipyahds' in South Portland, ME. while in high school. He worked as a hull welder on a split shift, the only male welder amidst a group of women. They were paid piece rate, a certain price paid for each linear inch of weld put down. To make more money, a hull welder had to go like a racehorse laying down weld. They were burning some hellaciously big electrodes as it were. The super said all the women in his shift were slugging welds as a matter of course in order to show more finished weld at the end of their shifts. I replied this was why some of the WWII ships had a nasty habit of breaking apart. The super said his shipyards career lasted until he turned 17. At that point, his parents signed his enlistment papers so he could join the Marines. He dropped out of high school and served a hitch in the USMC, coming back a sergeant. He returned to HS to complete his senior year as a USMC veteran. Imagine a fellow who had seen the world as a Marine during WWII returning to sit in a HS classroom with regular HS students. He then went on to get a mechanical engineering degree. We did put a stop to slugging welds, though he never quite agreed with me on that matter.

To validate the issues with WWII merchant ships' hulls breaking apart, many Navy & Merchant Mariners referred to the Liberty & Victory ships as "Kaiser Coffins".
 
Joe,
Thanks.
I stand corrected.
It's been nearly 50 years since I was on the Gilmore so perhaps you'll forgive a lapse of memory.
As to the foundry, yes they could do a lot.
I had a buddy that worked in ours. I did some trading with him and he made me one of these. Usually you had to have a couple/few gold bars on your shoulders to get one.
It's cast brass. 7 3/8" in dia. Weighs about 3 lbs. View attachment 295285
PS, The Hector AR-7 had much more extensive machine shop facilities.
When I was in the auto parts business my store was about 15 miles from Mayport,Fl. So about 50% of my business was Navy . I was taking to a sailor one day and asked what his job was.When he told me he was a foundry man, You mean like metal casting? He was stationed aboard the USS Yosemite , a destroyer tender. It just never crossed my mind the Navy would have a need for foundry men. I got to know quite a few of the crew. The "YO YO"as some crew called her, was a one stop shop could make or repair darn near any thing.
A lot of the sailors when their time was up retired in Jax. Probably 30% or more of the popuation is ex Navy.
 
When I was in the auto parts business my store was about 15 miles from Mayport,Fl. So about 50% of my business was Navy . I was taking to a sailor one day and asked what his job was.When he told me he was a foundry man, You mean like metal casting? He was stationed aboard the USS Yosemite , a destroyer tender. It just never crossed my mind the Navy would have a need for foundry men. I got to know quite a few of the crew. The "YO YO"as some crew called her, was a one stop shop could make or repair darn near any thing.
A lot of the sailors when their time was up retired in Jax. Probably 30% or more of the popuation is ex Navy.
This reminded me , One of the sailors who was getting out of the Navy was a good customer. He bought a lot of speed equipment to build his car when he got home. The day he was leaving he dropped by the shop to show me his parting "gift" from the Navy. It was a stainless cannon he had made while on a cruise , about 3/4' long.Really nice. He told me that one of the crew had rotated back to the ship from serving on it many years ago. He told him that piece of stock was probably on the ship since WW2! Time for a new home.
 
This reminded me , One of the sailors who was getting out of the Navy was a good customer. He bought a lot of speed equipment to build his car when he got home. The day he was leaving he dropped by the shop to show me his parting "gift" from the Navy. It was a stainless cannon he had made while on a cruise , about 3/4' long.Really nice. He told me that one of the crew had rotated back to the ship from serving on it many years ago. He told him that piece of stock was probably on the ship since WW2! Time for a new home.
 
I had a neighbor that was a Liverpool trained shipwright at a company called Sandock Austral in Durban that did all the dry dock work. Told me about a Liberty ship that was still working as a coaster on the east coast of Africa in the 70s, came in for a repair and when someone hit one of the plates they were working on with a sledge hammer it shattered.
 
My best friends father was the Chief Engineer of one of the biggest English shipping lines.

During his retirement he got to know the crew of the Jeremiah O'brien during the 60th D-Day celebration.

Because of his engineering expertise, and ability to tell a story he was invited to sail on the Jeremiah O'Brien from Europe back to San Francisco. The only problem being he was a non-US citizen, so he wasn't allowed per Coast Guard rules to sail on the ship. I'll have to find out exactly what they did, but they bent some rules and he made the passage across the Atlantic, and around to San Francisco.
 








 
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