Posts Tagged ‘Fore ‘n’ Aft’

Goodbye, Supermac!

posted on July 10, 2015

 

Lincoln Cushing,
Heritage writer

 

Frame from final Supermac strip, March 30, 1945.

Frame from final Supermac strip, March 30, 1945.

The World War II Home Front superhero cartoon strip Supermac ran in the weekly Kaiser Richmond shipyard magazine Fore ‘n’ Aft between September 8, 1944, and March 30, 1945. An earlier post explained the evolution and role of this remarkable wartime graphic narrative, and so far we have shared the first 14 strips – view the first seven and the second seven. In this conclusion, Supermac foils a devilish Nazi sabotage plot that involves rats and compressed air, at which point he gets drafted and the story ends.

The strip was cryptically credited to “P.T.C.”, which turns out to have been a collaborative effort. We know that one of the contributors was artist Emmy Lou Packard – the “P” – but the identities of the other two creative talents remain a mystery. Emmy Lou Packard left the shipyards October 26, 1945.

An exhibition of Emmy Lou Packard’s shipyard illustrations will be on display at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, Calif. from August 5, 2015 through the end of the year.

These final strips ran from January 12, 1945 until March 30, 1945. Click on them to enlarge.
Supermac- gone, but not forgotten.

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/1JZdYZd

 

1/12/1945

January 12, 1945

January 19, 1945

January 19, 1945

January 26, 1945

January 26, 1945

February 2, 1945

February 2, 1945

February 9, 1945

February 9, 1945

February 16, 1945

February 16, 1945

February 23, 1945

February 23, 1945

March 2, 1945

March 2, 1945

March 9, 1945

March 9, 1945

March 16, 1945

March 16, 1945

March 23, 1945

March 23, 1945

March 30, 1945

March 30, 1945

 

 

 

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Further adventures of Supermac

posted on May 13, 2015

 

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

Supermac fights the crazy whirley crane, 12/15/1944

Supermac fights the crazy whirley crane, 12/15/1944

Between September 8, 1944, and March 30, 1945, a working class hero comic strip named Supermac ran in the weekly Kaiser Richmond shipyard magazine Fore ‘n’ Aft. An earlier post explained the evolution and role of this remarkable wartime graphic narrative, complete with the first seven strips. He was the empowered spirit of the home front workforce, appearing in an employee magazine with a circulation of 80,000 copies.

These strips, from November 10, 1944 until the end of the year, carry the story arc through a whirley crane made crazy by loco weed as unwitting part of a sinister German sabotage plot and ends on a hopeful New Year’s note. The home front work force desperately needed that boost – the war was turning, but “Victory in Europe” day would not be until May 8, 1945 and “Victory over Japan” day August 15.

Here are the next seven strips. Click on any image to enlarge.
Catch up on the first seven Supermac strips here. The last in the series is here.

11/10/1944

11/17/1944

11/17/1944

11/24/1944

11/24/1944

12/8/1944

12/8/1944

12/15/1944

12/15/1944

12/22/1944

12/22/1944

12/29/1944

12/29/1944

 

These images are from the digital collection of Fore ‘n’ Afts collaboratively produced by Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources and the Richmond Museum of History.

Short link to this story: http://k-p.li/1Flmi6T

 

 

 

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Emmy Lou Packard – WWII shipyard magazine illustrator

posted on September 3, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

The World War II Home Front demanded huge sacrifices from civilians, and the Kaiser shipyards saw people from all walks of life working side by side. My uncle was an anthropologist at UC Berkeley who spent four years as a marine steamfitter in Richmond; he also wrote for the weekly Kaiser Richmond shipyard magazine Fore ‘n’ Aft – whose staff editorial assistant was none other than the well-known contemporary artist Emmy Lou Packard.14_0715_03-sm

By the mid-1940s, California native Packard (1914-1998) was already a respected artist in the San Francisco Bay Area. She had received her Bachelor of Arts at UC Berkeley in 1936, where she had been arts editor of the Daily Californian and the campus literary magazine Occident. She was also the first female editor of the Pelican, the humor magazine. Packard later studied sculpture and fresco painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She had befriended renowned Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and after her first husband Burton Cairns’ tragic death in 1939 Packard went to Mexico where she lived and worked with the artistic couple.

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Emmy Lou Packard’s first Fore ‘n’ Aft illustration, July 28, 1944.

During World War II, Emmy Lou became a draftswoman at the Ames Shipbuilding and Drydock Company office in San Francisco, and later moved across the bay to work in the Kaiser Richmond shipyards. She first appeared in the Fore ‘n’ Aft masthead on June 16, 1944. Soon, in addition to her editorial work, Packard began to contribute art to the newspaper. She created scratchboard illustrations and drawings, drew a recurring single-frame cartoon “Shirley the Whirley” about an anthropomorphic rolling-and-turning shipyard crane with attitude, and collaborated on a cartoon strip called “Supermac,” which ran from September 8, 1944, through March 30, 1945.

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“Emmy Lou Packard talking to an unknown man at the Richmond shipyards. circa 1941–1945. Photographer unknown. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Oakland Museum of California. The Oakland Tribune Collection. Gift of Emmy Lou Packard.”

Her debut as a shipyard illustrator in Fore ‘n’ Aft was July 28, 1944, with a powerful depiction of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6 that year. Artillery shells bursting in a night sky blasted above the fold, accompanying a first-hand account by former Richmond shipyard worker Richard Cox.

Although she would continue to create a few more major graphics, her forte became “spot illustrations”– those sweet, tiny images that break up type-heavy pages. Often, but not always, the graphics would accompany a specific article such as tips on workplace safety or healthy eating.

The illustrations were never credited, so identifying those done by Emmy Lou is an inexact process. Her son, Donald Cairns, has helped to try and confirm the approximately 100 illustrations she created over her 15 months at Fore ‘n’ Aft.

Packard’s lengthy obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned the approximately 100 paintings she made of shipyard scenes, but said nothing about her work on Fore ‘n’ Aft. Her son’s website honoring Packard’s career briefly mentions that stint without details, but until now no comprehensive survey of those illustrations has been available.

Such an omission can be explained by the unfortunate art world disinterest in something considered as lowly as labor newspaper illustrations as well as lack of access to the source material. The second limitation has now changed; this essay was made possible by a recent partnership between Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources and the Richmond (California) Museum of History to digitize as many issues of Fore ‘n’ Aft as possible. The graphics displayed here are the fruit of that digital collaboration.

What do the illustrations reveal?

The Kaiser shipyards began making transport vessels for the British government in 1941, before the United States joined the war. Two magazines covered seven yards (The Bos’n’s Whistle was the publication for the Portland, Ore., area Kaiser shipyards), and many of the cartoons and illustrations in the early issues reflect what one would expect from a trade dominated by straight, white, male industrial laborers of the time – sexist, racist, and homophobic.

But as a vastly different Home Front workforce replaced them, editorial sensibilities evolved as well. What a difference it made to have a politically progressive woman wielding a pen. Packard’s work was patriotic without resorting to racist jabs or stereotypes; she portrayed workers with dignity and character. She drew women’s experiences from a woman’s point of view – numerous vignettes show children (one of her regular subjects later in life), shopping, home life, and the challenges of survival and adjustment in a tempestuous time.

When Packard left Fore ‘n’ Aft, the editors wrote a testimonial on October 26, 1945 attesting to her contribution:

“Emmy Lou Packard is a fine artist. She painted the people who work in the yards with a deftness and freshness. But more, she sketched and painted how these workers feel. She pictured man in the complicated throes of the huge shipyards, with twisting pipes and rolls of cable drums, boilers and ten-ton steel plates, and plate shop presses fifteen feet high. Always man was a part of this complexity and always he controlled the huge machines and materials.”

These are but a few examples of Emmy Lou Packard’s previously unexamined yet important work.

Exhibition of Packard’s work at the Rosie the Riveter / WWII Home Front National Park, Richmond, Calif., 9/5/2015-12/30/2015

Short link to this article: http://bit.ly/1uB7vLC

The wartime Kaiser shipyards offered extensive child care facilities and family health care. 1/26/1945

The wartime Kaiser shipyards offered extensive child care facilities and family health care. 1/26/1945

The pageant of around-the-clock workers arriving and departing from the yards was captured in this vignette. 3/9/1945

The pageant of around-the-clock workers arriving and departing from the yards was captured in this vignette. 3/9/1945

For many, the shipyards was the first experience in working alongside people of different races; here, black-white cooperation is graphically reinforced by the positive and negative shadowing of the ship they have built together behind them. 2/22/1945

For many people, the shipyards were their first experience in working alongside people of different races; here, black-white cooperation is graphically reinforced by the positive and negative shadowing of the ship they have built together behind them. 2/22/1945

Peacetime dreams became increasingly topical as the war neared its end; here, a couple contemplates the question that “You like pre-fabbed card, why not houses?” Henry J. Kaiser advocated mass-produced affordable housing. 3/9/1945

Peacetime dreams became increasingly topical as the war neared its end; here, a couple contemplates the question that “You like pre-fabbed cars, why not houses?” Henry J. Kaiser advocated mass-produced affordable housing. 3/9/1945

This hard-hat-wearing dinner-making mother succinctly shows women’s nonstop work at home and in shipyard production. 3/30/1945

This hard-hat-wearing dinner-making mother succinctly shows women’s nonstop work at home and in shipyard production. 3/30/1945

Humorous class commentary places this uncomfortable white-collar suit amidst a trolley full of shipyard overalls 7/13/1945

Humorous class commentary places this uncomfortable white-collar suit amidst a trolley full of shipyard overalls. 7/13/1945

Many Fore ‘n’ Aft articles featured the rich diversity of the labor force; this illustration about Latin American immigrant workers is beautifully rendered by Packard in a style that would have made Diego Rivera proud. 3/30/1945

Many Fore ‘n’ Aft articles featured the rich diversity of the labor force; this illustration about Latin American immigrant workers is beautifully rendered in a style that shows Diego Rivera’s influence. 3/30/1945

Shipyard production ran around the clock; this shows night shift workers talking to each other. 3/23/1945

Shipyard production ran around the clock; this shows night shift workers talking to each other. 3/23/1945

 

These images are from the digital collection of Fore ‘n’ Afts collaboratively produced by Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources and the Richmond Museum of History.

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Building history like building ships

posted on August 22, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

Fore 'n' Aft, 1943-05-21, RMH

Fore ‘n’ Aft, May 21, 1943; click on image to see full issue PDF

During World War II, Henry J. Kaiser brought efficiencies to the shipbuilding industry such as prefabrication, vendor collaboration, and just-in-time inventory control. Fast forward to the present era where Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources began digitizing the weekly Richmond shipyard newsletter Fore ‘n’ Aft.

Many of the articles in this blog draw deeply from that well. At the peak of shipyard employment in 1944 some 80,000 copies of the free newsletter were distributed, reaching 90 percent of the workforce. It was a key part of the shipyard community, and the wide range of content included welding suggestions, news of launchings, cartoons, shopping and cooking tips, labor news, classified ads, and a complaint column.

The problem was that our archive only held some of those published, limiting our ability to thoroughly research that vital period. We had 78 issues, and at least 170 more had been produced.

Our solution? Collaboration with community partners and judicious use of specialized vendors.

Fore 'n' Aft, 1945-03-30, RMH

Fore ‘n’ Aft, March 30, 1945, with article “Family Health Plan Opened Wide”; click on image to see full issue PDF

We knew that the Richmond Museum of History held the most complete set of Fore ‘n’ Afts around, but initial inquiries stumbled over cost and access. However, subsequent negotiations with the RMH yielded a true win-win situation. They would provide us the issues we were missing at no cost, and we’d pay to digitize them. The resultant set of all files would be shared by both. In addition, we agreed to share a research set with a mutual partner, the National Park Service’s Rosie the Riveter WWII Homefront Memorial Park visitor center. Among other gems, the RMH is steward of the S.S. Red Oak Victory, launched on November 9, 1944 and the only remaining Kaiser Richmond shipyard vessel that is being restored.

Fore ‘n’ Aft was printed in two formats between 1941 and 1946; some were saddle stitched magazines and some were larger (and cheaper) tabloid newspapers. The smaller format was sent to a local vendor, and the tabloid issues were digitized at the author’s studio (four years ago I shot 24,000 posters for the Oakland Museum of California). The resulting PDFs were processed for optical character recognition to allow full-text searching.

The resulting digital collection contains almost all of the published issues, and for the first time these materials can be accessed through comprehensive text searching.

Partnership + collaboration = community benefit.

 

Short link to this article: http://bit.ly/1BKVto1 

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National Hospital Day began in 1921 to honor pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale

posted on May 9, 2014

Special day meant to educate public
about medical trends and treatments

By Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

In 1921, U.S. President Warren G. Harding declared the first National Hospital Day. He picked May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday, to honor the famed nurse who set initial standards for hospital quality during the Crimean War of 1854.

"Complete prenatal and post-natal care is part of Permanente's family coverage," photo from Fore 'n' Aft, May 25, 1945.

“Complete prenatal and post-natal care is part of Permanente’s family coverage,” photo from Fore ‘n’ Aft, May 25, 1945.

President Harding declared the special day as an occasion to open hospitals across the United States and Canada to allow staff to educate visitors about medical examination and treatment and to distribute health care literature and information about nursing schools.

This publicity campaign was conceived by Matthew O. Foley, managing editor of the Chicago-based trade publication Hospital Management, in the wake of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

The devastating epidemic killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including more than 675,000 Americans.  Foley sought to rebuild trust in the city’s hospitals as well as to draw attention to broader crises facing health care. A May 1921 Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial outlined those problems:

“The time is past when support for the care of the sick poor can be obtained through funds raised from private philanthropy.

“Modern hospital methods are expensive beyond anything formerly conceived of . . . [while at the same time] the increase of poverty and unemployment and the influx of a new and inexperienced immigrant population as yet unestablished in homes create a greatly increased number of indigent sick demanding care.”

War influenced day’s focus

National Hospital Day 1945 addressed a different set of challenges – a country still reeling from the Great Depression and still at war with Japan; victory in Europe was declared May 8, 1945.

Infographic, "Average length of patient's stay," Fore 'n' Aft, May 25, 1945

Infographic, “Average length of patient’s stay,” Fore ‘n’ Aft, May 25, 1945

San Francisco Mayor Roger Lapham proclaimed National Hospital Day as a date to honor volunteer and professional workers for what the mayor called “the splendid record for health in San Francisco during our fourth year of war”.

Among those health care providers honored were those serving workers and their families in the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond, Calif. The shipyard magazine Fore ‘n’ Aft published this editorial:

“Hospital Day has never been one of this nation’s major anniversaries, but – indisputably – health is, and will remain, one of this nation’s major problems for a long time to come.

“For most citizens as well, medical and hospital bills have been one of the major problems in their family budget. That neither of these problems need loom so large and insoluble has been proved at the Richmond shipyards.

“Richmond workers can count themselves among the select – and unfortunately, small – group of American citizens who needn’t worry about running up doctors’ bills, yet they have by their side every protection modern medicine can offer.

“To the service that makes this possible – the Permanente Health Plan – we dedicate this issue of Fore ‘n’ Aft.”

Hospital Day becomes Hospital Week

In 1953, National Hospital Day was expanded to National Hospital Week to give hospitals more time for public education about medical care.

Currently sponsored by the American Hospital Association, this year’s National Hospital Week is Sunday, May 11, through Saturday, May 17.

The week is a time to celebrate hospitals and the men and women who, day in and day out, support the health of their communities through compassionate care, constant innovation and unwavering dedication.

Writing at a time when nursing was generally a woman’s profession, a Canadian editorial writer touted the occupation:

“[On] National Hospital Day efforts will be made to bring the value of a modern hospital before every member of the community, and also to impress young women standing on life’s threshold with idealism still dominant, and aspiring to a vocation as well as seeking a means of livelihood with the view that nursing is a profession and not a business, and that in its honour sacrifices must be rendered as well as privileges won.”

 

Short link to this article: http://ow.ly/wKF1m

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Fire up your foot

posted on October 2, 2013

by Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

Even wartime shipyard workers had a sense of humor. The Permanente Metals newsletter Fore ‘n’ Aft for the four Richmond yards issue of June 23, 1944 posted this amusing photo with a caption:

Yard Three assembly 1-B instructor Mike Dailey shows off his welding position. “S’easy,” says Mike. “And you sure get out the footage that way.”
Mike demonstrated his technique to welders competing in the Yard Three June welding contest. Now all the welders are asking for instructions.

Shortlink to this item: http://ow.ly/pqM5x

Richmond shipyard number Three assembly instructor Mike Dailey shows off his unorthodox welding position.

Richmond shipyard number Three assembly instructor Mike Dailey shows off his unorthodox welding position.

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KP Heritage writer uncovers uncle’s stint as shipyard reporter

posted on July 13, 2012

By Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

KP Heritage writer Lincoln Cushing's Uncle Bob was a reporter for the Richmond wartime shipyard publication Fore 'n' Aft.

Serendipity is the secret bonus of academic research. You can be prowling through documents, methodically and tediously looking for a particular item, when something unexpected comes along and gobsmacks you.  I had just such a moment yesterday, as I was looking for photos of women on the various sports teams that served as recreational diversion during the hard work of shipbuilding during World War II.

My go-to source was Fore ‘n’ Aft, a sprightly weekly magazine published for the 93,000 workers in the four Richmond (California) Kaiser Shipyards where the Kaiser Permanente health plan was born. But in the course of learning about baseball teams with occupation-themed names like the “Yard Three Burners” and the “Grave Steamfitters,” I saw a captioned photo of my maternal uncle, Robert Heizer.

I knew that Robert, a distinguished U.C. Berkeley anthropologist who died in 1979, had worked in the Richmond yards during the war. It was family lore that he had replaced his security badge photo with that of a gorilla, just for kicks, and never got caught. I had even learned from one of my cousins that Robert had been a steamfitter. But no one knew much more than that.

The photo in the October 29, 1943, article has the uncomfortable but period-authentic caption “Bob Heizer is trying to decide whether to squash Mr. Jap or push him into oblivion.” A curious caricature of an Asiatic enemy (Hideki Tojo?) peeks out of a pipe, and my somber uncle is contemplating the absurd tableau.  

The accompanying short article extols his academic status and professional accomplishments, and goes on to describe his shipyard role as steamfitter leaderman (subforeman) and spare time reporter for Fore ‘n’ Aft.

There you have it, the circles close in. My uncle was also writing for a Kaiser publication, ten years before I was born. The world of information may be hurtling along at breakneck speed, but much of the human record remains outside the grasp of search engines and data mining.

Manual research still reveals unknown nuggets, and writers still put those pieces together into a compelling narrative.  The vast human organism that was the Kaiser shipyards lives on as the vast human organism called Kaiser Permanente, striving to thrive and make the world a better place.

Here is the article from Fore ‘n’ Aft about my uncle, Bob Heizer.

“It’s a pipe to Bob!”

Whether it’s hooking up a steam line, digging for prehistoric relics, or writing a story for Fore ‘n’ Aft, it’s all a pipe to Bob Heizer. And by the way, if you have a spot o’ news and don’t know just how to tell it, look for Bob in his little cubbyhole headquarters hidden under the starboard side of Way Four; he’s a spare-time official Fore ‘n’ Aft reporter.

Bob has lived variously in Denver, Washington, D.C., and among the jackrabbits and sagebrush of Nevada. Graduated from U. of Cal. and also took a Ph.D. in his favorite study, archaeology. Spent two summers with a Smithsonian expedition digging long-buried Eskimo bones from their graves in the Aleutian Islands, and two more summers at Drake’s Bay in Marin Co. digging up remains of a Spanish ship wrecked there in 1595.

Bob is a steamfitter leaderman in Yard Two, which does not mean that he takes two pieces of steam and fits them together, but he does spend most of the time bumping his head and skinning his knees in the double-bottoms. Says he likes his job mainly because he doesn’t think the Japs are pleased to have him doing it.

Hard hats off to you, Uncle Bob.

 

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