Posts Tagged ‘Kaiser Richmond Shipyards’

Memorial Day – 1945 and 2015

posted on May 20, 2015

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Fore 'n' Aft, 1941-01-15, RMH

“Prefab Patriots,” article about blood donors in Fore ‘n’ Aft, 1/15/1943 (Prefabrication was one of the construction divisions in the Kaiser Richmond shipyards)

Kaiser Permanente is on a mission to hire more military veterans and is committed to leveraging veterans’ skills, attributes, and experience to further strengthen our diverse and talented workforce.

A previous history blog described Henry J. Kaiser’s support for World War II military veterans, but the Home Front workers during that war also showed their deep commitment during Memorial Day by taking on additional duties. One example was this news item from the weekly Kaiser Richmond shipyard newspaper Fore ‘n’ Aft, June 8, 1945:

“Mobile blood bank a big success”

They turned the personnel training building in Yard Two into an experimental station last week. That is, it began as an experiment, but it wasn’t very long before everyone realized the idea was a huge success which should be carried into the other yards.

The theory was that if a mobile blood bank unit came into the yard it would be swamped with workers who wanted to donate blood. [But with good planning and logistics it worked out.] On Memorial Day there was a continual line of workers to and from the personnel training building from 8:45 a.m. until 2 p.m.

When the final check was made, 265 pints of blood had been donated. Two hundred and sixty-five pints of blood donated in one day by one yard is a record-breaking figure. It’s also much more than that. It’s life to a great many of our fighting men who might otherwise not ever return from battle fronts.

Bringing this Home Front commitment to the present, Kaiser Permanente plays a leadership role in shaping the future of health care delivery both in America and across the globe. Kaiser Permanente offers a challenging and meaningful career at an organization that values the unique strengths veterans bring to the civilian workforce.

Veterans are encouraged to take that next step and visit the Kaiser Permanente Military Careers site. A Military Skills Translator will assess one’s service experience and recommend appropriate civilian Kaiser Permanente career opportunities, and a Military Talent Community email list offers an additional channel to receive career updates and tailored information.

Kaiser Permanente is not just committed to hiring military talent—it promises to provide newly hired veterans with the resources and training they need to perform successfully in their initial roles and the ongoing support to achieve success.

 

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

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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.

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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Liberty and Victory ships named for African Americans

posted on April 15, 2015

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

15_0209_12

(Center) Mr. Walter Gordon, daughter Betty Gordon, Elizabeth Gordon at launching of the SS John Hope.

One of our patriotic messages during World War II was that our society was better than that promoted by the Axis forces. And part of that messaging was about how we were more tolerant and inclusive than Hitler’s “master Aryan race.”

To Americans of color, all of them keenly aware of our segregated military, the internment camps for Japanese Americans, or the whites-only Boilermakers union in the shipyards, this was a challenging sell. But winning the war demanded huge changes in attitude from everyone. One high profile commitment to honoring diversity was the naming of cargo ships, a task which fell under the direction of the Maritime Commission’s Ship Naming Committee.

Before the war ended, 18 Liberty ships built for the Maritime Commission were named for outstanding African Americans. Towards the end of the war four of them honored black Merchant Mariners who perished under fire. In addition, four of the subsequent Victory-class ships were named for historically black colleges. Six of these 22 vessels were built in Kaiser shipyards; some – most notably the SS George Washington Carver - were predominately built by African American men and women. Ships thus named were a tremendous source of recognition and pride in the black community. Historian Shirley Ann Moore described the impact of one launching in her seminal work about the Richmond (Calif.) African American community To Place Our Deeds:

“Thousands of black people, far more than could be ‘simply be accounted for by black shipyard workers and their families,’ crowded into the yard. As the ship ‘shivered and slid into the water,’ a black woman ‘threw up her arms and raised her voice above the crowd. ‘Freedom’ she cried.’ “

The SS John Hope [#272] was launched January 30, 1944. It was Kaiser Richmond shipyard #2’s 272nd Liberty ship and the 8th ship named after an outstanding African American. Hope, born in Atlanta, was an African-American educator and political activist, the first African-descended president of both Morehouse College in 1906 and of Atlanta University in 1929, where he worked to develop graduate programs. Both were historically black colleges.

15_0209_10

Mr. Thomas Pruitt, “baritone and burner.”

Presiding at the launch were Walter Gordon, Elizabeth Gordon, and their daughter Betty Gordon. Also present were Mrs. Harry Kingman, Matron of Honor (whose husband was the chairman of the President’s Fair Practices Employment Committee), Miss Florence Gee (daughter of a shipyard worker), and Rev. Roy Nichols (Associate Minister of the newly formed South Berkeley Community Church).

Walter Arthur Gordon (1894-1976) was the first African American to receive a doctorate of law from U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall law school. He had an extremely long and varied career where he served as a police officer, lawyer, assistant football coach, member of the California Adult Authority, governor of the United States Virgin Islands, and a federal district judge.

The launch proceedings were published in the May 1944 issue of The Sphinx magazine, the second-oldest continuously published African American journal in the United States. The article stated:

Mr. Thomas Pruitt, a baritone and burner on graveyard shift at the Richmond yards, sang two songs: “Water Boy” and “Without a song.”

Mrs. Hope was unable to attend, but sent a message that was read aloud:

“You can imagine how happy it would make me to see that great ship slide down the ways. We hope that it will help hasten the day when liberty, justice, and peace will reign over the entire world. I know that this would be John Hope’s wish. He was a member of nature’s nobility. This ship would not be worthy of his name, if it were not willing to give its all for humanity.”

These pictures of that launching, never previously published, are from the extensive and remarkable collection taken by African American photographer Emmanuel Francis Joseph.

 

Liberty ships

1. SS Booker T. Washington, educator and founder of Tuskegee Institute (#648, September 29, 1942, California Shipbuilding Corp., Terminal Island, CA)
[It was aboard this ship that West Indies-born Captain Hugh Mulzac became the first African American merchant marine naval officer to command an integrated crew during World War II]

2. SS George Washington Carver, scientist (#542, May 7, 1943; Kaiser Richmond shipyard #1)

3. SS Frederick Douglass, abolitionist leader and editor (#988, May 22, 1943; Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards, Baltimore,)

4. SS John Merrick, insurance executive (#1990, July 11, 1943; North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, NC)

5. SS Robert L. Vann, founder and publisher of the Pittsburgh Courier (#2189, October 10, 1943; South Portland Shipbuilding Corporation, South Portland, Maine)

6. SS Paul Laurence Dunbar, poet (#1897, October 19, 1943; California Shipbuilding Corp., Terminal Island, CA)

7. SS James Weldon Johnson, poet, author and diplomat (#2546, December 12, 1943; California Shipbuilding Corp., Terminal Island, CA)

8. SS John Hope, educator (#2742, January 30, 1944; Kaiser Richmond shipyard #2)

9. SS John H. Murphy, founder and publisher of The Afro-American (#2614, March 29, 1944; Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards, Baltimore, MD)

10. SS Toussaint L’Ouverture, Haitian independence leader (#2780, April 4, 1944; Kaiser Richmond Shipyard #2)

11. SS Robert S. Abbott, founder and publisher of the Chicago Defender (#2785, April 13, 1944; Kaiser Richmond shipyard #2)

12. SS Harriet Tubman, abolitionist and leader of the Underground Railroad (#3032, June 3, 1944; South Portland Shipbuilding Corporation, South Portland, Maine)

13. SS Bert Williams, comedian and vaudeville performer (#3079, June 4, 1944; Todd New England Shipbuilding Corp., South Portland, Maine)

14. SS Edward A. Savoy, confidential messenger for 22 secretaries of State (#2660, July 19, 1944; Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards, Baltimore, MD)

15. SS James Kyron Walker, Second Cook, lost on the Gulfamerica, torpedoed and sunk (#2982, December 15, 1944; Todd Houston Shipbuilding Corporation, Houston, TX)

16. SS Robert J. Banks, Second Cook, lost on the Gulfamerica, torpedoed and sunk (#2392, December 20, 1944; J.A. Jones Construction Company, Brunswick, Georgia)

17. SS William Cox, Fireman, died when the David Atwater was sunk by enemy fire (#2394, December 30, 1944; J.A. Jones Construction Company, Brunswick, Georgia)

18. SS George A. Lawson, Messman aboard the tug Menominee, torpedoed and sunk (#3097, February 1, 1945; New England Shipbuilding Co., Bath, Maine)

 

Victory ships

19. SS Fisk Victory, Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee (#749, May 14, 1945; Kaiser Richmond shipyard #2)

20. SS Howard Victory, Howard University, Washington. D. C. (#822, May 19, 1945; Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards, Baltimore, MD)

21. SS Tuskegee Victory, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama (#682, June 5, 1945, Kaiser Oregon Shipbuilding Corp.; Portland, OR)
[Renamed USNS Dutton, T-AGS-22, an oceanographic survey ship, November 1, 1958]

22. SS Lane Victory, Lane College, Jackson, Tennessee (#794, June 27, 1945, California Shipbuilding Corp., Terminal Island, CA)
The Lane Victory is now a museum ship in San Pedro, Calif., and has appeared in various commercials, movies and television programs.

 

Photographs courtesy Careth Reid / E.F. Joseph Collection. All rights reserved.

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

 

 

 

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Supermac! World War II shipyard superhero!

posted on March 18, 2015

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Supermac!

Supermac!

The weekly magazines published in the World War II Kaiser shipyards – Fore ‘n’ Aft for the Richmond, Calif., yards and The Bo’s’n’s Whistle for the Portland, Ore., area yards – offer a remarkable trove of material on home front working culture. And what’s working culture without cartoons?

Labor has always used cartoon art as part of its communications arsenal. From acerbic cartoons of the Industrial Workers of the World, to Fred Wright’s iconic art in United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America publications, to the “SuperScrubs!” comic in Kaiser Permanente’s own Labor Management Partnership magazine HANK, the cartoon/comic genre has always been a popular medium.

Between September 8, 1944, and March 30, 1945, a comic strip named Supermac ran in Fore ‘n’ Aft. The “super” concept character had already permeated popular culture the iconic Superman first appeared in Action Comics in 1938 – but this Supermac fella was…different.

He was small and scrawny, and struggled to find privacy in a big public yard when changing into his super persona. Over the short span of 26 cartoons strips he fearlessly fought German saboteurs and industrial mishaps. He was the empowered spirit of the home front workforce, appearing in an employee magazine with a circulation of 80,000 copies.

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. Based on publication credits, “T” might have been either Rose Thompson or Virginia Thompson; the “C” could have been Mary Chapman, Stan Champion, Mary Lou Clark, or Jack Cook.

Presented here are the first seven strips. Future issues of this blog will share the rest.

[Disambiguation alert – a subsequent, unrelated cartoon figure also named Supermac appeared in the British press in 1958, skewering British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (1957 to 1963.)]

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 article: http://bit.ly/1O7iKqr

Click on any strip to enlarge.

Supermac

Supermac, 9/8/1944

Supermac, 9/15/1944

Supermac, 9/15/1944

Supermac. 9/22/1944

Supermac. 9/22/1944

Supermac, 9/29/1944

Supermac, 9/29/1944

Supermac, 10/13/1944

Supermac, 10/13/1944

Supermac, 10/20/1944

Supermac, 10/20/1944

Supermac, 10/27/1944

Supermac, 10/27/1944

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Heavy lifting in the World War II Kaiser shipyards

posted on January 29, 2015

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Fore'n'Aft, 1943-10-22

Whirley cranes featured on the cover of Fore ‘n’ Aft, 10/22/1943

One of the innovations that emerged in the World War II Kaiser shipyards was the application of prefabrication on a massive scale. Unlike the way ships had been built for centuries, piece by piece from the keel on up, prefabrication used assembly line processes to dramatically speed up output. Ship parts – such as bow sections, double bottoms, deck houses – were built in separate facilities in the shipyard and brought together for final assembly on the launching ways.

It made sense on paper, but when dealing with massive hunks of steel that was easier said than done.

Enter the whirley crane.

Before entering the ship building business, Henry J. Kaiser had recently finished building Grand Coulee Dam on the mighty Columbia River in Washington, a project made possible through the efficient flow of heavy materials. During the six years Grand Coulee was under construction, a new type of crane was developed to get the job done. It was called a “whirley crane,” a fast, readily moveable beast capable of handling large steel supports, pouring big batches of concrete, and positioning heavy dam conduits.

The whirley was invented by Clyde Wiley (president of the Clyde Iron Works, established in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1889) in the early 1920s. He designed it so that the boom and “A” frame would turn in a 360 degree circle – thus the “whirley.” Before Wiley’s crane was developed, rolling bridge cranes and “hammerheads” had been used almost exclusively for building bridges, unloading ships and other heavy construction, but their function was limited.

Oregonship album #1, 1942; PA-221

Two whirleys lifting deck superstructure, Oregon shipyards, 1942.

When California’s Kaiser Richmond yards were built, seven “Clyde” Grand Coulee whirleys were disassembled and shipped down from Washington. Yard Two had four of these former dam-builders; Yard Three had two, and Yard Four had one. As the yards expanded, other manufacturers – Colby Engineering, American Hoist and Derrick, Browning – also manufactured whirleys. Eventually Yard One had 17 whirleys; Yard Two, 23; Yard Three,19; and Yard Four, four.

The whirleys held bragging rights in the yards. Just as the giant container-ship cranes dominate today’s Port of Oakland skyline, the whirleys defined the wartime shipyards. The Kaiser Richmond shipyard magazine Fore’n’Aft, described their appeal in their January 8, 1943 issue:

Whirley crane work is the most spectacular in the shipyards and always is one of the things visitors find most fascinating to watch, especially when two cranes get together for a big double lift.

They had a 200-horsepower electric motor for the hoist cable and another 50 HP motor for swinging the boom, which allowed the whirley to lift as much as 60 tons. The control cabin was 90 feet in the air, and skilled operating engineers communicated with riggers on the ground by telephone.

As shipyard production processes evolved, some assemblies began to use two, three, and even four whirleys operating together. Sometimes this was simply because the object was too heavy for a single whirley, and sometimes it was to gracefully flip over a subassembly that had been built “upside down” to speed up welding. Whirleys also were used for dropping and removing the giant dry dock gates in Richmond Yard number 3. The continual drive to reduce the number of pre-assembled components depended on the efficiency of whirleys. For the Liberty christened the Robert E. Peary (produced in a record four days, fifteen hours, and twenty-nine minutes after laying the keel), shipyard workers were able to pre-assemble hundreds of parts into a total of 97 units that the whirley cranes lifted onto the way.

cartoon of whirley crane

Whirley cartoon by Emmy Lou Packard, Fore ‘n’ Aft, 9/15/1944

Whirleys were used to bring in major hull components such as the fore peak and the stern, as well as engines and boilers. Once the main deck was in place, the ship was ready for five deck houses. These were prefabricated in the Assembly Building (where a complete set was turned out nearly every other day) and transported to the erection ways by truck.

Here’s a description of the efficiencies achieved in the Swan Island (Portland, Ore.) shipyard, from The Bo’s’n’s Whistle 11/25/1943:

Swan Islanders have clipped another week per vessel off their high-speed tanker program by prefabricating forward cofferdams on jigs and then installing each entire section as a unit on the keel. The huge 82-ton section is built as nearly complete as possible at some distance from the ways. It is then lifted easily by two whirley cranes and dropped neatly on the keel in the ways.

The new [construction] method saves 784 man hours on each unit compared to the old method which consisted of erecting 13 separate sections plus eight tons of piping, all of which had to be fitted together piece by piece on the hull.

Other types of cranes filled different niches within the yard. Bridge cranes (or gantry cranes, which move back and forth on a track but cannot turn) were the tallest at 84 feet high and rated at lifting 100 tons. A special hammerhead crane used two “arms” to sort and feed raw steel in the plate shop. Locomotive cranes were used in the steel storage yard. Other cranes performed mobile duties on caterpillar-tractor bases or on trucks.

Whirleys were even depicted as anthropomorphic characters in the shipyard magazines. Emmy Lou Packard featured a drug-addled whirley as part of a Nazi sabotage plot in the cartoon strip “Supermac” as well as an emotionally wrought character in the single-frame cartoon “Shirley the Whirley.”

Whirley crane, Kasier Richmond shipyard #3; Lincoln Cushing photo 2011-10-14

The last crane, Richmond shipyard #3, 2011; photo by Lincoln Cushing

Today, a lone whirley crane remains at Richmond shipyard #3 near the S.S. Red Oak Victory, guarding the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park Visitor Education Center.

It’s the last remnant of a mighty breed that ruled the yards during World War II. Crane CW-3204 was a Clyde Iron Works machine, built in 1935 and shipped down from Grand Coulee to Richmond in August, 1941. After the war the crane was purchased by the nearby Parr-Richmond Terminal and used until 1998; a companion crane is still in use by that company (now known as the Levin-Richmond Terminal Corporation). In 2005 the crane was donated to the City of Richmond for use in the Rosie the Riveter Park. The City of Richmond, the Rosie the Riveter Trust, and numerous local businesses and organizations raised funds to move and install it at shipyard #3.

 

Short link to this article: http://bit.ly/1uFCoh9 

 

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Flash from the past – Kaiser Permanente Honored for Commitment to Diversity

posted on January 19, 2015

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

File #4016 - Lobby at Richmond Field Hospital

Kaiser shipyard workers in Richmond Field Hospital lobby, circa 1943.

Kaiser Permanente has a long history of honoring and celebrating diversity. In 2004, the Martin Luther King Legacy Association and The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles presented Kaiser Permanente Southern California with the Corporate Responsibility Award in recognition of the organization’s commitment to diversity.

Kaiser Permanente was honored in this case for being one of the first health care providers in the United States to have racially integrated hospitals and waiting rooms, as well as an ethnically diverse workforce, including physicians and allied health professionals.

During World War II and afterwards, Oakland’s Permanente Foundation hospital (the first in what would later be called Kaiser Permanente) was a model for equal health care treatment regardless of race. In 1946, the year after the Health Plan was opened to the public, several local policemen visited it with an eye to join. Permanente medical economist Avram Yedidia recalled the event:

“. . . The police chief said to me, ‘You know, when we walked through, I saw that you had some Negroes and whites in the same room. I don’t think we like that.’ “As I can recall, I responded, ‘Do you know this plan started that way, with blacks and whites in the shipyards, and that’s the way it goes. They worked together, and they were sick together.’ ” I told the police chief: ‘Those who don’t like it shouldn’t join the plan.’ ”

Kaiser Permanente also made history in 1954, when Raleigh Bledsoe, MD, joined the then fledgling medical group in Southern California, as the first and only African-American board certified radiologist west of the Rockies.

 

Short link to this story: http://ow.ly/HApdr

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Sabotage at the Kaiser Richmond shipyard!

posted on December 4, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

Rondon in Trib-det

Wanted photo of William Heinrich Rondon [Roedel], Oakland Tribune, July 29, 1942

Sunday, December 7, marks the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese Empire’s attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor. Domestic resistance to U.S. involvement in the global war vanished, and Henry J. Kaiser’s early entry into the transport ship industry for the British blossomed into a massive effort to create the ships needed to win the war.

The war came home in many ways. Aside from a couple of remote Alaskan islands, our country was never invaded, and never suffered the devastation of military combat. However, it was certainly targeted. German U-boats roamed the East Coast, sinking freighters. On May 5, 1945, six civilians were killed in Oregon by a balloon bomb that rode the jet stream all the way from Japan. West Coast civilians of Japanese descent were sent to “relocation centers,” and German citizens perceived as enemy aliens on the East Coast were interned.

Between January 1940 and February 1943 the FBI received more than 7,000 reports of sabotage; investigations reduced that number to 558 actual instances of technical sabotage to industrial facilities.[i] Yet there were only two confirmed acts of sabotage on U.S. soil involving Axis sympathizers. One was at the Kaiser Richmond shipyards in California: Heinrich Roedel was convicted of “attempted sabotage in time of war” on December 19, 1942, after a jury trial.

This case first reached the public in “Escaped German Sought by F.B.I.” in the July 29, 1942 Oakland Tribune:

William Heinrich Rondon, 32, German enemy alien, who escaped from a Sharp’s Park detention station guard in San Francisco, is being sought for questioning as a “potentially danger [sic] alien” the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced today.

No mention was made of the shipyard sabotage, but the accompanying photo led to an anonymous tip and he was arrested the next day.

By December 12, 1942 the full story began to emerge in the pages of the Tribune:

Heinrich Roedel, alias Rondon, 33, German enemy alien, went on jury before Federal Judge A. F. St. Sure on charges of sabotage. He was

WWII sabotage poster, Consolidated Edison Co., 1943; Library of Congress

WWII sabotage poster, Consolidated Edison Co., 1943; Library of Congress

indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in San Francisco last month after pleading not guilty as the saboteur who attempted to burn a Richmond shipyard warehouse containing fittings valued at $500,000.

Roedel, a San Quentin parolee, escaped from Richmond Shipyard No. 3 last July 28 after William H. King, a guard, discovered him touching a match to two packages of oakum in the warehouse, it is alleged. According to the F.B.I., King, unarmed himself, grappled with Roedel and knocked pistol from his hand, but was unable to prevent his escape, arrested in Oakland the next day when an unidentified woman tipped the police as to his whereabouts after seeing his picture in the Tribune.

Previously, Roedel had been paroled from San Quentin April 23, after serving part of a “receiving stolen goods” sentence. He then worked for two months as a shipfitter’s helper in the shipyards, but on May 23 the Government ordered him interned at Sharp’s Park [now known as Sharp Park in Pacifica, Calif.] as an “enemy alien.” The next day, during a trip into San Francisco, Roedel duped a camp guard and escaped.

Four days later he returned to the shipyards during the early morning, where King detected him as he attempted, according to the charges, to destroy the warehouse by fire.

 

Fore'n'Aft 1942-12-31

Roedel story in Fore ‘n’ Aft, 12/31/1942

Roedel lived in Germany from 1930 to 1934, Federal officers said. He was deported from the United States once before 1930 for illegal entry, but came back again in 1936—this time by “jumping” a ship in San Diego.

The weekly Kaiser Richmond shipyard magazine Fore ‘n’ Aft carried this version of the story in their December 31, 1942 issue, revealing more details:

World War II will long be over before Heinrich Roedel tastes freedom once more. He is the Nazi who learned that American justice is as fundamental as American liberty.

Known as Henry Rondon, a steamfitter helper at Richmond Shipyard Number Two, the acknowledged saboteur tried to set fire to a yard warehouse last July, was caught, escaped, was brought in once more, and last week sentenced to 30 years in a federal penitentiary.

Testimony was given at the trial by John Wibberley, chief investigator for Yard Two, who made a tireless investigation into the case, and by William Green [the earlier Tribune article named him William King], who fought with the enemy alien as he attempted to destroy the warehouse. Green, at the time a guard, is now an electrician helper on graveyard shift.

Robert H. Moran, FBI agent, with the cooperation of the special investigators of the plant police, uncovered a criminal background which left no loophole for the saboteur. Originally sentenced to a 30-year term in Germany for destruction of public property, Roedel was set free to become a storm trooper.

Sent to the United States for the express purpose of sabotage, he jumped ship at San Diego. He was first arrested by Wibberley at the request

Roedel's failed appeal, 1950.

Roedel’s failed appeal, 1950.

of immigration officials for illegal entry into the country.

 

Because of wartime press restrictions and other security cautions, these cases received very little publicity. Besides Roedel, the other case involved a German national named Eitzel in Baltimore who damaged 37 Martin bombers.

In 1950 Roedel appealed the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (Southern Division), blaming his lawyer, James B.

O’Connor, for giving him bad advice. However, the court determined that he’d received “diligent and effective representation” and denied his appeal.

Roedel’s fate after his failed appeal remains a mystery. No further mention of him appears in the public record.

 

[i] The Dunkirk [New York] Observer, March 18, 1943.

Story updated 12/10/2014. Short link to this article: http://bit.ly/1yqYDfF 

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Kaiser and IBM – a long history

posted on October 30, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

Kaiser Permanente is partnering with The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose (Calif.) on a new exhibit that shows how technology can help people understand and manage their total health. We’ve been sharing that message with our members for decades, and The Body Metrics exhibit makes it accessible to anyone.

"Thomas J. Watson, president of IBM, with Mrs. Watson, watch Dora Stewart of Vancouver print checks while Glen A. Rogers, IBM supervisor, looks on." The Bo's'n's Whistle, 10/21/1943.

“Thomas J. Watson, president of IBM, with Mrs. Watson, watch Dora Stewart of Vancouver print checks while Glen A. Rogers, IBM supervisor, looks on.” The Bo’s’n’s Whistle (NW shipyards), 10/21/1943.

But before Kaiser Permanente became a leader in electronic health records, even before Kaiser shipyard doctor Dr. Morris Collen first used an International Business Machines mainframe computer to analyze medical test results in the 1960s, Henry J. Kaiser relied on IBM to process payroll records in the WWII shipyards.

At the time, these behemoths weren’t even called computers – they were elaborate electromechanical devices called “machines.” In the Richmond yards, IBM assigned seven engineers to keep them in working order.

The use of punch cards to process simple alphanumeric data began with the 1890 U.S. Census, and was a success. This led to the Tabulating Machine Company, founded in 1896, and then the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (IBM’s precursor) in 1911. In 1928, IBM introduced an updated version of the punch card with rectangular holes and 80 columns, which became the industry standard for years to come.

The Richmond shipyard magazine Fore ‘n’ Aft described the complicated payroll calculation process in July, 1943:

"E.M. Bousfield, IBM customer engineer, working on intricate insides of a collator. There are 17 miles of wire in this baby." Fore'n'Aft, 12/3/1943.

“E.M. Bousfield, IBM customer engineer, working on intricate insides of a collator. There are 17 miles of wire in this baby.” Fore’n’Aft, 12/3/1943.

Six days a week the time checkers and IBM thrive on the sticky detail of keeping track of the thousands of men who work on

Richmond ships, breaking the man hours down according to each job, and compiling tax and security reports for Uncle Sam. It takes about one man in each hundred hired to keep track of the other ninety-nine.

An electric accounting machine-familiarly called a “printer” by IBM operators–is just one step short of a robot. On the basis of intricate telephone-like lines hooked up to a board on the left side of the machine, it will do virtually anything but think.

The field time checker turns in cards marked with hours worked by workmen. The time office force sorts them by number, and posts earnings in a board control book, sends cards to the IBM operators in neatly wrapped bundles of 500. IBM gang punches the cards with holes corresponding to rate and hours worked, then sorts them by badge number of each workman, files them away for a week. At week’s end, six daily time cards are translated into a single master time card from which your paycheck is written.

Further steps involved printing out the paychecks on a continuous fold form and delivering them to the paymaster’s office, where the checks were mechanically signed. Finally, the checks were sorted according to badge number, trimmed out to individual pay stubs (thus the expression “cutting a check”), and taken to payroll booths for distribution.

"The fantastic 'brain' of an IBM machine which performs the calculating is displayed by R.L. Gagne, IBM assistant supervisor." The Bo's'n's Whistle, 10/21/1943.

“The fantastic ‘brain’ of an IBM machine which performs the calculating is displayed by R.L. Gagne, IBM assistant supervisor.” The Bo’s’n’s Whistle, 10/21/1943.

 

IBM and KP would maintain a strong relationship over the years. In 2001, Dr. Collen recounted this story to Kaiser Permanente contract historian Steve Gilford:

IBM made all their money in punch cards and then eventually got into computers. We got some of their early systems, 1440’s [for early efforts to process medical data]…Relevant to that is that [Thomas J.] Watson Jr., the son who took over IBM, came through and made rounds [during the late 1960s].  

I wanted to get him to put up money to go into the overall system.  I remember telling him, “If you support this, it will be good for you, good for us, and IBM will stand instead of for International Business Machines, they’ll be called International Blessed Machines.”  He laughed but nothing ever came of it although eventually we did develop contracts with them.

 

Short link to this story: http://bit.ly/1wIJrHB 

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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 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.

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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Kaiser shipyards pioneered use of wonder drug penicillin

posted on July 23, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

During World War II, Permanente Health Plan physician Morris Collen experimented with the treatment of pneumonia as he managed a large number of cases in the Kaiser Richmond shipyards. Many of the workers were in poor health to begin with, and the round-the-clock ship production in all sorts of weather exacerbated the situation. Dr. Collen reflected on that challenging period:[i]

When we first started there was no treatment for lobar pneumonia, pneumococcal type, except horse serum, and the people almost always got sick with serum sickness. It was a terrible treatment, but was all we had. Then… came sulfanilamide, and then sulfathiazole and sulfadiazine, and a series of sulfa drugs, and we began to treat pneumonias with them. That’s where we began, I would say, our first clinical research, evaluating different treatments for pneumonia.

Among those experimental treatments was a new drug, penicillin.

Vial of new "wonder drug" penicillin, published in Richmond Shipyard newsletter Fore 'n' Aft, 5/19/1944; copy courtesy Richmond Museul of History

Vial of new “wonder drug” penicillin, published in Richmond Shipyard newsletter Fore ‘n’ Aft, 5/19/1944

But this was wartime, and supplies were limited. Ninety percent went to servicemen fighting overseas, and only the remainder was allocated for distribution in the United States. Collen:

We had so many pneumonias and we had reported already in a journal that we were treating large series of pneumonias. So we got the first dose of penicillin in California, and treated a young man with a very severe lobar pneumonia, type 7. They all died from that, and this poor fellow was going to die. So we gave him this one shot of 15,000 units, and to this day I keep saying it was a miracle. He recovered.

The Richmond shipyard newsletter Fore ‘n’ Aft proudly announced the availability of this “wonder drug” in its May 19, 1944, issue:

Early this year a young shipyard worker developed a growth of pneumonia germs on his heart valves. At the Permanente Foundation Hospital he was given all the standard modern treatments that are regularly dispensed there to members of the shipyards’ Health Plan. Even with sulfa drugs he showed no improvement. The rare new drug, penicillin, was finally used. He recovered quickly.

Later a 15-year-old boy developed a blood clot on his brain, following a case of severe sinusitis. Death results in nearly 100 per cent of such cases. This time penicillin was used. The hospital record reads, “Patient completely recovered. Discharged from hospital.”

Until few months ago, the Army and Navy took the whole production of penicillin. When military stockpiles had been built, the National Research Council began to release penicillin for civilian needs. It is still difficult to obtain. Only three hospitals in this area are allowed a supply. They are the three hospitals in the area which treat the largest number of patients. The Permanente Foundation is one of the institutions which is allowed to buy it.

The use of penicillin is made possible here by the financial support of the members of the Health Plan. Science’s new wonder-cure is now at the service of shipyard employees.

While the war raged on two fronts, Collen published the seminal article on his civilian treatment experiences. His summary showed remarkable results:[ii] “A series of 646 consecutive patients with pneumococcic pneumonia were treated with combined sulfadiazine and penicillin therapy with a resulting mortality rate of 1.1 percent.”

A subsequent Fore ‘n’ Aft article on the benefits of medical research boasted: “By using the facilities provided for doctors under prepaid, group medical practice – to wit, the Health Plan -they evolved a complex treatment involving a combination of sulfa drugs and penicillin that is making medical history. Payoff: Human lives.”[iii]

Dr. Collen’s wartime use of penicillin not only saved lives, it provided sound medical evidence for future treatment methods.

 

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

Also see: “The History of WWII Medicine

[i]“Morris Collen, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Oral History Project II, Year 1 Theme: Evidence-Based Medicine,” conducted by Martin Meeker in 2005, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2007.

[ii] Morris F. Collen, M.D. and Alvin L. Sellers, M.D. “Penicillin Therapy of Pneumococcic Pneumonia – A Preliminary Report.” Permanente Foundation Medical Bulletin, April 1945.

[iii] “Research is Good Doctoring,” Fore ‘n’ Aft 10/19/1045.

 

 

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