Posts Tagged ‘Rosie the Riveter national park’

World War II Home Front national park welcomes crowd to new galleries

posted on May 27, 2014

Kaiser Permanente’s birthplace in Richmond
wartime shipyards noted in historical exhibit

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Photos by Ginny McPartland

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Ceremony to unveil permanent exhibits at California WWII Home Front park on May 24

posted on May 10, 2014

SS Red Oak Victory pancake brunch cool option
for Mother’s Day: SF Bay Trail celebrates 25 years

Visitors Education Center preview in 2012. Temporary exhibits have been replaced with new interactive displays.

Rosie the Riveter national park Visitor Education Center preview in 2012. Temporary exhibits have been replaced with new interactive displays to be unveiled to the public May 24. Photo by Joe Paolazzi

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Rosie the Riveter’s dance card is full for the next two weeks at her namesake national historical park in Richmond, Calif.

The signature event is the Memorial Weekend unveiling of the park’s permanent, interactive historical exhibits on Saturday, May 24, at the Visitor Education Center. Park staff will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m.

Visitors are invited to participate in various programs offered throughout the day. For more information and directions, you may call: 510-232-5050 Ext. 0, or go to the park Web site.

After the ribbon-cutting, San Francisco Bay Trail officials will stage a 25th anniversary celebration of the 500-mile walking, biking and hiking trail.

Park officials advise arriving early because seating is limited for both events. They also urge visitors to dress warm for the cool and windy weather usual on the waterfront in the morning.

Mother’s Day can be a breeze

SS Red Oak Victory is the site of a Mother's Day pancake brunch Sunday.

SS Red Oak Victory is the site of a Mother’s Day pancake brunch Sunday.

Enjoy Mother’s Day pancake brunch this Sunday (May 11) sitting on the deck of the SS Red Oak Victory docked on the Richmond waterfront. The ship, built in Henry Kaiser’s World War II shipyards, is on the site of the former Shipyard No. 3.

A full breakfast will be served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $7 per person.  Children under 5 eat for free.

Red Oak volunteers will give tours of the ship for an additional fee of $5 per person. The SS Red Oak Victory is berthed at 1337 Canal Blvd, Berth 6A, in Richmond.

The Richmond Museum of History operates a museum and gift shop within the Red Oak’s hold.  For more information, call 510-237-2933.

Film festival features “Swing Shift” on May 15

Also coming up is a showing of “Swing Shift,” a World War II movie starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell as California aircraft production workers who find romance on the Home Front.

This is the last in a series of historical films shown on the Red Oak Victory this spring.  The 1984 movie will be screened at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 15. Admission is $5.

More to see at historical park

The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park offers a full schedule of ongoing programs. For example, films are shown in the visitors center theater every day.

Rosie the Riveter park visitor center on opening day in 2012. Permanent exhibits will be unveiled May 24.

Rosie the Riveter park visitor center on opening day in 2012. The center’s historical exhibits have been refreshed this spring.

Visitor center docents present programs covering many World War II themes, including the Japanese American internment, food rationing, the African American war experience, toys of the 1940s, dogs for defense and more.

On Fridays, visitors have the opportunity to meet real-life Rosies and hear their stories. “Rosie Meet and Greet” is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. in the visitors center.

The park visitor center, located behind the historic Ford Assembly Building, is open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 1414 Harbour Way South, Richmond.

For more information: (510) 232-5050 x0, or visit the park Web site.

Home Front quilt show at Richmond museum

The Richmond Museum of History in downtown Richmond is exhibiting the Quilts of the World War II Home Front through June 6. Admission is $5.

Quilting expert Mary Mashuta will present “A Conversation about Story Quilts” from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 18, at the museum, 400 Nevin Ave., Richmond. The program is included with the admission fee.

For more information, call 510-235-7387 or visit the museum’s Web site.

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Rosie Trust gearing up for annual dinner

posted on February 24, 2014

Rosie Trust annual dinner guests enjoyed a reception in the Rosie the Riveter national park Visitors Education Center in 2012. The 2014 event will be Saturday, April 12. Photo by Joe Paolazzi

The Rosie the Riveter Trust staff and volunteers are getting ready for the foundation’s annual gala at the former site of the Kaiser World War II Shipyards in Richmond, Calif.

The party is set for the evening of Saturday, April 12.

The trust stages a dinner event every year to raise funds for the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park.

Programs that receive support from the trust include Rosie’s Girls, a summer camp that trains girls from disadvantaged neighborhoods in various career skills, such as carpentry.

More information about the gala to come in this space.

bit.ly/1mtiwez

 

 

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Weekend home front festival celebrates Bay Area history

posted on October 11, 2012

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

The USS Potomac, President Roosevelt’s “Floating White House” will be open for tours at the Richmond home front festival Saturday, October 13. Wikimedia Commons photo.

This Saturday, October 13, Kaiser Permanente will celebrate its beginnings as the workers’ medical care plan in the World War II Kaiser West Coast Shipyards. We’ll gather with thousands of Bay Area residents, many living in Richmond, to reminisce about the days when Richmond hosted Henry J. Kaiser’s monumental shipbuilding operation.

The small waterfront city was transformed during the war by the arrival of thousands of people from around the country who came to work in the shipyards.  Transplanted workers from the South, the Mid-West and the Northeast brought their faith, their lifestyles, and their music and art to the Bay Area. Their contributions changed the demographics and cultural landscape remarkably.

The sixth annual Richmond Home Front Festival by the Bay showcases the rich culture of Bay Area life that is largely the legacy of World War II. The festival takes place at several sites on and near the former Kaiser Shipyards. The main events will be in the Craneway Pavilion, the former Ford Assembly Plant and wartime tank and jeep depot at the south end of Harbour Way (1414 South Harbour Way).

New Rosie park visitors center open

Sherman Tanks for World War II were assembled at this plant in Richmond, California. The home front festival this Saturday (October 13) will be in the restored plant, which is now called the Craneway Pavilion. Photo courtesy of the Richmond Public Library.

New this year is the amazing and beautiful National Park Service Visitors Education Center, which has historical exhibits and films that tell the story of Richmond and the home front. The center, operated by the Rosie the Riveter national park staff, is the renovated and remodeled brick oil house where the fuel to power the nearby vehicle assembly plant was stored. Tours of the center are free.

Also new this year is a chance to take a free tour of the USS Potomac, the rescued and restored presidential yacht of wartime President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR).  The yacht, model AG-25, served as the U.S. Coast Guard Electra until 1936 when Roosevelt claimed it as his “Floating White House.” The yacht is permanently docked at Jack London Square in Oakland, California. Festival-goers can take a free 1940s shuttle bus ride from the Craneway to the dock of the former Shipyard 3, which is off Canal Boulevard, to see the Potomac.

The SS Red Oak Victory, operated by the Richmond Museum of History and also docked at Shipyard 3, will be open for tours. The Red Oak, one of the ships built in Kaiser’s Richmond Shipyards, has been restored by the museum and is often the site of film showings and other events. World War II memorabilia and books are available for purchase in the museum gift shop.

USO dance Friday night

This welder worked in the Kaiser Shipyards in World War II. Her photo is part of the new KP exhibit of shipyard photos to be dedicated next Tuesday, October 16, at Macdonald Avenue and Eighth Street in downtown Richmond. Photo courtesy of the Richmond Public Library.

The night before the festival, Friday, October 12, Lena Horne will be honored in a 1940s USO dance featuring Junius Courtney’s Big Band. The dance will be from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Craneway Pavilion, 1414 South Harbour Way, Richmond. Admission is $20 per person in advance, $25 at the door. Advance tickets available until 5 p.m. Thursday.

Other festival events include: Duck (Amphibious Truck) Tours of Marina Bay to view the historic shipyards, the YMCA Home Front 5K & 10K Fun Run beginning at 9 a.m., kids rides, music, a karaoke stage, and lots of food and beverages to purchase.  The festival begins at 11 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.

* * * *

KP will celebrate Richmond again at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16, when we dedicate our addition to Macdonald Avenue art and cultural displays. KP Richmond Medical Center has created an outdoor public art display that features shipyard workers of World War II and honors today’s Richmond citizens. The art installation is on Macdonald Avenue at Eighth Street.

 

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Spruced up SS Red Oak Victory ship comes home to Richmond

posted on November 16, 2011

Old Shipyard No. 3 Ford truck comes
back home to Bay Area waterfront

champagne-burst

Marian Sauer, matron of honor, cracked the champagne bottle across the replica bow of the Red Oak Victory.

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Plenty has been happening lately at the site of the World War II Kaiser Richmond Shipyards where the decade-old Rosie the Riveter national park is taking shape. Maybe the most exciting event for the community and history buffs was the recent return and the ceremonial relaunch of the SS Red Oak Victory ship.

The ship, built in 1944 in the Richmond shipyards, was greeted by a small enthusiastic crowd when it returned from BAE Systems dry dock in San Francisco where it got a major facelift. The Red Oak was towed back across the bay on Oct. 14, just one day before the annual Home Front Festival, an event celebrated both on the ship and at the Craneway Pavilion just across the channel.

The Home Front festival honors workers who helped build ships in Henry Kaiser’s WWII Richmond shipyards. The shipyard’s medical care program for workers and their families was the genesis of today’s Kaiser Permanente Health Plan.

Old recovered shipyard fire truck part of the fun

Arriving almost simultaneously on the Red Oak dock was a newly recovered shipyard wartime fire truck found by chance in Spanish Fork, Utah. The Richmond Museum of History, savior of the Red Oak from the Mothball Fleet 13 years ago, is also sponsoring the restoration of the long-lost Ford fire truck, which the museum purchased and volunteer Anthony D’Ambrosio of Potenza Transport towed back to Richmond.

The fire truck still sports the original, yet time-worn, shipyard designation: “Kaiser Co. Inc., Richmond Shipyard No.3, but the interior, engine and other moving parts are in pretty bad shape. Lois Boyle, president of the Richmond Museum Association, estimates the relic can be restored for about $5,000, funds the association hopes to collect from donors.

The community excitement over the Red Oak’s restored grandiosity gave rise to its Veterans’ Day rechristening attended by an audience of about two hundred. Guests climbed the gangplank to the deck and descended the steel ladders to squeeze into the ship’s former cargo hold that today houses a gift shop and museum.

truck front

Shipyard No. 3 fire truck has been towed back to the dock from Spanish Fork, Utah

The crowd made up of veterans, former shipyard workers, museum volunteers, local dignitaries and lovers of history were entertained by color guards, World War II singers and a reenactment of the ship’s blessing.

Marie Sauer, a Rosie and the day’s matron of honor, shattered the ceremonial champagne bottle over a flag-draped replica of the Red Oak bow, exploding the bubbly over herself and revelers standing nearby. Chevron Oil Company, whose wartime role in Richmond parallels the shipyards, hosted a buffet lunch following the ceremony.

More chances to visit park

If you missed the recent doings at the Richmond waterfront, you still have a chance to experience the Rosie park and the Red Oak Victory ship in upcoming events. A Vision for Victory ship tour, conducted by museum volunteers, is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3. You can also take a bus tour of the far-flung historic park with ranger Betty Soskin on Saturdays, Dec. 3, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17.

Park rangers also conduct Wednesday and Saturday afternoon tours of the newly restored Maritime Child Development Center at Florida Avenue and Harbour Way in Richmond, also part of the Rosie park. An upcoming tour is scheduled for Dec. 17.  You need to make a reservation for the school tour and the bus tour. For more information, call 510-232-5050, ext. 0, or go to www.nps.gov/rori.

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Photos by Ginny McPartland

For more about the Red Oak Victory go to: http://www.richmondmuseumofhistory.org/.

 

 

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Richmond rejuvenation champions enjoy fruits of their labor

posted on September 24, 2011

By Ginny McPartland

Heritage writer

Rosie park curator Veronica Rodriguez explains the set up of the child care center's dining area.

The Bay Area community of Richmond – birthplace of Permanente medicine – has been bustling this year with activities related to the commemoration of the California city’s role as a World War II shipbuilding hub. The economically depressed and high-crime community is pulling together to create positive change in its image and livability. Recent achievements give its diverse population reason to be proud and to celebrate.

Two major developments – renovation and reopening of the stellar Maritime Child Development Center and significant progress on the conversion of a shipyard oil house into a visitor’s center for the Rosie national park – can be called milestones in the city’s quest for its place in the sun.

The renovated Maritime Child Development Center rear view. Note portholes. The bottom was the end of the fire escape chute for kids in the early days.

These successes are putting smiles on the faces of Richmond’s movers and shakers who have worked for years to bring them to fruition.

The $9 million renovation of the child care center, built in 1943 by Henry Kaiser with federal funds, was a collaboration of many community groups – The Richmond Community Foundation’s Nystrom United Revitalization Effort (NURVE), the city of Richmond, the Rosie the Riveter Trust, Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, Richmond College Prep Schools and West Contra Costa Unified School District. (For more on the preschool program, see “Sounds of children return to Richmond historic child care center”  posted here on August 25.)

Local champions play major role

Colorful play equipment is part of the center's new look.

Richmond City Councilman and local architect Tom Butt has been a constant cheerleader for the project for the past six years. Rosie Trust leaders Jane Bartke and Diane Hedler, Kaiser Permanente’s representative on the trust, among others, have been relentless in efforts to secure federal financing for restoration of the national historic landmark. The trust hired its first executive director, Marsha Mather-Thrift, this year to help with its continuing fundraising work to support the park.

The restored center’s future will be celebrated with a grand reopening 10 a.m. Thursday, September 29, at 1014 Florida Avenue (on the corner of Harbour Way). Host Joan Davis, president and chief executive officer of the Richmond Community Foundation whose office is in the center, has invited the public to come to see the jewel of a school inside and out.

The renovation features the reuse of many of the original materials, including the transforming of bunk bed wood into office partitions. The inside also features: the original redwood on the stairways, double banisters – one at a child’s level and one at an adult’s level – as well as the preservation of a fire escape chute intended for the children in the event of a fire. (It was never used and has been closed up at the outdoor end.)

Note double bannisters, one for children, one for adults.

The Maritime center is considered a part of the multi-site Rosie the Riveter national park, and park service curators have created a time warp for visitors to get a glimpse of how the original preschool classrooms looked. The center was the site of an exemplary child care program for the children of Kaiser Richmond Shipyard workers and was considered way ahead of its time.

National park visitor’s center on the horizon

The Rosie park visitor’s center – in discussion stages for several years – is under construction and scheduled to open to the public early next year. With interpretive exhibits, a theater, offices, and a place to meet for tours, the long-awaited center will provide a focus for the far-flung national park.

Established in 2000, the park consists of the Rosie the Riveter Memorial on the Richmond waterfront, the Red Oak Victory ship docked at the former Shipyard 3 off Canal Boulevard, an office in downtown Richmond, the Atchison Village housing tract and community center, the Ford Assembly Plant, known today as the Craneway, and now the Maritime Child Development Center.

Child-sized sinks shined up for the new kids.

 

The oil house/visitor’s center is adjacent to the beautifully restored Craneway Pavilion, originally the Ford plant designed by the great industrial architect Albert Kahn in 1930.  The cavernous structure that once housed a World War II tank factory today hosts weddings, wine-tastings, conferences and festivals. Its owner, local developer Eddie Orton, has won a number of architectural awards for the integrity and impeccability of the restoration.

More good vibes out of Richmond

A number of other developments in the city of Richmond have to be considered positive harbingers for its future:

The Richmond Municipal Natatorium, also called the Richmond Plunge, an indoor swimming pool constructed in 1926, has been renovated and reopened with community funding. (You can actually go swimming there like I did in the 1950s and 1960s before it fell into disrepair.)

View from inside the indoor fire chute.

The Richmond Museum of History, in the old Carnegie Library on Sixth and Nevin, has a new director, Inna Soiguine, who was formerly with the centuries old Russian State Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. Ms. Soiguine has brought wonderful exhibits to the museum, including the current Richmond Day at the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915 exhibit and a show of Dorothea Lange World War II Richmond photos opening on October 8. http://www.richmondmuseumofhistory.org/calendar.htm

Revitalization efforts continue

Even though this project was completed in 2009, it bears mentioning for those who haven’t been to Richmond in a while or at all. The bold brick structures known as the Richmond Civic Center have been revitalized and brought up to seismic standards. The remarkable part is that the renovated center, originally imagined by local architect Timothy Pflueger who also designed Oakland’s Paramount Theatre, looks exactly the same as it did in 1949.

Richmond Civic Center off Macdonald Avenue. Designed by Paramount Theatre architect Timothy Pflueger in 1946, the center was updated in 2009.

The Main Street Initiative, a dynamic Richmond group working to revitalize historic Macdonald Avenue, is always promoting the downtown area and bringing cheerful and uplifting events like the recent Spirit and Soul Festival to the people of the city. The group encourages downtown business development and sponsors workshops for entrepreneurs. http://www.richmondmainstreet.org/

The Macdonald Avenue “Main Street” commercial area has also benefited from the city of Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency’s 2009 streetscape renovation project, including new sidewalks, curbs, light stands, and the placement of “Macdonald Avenue Landmarks” monuments commemorating historic sites on five downtown street corners. The city and other agencies have also helped downtown residents with funding to renovate the Nevin Community Center, which reopened to fanfare in March.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, the public is invited to join in a celebration of Richmond’s rich past from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Craneway Pavilion at the south end of Harbour Way.  The Fifth Annual Richmond Home Front Festival will feature exhibits sponsored by the National Park Service along with many other historical groups, such as Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources and the National Archives, Pacific Region staff.  Festivalgoers will also be treated to a wide variety of music, food and fun activities. Admission is free.  http://rcoc.com/current-events/home-front-festival/

Photos by Ginny McPartland

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Children’s art scholar finds wartime treasure on newsprint

posted on August 10, 2010

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Joe Fischer is no stranger to art. He’s no stranger to children’s art. A Berkeley resident and former UC Berkeley professor, Joe Fischer has written five books on Indonesian art and culture. He spent 25 years visiting and studying Indonesia, and he has been curator of many exhibits on Indonesian traditional art and children’s art.

Joe Fischer with furniture from World War II Richmond shipyard children’s art program

Joe Fischer is also no stranger to war. He served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II and visited the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki within two weeks after their destruction by Allied atomic bombs.

So when Joe heard about the rich collection of children’s art from the Richmond Kaiser Shipyards child care centers, needless to say, he was intrigued. The more he explored the boxes full of children’s paintings and cut-and-paste artwork preserved at the Richmond Museum of History, the more fascinated he became.

Joe quickly understood the significance of the children’s uninhibited observations of life on the home front. Given the creation in 2000 of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front national park in Richmond, Joe’s passion for bringing the art to light seemed to hit the right note. Sharing his enthusiasm with the staff of the new park, they agreed the museum had indeed captured a national treasure-trove.

The little noticed collection of 5,000-plus pieces brims with creativity,individuality, emotion and small-child confidence. Joe’s diligent study and interpretation of the art –and the enthusiastic support of the museum board of directors – culminated this summer in the publication of “Children’s Art & Children’s Words.” The book includes 185 color plates of the artwork, as well as direct quotes from the 2- to 12-year-olds about their masterpieces as told to their teachers.

Focus on individual artists

“The focus (of this book) is on the paintings of individual children, comments by them and their teachers, and the environment in which this took place,” Joe says in the introduction. “The child care program in all its various aspects was an extraordinary educational model. It provided care, nurture, materials, and creative outlets for thousands of children. Such a comprehensive child care program had probably never existed in the United States before the war nor has one been developed since, he adds.

The children’s art collection, which includes pieces from 1943 through 1966, only exists due to the foresight of the late Monica Haley, longtime art director of the child care centers. She retained the children’s work and their comments conscientiously, realizing their historical value. Subsequent to her retirement in 1966, Haley donated the entire collection to the Richmond Museum of History. Richmond’s child care centers’ art created after that date has been lost to history. Joe devotes a whole chapter of the book to Haley.

Veronica Rodriguez, Isabel Jenkins Ziegler, and Pavlos Salamasidis of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park with child’s art easel from World War II Kaiser Shipyards child care center

Kaiser child care breaks new ground

The Richmond child care program began in 1943 through the collaboration of Henry J. Kaiser, the U.S. Maritime Commission and the Richmond school district. Kaiser, who ran the shipyards, saw the critical need for high quality, around-the-clock care for the children of mothers working on ships. Although society had frowned on mothers working outside the home, the war urgency put that attitude on hold.

Kaiser worked through the Maritime Commission to obtain funds to build and subsidize the centers, and the school district received federal funds. The Lanham Act set up wartime funding to help war production communities, like Richmond, accommodate ballooning populations. The federal money earmarked initially for fire stations, roads, schools, and other local services, was also approved for construction and operation of child care centers.

The Richmond child care program had 14 sites during the war years. Set up by the best child care experts of the time, including Catherine Landreth, PhD, of the UC Berkeley Institute of Child Welfare, the program was groundbreaking. The buildings were thoughtfully designed to make the environment comfortable and healthy for children.

The routine included a health check, nutritious meals planned by a dietitian, plenty of rest, outside play, and lessons in art and music. There were sleeping rooms for naps and overnight stays, child-sized sinks and toilets, lockers, and a sick room to isolate ailing students. The school district took care in making the experience educational and stimulating. For all this, the parents paid 50 cents a day, 60 cents if they had breakfast.

Bubble bursts when war ends

After the war, the shipyards closed and the federal funding for child care centers dried up. But there were still many women in Richmond and many other places who wanted or needed to continue working. So the Richmond community lobbied the federal and state government to continue the funding. They were successful, and California became one of only few states that continued child care after the war.

Maritime Child Development Center, 10th and Florida in Richmond, to be restored for use as school and museum

At the same time, the Kaiser Shipyards child care programs in Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, shut down completely. The Northwest child care centers, also influenced by UC Berkeley child development experts, did not have the community support needed to keep them open. However, experience in these child care centers contributed invaluably to the study of child development, and the legacy informs current practice.

The Richmond schools continued to operate preschools on essentially the same wartime principles until around 1967.   A variety of federal, state and local funding sources, including Head Start, have continued a semblance of the program to the present.

One of the original Kaiser-built centers, the Maritime Child Development Center at 10th and Florida streets in Richmond, has been designated a national historical landmark. Renovation of the center is under way, and Rosie the Riveter/World War II National Historical Park museum curators are collecting and interpreting historical artifacts, such as furniture from the original wartime program. The center, to house classrooms and a National Park Service museum, is scheduled to open in 2011.

The Richmond Museum of History also operates the restored SS Red Oak Victory, a World War II ship built in Richmond and docked at the Rosie the Riveter national park. To find out more: ssredoakvictory.org.

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