Archive for June, 2013

Sweet baby James

posted on June 29, 2013


Photo Blog 13_0628 bc v2

Mr. and Mrs. K*, living in Berkeley, Ca., welcome home baby James in July 1948.

“Visit the residence of Mr. and Mrs. K* and you will see how intelligent planning can make life more wholesome and banish customary worries about family security. With three children coming up in the world, and also meeting the usual expenses attendant upon normal living in these trying times, the K*’s solved their problem of medical attention by joining the Permanente Health Plan.”


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LGBT fairness is a Kaiser Permanente standard

posted on June 27, 2013

By Lincoln Cushing, Heritage Writer

Kaiser Permanente nurse Sue Caulfield accepting fair workplace for LGBT employees award from Basic Rights Oregon, May 2, 2004.
Kaiser Permanente nurse Sue Caulfield accepting fair workplace for LGBT employees award from Basic Rights Oregon, May 2, 2004.
Photo: the Portland Observer

Basic civil rights for members and workers at Kaiser Permanente has been part of the culture for a long time. Here Kaiser Permanente nurse Sue Caulfield accepts the 2004 Fair Workplace Project Award from the Education Fund of Basic Rights Oregon for KP’s work in promoting a progressive environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. The award noted that the 7,000 workers in the Northwest region enjoyed policies such as equal benefits for same-sex partners and a program of culturally competent medical care.

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‘The Wolf Man’ (1941) featured movie this week on SS Red Oak Victory

posted on June 27, 2013
Original poster for “The Wolf Man” starring Claude Rains, Lon Chaney, Ralph Bellamy and Bela Logosi, 1941. Wikipedia image

By Ginny McPartland, Heritage writer

Film series continues Thursday at Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond Calif.

“The Wolf Man” (1941), starring Claude Rains and Lon Chaney, a horror film with a surprising WWII twist, will be shown 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, in the hold of the restored Victory Ship.

Classic movies to be featured in the coming weeks are: “Casablanca,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, July 11; “Lifeboat,” written by John Steinbeck and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, July 25;  “The Story of GI Joe” (1945), starring Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum, Aug. 8; and “Dear Ruth” (1946), a comedy starring William Holden and Joan Caulfield, Aug. 22.

A $5 donation is requested for admission to the ship. Boarding will be at 6:30 p.m.; the films will begin at 7 p.m.  The Red Oak Victory, built in the World War II Kaiser Shipyards, is not accessible for wheelchairs.

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WWII cooks adapt to rationing

posted on June 25, 2013

By Ginny McPartland, Heritage writer

Health of Americans improves with less meat, sugar and fat

Therese Ambrosi Smith, volunteer at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front national park, discusses rationing of food during the war. Behind her is one of the government’s posters urging people to sacrifice so soldiers could eat better.

Scarcity of everyday food items may seem like a hardship, but rationing of ingredients during World War II was actually good for Americans’ health. Animal fat and sugar cane were needed to make explosives, and domestic sugar supply was cut even further by the diversion of Hawaiian and Filipino cargo ships to military purposes.

Wartime householders cooked mostly from scratch, served vegetables from their own “Victory Gardens” and kept a close tally of the family’s rationing points. Many women also worked in war industries and had to find shortcuts to get meals on the table.

Even though losing weight was not foremost in the minds of the Home Front citizenry, they clearly benefited from the kind of diet that many are advocating today.

Therese Ambrosi Smith, a volunteer at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, has studied the effects of rationing on America’s eating habits and offers the best lessons learned from the period.

Smith shares tips in her talks at the park’s Visitor Education Center in Richmond, Calif.

Cake recipe with less sugar still popular

Smith proves you can bake a delicious, low-fat, low-sugar cake using a 1940s Rosie recipe that originated on the Home Front. The “Dump Cake” is so named because you dump all the ingredients into a pie dish in which you mix, bake and serve.

The recipe calls for no butter or lard, substituting a healthy oil such as canola, and only one cup of sugar.

Smith acquired the tried-and-true Dump Cake recipe from Kay Morrison, a Rosie who also volunteers at the park. The recipe makes a good-tasting, firm yet airy cake, with cocoa giving it a reddish tinge. You can eat it with your hands and lick the sticky dough off your fingers.

WWII poster asking Americans to constrain their cooking and eating habits so fighting men could be well nourished. National Archives image.

Wartime cooking practices – using less meat, fat and sugar – serendipitously resulted in Americans weighing less, an average of seven pounds less, according to statisticians.

Today the same strategy can help reduce America’s waistline, which has grown significantly in the past 70 years since the war ended.

Research in the past 50 years has shed light on how eating healthier can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and certain kinds of cancer.

Patriotic chefs save good stuff for fighters

During the war, people cheerfully did without their favorite recipes as an act of patriotism, a way they could do their part for the war effort.

“Our food is fighting,” declares a 1942 government poster that Smith uses in her presentation.  “People understood that men fighting the war needed more calories than civilians on the Home Front,” explained Smith. “They couldn’t get the food they were used to, so they had to adapt.”

“Rationing was a way of making sure the available food was spread out among all the people, not just the ones who could afford it (at premium prices),” Smith said. Produce from prewar sources couldn’t be shipped because much of the supply of rubber, gasoline, and oil had to be reserved for military vehicles.

1944 government poster encouraging Americans to grow more fruits and vegetables for Home Front consumption. National Archives image

Victory Gardens yielded healthy abundance

The Office of War Information encouraged people to grow vegetables in their backyards (and community gardens) and to can the surplus for off-season consumption.

In the war years of 1943-1945, civilians grew 40 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed on the Home Front.

Twenty million Victory Gardens were in cultivation during these years, yielding 8 million pounds of produce.

The government published weekly bulletins to let people know about changing rationing requirements. The bulletins offered alternative recipes that helped home cooks make the most of their rationing points.

Rationing spawned a plethora of commercial war time cookbooks, such as the Betty Crocker wartime booklet “Your Share,” as well as packaged meals like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

At times, householders relying on commercial canned goods had to choose between rationed products with different point values due to their availability.

Therese Smith serves up slices of Dump Cake, a World War II recipe made with a minimum of sugar.

For instance, a cook might choose canned peaches for dessert and do without canned tomato paste needed to make spaghetti sauce.

Not faced with shortages of essential food items today, we can nonetheless be inspired by the sacrifice of World War II householders whose health was generally improved by consuming less.



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Iconic regional railroads transport shipyard workers across country

posted on June 22, 2013
Nickel Plate train westbound at Cedar Glen near Cleveland, Ohio. Workers with Ray Ferreira on their way to Portland passed through here in 1942. Photo from the Cleveland Memory website, Cleveland State University.

By Steve Gilford, Senior Consulting Historian

Second of two parts
In this post, we pick up on the story of a young Oakland couple who hitched their wagon to Henry J. Kaiser’s locomotive for a wild ride during World War II and after. In 1939, Anne and Ray Ferreira had just started their married life and she was working for the Kaiser Company in Oakland, Calif.

They soon found themselves in New York City, then Vancouver, Wash., and then back to Oakland, all working for Henry Kaiser.

This story involves trains, once the mainstay of American transportation, at a time when railroads were losing their charm. Air transportation was faster but more expensive, so most travelers still relied on the train in the 1940s.

Ray Ferreira’s employer, Pan American Airlines, transferred him to New York in 1942, and Anne stayed behind to close up the household – complete with two beloved dogs.

Traveling by train affordable

Anne wrote to Ray: “(A co-worker’s) wife phoned me and said she was leaving for New York this coming Friday. . . . She is flying. Said the train took too long and was too tiresome. I told her I would probably go on the Challenger (rail line) because it’s cheaper and . . . because it’s the train my dogs will be on, and I can go and see them all the time.”

Union Pacific Railroad Challenger sleeping car. Anne Ferreira took this train across the country to New York in 1942. Wikimedia photo.

She reports that the Challenger fare, with an overnight berth, was $104.85 with tax, a price they could afford. The Challenger was no ordinary train: The Union Pacific Railroad had started a new passenger service from San Francisco to Chicago in 1937 and spruced up the cars and added a special lounge for women and children. Meals were inexpensive: Breakfast, 65 cents, lunch 85 cents, and dinner, $1.

At the other end of the spectrum was the train – filled with 510 shipyard workers – that Ray Ferreira would shepherd across the country a few months later. Things happened fast for the Ferreiras. By September she was already in Vancouver, having worked a few months for Henry Kaiser in New York and then taking another Kaiser job out West.

Shipyard workers get restless on the tracks

At the same time, Ray, 29, was containing a volatile situation on austere train cars overloaded with hungry and sleepy workmen enroute to take jobs in the Kaiser Shipyards in Vancouver. The 11-car passenger train left Lackawanna Railroad Company’s Hoboken, N.J., station on Sept. 26, 1942.

Kaiser Company executive Todd Woodell had ordered 16 cars for the train so the men would have room to roam and stretch out to sleep on the 60-plus-hour trip. There were too few cars for comfort and the railroad hadn’t included a single dining car.

The Lackawanna rail company served dinner at 3:30 p.m. just outside of New York, and the workers started to grumble for an early breakfast. Ray wired Woodell in New York: “Afraid of unrest so Nickel Plate (railroad) to serve breakfast at 3:15 a.m.”

Nickel Plate served the tracks between Buffalo and Chicago, clacking through Cleveland and other Ohio spots, such as Rocky River and Lorain.

All’s well that ends well

The ceiling of the main waiting room in the 1940s Hoboken, N.J., train station shows off the structure’s fine architectural details. Kaiser shipyard workers bound for the West Coast shipyards boarded the train here. Library of Congress photo.

Ray wrote: “Men still with Kaiser 100 percent, but not entirely satisfied with facilities. . . (I’ve) received complaints about restroom cleanliness.”  When the train got to Chicago, the men’s tempers were ready to flare. On the platform, some stirred up a protest, urging others not to get back on the train.

Fortunately, the train picked up eight more cars in Chicago, including two dining cars. Ray stood on a makeshift platform and promised better service on the Northern Pacific railroad that would take them the rest of the way to Portland, Ore.

Only 11 men didn’t re-board. Ray wired Woodell: “Regret disturbance. Balance of men appear to be in good frame of mind.”

Six men lost in Chicago were picked up by another train and soon arrived at the Northwest Kaiser Shipyards.

Ray Ferreira’s East-West recruiting trip was the first of many to bring workers to the shipyards. It was the last for Ferreira who worked for a time in administration but left the shipyard to join the Navy in 1944.

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60 years ago: Kaiser Permanente’s first LA medical center opens

posted on June 21, 2013

Kaiser Permanente Sunset Hospital in Los Angeles, built in 1953, was one of Dr. Garfield’s “dream” hospitals.

By Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

Garfield’s design of ‘dream hospital’ features unconventional and efficient layout

1953 was a big year for expansion in Kaiser Permanente. The fledgling Health plan opened state-of-the-art hospitals in three communities – Los Angeles and Fontana in Southern California and Walnut Creek in Northern California.

The Los Angeles Medical Center (on Sunset Boulevard) was the first to open, on June 16, 1953. The dream hospital design was inspired by Kaiser Permanente founding physician Sidney Garfield who worked with architect of record George M. Wolff.

The new hospitals debuted the concept of separate corridors for visitors and staff. Visitors could enter a patient room from an outside walkway, staying out of the way of busy medical staff moving along the interior corridor.

Garfield’s design called for decentralized nursing stations with one for every four rooms (one nurse per eight patients) instead of one per floor. Patient rooms had an individual lavatory with hot, cold, and iced water.

The futuristic concept of the “baby in a drawer” – a sliding bassinet that let a tired mom pass her newborn through for care in the nursery – was also introduced in the 1953 dream hospitals.

LA Times touted new medical center

The Los Angeles Times gushed about the $3 million facility, describing it as “sorely needed.” It also noted: “The Kaiser Hospital, operated by the non-profit Foundation, is open to the public, a fact not generally known. In addition to Health Plan patients, it also accepts private patients and charity patients referred by social welfare agencies.”

But that public aspect did not sit well with the Southern California medical establishment whose members resisted the arrival of prepaid, group practice medicine. The next month the Los Angeles County Medical Association sent out a questionnaire to its members with the header caption “This is the most important notice ever sent to you by the LACMA.”

Medical association resisted group practice

The cover page made clear the medical association’s concerns:

“Points have been raised as to whether this (Kaiser Permanente) is really a corporation practicing medicine, whether the ‘captive’ patients of the plan forced to join by their union is good for the welfare of the people, whether the patients receive adequate medical care, whether it is proper for a layman to control physicians, etc.”

Opposition reached a fever pitch in August 1953 when Paul Foster, MD, president of the medical association, condemned the Kaiser Permanente program as “unethical.”

These were difficult times for the fledgling Permanente group. The successful practice of high-quality medicine in gleaming new facilities like Sunset eventually wore down the opposition.  By 1960, the local medical society attacks on the program had come to an end.






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Rosie Park and Richmond Museum host screenings of wartime films

posted on June 11, 2013

“Lifeboat” was written by John Steinbeck and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The 1944 film, with stars Hume Cronyn and Tallulah Bankhead, will be shown on the SS Red Oak Victory on July 25. Wikipedia photo.

By Ginny McPartland, Heritage writer

British war film “In Which We Serve,” the story of a warship from its construction to demise, will launch the 5th Annual Home Front Film Festival on the SS Red Oak Victory ship Thursday, June 13.

Five more World War II films will be shown in the coming weeks in the hold of the ship-turned-museum docked in Richmond, Calif. The festival is jointly sponsored by the Richmond Museum of History and the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park.

“In Which We Serve” stars Noel Coward, John Mills, Bernard Miles, Celia Johnson and Richard Attenborough. The story was inspired by the exploits of British Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten who commanded the HMS Kelly, which was sunk in the 1941 Battle of Crete.

Movies to be shown in the upcoming weeks include: “The Wolf Man” (1941), starring Claude Rains and Lon Cheney, a film with a surprising WWII twist, June 27; the classic “Casablanca,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, July 11; and “Lifeboat,” written by John Steinbeck and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, July 25.

The last two films, to be shown in August, are: “The Story of GI Joe” (1945), starring Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum, Aug. 8; and “Dear Ruth” (1946), a comedy starring William Holden and Joan Caulfield, Aug. 22.

A $5 donation is requested for admission to the ship. Boarding will be at 6:30 p.m.; the films will begin at 7 p.m.  The Red Oak Victory is not accessible for wheelchairs; visitors must climb a gangplank and descend 40 feet into the hold on steep steps with railings.

The Red Oak Victory can be found at 1337 Canal Blvd., Berth 6A, Richmond; call 510-237-2933. The Red Oak, restored under the sponsorship of the Richmond Museum of History, is one of 747 ships produced in the four Richmond Kaiser Shipyards during World War II.

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Oakland civic leaders celebrate completion of bronze wonder

posted on June 7, 2013

By Ginny McPartland, Heritage writer

Henry Kaiser’s bronze image at the Remember Them public art installation at Henry J. Kaiser Memorial Park in downtown Oakland, Calif. Next to Kaiser is “Mother” Mary Ann Wright. Photo by Ginny McPartland

More than 100 years of social and political history is told vividly through the lives of the 39 figures represented in the monumental bronze sculpture whose final section was dedicated on May 31 in Oakland, Calif. Kaiser Permanente’s retiring CEO George Halvorson and incoming Chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson both spoke at the ceremony that unveiled the final installment of the public art. Kaiser Permanente is one of the donors that helped fund the piece located in the Henry J. Kaiser Memorial Park. Political leaders, civil rights activists shine The newest section, the “Visual Wall” with notes in Braille, features five heroes: writer Cincinnatus Hiner “Joaquin” Miller who called Oakland home; British Prime Minister Winston Churchill; South Africa’s Nelson Mandela; gay rights leader and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk; Oakland humanitarian “Mother” Mary Ann Wright; and Fred Korematsu, champion of the rights of the West Coast Japanese interned during World War II. Leaders of the African-American Civil Rights Movement represented in artist Mario Chiodo’s massive installation include: activists and ministers Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ralph Abernathy; activist in her own right Coretta Scott King; poet and playwright Maya Angelou; Rosa Parks, who refused to give her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955; Black nationalist and leader Malcolm X; and Ruby Bridges, who at age 6 in 1960 was the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school in the South.

Abolitionists and farm worker advocates honored

Remember Them verse on plaque at Henry J. Kaiser Memorial city park in Oakland, Calif. Photo by Ginny McPartland

Chiodo’s busts of historic figures responsible for moving along the campaign to abolish slavery include: Abraham Lincoln, freed slave and activist Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, who fought to free blacks from slavery and women from second-class citizenship in the 19th century. The quest for equal rights for the disabled is represented in the bronze image of Helen Keller; farm workers’ rights with Cesar Chavez; Native American rights with Chief Joseph, head of the Nez Perce Nation; and human rights for Latin Americans with the likeness of activist Rigoberta Menchu Tum. Leaders of the struggle for justice in the East are: the “Unknown Rebel of Tiananmen Square;” Mahatma Gandhi, the pacifist who led India to independence from British rule; Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist for human rights in the Middle East; Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and anti-war activist; and Mother Teresa, also a Nobel Peace Prize winner, who spent her life taking care of the poor in India.

Oakland notables in the mix

Here’s another view of Mario Chiodo’s bronze monument in Oakland, Calif. The installation honors 39 humanitarians, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, president during the Great Depression and World War II, depicted in his wheelchair. Photo by Ginny McPartland

“Local Champions” are Royal Towns, one of Oakland’s first African-American firefighters; John Grubensky, an Oakland police officer who died while rescuing residents in the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire; an unknown Ohlone woman; Carmen Flores, a young Mexican artist; industrialist Henry J. Kaiser; writer Joaquin Miller; and the first black superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District, Marcus Foster, who was assassinated by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1973. Also in the display are: Josie de la Cruz, first woman recruiter for the United Farm Workers; Ina Coolbrith, the first librarian of the Oakland City Library and California’s first Poet Laureate; naturalist Ansel Hall; Oakland community leader Joyce Taylor; Korematsu; Mother Wright, founder of the Mother Mary Ann Wright Foundation, which feeds more than 450 people a day; and Oleta Kirk Abrams, one of the founders of Bay Area Women Against Rape in 1971. Visitors to this powerful tribute to these humanitarian giants can learn much about the historic trials and triumphs of the creation and preservation of global democracy.

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