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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “floating White House”




Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Floating White House” Oakland, California 2010 Roosevelt’s WPA Battles Catastrophic Floods and Fires By Edward I. Bloom It should be remembered that the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a program of FDR’s New Deal, was not a make-work program for the chronically unemployed, as some of its critics claimed. In fact, the program was conceived and implemented to provide work on badly needed projects for many communities throughout the country, thereby pumping money into the local economy and providing employment for those unable to find work. Additionally, it provided an in-place workforce to respond to emergency needs including those caused by the Great Flood of the Ohio Valley in 1937, and the long-standing underground coal fire in eastern Ohio. In March of 1937, early spring floods followed an unusually heavy rainfall and snow melt, causing massive flooding from New England to the Ohio River, and ultimately leaving more than 500 people dead and nearly one million homeless in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois. Along with the Army Corp of Engineers continued on page 3 RED AND WHITE FLEET PARTNERSHIP Potomac Association President Carla Betts, and Red and White Fleet CEO Thomas Escher “tie” the ribbon for the new partnership. Fall Edition INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Eleanor Roosevelt & Child Care Making the case for working mothers during the war years by Paulette Langguth . . . . . . . 2 Marti’s Musings… A Scrimshaw Sailor . . . . . . . 3 Notes from the Archives… FDR Visits the Port of Oakland “Found” photos and a rare look at FDR’s review of the US Fleet by Hank Laney, Curator . . . . 4 WWII Day of Remembrance The Potomac sails back into history to honor America’s Greatest Generation by Brad Bunnin. . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Friends of the Potomac The most important page in this issue. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 2010 Cruise Schedule Still lots to choose from before the season ends – come cruising with us now! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Special Offer Discount coupon for Potomac cruises. Offer good through November 11, 2010 POTOMAC LINKS: “Mr. President” holds a conference aboard the Potomac with delegates from the Event and Travel industry. Visit the USS Potomac on Facebook Events and Cruises Student Tours Private Charters Become a Friend of the Potomac Eleanor Roosevelt and Child Care: Finding Friends in Private Industry Eleanor met with Henry Kaiser and his son, Edgar, while visiting the Kaiser Company Shipyard in Portland, Oregon (where women made up 60 percent of the work force). Under the leadership of Edgar Kaiser, plans were put in place to construct a spectacular child care center, complete with the newest play equipment, the most sophisticated teaching devices, a cafeteria staffed by nutritionists, and an infirmary staffed by nurses and doctors. The Swan Island Center was a Head Start program a quarter of a century ahead of its time. In its first year of operation it served nearly two thousand children, and its success stimulated war plants and shipyards nationwide to provide child care. It was estimated that each child care center serving forty mothers made possible eight thousand productive worker hours monthly. Locally, the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, CA had 14 child care sites during the war years. When the shipyards closed and federal funding for child care dried up, there were still many women who wanted or needed to continue working. The Richmond community lobbied the federal and state government to continue the funding. California became one of only a few states that continued to support child care after the war. By Paulette Langguth In 1942, President Roosevelt, at Eleanor’s urging, approved the first government-sponsored child care center under the Community Facilities Act. This Act provided local aid to war-impacted communities for schools, hospitals, water and sewers, and recreational facilities. Six additional centers were funded in Connecticut, Texas, and North Carolina, but the total number of children covered was only 105,000 when there were an estimated two million who needed care. In 1943, the absentee rate for women working in war industries soared, greatly affecting production. Never one to be content working quietly behind the scenes, and being a long-time advocate for women working outside the home, Eleanor Roosevelt set out to bring about changes that would result in benefits for the thousands of women working to support their country, their armed forces, and their families. To identify issues affecting working women, Eleanor traveled across the country from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, conducting interviews in shipyards and plants. She found that the demands of traveling miles to get to work, holding down a full-time job, and providing care for children, was overwhelming the workers. Women reported that they often had to miss day shifts in order to purchase groceries - if they waited to shop at the end of the day, the shelves were nearly empty and the stores ready to close. Following her interviews, Eleanor proposed a number of creative solutions such as staggering the opening and closing times of the factories, keeping banks and department stores open at night, encouraging butchers to hold back part of their meat supply until 6 PM, and asking war plants to hire personal shoppers for the women to take their orders in the morning, and have the filled grocery bags waiting at the door at the end of the shift. In addition, her fact-finding established that: Though the needs of working mothers were never fully met, nearly $50 million would be spent on child care before the war came to an end, $3 million for construction of new centers and $47 million for operating expenses. By the summer of l945, Day Care at Kaiser Industries more than a million and a half children would be in child care programs. *While the United States government was actively recruiting women workers during WWII, there were segments of society strongly opposed to married women being employed outside the home. In 1943, The Catholic World published an editorial that stated, “Women who maintain jobs outside their homes… weaken family life, endanger their own marital happiness, rob themselves of man’s protective capabilities, and by consequence, decrease the number of children.” New York’s Mayor LaGuardia argued, “The worst mother is better than the best institution.” And the Minneapolis Chief of Welfare, John O. Louis, proclaimed, “The child should be cared for by its own mother, and only in those instances where inadequacies of physical surrounding or mental and moral environment make it absolutely necessary should the child be placed outside the home.” • More than three million women had entered the work force for the first time between 1940 and 1942 • Three million more were expected to enter the workforce before the war was over • 75 percent of these women were married • 60 percent were over the age of 35 • More than 33 percent had children under the age of 14 Armed with this impressive data, Eleanor stepped up her campaign for child care. She was convinced, and rightly so, that without adequate child care programs children would be at risk and face the very real dangers of neglect.* -2- Sources: No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin Links: WPA Battles continued from page 1 and the National Guard, the WPA was an immediately available resource used to fill sandbags along levees and provide food and emergency shelter for the flood refugees. The WPA bypassed bureaucratic regulations that bogged down the railroads by renting trucks to ship needed surplus commodities, food, and clothing to the flood areas. WPA carpenters assembled lumber in the streets and hastily built fleets of rafts, avoiding more red tape while waiting for the Coast Guard to bring small vessels to the flooded areas. Over 200,000 WPA workers were used during the cleanup, from West Virginia to Tennessee, to build sanitary privies over sewer manholes, construct wooden catwalks to bring in emergency supplies, clean refuse from city streets, haul away garbage, and set up field kitchens. In addition, WPA sewing rooms provided needed clothing to those who had lost everything. The underground coal fires in southeastern Ohio, primarily around New Straitsville, had been raging for more than fifty years, and probably started at the time of a labor dispute in the 1880’s. All efforts to put out these coal fires had failed. The WPA was engaged to assist in the effort, and on October 10, 1936, digging on the first of three large open trenches was started. The plan was to excavate coal ahead of the fire and then to fill the trench with a non-flammable mixture of clay, mud, and rock, creating the equivalent of a firebreak. Each trench was 25 feet wide and ranging in length from 525 feet to a mile-and-a-half. WPA workers followed the earthmoving machines, removing by hand all flammable materials left behind, and delivered any usable coal to families on relief. In the spring of 1937, work on the trenches was completed, and by April the first of the coal fires approaching the smallest of these open trenches was finally stopped. The firebreak created by the two larger trenches had successfully put out all the remaining coal fires by January of 1940. Today, as we follow the cleanup for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, it is valuable to recall an earlier period when the WPA was used to address major disasters. Source: American Made, the Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work – Nick Taylor Link to - FDR “chit” to Harry Hopkins about Works Program, July 6, 1938 Link to Grace Tully Archives – Link to previous article on the WPA by Edward I. Bloom MARTI’S MUSINGS…Remembering a true Scrimshaw Sailor Recently, I was most saddened to hear of the passing of long-time volunteer and friend of the Potomac, Bruce Waygood. Bruce was a one-of-a-kind personality with a heart as big as the Pacific. Ask Bruce to find something ship related on the waterfront, and the word “cumshaw” comes readily to mind. He was truly one of the funniest, dearest, and most talented of the Potomac’s incredible volunteers. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered. Our own “Mr. President,” Dr. Kurt Lauridsen, sums it up: “Thank you for sharing this very sad news. I recall a section in Reader’s Digest when I was a kid called The Most Unforgettable Character I Have Ever Met. Surely Bruce would qualify for that section. He was certainly an outsized personality.” “Very much a great sailor, he was equally talented with salty language. He could produce a great and grumbling facade that would scare anyone off, and yet, he was an extraordinarily humane man with a deep belief in the goodness of the ordinary person. I heard that salty talk more than once when he saw an injustice to the common man. He introduced me to the Jeremiah O’Brien and Admiral Tom Patterson, and thus gave me many enjoyable trips aboard that ship. I once had the privilege of touring his warehouse on the docks. What an amazing collection of ‘things.’ I thought it best not to ask where it all came from. But I still have a ship’s wheel in my den thanks to that visit.” “I will miss him.” -3- waterfront. Waiting for him at the Port was the USS Houston which he would board to review the fleet. It was most impressive and had been gathering in the Bay for hours. All shipping traffic Navy Band playing as FDR arrives was halted and ferry routes changed. The ships, consisting of 8 battleships, 9 heavy cruisers, 35 destroyers, 5 light cruisers, 7 submarines, and 1 carrier with 5 auxiliary vessels, stretched in four rows from the Bay Bridge to Hunter’s Point. FROM THE ARCHIVES By Hank Laney, Curator FDR Visits Port of Oakland Few people know about the President’s historic visit to the Bay Area on July 14, 1938, and his boarding the cruiser USS Houston at Oakland for a review of the US Battle Fleet in the San Francisco Bay. After arriving in Crockett by train, FDR joined a 25-car cavalcade that traveled rapidly through Vallejo, San Rafael, and on to San Francisco. His only stop at this point was at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. As the President’s car crossed the Golden Gate Bridge a huge “welcome” banner hung from the south tower. There was a daylight fireworks display and a 21gun salute from the Presidio. FDR crosses Golden Gate Bridge into SF As the President boarded the USS Houston, more than 30 ships boomed a simultaneous 21-gun salute. The cruiser then left the dock for a two-hour review. Individual salutes were given as the Houston passed among the rows of ships in review. Another mass salute marked the President’s departure FDR arriving at gangway to USS Houston from the Houston. In all, 672 guns were fired for multiple salutes such as never heard before in the Bay Area. Tens of thousands waited along the parade route down Van Ness Avenue, while another 50,000 cheered the President in his bunting-draped car when he arrived at the Civic Center. The crowd’s enthusiasm was marked by banners, cheers and yells, and all along the route FDR responded with his famous grin and a great deal of exuberant hat waving. Some 1,000 luncheon guests awaited his arrival on Treasure Island. Since his motorcade was running late, the Secret Service agents ordered that lunch not be served until the President was seated. At the luncheon, the President gave a broadcast speech that emphasized his hope for a permanent international peace, and a reduction in world armament. “We stand to meet them,” he said, “and encourage them in any efforts they may make toward a definite reduction in world armament.” As he appealed for world armament reduction, the President promised that the Mare Island Navy Yard would have a $20 million cruiser contract. At the same time, FDR pointed out that the US outlay for armaments was still far less than those of other powers. At 10 PM, the President left the cruiser and went by car to the Oakland Mole where his train was waiting. He traveled that night to Yosemite, touring the park the next day. Leaving Yosemite, the President traveled by train to San Diego where the USS Houston was waiting to take him through the Panama Canal. I first learned about this visit when I came across an unmarked envelope in our archives containing a number of dated snapshots of his arrival at Oakland. Some notes on the back of the photos indicated that they were of FDR’s arrival at the USS Houston. I had not heard of this before. Intrigued, I went to the library and printed microfiche copies of the Bay Area newspapers for that day. The coverage was spectacular and told the whole story. Not only was the visit historic for the Port of Oakland, but how would the President have known it would eventually be the home for his beloved USS Potomac. He then traveled to the Port of Oakland, where 2,000 Boy Scouts lined the route along Maritime Street and the Oakland Neither we, nor any nation, will accept disarmament while neighbor nations arm to the teeth. Franklin D. Roosevelt (Radio Address, October 26, 1938) Additional photos, -4- National Day of Remembrance on the Bay By Brad Bunnin Just last month, Congress named the second Sunday in August a National Day of Remembrance for World War II. On V-J Day, August 14, 1945, the day World War II ended, I was six years old, certainly old enough to have a childish but pretty good idea of what the last four years meant to our country and the world. Now, on V-J Day 2010, I’m… a lot older (you can do the math!), and I have a much better idea of what this day means. On this day, aboard the USS Potomac’s Remembrance Cruise, we were mindful of both victory and loss. On this day, we remembered those who came to be called the Greatest Generation. Our beloved Potomac and its Navy crew served well before and during the war, whether to provide a place of respite for President Roosevelt, or as a means of transport (and subterfuge—a stand-in Secret Service agent donned the President’s clothes and dropped a fishing line over the fantail after the President left the Potomac for his crucial meeting with Winston Churchill). Upon our entry into the war, the Navy re-commissioned the Potomac as a sonar test ship as part of its coastal defense. The ship honored many significant figures of the time on this Day of Remembrance with the presence of the late President Roosevelt, portrayed in his inimitable fashion with grin, boat cloak, and cigarette holder atilt by Kurt Lauridsen; President Harry S. Truman, who presided over the war’s conclusion at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, portrayed by Brad Bunnin; Edith Shain, America’s most famous nurse, caught in a sailor’s embrace in Times Square by Life photographer Alfred Eisenstadt, and portrayed in her Red Cross nurse’s uniform by Dr. Elaine Ashby; the kissing Navy man, never before positively identified, and enthusiastically represented by Larry Farrell; and, a Red Cross volunteer, one of thousands who eased the lives and lifted the morale of our soldiers, sailors, flyers, the Coast Guard, and merchant mariners, played by Gary Maxey. Our historical cast wore authentic garb and displayed authentic feelings about the solemn yet joyous day the war came to its end. The Potomac’s 80 passengers joined in the celebration, sharing stories and moments of silence as the ship sailed back into history. As usual, many of the ship’s guests responded to our historical characters as if they were the real thing. Bill Hodges, whose narration while underway gave depth and purpose to the day, and whose Walter Winchell interview with the Presidents completed a Click Poster to link to photo story by remarkable day, deserves special thanks! Potomac EMT volunteer, Lee Ditlefsen -5- FALL CRUISES & EVENTS History Cruises Special History Cruises 1st and 3rd Thursday 2nd and 4th Saturday May thru October 10:30AM ~ 12:30PM $45.00 Adults, $40.00 Seniors $25.00 Under 12 Groups of 20 or more: $35.00 each October 23 ~ Three Bridges of the Bay November 4 ~ Characters of the Bay 10:30AM ~ 1:30PM includes lunch $65.00 Adults, $60.00 Seniors Children under 12 are free November 11 ~ Veterans Day (2 Cruises) 10:30AM and 1:30PM Dockside Tours Fall Music Series Blue Grass and Bach on Board Wednesday, Friday & Sunday Year Round ~ 11:00AM to 3:00PM $10.00 Adults, $8.00 Seniors October 7 ~ 49 Special October 21 ~ Kathy Kallik $27.50 per person, 7:30 to 9:30 PM Go to Potomac Discount Offer For information or reservations go to or call 510-627-1215 The Potomac Association No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Board of Governors and Staff Michael Roosevelt, Chairman Carla Betts, President Tom Morehouse, 1st Vice President Art Haskell, CFO Jean Gaskill, Secretary Trivia Question What was the name of FDR’s railroad car? The Magellan 540 Water Street P.O. Box 2064 Oakland, CA 94604 Telephone: 510-627-1215 The Potomac Currents is published by the Association for the Preservation of the Presidential Yacht, Potomac, Inc. Editor: Virginia Rapp Layout and Design: David McGraw Editorial Board: Marti Burchell, Ed Bloom, Rich Knowles, Les Marks, Hank Laney, Brad Bunnin and David McGraw Electronic Distribution: Karen Lyberger Webmaster: Tom Howard -6- Walter Abernathy, Rick Anderson, Mary Bergan, Joe Brennan, David Connolly, Curtis Davies,Virginia Furth, Judy Goff-Roveda, Al Groh, Hal Marsh, James McCloud, Denny McLeod, Ron Paredes, Jeff Sturm, Kirk Rowlands, Richard Zampa Marti Burchell, Executive Director Craig Newton, Ship Keeper Friends of the Potomac The USS Potomac Association acknowledges the following individuals and organizations for their generous donations. SUSTAINING PATRON Kieretsu Forum Port of Oakland CORPORATE/PATRON Ken & Carla Betts Joe Brennan & Jan Tiura Jean & Barbara Gaskill Dale Hansen Stanley Jacobsen & Emmy Werner Denny & Ruth McLeod Waterfront Plaza Hotel Y. H. Soda Foundation Walter Abernathy Rick Anderson CA Field Iron Workers Admin Trust Dr Jacob Deegan Willis Deming William & Marsha Dillon Virginia Furth Dale Hansen Arthur Haskell Tom Howard* Kurt Lauridsen Matson Navigation Judy Goff-Roveda Dan Strohl John Tuttle & Doug Drummond COMMANDER IN CHIEF ADMIRAL Richard Zampa – District Council of Ironworkers ELEANOR Mary Bergan Don & Cathy DeCoss James & Rebecca Eisen Tom & Carol Morehouse Kirk Rowlands John & Clem Underhill Beverly Voelker Gilbert Williams & Anne Bonaparte David Lee Woods & Phyllis D Chambers CAPTAIN Pat & Barbi Carson Ronald Casassa Art & Ardeth Dreshfeld Les & Elaine Dropkin Olaf Elander Norman & Edna Eltringham Pete Geffen Albert Groth Martine Habib Nancy Kickertz Bill & Mollie Kinney ABC Security Service Gail & Bruce Adair* Glenn Aitkens Carol Anderson Ron & Judy Arrants Bruce Baur Gene Bell Miriam Bloomberg James Bolen Donald Bonney John & Susan Bradley Roland Brandel Brad Bunnin* Marti Burchell Windy & Jerry Butler Vern & Alice Carrier Ted & Lynda Chenoweth Dave Connally Fred Cunningham Charles & Jacqueline Del Monte Al Dessayer Lee Ditlefsen Robert Eakin & Avis Hendley Thomas Escher* Arthur Fatum* Dorothy & Julie Filice Vickie Gregg Bonnie & Earl Hamlin Mavourneen Harshman Leroy & Marlene Hintzman Capt Walter Jaffee Ramon Aguilar Sally Beck & David Brossard Richard Black Ted Brown Carol Campbell Steven Colman Angelique & Yann Cucaro-Renault Gus Dorough Susan LaMay Georgia Edlund Elizabeth Hannon Heinold’s First & Last Chance Saloon Howard Herman Michael Hogan Esther Jennings Colleen Kelly-Prola Rich Knowles & Merlyn Uhlenberg Jack Lapidos James McCloud David & Myrna McGraw Angeline Papestafan Stuart & Vallyn Proffitt Virginia Rapp Michael Roosevelt Gordon Seligson Deborah Tharp FIRST MATE Marvin Jensen Carol Johnston John & Donna Kaehms Charley Kearns & Frank Ching Lawrence Kellogg Jr Kenneth & Margo Kingsbury John Klip Neal & Nancy Lambly Daniel Lamey Jack Lapidos Lawrence & Emily Lohr Patricia MacLean John McCredie Thomas Murray Jim O’Connor Herbert Ploch Art & Carrell Rankin Virginia Rapp Joseph & Bonnie Reid Mitch Salzman Jon & Fran Siler Jerry & Lovene Silsdorf Elaine Stanley Ruby Tilley Lee Velde Wanda Viviano Beverly Voelker Cynthia Weiss John & Marilyn Welland Mary Whitehead Ruth Ann Yager FALA Susan LaMay* Sandra Lundgren Lucy John Ronald Louis Arthur Mark* Robert Matz Brian McDonald William Memmer Dawn Muller Cathy O’Brien William Peeters Herbert Ploch Brenda Price Harold Rice* Maurice Robichaud Kathy Szumiloski Robert Woodruff STUDENT/TEACHER Tom Bernitt James Flander Mike Gregory ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EDUCATIONAL FUND Dave Connolly Al Groh Richard Zampa Since January 2010, union organizations throughout the San Fransisco Bay Area have contributed more than $8,000 specifically to support the Educational Cruises. See full list. *Contributor to the Potomac IPO – Ship Shares Program Note: Questions or comments about the above listing may be referred to Gordon Seligson, email: [email protected] or write to the Friends of the Potomac, P.O. Box 2064, Oakland, CA 94604. -7-