One of my many amazing professors planned a fun field trip for our "History of Women in the U.S." class and it took place this past Saturday. Our little group met up at the SS Red Oak Victory for a docent led tour and brown bag lunch. We had such a great time exploring the ship and seeing the beautiful welding work done by Richmond's Wendy the Welders. We don't hear as much about all those welders when we talk about WWII and the Rosie the Riveters here on the home front. However, here in Northern California we primarily built ships, not planes. So lots of male and female welders lived here in the Bay Area. In all they churned out 747 ships in just three years. That number is astounding to me. One ship was built in 3 days flat -- and that was the fastest on record. I also heard that women could tell if a man welded a section of the ship or if a woman had done it because the craftsmanship was so like embroidery that the women were clearly the more skilled of the two groups. Of course, they were paid less anyway (and that's a whole separate discussion).
The Red Oak is a Victory ship so it was part of the first wave of ships prior to the building of the more efficient Liberty ships.
It is now owned by the Richmond Museum Association. The ship served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam and is the only Kaiser ship currently being restored.
It's really very cool in there guys. If you ever get a chance to explore a ship of this magnitude go for it, and definitely ask for a docent led tour.
Our guide was Lou, a veteran pilot of Korea. He was such a good time and we were so thankful for his amazing stories.
After the tour we had lunch and headed to the Rosie the Riveter Trust (owned by NPS) for an eye opening oral history from a 91 year old woman who lived and worked in Richmond during WWII, followed by a tour of the "in process" museum and a couple of videos about Richmond circa the 1940s.
Public history is truly the best and most invigorating kind of history, in my opinion. It's happening every day and we don't even notice it.
(no photos were edited because I am too lazy and busy, mostly lazy)