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Richmond Featured on "Bay Area Backroads"
January 19, 2003

Richmond was featured on KRON Channel 4 Bay Area Backroads, yesterday, January 18, and the video can still be seen by going to the KRON4 website http://www.kron4.com/Global/story.asp?S=633380 and selecting Video on Demand. The narrative appears below:

There's a lot about Richmond that might surprise you, including more than a dozen public art exhibits, over fifty parks, good food, whether it's very formal dining like Hotel Mac or barbecue like Bobby's Back Door Barbecue.

Also in Richmond are important legacies of World War II... one of the last Victory ships… now being restored... and a monument to the trailblazing women who toiled in Richmond's shipyards.

Richmond is located along San Francisco Bay, just north of Berkeley, at the east end of the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge.

“I love it. I love talkin' about it. I love showin' people what is here,” says longtime resident Emma Clark. She shows us the abundance of art in Richmond... from the murals that grace many under- and over-passes... to the Richmond Art Center, the oldest private nonprofit arts organization in the Bay Area.

“You can go to a play, she adds, “all of the antique shops in the area.”

Richmond also has beaches and sweeping views along its more than 32 miles of shoreline… and it was once the home of the largest winery in the world.

Richmond was once a center of shipbuilding, too. Ships built here helped us win World War II. An important piece of that history is being preserved aboard the Red Oak Victory < http://www.redoakvictory.org/    > , which served as an ammunition ship during World War II and later carried supplies during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

We were on hand in 1998 when the Red Oak came home to Richmond after rusting away for decades in the mothball fleet near Benicia.

Today she's being painstakingly restored by volunteers such as Jim Nolan.

“My area of specialty is deckologist,” he explains with a smile, “It's the study of how to maintain and get the deck looking like a dance floor.”

Even while the restoration is going on, the Red Oak Victory is open to the public as a museum.

Jim recalls, “One day I was over there on the port side of the deck, and I was grindin' away on somethin', and this lady, she leaned over and she said, ‘Don't you have any exhibits?’ I said, ‘Yeah, you're lookin' at him.’”

The Red Oak is a museum in progress. Tours are offered, and visitors can see the rust slowly give way to military gray. Inside, many of the cabins have already been returned to their former glory, including the captain's quarters.

Chief Engineer William Jackson says working on the ship keeps him feeling young.

“And I'm 83 years old right now, and I started in 1935,” he says.

William worked in the engine room on about ten Victory Ships, spanning World War II and the Korean War. William and Jim and nearly seventy other volunteers are making sure everything's perfect on the Red Oak.

William says, “All of us guys that volunteer, we have children. And we all have the same idea: leave something for the kids. And then, too, the things that make this one so important here, is they built so many ships with the help of our women. You know. And I've been all over the world, all kinds of warfares goin' on all around me. No country survives without their women!”

Thousands of women worked at the Richmond shipyards, where 747 ships were built during World War II. Just a mile or so from the Red Oak is the Rosie the Riveter Memorial. It's a tribute to women who helped in the war effort, both locally and nationally. The Memorial is patterned after the ships that were built here, according to Project Director Donna Graves.

“There's a hull structure, a stack and an overlook platform at the water's edge,” she explains, “There are two gardens where the hatches on the ship would have been, one of rock rose and one of native sea grass.”

The whole thing is connected by a walkway etched with facts about the World War II period and memories from some of the women.

Donna adds, “And as you face the Golden Gate Bridge, you're looking at the very last quote on this memorial, and it says, ‘Please remember to tell your children that without us, without the women, there would have been no spring in 1945.’ It brings tears to everybody's eyes.”

In the 1940's, there were tears in everybody's eyes as they watched the launching of ships they helped build, according to former welder Bethena Moore.

“You think, ‘My God. It's going. What is it going to bring back? Boys -- guys or bodies?’ It's very emotional.”

Thanks to Bethena and all the Rosies, more men came back alive. Richmond is the ideal place to recognize them. They not only built ships here... they helped build Richmond into the intriguing place it is today.

By the way, there is one place we visited in Richmond that we didn’t have time to include in our story. It’s a small library and museum founded in 1979 by Emma Clark, our Richmond guide. It’s called the Dr. Mattie McGlothen Library/Museum. Emma created it to honor the late Dr. McGlothen, a longtime Richmond resident who became an international officer of the Church of God in Christ. It houses papers and mementos from Dr. McGlothen’s life, as well as various historical religious documents. Scholars have traveled from across the country to do research there. The library/museum is open by appointment only. For more information, call (510)529-0369.