Richmond launching ceremony celebrates veterans and home front
By Chris Treadway
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 11/11/2011 06:33:10 PM PST
Updated: 11/11/2011 06:33:13 PM PST
With a swing of a facsimile Champagne bottle, Marian Sauer christened a replica Victory ship bow Friday, culminating Richmond's salute to military personnel and homefront workers on Veterans Day.
The ceremonies took place in the hold of the Red Oak Victory, where a standing-room-only turnout crammed into every corner of one of the holds of the historic cargo ship.
Sauer, a 91-year-old Richmond native, was playing the role of Edna Reiley, the wife of the mayor of Red Oak, Iowa, who christened the namesake ship at Kaiser Shipyard No. 1 on Nov. 9, 1944.
"I didn't know I was a celebrity," said Sauer, a retired teacher who was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Councilman Tom Butt. "It's an honor to be asked to do that."
Joining Sauer were her son Alan, daughter Julia, granddaughter Kira and great-grandson Cody at an acknowledgment of those past and present who have served in the military and those who did their part on the Home Front during World War II.
The observance officially started with three blasts of the Red Oak's horn at 11 a.m., the traditional Armistice Day time set by the signing of the treaty that ended World War I in 1918.
Russ Yarrow, general manager of corporate affairs for event sponsor Chevron, gave a presentation on the role of the Richmond refinery during the war and Lois Boyle recounted the role of women not only in defense industries, but in military roles.
"It's wonderful," Boyle said afterward about the large and enthusiastic turnout. "It's more than we expected, but I can understand why. It's an important day and the rain didn't stop them."
The day was also a validation of the time and effort volunteers have put toward the restoration of the Red Oak Victory since it was towed to Richmond 13 years ago.
"I remember some prominent people in Richmond said this couldn't be done, that it would pull the city into a sinkhole," Butt said. "The ship looks great. They've done such a good job."
See more on our blog at www.ibabuzz.com/westcounty/.
WEST COUNTY NOTES: The 13th annual Hands to Hands in Education silent auction benefit at St. David School, 871 Sonoma St. in Richmond is 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 12.
The free admission evening includes complimentary appetizers and beverages, along with items up for bidding such as jewelry, 49ers tickets, household items and restaurant certificates.
For a $5 fee children can attend and enjoy dinner, games and shopping for novelty items at the coin table in their own supervised room.
· Meet marine artist Jim DeWitt at a show of his latest works inspired by the upcoming Americas Cup sailboat races on San Francisco Bay at a reception from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Point Richmond Art Collective, 121 Park Place. De Witt will be joined by other collective artists at the gathering.
· A $25 raffle ticket could win a seven-day condo stay (airfare not included) on the Hawaiian island of Maui in a raffle being held to benefit the Pinole Senior Center.
The raffle is limited to 750 tickets, which are available at the Senior Center, 2500 Charles Ave., or the Youth Center in Fernandez Park, 595 Tennent Ave. The winner will be drawn at the city's Tree Lighting Festival on Dec. 3. Details: 510-724-9062 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
· A workshop to discuss the senior housing mixed-use project at the Tradeway site in El Cerrito is set for 11 a.m. to noon Nov. 14 at the Open House Senior Center, 6500 Stockton Ave.
· Tickets now on sale for the always popular 14th annual Senior Winter Ball, which returns with dining, dancing and socializing at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Richmond Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza.
The 18-piece Junius Courtney Big Band will provide the music at an evening that will include a dance contest, line dancing, light supper, no-host bar and prizes.
Tickets are available at the Richmond Recreation Complex, 3230 Macdonald Ave., or by calling 510-620-6793.
Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.
Veterans Day Aboard the SS Red Oak Victory
Hundreds packed the partly restored World War II cargo ship in Richmond Friday to honor and celebrate veterans.
A large-than-expected crowd attended a Veterans Day event aboard the SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond Friday. The Chevron-sponsored gathering honored those who served abroad in America’s armed services as well as those who supported the war effort at home.
With the threat of rain, the ceremony was moved inside the Red Oak. Hundreds packed into the hull of the cargo vessel to listen to stories of Richmond during the war years.
An original "Rosie the Riveter" was on hand to help re-christen the Kaiser-built vessel. Richmond native Mariam Sauer, along with Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia and Richmond Vice Mayor Tom Butt, smashed a champagne bottle to reenact the 1944 launch of the munitions carrier.
The ship recently underwent extensive repairs in dry dock and received a fresh coat of paint. According to the Richmond Museum of History, the Red Oak is the Victory ship from the Richmond shipyard that is being restored.
Russ Yarrow of Chevron detailed the role the Richmond refinery played during World War II. The refinery won numerous production and development awards during the war. It developed special submarine lubricants and produced 100 octane aviation fuel necessary for America’s war effort.
“Richmond became a city of 100,000 people that never slept for four years,” Yarrow said.
Lois Boyle of the Richmond Museum Association shared some of the accomplishments of women during the war and a story of Henry J. Kaiser envisioning the shipyards on the muddy flats of the bay in Richmond. “We honor our dead best when we remember their sacrifice,” she said in conclusion.
Gioia spoke of his father, a Korean War Veteran, whom he said further served his country by becoming a high school teacher in Richmond. “Thank all of you who served as veterans and on the home front,” Gioia said.
The mayor of Richmond, Gayle McLaughlin, touched off a small controversy that Fox News picked up on when she announced she would skip the Veterans Day celebration at the Red Oak Victory to attend an Occupy movement event. The mayor was not in attendance the ship event, while Richmond Councilmen Corky Booze' and Nate Bates did participate in the Red Oak gathering, along with Vice Mayor Butt.