Sunday, December 15, 2013

It has been so long since posting that I hardly know where to start ... .

... maybe the place to begin is with the most recent developments in the ever-unfolding of the Betty Charbonnet Reid Soskin epic ... which involves an historic encounter with the Navy.  (See what I mean?  Does this not place a strain on all credibility?)

Some weeks ago a message was received by email from the senior producer/project director of an agency which produces content for Armed Forces Media, worldwide.   Her agency is called Defense Media Activity, (DMA) which is located in Ft. Meade, Maryland. She was announcing their interest in coming to Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park with the hope of doing a profile for an upcoming story in which I'm (at least) one of those to be featured.

Last Monday I met Princess Hester, a "sistah" to my delight, with her project partner, Kevin, who spent two days with me touring some of the scattered sites of our park and conducting a full hour's videotaped interview for the purpose of gathering material that will provide the content for their script.  They will return with a crew of 5 for a full week in January to do the filming of their story.

As has become the rule rather than the exception, much was learned from their questions; for instance, I had no idea that it was our Navy that enabled and supported Henry J. Kaiser's historic shipbuilding feat through a Rear Admiral (will supply his name later) through an Emergency order issued by the Navy.  It is that Naval history that they're interested in recapturing, a part of the forgotten stories that is in need of fleshing-out through this project.  Who knew?

To date we've been crediting the Maritime Commission with the sponsorship of the Kaiser contribution without the realization that there had to be a tier above Maritime -- and that was the Navy -- in order to facilitate the funding and the work.

I'm not certain how I figure in this scenario, except that it was learned casually over lunch that Princess Hester, Senior Producer, was apparently following my blog for some time and convinced whoever holds the keys to such projects that this was at least one channel that might provide a way into the story.  I'm still not quite sure of the connections.

The team will want to refresh the Port Chicago story with its mutiny trials -- still smoldering through a veil of semi-secrecy in the background -- as a part of their investigation.  We lightly touched on that volatile story, and doing so has reawakened disturbing memories and has remained with me many a night since their visit.  I'm still mulling that over, and am surprised at how much my sense of that history is beginning to shift, clarify, ... strange ... but I'll write about that as  it deepens.  Interesting.  I was startled to discover during the taping that I've not lived that trauma out of my system -- even after all these years.  Maybe this experience will serve to discharge the balance of the residual pain and bring some freedom from those memories; finally, for both me and for the Navy.

It was fascinating to take them out to scout out Point Molate, the site of Winehaven -- once the largest winery in the whole country which served as a re-fueling station under Naval command during WWII.  Prior to life as either a winery or a naval site, however, Pt. Molate was an important whaling station -- truly a part of California's historical narrative.  Our guests had not even heard of it previously, so it felt good to be able to be in on the excitement of their discovery.

 Photos by Don Gosney

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