Ships built by local women, too

by: L.E. BASKOW, A Rosie the Riveter sculpture, memorializing World War II shipbuilding in the Vancouver and Portland region, greets visitors along the James and Joyce Harder Memorial Plaza in Vancouver. Letter writers respond to the Tribune’s recent article on the region’s shipbuilding past.

Thank you for Jim Redden's excellent article 'The forgotten ships' (June 4).

I would like to add one more bit about the women who worked at the shipyards: the Portland/Vancouver yards employed women longer and in greater numbers than any other shipyards in the country. In 1944, 40,000 women were on the job - nearly a third of the area's shipyard workers.

I learned this nearly 30 years ago as a member of the Northwest Women's History Project, when we interviewed a number of women who had worked in the shipyards during the war. We subsequently produced a slide show (and recently updated it to DVD) based on this material, entitled Good Work Sister! Women Shipyard Workers of World War II: An Oral History. It is still available at libraries in both Portland and Vancouver and for purchase at our Web site: good

Thanks again for helping educate local people about this important piece of our history.

Sandy Polishuk

Northeast Portland

Nice tribute to thousands of workers

A terrific story and a wonderful tribute to the thousands of men and women construction workers who built the Liberty Ships, and the sailors who sailed them (The forgotten ships, June 4). What a rich history the Rose City enjoys!

George Edmonston Jr.


Liberty Ships a lesson in engineering

Every engineer learns about the Liberty Ships in school (The forgotten ships, June 4). They were unfortunately built with steel that had a high ductile-to-brittle transition temperature. When the ships would venture to colder waters, they tended to crack in two. The liberty ships serve as a present day reminder to engineers across the globe to be mindful of this phenomenon that was unknown at the time of the Liberty Ships' construction.

Christopher Parker


Forgotten Bluebell here for fleet week

Among your list of WWII era ships in Portland, don't forget the USCGC Bluebell (WLI-313), commissioned in April 1945 and still in active Coast Guard service, maintaining aids to navigation on the Columbia, Snake and Willamette rivers (The forgotten ships, June 4).

She was built in Tacoma and was at the downtown seawall for Rose Festival Fleet Week.

Daren Lewis

Northwest Portland

Vigor Industrial is a piece of history

I read Jim Redden's article on WWII shipbuilding relics in Portland and was surprised that Vigor Industrial's Portland Shipyard on Swan Island wasn't mentioned (The forgotten ships, June 4). The article spoke of wartime relics - our facility is a piece of living, breathing Portland history that has been in continuous operation since World War II. Henry Kaiser pioneered modern, modular shipbuilding at our shipyard during WWII, putting out a record number of tankers for the war effort. Many of the large, WWII-era buildings at our facility are still in use today to support ship repair and barge building operations. A large percentage of our workforce comes from multi-generation shipyard families dating back to WWII.

Amy Hill

Communications Manager, Vigor Industrial

North Portland

Dead gas removal a mowing hassle

As a long time reel mower owner (a nice, vintage 1950s Yard Man version) and a former gas and electric mower owner, I say you should add a slight disclaimer to the gas mower's convenience category win (Power mowers vs. push mowers, Sustainable Life, June 11).

Yes, the first season the gas mower wins, but when it goes dormant, so does the leftover gas. Before you can use it the next year, you need to get rid of the 'dead' gas somehow and possibly deal with crusty sparkplugs and other miscellaneous small engine maintenance. What a hassle. I've taken my reel push mower in once in just over 10 years to get its blades sharpened. Another benefit of the push mower is that for us undiagnosed but proud ADD types, we can mow a little, weed a little, edge a little at our own pleasure, rather than having to 'focus' on just the mowing.

Thanks for the Green Dilemma article!

Kristin Pintarich


Blade sharpening has real cost

Thanks for your Sustainable Green Dilemma articles (Power mowers vs. push mowers, June 11). A couple of other things to consider about push lawn mowers: With a push mower, you have to mow 2-3 times a week when the grass is really growing, as it is difficult to get it to cut when the grass gets taller.

You always need to bag your clippings (and compost), otherwise you will spread poanna seed (from the white-seedy grass) all over your yard. This stuff will take over your lawn and then die out in the summer.

You may be able to get away with sharpening your blade once by yourself. However, it will require a real expert to set the blade reel square to the cutter bar - after the blades start to wear. Reel blades should be sharpened every year to avoid bruising the tip of the grass blade. I have cut myself more than once on the sharp blades. Cost is more than twice as much compared to getting a gas mower blade sharpened.

Chris Dieterle


Go cordless

I read with interest the Sustainable Green Dilemma comparison on mowers (Power mowers vs. push mowers, June 11). However, the 'convenience' box stated you must master the art of not running over your power cord. This ignored the cordless electric option where, obviously, that's not an issue. It also omitted mention of the convenience of the oh-so-satisfying instant electric start compared to pulling, pulling, pulling, pausing to curse, then again pulling, pulling, pulling that darned starter cord on a gas mower.

Admittedly, cordless electrics do present the need to charge the battery at an outlet after each use - but it's no worse than needing to go buy gas (not to mention filling the gas mower, spilling gas, pausing to curse, then cleaning up).

Regarding reel mowers, I agree they're the most sustainable choice. I have one but tried in vain to use it on my lawn, which is too rutted and dandelion-infested for a reel mower. Dandelions sneakily slide under the blades and the mower catches and jams in ruts or thicker patches. Frustrating, to say the least. Reel mowers are best for smooth lawns.

Since buying my Black and Decker cordless electric a month ago, I've been very happy with how my yard is looking and how I feel while mowing.

Aaron Andrade

Southeast Portland

Vision already achieved at Roosevelt

After forcing Deborah Peterson to resign as Roosevelt's principal, Portland Schools Superintendent Carole Smith states in her My View piece - 'My View • PPS renews efforts to get input on principals' (June 18) - her vision for the new high school system as being close to what Deborah has already achieved at Roosevelt: Advanced placement courses; improved academic performance; increasing numbers of freshman students choosing to enter and stay at Roosevelt; greatly improved college attendance and success there plus increased scholarship offerings; building academic centered working partnerships with both selected colleges and industries; a varied curriculum staffed with caring and effective teachers that Deborah rebuilt in her short 4 years at Roosevelt; reduced violence and other kind of behavior problems at the school.

But when these improvements happened at Roosevelt, it didn't seem to matter because Carole Smith's and (Portland school district administrator) Toni Hunter's minds were apparently made up long ago that Roosevelt would not be a survivor as one of the comprehensive high schools of more than 1,000 students in its design.

It's a shame more Portlanders, taxpayers and school board members don't seem to want to know about that injustice or to take any action to correct it.

PPS is going to get exactly the kind of system it deserves - one whose leadership talks a good game but fails at truth telling. One that rewards for obedient behavior instead of successful performance.

Good luck, kids.

Bob Johnson