Red Oak Victory
The SS Red Oak Victory, launched in 1944, is the last surviving cargo ship built at the Kaiser/Richmond shipyards, and is being restored in Richmond, California, by the Richmond Museum Association. The Association offers docent tours. This slide show features Ivy Henry reading from Wax.
Their collective mission: To restore the fleet—replace vessels destroyed by German U-Boats. As Sylvia labored coating decks with a non-skid surface, she tried to forget why so many ships were needed. “Each of these boats can carry the population of a small town outside of Kansas City,” she wrote home to her sister. Always in her mind were Robbie and the boys he served with.
Tilly’s longing to travel is expressed through her frequent hikes to North Peak, where “she can see places farther from home than she’s ever been..” Ivy Henry narrates the slide show with a reading from Wax .
Tilly said she felt like walking. Helen watched from the side window as her daughter left alone. She would cross fields sown with cover crops on her way up Montara Mountain, the northernmost terminus of the Coast Range, and the barrier that had separated her world from San Francisco and points north. The slopes that Tilly could climb so easily on young legs had posed an insurmountable challenge for road and rail builders for half a century. Rising two thousand feet from the Pacific, and nearly sheer on the ocean side, Montara Mountain was a wall of granite that had kept their seaside community isolated and, until today, safe. Helen looked out over the water and considered how Hawaii suddenly seemed so close, how crossing an ocean seemed so much easier.
Paul drives Tilly to Richmond for her job in the shipyards, and she crosses the Bay Bridge for the first time in her life. Father and daughter stop for a coffee break, just before reaching the on-ramp.
They stared at the Bay Bridge from their seats at the counter. Five years earlier, it had existed only on blueprints and Tilly told Paul her history teacher had talked about it.
“I can’t wait to drive across,” she said.
“I don’t know,” Paul said. “I just can’t get used to that thing being there.” He said the same of the Golden Gate Bridge— said it ruined the view, and Tilly laughed at him.
During the war Doris inherits five acres of isolated waterfront property from a mysterious uncle she’s never met.
Doris consulted the first of two maps she’d traced in the County Assessor’s office and oriented herself to the water. It fit. It did fit. It had to be the place. She found a spot on the sand central to her holding and sat on her heels. She thought about the old photo of her uncle on the beach and tried to remember the details that had surely been changed by time and weather.
“I think my uncle was photographed at this very spot,” she said.
Tilly knelt next to her. “I can’t believe this is yours,” she said.
“It might be the most beautiful place I’ve been,” Doris said. “No wonder my uncle held it for so many years. When he had little else, he had this.”