Launching Day of the S.S. "John E. Wilkie"
11. in HIGH x 14, in WIDE
(27.94 cm HIGH x 35.56 cm WIDE)
Gift of Mrs. Mary Lew Chinn

Launcing Day of the S.S. "John E. Wilkie," The Permanent Metals Corporation, Shipyard Number Two, Richmond, California. July 8, 1943. Photograph No. 2L-15

This photograph shows a portion of the audience attending the launching of the S.S. John E. Wilkie, christened by Mrs. Mary Lew Chinn, sponsor. The audience is varied, but most are in nice street clothing: coats, dresses, high heeled shoes for the ladies and suits and ties for the gentlemen. Many people are wearing hats. Two women at the proper right front, talking to a little girl, are wearing sunglasses. Two rows back from them are two female shipyard workers in their helmets; the African American woman worker and her white companion both appear to have their hair tied up in scarves underneath their helmets. (This was a safety precaution to keep women's long hair from getting caught in machinery. On the same token, all workers were told to remove their rings for the duration of their work shift, again so that the ring would not get caught in machinery, and possibly result in an accident such as tearing the finger off.) The white woman worker is also wearing sunglasses. A man, center of the images, stands in a three piece suit with his hands in his pockets. Behind him is a teenaged boy (perhaps 16 or 17 years old) who is dressed in jeans, but also wears a sports coat and a sports shirt with the collar folded out over the collar of his coat. Two people over from this young man is a woman wearing slacks. She also is wearing a pair of striped sandals that appear to be cloth (non leather) and therefore would not "cost" her any of the two leather shoe ration stamps she was allowed per year. Standing in the front row, directly ahead of the woman in slacks, is an older woman wearing a straw sailor hat, dark coat and dotted dress. She has a pencil in one hand, paper in the other. Next to her is a young Chinese American woman wearing a fur coat, a dark hat, sling back, open toed, high heel shoes. In her left hand she carries a movie camera. Two rows behind her in the crowd is an African American couple, the man is wearing a suit and tie and a fedora. The woman, sligtly in front of him, is wearing a small hat, which appears to be decorated with artificial flowers and/or veiling. In the distance, shipyard workers can be seen carrying on with their duties.

Because of their strong role in the war effort, women, especially in communities with large war-related work forces, wore slacks on the streets. (Some movie stars, such as Katherine Hepburn, had started wearing slacks in the 1930s.) In photograph 2006.61.16 we saw the back of the head of a woman with an upswept hairdo. She is pictured here from the front, standing in front of the two female workers who are wearing helmets. Notice that she has a flower (real? or artificial?) on the top of her head.

Used: souvenir

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