Re: SS Permanente
Posted by Eugenia Jordan on May 21, 2013, 9:22 pm, in reply to "SS Permanente"
I traveled on the Permanente in late September, 1945, shortly after WWII ended. I believe the trip from Honolulu, Hawaii to San Francisco, CA, took about eight days. I was 17 years old and had graduated from Baldwin High School in Maui, Hawaii the past June. My mother and I, both island-born were going to Washington, D.C. to join my stepfather, a Navy Chief, who had been transferred to the States several months earlier. |
(He was from Oklahoma; my mother met and married him in Hawaii during WWII. This was mom's and my first trip to the States.
I was told that the Permanente was one of the ships that first tested the Panama Canal. Apparently she was a cargo ship and had been put into service to transport troops. As I recall, there were six cabins for military families and students; the troops were enjoying (?) a bumpy ride in the huge empty hold. (Of course, they were just happy to be heading home!)
Sharing the cabin with my mom and I was a pregnant island woman, wife of a sailor, who was going to the eastern U.S. to join her in-laws. She was less that seven months pregnant and had been given strict orders by her doctor not to make the trip! She also had a rambunctious 2-yr. old son.
On the second day at sea, we encountered a severe storm. An elderly passenger, who had made several crossings verified that she had never experienced such bad weather on this trip before!
Unfortunately, the pregnant woman went into labor. There was no doctor on board and what might have been a sick bay was flooded from the storm. The ship's captain asked my mother to help deliver the baby; which sent my mother into a panic! Meanwhile, members of the crew were frantically trying to construct something for the premature baby. Our prayers were answered when we learned that there were a few Navy nurses down in the hold! So, the Permanente received an unexpected passenger weighing less that two pounds! A helicopter was on it's way from San Francisco with an incubator to take the newborn for professional care. We all hugged the ship's rails scanning the sky for that helicopter. Sadly, the baby died before help arrived. I'm sure that must have been the saddest crossing in the history of the Permanente.
Meanwhile, that storm raged on. I was in charge of keeping that frisky 2-yr. old boy from disappearing into the Pacific, while heading for the rail to relieve my miserable stomach! Finally I was saved by three topside sailors who helped me with that job.
To this day, I have never wanted to take an ocean cruise. Our unpleasant trip was vindicated by the exciting reception we received at San Francisco. The city prepared a magnificent welcome for the returning troops -- fire boats spraying fountains of water, bands and dozens of boats displaying flags and people cheering! Oh, and that breathtaking moment when we sailed under the Golden Gate! I am now 85 years old and I still cry remembering that moment.