Salinas AO-19 - History

Salinas AO-19 - History


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Salinas

(AO-19: dp. 16,800; 1. 477'10", b. 60', dr. 26'2"
(mean); s. 10.5 k; cpl. 87; cl. Patoka)

Salinas (AO-19) was laid down for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) as Hudsonian (219592) on 10 April 1919 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.

Launched on 5 May 1920; accepted by the USSB on 13 May 1920; transferred to the Navy on 29 October 1921; renamed Salinas and designated AO-19 on 3
November 1921; and commissioned at Mobile, Ala., on 16 December 1921, Lt. Comdr. H. S. Chase, USNRF, in command.

Assigned to the Naval Transportation Service, Salinas was initially in commission for only a little over six months. She was decommissioned at Norfolk on 20 June 1922 and remained in reserve until recommissioned at Norfolk on 12 June 1926. The following September, she commenced carrying fuel from naval fuel depots and Caribbean and Texas oil ports to Navy bases and stations on the east and west coasts, in the Caribbean, in the Panama Canal Zone, and, in the late 1920's, to Marine Corps units in Nicaragua. Periodically interrupted for overhauls and fleet exercises and, in 1938, for a transatlantic run to Britain, she maintained a continuous operating schedule in those areas until late in the 1930's.

Then, with tension increasing in Europe, she confined her operations to runs between Gulf coast and Caribbean oil ports and bases in Cuba and on the east coast. In September 1939, World War II broke out in Europe. Hostilities soon spread across the ocean. The United States commenced neutrality patrols and escort services in the western Atlantic, and Salinas, now armed, shifted her runs further north, and then east, to include bases in Canada and Iceland.

During August 1941, the AO served as station oiler at Argentia, Newfoundland. In September, she joined a convoy for Iceland. She arrived at Reykjavik early in October, and, on the 23d, departed that port, in ballast, for the mid-ocean meeting point where she rendezvoused with convoy ON 28 on the 25th. From there the tanker moved west to return to the United States. At 0700 (GCT) on the 30th, her position was 46° 56'N, 37°46'W. Visibility was about 1,000 yards. Twelve minutes later, Salinas took a torpedo, portside, at her number 9 tank. A second torpedo followed, hitting portside at tanks 2 and 3. Salinas settled to near her loaded waterline and remained there.

At 0730, a submarine was sighted on the surface close aboard on the starboard quarter. The U-boat fired three torpedoes, all misses———two ahead, one astern of the damaged oiler, then submerged. Salinas's stern gun opened fire on the disappearing U-boat, possibly hitting it. DuPont (DD-152) then moved in and dropped a string of depth charges on the submarine's estimated position.

Salinas's crew, having suffered no serious injuries, began to clear the wreckage. DuPont and Lea ( Dl)118) stood by. At 1150, the oiler's engineering department signaled "ready to proceed"; and, at 1155, Salinas continued westward with Lea as escort. On the 31st, USCGC Campbell rendezvoused with the damaged oiler and her escort. On 2 November, Cherokee (ATF66) joined them, but her services as a tug were not needed, and, on the evening of the 3d, Salinas reached St. John's Bay.

From Newfoundland, Salinas moved south, to Brooklyn, N.Y., for repairs. Yard work was completed at midnight on 1 April 1942. On the 2d, she left the repair yard; and, on the 5th, she departed New York for Chesapeake Bay. On the 10th, she arrived at Norfolk to take on cargo fuel and miscellaneous cargo and, on the 17th, she sailed north again. Routed first to Halifax, she joined convoy SC 81 there on the 22d and, on the 23d, continued on to Reykjavik, arriving on 8 May. For the next 19 days, she fueled Allied ships in Icelandic anchorages. On the 27th, she moved west; and, on 12 June, she arrived at Boston. By July, she was back in Canadian waters to serve as station oiler at Argentia. On 1 August, she put into Sydney, Nova Scotia, to take on more cargo, and, on the 5th, she headed for Greenland where she supplied fueling Services to units based at Kungnat Bay, Sondrestromfjord, and Tunugdliarfikfjord. On 24 September, she returned to Nova Scotia, whence she continued on to New York.

Through 1943, Salinas continued to move petroleum products to bases in the Atlantic provinces and in Greenland. On 9 January 1944, she completed her last run from St. John's to New York, and, on the 12th, she headed for the Caribbean. Into March, she shuttled fuel from the Netherlands West Indies to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; then moved south to the Panama Canal. She transited the canal on 19 March; arrived at San Pedro, Calif., on 2 April; and sailed for Alaska two days later.

Salinas arrived at Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, on 17 April. Routed on, she anchored in Massacre Bay Attu on the 21st and discharged her first cargo in the Aleutians. On that run, she also delivered fuel to Kuluk Bay and Dutch Harbor. Then, in May, she headed for Seattle, whence she shuttled gasoline, oil, diesel fuel, and cargo to the Aleutians until after the end of World War II.

Salinas, ordered inactivated, departed Dutch Harbor for the last time in mid-October. A week later, she arrived at San Francisco where she was decommissioned on 16 January 1946. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 26 February 1946, and she was transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal on 1 July of the same year.


City of Salinas History

By 1930 the Salinas population reached 10,263, and would continue to grow given the area’s many advantages. Fine weather, an expanding agricultural industry, and later the government assisted building programs and projects drew refugees from the harsh reality of the Depression and the conditions of the Dust Bowl in other parts of the county. New residents were not always welcome.

Dust Bowl Migrants settled in the Alisal area to the east of Salinas, lived in camps and trailer s, and worked in the agricultural industry alongside the Filipinos and other laborers. Their arrival concerned many local residents. Some residents opposed the camps because “they didn’t want their belongings stolen by encamped transients.” Agricultural leaders objected to the establishment of labor camps feeling that such camps were not only an easy target for agitators and Communists, but a focal point for disease.

In an effort to eliminate the roadside camps, Monterey County Supervisors drew up an or dinance giving the government power to regulate sanitary conditions in private camps and to oversee labor camps.

Wage disputes, strikes and anger were surfacing in the Monterey County agricultural industry. In 1933 the local Philippines Mail reported violence against Filipino laborers. On September 5, 1935 the Monterey Herald revealed Sheriff Carl Abbott had sworn in special deputies for the duration of the lettuce harvest, and listed the thirty - two names of these deputies who were assigned to protect the lettuce sheds. In the paper Abbott stated emphatically that the deputies carried no weapons were not being paid by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and were not members of the Associated Farmers.

However, none of these early incidents had the impact of the virulent and bitter Salinas Lettuce Strike that began on September 4, 1936, when 3,200 members of the Fruit and Vegetable Workers Union walked out of the Salinas - Watsonville lettuce sheds. The Philippines Mail of September 7, 1936 reported that a Filipino worker was a casualty of the first day. Editor and Publisher Venerando C. Gonzales warned his readers to “be thoughtful and vigilant in their relations with employers, and also [to] avoid misunderstandings or conflict with the strikers employed in the 70 lettuce sheds of the Salinas Valley.”

Art Sbrana, head of the Grower Shippers, conferred with Salinas city officials and local law enforcement in a Cominos Hotel conference room. Colonel Henry R. Sanborn was hired by the employers to coordinate strike defense activities. [Grower - Shipper Association of Central California, Burton Anderson, 2005] Growers eventually offered a five cent increase in wages, but refused to grant union preference in the sheds, a critical point for the workers. Growers advertised for shed workers but warned “radicals and Reds” not to apply.

Violence erupted on September 15, 1936 at Main and Gabilan Streets and then spread, making National headlines. On September 17, 1936 in The Salinas Index Journal Sheriff Carl H. Abbott declared the situation “beyond the ability of the regularly constituted law enforcement agencies.” Citing Penal Code Section 723 Abbott commanded all able - bodied male citizens between 18 and 45 to report to his office and assist him in seizing, arresting, and confining persons. Residents were forbidden to congregate on the public streets and public places of the city. In October, over the protests of the Fruit and Vegetable Union, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors passed an Anti - Picketing Ordinance.

The shippers charged that Communist agitators fomented the strike. The San Francisco Chronicle labeled the growers “vigilantes.” The strike was eventually called off with the assurance that as many former workers as could be would be rehired.

The strike may have ended in November of 1936, but the effects were long felt. Even as late as 1974 the Salinas Californian observed that this strike, which pitted shed workers from the Alisal against their Salinas employers, raised a formidable psychological barrier between the two communities.

Despite the agriculture turmoil, city leaders actively pursued the New Deal and other government programs available for building and projects. The year 1936 was particularly remarkable. Begun that year were: the Monterey County Courthouse on Alisal Street, with the heads model ed by Jo Mora that jut out from the building and still delight visitors today Washington Junior High School, still a middle school in 2009 the Federal Building at 100 Alisal still housing a post office, a law library and local offices for area representatives in 2009 and a separate campus for Salinas Junior College on Homestead Avenue, still on the same site in 2009 as Hartnell College.

Other projects of the decade were the following: a second Armory the addition of a Tubercular Ward at the County Hospital the Main Street Underpass and plans for construction of a new Salinas Airport. City Engineer Donald Davies also submitted requests for a municipal golf course, sewers, parks, a swimming pool, storm drains and a jail. Numerous schools were also built.

Salinas made its first annexation to the original city in 1933, a 52 - acre addition to the south side along Romie Lane. While out in the Alisal the East Salinas Improvement Club organized with sixty members in 1938. The group began a movement to build sidewalks, plant trees and improve housing and sewage in the Alisal area. By 1940 the Alisal Branch of the Monterey County Free Libraries was opened.

1940 - 1949

If the Thirties were tumultuous, the Forties were cataclysmic. War brought serious upheaval to the City of Salinas which had a population of 11,586 in 1940.

In August of 1940 the Salinas Tank Company, active since 1895, went to Fort Lewis, Washington for induction and Secretary of War Henry Simpson notified the city that the Army would immediately develop the new Salinas Airport as an Army Air Corps defense base due to “military necessity.” After leasing the airport, the government began work on the Salinas Army Air Base. Four two - story barracks plus a control tower, an administration building, a mess hall, and classrooms were ready in 1941.

In August of 1941 thirty - nine members of the Tank Company were home on a visit before being transferred to Angel Island and deployed to the Philippines in September of 194 1. As part of the 149th Tank Group, the 194th Tank Company defended central Luzon and then the Bataan Peninsula, engaging the invading Japanese 14th Army.

That October ground was broken for the construction of the first permanent USO building in the Uni ted States. The $93,000 facility, opened just two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, has been in continuous use since, first as a USO, later as a recreation center and for a while, a children’s library. The first blackout in Salinas was that same December.

On February 19, 1942 President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which allowed exclusion of any or all persons from a declared military area and permitted removal and internment of the Japanese living in the Central Coast. Public Law 503, sig ned on March 21, 1942 made it a criminal offense for a person excluded from a military area to refuse to move.

When Bataan fell in April of 1942, the Salinas Tank Battalion was one of the units captured and subjected to the infamous march of death. Only 47 of the original 107 who left Salinas would return, but Salinas did not forget its heroes. An M - 5 tank is now at the Garden of Memories in their honor [The Salinas Tank Battalion used the lighter M - 3 Tank. ] and the Monterey County Historical Society dedicated a Bataan Memorial on April 8, 2006 at their site.

That same April 600 Salinas residents were sworn in as air wardens. Some residents volunteered as plane spotters, scanning the skies with binoculars for enemy aircraft. Virginia Hosford sometimes accompanied her mother on her shift. She described the location of the tower as east and north of Salinas on a ranch. The building was four sided with windows all round and a telephone. The top where pictures of enemy planes were posted for reference was reached by ladder.

The Salinas Rodeo Grounds were appropriated for use as the Salinas Assembly Center. Some 3,586 Japanese Americans from the Monterey Peninsula, Watsonville, Salinas, Gilroy and San Benito County were detained there before being transferred to internment camps away from the coast. Many held at the Salinas Assembly Center were sent on to the Poston internment camp in Arizona. Following their transfer, the rodeo grounds became the Salinas Garrison of Fort Ord.

The internment of Japanese residents was particularly difficult for the Salinas High School Class of 1942. Forty - six seniors were unable to attend their own commencement ceremonies. Two faculty members, Gertrude Waterman and Ruth Wing, traveled across town to see that the seniors detained at the Assembly Center received their diplomas. Though appreciated, one graduate later said it did not make up for being “in prison.”

In August of 1942 the United States and Mexico entered an agreement setting forth conditions for recruitment of Mexican labor for wartime employment in agricul ture. Workers were paid transportation and subsistence en route they were provided with better camps than in 1918, as well as given medical care, accident insurance, and minimum earnings. Ten percent of a worker’s earnings was deducted by the government and transmitted to Mexico City for deposit in an account for that worker. The FSA was in charge of the program through July 1, 1943 and the agency scrupulously followed all terms of the agreement.

However, when the program was transferred to the War Food Administration, Carey McWilliams found the wage guarantees “farcical.” [North from Mexico: The Spanish - Speaking People of the United States , Carey McWilliams, 1948, 1990] On the other hand, McWilliams felt the agreement was an improvement over the 1918 “experiment” when the Mexican government investigated complaints of the Mexican workers about labo r rights abuses.

After the war, the first of the Japanese - American families to return to Salinas found their once beautiful Yamato Cemetery overgrown with weeds and with goats tied to the few remaining cherry trees. By 1948 ten to fifteen percent of the original Japanese returned to the area. [Yamato Cemetery History: 1908 - 1976 , James Y. Abe, [1976]] They reactivated the Salinas Valley JACL [Japanese American Citizens League] with James Abe as its first post - war president. The JACL proceeded to act upon land escheat cases and to restore the cemetery.

The close of World War II brought other changes to Salinas. Discharged soldiers returned to town and with the help of the G.I. bill many veterans attended Hartnell College. Returning veterans also sparked a building boom in the greater Salinas area.

Other Salinas milestones following the armistice were: closure of the Salinas Army Air Base and return of the airport to the city repair and return of the Salinas Garrison to the Rodeo Grounds in time for the 1947 Rodeo, though without Sgt. Fitz Truan, the Salinas cowboy champion killed at Iwo Jim a the 1947 opening of the first store at the first planned shopping center in California, the Valley Shopping Center the end of the farm labor importation program on December 31, 1947 the opening of the Skyview Drive - In and the visit of Marilyn Monroe to promote diamond sales for Carlyle’s Jewelers at 362

Main Street. Some 1,000 - 1,400 photographs of Miss Monroe were given out over the week of her 1947 visit. The crowds were so large that the Salinas Police Department assigned two patrolmen in order to direct traffic in front of the store.

In 1948 Salinas Junior College was officially named Hartnell College, and the Salinas Californian moved to its new building on West Alisal Street. Sculptured bucking broncos above the newspaper building’s main entrances are a tribute to the town’s long association with the California Rodeo. In 1949 the Alisal area voted “no” on annexation to Salinas, while the Airport and Rodeo tracts in the north part of town launched another annexation drive.

1950 - 1959

Salinas, the brash town that eclipsed the earlier settlement of Natividad by luring in the railroad, incorporating, and winning the right to be the county seat, all in the 1870’s, was still growing eighty years later. Between 1950 and 1956 the council began a long series of annexations that brought 43 separate additions to the city, doubling the area. The additions were made on all sides of the city. Home construction was on the rise, and the population went from 13,917 in 1950 to 18,957 in 1960.

On the downside, the widespread use of vacuum cooling and refrigerated railroad cars by the agricultural industry put hundreds of packing shed workers out of work, though eventually many would find employment at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital as well as in other industries new to the area.

The drive to build a bigger, better-equipped, non-profit community hospital in Salinas began with a group of doctors that met at the Jeffrey Hotel in 1941. At that time there were two private hospitals in Salinas, Dr. Rollin Reeves’ Salinas Valley Hospital at Monterey and San Luis Streets, and the Park Lane, owned by Dr. Murphy. The Monterey County Hospital then only served indigent patients. In any case, patients needing serious surgery were usually sent to San Francisco or San Jose.

Building the hospital took time and dedicated community effort. Residents joined area leaders to vote for a hospital district, raise money, and pass two bonds to get the hospital built. The project was on hold during World War II and later slowed by weather conditions as well as cost increases that were partly a result of the onset of the Korean War. But committed residents and city leaders like Bruce Church, L.W. Joe Wing, William L. Steward, Fred Rianda and Andrew H. Christensen persevered in helping to build the hospital.

The State of California enabling act of 1947 allowed the formation of a taxation district for the hospital. Funds were still not sufficient to build an adequate hospital so a bond issue was developed in 1949. A supplemental bond issue was found to be necessary and the Salinas Junior Chamber of Commerce was active in passage of the second request for a supplemental $500,000.

Groundbreaking to dedication took three years. On November 27, 1950 Roy L. Diaz, a staff sergeant with Company C of the 194th Tank Battalion and former prisoner of war, turned the first shovel of dirt for the hospital named as a memorial to those who served in World War II. The hospital was dedicated on Sunday, March 30, 1953 in the presence of more than 2,000 valley residents. [History of ​Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, Theodore D. Englehorn, SR., M.D., F.I.C.S., 1993] In 2009 the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce would rate the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System as the sixth largest employer in the Salinas area with 2,200 employees.

Dr. Garth Parker, celebrating his fiftieth year in the medical profession, spoke at the dedication, tracing the history of hospitals in the area. The first private hospital was in Castroville, followed by the Salinas Valley Sanitarium, which had operating and delivery rooms, unlike the hospital in Castroville. Later came the Jim Bardin Hospital, the Park Lane, and the Salinas Valley Hospital.

Jobs also came to the area through the efforts of the Monterey County Industrial Development, Inc., better known as the MCID, which received its charter of incorporation from the State of California on December 10, 1951. Its purpose was to bring industrial development and jobs to the Monterey County area. Much of that development would be in and around the city of Salinas. Between 1954 and 1958 a number of businesses opened providing jobs for residents, The St. Regis Paper Company and Cochran Equipment opened in Salinas in 1954. Kuhlman Electric opened in 1955. Universal Match Corporation in Prunedale and Wilder Manufacturing both opened in 1957. Streater Industries, Growers Frozen Food and J.M. Smucker all opened in 1958.

As the Carmel Pacific Spectator Journal of 1955 noted, Salinas was truly a “city in a hurry.” Already at the center of Salinas Valley agriculture, the city’s new Valley Center shopping hub and the Sherwood Gardens center which opened in 1956 made Salinas the major merchandising center for the Valley and the nearby Monterey Peninsula as well.

The Salinas Public library also expanded to meet the demands of a growing population. A room in the Lincoln Street Recreation Center, the old USO, was remodeled to house library services for children in 1951. In 1952 the North Salinas “book station” opened at the firehouse on Laurel Drive. By 1959 the city was building a new main library building to replace the Carnegie building on Main Street.

Another development that improved life in Salinas was the completion of the Nacimiento Reservoir dedicated in 1958 which, along with the San Antonio Reservoir that opened in 1967, lessened the impact of the periodic flooding in the city as well as the valley. Without the protection provided by the reservoirs rancher Jim Bardin estimated that about six feet of water would have flooded the courthouse on Alisal Street during a “500-Year Flood” in early 1969.

Salinas closed the decade prosperously. The first compilation of Standard Rate and Data Service for the twelve month period ending in July of 1959 showed that Salinas retail merchants exceeded gross business totals of the previous year by 11.8 percent, a remarkable increase. Salinas residents also had a net spendable income of $54,534,000 after taxes. That figure was up from $52,793,000 in the previous year. Salinas had about $6,523 in disposable income per household, more than the national average of $6,082. The Salinas Californian concluded that the good times would continue: employment would remain high and wages would increase.

1960 - 1969

The sixties were a time of unmatched growth for the city of Salinas. When the decade opened, the Salinas census count was 28,957. In 1963 when the Alisal District voted to become East Salinas, Salinas’ population nearly doubled overnight to about 50,000.

The energetic efforts of the Monterey County Industrial Development, Inc. (MCID) continued to bring industrial companies into the area: Nestle Chocolate Company opened in 1960 Firestone Tire and Rubber in 1963 Peter Paul, Incorporated in 1963 Fusion Rubbermaid Corporation in 1964 Green Giant (land purchase) in 1965 Fearn Foods, Incorporated (land purchase) in 1965 McCormick & Company, Inc., Schilling Division, in 1965 Thor Electronics in 1966 Mount Eden Nursery (Salinas area) in 1967 and Ashworth Brothers, Inc. (land purchase sou th of Salinas) in 1967.

There were many large construction projects. North Salinas High School opened for classes in January 1960 and was dedicated in April that same year. Notre Dame opened in 1964. Alisal High School opened in 1965 with freshmen, sophomore and junior classes. Two new library buildings opened to the public: the Salinas Public Library on Lincoln Avenue in 1960 and the El Gabilan Library on North Main Street in 1966. The new Salinas City Hall Rotunda emerged in 1964. A large Emporium Shopping Center north of Salinas was also proposed in the latter half of this decade.

Growth and prosperity were not without significant drawbacks. Numerous Salinas landmarks like the Carnegie library building, parts of Chinatown, and the old city hall, to name a few, disappeared. The Carnegie library building, built in 1909 by the efforts of dedicated citizens, was leveled in August of 1960. The site is now a bank building. In 1961 homes and businesses in Chinatown were demolished under the federal Urban Renewal Program. In 1964 the old city hall was razed with difficulty, taking workmen two days to destroy the picturesque cupola. That site is a parking lot on Salinas and Gabilan Streets. Some Salinas residents still regret these losses.

Decaying buildings on Main Street, a concern mentioned by the City Council in 1957, was still being discussed in 1966, and revitalization of the downtown area of Salinas became a key issue. Meanwhile the established merchants expressed concern about the impact of the proposed Emporium Shopping Center, later called Northridge.

In addition to being an important Industrial complex and a retail center, Salinas maintained its position as the “Hub of Vast Agricultural Area” as noted in the Salinas Californian of February 28, 1966. Though the Monterey County crops brought in a record $212,732,800 in 1969, signs of labor related problems increased in the sixties. For example, a tragic event on September 17, 1963 focused attention on the safety of the Bracero field worker. On the afternoon of September 17, 1963, a 71 - car Southern Pacific freight train sheared through a light - bodied labor bus killing 28 of the 57 Mexican national field workers. Eventually the death toll reached 32. The Salinas Californian of September 18, 1963 called it the worst bus tragedy in the state and in United States history.

The injured were taken to Alisal Hospital. Strangers, area residents and Mexican national workers all responded to the Salinas Valley Red Cross Chapter appeal for blood donors. A requiem high mass for the dead was held in the Palma High School Auditorium. Right Reverend Monsignor Thomas J. Earley, V.F., estimated there were six thousand people in the auditorium itself for the service, and three thousand more outside. Five government agencies investigated the crash. But questions remained. Many residents never forgot the disaster. Twenty some years later Cesar Chavez referenced it in the opening of his November 9, 1984 speech to the Commonwealth Club of California:

“Twenty - one years ago, this last September, on a lonely stretch of railroad track paralleling U.S. Highway 101 near Salinas, 32 Bracero farm workers lost their lives in a tragic accident. The Braceros had been imported from Mexico to work on California farms. They died when their bus, which was converted from a flatbed truck, drove in front of a freight train. Conversion of the bus had not been approved by any government agency. The driver had tunnel vision. Most of the bodies laid unidentified for days. No one , including the grower who employed the workers, even knew their names.”

Undocumented workers were an issue for established laborers in an area. Local workers felt the undocumented workers took away their jobs and kept the pay low. Then in 1964, United States Public Law 78 authorizing the 1951 Bracero Program expired, and there was a mad scramble for an adequate labor supply. Strawberry production had to be cut back because growers couldn’t find workers who could pick fast enough. In 1965 the National Farm Workers Association, led by Cesar Chavez, joined the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) and called strikes against selected grape growers in the San Joaquin Valley. Their success caused great concern among California growers and would have implications for Central Coast agriculture in the following decade.

National and international events and sensibilities also made a mark in Salinas. The sixties were a time of heightened social conscience. Locally in 1961, Milton Emery started the Victory Mission in an old, steel - lined gambling hall at 43 Soledad Street to “bring hope to the hopeless.” The only other such institution, the Rescue Mission, had been founded in 1943 by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Villa, but was later supported by the Community Chest. Both offered a night’s rest for those down on their luck.

Although Khrushchev’s 1960 train stop in Salinas created no stir (the premier was reportedly asleep at the time), the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis did cause fallout shelters to be built in some n ew homes in north Salinas. John Steinbeck also visited the area in 1960. His account of the journey across country was published in the book Travels with Charley (1962) wherein he expressed his pique and his nostalgia about the visit:

“. I felt resentment toward the strangers swamping what I thought of as my country with noise and clutter and the inevitable rings of junk.” (Travels with Charley , p. 148) And as he gazed on his country from Fremont Peak he wrote: “I printed it once more on my eyes, south , west, and north, and then we hurried away from the permanent and changeless past where my mother is always shooting a wildcat and my father is always burning his name with love.” (Travels with Charley , p. 158 )

That same year Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Salinas Public Library named their browsing room for him. In 1964 Jack Patton, a retired Salinas Californian newspaper editor donated his first editions of Steinbeck’s works to the Salinas Public Library, laying the foundation for the Steinbeck Archives.

Just a few years before his death, John Steinbeck’s syndicated dispatches from his travels in Vietnam and Southeast Asia appeared in the Salinas Californian . Then on December 20, 1968 following a period of ill health, John Steinbeck died in New York City. His remains were buried in the Salinas Garden of Memories. The decade closed with the naming of the Salinas Public Library building on Lincoln Avenue as the John Steinbeck Library in honor of the Salinas born author.

1970 - 1979

In 1970, the Salinas population was 61,978. Revitalization of the downtown area of Salinas continued to be a hot topic in the local paper and with the business community. Merchants approved the central city revitalization study even though businesses were slated to pay a surcharge for the consultant. In 1973 the city’s Center City Authority decided to focus on the development of a shopping and tourist oriented “Oldtown” that would reflect the community’ s rodeo and western heritage. The planning commission approved the plan in November of 1973.

In April 1974, the Salinas City Council agreed to a $1 million investment in municipal funds for the revitalization of the city’s deteriorating downtown core. Despite some lively opposition, the city council approved the downtown revitalization plan in July of the same year.

Throughout 1975 the project was of great interest to the community. The Oldtown Gazette published the first issue of central city revi talization news in May. Roger Anderman, Director of Community Development, and Russ Hoss, Chief of Redevelopment co - hosted a weekly 15 minute radio talk show, “Downtown,” on Radio KKEE 1570 AM at 8:15 and 10:15 on Sunday mornings.

The revitalization efforts were considered a success. The January/February 1976 Oldtown Gazette reported that some downtown area businesses experienced a forty percent increase in business over the previous Christmas season.

But merchants remained concerned about the North ridge Shopping Center. The mall opened on October 25, 1972 amid much fanfare and, as the Salinas Californian remarked in a 1991 article, retail business in Salinas was never quite the same. Northridge was the largest climate - controlled retail development between San Jose and Santa Barbara. The enclosed weatherproof mall with a park - like environment was still a draw in the early nineties. According to the Salinas Californian, Northridge became the leading shopping center in Salinas and throughout the Central Coast.

In 1977, the downtown merchants opposed an expansion of Northridge that would accommodate Sears, then a mainstay of the Valley Center Shopping Center on South Main Street. Property owners in the “Oldtown” area were also perturbed when the city, prompted by an earthquake report, proposed that downtown buildings in the core of Salinas be brought up to two - thirds of city code or be demolished. Opposition killed the earthquake ordinance in 1979, which then had unfortunate consequences in1989 when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the area.

Meanwhile in East Salinas, residents and community leaders voiced concerns about their own area. The Salinas Community Development Advisory Committee responded in 1975, giving priority to Hebbron Heights to build a community center, to clear out and replace substandard housing, and to initiate a community - wide improvement program.

Salinas Mayor Henry Hibino officially opened Hebbron Heights Park on June 1, 1975. Among the attendees was John Ramos, a young member of the community group that in 1973 requested recreational facilities for the blighted “pork chop hill” [Reverend E. G. Valverde of the Church of Jesus Christ in East Salinas referred to the park area as “pork chop hill.”] area in East Salinas. On October 24, 1976, Mayor Hibino dedicated the Hebbron Neighborhood Center, a remodeled appliance repair shop at 725 E. Market Street, and vowed a Hebbron upgrade. Some residents worried that proposed city “improvements” would price them out of a home.

Residents of North Salinas had their own concerns. In January of 1975, at neighborhood meetings in North Salinas, resident s indicated that housing, recreation, and jobs were key issues for them in spending city Housing and Community Development Act funds.

On the agricultural front unionization dominated the news during the first part of the decade. After efforts to organize grape workers in Delano, Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC) began organizing activities in the Salinas Valley. Concerned about the events in Delano, some local growers had signed backroom contracts with the Teamsters Union for their workers, without the workers’ knowledge. Protesting this failure to involve workers in the negotiations, Cesar Chavez held a rally at a teen center “on the Mexican side” of Salinas in July of 1970. A temporary UFWOC headquarters was set up inside the Salinas Office of the Mexican - American Political Association. Early in August more than three thousand farm workers gathered on the Hartnell College’s football field showing support for his efforts. By late August the UFWOC called for strikes against many local firms. Eventually InterHarvest, Fresh Pict and Pic N Pac signed with the UFWOC [The Fight in the Fields , Susan Ferriss and Ricardo Sandoval, 1977].

Cesar Chavez called for a boycott of all non - UFWOC lettuce companies. In December a judge placed Chavez in the Monterey County Jail then on Alisal Street, indefinitely, until he complied with an order to stop boycotting Bud Antle Lettuce. Chavez made the most of his solitude in jail, reading mail and books. While in jail he was visited by Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert Kennedy. A crowd of two thousand Chavez supporters greeted her, but a hostile mob also appeared. Coretta Scott King, widow of Doctor Martin Luther King visited Chavez as well. On Christmas Eve 1970 Chavez was released pending the outcome of an appeal [ibid].

By 1971 Chavez and the farm workers union had won key contracts. In 1976 California’s passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act set up the means for workers to petition for a union representation election. Nonetheless labor disputes continued throughout the period. After his death in April of 1993, community leaders said the key to Chavez’s success was his non - violent approach and his willingness to sacrifice.

There was another agricultural landmark in 1975. Hearings were held in Salinas and San Diego in March of 1975. An overflowing crowd of farm workers and growers filled the Salinas City Rotunda to discuss the pros and cons of “el cortito,” or the short handle hoe. Workers testified to the crippling effects caused by extended use of the hoe. Shortly thereafter in April the State of California banned its use in the fields of California.

The Seventies also brought the rise of several organizations working for the betterment of the Latino Community, MEChA and LULAC among them. A chapter of Movimiento Estudantil Chicano de Aztlan, or MEChA, formed at Hartnell College in the spring of 1970. In June, Hartnell College trustees approved the appointment of a special student services officer, Paul Nava, as a first step toward meeting the requests of MEChA to address the needs of Mexican American students. In January of 1973, the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was formed. Over time LULAC would challenge practices on many fronts. Both organizations still exist in 2009 as a strong presence for Latinos in Salinas.

On the homelessness front, a ninety day task force survey determined that an average of fifty people wandered the streets or slept in their cars every night in Salinas. The Swinging Door, a day facility for the homeless primarily intended to get the transient population off the 100 block of Main Street, opened in 1974 at East Market and Pajaro Street. The police considered the program a success.

Mrs. Beverly McIntyre also opened the Home for the Homeless to assist women and families in difficulty. Other institutions in the area providing accommodations were Sunrise House and Victory Mission, while the Salvation Army, present in Salinas since 1894 and known for its quiet competence, offered food, financial help, and referrals.

There were other milestones for the city. In 1973, the Soroptomists gave a statue of John Steinbeck by artist Tom Fitzwater to the Salinas Public Library on Lincoln Street. Placed on the lawn of the library, the statue was visited by thousands of visitors to Salinas, Steinbeck’s birthplace.

In March of 1973, Salinas native Lt. Cmdr. Everett Alvarez, who was captured August 5, 1964 and held by the North Vietnamese for eight years and six months, was honored with a “Welcome Home” day in Salinas that included presentation of a salad bowl, the traditional symbol of the Salinas Valley. An account of his experience, Chained Eagle, was published in 1989. In 1995 a new high school was named in his honor.

The Valley Guild, organized in 1971, opened the Steinbeck House on Central Avenue as a restaurant in 1974 to authentically preserve John Steinbeck’s childhood home and also to generate new revenue for local charities.

Finally, in June of 1978 Proposition 13 was passed limiting property taxes. Despite talk of closing Salinas libraries, the new East Salinas Santa Lucia Library, later renamed for Cesar Chavez, finally opened in October of 1978. After passage of the proposition, the thrust of the Downtown Revitalization program was changed, and the city council decided that all development must pay for itself. A new era of government for Monterey County and its cities had arrived.


USS Salinas (AO 19)

Hit by U-boat
Damaged on 30 Oct 1941 by U-106 (Rasch).

Commands listed for USS Salinas (AO 19)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1John Thomas Bottom, Jr., USNmid 193920 Jun 1941
2Cdr. Harley Francis Cope, USN20 Jun 194110 Mar 1942
3T/Cdr. Donald Hendrie Johnston, USN10 Mar 194215 Jun 1942
4T/Cdr. Homer Bernard Hudson, USN15 Jun 194226 Jul 1943
5Walter Edward Reed, USNR26 Jul 19433 Jan 1945
6Charles Albert Brodine, USNR3 Jan 19457 Sep 1945

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Salinas History

Salinas' earliest inhabitants were small tribes of Native Americans who were largely undisturbed during the Spanish era. It wasn't until Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1822 that outside settlers began to arrive in Salinas. Named for a nearby salt marsh, Salinas became the seat of Monterey County in 1872 and incorporated in 1874.

In the mid-1800s, Salinas' agricultural industry began to grow. In 1867, several local businessmen laid-out a town plan and enticed the Southern Pacific Railroad to build its tracks through Salinas City.

Agriculture continued as the area's major industry and by the end of World War I, the "green gold" growing in the fields helped make Salinas one of the wealthiest cities (per capita) in the United States. Today, "The Salad Bowl of the World" fuels a $2 billion agriculture industry which supplies 80% of the country's lettuce and artichokes, along
with many other crops.

In 1924 Salinas had the highest per capita income of any city in the United States. During the growing seasons of the Great Depression, the volume of telephone and telegraph transmissions originating in Salinas was greater than that of San Francisco. This activity was reflected in a burst of building construction, many employing the streamlined shapes and organic patterns of Art Deco or Art Moderne. Many examples remain, including the National Register-listed Monterey County Courthouse and the Salinas Californian newspaper building. Photographs of these and many other structures can be seen in the brochure: Salinas Art Deco and Moderne, a wealth of architecture, which includes a street map of downtown identifying their locations. Several other notable structures are also highlighted, including the Victorian house where John Steinbeck was born.


A Short History of Salinas, California

The following is not intended to be a written history of the development of the City of Salinas, but merely a guide to its development in order to gain some perspective of the past. The majority of the material described below has been extracted from three publications written by noted historian Robert B. Johnston, retired Professor of History at Hartnell College and past President of the Monterey County Historical Society. Additional material has been derived from other sources which are listed in the reference section.

Salinas to 1850

The Indians of California, and more specifically of the Salinas area, were hunters and gatherers. The Costanoan (Ohlone) Indians, as they became known, occupied the central coast between approximately Big Sur and San Francisco. Two other groups also were found in Monterey County: the Salinan Indians in the southern areas and along the south coast, and the Esselen Indians in the Santa Lucia Mountains and on the coast south of Big Sur.

Salinas lies within the currently recognized ethnographic territory of the Costanoan (often called Ohlone) linguistic group. In brief, the group followed a hunting and gathering subsistence pattern with partial dependence on the natural acorn crop.

Four of California's Missions were established in what was to become Monterey County (originally including present-day San Benito County) Carmel (1770), San Antonio (1771), Soledad (1791) and San Juan Bautista (1797). The products made possible by the Indians at the Missions provided the basis for much of the commerce in California up until the mid-1830s when the Missions were secularized to make way for the ranchos. It is the establishment of the ranchos toward the end of the Mexican era which marks the true beginnings of Salinas.

The Salinas area during the rancho period of Mexican rule in California included several large land grants but a minimal human population as the range was employed for grazing purposes and constituted a series of hilly swamps with horse-high mustard most of the time. Almost all these holdings had been deeded by Mexican era governors between 1822 and 1840. The Los Gatos or Santa Rita rancho to the north was held by Trinidad Espinosa, the Rincon del Zanjon by Jose Eusebio Boronda. To the northeast was La Natividad owned by Manuel Butron and Nicholas Alviso. The Soberanes family's El Alisal was to the east and the Estrada's Llano de Buena Vista to the south. Some adobe structures existed on these large land grants but were mostly used by vaqueros and only inhabited by family members during the annual rodeo and matanza. The Rancho Nacional of Vicente Cantua and the Sausal of Jose Castro (and later Jacob P. Leese) formed the nucleus of what is today the City of Salinas.

1850-1860

Salinas evolved from the purchase of two ranchos (Rancho Nacional and Rancho Sausal) and the business dealings of two early settlers (James Bryant Hill and Jacob Leese). Hill purchased the 6,700 acre Rancho Nacional with the intent of settling up a huge farming project. With financial backers, Hill set up his offices near the Salinas River outside of the present-day city where Highway 68 crosses the river. Although he produced record amounts of wheat and barley, Hill ended up going under financially, and his holdings went to his investors. Prior to this failure, however, a settlement known as "Hilltown" developed (near the intersection of the Monterey Highway and Salinas River), and Hill found himself in 1854 to be the first Postmaster for the Salinas area.

Jacob Leese purchased the 10,000 acre Rancho Sausal on the other side of the Zanjon del Alisal from Hill's purchase the majority of present-day Salinas was within this holding. He paid $6,000 for the property. Leese, a wealthy merchant with dealings in both San Francisco and Monterey, sold some 80 acres to Elias Howe, often credited as the real founder of Salinas, in 1856. At the site of "the great bend in the slough," Howe built the famed Halfway House which was purchased by Alberto Trescony in 1857.

1860-1880

Between 1857 and 1867, Trescony built a general merchandise store, blacksmith shop, stable, and a hotel. In 1864, Trescony's small hotel, known as the American Hotel, became the site of the Post Office which was moved to "Trescony's" from Hilltown.

It was during the decade of the 1860s that Salinas began to take on the characteristics of a real town. This was the cattle ranching age in California, and such names as James Bardin, George Graves, Jesse Carr, and others came into the picture. Yet by 1862, the entire population of the county was only 4,700. It was not until the latter part of the decade, when the town began to receive publicity for its fertile valley, that real growth began. Dairy farmers, including a number of Swiss and Danish families began to move into the area, and Isaac J. Harvey (who was to become the first mayor) moved his family to Salinas.

In 1867, Trescony sold the property to Alanson Riker, and under his direction the plans for the town were quickly laid out. In July of 1868, Salinas contained only 12 to 14 buildings, some still under construction. By the end of that year, there were approximately 125 buildings, with half again as many under construction talk soon arose about relocating the courthouse from Monterey to Salinas.

The Southern Pacific Railroad came to Salinas in November of 1872, the same month the Monterey County Board of Supervisors granted Salinas City limited status of incorporation. The following month, Salinas became the county seat. With the arrival of the railroad and the courthouse, the downtown area could support larger and more permanent development. In March of 1873, Carlisle S. Abbott purchased the American Hotel, relocated it to the back of the same lot, and began the "Abbott House," a new three-story brick hotel measuring 126 feet wide and 60 feet deep, at a cost of $20,000. (This structure later became known as the Cominos Hotel, when purchased by that family.) From that point, Salinas grew rapidly.

The commercial business of the valley and political business of the county now centered in Salinas City. The Salinas Valley which had been shoulder high in yellow mustard when Riker and Sherwood laid out their town on hummocks bisected by sloughs and surrounded by swamps was covered in wheat and barley from Moss Landing to the Southern Pacific Railhead in Soledad by 1880.

One hundred and forty of the 145,000 acres in cultivation in the county were in cereal crops by that time. This change in agriculture had been precipitated in part by access to new markets through increased transportation at the Port of Moss Landing and the Southern Pacific Railroad and more efficient techniques of production. By 1885, Salinas had the largest flour mill in the state south of San Francisco, producing 500 barrels of "drifted snow" a day. The telegraph (1871), a city gas works (1872), macadamized paving along Main Street (1874), a water company (1874) and electric ARC light system (1884), with three newspapers (The Salinas Weekly Index (1871), Salinas Weekly Democrat (1874) and Salinas Daily Journal (1885) made the city one of the most modern for its size in the state. A Board of Trade was established in 1887 to pursue the commercial upbuilding of the city. In 1874, a group of local businessmen including Carr, Abbott, Vanderhurst and Jacks constructed the first narrow gauge railroad in California to compete with the high freight rates of the Southern Pacific. The railroad ran from a depot in the fields near Hilltown to the Port of Monterey. Its success was short lived for a number of reasons and it was absorbed by the Southern Pacific in 1879.

A major contribution to the agricultural and subsequent financial success of Salinas City during the 1870s and 1880s was the land reclamation undertaken by Chinese labor to clear and drain the swamps, including Carr Lake that surrounded the town. As early as 1873, the Chinese had their own distinct neighborhood in Salinas and accounted for about 10% of the total population. Land worth $28 an acre in 1875 went to $100 an acre in 1877, once cleared by Chinese labor. In the 1880s, the Chinese were leasing 1,000 acres of valley land for agriculture. Their community, north of the Southern Pacific tracks between North Main and East Lake Street served the Caucasian community and seasonal Chinese laborers. The 1880 census for Salinas showed 1,755 whites, 102 Chinese and 8 Blacks. In the first Monterey County History, published in 1882, the editors said of Salinas City:

Its county buildings, churches, schools, hotels, stores, shops and residences cause it to rank among the first of its size in the state. The town is embowered with trees and aspect of the whole is that of a true, enterprising, progressive, permanent American city.

The 1890s in Salinas were characterized in the continuing diversification of agriculture and its attendant effect on commerce. As early as 1877, experiments in various forms of irrigation had taken place in Monterey County. By the mid 1880s, accessing a steady water supply and the ready availability of rapid transport to markets had greatly increased the production of dairy products, especially along the west side of the Salinas Valley. Irrigation was to play a seminal part in the development of the sugar beet industry around the county seat, the next great agricultural advance in the region. The whole of the 1890s was built around Claus Spreckels proposed construction of a major sugar beet processing plant in or near Salinas. Speculation was high and despite the national economic recession of 1893, investment and growth were accelerated in Salinas. Spreckels was able to purchase large acreages cheap and by 1898 enough farmers were willing to change from cereal crops to beets to make Spreckels' promised plant a reality. As early as 1891, a narrow gauge line had been run into Salinas to supply his Watsonville beet processing operation.

The 1890 census had Salinas' population at 2,339. The Monterey County Bank (1890) and the Salinas Mutual Building and Loan Association (1897) had joined the Salinas City Bank (1873) as chief financial institutions for the county. Incandescent street lights replaced the older arc light system in 1891. In 1896, the recently formed cavalry troop "C" of the California National Guard, moved into its newly completed armory at the corner of West Alisal and Salinas Streets and began its distinguished career as a military unit and important Salinas social institution. Its first call to duty would be in 1906 to assist in the police and protection of property in San Francisco following the devastating earthquake of April 18 that year. In spite of a national depression and a staggering drought in 1897-1898, Salinas continued to grow in anticipation of Claus Spreckels' promised development of the world's largest sugar beet processing factory. In 1899 the plant was finally completed and put into operation for the beginning of a new century. Salinas had grown 40% during the decade to a population in excess of 3,000. Its financial base continued to be in agriculture.

In 1898 over two hundred Japanese workers came to Salinas to work for Claus Spreckels' sugar beet operation. That same year the Japanese Presbyterian Mission Hall was established to meet the social and cultural needs of this all male population. By the turn of the century the Japanese were generally living in the area adjacent to Chinatown along Lake Street. In 1905, the Salinas Japanese Association was formed to bring order and cohesion to the immigrant community. Excellent agriculturists, the Japanese prospered. They introduced celery and broccoli as crops as well as growing the first strawberries in the Salinas Valley out on Romie Lane in 1911. In 1925 the Salinas Buddhist Church was founded on California Street where it remains today. In 1942 at the outbreak of World War II, all of California's Japanese population was relocated from the coast for the duration. Salinas Japanese were temporarily interned at the California Rodeo grounds on their way to Poston, Arizona. Those who returned after the war continued to make major contributions to agriculture and the community.

In 1901, the tracks of the Southern Pacific Railroad finally reached Los Angeles about the same time the first automobiles were appearing in Salinas along El Camino Real. The automobile would soon play an important part in the realignment of some of the city's transportation arteries. 1900 saw the opening of the new Salinas High School across from the current West Alisal Street Post Office. Of masonry construction and commonly called the "Brick Pile," it continued a local tradition of building both public and commercial buildings in brick, some reinforced, some not. Those not reinforced with steel frames suffered considerably in 1906 when the same earthquake that hit San Francisco damaged or destroyed every commercial building along Main Street in Salinas. Although no one was killed, the extent of the damage to commercial and residential property was a million and a half dollars. Recovery was fairly rapid. Many buildings could be repaired, but Main Street took on a different appearance with the introduction of reinforced steel structures in the latest fashionable styles to replace those lost to the quake.

The sugar beet was king in the early 1900s and into the teens and twentys. Dairying was also a major factor in the valley's economy employing newly developed condensing processes for product expansion. As early as 1901, the California Rodeo was beginning to take shape as a Salinas tradition. Its formal inception was in 1911.

Beginning in 1915 with the construction of Highway 101 through the city, Salinas soon had fully paved streets. 1916 saw Troop "C" called to arms once more for duty along the Mexican border. This was excellent preparation for its next action in France in 1917. The European War greatly expanded the agricultural economy of the Salinas Valley which produced crops for the Allied armies abroad. After the War's end, in 1919, Salinas City, through the adoption of a "freeholders charter" officially became the City of Salinas. Physical changes to the community as a consequence of the charter move saw the removal of wooden awnings along Main Street which reduced the city insurance rates.

The population of the City of Salinas as it entered the "Roaring Twenties" was 4,304. Architect Ralph Wycoff completed the new Spanish Revival style Salinas Union High School on South Main Street in 1921 to accommodate the growing population, a portion of the high school's south wing was dedicated to the newly established Salinas Junior College. By 1924, Salinas was the wealthiest per capita city in America. Other municipal activities included the extension of telephone service between Salinas and Monterey, the passage of a city bond issue for a complete sewage system, the construction of a new firehouse and a new grandstand and stable for the California Rodeo. Of particular importance was the Planning Commission's preparation of a zoning system for the city. By 1928, the city had its first airport.

Once again, a major change in agriculture occurred during the decade, sugar beets and beans gave way to the "green gold" of lettuce. The development of ice bunkered railroad cars made it possible to ship fresh produce nationwide and lettuce replaced the sugar beet as the Salinas Valley mainstay, although other row crops began to air their appearance as well, including the artichoke. As the Japanese labor force had succeeded the Chinese with the advent of the sugar beet, so now the Filipinos superseded the Japanese as the labor force for new row crops and the Filipino population of Salinas expanded to the east of Chinatown.

A close knit people by national character, the Filipinos soon formed a local barangay. This functional social concept predates western influence and is the backbone of Filipino community action. Initiated in 1906 as the Caballeros de Dimas-Alang, a Salinas lodge was formed in 1920 with its center in the Filipino community church. The Caballeros' organization funded a newspaper in 1928, the Philippino Independent News, which in 1930 became the oldest continuing Filipino newspaper in the United States. Prior to World War II, the Philippines Mail had "become a rallying point of Filipino opinion, inspiration and decision" taking on such national issues as the Federal Repatriation Act of 1932 and strongly supporting the position of the Filipino labor during their strike against agri-industrial business in 1934.

For Salinas, the 1930s were far less disruptive than many parts of America's farming economy in terms of production and markets. Labor strife, as noted characterized a part of the decade in 1934 when Filipino workers organized as one of California's first farm labor unions, the Filipino Labor Supply Association and clashed with management in a major strike. And, again in 1936 when the mid-western "Dust Bowl" immigrants who settled the Alisal district of Salinas during the depression took on the Associated Farmers over wages as members of the AF of L affiliate, the Vegetable Packers Association. Elements of these actions pushed native John Steinbeck to some of his best writing in In Dubious Battle (1936) and his Pulitzer Prize winning novel Grapes of Wrath (1938).

The 1930s saw a physical change in Salinas, not only in the way of expansion to the east (Alisal) and to the southwest (Maple Park and other subdivisions) but in the very nature of the building styles that had characterized the community to date. Salinas was the first and only community in Monterey County to accept modern building designs in a major way. The success of agriculture and access to federal financing for public works projects paired with a progressive spirit welcomed both modern and international building design in the public as well as private sectors. In the private sector, commercial development along Main Street radically altered the turn of the century look of the downtown. Salinas' tallest office building at the corner of Main and Alisal is an excellent example of the Zig Zag moderne while Main Street's three movie houses show the variety of the modern form as do some business facades, especially in the 300 block. Residences and apartment complexes around town, continued this expression and the Monterey County Building (1936) at the corner of West Alisal and Church Street may be one of the best Depression Moderne buildings in the state. In 1932, a new armory building was financed by the New Deal to double as a civic auditorium. Schools, including a new campus for Hartnell Junior College were constructed, a new jail and updating of the city's infrastructure including the Main Street underpass of the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks took place. The airport was enlarged as part of a preparedness program for the impending European conflict. In the winter of 1940, the airstrip became a U.S. Army Air Corps Training Base. Fort Ord expanded rapidly to meet the manpower needs of the coming conflict, bringing many servicemen and their families to the Salinas area. The first permanent USO building in the United States was built on Lincoln Street in 1941 and is used today as the city recreation center. Once again, Troop "C" was called to the colors, this time redesignated as Company C, 194th Tank Battalion of the California National Guard. It shipped out for the Philippines in February 1941 where it saw action in the Battles of Corrigidor and Bataan. That story is told elsewhere in this website.

The farm strife of the 1930s gave way to conciliation on the part of labor and management to meet the common goal of producing "Food for Victory." Labor shortages due to men in uniform for the war effort saw the re-introduction of imported Mexican fieldhands under the Bracero program in 1942. Mexican labor had filled this need in part during the first World War as well. Reminders of the migrant camps that housed these nomadic workers following the crop cycle can be seen in the San Jerardo complex that was once called Camp McCullum off of Old Stage Road.

While meeting the war effort, the city projected plans for post war development in a three point program prepared in 1943, designated for state and federal funding. It included a street and highway plan that had Highway 101 skirting the city, a public works plan and a parks and recreation plan. As always, a progressive city "of purely American character," Salinas was making ready for a productive future.


History Guy Commentary and News

Another Memorial Day is upon us. Today, in May of 2013, we are in the 12th year of the War in Afghanistan, we are ten years gone from the start of the War in Iraq, and now 22 years since the first War with Iraq, (better known as Operation Desert Storm), and the 100 th anniversary of start of World War One is only a year away.

What does this roll call of wars and years really mean? Americans like to think of themselves as a peace-loving people who only go to war when necessary. Generally, that is not an inaccurate statement. Americans generally speaking, do not want more war. We are not ancient Sparta with its ingrained militaristic culture. Nor are we an ancient Athens, with an almost obsessive desire to spread out and establish new colonies everywhere. But we may be more like ancient Rome. Suddenly thrust into superpower status, with economic and political ties to many regions far from home, we send our troops and our treasure far and wide. Often, it is to protect our allies. Frequently, there is an economic or financial relationship to an intervention. And, most of America’s conflicts are usually couched in terms of a moral imperative. Frequently, that moral impetus is also tied to more hard-nosed political, military, diplomatic, and/or economic realities. All of these reasons, or excuses, if you will, add up to an amazingly large number of wars, conflicts, military interventions, and American casualties over the years.

American Troops in the Afghanistan War

An American born in 1913 would be one hundred years old now. In the span of that person’s life, America has fought quite a few major wars, and has been engaged in numerous smaller wars. Let’s look at a list of American foreign wars and conflicts since 1913. The wars that are generally considered by historians as “Major Wars,” are in bold.


A Brief History of the Ao Dai

The Vietnamese “Ao Dai”, the long gown worn with trousers by Vietnamese women, has become the symbol of the Vietnamese feminine beauty, and the pride of the Vietnamese people. This national pride culminated in 1995 when Miss International Pageant in Tokyo gave its Best National Costume award to the Vietnamese representative Truong Quynh Mai. Even before such international recognition, the Ao Dai had long been the source of inspiration of artists and poets, and thus had become an institution in Vietnamese arts and literature.

Ao Dai of the Cham people

The Ao Dai was born as the costume required to be worn by the southern courtiers under the reign of the southern lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat. Eager to establish a separate identity from his northern rivals, the Trinh lords, who enjoyed the status of regents to the puppet kings of the declining Le dynasty, Lord Nguyen decreed that men and women of his court wore trousers covered by a long gown. Thus was born the Ao Dai. The garment borrowed the style of clothing worn by the Cham, the original inhabitants of the land to the south of the dividing Gianh river, whose country of Champa (now Central Vietnam) had been invaded and conquered by the Vietnamese. The Ao Dai was Lord Nguyen’s way to show his respect of the culture of the Cham and to win over their support.

Although many Vietnamese identify the Ao Dai as a variation of the Ao Tu Than (four-panel tunic), the two have separate and distinct origins. The Ao Tu Than is generally worn by peasant women in the North. It consists of four panels, two in the back and two in front. The back panels are sewn together while the front panels are left open or tied by a belt. Inside the Ao Tu Than, the woman wore a bodice (known as “Yem”) to cover the chest and a long skirt (known as “Vay”) to cover the legs. The fabric of the Ao Tu Than was weaved in small width, necessitating the four-panel structure.

The original Ao Dai was by no means the symbol of aesthetics. The garment was plain and loosely fitted, unflattering to the female body. It was not until 1930 when a group of French-trained artists, beginning with the
Hanoian Cat Tuong (also known as Le Mur, the French translation of a homonym of the artist’s first name), combined the design of the Ao Ngu Than (five-panel gown), a variation of the Ao Dai with features borrowed from the Ao Tu Than, and French fashion dresses, that the Ao Dai morphed from plainness to beauty and sensuality. The image of the last empress of Vietnam, Hoang Hau Nam Phuong, wearing the Ao Dai with exceptional elegance, has left a great impression on artists. Painters and sculptors began to model their subjects in Ao Dai, and artworks depicting historical female personages, including the Virgin Mary, became increasingly popular.

Madonna and Child in Ao Da

The Ao Dai stepped onto the political stage when Tran Le Xuan, wife of Ngo Dinh Nhu, Chief Political Adviser of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam’s First Republic, donned its first décolleté version to promote her New Woman Movement. Nguyen Thi Binh, negotiator for the Vietcong at the Paris Peace Conference, wore the Ao Dai to demonstrate her patriotism. Ironically, the Communist government of Vietnam had banned the Ao Dai as a symbol of “capitalist decadence.” It was not until the late 1980’s that the Ao Dai regained its stature which culminated with Truong Quynh Mai.

Today, the Ao Dai has become the Vietnamese woman’s choice of fashion for special occasions. Fashion designers such as Thiet Lap of the 60s and Sy Hoang of today have continued to conceive new designs. The introduction of the raglan sleeve (sleeve that continues to the neck), the raising of the opening of the panels to a higher level exposing the skin on both sides of the waist, and other features borrowed from Western fashion add sexiness and sensuality to the Ao Dai. Yet the garment moves delicately with the body giving the wearer an appearance of modesty combined with self-confidence.

And so the Ao Dai becomes a cause for celebration. In Vietnam as well as among the Vietnamese emigrant communities around the globe, the Ao Dai Beauty Pageant has become a staple in the Vietnamese entertainment industry. Many well-known Vietnamese fashion designers devote their entire careers to develop new looks for the Ao Dai.

Little Fiona at FHF 2010 Ao Dai Show

The Ao Dai for men, on the other hand, did not undergo much change. It is now worn only during traditional ceremonies and mostly by men of older generations. The masculinity and practicality of Western men’s clothing has been eagerly embraced by Vietnamese men, and the return to the traditional Ao Dai is simply impractical, if not unthinkable. The Ao Dai for men has become an item of purely nostalgic value for today’s and future generations.

The history of the Ao dai reflects the adaptability of the Vietnamese. As people who constantly had to defend themselves against foreigners, they adopted products of foreign cultures which they valued and transformed them into their own. Thus, the women’s Ao Dai is a cultural metamorphosis that is typically Vietnamese: a design adopted from the Cham that combines with Western elements of fashion and aesthetics to become a product that is uniquely Vietnamese.

By Dan D

GET INVOLVED

The Ao Dai Festival is organized by non-profit organizations. Volunteering opportunities abound, whether before the event, during the event or for the Friends of Hue Foundation.


History Guy Commentary and News

Korean War’s 63rd Anniversary No Cause To Celebrate

Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. The war in Korea was an unusual and unique conflict in many regards, not the least of which is the fact that the war technically never ended, but is only on a hiatus with an armistice. And, unlike many other more “typical” wars, the non-outcome of the Korean War continues to haunt East Asia, the United States, and, in a sense, the whole world.

When North Korea’s Communist dictator, Kim Il-Sung launched his invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950, he set in motion a conflict that would engage much of the world. By the end of 1950, the United States and over a dozen other nations, including the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia, Turkey, and other members of the so-called Free World, were fighting to preserve South Korean independence under the authority of the United Nations. Also, by the end of 1950, the world’s most populous nation, China, entered the war on the Communist side. And, as this conflict was a significant component of the new Cold War, the Soviet Union was heavily involved, providing material, moral, and diplomatic support for the Communist war effort. In a little-known fact, Soviet pilots were aiding the North Koreans by flying North Korean warplanes as they battled the UN air forces. All this made the Korean War a potential starting point for a new World War, with potentially disastrous consequences as both the U.S. and the Soviets possessed atomic bombs by then.

The Korean War, while very significant historically, is often left out of the popular consciousness in America because it is sandwiched between the Second World War and the Vietnam War. This is despite the opinion that in many ways, the Korean conflict, and the fact that it never truly ended, has had more far-reaching effects on world history and the current world situation than the Vietnam War or most of the other Cold War conflicts fought by the U.S. and her allies. For example, the survival of the North Korean regime allowed the Kim family dynasty of dictators to develop nuclear weapons, with which they now threaten and harass not just South Korea, but also Japan and the United States. In addition, the North Koreans are known proliferators of their nuclear technology, with known links to the nuclear programs of Pakistan, Iran, and Syria.

Every few years, actual combat breaks out between North and South Korean forces, always as a result of a North Korean provocation. In the 1960s, the U.S. and South Korean troops along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two warring Koreas waged a defensive war against North Korean infiltrators for several years in what is now called “The DMZ War.” In 1968, North Korean forces seized a U.S. naval ship, the USS Pueblo, and held the crew captive for nearly a year. In the 1970s, North Korean troops attacked some American soldiers with axes. In the 1980s, a North Korean submarine landed a large force of commandoes inside South Korea, leading to running gun battles throughout the South Korean countryside. In the 21 st Century, North Korea has sunk a South Korean naval ship, and bombarded a South Korean island with an artillery barrage. While all this

North Korea is now ruled by a Kim of the third-generation of dictators. Under the latest Kim, frequent threats of war against the United States, South Korea, and Japan are an almost monthly occurrence. The Korean War began in the hills and fields of Korea 63 years ago. It is still being fought in many ways today, June 25, 2013. Except that while the weapons of 1950 were for the most part leftovers from World War Two, the weapons of today, with which Kim Jong-Un, the latest North Korean tyrant threatens to use on his neighbors and enemies, are the weapons of the long-feared Third World War.

Sources on the Korean War’s ongoing issues, from Historyguy.com:

Memorial Day Remembrance: One Hundred Years of American Wars

American Troops Land in Normandy During World War Two

Another Memorial Day is upon us. Today, in May of 2013, we are in the 12th year of the War in Afghanistan, we are ten years gone from the start of the War in Iraq, and now 22 years since the first War with Iraq, (better known as Operation Desert Storm), and the 100 th anniversary of start of World War One is only a year away.

What does this roll call of wars and years really mean? Americans like to think of themselves as a peace-loving people who only go to war when necessary. Generally, that is not an inaccurate statement. Americans generally speaking, do not want more war. We are not ancient Sparta with its ingrained militaristic culture. Nor are we an ancient Athens, with an almost obsessive desire to spread out and establish new colonies everywhere. But we may be more like ancient Rome. Suddenly thrust into superpower status, with economic and political ties to many regions far from home, we send our troops and our treasure far and wide. Often, it is to protect our allies. Frequently, there is an economic or financial relationship to an intervention. And, most of America’s conflicts are usually couched in terms of a moral imperative. Frequently, that moral impetus is also tied to more hard-nosed political, military, diplomatic, and/or economic realities. All of these reasons, or excuses, if you will, add up to an amazingly large number of wars, conflicts, military interventions, and American casualties over the years.

American Troops in the Afghanistan War

An American born in 1913 would be one hundred years old now. In the span of that person’s life, America has fought quite a few major wars, and has been engaged in numerous smaller wars. Let’s look at a list of American foreign wars and conflicts since 1913. The wars that are generally considered by historians as “Major Wars,” are in bold.


The History of MSVRR: Our Past and Present

The Monterey and Salinas Valley Railroad was the Salinas Valley's first steam-powered railroad to service Monterey. It was chartered by members of the Patrons of Husbandry, also known as the Grangers, on February 26, 1874,among who were such notables as David Jacks, C.S. Abbott, Alfred Gonzales, Robert McKee, the Monrass Family, Francis Doud, Peter Zabala, Jesse D. Carr, James Bardin, John Abbott, J.B.H. Cooper, Cas McFadden, George Pomeroy, Judson Parson, B.V. Sargent, F.S. Spring, William Ford, and many more. All totaled there were 72 stockholders. Their goals were nothing less than to build a narrow gauge railroad from Salinas, California to Monterey, California and thus break the monopolistic hold on the Salinas Valley, which the Southern Pacific (S.P.) enjoyed. Savings on the shipment of freight were estimated to be as much as $200,000 per year over what the S.P. was charging the citizens of Monterey County. The S.P. immediately countered by lowering their rates and extending a line from Castroville to Monterey.

Establishing the Line

Work began on a Monday in April 1874 with no ceremonies by C.S. Abbott. John F. Kidder was retained as the Chief Engineer and Superintendent of Construction already having done surveys for a prior railroad proposal. Track gangs reached Salinas on October 9th with only a few items yet to be completed. Captain Kidder left on the 10th to make surveys for a proposed narrow gauge railroad out of Hollister, California. On January 11, 1875 directors were elected confirming Carl S. Abbott as president, David Jacks as Treasurer, and Joseph W. Nesbit was confirmed as Superintendent of the railroad. By the 16th of January, John F. Kidder and his assistant C.P. Loughridge had left for Grass Valley, California having finished the survey for the Hollister and San Juan railroad project.

Many obstacles

On January 19th a 'Northern' hit the Monterey Peninsula with a force unlike any in remembrance, and by the 26th the approach trestle to the Salinas River bridge would be long gone. Trestle work would be washed out two more times during the life of the railroad, and the engine house would burn down on September 1, 1877 badly damaging both engines. Fortunately no other equipment was in the fire. Mr. Nesbit had resigned from his position to accept the position of Superintendent on the Santa Cruz and Watsonville Railroad in February of 1875 with Alfred Gonzales taking over as Superintendent, and David Jacks would leave in June having perpetrated a short-lived attempt at shifting control over the railroad. Jacks was supported by Cooper, Ford, Robinson, Sergeant, and Jesse D. Carr who was proposed as the new President. The action was defeated by a boycott of the meeting. C. S. Abbot, and Alfred Gonzales who were instrumental in boycotting the meeting would find themselves pitted against each other in 1879 in a fight for control that would go all the way to the State Supreme Court.

The final fate

Two work cars were removed from the roster of the M. & S. V. railroad in 1877 possibly going over to the Santa Cruz railroad. On September 4, 1879 it was announced by the "Salinas City Index" that the Southern Pacific had purchased the Monterey and Salinas Valley railroad with the office being transferred from Salinas to San Francisco. Work was immediately begun on ripping up the track with all the narrow gauge property, rolling stock, rails, & etceteras going to the Nevada Central at Battle Mountain, Nevada. Combine Car No. 1 arrived on the property on December 20, 1879, and the mortgage on the M. & S. V. was sold at public auction on December 22, 1879 by the Pacific Improvement Co. who was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southern Pacific. The Pacific Improvement Co. was charged with the construction of the Hotel Del Monte. Control of the railroad was handed over to the Monterey Railroad Company.

An epilogue

Mr. Joseph W. Nesbitt, former Superintendent of the Monterey and Salinas Valley railroad had taken up an offer on San Luis Obispo and Port Hartford railroad and as reported by the "Salinas City Index" for Thursday, January 10, 1878 after an illness of three weeks, died at his residence on January 7, 1878 at the age of 45 years.


Salinas AO-19 - History

In honor of the anniversary of Arkansan's loss on June 15th, 1942, I have launched an updated version of the website. I hope you enjoy it!

I thought it would be helpful to provide some perspective to visitors who may not be all that up on their World War II history so they have a better understanding of where the Arkansan attack fits into the big picture. The following summary is a very narrow Arkansan -centric view of the war. The Battle of the Atlantic is a vast and complex topic. Some of the first and last shots of the war were fired as part of it. Its name is deceiving, because while there were definitely broad strategies and tactics at play, it wasn't a single battle but a series of battles, each unique in its own way. This site began as the story of two of those unique battles, in which you will hopefully come to know some of the courageous men on both sides of the conflict.

In June of 1942 when the Arkansan was lost the picture was quite bleak for the allies all over the world.

In the West, most of Europe had been overrun by the spring of 1940. Only Great Britain and the Soviet Union held out. The conquests of Norway and especially France were a critical piece of the U-boat war because they provided bases from which the Germans could operate more freely. Prior to that, most U-boats had to sail from Germany’s Baltic ports north through narrow passages that had made it easier for the British to monitor and contain them. Now the British had a much more vast area to cover, no longer had full air superiority, and risked being out-flanked to the North and South.

Britain had managed to hold off the German Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain , which forced a postponement of the planned German invasion, but was now surrounded by U-boats attempting to blockade them into submission by cutting off the precious convoys of food, fuel, and war materials from the Americas. British territories in the Mediterranean and Africa were under enormous pressure as well. The Soviets had taken huge losses in territory and people since the Germans invaded, but had finally halted their momentum.

In the East, the Japanese Empire had been waging a brutal campaign in China since mid-1937. They had amassed a formidable army, air force and navy with invaluable combat experience. On Dec 7, 1941 they unleashed their powerful navy in a surprise attack on the American forces stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, as well as British and Dutch holdings in Southeast Asia. The next six months saw them sweep through Indonesia, and right up to Australia's doorstep. Other than the largely symbolic Doolittle Raid on Japan in April, 1942, the first good news was our victory at the Battle of Midway on June 7th, 1942, which would be a turning point in that theater.

Why am I talking about the war in the Pacific? Because the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor forced Hitler by the Tripartite agreement to also declare war on the US December 11th 1941, greatly expanding the Battle of the Atlantic.

U.S. Navy ships and German U-boats had already had several skirmishes in the months leading up to the declaration of war.

The destroyer USS Greer (DD 145) and the U-652 engaged each other for over 2 hours near Iceland on September 4th, 1941. This would forever be known as 'The Greer Incident'. While the U-652 fired a total of 2 torpedoes and the Greer dropped a total of 19 depth charges, neither vessel was damaged.

The destroyer USS Kearny (DD 432) was damaged by U-568 on October 17th while escorting a convoy near Iceland.

The destroyer USS Reuben James (DD 245) was sunk on October 31st by Topp's U-552 (the first US Navy warship lost in WWII).

The oiler USS Salinas (AO 19) was damaged by U-106 October 30th.

Several neutral US merchant ships were also lost during this period, including:

The steam merchant Robin Moor was stopped and sunk by torpedo & gunfire on May 21st under the Prize Rules by U-69 in the mid-Atlantic, 700 miles from the West coast of Africa.

The steam merchant Lehigh was torpedoed and sunk by U-126 on October 19th about 75 miles West of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Africa. Bauer mistook it for a Greek ship during a fairly long distance periscope shot.

The steam tanker Astral was torpedoed and sunk by U-43 on December 2nd 100 miles southeast of the Azores. She was sunk in error against the setting sun, mistaken for the British Eagle oil tanker San Melito .

The steam merchant Sagadahoc was torpedoed and sunk by U-124 on December 3rd in the South Atlantic, 1,300 miles off the coast of Namibia, Africa.

In addition to the previous U-Boat attacks:

The City of Rayville was lost when it struck a mine off Cape Otway, Australia on November 9th, 1940 which had been laid by the German Auxiliary minelayer Passat .

The Steel Seafarer was sunk by a bomb or torpedo dropped from a German aircraft on September 5th, 1941 in the Gulf of Suez.

The Arkansan was damaged by shrapnel on September 11th, 1941 during a German bombing raid on Port Suez, Egypt.

After Germany declared war, the commander of the German U-boat forces, Admiral Karl Dönitz, a former U-boat man from the First World War, was tasked with drawing up plans for the U-boat offensive on America and Allied interests in the Caribbean.

Type IXC graphic courtesy of Andy Hall, who at the time was working with the Past Foundation to document the discovery of the U-166 in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Germans had been developing just the boat for the job too, the large Type IXC (see above). It had a much longer range and greater torpedo capacity than the smaller Type VII's that had been battling it out in the North Atlantic. The larger diameter hull allowed for the addition of a second torpedo tube at the stern. It also had a larger main deck gun (105mm vs. 88mm). The main armament was supplemented with a 37mm single shot "quick firing" canon on the aft deck. Both types of U-Boats relied on a single 20mm automatic canon for anti-aircraft defense, and also for suppressive fire for close-in attacks.

As a side effect of its size, the Type IXC's were a bit more tolerable on these longer patrols, although they could never be described as roomy. Both types were designed to provide the best combination of performance and lethality, with little consideration for crew comforts. There is a Type IXC that was captured later in the war, the U-505 , which is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I had the opportunity to take a tour of the boat soon after it's remarkable renovation, and let me tell you it's not for the claustrophobic. We had one person leave the tour before it really got started, and they were standing 4 feet away from the large rectangular doorway the museum chopped into the side just forward of the control room to allow easier access. If the Type IXC had a weakness, it would have to be the slower dive rate when compared to the Type VII. This wouldn't really be a factor though in these early operations, since we were so unprepared.

Courtesy of Andy Hall

I think it's also important to understand what tactics and technology were employed at this phase of the war. When most people think of U-boats, and submarines in general, they tend to imagine them hovering just under the water hunting for targets through their periscopes. I myself was surprised to learn that at this stage of the war they spent most of their time on the surface, especially while traveling between locations. In fact even most of the attacks during this phase were done surfaced at night. They took advantage of the U-boat's small silhouette in combination with the poorer visibility to get close enough to strike. On this 4th patrol by U-126 for instance they only attacked submerged about a third of the time (5 out of 13 reports). It's the kind of fight they were designed for, and the attacks I describe on this site are really textbook examples of that.

There were really two main reasons for this:

1. Lack of a serious airborne countermeasure. There was a vast area of the Mid-Atlantic cleverly called the "Mid-Atlantic Gap" that was either out of reach of most of the planes of the day, or not patrolled by those that could reach it (see Admiral King below). The Germans were even comfortable enough to hold age-old Navy ceremonies such as the 'crossing the line' ceremony to initiate new sailors who are crossing the equator for the first time. There are some amazing pictures from the granddaughter of one of U-126 's crewmen showing just such an event here (along with a collision that took place earlier in her career). Note that the lookouts are still hard at work scanning for targets or danger on the horizon, however.

This would change and change rapidly. The allies were working hard on airborne radar systems that would help them locate the U-boats and new and more effective weapons like compact but powerful depth charges and acoustic air-dropped torpedoes that would home in on an escaping submerged U-boat's propellers. Dedicated hunter-killer groups comprised of destroyers and destroyer escorts with escort aircraft carriers that could launch radar equipped aircraft anywhere in the Atlantic. British cracking of the German enigma codes and Dönitz's obsessive micro-management gave us a general idea of where to hunt. The combination of better intelligence and improved technology was lethal. Before it was all over, aircraft would become as lethal as the destroyers and nearly equal their number of U-boat sinkings.

2. The second reason would be the limitations of the U-boats propulsion system. In the automotive vernacular of today, U-boats (as well as all submarines of the day) were hybrids, although it wasn't because of the Nazi's environmental concerns. They used powerful marine diesel engines while surfaced which gave them a top speed of over 18 knots, plenty to run down Merchant ships plodding along at 10 or 11 knots, although not enough to escape destroyers capable of over 30 knots. This brings us to their electric motors powered by lead-acid batteries. U-boats typically dived to avoid Destroyers as their mission was to stop the flow of supplies. These motors propelled the U-boat underwater, but for a limited amount of time, and at a much reduced performance level, about 7 knots max, but usually between 2-4 knots. This was fine for quietly exiting stage right, but not much use in a chase. Submerging in a U-boat was like running down a dock at top speed and jumping into the water. Everything goes into slow motion after you're in the water. At this stage of the war they would submerge mainly for defensive purposes. Due to the lack of performance, offensively they would only submerge if they were already in position near a convoy or spotted a target moving in their direction in the daytime or under heavily moonlit situations at night.


Watch the video: Salinas East Market: The History


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