J.A. Jones Archives Page

Bill Lee’s Liberty Ships presentation

Museum of the Waxhaws

8215 Waxhaw Hwy., Waxhaw, North Carolina

National Maritime Day, Wednesday, May 20, 2009.




It was my pleasure to provide a preview of an exhibit on Wednesday night at the Museum of the Waxhaws that will open later today - which, not coincidently - is National Maritime Day . Been working on this for about a year, and the results turned out far better than I had originally contemplated.


Parts of those 'results' were the good fortune that I had in borrowing the Jones' model (thanks again, Ed), plus artifacts from Edwin and Lou Jones, and Ted and Jim Kratt. Edwin and Lou were there, on Wednesday night, as was Toni Kratt (married name already forgotten!), sister of Ted and Jim.


Also present were several members of the family of Ney McNeely, a native of Union County for whom one of the Jones-built Liberty’s was named. 


But best of all, I tracked down, locally, three men who sailed in Liberty Ships during World War II, and they all attended. When I thanked them for their service, the audience enthusiastically applauded them - and rightfully so.


A companion 'paper' that I wrote is attached (Janie says its an excellent cure for insomnia). A few photos of the exhibit follow. The first one is of the main part of the exhibit. The panels behind the model are a sort of 'executive summary' of the attached paper (yes, I'm still writing for the benefit of those that have short attention spans).  



The next two images show some of the displays on the other side of the room. In the first picture, what's in the foreground is the remains of the champagne bottle that Mrs. Kratt used to christen a Liberty Ship. Behind the box is a suitably engraved silver platter that was given to Lou Jones when she christened a ship. Both of these items are circa 1943.



A friend of mine in Virginia loaned me a complete porthole assembly that came off a Liberty Ship. He got it years ago when 'it fell off a truck' (actually, when the ship was scrapped). Darn thing weighs about 50 pounds and is unwieldy as all get-out. 



One rare treasure - the actual builder's plate from a Liberty that was built in Brunswick is also displayed. This item was given to me by a fella in England some years ago. I had originally planned to put it on display at the Jones' offices...but you know what prevented that from ever happening...



A rare view of the speaker, that evening (with mouth closed - well, almost so...). I know you can't see any detail, but the lapel pin I chose to wear that evening belongs to my brother. He wore it when he worked at the Wilmington, NC yard, and is typical of the patriotic emblems that shipbuilders were given during World War II. 



Lastly, and my favorite, a Merchant Mariner of World War II who was obviously delighted to be there. Behind him is the listing of all the ships built at the Brunswick yard (that did 'fall off a truck' a number of years ago - right into my hands in, of all places, the basement at 6060 St. Albans)!