[Vallejo, Ca.]: 1922-1933.  leaves plus  loose folio sheets and a silver-gelatin photograph. Original limp black leather, three-ring binding. Light wear to covers, spine ends heavily worn with some loss. Contemporary ownership inscriptions inside front cover. Some leaves loose, light wear at edges, light to moderate soiling throughout. Good. Item #1770
Working log of machinist Howard Gee, employed at Mare Island Naval Yard, containing an account of work performed on various ships over the course of more than a decade. The Mare Island Navy Yard was established in Vallejo in 1854, the first U.S. Naval base on the West Coast, operating until 1996. The base served as a vital port for repair and refitting of ships in the Pacific throughout the 19th century, and during the 20th century was an important arena for shipbuilding, primarily of submarines from the 1920s onward. A 2007 obituary located for Howard Jackman Gee (called "Jack") notes that he was the fifth generation of the Gee family to work at Mare Island; given the time of his service in the navy, in the 1950s, we assume the present notebook belonged to his father or uncle.
Gee's notebook is organized alphabetically by vessel, noting each ship and what work he performed at what date. The first entry reads, "#4 Airplane Wrecking Barge 2-14-23. 100:Volt armature. 601-E-695/0265. No.1." This is followed by several entries for repairs to the U.S.S. Aroostook in 1923, all for her "master wheel gyro compass." Gee writes in a clear and legible all-caps block print, separating each entry with a horizontal line. Some entries are more complex than others, listing dimensions of parts or including small drawings of propellers or turbines or other mechanical parts he worked on. Notes from the U.S.S. Arizona in 1933 comprise two full pages -- one for the starboard propeller and one for the port propeller. They include details about weight, pitch, static, and minute calculations about each blade, as well as the date the work was completed. An entry for the U.S.S. Humphrey in 1933 indicates work on the port main gear, installing a new gear made by the Westinghouse Elec. & Mfg. Co., with details about size and holes drilled, as well as a detailed illustration of the part. Also present here are three sheets of typed military orders for Gee, and several loose pages of manuscript drawings and notes.
The navy yard must have been a dangerous place to work in the 1920s and '30s, as shown by several notes in the volume. The opening leaf reads, "I.P. Piston for U.S.S. Brant dropped off hook. Missed me. H. Gee. Witness, W. Gee, W.N. Emery, 8-12-30. How did it happen to fall?" Another note at the end of the volume indicates C.A. Hunter passed away while at work, 2:30p.m. 12-19-33." Beyond that, there is very little personal content in the book, it is purely a working object. Also present here is a black ribbon embroidered in gold which reads "Submarine Base"; and a small photograph, presumably of Howard Gee, which shows a man standing in a machine shop, dressed in a fedora and three-piece suit with the jacket and vest unbuttoned, leaning next to a large crankshaft -- the apparatus resembles many of Gee's drawings in the notebook.