Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Beginning

                                           CLIFFORD HENNIS &  MARE ISLAND

  A few months ago Paul and I took a ride over to Vallejo to tour a manufactured homes factory, Blu Homes.  I'm not sure how I found out about them, but I did, and that morning in December we we driving onto Mare Island.  Now this was only my second time onto Mare Island, because even though I had grown up in Vallejo and Daddy (Clifford) had worked there, since he was a Civilian worker, we family members didn't have military passes that would allow us to get on base.  So I was very interested in seeing the buildings and machinery that were part of the place that my Dad had worked, but I had never been allowed to see.  So we took the tour of Blu Homes, and afterward drove around the Island, taking pictures.  I even called April to talk to Daddy and find out what shop he had worked at.  He told me it was Shop 31, so we drove all around the base, looking, but to no avail.
       Guard Gate, scrunched right on the edge of the road, ON the Tennessee Street Bridge
Fast forward, a few weeks later:it was a beautiful Saturday, and Paul and I decided to go back, since it had been growing dark by the time we had started looking around on our first visit.
This time, we got lucky and found the Mare Island Museum, and a sweet old lady knew where Shop 31 had been.  What do you know, but it was in Building 680, the same building that we had toured several weeks before!!

                                                        Building 680, home of Shop 31

       Using the scale of the cars out front, you can see that it is a very large building.  The Museum worker told us that it is 1/4 mile long!!  It has been called a cathedral to manufacturing  because of all the glass in the building.  Look closely and you'll see that it is more glass than concrete!  It was cold in there with all those single paned windows and concrete floors.  Knowing how Daddy hates the cold, it must have been hard for him to work in there and stay warm!  It makes me so grateful to him for his sacrifices to provide for us, and I never heard him complain about it once as I grew up!

                                  Here are a few more pictures on building 680, home of Shop 31

                                      The inside, looking down the long, tall center section.

                                                    The inside of one of the side sections

                                                 The outside of one of the side sections

     In talking to Daddy, I learned for the first time that he hadn't been able to drive on base, so he had parked his car at the entrance and walked in.  Now, I didn't have any luck finding the actual guard gate that he had entered through, but if it was the one that was on the bridge, he must have had to walk just over a mile back and forth, rain or shine, to the shop every day!  And knowing how little energy he had, he must have been tired when he arrived to work!   And I never saw an umbrella in his possession eitherso when it rained he must have gotten soaked, and add to that, he usually worked the night shift or the graveyard shift, so he always walked one direction in the dark!  Poor Daddy, he was a much tougher man than I ever realized!!

                        These pictures are of the buildings that he must have passed on his walk to the shop.

The Power Plant

Some of the massive cranes to lift the submarines and ships.  These are just on the other side of the road that he would have walked down to and from work.
Notice the tracks in the pavement where the crane would ride.

Building 106, on the road to shop 31

Bldg. 45, also on the road to shop 31
                      MARE  ISLAND  ONE OF THE GREAT NAVY YARDS.  
                                      DEDICATED  SEPTEMBER 16, 2004

 This monument was placed to commemorate the service of the people who worked and served on Mare Island.  So Daddy, this monument is to you too!!

     I have more pictures posted on my Imgur site:  go there to see all of them if you want.  They're in my Family History album.


  1. I very much enjoyed your post about Mare Island. I was born there :-D What a small world :-D

  2. Hi Helen, You probably don't remember me but I knew your mom and dad very well. I lived down the street from them in American Canyon and Betty and I served together as Visiting Teachers together until the day she passed. After that, your dad used to be my Nursery assistant. I LOVED your family. They were the main reason that I got baptized. I will always be grateful to tham for that!! I still live in American Canyon as do all of my children and grandchildren. ALSO, to show how paths cross, my son Matt works at BluHomes on Mare Island. Would love to get in touch with you to find out how your dad is doing. I think of him often. My email address is

  3. I agree with you that Grandpa must have been a tougher man than we saw him. Just to live for 91 years without a complaint (I never heard one!) is an accomplishment no else I know could lay claim to.