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Welcome to my story blog. I will post one new story here every day. You are welcome to comment on any or all of them. Enjoy!
                   --Lee Pound

Day 66 - One Disaster after Another...

It was his dream job and then it turned into a nightmare.

My Dad would tell the story whenever the family gathered for a special occasion of the ill-fated Dollar Lines ship SS President Hoover and how he must have jinxed that ship.

When he graduated from college in 1936, he’d signed on with the Dollar Lines as ship’s photographer and joined the Hoover’s crew. As he tells the story, the first trip out was an easy sail until they hit the mid-Pacific on the way from Honolulu to Kobe, Japan. The calm seas started to rise until the ship suddenly became engulfed in a typhoon, the Pacific Ocean equivalent of a hurricane.

Seas towered above the ship, which rolled from side to side almost but not quite capsizing. Every so often my Dad would show us the movie he shot from the deck in what must have been a harrowing experience. Water gushed over the sides of the ship and washed across the deck. The bow raised high into the clouds, seas roiling around it, then diving down only to rise again.

Once the seas calmed again, the ship continued on to the Orient but did require some repairs.

After several uneventful voyages, the Hoover left San Francisco on July 24, 1937, heading for Honolulu then to Manila, Philippines. In mid-August, the Hoover was diverted to Shanghai, China to pick up refugees from Japanese bombing. While docked on August 31, a few Chinese planes dropped a bomb on the Hoover, narrowly missing the stack and injuring seven crew members and three passengers. The ship was not badly damaged and continued on its mission.

After a few more voyages, my Dad was on board the Hoover when it sailed from San Francisco on November 22, 1937. After stops at Honolulu and Shanghai, the Hoover sailed south for Manila. In those days, there were no good charts of the seas around Formosa, now Taiwan, which was then occupied by the Japanese. The ship’s captain knew there was an island nearby and sailed away from it, or thought he did.

As my Dad told it, he was in the darkroom about midnight, December 10, 1937 making pictures when suddenly he felt several jolts from under the ship. He went up on deck. The Hoover was standing still, its lights focused straight ahead. A few hundred yards away the lights revealed the outline of an island.

In its efforts to stay away from the island, the ship had set a course directly at the island and hit it going full speed ahead. All the passengers and crew were rescued but the ship became the pawn of a power struggle between the United States and Japan. It remained on the island of Hoishoto and was eventually stripped by the Japanese Army for parts and metal.

My Dad sailed a few more times on the SS President Coolidge, the Hoover’s sister ship, before he joined the Army after Pearl Harbor.

A few years later, the Coolidge struck an undersea mine and sank.

My Dad? He joined the Army as a staff photographer and was stationed in Chico, California the entire war. How’s that for a change in luck?

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