Supporter Jan Ennis recently shared with the SS United States Conservancy memories of her grandfather, Preston Guy Moore, and his time working at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company while the SS United States was being constructed. Guy came from a family fully engrossed in boat building. His brothers Frank, Elkanah, Herman, and Hudson all worked at the shipyard and likely took part in helping build the Big U. Over the years, many of these men’s children also worked in the same shipyard as they got older. Frank’s son, Richard, went on to become a naval architect and one of the shipyard’s senior leaders.
Guy’s time as a joiner at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company seemed to be the most impressionable. Jan recalls her grandfather telling stories for years after about some of this toughest assignments. While under construction, Guy was tasked with hanging the large doors to the SS United States’ First Class Dining Room. According to Jan, Guy claimed “the difficulty was that they wanted the ship steward to be able to open the doors pushing them only with two fingers when the guests were assembled ‘for show’.”
Guy also helped install floor-to-ceiling mirrors in various parts of the ship and often “bitterly complained” considering nothing on the ship was truly plumb and Guy was known to be quite finicky. When the ship embarked to New York from Virginia during her sea trials in May 1952, Guy was on board to ensure the doors worked as desired. While en route to New York, Guy also reminisced about being unable to hardly stand on the ship’s decks due to the wind incurred by the ship’s remarkable speed.
Having grown up in the Tidewater area, Jan stressed the large number of families that “feel such strong ties to that ship since so many of their families had loved ones who worked on it.” These strong ties are pervasive across both the United States and the world. The millions of people who helped bring the ship into existence represent an unparalleled united front coming together to create one of the most significant technological achievements in history, which bears our country’s namesake. We need your help now more than ever to ensure this irreplaceable piece of history is not lost and continues to honor not only one of our greatest accomplishments, but also the collective social and familial ties tethered to one of our nation’s most significant pieces of heritage.
The cultural and emotional impact of the SS United States still rings true today-- if you're ready to join our effort to rescue and revitalize America's Flagship, visit our GoFundMe page.
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