June 21, 2010 16:46 pm · 116 comments

Who are these people, and why was their picture found in a gutter in Walnut Creek over 6-years ago?

Here’s the story, from the person who found the photo:

About 6 1/2 years ago my husband and I lived in downtown Walnut Creek, on the other side of Civic Park. One quiet Sunday evening we were walking downtown to go get something to eat and as we crossed over Broadway right in front of the Police Station I noticed something in the gutter.
In a little pile of leaves was this photograph.  In perfect condition!  I could not believe what I saw.  I put the photo in my pocket and then proceeded to pack it away once I got home and forget about it. We have since moved to Martinez and I have brought this photo out of hiding to see if I can find its true owner.
From the background it looks like the the Benicia Rail Road Bridge. And from her attire I am assuming this was taken in the 30’s.

Does anybody out there know who this couple is, or where their family might be located?

They seem to be local, since the picture was still around our area, and it does look like the Benicia Railroad Bridge in the background.

1 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 4:56 PM

OK here’s results of a quick search, lets see how good we are as detectives.

2 GoGo Gomez June 21, 2010 at 5:13 PM

I love seeing old pictures,I hope you can find the story behind it.

3 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 5:19 PM

Ships look too small to be destroyers, maybe mine support or net tenders?

4 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 5:22 PM

This is so cool! I hope Claycordians are up to their usual excellent sleuthing selves and solve this!

5 Anon in Clayton June 21, 2010 at 5:23 PM

The wikipedia description of the Francis M. Robinson sounds like it would have been after 1947, but the woman’s clothing looks to be from an earlier time than that.

From the description of the USS Parrott, it sounds like it was in the SF Bay area only during 1942, and then it was decomissioned in 1944, and sold for scrap in 1947.

Combining the 2 descriptions, it would seem that it was likely 1947 or after, and possibly 1942.

Can someone tell what the woman is holding?

The railroad bridge was built in 1928-30.

6 Mayday June 21, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Given the style of the woman’s clothing, I would put the photo in the late ‘teens or early ’20’s. That coincides with the USS Parrott’s (hull # 218 in the photo) time stationed in California from Sept. 1920 – Dec. 1921.

#1: great idea of Wiki-ing the hull #’s. You grabbed destroyer escort (DE) #220 in your Wiki search, not DD-220, the USS MacLeish, also commissioned in 1920. The Wiki page has the MacLeish in California from late ’24 to early ’25. The Parrott traveled from San Diego to Hawaii in early ’25, perhaps stopping in SF bay – the only time the two ships service seem to overlap in California.

My guess for the photo – early 1925.

7 anon from Clayton June 21, 2010 at 5:29 PM

It could not have been 1942, because the USS Francis M Robinson was Christened in 1943 in Philadelphia.

8 Just Sayin June 21, 2010 at 5:36 PM

The style of the numbering on the side of the ships changed several times between the 30’s and 40’s. Looking at the photos here I’d say the above picture is pre-1934.

9 Mr. Mayor June 21, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Keep it up, everybody, I’d love to find out the history of this photo. I knew you’d all be able to help out!

10 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 5:38 PM
11 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 5:39 PM
12 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 5:42 PM

The guy reminds me of a mechanic that worked in Concord.

13 EdiBirsan June 21, 2010 at 5:44 PM

If it is taken facing west (the couple facing the morning sun) then from the angle that the picture may have been taken from Pier 1 at the Concord Naval Weapon Station. However taking pictures would have been a no no and what would a civilian be doing at the docks? So if we flip it around and they are facing west and the camera East then are they on the Benicia side? However the Benicia bridge has a lifting section on the Martinez side which would be visible on the far right if it was from the Benicia side so either that structure was not there at the time or it has to from the Concord side. So I might guess the first case. Also it would appear from the ship histories that the dates would coincide to being in the same area around the late Spring of 1944…maybe. What makes it more interesting is that Pier 1 was vaporized in the explosion on July 17 1944 so the possible interplay of dates narrows.

If you look at Google and the outline of the shadow of the Benicia rail bridge the pattern is close but not that close to what we see. Again I wonder if there was a reconstruction some time.

14 Claycord Dad June 21, 2010 at 5:51 PM

The photo cannot be any earlier than 1930-1931. THe railroad bridge was completed in Oct 1930.

15 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 6:05 PM

DD-218: Parrott (1920-1947)
DD-220: MacLeish (1920-1946), later AG-87
Both ships were part of the 39th Destroyer Division in 1921
more to follow

16 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 6:14 PM
17 Atticus Thraxx June 21, 2010 at 6:16 PM

Cool picture. Amazing how much information you guys have come up with. The girl’s smile is nice.

18 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Bridge-If that’s the Benicia rail bridge (a.k.a. the UP Bridge-Union Pacific, distinguished from the highway bridge) then the view is looking west, as the lift section mechanism is visible over the woman’s left shoulder.
Ships-those aren’t destroyers, at least not the USS Parrot or USS Francis Robinson whose photos are linked in the posting above. My guess is WWI-vintage small boys, like subchasers or coastal patrol ships.

The Navy uniform is definitely pre-WWII.

Identifying the ships is the key to the mystery. I don’t know what the configuration of the Concord Naval Weapons Station (a.k.a. Port Chicago) was prior to WWII, but given the relative size of the bridge in the background, to me it places the location of the pier approximately where the Avon oil terminal is now, 2-3 miles west of the current Military Ocean Terminal Concord cranes, and approximately 1 mile east of the bridge.

19 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 6:26 PM

This is actually really cool, so keep it up! I wouldn’t be surprised if the people of claycord can figure this out.

20 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 7:08 PM

I would just like to say that I am in aww…. I think that it is so amazing what is being done here right now. Really Cool!

21 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 7:13 PM

Just give a few hints and off you run…
Great info and so quickly……….
I moved from FB to here…now to watch you sleuths……;o))

22 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 7:17 PM

Is it possible that the photo was taken at what is now the maritime academy?

23 EdiBirsan June 21, 2010 at 7:18 PM

I have to concur that the relative size puts it much closer to the bridge than the current location of the Pier 1 remains.
Also interesting is that the woman does not have a wedding ring. Not sure what she is holding is it a framed picture or a book of some sort?
Cannot make out the insignias on his breast pocket.
It appears that what few people can be made out in the left may be civilians.
I wonder if we are jumping at the bridge being the Benicia Bridge. Does the hillside match up?

Best narrowing though comes from the ships history.

24 Anon June 21, 2010 at 7:22 PM

They came and saw the need for mediocre Italian food, subsequently becoming the founders of what is now The Olive Garden.

25 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 7:27 PM

Helen Allen?

26 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 7:32 PM

Found while searching

27 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 7:44 PM

I have a picture here, of an Uncle…and the uniform is very similar, and pre WWII. He was in the Merchant Marine.
Then there is Coast Guard and Seabee’s …

The lady is holding an old pull out Kodak Camera?
If the Sailor was in Dress Blues, he would have Stripes on his Cracker Jacks ???
What did they wear to work in in the teens–that lady is dressed pre-flapper days (20s).
In 1922 my pics have ladies in long skirts/blouses/with ”those hats”…..but by mid/later 20s my Grandmother had a bob and low waistlines and short skirts.

However if you enlarge that photo I’m led to believe this is pre 1920. My GGrandmother and ”that side of the family” lived in San Francisco and this kind of attire was–ummm. More like the teens.
Im rambling~

28 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 7:50 PM

#25 So it’s not just a rumor, she did once live in Concord!

29 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 7:54 PM

not taken at NWS port chicago, i assure you, bridge is all wrong for that…

30 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 8:00 PM
31 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 8:02 PM

the maritime academy suggestion is pretty close, i’ll bet, IF that’s the benicia rr bridge, but could it be the CARQUINEZ rr bridge? that was actually my very first assumption when i saw the photo: camera looking east, couple looking west, and in the background, behind the bridge on the upper right side of the photo, partially hidden and sort of faint, you can see the C&H refinery. what do you think?

32 Atticus Thraxx June 21, 2010 at 8:05 PM

When I was little my Grandmother kept her Bible in an embroidered cover with a (I think cotton) filled , embroidered Crucifix on the cover.. Could that be it and she’s holding it upside down? Not an uncommon thing to travel with for a young Catholic woman. Like my grandmother I suppose.

33 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 8:06 PM

How about the camera taking the picture, how good were the optics in those days?
Objects near vs objects father away, …

34 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 8:06 PM

more…see the big structure in far background barely visible half-way between sailor’s shoulder & elbow? C&H sugar refinery?

35 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 8:15 PM

The pier design and number of sections don’t match the Benicia-Martinez Bridge.

36 Antler June 21, 2010 at 8:20 PM

What fun it is to read more educated guesses than I can possibly give. The woman is holding an umbrella and what might be a folding camera with tri-pod (as #27 suggests), right? But look behind them. There are many other people, all dressed very nicely. Tell you where I WISH it would be—-how about on the passenger and freight-loading docks at Port Costa looking westward toward the Carquinez RR bridge? Except what bothers me about that idea is that in the distance on the right is exactly the Benicia shoreline, do you agree? The woman’s clothing is pre-1925, more like WW1 fashions. What a treasure such a photo is, and how much better photos from that era “last” than those we have today.
Do you think some of the local very senior citizens would be willing to give their ideas? What about Ruth Bancroft?

37 Eran June 21, 2010 at 8:29 PM

All great ideas. My thoughts are these, the bridge wasn’t finished until 1930. There was also a California Naval Guard which had a similar uniform pictured in 1917…but way before the bridge. She seems to be wearing a small band on her pinky finger…not sure what that means. Also, her dark stockings would indicate that it is before Nylons…circa 1940. THe quality of the picture I’d guess was closer to 30 than teens…but hard to tell. If it is indeed the benecia bridge, has to be 29-30 or later.

The lack of the lifters on the bridge and the hills in the background make it look like it is shot from the Concord side toward Benecia.

38 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 8:31 PM

Nice find, look at the other folks setting on the dock. Maybe family day, my dad was long time Navy.
The base would open up once a year to family members to saee what dad/mom was doing.

39 Enuff is Enuff June 21, 2010 at 8:34 PM

I pulled out some old family photos from the 20’s and 30’s and by what my grandmother was wearing as a “proper lady” looks similar to this. Between his uniform and her skirt & blouse it is definitely pre WWII. It doesn’t appear that she has gloves or maybe they are in her pocket but “ladies” always wore hats and gloves when they left the house. My Dad and Mom comment on the fact that the their mothers wore a hat and gloves even to go to the market.
Would love to know the story behind this photo. Who they are, was he stationed in the area, was she visiting him etc.

40 Leigh June 21, 2010 at 8:35 PM

I’m really enjoying listening to you guys.

Please don’t let this story get burried.

41 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 8:54 PM

What an awesome photo! I would have framed it and told my kids it was family back in the day…lol
If you look closely it does appear she is wearing a wedding ring though-not sure.

42 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 9:01 PM

Anon in Clayton,
She looks to be holding her hat and a umbrella and maybe a book.

43 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 9:09 PM
44 Claudias Mom June 21, 2010 at 9:14 PM

My husband was in the Navy on a nuclear sub, and I asked his opinion of the sailor in the photo. Based on what he knows about naval uniforms, his guess is that the photo is from the 1920’s. He said that the uniform is not from WWII, so that would make it before 1940.

45 bob June 21, 2010 at 9:18 PM

the lady is holding a broadbrimed straw hat and the gentleman seems to be a merchant marine sailor.

46 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 9:18 PM

I say it’s a photochopped pic left behind for someone to find and cause all this controversy years later! Look how clear the photo is 80 years later? She’s holding a Dell netbook!! :D

47 Mike #18 June 21, 2010 at 9:19 PM

That is not the Martinez Railroad bridge. Note the X type pattern for the bridge above the rail.

This picture from #30 has V shaped supports above the rails

Per Eran, the railroad bridge in Martinez was not built until 1930. Before then they used ferries to transport the trains. The Carquinez bridge was built in 1927 and was the first major bridge in the San Francisco Bay area.

Maybe the photo was taken on the east coast or San Diego.

48 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Could it be the Rio Vista bridge?

49 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 9:30 PM

See..far right…thingy sticking out of water….
Bridge in background….
Where ships are moored

Now go look at google earth and see there is a dock/wharf/pier out from the shore, just below the Benicia Arsenal area…east end of Benicia. Maybe even tho what is there now is newer…there was one there for lots of ships to tie up. Hmmm…

I believe that those ships, as small as they look, are DD’s and not DE’s… I’ve looked at pictures of them next to a battleship called Blackhawk and this is about right..and they are sitting pretty low in the water in the ”old” picture. My Dad was on a DE during WWII and it was much smaller.

USS Black Hawk (AD-9)

At Singapore, circa 1934, with six destroyers of the 39th Division alongside.
The destroyers are (from left to right):
USS McCormick (DD-223);
USS Bulmer (DD-222);
USS Edsall (DD-219);
USS Simpson (DD-221);
USS MacLeish (DD-220); and
USS Parrott (DD-218).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

I believe this is prior to 1925, and possibly ”dress” has to do with what she had and not what the fashion of the ”year” was.

And, Mare Island, and Benicia had much going on during these years. Who knows what’s about to happen…a new ”big” ship about to be set in the water at Mare, and the 218 and 220 are waiting to escort her out of the bay.

The girl has come to say goodbye to her sweet Sailor, and maybe while they are taking a photo, she is holding something she is going to give him. Or—perhaps he has just arrived, and families are there welcoming them home, and that is the gift he brought her. A beautiful box that holds the South Sea pearls he found ”cheap” in some far away port.

(I’m pretty good at this..roflol…I spent more time at Mare Island/Treasure Island/Bethlehem Steel/Hunters Point, than I care to remember. I even had a baby on the Presidio. I’ve had a lot of time to engage my active imagination.

This is either hello or goodbye, or she’s the Secretary in the Shipping office and he is a cute guy who is going to buy her a cup of coffee.

Now, I’m going to and find his military records, and their SS Death Certificates.
Isn’t that sad? Too bad I don’t know their names. This guy looks old enough to have been to WWI or getting ready to go?

BTW–I have ”snap shots” from 1918 to 1949 that are similar. Most taken with a large Kodak where you pull out the lens and it looks like accordion pleating. Some are faded in the lighter exposures, but not bad. And, if you scan them and put them into a photo program and fool with them you can pick out background you couldn’t see. I can do that just in the photo thingy.
Rambling again….

50 Joe Holt June 21, 2010 at 9:36 PM

The two ships in the background of your photo are listed below. Any information pertaining to these ships might best be obtained by contacting the site below. From information below it would seem the photo was taken sometime before March of 1938 when the MacLeish was decommissioned on the west coast.

Tin Can Sailors

USS MacLeish DD-220

Service History
After brief duty with the Pacific Fleet, MacLeish sailed 5 June 1922 from Philadelphia to join the U.S. Naval Forces in Turkish waters. Until June 1924, she operated in the Black Sea and in the eastern Mediterranean, protecting American interests and assisting in the evacuation of refugees. In October 1922 members of her crew participated in the landings at Smyrna, Turkey. Joining the Scouting Fleet in 1924, the destroyer visited various ports in Europe before returning to the United States in July.
Shortly after arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, MacLeish departed for west coast duty. On 7 May 1925 she sailed for the Asiatic Fleet, arriving at Shanghai 21 June. Operating between ports in China and the Philippines, the destroyer patrolled and trained while protecting American interests. In 1925, while on this station, members of her crew joined a force which landed at Shanghai during the civil disorder following shooting of Chinese students by municipal police. MacLeish remained in Asiatic and Pacific waters until 11 March 1938, when she was decommissioned and entered the Reserve Fleet at San Diego, California.
[edit] World War II
With the outbreak of hostilities in Europe in 1939, MacLeish recommissioned 25 September 1939. Assigned to the eastern sea frontier, she was ready for sea by 1 February 1940 and engaged in maneuvers and patrol duty in the Caribbean before being rearmed in preparation for convoy duty. By the end of January 1941, with new armament and additional fuel tanks, and following intensive training, she escorted several convoys on coastal voyages. In July, she was transferred to North Atlantic patrol and convoy operations, and continued this duty after the United States entered the war. In the spring of 1942, she was reassigned to coastal patrol and on 2 May was credited with a probable kill off the Florida coast. By February 1943, MacLeish had safely escorted 12 convoys between Norfolk, Virginia and Key West and 9 between New York and Guantanamo Bay.
With the Allied offensive in north Africa calling for an ever increasing flow of supplies, by February 1943, every available escort was assigned to transatlantic duty. MacLeish made two voyages between New York and Casablanca. In June she joined one of the first escort carrier groups, and for the next 7 months steamed over 50,000 miles covering the Norfolk – Casablanca convoy route. On the second trip, in July, planes from MacLeish’s group made three probable sinkings.
MacLeish served the first 3 months of 1944 as a target ship for marine torpedo planes off Key West. Following overhaul, she returned to convoy duties, departing in May for ports in the Mediterranean as flagship of TF 63. After D-Day, MacLeish escorted one more convoy across the Atlantic, this time to Cherbourg. Next she served as target ship for submarines, passing through the Panama Canal on their way to the Pacific. At Boston on 5 January 1945, she was redesignated AG-87 and her topside armament was removed. Following conversion, she returned to Panama to resume duties as target ship, training 25 submarines before steaming for Rhode Island to tow targets for naval aircraft.
Decommissioned 8 March 1946, MacLeish was struck from the Navy list 13 November, sold 18 December to Boston Metals Company, Baltimore, Maryland, and scrapped.
Namesake: Kenneth MacLeish

Builder: William Cramp & Sons

Laid down: 19 August 1919
Launched: 18 December 1919
Commissioned: 2 August 1920
Decommissioned: 8 March 1946
Struck: 13 November 1946
Fate: sold for scrap 18 December 1946
General characteristics
Class and type: Clemson-class destroyer

Displacement: 1,190 tons
Length: 314 feet 5 inches (95.83 m)
Beam: 31 feet 9 inches (9.68 m)
Draft: 9 feet 3 inches (2.82 m)
Speed: 35.5 knots (66 km/h)
Complement: 101 officers and enlisted
Armament: 4 x 4″ (102 mm), 1 x 3″ (76 mm) AA, 12 x 21″ (533 mm) TT.

USS Parrot DD-218

Service History
Following shakedown, Parrott was assigned to Destroyer Division 38 of the Pacific Fleet of which she was later designated flagship. She departed Boston, Massachusetts, 7 August 1920 for San Diego, California, arriving 7 September. She operated in coastal waters, ranging as far south as Valparaíso, Chile, until reassigned to the Atlantic Fleet 3 December 1921 and ordered to Philadelphia.
Parrott escorted Mayflower from Hampton Roads and Annapolis, Maryland to Washington, D.C., 26 May 1922-30 May 1922 and then was fitted out for European duty.
On 12 June, Parrott sailed from Newport, Rhode Island with her division to report to Commander U.S. Naval Detachment Turkish Waters at Constantinople to assist American Relief Agencies in aiding political refugees and protecting American lives and interests. From time to time, Parrott served as communications and station ship in the Black Sea, Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. From 13 September to 25 October, she evacuated refugees following the Smyrna fire, and escorted ships sent by other nations to help persons who had asked for protection.
From 6 July to 24 August 1923, Parrott made visits to Greece, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia, meeting with civic officials and showing the flag. During the following year (1924) she made similar visits to Bizerte, Tunis, Livorno, Genoa, Patmos, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Cagliari and Sardinia, returning to New York in July.
Reassigned to the Asiatic Fleet, Parrott departed Philadelphia 3 January 1925 for Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal Zone and San Diego. She made a training stop at Pearl Harbor on 27 April and proceeded on 29 May, via Midway, to join the Fleet at Chefoo, China 14 June. Because of unsettled conditions in China Parrott, with other units, sailed to Shanghai and put ashore a landing force. Parrott remained in the area until 31 July, and returned 10 September to Shanghai for duty with the Yangtze River Patrol until 16 October when she departed for the Philippines.
After operations out of Manila from 19 October to 15 March 1926, she reported to the Commander South China Patrol at Swatow remaining until 14 June. At this time revolution in China caused intense naval activity resulting in practically the entire Asiatic Fleet assembling in Chinese waters. Parrott carried out a rigorous schedule in again aiding and protecting the interest of Americans and other neutrals. She was relieved 25 October 1927 and sailed south via Hong Kong, Bangkok and Saigon to Manila, arriving 18 November.
During 1928, Parrott made many calls to Philippine ports least frequented by American ships. From 1928 into 1934, she remained on Asiatic Patrol operating from Manila. In 1935, she was ordered to French Indochina to collect hydrographic data in and around Saigon. She resumed Neutrality patrol in 1936, and by 1940 had served successively as station ship at Amoy and Swatow, China. From 7 July to 4 October, Parrott cruised China waters based at Tsingtao and then made calls to other northern Chinese ports, returning to Manila 11 October.
[edit] World War II
In Cavite Navy Yard, Parrott spent the first two months of 1941 having anti-mine and sound detection gear installed, after which, she trained with destroyers and submarines. She assumed duties as off-shore sound patrol picket at the entrance to Manila Bay on 6 October, and late in November joined Task Force 5 at Tarakan, Borneo, Netherlands East Indies. The Task Force was still operating in this area when hostilities began.
When the Philippines fell to the Japanese, the Asiatic Fleet moved south and operated under a unified American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDA) from a base at Surabaya, Java.
After dark, on 23 January 1942, Parrott, with John D. Ford, Pope and Paul Jones, entered Balikpapan Bay where, lying at anchor, were 16 Japanese transports and three 750-ton torpedo boats, guarded by a Japanese Destroyer Squadron. The Allied ships fired several patterns of torpedoes and saw four enemy transports and one torpedo boat sink as the Japanese destroyers searched in the strait for non-existent submarines.
Parrott returned to Surabaya 25 January, and sailed five days later as part of the escort for two Dutch ships as far as Lombok Strait. She then swept through the South China Sea with the combined ABDA force, fighting off three Japapese aerial attacks on 15 February, as the Allies attempted to intercept and prevent a landing on the east coast of Sumatra. She came into Surabaya for fuel 19 February, firing upon on enemy planes whilst there, before departing with other destroyers for a night attack on Japanese forces off Bali. Contact was made with two Japanese destroyers and a transport just past midnight on 19 February–20 February, and in the ensuing fight, Piet Hein was sunk and Michishio heavily damaged. Parrott struck ground in the shoals off Bali but was able to churn herself free and retire with the rest of the force to Surabaya.
Parrott was delegated the task of escorting Seawitch into Tjilatjap 28 February and then proceed to Fremantle as her consorts of the ABDA force made an attempt to forestall the invasion of Java by Japanese forces in the unsuccessful Battle of the Java Sea.
Parrott returned to the States for repairs, left the yard in July and commenced the first of eight convoy escort voyages between San Francisco and Pearl Harbor. On 21 May 1943, she sailed for New York arriving 12 June and reported for transatlantic convoy duty. She completed one convoy passage before joining Paul Jones and Belknap in an offensive antisubmarine group with Croatan. She operated with this group until 15 October when she transferred to another antisubmarine group formed around Block Island.
Parrott participated in sinking U-220 on 28 October, but the credit went to Block Island planes. In March 1944, Parrott reported at Norfolk for convoy assignment.
As escort for Convoy UGS–35, she reached Casablanca 26 March, then bombarded the coast of Spanish Morocco, south of Cape Spartel, on 27 March before escorting convoy GUS–34 back to Boston, arriving 15 April.
[edit] Fate
While getting underway for Norfolk on 2 May, Parrott was rammed by John Morton, and was so severely damaged she had to be beached by tugs. Later towed to Norfolk Naval Shipyard, she decommissioned 14 June 1944. She was struck from the Navy List 18 July 1944, and her hulk was sold for scrapping 5 April 1947 to the Marine Salvage Company of Richmond, Virginia.
Namesake: George Fountain Parrott

Builder: William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding & Engine Company
Laid down: 23 July 1919
Launched: 25 November 1919
Commissioned: 11 May 1920
Decommissioned: 14 June 1944
Struck: 18 July 1944
Fate: sold for scrapping 5 April 1947
General characteristics
Class and type: Clemson-class destroyer

Displacement: 1,190 tons
Length: 314 feet 4 inches (95.81 m)
Beam: 30 feet 8 inches (9.35 m)
Draft: 13 feet 6 inches (4.11 m)
Propulsion: 26,500 shp (20 MW);
geared turbines,
2 screws
Speed: 35 knots (65 km/h)
Complement: 157 officers and enlisted
Armament: 4 x 4″ (102 mm), 4 x 21″ (533 mm) TT.

51 Drvrdadca June 21, 2010 at 9:39 PM

I think whats really cool about this pic is that it has CLAYCORD on it and it sooooo old. Who knew claycord had been around that long?

52 Emily June 21, 2010 at 9:43 PM

Perhaps she is holding a framed photograph with an easel back.

53 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 9:48 PM

I see CLAYCORD printed on the dock so I’m guessing maybe 2010.

54 anon June 21, 2010 at 9:49 PM

I have pictures on my parents in NY as my Mom just arrived from England in 1947 and she wore clothes just like this…gogo look thru grandma old pictures in the big book.

55 MO June 21, 2010 at 9:50 PM

…adding for the romantics in here…pictures of bridges and streets and clothes in Benicia. I’m prepared to make this a fairytale and believe that is the bridge. But that is because I’m old and a dreamer.
Look at this:
LEGENDS OF THE STRAIT, 1919: Episodes 1-13, by Bruce Robinson
~The Benicia Herald

—Rambling again..
I forgot – didn’t know how? – to put my ”handle” in here, sorry.
It’s MO

56 ClayCord Dad June 21, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Unless the Benicia RR Bridge was retrofitted with concrete, this is not the Benicia Bridge. The bridge in the picture has steel support up to the rail deck and not concrete. All of the historic pictures I can find online show concrete for the Benicia Rail Bridge.

57 anon June 21, 2010 at 10:04 PM

if you boogle navy uniforms….eventually you can get to Dept of Navy history….at the start of WWII the navy was using uniforms from 20s and 30s…….that would explain the guys sleeve….that is what was throwing me off…..Navy chgd to a more tight fitting sleeve……the history of uniforms was really intersting… dad was in the Army attached to the air force as a Mess Cook where he met my Mom in England….she was always so proud that she didn’t come to the US as a war bride but waited and came on her own…..women’s clothes were so different… Mom came with beautiful clothes/furs but they looked like 20s/30s.

58 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 10:07 PM
59 Old Guy June 21, 2010 at 10:09 PM

Perhaps we are discussing the wrong Bridge – This bridge has the silhouette of the first CARQUINEZ STRAIT BRIDGE at Vallejo from the other side of the straight and the photo was near the mouth of the Napa river and Mare Island.

60 anon June 21, 2010 at 10:09 PM

crack up…I said boogle instead of google…..still laughing….

61 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 10:14 PM

I found this pic the bridge in the background is not the Benicia rr bridge look at the supports that hold up the Benicia bridge they are concrete and the bridge in the pic is to small
Benicia’s railroad bridge, circa 1930. Courtesy Benicia Historical Museum

62 EdiBirsan June 21, 2010 at 10:21 PM

I’ve figured it out—It’s the Mayor and his wife, they are time travelers!

63 Ireviews June 21, 2010 at 10:36 PM

This newer shot of the bridge shows a steel support structure at the end of the bridge. Maybe this was taken during construction and the cement pillars aren’t in yet?

64 The Original Anon E. Mouse June 21, 2010 at 10:37 PM

Just a quick question after skimming the thread,
has the ships definitely been tracked to this area at any point?
Just a thought, maybe this was taken at some other port and the family lost the picture here.
That’s some other random bridge in the background?

Edi, that makes Mrs. Mayor, the time traveler’s wife? :D

65 Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 10:43 PM

It’s a very sweet picture.
The woman’s clothes can only tell you the earliest possible date for the picture. The sailor’s clothes will give a much better time frame. Remember that women from the country and small towns were often years behind city folk in “style”…especially in the 20s and 30s when money was tight and fashions were pushing the envelope of what what considered respectable. So even if her dress is from the 20s, the picture could easily date from the 30s.

66 Urban Ore June 21, 2010 at 10:44 PM

If you want to find thousands of old photographs, Urban Ore in Berkeley. Years ago, they had albums upon albums of discarded photo collections. I understood they scavenge from the dump to retrieve many of the items they sell. Very fascinating place.

67 The Other Anon E. Mouse June 21, 2010 at 11:05 PM

After looking at the links of pictures and descriptions above, I agree with Mike #18 @9:19pm that this picture may not even have been taken around here, maybe it is from some other part of the country. The bridge appears too short to be either the old Carquinez or Vallejo bridges.

The histories of the ships are fascinating. I wonder if the Navy has detailed logs available which could narrow down the specific dates these ships were simultaneously in the same US port?

I really wish the lady who had found this had turned it into the police station she had found it “right in front of.”

68 Ireviews June 22, 2010 at 12:01 AM

What could the police have done that I can’t do on my own?

At the time I thought it was cool and wanted to keep it. I’m the one that found it and am now trying to find out who the original owner is by putting it out there to as many local outlets as possible. I have a contact at the City of Walnut Creek who has some ideas also.

I appreciate all the tips and ideas everyone has submitted. Thank you!!!

69 what if June 22, 2010 at 12:56 AM

I wonder whether it could have been tucked away in a library book, and dropped out when someone was on their way to the library.

70 I give.... June 22, 2010 at 1:15 AM

If I were going to continue the hunt, I would contact the folks at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. Their name is mentioned on photo website of the dd220. They may be able to help with the location and the uniform.

The bridge is all wrong to be the Martinez-Benicia RR bridge. The spans are too long and no concrete footings. I must guess by design it’s a bridge designed for autos. The M-B rr bridge is way more heavy duty. I was looking for other west coast ports that would have bridges but it’s way past bedtime.

Good Luck and good hunting. I’m up so late it’s starting to look like the lady is flashing gang signs with her fingers.

71 MO June 22, 2010 at 7:04 AM

…compared to this ”old photo” and the argument that the ”things” the bridge stands on were CEMENT, and not iron. Well by examining many old photos of this bridge and the one in this link provided, I still believe this might be the bridge in its new or unfinished stages. The ”leg” under the ”first part” with no sides/trusses is an iron leg. The other legs are BEHIND the Sailor.

The picture in the link shows the leg I’m speaking of to be iron and criss crossed like the trusses…but then the next parts of the bridge are supported by cement legs. We cannot see if this is true or not in the ”old” picture.

This bridge built 1929-1930.

72 MO June 22, 2010 at 7:18 AM
I’m in Google Earth, zoomed in looking east. If you examine the ”shadow” of the bridge you see that on the Martinez side the legs under the beginning ”with no sides” the ”legs” are open iron work, and the shadow seems to indicate that the ”legs” are solid as the bridge span gets its ”trusses”(sides).
(I know nothing about bridge construction so know nothing about terms).

I believe these people are standing somewhere on the Benicia Arsenal dock area, -they are west of the bridge and looking to the west…the photographer was facing east, with Martinez across the strait.

If the picture wasn’t so faded, we’d see Mt. Diablo over the Sailor’s shoulder.

73 I give..... June 22, 2010 at 9:04 AM

Sorry MO but that’s not the Martinez-Benicia RR bridge even if looking from the Benicia side. The cantilevered sections over the deep water are too long and the last piece of deck (roadway) is missing the support iron trusses shown beneath the deck shown in the link you provided. That bridge in the picture is major clue but could be in Washington or Oregon ports. I ruled out Long Beach unless it was torn down and the terrain didn’t seem hilly enough. Widen the search my fellow sleuths.

74 re I GIVE's idea June 22, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Good idea to contact the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum. Perhaps contacting the Benecia Historical Society (assuming there is one) and the author of the book about the Concord NWS will be helpful, too. I will look up the Concord NWS author and see if I can find email contact info for him.

75 Mike #18 June 22, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Its not the Rio Vista bridge.

My previous post explains the supports in one photo are V shaped and in the other photo are X shaped.

Note in the photo in question the first sections at right are lower than the sections further to the left. The bridges were not built before this photo was taken.

#73, perhaps you are on to something. Oregon, Washington (Jantzen Beach?) or New York. Didn’t see anything in San Diego nor Boston.

76 Anonymous June 22, 2010 at 10:47 AM

Both ships together…Parrot and MacLeish. Early 1920’s.

The source photo of the couple would seem to indicate Vallejo and the Carquinez Strait Bridge. This would have been taken at what is now the California Maritime Academy.

77 Anonymous June 22, 2010 at 10:49 AM

I’m from San Diego. Pretty certain there were no such bridges in San Diego. However, my grandfather was a Navy man stationed in San Diego, so I will confirm with my parents (natives of San Diego) that it couldn’t be there.

78 I give.... June 22, 2010 at 12:08 PM

I did email the picture to the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum (Tues 6/22) but their website says they are closed today. I explained the Claycord effort and asked if they could help with the uniform and any ports where the shipped would/could have been docked. Will post if they reply. I also looked on and am happy to report I could NOT find the picture or a matching mystery story. Any old squids out there know of ports North of us up the coast with an old bridge?

79 Anonymous June 22, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Here are a couple links of pictures of the Carquinez Bridge and the Benicia-Martinez Bridge in the 1920’s. According to these photos the bridge in this photo looks more like the Benicia-Martinez Bridge.

80 Anonymous June 22, 2010 at 1:20 PM

that bridge span looks way too small to be the benicia RR bridge, plus you would be able to see the section that lifts up for ships. got to be the C.S. bridge.

81 The Other Anon E. Mouse June 22, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Ireviews June 22, 2010 at 12:01 AM

What could the police have done that I can’t do on my own?

No offense meant, it’s just that I have always felt it was common practice to turn in found belongings to the closest police station (or if found on private property such as a shopping center, turn it into the management office). If the person who lost this (assuming it didn’t fly out of a garbage truck or something) realized it was missing they may have retraced their steps to check places they had been, and possibly checked with the police station on the chance someone might have turned in; that’s what i would do. After 6.5 years it’s akin to a cold case. All that said, I find this an interesting exercise in crowd sourcing and I sincerely hope it works and you find someone who can claim it or at least knows who these people were!

82 Anonymous June 22, 2010 at 2:04 PM

I dont think we’re seeing the entire bridge in this picture. If you look to the far left of the photo the remainder of the bridge appears to be cut off.

83 Anonymous June 22, 2010 at 2:25 PM

I think its the martinez bridge and if you play with the picture and edit it a little bit you can see more detail.

84 Anonymous June 22, 2010 at 5:19 PM

That ain’t the Martinez Rail Bridge nor the Carquinez bridge…This bridge is too short and too low. Besides I don’t think it is a rail bridge either, it’s too whimpy…

85 ClaytonGal June 22, 2010 at 6:23 PM

Could this be in Crockett?

86 Anonymous June 22, 2010 at 7:04 PM

Could this be South Bay or South SF area?

87 Anonymous June 22, 2010 at 7:31 PM

Are we sure it is a railroad bridge?

88 EdiBirsan June 22, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Are we going at this the wrong way?
Let us work with what we know:
The ships ID.
With two ships we might actually try to find out if there is a transcript of the ships logs.
Then we need to look at their histories and find out when the two ships were in port at the same time. Given the histories we have already touched on it really narrows down the window.

The argument on the bridges is interesting, but are we forgetting the landscape and the hills horizon line which may not have changed much. So what is the perspectives on that.// does it match up with the Benicia side or the Mare Island side.

Does anyone have a good source for bridges in the San Diego area? Another possibility given the history of the Pacific Fleet.

89 Antler June 22, 2010 at 11:26 PM

The river seems the correct width for this to be a picture of the Carquinez RR Bridge, when you consider how far back the photographer would have had to stand in order to get their feet in the shot and then figure the perspective. Somehow I like the idea of them standing on docks in the Vallejo/Mare Island area. Check the far right distance contour of the hills and coast because I think that’s the cove at Port Costa, which had a thriving grain shipping and passenger business by both barge and train back in the day. Also, the far shore is still very wooded, which is more a characteristic of the Port Costa side of the rivers.

The young woman is dressed in a blouse with very intricate collar detailing, so I think she is very fashion-conscious on this occasion and wearing something new. Her outfit is very similar to those of my senior aunts when they were traveling back between maybe 1925 and 1930. Those seem to be bamboo tripod legs hanging down from what would have been an expensive professional-type extension camera.

Random suggestions: Wentling Photography in Concord might be able to ID the model of the camera and give us the dates it was in production; that could help with the excellent research bracketing already done on bridges,ships, and uniforms. Also, isn’t there a railroad museum near here—maybe even in Walnut Creek? And we might get a lot of insight from members of the Concord Historical Association (member Lind Higgins) and other Claycord historical societies. Some of our most treasured Senior citizens may very well remember such Navy events; Ruth Bancroft of Walnut Creek comes to mind because she herself was so well-traveled at about that same time. I would be grand if someone actually recognized the young woman and sailor!

Sincere thanks to all of you who have done massive research. I am learning a lot!!!

90 Julie June 23, 2010 at 3:24 AM

the woman is holding her hat and some sort of bag , purse maybe???

91 MO June 23, 2010 at 5:54 AM

Tongue in Cheek:
Let’s give MO some credit. As a Senior Citizen, she came up with some of the best scenarios re: time line and clothing and ”the camera”. ”I give”, please realize that MO is a professional investigator …. and has a nose for a mystery. ROFLOL.

Speaking of wishing some ”local elders” were still around…I wish I could take this photo to my old pal and teacher, Ruth Galindo. She was amazing with historical issues, and she knew everyone.

I think you all are very very smart, and this is advancing perfectly. And, how exciting is it to work together on a ”what is it” or a ”who done it”? We need to have a regular ”mystery” … once we solve this one, please someone come up with another, so we can go on our ”burning the midnight oil” computering.

Have a great day.
MO (who really loves you guys…you are the best of the best {for city folks}…)wink.

92 re KODAK photos - need some sleuths June 23, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Below are Kodak ads from different years. Maybe some sleuths can decipher something from these cameras and the clothing and hair in the ads. (But we don’t know that the camera in the photograph was a NEW camera – she could have had it for a few years.):

1910 Kodak: This camera looks about the right size, but the hairstyle doesn’t seem to be the same era as in the photo:

1911 Kodak ad: skirt length longer than photo; no camera shown

1913 Kodak & outfit: skirt length longer than photo; camera similar size

1913 Kodak & outfits: This hairstyle seems similar to the photo:

1915 Kodak: The outfits in this ad seem less modern than the one in the photo:

1915 Kodak & outfit: hairstyle could be similar; camera similar:

1916 Kodak: notice both the outfits and the camera for comparison:

1920s Kodak/outfit: Camera size similar; Skirt length similar but seems to be different era from photo:

1920 Kodak: notice both the outfits and the camera:

1929 Kodak: a smaller camera than in photograph:

1930 Kodak ad showing various sized cameras (both smaller and larger than in photo):

1930s Kodak/outfits: Skirt length similar; camera size similar; hairstyle similar:

1950 Kodak:

93 Photo Detective June 23, 2010 at 4:16 PM

There is a website called Photo Detective where people send photos and the site owner figures out the time and place, and who it is. We could send it there – but wouldn’t it be nicer if we could figure it out ourselves? Apparently she is well-known, having interviews on the Today Show and other national venues.

94 I Give June 23, 2010 at 5:11 PM

From “I Give”

Conversation with the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. Read the following email thread from bottom up for best continuity. Again… I give!

I give…-

Interesting question about your old photo. I forwarded your email to Dxxxxx Baker, a former Mare Island employee who has a great talent for identifying old ships, and dating historic photos. See his answer below:

–Jim Kern, Director
Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum

— On Tue, 6/22/10, wrote:

Subject: Re: Fw: Help us with an old picture please?
Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 9:26 PM

I agree with I Give that the bridge in the background is not the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge. The channel under the bridge is too narrow.

Both ships were under repair at Mare Island on the following dates. 2/15-12/21/1920; 10/3-11/20/1921
USS MacLeish (DD 220) was at the yard without USS Parrott (DD 218) on the following dates 1/18-2/28/1921. I don’t show both ships at the yard after 1921.

Occasionally destroyers would travel up the Sacramento River to Stockton after repairs at the yard. The bridge could have been in the Stockton area. A higher resolution jpg file may help in identifying the location.

The two ships were also in San Diego in 1921, but again the photo does not say San Diego to me. See photo at this link:

The two ships left for Turkey and the Med. area in June 1922. Parrott departed from Newport RI and MacLeish from Philadelphia. The photo does not appear to be Philly.

Sailor’s uniform does not say much – Undress blue jumper was authorized in 1913 and the white hat dates back to an earlier date. The women’s clothing appears to be late 1920s or early 1930.



In a message dated 6/22/2010 10:16:00 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
Dxxxxx –

Here’s a mystery photo for you. Any guesses about the location? It looks like the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge to me, but I can’t figure out the perspective, or why destroyers would be there. Any ideas?

— Jim

— On Tue, 6/22/10, I Give wrote:

From: I Give
Subject: Help us with an old picture please?
Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 9:41 AM

Attached is an old photo showing ships DD220 and DD218 that was recently found blowing down the street in Walnut Creek and posted on (a Concord area blog/news site). Everybody is trying to guess the age of the photo and location with most saying it was a shot from Port Chicago looking towards Benicia in the 30’s.

The bridge in the picture is all wrong to be the Benicia Railroad bridge. I was hoping someone there could add some educated clues like the age based on the sailor’s uniform or the known ports that the 220 & 218 would berth on the West Coast. Most are saying the uniform is pre- WWII and the woman’s clothing is 1930ish. Civilians at the dock? Some veterans said there was usually a family day where families could visit.

Thanks in advance of whatever clues you can offer.

I Give
Concord, CA

95 San Diego Native June 23, 2010 at 5:41 PM

Not San Diego.

I grew up in the San Diego area, my parents grew up in San Diego in the 1930s, my grandparents grew up in San Diego in the 1910s & 1920s. My grandfather was a navy man in San Diego, a professional historian, a teacher of San Diego History, a member/coordinator of the San Diego Historical Society, and author of many San Diego area history books.

My parents could not think of anywhere in San Diego where this could have been, or where there might have been a bridge like this near Navy Ships (nor could I), and they got out my grandfather’s San Diego history books and looked through all the photos to verify there were no pictures of such a bridge in or near where Navy ships would have been.

We are almost certain this could not be San Diego.

96 I give June 23, 2010 at 6:13 PM

The take away from Mr. Baker’s Mare Island records is this bridge could be on the east Coast or in Turkey or the Mediterranean. The sailor’s outfit is post 1913 and the two ships seemed to be hanging out with each other in the 1920’s. Another way to solve this quickly is get the Times or Channel 2 etc. to run a story about the found photo. That might garner a few more eyes on the photo to help find the spot. Forget Benicia. This is a much wider search. Do the lady’s clothes say East Coast or Europe to anyone? I am seriously bug-eyed from searching bridge websites for the entire west coast and Hawaii. This time I give, really. That picture is kicking butt and took my name.

97 Anonymous June 23, 2010 at 8:39 PM

Any bridges like that on Napa river present or past?

98 anon June 23, 2010 at 9:35 PM

I think the lady’s blouse is possibly hand-sewn. I can imagine myself sewing a ruffle like that onto a blouse – and have many years ago. But in the 1920s likely a good percentage of people had handsewn clothes.

99 seagrey June 25, 2010 at 3:10 AM

Possible brother and sister – look at the shape of faces – especially the chins. Could they be in “costume”? Would the man’s hair be a bit too long for the service at that time? Is her hairstyle common to a certain period of time?

100 MO June 25, 2010 at 4:11 AM

I wonder if these two ships were ever in a Foreign Port at the same time.
The lady looks like she could be of Turkish, Greek, Italian descent.
The clothing seems to me to be nice, well maintained, but maybe a few years prior to style of the day.
The old men sitting around the ”dock” or ”pier” ..depending on what you’d call it, might be waiting on a ferry boat.

If that Bridge isn’t local and not built in 1930 as is the RR Bridge in CA…it’s possible this photo is pre 1925. And, it could be First World War…… some of your records show where DD’s 218 and 200 were during that war? Or end of that war?

Some of my relatives came from England just after being discharged from the British Army, WWI…they came through Ellis Island in 1920. Clothing was similar but the skirts were longer in my personal photos…but, style was a matter of finances.

I’ve researched Iron Bridges/RR Bridges in the US til I’m blind. Wondering if we aren’t looking in the wrong country. Making this photo an even more precious treasure.

Were our Allies during WWI this modern? Are these bridges modern? (time: 20th Century).
Would most of our Allies been flattened by bombs yet at this time?

(this is better than a crossword puzzle to keep us elders dementia stirred…it has the power to drive us totally ”crazy”)….

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