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Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats

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Sourdough 19 Dec 99 - 05:54 PM
Callie 19 Dec 99 - 09:36 PM
Gary T 20 Dec 99 - 01:41 AM
Steve Parkes 20 Dec 99 - 07:42 AM
Sourdough 20 Dec 99 - 12:39 PM
Gary T 20 Dec 99 - 03:11 PM
Mudjack 20 Dec 99 - 06:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Dec 99 - 07:49 PM
Sourdough 20 Dec 99 - 09:09 PM
Steve Parkes 21 Dec 99 - 03:43 AM
Sourdough 21 Dec 99 - 04:01 AM
Steve Parkes 21 Dec 99 - 10:37 AM
Mudjack 22 Dec 99 - 01:53 AM
Sourdough 22 Dec 99 - 02:17 AM
PoppaGator 25 Feb 05 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,Chanteyranger 25 Feb 05 - 04:24 PM
Lady Hillary 26 Feb 05 - 12:43 PM
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Subject: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Sourdough
Date: 19 Dec 99 - 05:54 PM

I am writing a book about Henry Kaiser, the WW II industrialist and just learned that there is a Beatles song that may mention him as well as a man named Higgins who's landing craft design in WW II made invasions from the sea much more practicable.

The Kaiser shipyards built nearly fifteen hundred ships (Liberty Ships, Victory Ships, aircraft carriers, tankers, troop carriers, etc) during WW II making Kaiser one of the most important manufacturers of war materiel during that time.

THe lyric of the song is quoted in a chapter of a book about Kaiser's idea for a gigantic air freighter which turned out to be the Spruce Goose. The lyrics are credited to McCartney and Lennon in 1967 and the only words quoted are:

"Misters K and H assure the public that their production will be second to none."

I would love to find the song this is from, to look at the context, to decide whether this can possibly be about Kaiser and Higgins.

Anyone know the answer or perhaps where I could find it?

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Callie
Date: 19 Dec 99 - 09:36 PM

The song is "Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite" and it's on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I've read that Lennon just took the lines for the song from an old circus poster pretty much word for word. Hope that helps! Callie


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Gary T
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 01:41 AM

The opening line of the song mentions Mr. Kite. Shortly afterward (3rd line, I believe), is the line "The Hendersons will all be there", with the context implying that they are performers. So now we have a Mr. K and a Mr. H--there are your "Messers K and H". If I remember correctly, John Lennon was quoted as saying what Callie mentioned about the lyrics coming from a poster. I would have to think the author of the book you read, Sourdough, made a gigantic assumption, but a very incorrect one.

Incidentally, I have always heard that the "Spruce Goose" was the brainchild (and dismal failure) of Howard Hughes, and have never before heard Henry Kaiser's name associated with it. Am I ignorant about Kaiser's role in this, or is this author making all this stuff up?


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 07:42 AM

Messrs K & H are Mr Kite and Mr Henderson ("the Hendersons will all be there/Late of Pablo Fanque's fair"). The words are taken from an old fairground poster that Lennon had on his wall, so - nothing to do with Kaiser's shipyards I'm afraid! (And would a Liverpool lad praise an American shipbuilder?)

Steve


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Sourdough
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 12:39 PM

I think you all have cleared up the K & H story very nicely and I thank you for that. It seemed perhaps a little lss farfetched for me because the Greatful Dead did write a song about the destruction of Kaiserville by a flood. Kaiserville which came to be known as Vanport, was a city built on an island in the Columbia River and for a while was the second largest city in Oregon as well as the largest preplanned community in the US. After the war, a flood washed almost the entire town away.

About the Spruce Goose - The giant airship was Kaiser's idea. He is generally credited with making it public during a speech at the launching of one of his ships early in the war. He postulated that it made a great deal more sense to build a fleet of giant air freighters to fly over the German U-boats than trying to put out so many ships that the Germans couldn't possibly sink them all!

THe US government and the US aircraft manufacturers would have preferred ignore the idea but Kaiser was so well known and so respected for his accomplishments leading the building the great western dams, bringing them in ahead of schedule and below cost, that they couldn't. Aircraft manufacturers did not want Kaiser in their business, too, seeing him as a possibly gargantuan competitor after the war if he got started now, with government help. The government OK'd the air freighter plan but refused to give Kaiser the priorities needed to get strategic metals such as aluminum and titanium. However, wood wa available.

The only builder who seemed to have the imagination and courage to take on the project was Howard Hughes and the two men and their companies went into a partnership agreement.

Some of the participants on the Kaiser side told me that Kaiser rapidly became concerned about the stability and judgment of Hughes. The agreement was ended. Instead of a thousand of these planes flying war materiels to Europe, there was just the one Spruce Goose and she didn't fly until after the war was over (and then the only distance she logged in the air was less than a mile).

Thank you all for your help -

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Gary T
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 03:11 PM

And thank you for fleshing out the Spruce Goose story for me. Positive ratings on imagination and courage, and negative ratings on stability and judgment, sound consistent with what I've heard about Hughes. I didn't know anything about Kaiser except that he designed and/or made automobiles, but I'm pretty familiar with the great majority of Beatles songs. Kinda fun learning from each other.


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Mudjack
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 06:00 PM

The Spruce Goose was a project that H.H. would not let die. H.K. had the good sense to go onto to better and more promising ventures.
Sourdough,Do you have the Kaiser Story as produced by Kaiser Industries? I still have mine from the 18 years I was employed at Kaiser Steel-Fontana, Calif. The steel mill H.K. had built on the west coast to make steel for his demanding Liberty ships. The book is a brief history in words and pictures. If you do not have it, I'd be willing to LOAN it to you for a little while (sorry, not for sale).Just connect with me through the Mud's e-mail.
Mudjack


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 07:49 PM

Airplane or aeroplane please, not airship.

(Though an airship might have made much more sense for this particular purpose.)


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Sourdough
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 09:09 PM

I know that "airship" is a word usually attached to dirigibles but "flying boat" seems too limiting for this design which is huge even by todays standards.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 21 Dec 99 - 03:43 AM

Well, I've certainly learned a lot here. I'd heard of Kaiser in a very vague sort of way, and of course we all know who Howard Hughes was over here. What a pity you didn't have the jet engine in the States - those flying boats could have shortened the war, I think, not to mention the enormous saving in lives.

Talking of Atlantic convoys, The horror writer Denis Wheatley wrote a novel (the name of which escapes me, as usual!) which put forward the idea of a large number of shallow-draught rafts, strung together like a great net, with big gaps between them. The idea was that torpedoes would pass underneath them and bombs would drop between them; and they'd be so strung out that, even if one was hit, most of the raft-net would be unharmed, and still attached to itself. The idea was never tried, as far as I know. Apparently DW had been a member of a committe of various, er, lateral thinkers called together in secret by the government to come up with just such clever ideas.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Sourdough
Date: 21 Dec 99 - 04:01 AM

I recently interviewed a Canadian naval officer who had sailed in N. Atlantic convoys. He told me that the most realistic novel he had read on the subject was "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monserratt. It happened that I had already read the book and learning that it was realistic made me all the more appreciative of the achievements of the Merchant Mariners. Can you imagine sitting on a load of gasoline or munitions while you crossed a 3,000 mile ocean at 10 or 14 knots while submarines tried to pick off the ships in your convoy?

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 21 Dec 99 - 10:37 AM

If I can, it's only because I've read it too. It's one of the few books I don't think I can re-read, because it's just too harrowing.


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Mudjack
Date: 22 Dec 99 - 01:53 AM

Sourdough, Got you e-message and the pig iron piece of history sounds like a real prize.
I believe there is a great blues guitarist that bares the name Henry Kaiser named for his famous grandfather. Can any ony verify this? I guess I could get desperate enough to go through some of my old Acoustic Guitar magazines and verify what my faulty memory can't seem to recall. I think Henry K. played some projects with David Lindley or Ry Cooder.
Kaiser Steel in Fontana shut it's doors in 1984 as we watched Edgar Kaiser Jr. try desperately to salvage the operation only to get the the big boot from the Executive Board.It seems the board exec's would make a great deal of money from the sale of the steel mill. Later there was some more revealing and more beleivable information that simply said The Kaiser Foundation (non profit) could not be the at the top of the corporate pyramid. The IRS had a say in matters and the consequences of breaking up and selling off Kaiser's corporate holdings was the least painful way of settling a lot of IRS violations.

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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Sourdough
Date: 22 Dec 99 - 02:17 AM

Your memory is right. The guitarist IS the grandson of Henry Kaiser. I think his father was HJK, Jr. who died early from Multiple Sclerosis. There are more entries on the Internet for the guitarist than for the Hurry-Up Henry who might well have been President if FDR hadn't been convinced to select someone else for VP, someone with some political experience in elected office.

The Kaiser Companies (there were 90 of them - Aluminum, Steel, Permanente Cement, Kaiser Sand and Gravel, Kaiser Electronics, Engineers, Permanente Metals, Kaiser Aviation, and on and on - with 100,000 employees on six continents) were sold because it became clear that the individual companies were worth a great deal more than the single entity.

Much of the money Kaiser amassed eventually went into charitable works not the least of which is the Kaiser Family Foundation which is independent from Kaiser Permanente but specializes in research on health care needs and the evaluation of health care technologies and delivery systems. The Foundation has a terrific record of achievement. The Rehabilitation Center that Kaiser set up when his son was diagnosed with MS is one of the best in the world. People come from Europe and Asia to study tecniques developed there even though there is a waiting list of several years to come study.

In general, the fortune started by HJK, including the millions from Fontana Steel, have been put to use for the general good. BTW, ten days from today, Dec. 31, will be the 57th anniversary of the opening of the Fontana Mill which began with the blowing in of Bess #1. (I don't know whether any industrialist ever named a blast furnace after his wife. He even had a quartette, the Harmonettes, I think, sing her favorite song, "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" at the ceremony.)

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 12:28 PM

Found this thread while looking into the current "Beatles and Folk Music" discussion; the reference to "Higgins Boats" caught my attention.

New Orleans shipbuilder Andrew Higgins designed the landing craft used for the Normandy invasion and for many amphibious assaults on islands across the Pacific. His company produced huge numbers of these (wooden) boats during WWII, employing thousands of people who worked 'round the clock at various sites around the city.

He was largely forgotten by the 1990s (except for one suburban high school named in his honor, few of whose students have known anything about the Higgins after whom their school was named). However, thanks to the efforts of historian Stephen Ambrose and the bankroll of movie mogul Steven Spielberg, the recent establishment of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans has reawakened interest in the Higgins Boats and awareness of Andrew Higgins the man. (Adolph Hitler himself is said to have credited Higgins as the one man most responsible for bringing about his defeat.)

Also, after reading the thread with all its references to Howard Hughes and the "Spruce Goose," I figured ~ what with the recent Hollywood release of "The Aviator" ~ that I wouldn't be the only one to find this stuff interesting.


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: GUEST,Chanteyranger
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 04:24 PM

Before amphibious craft development really took off, U.S. forces sometimes did landing excercises in rubber rafts. They became known as "the condom navy." Some were even used in the Pacific theatre in WWII.

Chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: Help: Beatles, Henry Kaiser & Higgins Boats
From: Lady Hillary
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 12:43 PM

WoodenBoat magazine did a couple of articles about Higgins Boats a few years back. It can be accessed on their website.


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