Galveston Park Board Meeting
October 20, 1998
Big John Fredricks (National Vice-President of Submarine Veterans) and I attended the Park Board meeting today at 0830. When the Board got to the Seawolf Park "Amended Budget" item, the director, Mr. Muller, read the preliminary position of the operations committee. He said they recommended the staff at SWP be cut to two employees, the manager and one other; and the concession stand be closed. When he reached the topic of the naval display (Cavalla) I approached the Board and gave my speech. Basically, I rambled on about the importance of the Cavalla, for the community and for history. I addressed the issue of the Parks Board's failure to plow money back into the sub when times were good, as recent as 6 years ago. I also acknowledged the area SUBVETS lack of involvement, and proposed that we all start fresh with the same goal: to improve the condition of the USS Cavalla through a combination of Park Board and SUBVETs efforts, to help raise public awareness, and to explore funding options. I mentioned the Lexington in Corpus and how popular it is, and touched on getting the Park in the black so it can sustain itself. If I remember correctly, I summarized by dismissing the competition "IMAX theaters and two-passenger bicycles" presented in contrast to a war memorial and an authentic WWII submarine, one that actually sank a capital ship. I asked that the decision to close the display be postponed if not reversed.
Big John then stood and gave a speech. He asked how many members were veterans; three were, including the eldest, Mr. Lucas. John insisted that the Cavalla was a war memorial, not a display. He said the SUBVETs were very interested in working with the Parks Board in finding a solution that will allow "our children and grandchildren to visit the Cavalla".
Mr. Lucas asked John how many SUBVETS there were. John replied about 70 members in the Texas Area, and 20,000 around the country. Mr. Lucas asked if we could help raise money, suggesting that if we could get $10 donations, that could help get repairs started. Mr. Lewis, Chairman, then said they would like for John and I to return next November and work with two of the members as a committee to outline a framework to begin work on Cavalla.
Okay, here's what I have to say now. It's time to ante up and put our money where our mouth is. Do we want to get involved in trying to save a WWII submarine? Will we continue to write letters every so often to politicians and foundations? Will we chip in a few bucks to present the Parks Board with a "fiscal show of force"? Will guys in the area show up on occasion to scrub, paint, and work? Do Texans value the contribution our fathers, granfathers, and uncles gave in 1944?
I think so.
No, it isn't totally easy. $10 might mean hardship for some (put back that six-pack this Sunday!). There will be some time demands we Houston guys aren't used to-8~16 hours a month. This situation requires some sacrifice, some effort, and a lot of loyalty to the cause. But ain't it a damned fine cause! My intentions are to raise some money between now and the November meeting to show the Park Board we mean business. I do NOT intend that we cover the majority of the costs (we can't) but this will grants us credibility and persuade the Park Board to allot sufficient funds to maintain continuous progress on Cavalla preservation.
As John will testify, today as we toured the sub and evaluated her needs, my ideas are as cost-efficient as they come. She will never be a Pampanito or Bowfin, but she will be a memorial we can be proud of. I also propose that we make one volunteer day before the meeting, cleaning up one specific compartment. And I'm going to try to get some large, presentational placards made for the after battery compartment that will document Cavalla's history, the sinking of Seawolf, the role submarines played in the war, the role nuke submarines played in the Cold War, and other items of interest to tourists. This will give fathers and mothers something to read while inside, and they'll naturally spread this knowledge to their sons and daughters.
With a donation fund from dedicated submariners, a volunteer day logged, the Cavalla Rally on Nov. 10, and some new placards and improvements for the tourists, I firmly believe we can work with this committee and get that money the Parks Board owes Cavalla.
I will be adding a Pledge webpage to the Cavalla website. Please don't be cynical about this. The power of numbers will contribute to a decent fund for paint and jackhammer rentals. The Pledge page will contain a donation roster and a link to an account page. I intend that the books be open and on-line. I'll get an account set up for volunteers use only (not dinners or gas money).
Most of my ideas for preserving Cavalla are outlined in the Preservation Overview section of the Cavalla website.
INDEX | BULLETIN BOARD | NEWS | HISTORY | TOUR | CREWS | WWII ROSTER | PLEDGES