By Carol McCracken
Under a warm, blue sky this morning Mayor Ed Suslovic welcomed and thanked a consortium of companies and individuals for donating their time and expertise to restoring the memorial to the USS Portland which recently began. The Mayor whose father served in World War II said it is most important that memorials such as this mast from the USS Portland be preserved as a reminder to all of us of the sacrifices of human lives made for our freedom.
The Mayor spoke to a gathering on the Eastern Promenade composed mostly of representatives of the companies participating in the restoration and city employees. The blue backdrop of the Harbor served as a poignant reminder of the major role it played in protecting our shores in World War 11.
The list included Cianbro Corp., Seacoast Scaffolding, Maine Masonry, Hertz Equipment Rental, AH Harris Company, Clean Harbors, Richardson Monument, Cumberland County and the City of Portland.
The highlight of the ceremony was the presence of Mary Doughty, 87 years old, and her delightful husband of 67 years, Waite. He was with her today. It was Mary who christined the ship in Boston Harbor in 1933. Her father, Ralph D. Brooks, was chairman of the Portland City Council and with that went the responsibility of selecting the person to christin the ship. “So, he chose me,” she said, grinning broadly.
Mary, who still has the pieces of the bottle preserved in a gold case, said there was no champagne used back then for the christining – it was during prohibition when alcohol was outlawed. Instead, the bottle contained mineral water. And chances are pretty darn good that this handsome couple will be back on November 11, Veterans’ Day, for another swing at the historic mast with a bottle – this time of champagne! Congratulations to Mary and Waite.