Inside this Issue
Glimpse into the lives and passions of the diverse group of women who comprise today’s DAR membership.
Take a step inside the DAR Museum for a closer look at its fascinating collection.
Learn about the interesting historical articles from this issue.
To Come in Our Next Issue
Preview the exciting stories to be featured in the next issue of American Spirit.
Port of Call
Volume 152, Number 4
By Lena Anthony
Photograph courtesy of Fernandina Beach News-Leader
One Florida Daughter found her calling in the bustle of the maritime industry
When a cargo ship is in port, every minute matters. Ships pull in, unload, reload, refuel and then head back out to sea. The faster all of that can happen, the better, not just for port costs but also for the flow of cargo.
“Time is money at a port facility,” said Victoria Robas, member of Amelia Island DAR Chapter, Fernandina Beach, Fla. “For everyone’s sake, ships need to be at port as little as possible.”
Up until her retirement this year, Ms. Robas spent the last 23 years working for the Jacksonville Port Authority, most recently as director of marine operations for the Blount Island and Dames Point marine terminals, which together cover 1,300 acres along the St. Johns River. With easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, the terminals serve some 40 ocean carriers transporting all sorts of goods worldwide. Jacksonville is one of the largest vehicle import/export centers in the United States; it’s also the origination point for the majority of cargo headed to Puerto Rico.
“When the circus went to Puerto Rico, it came on a ship that was loaded in Jacksonville,” Ms. Robas said.
Her career path to the maritime industry was a winding one. Though happy in her hospitality job in Atlanta, Ms. Robas couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more for her.
“My father died when I was young, but I can still remember the exciting stories he would tell about his work as a marine surveyor,” she said. “He would survey boats that had gone aground or were in a bad accident to see if they could be salvaged.”
She got in touch with some family friends in Savannah, Ga., a major U.S. seaport, and started learning the trade. She also picked up the specific lingo of the maritime business. POPO means pump off-pump on, which usually means the ship is carrying liquid cargo, she explained. RORO is roll off-roll on (vehicles), while WOWO stands for walk off-walk on, like cruise passengers, or those circus animals headed to Puerto Rico.
After three years in Savannah, Ms. Robas moved back to her hometown of Fernandina Beach, Fla., where she worked for a company revitalizing the city’s historic port. A year after receiving her master’s in business administration, Ms. Robas received a career-changing call from a friend at the Jacksonville Port Authority: The smallest of the port authority’s three marine terminals needed a new marine director; would she consider applying?
At a time when waterfront work was considered a man’s job, accepting this position could be considered trailblazing. But Ms. Robas didn’t see it that way.
“I was there to do my job and help run our operations as safely and efficiently as possible,” she said. “Taking attention away from that to focus on my being a woman would have been counterproductive.”
Retirement was a hard decision for Ms. Robas, who misses being on the waterfront and working with long-time colleagues. But she’s also happy to finally have time to pursue her passions, which were put on a 23-year-long hold due to the demands of her job.
Ms. Robas has been writing a family history, based on dozens of World War II-era letters written by her parents detailing the war and their budding relationship. And in 2003, Ms. Robas purchased a 10-acre tract of land, where she has planted rows upon rows of blueberry bushes. A late freeze and Hurricane Irma wiped out much of her crop last year, so she’s now working on rebuilding. In a few years, she plans to open up her farm to the public as a pick-your-own blueberry business.
“Tending to the farm and spending hours weeding are so relaxing to me,” she says. “The stress melts away.”
For more Today’s Daughters, please click here.
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The Golden Hour
Volume 152, Number 4
Urbano Lopez’s lithographic print shows San Francisco around the time of the 1849 California gold rush. Lopez, most likely of Mexican descent, depicted the “City by the Bay” right before its population boom. This 10 1⁄8" by 12 5⁄8" print illustrates the various buildings and landscape features that distinguished the city. The city’s customs house, jail and city hall are recognizable as the three largest buildings in the image.
Not much is known about Lopez. His signature can be seen in the foreground, to the right of the two figures looking over the city. This same signature can be found on a number of 19th-century prints of city vistas and Mexico City street scenes and interiors. It is not known if Lopez himself ever traveled to Europe; however, lithographic publishers in Paris printed some of his work for the European market.
For more National Treasures, please visit the DAR Museum's Featured Objects.
Visions of America: Family-Owned Orchards by Courtney Peter
Feeding their communities for generations, family-owned orchards have branched out into pick-your-own days open to the public and educational opportunities for local schoolchildren.
A Stage Revival by Courtney Peter
Years of modifications, wear and repairs had dulled the 1929 stage of DAR Constitution Hall, but thanks to a meticulous renovation, it more fully reflects the beauty and artistry of its original design.
A Bonnet of Her Own by Abbey Dean
It’s unknown whether Betsey Metcalf Baker truly created America’s first straw bonnet, but her method of braiding straw paved the way for the 19th-century bonnet industry in New England.
Colonial America’s Portraitist by Megan Hamby
Though John Singleton Copley became a well-known painter in 18th-century Boston, capturing the personalities of America’s Revolutionary heroes, he was torn by the conflict and escaped to Great Britain when war began.
‘Ships of Inland Commerce’ by Bill Hudgins
In the early decades of the 1800s, Conestoga wagons carried tons of freight along America’s primitive roads. Though their usefulness waned with the emergence of the railroad, they were once considered the 18-wheelers of their day.
Spirited Adventures: Anchorage and Denali National Park by David Chaniott
Anchorage started as a railroad town in 1915 and remains a transportation hub for the vast state. It draws visitors for nature adventures and wildlife viewing and as a launching pad for reaching Denali National Park.
Historic Homes: Tudor Place House and Garden by Jamie Roberts
Once home to six generations of Martha Washington’s descendants, including an early DAR member, this William Thornton-designed home is now a museum that celebrates the people who lived and worked there.
Our Patriots: Christopher Greene by Bill Hudgins
Colonel Greene led the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, made up of mostly enslaved African-Americans who fought honorably throughout the war, including at the Siege of Yorktown, motivated by the promise of their freedom.
Plus the President General’s Message and Whatnot
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To Come in September/October 2018:
Laird & Company, America’s Oldest Distillery
Historic Houses of Odessa, Delaware
What to Know When Purchasing a Historic Structure