Joseph Part 5 – The Second of Three Remarkable People

About the time that Joseph was transferred to the Office of Ship Construction and Repair he began to work at building a house for a seven acre parcel of land that he had purchased in Annandale.  My grandmother had drawn up the blueprints for the house and my grandfather, my dad and his friends did the construction.  They mostly had weekends and holidays to work on it so it took about two and a half years to complete.  When the house was completed, the family moved to Annandale.


My dad, working on the house.

One of the places my grandparents used to go for vacations was Arundel By The Bay.  After doing so a few times they decided it would be better to have a place to live in rather than just camp.  About 1952 he bought a lot for back taxes.  This time going into partnership with a  Mr. Reynolds who I believed worked for the Secret Service.  There was a contracter he knew who had built the Farlington community which had been completed about ten years earlier but the contractor’s office had never been removed.  My grandfather and his family and his partner and as many friends they could gather took apart that building piece by piece and moved it to Arundel by the Bay.  They reconstructed the building on the lot that they had purchased which then became their vacation home.

He also bought a house on Virginia Avenue in 1954 which he and a friend of his remodeled by adding a major addition.  He never lived in the house and sold it when it was completed. When he wasn’t building houses, he was attending ship christenings.


Joseph and Eleanora Barnes


A ship christening

By 1956 his service with the Maritime Commission expired, the Commission was no longer needed and he and my grandmother moved to Brooklyn, New York to go to work for Moore-McCormack at the naval yard where he was the Chief Architect and Inspector from 1956 – 1958.  Part of being a ship builder requires you to go to where the ships are being built and so my grandparents moved about every two years to be near where his work had taken him.

Two of the ships he worked on were the S.S. Argentina and  S.S. Brasil.  These were both ocean liners (cruise ships) which had been newly re-built in 1958 as the originals were built in 1938 – both ships were were launched in Pascagoula.  These ships are no longer sailing the seven seas but Moore-McCormick did put up a website to honor the staff, crew and ships.  It was interesting to read the comments from people who had taken cruises on the ships that my grandfather built, to various ports around the world.



in 1959 he left Moore-McCormick and joined American President Lines.  Now living in Long Beach, with his extended family, (we were living with them during part of this time, right around the time my youngest sister was born,)  I believe he was working for American President Lines when President Roosevelt (Second), President Truman (First) and President Eisenhower (First) were built.

From 1962-1964 his work took him to Seattle where he lived in Puget Sound and also to San Francisco where he lived in San Mateo.  I am not certain which ships he worked on while at these locations but they were part of the President series.

The ships President Kennedy (First), President Harrison (Third), President Monroe (Third) and President Polk (Third) were built from 1964-1966.  Here are pictures of of President Polk and President Monroe which were in a box, stored at my aunt’s house.


I am embarrassed to say that in all the thirty years that I knew my grandfather, I had no idea of what he did for a living.  I would have loved hearing about all of his work and accomplishments.

One last thing that I found was a short clip of film from about 1960 which I believe is about the time they were working on President Polk and President Monroe.  If I can figure out a way to add these to this post, it will be a real treat.  There is no sound, they appear to be in a helicopter observing work being done on the ship.  It is a bit superimposed but even in that state, it adds so much life to what my grandfather did for all of those years.

For the final chapter of my grandfather’s life click here.