March 30, 2017

World War II shipyard artist sketched physicians with care

Reg Machado used his artistic skills in the service of winning World War II while working in the Kaiser Richmond shipyards.

Reg Machado at his desk with launching program for SS Marine Leopard, Kaiser Richmond shipyard, 1945.

1943 caricature drawing of Kaiser Permananete physician Sidney Garfield, MD.
Dr. Sidney Garfield, by Reginald "Reg" Machado, circa 1943.

A framed set of caricatures hangs in the lobby of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, described with this caption: “Drawn in 1943 by Mr. Machado, a Richmond, California, Kaiser shipyard employee treated for a hernia repair.”

The beautifully drawn and painted figures depict three key physicians who provided care for Henry J. Kaiser’s World War II shipyard workforce in Richmond, California — Sidney Garfield, MD (1906-1984), Morris Collen, MD (1914-2014), and Cecil Cutting, MD (1911-2008).

Dr. Collen’s oral history explains how he discovered these pictures while he was in the company of Dorothea Daniels, the first female hospital administrator at the Los Angeles Permanente Foundation Hospital in 1953 and first director of the Permanente Foundation Hospital School of Nursing in Oakland, California:

1943 caricature drawing of Kaiser Permananete physician Dr. Morris Collen.
Dr. Morris Collen, by Reg Machado.

One day on rounds [probably in 1952, at the Oakland Hospital], Miss Daniels and I went through the basement storage area. In a dusty corner I saw a stack of pictures. It turned out that they were about fifteen framed caricatures drawn by the cartoonist for the shipyard paper while he was a hospital patient in Oakland. He sketched all the physicians he had met, and they all hung in the Oakland doctors' dining room for several years. One day, they painted the dining room and must have put all the pictures down in the basement, where we found them. Most of them were now broken or stained with dirt. I took them, of Dr. Garfield, Dr. Cutting, and myself, and had them restored. They have been hanging in my office since that time.

1943 caricature drawing of Kaiser Permananete physician Dr. Cecil Cutting.
Dr. Cecil Cutting, by Reg Machado.

The Kaiser Richmond shipyard newspaper Fore ‘n’ Aft reveals more about the artist, Reginald “Reg” Machado (1911-2004). He designed silk screened posters and launch programs, and was an artist for the newspaper. A biography on him published February 5, 1946, explains further:

Reg Machado probably has advanced in his own line of work as far as anyone in the shipyards. He has always been an artist. Reg came to the yards in December of 1941 with an idea ... and in order to get his idea across, went to work in Yard Two as a sign painter. But it wasn't long before he had developed what is known as the large and valuable Graphic Arts Department of which he is the Director. Born in the San Joaquin Valley, Reg swears he has never been farther north than Sausalito, nor farther south than Carmel. "However," he said, "I hope to make a long trip soon." We checked on the possibilities of this and learned he is slated to leave for the Kaiser-Frazer automobile plant at Willow Run. He will be in charge of a bigger and better Graphic Arts Department there.

1942 newspaper clipping of man with photo of man painting promotional posters.
Reg Machado painting posters, Fore 'n' Aft, September 3, 1942.

Mr. Machado later returned to the San Francisco Bay Area and operated the Reg Machado Advertising Art studio for 20 years before retiring. He returned to the Monterey Bay Peninsula with his then-wife Betty, built his own home and others, and took up landscape painting. He eventually moved to the Sierra foothills.

Permanente physicians, Oakland Hospital doctor's dining room, circa 1942. Machado's caricatures hang on the wall.
1945 launch program cover for SS Marine Leopard with an illustration of a leopard sitting under a tree.
Launch program cover by Reg Machado for SS Marine Leopard, July 27, 1945; C4 ship, the largest cargo vessel class built by the United States Maritime Commission. Arthur S. Hatch was the Western Regional Manager for the Ford Motor Company.

Further research in the Kaiser Permanente archives revealed no support for the hernia operation part of the framed images caption, and a physicians group photo with Machado's caricatures on the wall of the doctor's dining room is dated 1942. But at least we now know more about Reginald.

Just like noted California artist Emmy Lou Packard, Reg Machado used his artistic skills in the service of winning World War II while working in the Kaiser Richmond shipyards. His contribution will not be forgotten.