PENDLETON — The SS Pendleton never traveled to its landlocked namesake, but the Pendleton Public Library might have the next best thing.
David Parrish, of Seattle, met with Mayor John Turner and City Manager Robb Corbett to present a scale model of the tanker, which famously wrecked off the coast of Massachusetts in the 1950s. Parrish donated the model to the library, which is placing the model in a display case near the library’s elevator.
Parrish, 78, grew up in Pendleton before moving away to Seattle in 1966. A retired electrician and Boeing employee, Parrish has been an avid modeler for years. He said a modeling kit for the SS Pendleton had been sitting in his closet for some time, but the thought of donating the completed model to his hometown helped compel him to spend the hundred of hours he needed to make it.
“I had a lot of fun in this town growing up,” he said.
Parrish also remarked on the SS Pendleton’s history, which was dramatic enough to capture the attention of Hollywood.
Built in Portland in 1944, the SS Pendleton was a 504-foot-long oil tanker that was traveling up the East Coast from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when it ran into a storm near Chatham, Massachusetts, in 1952. Beset by strong winds, heavy snow and 60- to 70-foot-tall waves, the storm eventually broke the SS Pendleton in two, endangering the boat’s 41-person crew.
The U.S. Coast Guard deployed a lifeboat to save the crew from the shipwreck, and despite facing the same inclement conditions that led the SS Pendleton to its fate, the Coast Guard was successful in saving almost the entire crew.
The guardsmen who saved the crew were awarded Coast Guard’s Gold Lifesaving Medal and were the subject of a 2009 book, “The Finest Hours.” In 2016, Disney produced a movie of the same name that dramatized the events.
Turner and Corbett thanked Parrish for his contribution to the library while listening to him share memories of his younger years in Pendleton.
The SS Pendleton may be gone, but a piece of its memory lives on in the city it was named after.