The Voyage to Israel on the Exodus: Dvora’s Memoires
Thursday morning, July 17, 1947, I stood on deck and watched the British warship come close to us, to look us over I suppose. When the British got very close, the Americans who sailed our ship began to sing “The Yanks Are Coming” over the loudspeakers, to make fun of the British. Then they played the English song “Pomp and Circumstance”. Humor and songs were the only weapons we had.
That morning our ship’s name was not yet the Exodus, it was still the S.S. President Warfield, a battered old Chesapeake River boat. Late in the afternoon I saw a friend of mine, a Belgian boy, struggling with a long piece of cloth and some paint. He had explained he was going to paint the name of our ship on the sheet: “Haganah Ship Exodus 1947”, and hang it over the side. He said that he was going to paint it in English and someone else would paint another sheet in Hebrew and hang it over the other side of the ship.
I wanted to help him, so I picked up the paint brush that was next to him. I put the brush in the cooking pot full of paint that he had, and then I stopped. He laughed because he knew what was troubling me. I did not know how to write Exodus in English. He taught me and together we painted the sheet. I was feverish, sick with something, and I was not able to sleep because of the heat.
When I nearly fainted and sat down, he continued the job. When I felt better I took the brush from him again. After a while we finished the job. That is how our ship became Exodus.