30 June 2009

Peers at the Pier

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor arrived in Cherbourg aboard the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1948 for a six month stay in France. The couple brought with them 120 pieces of luggage, in addition to their dogs.

Of his stay in the States, the duke stated that he found the campaign for president "very exciting" and "very interesting." He was right. It proved to be one of the biggest election upsets in American history, with incumbant Harry S. Truman defeating the heavily favored--and projected winner--Thomas Dewey. (The pro-Republican Chicago Tribune had so much confidence in popular opinion polls, it made history with the headline: DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN).

Start of Something Big

On this day in 1931, work began in Southampton on a dry dock big enough to accommodate Cunard White Star's new liner, job no. 534, later to be christened, Queen Mary. The ship's future berth would be named King George V Graving Dock in honor of Queen Mary's husband. The ship is pictured there [left] in later years.

Queen Mary Website

28 June 2009

Pay Up

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on this day in 1955

49 of Queen Mary Strikers Convicted

SOUTHAMPTON, England, June 28, (AP)--Forty-nine members of the Liner Queen Mary were convicted today of "refusing a lawful order" to put the ship to sea during the recent seaman's strike.
They were placed on probation and ordered to pay three pounds ($8.40) costs of court.
The charges were brought by Queen Mary's captain, who declared the 81,000-ton was prevented from sailing when the men refused an order to "single up" --cast off the lines. Instead, the men walked off ship to join the seaman's strike, now settled.

26 June 2009

Crossing the Bar

Reported in the New York Times on this day in 1958:

Donald Sorrell, Sea Captain Dies; Retired Cunard Master, 64, Commanded Queen Mary

His obituary is posted on the RMS Caronia Timeline.

25 June 2009

Speed & Progress

On this day in 1901, Maurice Lambert was born in Paris, France. Lambert, a sculptor, created for the RMS Queen Mary a group of bronze reliefs entitled, Symphony, as well as the plaster frieze, Sport and Speed, and two relief groups of anodized aluminum, Speed and Progress.

Symphony, installed on the proscenium of the stage in the first class main lounge and over the side doors, consists of five bronze reliefs of floating musicians and singers.

Sport and Speed can be seen above the shopping island in the main hall on the promenade deck; Speed and Progress, now lost, was in the travel bureau on main deck.

From The Art of the RMS Queen Mary: "All of Lambert's sculptures--in themes, materials, finishes, and style--are strikingly progressive, and most closely of any decoration on the ship, echo the currents of the Art Deco or style moderne so popular abroad."

Tate Online
The Art of the RMS Queen Mary by Douglas M. Hinkey

24 June 2009

Who's Onboard?

Aboard the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1950 were Lou Abbott and Bud Costello, known generally as Abbott and Costello of Who's on First fame, among other things. The pair are shown here on the ship's sun deck with someone's child and someone else's kilts and foreign legion caps, clowning it up for the cameras.


23 June 2009

Cruise Director

On this day in 1936, film director, Gregory La Cava, left for England aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Originally an animator, La Cava found success in feature films, directing She Married Her Boss, with Claudette Colbert and Melvyn Douglas, Stage Door with Ginger Rogers, Katherine Hepburn, and Lucille Ball, and, set to be released in the coming fall, My Man Godfrey, starring Carole Lombard and William Powell. He was hailed by good friend, W.C. Fields, as "the second funniest man in America."

New York Times

22 June 2009

Back Again

On this day in 1936, the RMS Queen Mary arrived in New York from England and France on her second voyage. The crossing took four hours longer than her maiden trip. According to the New York Times, "She made the passage of 3,158 miles from Cherbourg Breakwater to the Ambrose Channel Lightship in 4 days 16 hours and 13 minutes at an average speed of 28.14 knots."

21 June 2009

Shells, Marine Objects, Etc.

On this day in 1949, Edward Alexander Wadsworth died. An English artist, famous for his association with Vorticism, he contributed Dressed Overall at the Quay and The Sea [originally entitled Arrival] to the R.M.S. Queen Mary's cabin class (1st class) smoking room. His quasi-surrealist work elicited mixed reviews from passengers and, initially at least, from Cunard White Star. After being commissioned by the company, Wadsworth sketched out his idea of two similar paintings depicting the Queen Mary sailing along the horizon. He showed them to the man in charge of the ship’s interior design, American architect Benjamin Wistar Morris, who reported to Cunard that he was pleased with Wadsworth’s work and had approved it.

However, a few months later when Wadsworth traveled to Glasgow to present his ideas in person to Cunard's board of directors, he was let down. The original works, Arrival [aka The Sea pictured below] and Offing, each depicted a single column surrounded by nautical paraphernalia. This was not the sort of thing Cunard expected.

Familiar with his previous work, the company had assumed Wadsworth would produce something similar. As a result, J.C. Whipp, a British architect working with Morris, began to meddle with his colleague's decisions. Whipp wrote Cunard's board members on September 9, 1935: “Mr. Wadsworth's conception for these two panels appears to me...most unsuitable...both as regard to subject, scale, and proposed colour scheme.” Accordingly, Cunard allowed Wadsworth to go forward with only The Sea, insisting the other painting must portray a harbor scene. Wadsworth was less than overjoyed, feeling he had already accomplished all he could in that area and anything he produced now would be derivative.

Cunard found the resulting painting, Dressed Overall, [below] suitable, believing the image of a brigantine safely moored in a harbor would create a sanguine atmosphere for passengers taking their leisure in the smoking lounge—there were at least no troubling reminders of stormy weather to unsettle them. In an attempt to connect the two paintings, Wadsworth depicted the Queen Mary in the background of each, showing her sailing in opposite directions.

Despite his troubles with Cunard, Wadsworth remained enthusiastic about his work, particularly The Sea. Writing to fellow artist, Maxwell Armfield, he stated, “As regards to my QM panels, I should be delighted to show them to you--especially the one I am working on now ... which is almost finished. It is rather like what I was doing seven years ago, shells, marine objects, etc. but with a rather more severe composition.”

Wadsworth realized not everyone would be as enthusiastic about his work, particularly the general public. The headline of an interview he gave with the Glasgow Daily Mail trumpeted: Problem Picture in the Queen Mary. In the story, Wadsworth stated when asked that he had painted the picture to please himself. “Those shells,” he said, “are symbols of organic life and are therefore the biggest objects in the pictures, just as the Queen Mary, the largest object in life, becomes the smallest.... The cork float is a symbol of buoyancy, whilst the sextant and masthead light are symbols of orientation. The chain stands for security, and the anchor for faith.”

Wadsworth's comments were repeated in the media and included in promotional brochures. However, his statements probably did not reflect his true feelings about the painting. At an earlier time, before his commission with Cunard, he had declared, “A picture is primarily the animation of an inert plane surface by spatial rhythm of forms and colors.” In his view the object only played a role in the composition—any symbolism was accidental.

In addition to his disagreements with Cunard, Wadsworth faced other challenges. In a letter to a friend from his home in Maresfield, Sussex, he wrote, “at the moment I am tethered here painting two enormous panels ... for the Queen Mary. I think these must be almost the biggest tempera paintings since Mantegna--and the price of eggs is going steadily up in Sussex!”The Sea measures 274.3 x 182 cm and Dressed Overall 366 x 244 cm. In order to work, Wadsworth was forced to rent the village hall from the parish council, the entrance of which he had to dismantle to get the panels inside the building, because his studio wasn’t big enough to accommodate them.

Furiously trying to finish before Cunard's February deadline, there was a sudden change of plans. Cunard concluded that due to their size, Wadworth’s paintings would have to be brought into the smoking lounge before the doors had been installed. According to Wadsworth, “the Cunard people had another fit of the panics and took my panels away from me at a few hours notice…the panels are not only very big but very heavy with steel battens at the back and in moving them about six men are required. I am terrified that the surface may be scratched or otherwise ruined.” Though he wasn’t thrilled with spending the winter in Scotland, he followed his paintings there, finishing them where they would remain, in the first class smoking room aboard the Queen Mary.

Tate Online

20 June 2009

Welcome Home

The Queen Mary, aka Gray Ghost, bringing 14,000 happy American G.I.s home from war on this day in 1945:


19 June 2009

A Famous Attraction

On this day in 1951, Walt Disney and family were aboard the RMS Queen Mary, on their way to England. Disney's feature animated film, Alice in Wonderland, was set to be released little more than a month later in the United States and the United Kingdom. Apart from his role as film producer, he was at this time also working on another project: Disneyland. It would open in Anaheim, California, in 1955.

Getty Images

18 June 2009

Rio Crossing

On this day in 1936 Dolores del Rio was aboard the RMS Queen Mary on her way to New York. Del Rio had been a major star in the 1920s, until the advent of talking pictures. In 1943, she would again become a huge hit, this time in Mexico where she had been born to a wealthy family 37 years earlier. She is shown here with her pooch just before departing England.


17 June 2009

Stars Crossing

On this day in 1957, Audrey Hepburn and her husband Mel Ferrer were aboard the RMS Queen Mary on their way to Europe for a second honeymoon in Switzerland. Hepburn's latest film Funny Face, which also starred Fred Astaire, had been released the previous February, and Ferrer's picture, The Sun Also Rises, was set to be released in August.

The couple are pictured here aboard the ship on the day of their departure from a sweltering New York City.


16 June 2009

Snead a Lift

On this day in 1939, Sam Snead boarded the RMS Queen Mary on his way to the British Open, which was to be played on the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. He and Henry Cotton were the favorites to win the tourney, but instead Dick Burton took the title. Snead would win the British Open only once in his career, in 1946.

New York Times

15 June 2009

Unlucky Strike

Five hundred Queen Mary crew members left the ship on this day in 1955 to join a strike of wildcat seaman along Southampton's waterfront who were demanding shorter working hours. The crew left the ship only 10 minutes before departure, forcing Cunard to cancel the sailing. Strikers viewed this as a victory, believing that if the Mary had proceeded on her transatlantic journey, their walkout would have failed. The Mauretania, along with five other liners, remained tied up at their docks as well, though the Queen Elizabeth, Cunard's flagship, had managed to sail the previous week.

The Mary's 1,100 passengers were advised to depart the ship by an announcement over the loudspeaker; among them were members of the D'Oyley Carte Opera Company, on their way to the States for a Gilbert and Sullivan tour. Cunard provided two trains to take the stranded passengers back to London, promising them alternative transatlantic transportation as soon as possible. However, many passengers took the opportunity to fly home instead.

New York Times
Prescott Evening Courier, Prescott, Arizona USA

14 June 2009

Sail Ho!

Review from Melbourne's The Age on this day in 1958:

SAIL HO! - My Early Years at Sea

By Sir James Bisset, ex-commodore of the Cunard Line

The wartime commodore of the Cunard Line makes an outstanding contribution to the literature of the sea in this vigorous, authentic account of life under sail when deep-water sailing was making its last challenge to steam. The man who was later to command the world's biggest ships, the "Queen Mary" and "Queen Elizabeth," writes a book that will fascinate all lovers of the sea and ships. 28 illustrations. Price 25/ (Postage 9d.).

13 June 2009

Oh, Rochester...

On this day in 1950, Jack Benny, his wife, Mary Livingstone, and Eddie Anderson (better known as Benny's radio and T.V. sidekick, Rochester) were aboard the RMS Queen Mary on their way to England for an appearance in London.

"Rochester" is pictured here aboard the ship with his wife, Mamie.

Museum of Broadcast Communication Archives

12 June 2009

Ship in Two

From the Toronto Daily Star on this day in 1945:


London, June 12 - (CP) - Capt. John Boutwood of the sunken British cruiser Curacao told an admiralty court today the liner Queen Mary, with 15,000 U.S. troops aboard, broke his ship in two, and "went right on through and over the two pieces" Oct. 2, 1942.
The cruiser sank in five minutes with the loss of 338 men. Destroyers saved 101. The admiralty said the collision occurred when a submarine was heard and the Queen Mary started zig-zagging at 26 knots. The 3,290-ton cruiser turned towards the U-boat and was simply "trampled over" by the 81,235-ton liner.
Capt. Buotwood testified he thought for a moment there was a chance of saving the forward section, but the deafening roar of escaping steam and other failures caused him to decide there was no hope. The admiralty court will decide which ship was at fault.

11 June 2009


After visiting relatives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and giving a lecture at the University of Minnesota, T.S. Eliot was aboard the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1956; nearly half way to England, the poet suffered a heart attack and was tended to by ship's doctors. Upon arrival in Southampton, he would be taken off the ship in a chair [pictured] and whisked away to a local hospital. Eliot, 67, who had had experiences with heart trouble prior to his boarding the Queen Mary, would recover to live another nine years.

The Harvard Crimson
T.S. Eliot, An Imperfect Life by Lyndall Gordon

10 June 2009

Busy Boatswain

From the Toledo Blade of Toledo, Ohio on this day in 1953:

Queen Mary Sailor Faces Tough Day

Southampton, England, June 10 (UP)-Next Monday is going to be a tough day for the boatswain of the 81,000-ton luxury liner Queen Mary.

According to tradition, the red ensign flying astern is lowered in salute to passing warships. It's the boatswain's job to do the lowering.

The Queen Mary will pass seven miles of warships Monday--260 ships--gathered for the royal spithead review by Queen Elizabeth II.

09 June 2009

Skeaping Afloat

On this day in 1901, sculptor John Skeaping was born in South Woodford, Essex, England. Skeaping specialized in animal subjects and created "Deer Group" for the RMS Queen Mary, a bas relief of gilt and silvered mahogany (now lost) which decorated the inboard wall of the starboard gallery on the promenade deck. Skeaping, the son of a painter, studied at Goldsmith's College in London, as well as the Central School of Arts and Crafts. He also exhibited with the Royal Academy in 1922 and was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1924.

Tate Gallery
The Art of the RMS Queen Mary

08 June 2009

Stateliest Ship

From Time on this day in 1936:

Foreign News: Stateliest Ship

Symbol of Mother Britain's mighty and today successful struggle to get the upper hand of depression and unemployment, the Royal Mail Steamer Queen Mary, newest pride of the Cunard White Star Line and of the Empire, arrived this week in Manhattan, majestic amid bedlam. The droning, diving, zooming air planes; the squirting fireboats and shrilling sirens were to quietly delighted Britons the perfect foil for what every child in the Empire has been taught for months to call "The Stateliest Ship In Being."

Aboard as the most pleased of 1,849 passengers was the U. S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James, sedate Robert Worth Bingham, fresh from a hearty "Bon voyage!" wished him by King Edward VIII amid the pomp and gold and scarlet of the second levee of His Majesty's reign at St. James's Palace day before the Queen Mary Ambassador sailed. "A splendid ship!" glowed Ambassador Bingham. "She vibrates somewhat, as all fast ships must, but the Queen Mary is splendid!"

Almost religious was the mood in which millions of Britons had said good-by to the namesake of splendid Queen Empress Mary. On sailing day, agony columns of London newspapers carried such items as these : "R. m. s. QUEEN MARY — Veteran voyage (first crossed in M. 70's) Godspeed. MAY ALL THE VERY BEST CONDITIONS ATTEND YOU RIGHT THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER. May all your ways be pleasant ways. And all your paths be peace. And may He be with you every step of the way."

Rolls-Royce after Rolls-Royce twinkled up to the docks in Southampton, although it was Derby Day, and swank Britons scrambled to wave goodbys while broad Southampton Water was pack-jammed with British paddle-wheel steamers made joyously lopsided by passengers crowding near as possible to the Queen Mary. From Buckingham Palace the King Emperor flashed final greetings. From the Stateliest Ship began stately and soul-stirring B.B.C. broadcasts day and night to every remotest corner of the empire.

Wood, Wood, Wood. Soon passengers were chattering and bandying compliments about the feature of the Queen Mary most of them at once liked best, the frank and "shippy" use of every imaginable kind of wood in her walls, panels, bas reliefs and sculptures. Among more than 50 kinds of wood, alert fanciers assisted by Cunard handbooks were soon spotting avoidire, petula, zebrano, bubinga, makore, tiger oak, patapsko, peroba, pomla, blackbean. Some of the wood had been sprayed with aluminum glaze and gleamed like silver. Definitely and handsomely the keynote of the Queen Mary's modernistic decoration is wood, wood, wood. Witty new Member of Parliament A. P. Herbert, famed Punch contributor, wrote on sailing day, "As for the cabins—as for the eiderdowns, and the spacious beds, and the cupboards and looking-glasses and bathrooms . . . some British Homer should . . . describe where grew the trees that gave those polished panels, what cunning joiner it was that fitted them, what sempstress, nay, what silkworm it was that worked upon the bedcovers. . . .

"I could not discover a golf-course any where; but otherwise the Queen Mary seemed to me to be a well-found ship. . . [Passengers] will enjoy the brass plate [on the promenade deck] which charmingly records that Lord Burghley has made the circuit of that enormous area in 58 seconds [distance 570 yards] 'untrained and unchanged' — and, I believe, in evening dress."

Punch's droll Herbert could not leave off without proposing that "upon the Hot Seat or Vibrating Chair which jiggles" in the gymnasium, the Cunard White Star line should screw another commemorative plate: "HERE SAT, WITH HIS ACCUSTOMED DIGNITY AND CHARM, SIR HORACE DAWKINS, THE REVERED CLERK AT THE TABLE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, AND WAS VIBRATED AFTER A GOOD LUNCH, MAY 16TH, 1936."

Finally Punch printed a cartoon, sensational in England, elfinly recalling that while efforts were being made to get the Queen Mary down the river on which she was built and out to sea, she became stuck at both ends (TIME, April 6). Punch, showing a canal barge in the same predicament, had its helmsman cry to the barge captain: "Don't forget, Cap'n, the same thing happened to the Queen Mary."

As voyagers grew more & more at home, they liked especially the easy gradient of the outside deck stairways ("Easiest to climb on any ship"); the typically British kindness to animals in the ship's dog house where a fatherly sailor seemed busy all day petting, stroking, brushing; and the superb "front seat driver's view" of where the Queen Mary is heading obtained from the crescent-shaped bar forward.

Beat The French! The Cunard White Star Line and upper class Britons generally deplored any suggestion that there might be a transatlantic record beaten, but everywhere among Britain's lower classes sailing day brought candid remarks by millions that "she'll beat the French!" In Paris and in London, confident booking clerks assured Queen Mary passengers that, leaving Southampton on Wednesday afternoon, she would dock in Manhattan on Sunday afternoon (four days). Aboard the ship sailed scores of passengers with tourist-agency coupons commencing in Manhattan with dinner on Sunday night.

Actual arrival was on Monday, the Queen Mary docking almost exactly five days after she sailed, but the fact that she did not on her maiden voyage win the Blue Ribbon had been discounted not only days but months and years in advance by Sir Percy Elly Bates [pictured], Cunard White Star's long-jawed Flintshire chairman, whose gold spectacles have such long frames that the lenses rest on the very tip of his long nose, and whose jutting jaw makes his friends call him "Chin" Bates. Much like the late great Calvin Coolidge in the dryness of his remarks, in the way his mouth folds upon itself and closes like a purse after one of his Flintshire sallies, Sir Percy was easily the most eminent tycoon aboard the Queen Mary.

"She is the smallest ship and the slowest ship we could possibly build which would do the job!" Sir Percy twinkled and crinkled. "I've said so all along and I stick to it! If we had built a larger ship or a faster ship than we had to have to maintain weekly service with a pair of ships, I should have been extravagant." Steadfastly during the voyage, even when his ship was obviously pushing her pace, the Coolidge of Cunard insisted to newshawks: "I deprecate any emphasis on speed."

In the engine room, dead accurate electrical tachometers showed the shafts revolving at what engine-room technicians said was in effect "top speed," this being of course subject to some improvement as the machinery becomes "run in." Noise at the propeller shaft hull bearings resembled a subway express. The reduction gears were utterly silent, triumphs of exact British machine fitting. Distinct vibration could be felt at all times in all parts of the Queen Mary, but experienced British passengers said she vibrated less than Cunard's once super-popular Mauretania, though more than the Bremen, Europa and Rex. Aboard seemed to be nobody who had ridden the Normandie since she was reconditioned to reduce vibration but, comparing maiden voyages only, the Normandie vibrated more astern and less amidships last year than the Queen Mary vibrated last week. Statistics:

Queen Mary Normandie
Maiden crossing 4 days 4 days
12 hr. 11 hr. 24 min. 42 min. *
Average speed 29.13 knots 29.64 knots
Best day's speed 30.64 knots 31.37 knots
Tonnage 80,773 tons 82, 799 tons
Horsepower 200,000 160,000

Swank Folk aboard the Queen Mary, like everyone else, were assigned to dining room places mostly at large tables. Placards asked passengers not to request tables of one, two or three. Most tables were of six or eight, service Cunard by beaming stewards. For five shillings ($1.25) extra per meal passengers ate in the beauteous Verandah Grill directly over the propeller shafts with superb views through great glass windows. There Rt. Hon. Lord Inverclyde, onetime husband of famed Actress June, ate nightly flanked by 100% blonde and dazzling Frances Day and Anita Louise. To themselves mostly, with noses in books, kept the Most Honorable Marquess & Marchioness of Milford Haven, on the Queen Mary socialite tops.

The Most Honorable Marquess of Donegall, swank London columnist, enlivened a lunch by amusing descriptions of how his Protestant Irish ancestors long centuries ago obtained many of their lands by throwing Catholic Irish landowners over a cliff which is still in the family. With his pretty Western wife, Beverley Baxter, M.P., leading British Conservative Party columnist, entertained swanksters with amusing tales of fearful rows by the gentle men of the Press in efforts to get their dispatches off the ship. Most aroused was portly British "Skipper" Williams, oldtime New York Times ship correspondent. "My office says my wires are arriving a full day late!" roared the Skipper. "This is outrageous. These radio conditions couldn't be worse." Later the Skipper calmed down, Sir Percy Bates having personally intervened to speed his dispatches, which pronounced the Queen Mary wholeheartedly "a splendid ship."

Never able to get through an urgent private radiotelephone call to Vancouver was famed Ben Smith, great U. S. market bear, who arrived in Britain after crossing on the Hindenburg, said that he now prefers that to any other transatlantic carrier. But, beamed Ben Smith, "you can say I say the Queen Mary is a fine ship."

Star British correspondent aboard was Sir Percival Phillips. His able dispatches exactly mirrored the tranquil atmosphere of "The Stateliest Ship In Being," the largest British ship, the fastest British ship and the finest British ship, dignified and motherly as good Queen Mary herself. Flashed Sir Percival, keynoting to the London Daily Mail: "Ours has been a singularly quiet ship. . . . Very few people are about after midnight, there are no late or over lively parties."

"Schedule." A few hours of fog slowed the maiden voyages of both the Normandie and the Queen Mary but to Cunard officials the fog seemed definitely welcome. Explained hard-working Terence McGrath, Cunard public relations chief: "It showed that in any kind of weather the Queen Mary can maintain her schedule, winter or summer, if necessary making up at other times speed she is obliged to lose in fog."

Puzzling to many travelers is the advantage of "schedules" which bring such giants as the Queen Mary into Quarantine in jig time, only to have her lie there until the tide is high enough to take her into dock. Cunard White Star's answer, guessed observers, perhaps to be revealed in her first eastward crossing, would be to use their ship's high speed flexibly in future, timing her arrivals to suit the tides.

No sooner had the new Queen smartly and safely docked than everything seemed to go wrong with New York City's new municipal pier, especially built to accommodate the Queen Mary at a cost of $5,000,000. First the pier's baggage escalator jammed, then the main elevator stopped running and soon hot-collared, wealthy passengers were dashing about in a nervous rage offering dollar bills and even fives to porters who would carry their wardrobe trunks down 40-ft. of steep, steel stairs. Canny, most porters took the money, then bumped, banged, jounced and slid the trunks downstairs with deafening din.

Undamped by these mishaps was the enthusiasm of Manhattanites for the Queen Mary as they swarmed to view her at $1 per view, Cunard White Star devoting the proceeds to marine charities. Flocking to Manhattan, notables from all over the U. S. accepted with relish invitations to visit the Queen Mary from their friend Sir Thomas Ashley Sparks, the thoughtful, quietly efficient gentleman who, as resident director since War days, has long been Cunard's greatest asset and ambassador in the U. S.

*On a later crossing the Normandie reduced this to 4 days, 3 hours, 28 minutes.

07 June 2009

Cultural Exchange

Among the 1,859 passengers arriving on the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1948 was a 55-year-old Brit in a ten-gallon hat, armed with a bow and arrow who said he wanted to get to Texas. Tom, a former blacksmith, expressed interest in seeing cowboys and Indians, while his wife, Lucy, upon first glimpse of Manhattan's skyline gasped, "Billingsgate was never like this!"

St. Petersburg Times, Florida USA

06 June 2009

Kitchen Invasion

"We were Mid-Atlantic on June 6, 1944. The QUEEN carried just over 15,000 troops. We ate twice a day, my times were 2 p.m. and 2 a.m. My friend Frank Fry and I went to the kitchen, put white aprons on and pretended we were working. The officers were fed meals cooked just for them. In our efforts to work, I found a cooked, 5-lb roast, which I put under my apron and we went to the upper deck. We got behind the middle smoke stack, tore the meat apart and had our meal, out of sight, the meal and us!!"

Sam Coker, 8/12/04, Queen Mary exhibit


05 June 2009

Showing Off

Two days after arriving safely to much ballyhoo on her maiden voyage, the RMS Queen Mary departed New York on this day in 1936. Recalled Ron Winter, junior electrical officer, of the occasion:

"The voyage back to Europe culminated in another great reception in Southampton, where all the Cunard directors and a huge crowd were assembled round the Ocean Dock. Our Skipper, and Commodore of the Cunard Fleet, Sir Edgar Britten, was guilty of showing off a little when he reached the dock. The usual six tugs came out to meet us, but he waved them aside and turned into the Ocean Dock, almost a right-angled turn, without their help. Once in the dock, which did not look any too large when the Queen Mary was in it, he went full speed astern and brought the ship to a standstill in a great confusion of water only feet away from the end of the dock. I think many sightseers who were stationed at this point thought that either the ship was going to continue on up into High Street, or that they were about to be drowned in the tidal wave she caused. It was an impressive demonstration of her manoeuvrability."

The Queen Mary: Her Early Years Recalled by C.W.R. Winter


04 June 2009

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

On this day in 1937, financier J.P. "Jack" Morgan, Jr. was aboard the RMS Queen Mary, on his way home to New York. The well-known philanthropist son of America's most prominent banking tycoon had traveled abroad for the coronation of King George VI. Unfortunately, he had been unable to attend due to a heart ailment. 

He is pictured here looking hale in a stateroom aboard the ship.


03 June 2009

Hitchin' a Ride

On this day in 1938, Alfred Hitchcock was on his way to New York aboard the RMS Queen Mary. While in the States, he would make his first ever visit to Hollywood. One year later, he would direct there for the first time as well, filming Rebecca, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, at various locations in California.

He is shown here with his wife aboard the liner.


02 June 2009

Steppin' Out

Bound for New York aboard the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1939 were dancers Fred Astaire and Paul Draper. Astaire could be seen at the time with Ginger Rogers in the picture, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle. Draper appeared at many popular New York hot spots, including the Rainbow Room, the Persian Room at the Plaza Hotel, and Carnegie Hall. 


01 June 2009

Royal Entry

On this day in 1936, the RMS Queen Mary arrived in New York, ending her maiden voyage. Though she failed to win the Blue Riband from France's Normandie due to heavy fog, that didn't stop thousands of onlookers and swarms of harbor craft, boats, and even planes from welcoming her to the United States for the very first time.