31 January 2010

Teeth Rattling Vibration

A book review from Time on this day in 1938:

COMING, SIR!"—Dave Marlowe
What goes on behind a waiter's poker face? Many a nervous, exasperated or curious diner has often wondered. Last week a waiter took off his uniform and tried to tell. What he had to say was disappointing. Thirty-year-old Dave Marlowe (real name: Arthur Timmens) has been a ship's steward on British and U. S. liners, a waiter in New York speakeasies and night clubs, has worked in swanky London hotels, in rowdy pubs. But apparently he paid as little attention to the guests as they paid to him. As a ship's steward his main concern was with bootlegging and his amusements on shore. As a speak-easy and night-club waiter he was mostly interested in the gangster clientele, one of whom he saw shot down one night.
Waiter Marlowe found it hard to get used to the poor wages and strait-jacket discipline of English waiters, but harder to stomach the double-dyed snobbery of his fellows, the hyper-finickiness of aged guests. He was mighty glad to go to sea again. Three months after her maiden voyage he made a trip on the Queen Mary. It was his hardest job. Eighteen-hour shifts, plus the teeth-rattling vibration in crew quarters directly over the propellers, made him pine for land once more.
For most guests Author Marlowe shows astonishing tolerance. (After a charity ball in London, which kept him on his feet 19 hours at a halfpenny an hour, he could still spare a sympathetic thought for the hangovers in store for the revelers.) Main bane of waiters, says Marlowe, is tipping. On this practice he lays most of the blame for the miserable working conditions of the profession generally. Do waiters judge a man's character by the size of his tip? Says Waiter Marlowe: They do.
Arriving in Manhattan last week, Author Marlowe revealed that he has banked $5,000 since his book appeared, has contracts for two more, and will never wait on another table as long as he lives.

30 January 2010

Steering Power

From the "As a Matter of Fact" column in the Lodi Daily News, Lodi, California, on this day in 1935:

The "Queen Mary," superliner now being built, will be steered by a gyro-compass which is not affected by the earth's magnetism or the metal parts of the ship. If the ship swerves off course, a motor attached swings the wheel over to make it up.

29 January 2010

The Company's Revelations

From the Sydney Morning Herald on this day in 1932:

Could be Made to Pay.
LONDON, Jan. 29
An extraordinary revelation of the financial affairs of the Cunard Company has been made in a special circular issued to shareholders regarding the suspension of the work on the new mammoth liner, the construction of which, it is stated, could be completed if the Government would grant reasonable help by way of a loan.

It is recalled that in past enterprises, the company received special treatment in the matter of finance, notably in the building of the Lusitania and the Mauretania, for which the Government granted a loan repayable in instalments [sic].

The company is convinced that, once the new liner has been built, she can be made to pay her way, despite what the Prime Minister (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) recently stated to the contrary.

On this point the directors are explicit, as is indicated by the following quotations from the circular: -

"Your directors are firmly convinced that she is the right ship to build as well in the interests of the company as of the nation. They have never lost faith in the company's ability to operate her, either with the existing ships or later with a future sister ship. In such a manner as will enable her to pay her way; and, if opportunity is afforded, they will lay before the Government the facts upon which the company's schemes are based. Once such ships as this become possible they become inevitable, and as a matter of history in the North Atlantic it has been proved over and over again that it is the finest ship in the trade that gets the traffic, not only for its company but for its country. In other words, the fundamental basis of No. 534 - the present official name of the new liner - is purely economic.

The circular adds that the first of the new ships should be in service by 1934, unless the company makes a definite surrender of its paramount position and risks the transfer of English mails to foreign and faster ships. For some time after 1934 it would be possible to maintain the trans-Atlantic mail service effectively by "No. 534" and the existing tonnage, but, when the next replacement was due, the second ship would have to be of the same type, thus making it possible for two vessels to do the work of the three existing Empress liners. The directors are emphatic that in no circumstances would they consider building any other class of vessel, for to do so would be to engage in a losing hazard.


Some idea of the immense financial obligations of the Cunard Company is given by the following interesting information, gleaned from the circular. During the post-war years, from 1919 to 1930, depreciation to the extent of 15,267,287 has been written off the company's own ships. In the case of subsidiary companies figuring in the Cunard balance-sheet, depreciation has been dealt with on similar lines. During the post-war years the ship depreciation written off by the subsidiary companies has amounted to 16,133,000. During the period specified, the Cunard Company and its subsidiaries had paid over 6,000,000 in income tax. No receipts from the return of excess profits duty have been brought into the profit and loss accounts of the Cunard Company or the subsidiaries.  The agreement under which the Lusitania and the Mauretania were bulit terminated in 1927, when the last instalment [sic] was repaid with interest on the due date.

If the Government would extend similar assistance in respect of the new liner, work could proceed at an earlier date than would otherwise be possible.


That construction is suspended at present is not attributable to factors inherent in the North Atlantic trade nor to factors domestic to the company, but to international causes which are hampering the ordinary financial machinery of commerce, the circular adds. The keel of the new giant liner was laid in December, 1930. In the following year more than 1,500,000 was spent on construction, and work was begun on the ninth of the 11 decks. In addition to 3000 workpeople [sic] directly employed, it is estimated than [sic] 10,000 were indirectly affected by the suspension of the construction work.

Archives, University of Glasgow

28 January 2010

What's in a Name...

From the Pittsburgh Press on this day in 1934:

No Name Yet For New Ship
75,000-Ton Cunard Liner Merely Known as No. 534 in Yards

Contrary to reports the new 75,000-ton super-liner now being built for the Cunard Line has not yet been named, according to H.P. Borer, general passenger manager. The ship's official title for the time being is simply No. 534.

"We have not yet selected a name," said Mr. Borer yesterday, "and no name will be selected until a short time before we are ready to launch the new liner, which will be the world's largest ship.

"Our early ships all had names ending in 'ia,' beginning with the Britannia in 1840. We deviated from this termination a few times in the early history of the company, but not since the Gallia was built in 1879--55 years ago--have we had a ship whose name did not end in 'ia.' We have had 60 ships with these terminating syllables.

"Some have insisted that the new ship will be called the Victoria, as we never had a ship of this name. Britannia is also a strong favorite. All our ships have been named for places with the exception of the Berengaria, named for a queen, the wife of Richard the Lion-Hearted."

Photo of Berengaria:

27 January 2010

Good Gig

According to a report in the New York Times on this day in 1935, Bert Jones would fill the post of Chief Steward on the not-yet-completed liner, Queen Mary.

26 January 2010

A Harassed Group of Men

In the New York Times on this day in 1946:

439 GI BRIDES SAIL FOR THE U.S. TODAY; Army Officers Ask Relatives Not to Hamper Arrivals by Seeking Information

Officers of the Army's Port of Embarkation in New York--a harassed group of men whose principal concern now is the pending arrival of 60,000 GI war wives and their children--issued an appeal yesterday to husbands and relatives to lessen the Army's burden in handling the coming invasion.

25 January 2010

Sorrell on the Air

Excerpted from Time magazine's "RADIO: Program Preview" column on this day in 1954:

"TELEVISION Person to Person (Friday 10:30 p.m., CBS). Ed Murrow talks to Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt and Captain Donald Sorrell of the Queen Mary."

24 January 2010

Private Life

Disembarking in New York from the R.M.S. Queen Mary on this day in 1949: Noel Coward.

23 January 2010

Avery Important Passenger

Excerpted from an article in the Toledo Blade, Toledo, Ohio, on this day in 1948:

"ABOARD THE QUEEN MARY EN ROUTE TO ENGLAND, by telephone to London, Jan. 23 (AP) - Hopes of settling the United States' Olympic hockey controversy appear no brighter after a conference of the two central figures in the dispute--Avery Brundage [pictured] and Walter Brown. Brundage, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and Brown, vice president of the Amateur Hockey Association, talked the matter over aboard ship yesterday."

22 January 2010

Now Playing (Then)

Shown in the R.M.S. Queen Mary's cinemas on the voyage departing for America this day in 1956: "The End of the Affair," starring Deborah Kerr and Van Johnson, and "A Prize of Gold" with Richard Widmark and Nigel Patrick.

Hartford Courant, Hartford, CT


21 January 2010


On this day in 1949, the Queen Mary's own Captain Charles Musgrave Ford was raised to commodore by Cunard. Ford first took command of the ship on March 11, 1946.

New York Times
Steele, James: The Queen Mary

20 January 2010

His Majesty the King

On this day in 1936, King George V died at Sandringham House. Three years earlier he had dedicated a dry dock named in his honor in Southampton where his wife's namesake, the R.M.S. Queen Mary, would find a home after her 1934 launch, for which he also was present.

New York Times

19 January 2010

Something to Crow About

From the Pittsburgh Press on this day in 1936:

Crow's Nest on Cunard Liner To Be Cozy

The crow's-nest on the foremost of the new Cunard White Star superliner Queen Mary will be a very cozy place, totally unlike anything that has gone before, as far as comfort is concerned, says Commodore Sir Edgar Britten, who will command the huge superliner. He says that the original crow's-nest was only a barrel lashed to the mast and was absolutely devoid of all conveniences.

The crow's-nest on the Queen Mary has electric heaters, telephones for keeping in constant communication with the bridge, and is protected by a steel screen, so curved as to throw the air impinging on it in an upward direction, thus keeping the lookout's area free from chilling winds.

The Queen Mary's crow's-nest will be 130 feet above the level of the sea, high enough for a visibility of nine miles in clear weather.

Instead of a seaman shouting out to the bridge, as has been the custom, ordinary messages will be given by bell signals, a code having been arranged which will be heard throughout the various sections of the officers' bridge.


18 January 2010

Sick Leave

Headline from the New York Times on this day in 1937:

INFLUENZA DELAYS LINER; Illness Among Men Overhauling the Queen Mary Alters Schedule.

17 January 2010

Missing the Boat

From an article entitled, "People Who Miss the Boat" about George Costello, the proprietor of a launch service in New York Harbor, in the Milwaukee Journal on this day in 1949:

"The Queen Mary, for instance, was slowed down on her trip out of the harbor recently when it was learned that a messenger with heart serum for one of the passengers had arrived at the pier too late. Cunard line officials called Costello, who rushed the messenger and the serum to the ship before she cleared the harbor."

16 January 2010

Unusual Deck Space


New Queen Mary May Create Sharp Rivalry

Glasgow, Scotland - Reports that Britain's new transatlantic liner the Queen Mary, upon completion, may lead to a sharp rivalry in reduced passenger fares, were strengthened today during an inspection of the ship by newspapermen.

The correspondents found extraordinary tourist accommodations, equal or superior to the first-class of many other ships.

Tourist passengers will have a swimming pool, lounges, cocktail bar, and a movie theatre, all in the most modern style, as well as unusual deck space.

The Queen Mary was recently listed as a cabin ship despite her tremendous size.

If her trials are successful, officials said, a sister ship may be built to "balance the schedule" of the Queen Mary.

Photo of the Mermaid Bar:

15 January 2010

150,000 Inhabitants

From The Montreal Gazette on this day in 1936:

Oil for Giant Liner

The Shell Oil Company had delivered its first load of lubricating oil to the big liner, Queen Mary, now nearing completion on the Clyde. The oil will be used in the turbo-generators employed in connection with the ship's main propelling machinery, and also for those which provide electricity for lights, steering engines, elevators, etc. The generators are powerful enough to supply electricity for a city of 150,000 inhabitants.


14 January 2010


From the "City News and Notes" section of the Eugene Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon, on this day in 1946:

Back on campus after several months spent teaching at the army university study center in Shrivenham, England, is Dr. Theodore Kratt, head of the University of Oregon school of music. Dr. Kratt arrived Monday by plane from New York City after a trip from England on the Queen Mary with the 82nd division.


13 January 2010

Economically Sound

From the San Jose News on this day in 1936:


Seeing pictures of the British super-liner, the "Queen Mary," which will be commissioned next year, and recalling the exploits of the "Normandie" of France and the "Rex" of Italy, people of the United States may well wonder why their own government does not build a big craft to compete with these super-vessels of other nations, particularly since half or two-thirds of the people who travel on these boats will probably be Americans.

It is possible, of course, that construction of such boats is not economically sound. If not, then we should not build one. Certainly, however, it would be well for us to increase the strength of our position in maritime commerce. We may not be able to go back to our position in the old clipper ship days, when our boats were the marvel of the world and dominated sea traffic everywhere. At least, however, we should not be as far down on the list as we are today.

Photo of S.S. Rex:

12 January 2010

The Old Man

From Time on this day in 1953:

FOREIGN RELATIONS: Between Old Friends

Entering the Verandah Grill of the Queen Mary, the old man walked slowly, his shoulders stooped by his 78 years.

Pink-cheeked, beamish, the inevitable cigar in his hand and the dignity of greatness about him, Winston Churchill faced some 200 newsmen panting to know just why he had made the wintry Atlantic crossing, in such a hurry, to visit with Dwight Eisenhower.

Carefully, artfully, the Prime Minister stressed the casual nature of it all. It just happened, he said, that he was on his way to a holiday in Jamaica to "soak up some sun and some warmth—naturally I looked in to pay my respects to the President and President-elect . . . It's just a meeting of old friends," he insisted. "We've met perhaps a hundred times before . . ." No, he couldn't say what he and Ike might talk about. "I've no idea. It's to be just a private, informal conversation between old friends." Would he, perhaps, ask for more U.S. aid? "Trade, not aid," answered the Prime Minister, "is the wise policy." The old man suddenly turned sharp when a reporter recalled that recently the Prime Minister spoke of the chances of war subsiding: "I made no such statement. I said the chances of war have receded. There's quite a difference." Churchill said that resistance to Communist aggression in Korea was "the greatest event of the last five years." It had done more than anything else to improve the prospect for world peace. Then he slipped in some British caution: "And there are worse things than a stalemate. A checkmate, for instance." He still thought the free world's center of gravity lay along the frontiers of the Iron Curtain in Europe—"although I may be biased in my views."

Turning to the future of the Korean war, Churchill said it would be "a great pity for the U.N. armies—or the U.S. armies—to go wandering all over this vast China, and a great pity to make any indefinite extension of the war. At the same time, we must go on and hold our position. It doesn't follow that there will be no improvement. There's an old German saying—'The trees don't grow up to the sky.' "

Twenty minutes of question & answer done with, Winston Churchill cherubically faced the TV cameras. "Truly wonderful," he said, lifting his fingers in the old V-for-Victory sign, "to think that every expression of my face is being viewed by millions of people ... I only hope the raw material is as good as the method of distribution."

That evening, at the Manhattan home of Old Friend Bernard Baruch, the Prime Minister had his visit with Old Friend Eisenhower. The President-elect dropped in on the way home from his Hotel Commodore headquarters. Eisenhower, who had last seen Churchill in London during his May 1952 farewell tour as NATO commander, said to the Prime Minister: "You look much better than when I saw you last."

Ike went on home to dress for dinner. He was soon back again. There were no immediate communiqu├ęs on what the two old friends said to each other.

11 January 2010

Bad Trip

From The Palm Beach Post on this day in 1950:

"Worst Passage"

NEW YORK (AP) - The liner Queen Mary, buffeted by winter storms and heavy seas, arrived Tuesday, 24 hours late.

Captain George E. Cove, master of the giant ship, said "It was the worst passage of the North Atlantic that I have made in a good many years."

10 January 2010

Floating Holiday

From the Times Daily on this day in 1962:

Million Pound Offer For Queen Mary

LONDON (AP) - Holiday camp millionaire Billy Butlin has offered a million pounds - 62.8 million - for the liner Queen Mary when she is retired in five years.

Butlin said Wednesday night he wants to turn the 81,237-ton Cunard ship into a floating holiday camp off the English south coast.

Cunard chairman Sir John Brocklebank said Tuesday he would like to convert the liner - now 27 years old - into a luxury hotel in the Caribbean.

09 January 2010

De Luxe

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on this day in 1936:

Dog Kennels Feature of New Super-Liner

De luxe accommodations will be provided for dog travelers on the new Cunard White Star super-liner Queen Mary. Twenty-six up-to-date kennels, constructed on hygienic principles and arranged in two tiers, have been built for the dogs on the top deck of the giant ship.

08 January 2010

On the Air

From the Montreal Gazette on this day in 1936:

'Queen Mary' on the Air
The British Broadcasting Corporation, in co-operation with Cunard White Star,, [sic] will carry nightly broadcasts from the big liner, Queen Mary, when she makes her maiden voyage [pictured - cabin class main dining room] to New York in May. Present arrangements are for a special broadcast to be given at the departure from Southampton, and it is likely that the arrival at New York will also go on the air. In all probability there will be a tie-up with Canadian and American stations.

Many parts of the ship will be wired for microphones. There will be 28 points available.

07 January 2010

New Queen Rising

Headline from the New York Times on this day in 1966:

NEW QUEEN RISING IN CLYDE SHIPYARD; Replacement for the Mary Is Slowly Taking Shape


06 January 2010

Amusing Anecdote

From a column entitled, "Bon Voyage," in the Pittsburgh Press newspaper on this day in 1967:

NEW YORK- A young woman recently boarded the Queen Mary to wish her aunt a good voyage. She asked the purser for her aunt's cabin and was directed to No 268.

When she got there, the cabin was empty. But in time, by tracing laughter and the popping of champagne corks, she found her way to C-122 in which her aunt, her father, other relatives and old friends were celebrating the sailing.

The party was at its height when a gentleman walked in and identified himself as a Mr. Russell. "This is my room," he said, displaying a ticket marked C-122. The aunt blushed and dug in her bag. She then came up with her ticket, also marked C-122 and brightly said: "Well, Mr. Russell, I guess I'm your roomie."

Mr. Russell pondered this for a moment and replied: "That's very nice, but...ah...have you seen my wife?"

Things got straightened out in time, the party was transferred to its rightful cabin, C-268, and one of the relatives commenting on how the British had mixed up the bookings, declared: "That's how they lost the empire."


05 January 2010


On this day in 1949, the Queen Mary set sail for New York, her hull patched with 125 tons of concrete. The ship had gone aground in a storm in Cherbourg the previous Saturday and it took twelve hours before she could get free and return to Southampton. Bad weather and mud prevented her from departing for New York for another four days. The delay cost Cunard $80,000.

Among impatient passengers to depart the ship before she left for New York was Russia's U.N. delegate, Jacob Malik.

The Reading Eagle, Reading, PA

04 January 2010


From the "Ships and Travel" column of the Montreal Gazette on this day in 1936:

Queen Mary's Lifeboats

When the new Cunard White Star liner Queen Mary leaves Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York next May, she will equipped with the greatest fleet of lifeboats ever carried by an Atlantic liner. The fleet will comprise 24 massive all steel boats. Twenty-two of the boats measure 36 feet long, 12 feet wide and 5 feet deep, the remaining two being 30 feet long, 9 feet wide and 4 feet deep. Each boat will be large enough to accommodate 145 people--a greater number than the entire complement of 115 passengers carried by the first Cunard steamship "Britannia" in 1840.

All of these lifeboats are driven by powerful Diesel engines, capable of a speed of six knots. This is the first complete installation of Diesel driven motor life boats. Among their leading advantages are complete immunity from electric failures, greater safety than gasoline life boats, and speedy starting in cold weather. Two of the life boats will be specially fitted with high speed diesel engines of 18 H.P. and will also carry an up-to-date wireless unit.

Special engine heating circuits are provided at the davits so that the lifeboats can be lowered fully loaded with their engines running in the coldest weather under the control of a single man. Each boat, on touching the water, will be automatically released.

Each lifeboat will be "unsinkable.," [sic] thanks to copper tanks allowing an overload safety margin of 25 per cent. A flat side deck level with the top of the gunwale will permit rapid embarkation and access, reducing the danger of injury to occupants when boats are lowered.

In case of an emergency, the number, size and arrangement of the lifeboats will ensure every child, woman and man on shipboard locating their place in a lifeboat with the least possible delay.

The equipment of each lifeboat will consist of 21 pounds biscuits per passenger; one quart of water per passenger; one pound tin of condensed milk per passenger; one tin of red distress flares; one oil lamp to burn eight hours; one tin of oil for same, one box of matches in soldered tin; one gallon tin of fish oil--for calming rough waters; one canvas sea anchor; draft line and tripping line; two axes; one compass spirit type with lamp; one set of oars and two spares [sic] one and half set of rowlocks [sic] one bucket; one bailer; one mooring rope or painter, and two bilge pumps.

03 January 2010

Moderate Costs Prevail

From the "Ships and Travel" column in The Montreal Gazette on this day in 1936:

Bookings are Heavy

Actual bookings may be made for all scheduled sailings of the Queen Mary, with the exception of the de luxe space, on the ship's maiden voyage, for which many hundreds of applications in excess of the ship's capacity have been received, it was announced yesterday by Arthur Randles, general passenger manager for Canada of Cunard White Star Limited.

All departments of Cunard White Star Limited have been holding hundreds of applications for space for many months awaiting decision as to rates for the respective classes. The schedule of rates indicate that moderate costs are going to prevail on the new superliner. According to present plans, the Queen Mary will carry 735, 760 and 580 in the three respective classes--a total of 2,075 passengers.

02 January 2010

A Gargantuan Order

From the Sydney Morning Herald on this day in 1936:

Giant New Liner.

We have all been so inquisitive about the size of the Cunard-White Star liner, Queen Mary, and her engines and decorations, that we quite forgot in our excitement that she will also have a record-breaking linen store. The giant vessel will carry enough cotton and woollen [sic] goods to equip the homes of quite a large town, sheets, tablecloths, dusters, blankets, and whatnot to the tune of 45,000, having been ordered from gratified firms in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Northern Ireland.

This gargantuan order comprises about 500,000 articles, ranging from dusters to towels (there will be over 200,000 of these) and from oven cloths to bed coverlets and counterpanes, the huge supply having been made necessary by the shortness of the vessel's stay in port between voyages.

Outstanding figures in the list of the 41 items to be supplied include: Pillow slips, 31,000; sheets, 30,000; tablecloths, 21,000; serviettes, 92,000; towels, 210,000; blankets 5600; bed coverlets and counterpanes, 8500; pantry cloths, 12,500; waiters' cloths, 12,000; oven cloths, 3100; dusters, 3000; linen bags, 2200.

Not all of these items will be ready-made. Almost half, as a matter of fact, are being cut from the cloth and "finished" by the Cunard White Star Company's own linen department at Liverpool, where expert machinists have long been working at high pressure. The designs on many of the patterned goods are by the department, but many others have been brought out in collaboration with the manufacturers.

It is whispered that her Majesty the Queen, who lent her name to the vessel and christened her, is to be invited to make a short voyage before the liner is put on to the regular schedule. The suggestion is tentative, for the Royal presence must naturally be governed by many circumstances; but if the idea comes to anything, both the company and the public will regard the event as the happiest possible augury. Perhaps, before these lines can be read, the matter may have been settled one way or the other.

01 January 2010

A Bad Guess

Excerpted from an articled entitled, "Manhattan," by George Tucker in the San Jose News, San Jose, California on this day in 1940:

"On the other side of the pier, in the slip occupied by the two greatest oceanic liners afloat, lay the Normandie and the Queen Mary. There had been a rumor that the Queen Mary might slip out during the night and try to get back to the mother port, and though it was no weather for a fireside adventurer to be abroad in, I went down to the waterfront, just on the off-chance that something would be afoot.

In her dull, battleship gray she looked like a ghost ship, but if she intended to make a break for it, there was much that needed to be done. Her funnels were covered. Already the salt had caught her great anchors. Her chains were rusty and a great drift of river moss which she had brought up from the bottom trailed from her anchors to waterline. She rode high, which bespoke an empty hold. Her lifeboats--nine rows on each side--were canvas covered and locked.

As I eyed her mighty prow Officer 4447 eased up beside me. I showed him a card which asked that all police help me in whichever way is possible--a reporter's police card. "That's all right," he said. "Ordinarily they don't want strangers to stand around here." He was very nice, very courteous.

Pier 90 is a city pier, and that is why the city's police are on guard...If anything happened to the Normandie, or the Queen Mary, the city would have to answer some embarrassing questions.

I tried to count the portholes along the limitless sides of the Queen Mary, but gave it up after 79 had been reached. There were too many, and the distance too gray and far.

A good guess is that the Queen Mary will sit tight until the end of the war. She and the Normandie would be Utopian prizes for a U-boat captain..."

U.S. National Archives