07 May 2010

A Right Smart Canoe

From the Toledo Blade on this day in 1948:

The Way Of The World Abroad


Editor-in-Chief of the Blade

EN ROUTE TO ENGLAND - Here I am sitting in my cabin at a cute little table which my friend Stringer, the steward, has fixed up for my typewriter and me, and I am wondering what all I am going to write about this sunny morning, and the telephone bell rings, and it is my friend, Bill McGaffin, chief of the Chicago Daily News Bureau in London. Bill insists he is going to meet us at Waterloo Station where the boat train comes in from Southampton tomorrow afternoon. I can't get used to this telegraphing and telephoning to and from an ocean liner. The phone connections are practically as good as they are in long distance connections at home. And that brings me to write something about the Queen Mary which, with her sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth, is the final word in luxury liners.

For anyone who has not been on this ship or the Elizabeth, the easiest way to describe it is to call on the imagination and see a large part of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and a section ofthe Metropolitan or Toledo Museum of Art combined into a floating palace. To live in this palace of the sea, furnished with all the elegance and ingenuity that architects, artists and builders could possibly visualize, is a thrilling experience, whether one has had the experience once or many times.

The Queen Mary is more than a thousand feet long, 118 feet wide and rises from keel to masthead 234 feet. More than 8,000 experiments with models in an experimental tank were conducted before the form of the vessel was finally determined. If the 10,000,000 rivets in this ship were placed end to end they would reach a distance of 270 miles.

The Queen Mary has 2,000 portholes and windows. Apart from the engines which propel her, she is an all-electric ship, and the energy which runs through her 4,000 miles of cables is enough to furnish lighting for a city of 150,000. There are 30,000 lamps aboard.

An outstanding feature of the ship is the provision for play. It would take a large American football stadium to cover the sports decks and the promenade spaces. People who like to travel with their dogs find a long row of kennels. Outdoor and indoor games are plentiful, and for those who care for exercise, there is the gymnasium equipped with all sorts of gadgets from a camel riding machine to a vibrating chair. Naturally, part of the athletic equipment is a big swimming pool. For the man who sat up too lte and indulged in too much there is always the Turkish bath.

Although the main dining room seems incredibly spacious and, in my humble opinion magnificent, there is the veranda grill on the sun deck for those who wish to eat by themselves in solemn elegance. To eat in the veranda grill means a cover charge of 10 shillings, or $2. The observation bar and cocktail lounge in the bow of the ship has 21 windows each 5 feet high, and the tables rise on terraces in colorful surroundings.

The Queen Mary has a shopping center like any city, with various stores, and nearby is the radio room for the transmission and reception of messages from all over the world. Although the main lounge is large enough for hundreds of people to sit in, and it equipped with a stage for concerts and other performances, the long gallery, stretching 118 feet, is of equal elegance and is a place for reading and playing cards. The public library is a beautiful paneled room, always quiet. The atmosphere of an English club or country house is suggested in the smoking room. The garden lounge, looking out to sea, is a lovely place for sitting in the afternoon sun. It would take more space than I have even to mention the long list of paintings by some of the world's great artists wihch are on the walls of the lounges and galleries. As for tailors, barbers, beauty parlor operators and all else to make men comfortable and women beautiful, there is everything here that is to be had in a large city.

The captain of this great ship - in this case the commodore - is a high and mighty person. He is clothed not only in gold braid and broad gold stripes but with extraordinary authority. The commodore has the power to do everything the judiciary and the police can do ashore - from putting you in jail on bread and water to performing the marriage ceremony.

As the hillbilly from the Smokies said, "this is a right smart canoe."

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