21 January 2011

Asta's On Board Adventure

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:


From the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on January 21, 1939:
Asta, the Thin Man's dog, who is back in Hollywood after making a picture in England, is the first passenger over to upset the decorum of the Queen Mary. En route home he escaped from his exercise yard and the ship was searched late at night for an hour before Asta was found curled up asleep in a deck chair.


The Edmonton Journal reported January 20, 1940, on the cost of keeping the Queen Mary in New York after the outbreak of war in 1939. Rent paid by Cunard White Star amounted to 25,000 GBP a year for the ship with her skeleton crew of a 100 at pier 90. The line refused to discuss specifics, but the paper learned the French Line paid 1,000 GBP a month for security for the Normandie, the Queen Mary's neighbor at pier 91. Other expenses included food for the crew and fuel for heating and lighting.


The Glasgow Herald on January 22, 1951, recounted the story of an American woman who lost her camera on a bus at Turnham Green but arrived in her cabin aboard the Queen Mary to find a note informing her it had been found by the bus conductor and would be returned to her. Moved by the gentleman's honesty, she attempted to express her gratitude to Clement Atlee, a fellow passenger on the Queen Mary. Accustomed to living in proximity to a national leader--her neighbor in the States was President Harry Truman--she was surprised to find she could not gain access to the British prime minister. The paper called it "...nearly a fine climax, almost, you might say, a conjunction of Prime Minister, President, tourist, conductor all in one symbolic group, with "Gratitude, Friendship, Honesty" on a scroll round about."


The Evening Times reported January 21, 1963, that Alexander Fasting, retired former captain of the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary, was on his way around the world aboard the cargo steamer Port Sydney. He had previously made world cruises while assigned to the Franconia and Caronia before retiring from Cunard in 1961. According to the paper, Captain Fasting believed the days of the giant liners were over.

Photo of Clement Attlee on board a tug in 1957 taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine

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