17 – 19 Oct 64 : Nearing America : RMS Queen Elizabeth 

…. continued from previous letter sent from RMS Queen Elizabeth, crossing from Southampton to New York, Saturday 17th – Monday 19th October 1964.

Saturday morning  

Just been out on the sports deck which is the highest deck of all, and it is blowing a gale up there. The stewards put you in chairs and wrap you up in blankets or you can play deck games if you wish. The sun has come out at last and the sky is blue and the sea looks terrific. We have now settled down to a routine and having a great time.

Colin and I are having a great time “conning” the class barrier. After yesterday’s letter we went down to the first class swimming pool and simply by looking confident, went in for a swim – we were the only ones in the pool and had a fabulous swim. The water was very warm and very rough as the boat was (and still is, hence the bad writing) pitching pretty badly. The water was rising and falling 4ft at the sides and one moment we were swimming and the next moment we were washed out of the pool and deposited on the side. A very odd sensation!

After lunch we had a great session of table tennis with the girls followed by tea and cakes on the promenade deck. We then coolly walked into the first class cinema and saw What A Way To Go. We spend most of our time in the first or cabin class sections as the difference between our sections and theirs is incredible. It’s amazing what you can do with a bit of nerve. We have been seen there so many times we are now I think accepted as first class.

When we got back to our cabin we found to our amazement that we had invitations to a cocktail party at the purser’s cabin at 7:15pm. We couldn’t think what we had done to deserve this, but changed into suits and went. When we got there we were even more amazed as they were only six others invited besides us and these were all top passengers (one woman’s daughter is Lady something or other in England) – anyway we didn’t argue and tucked in.

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We assumed that some sort of mistake has been made and we had been invited in error. Everyone got pleasantly sloshed on tumblerfulls of whiskey. We found out later that we were invited because Colin is ex-Cunard and that Bristol had informed the ship of this. This is also why we have a better cabin at no extra cost. We then went and had a terrific dinner and went to the dance and stayed there until 3:30 in the morning.

Yesterday I began to feel a bit seasick so I got some Kwells which have done the trick. However lots of people are quite ill today. The most horrible sensation so far is to be leaning on a bar which is continually heaving up and down. I want you to keep all my letters to you so that I can keep them as a sort of diary to reread when I return. So don’t forget, hang on to everything I send you.

I will enclose some sample menus to give you some idea of the standard of food. You can have as much and as many items as you can eat and also anything on the menus can be delivered to your cabin at any time at no extra cost. We have met a woman on board who is going to fix us up with a flat so things are working out quite well so far.

Well that’s all for today, I am now going to get my camera and take some pictures while the weather is fine, more news tomorrow. We were kept informed of the election news and were all surprised at the results. Still it doesn’t affect us much at the moment so we don’t really worry. Love Tone.

Sunday morning

Well things are back to normal at last, thank heavens, and the weather is quite calm once again. Yesterday was murder, the ship was behaving like a cork. It was horrible and everyone almost was seasick. We tried to take our minds off it by playing table tennis which was hilarious to say the least, however it was no good and just before dinner I had to make an emergency dash to the gent’s.

After that I felt quite a lot better and went straight from the gents to the dinner table, and ate an enormous dinner of Turkey and Christmas pud, which surely must be some sort of record! The restaurant was almost deserted so I’m not doing too badly considering I’m not too good a sailor.

Last night we saw a film Gigi which wasn’t very good and very unpleasant to watch because of the motion. It’s an awful sensation, when the ship sinks down when it reaches the bottom, it gives an awful shudder and then you’re on the up again. Yesterday we passed the Queen Mary which was going towards England and we also passed some American Navy ships.

The little Welsh woman who looks like Mam has invited us to her home in Carolina Springs, Colorado. She says we can stay as long as we like and she will feed us well and won’t want a penny, so we have accepted, naturally. Lots of people are giving us contacts, it’s fantastic what people on this boat have done or are doing. There are loads of people on world tours, I am at present talking to a fellow who has driven all the way from Tokyo to England and is now on his way to Australia. Another thing which amazes us is how all the people who are ex-English and now live in America are so wealthy. One chap I was chatting to is an engineer and went to the States during the depression in the thirties and stayed. He has now retired and spends all his summers in Scotland and all our winters in Florida, where he also has a home.

Apparently due to the bad weather we are behind schedule and today they have taken in the stabilisers, and consequently we are rolling heavily but this isn’t half so bad as the pitching. We have a newspaper delivered to our cabin every day, it is printed on board and called The Ocean times. We also have a programme for the day’s events delivered too. I took a few pictures yesterday with my camera.

Yesterday we saw an amazing thing. It was raining and the sun was out at the same time and suddenly a perfect rainbow appeared alongside. The funny thing was that it was almost about the same length as the ship and very close, it seemed as though you could lean out and touch it. Everyone got their cameras out and took colour pictures of it. Well I’m off for a pre-lunch cocktail now, so more news tomorrow.

Monday morning

Well after yesterday’s letter nothing much has really happened, we spent most of the day chatting to various people and playing table tennis. In fact we (and everyone else) are getting a bit bored now and looking forward to getting ashore. A bit of excitement yesterday when we passed a school of whales, it was the only different event of the day.

We have been given a few more addresses and told to call – even one family in New Zealand who have said they will help us find jobs. They are a great crowd on board and all the adventurous type. One family have been on holiday in England for 3 months and before they left California, sold their house and gave up their jobs and seem to think nothing of it. Whilst playing table tennis with an American fellow, we got chatting and it turned out that he came from Florida and he has lived all over the States. He strongly advised us to go down to Florida for the winter, as the temperatures in the winter never fall below 75 degrees Fahrenheit and where you can swim and sunbathe all year round, so we have decided that this is what we shall do.

We now plan to stay in the New York area until about Christmas and then chase the Sun down to Miami, then when it begins to get too hot we will move north where it will be much cooler.

We are at this moment talking to a fellow called Frank who is on a world tour with his family, parents and five kids, they have been away from Australia for 11 months so far and he reckons his father is spending about £7,000 – £8,000 on this trip, and believe it or not the parents went on a similar trip only two and a half years ago.

We have just been to the laundry and done a load of washing, its well equipped with Hoovermatic machines and irons and is supervised by a real cockney woman called Queenie who is a real case. Our washing dries our cabin very quickly as it is so hot. For the last couple of days it has been nice and cool but now we have entered the Gulf Stream apparently and everywhere is now like an oven.

We shall be arriving in New York at 5:15 on Tuesday morning which is a pity as we shan’t see the skyline at its best. The temperature at the moment of writing in New York is 76 degrees so it seems as though we are sailing into a heat wave.

I went to the doctors about my red patch and showed him the stuff I have been putting on it and he said it was the wrong thing to use and he has given me something else which has done the trick. Unfortunately I will have to pay for the treatment and I am now waiting for the bill.

Last night there was a competition for the best hat which represented a song title.  Lots of people entered and it was quite good fun. This was followed by a Cabaret and a good dance. Prices of cigarettes are cheap, one and sixpence for 20, and drinks are also quite cheap, although we don’t take advantage of this as everything is served absolutely freezing cold and gives me colic.

Well, that’s all for today as I am now going for a swim before lunch. The sky has now cleared and it’s a beautiful day.

Cheerio for now,

Love Tony

 

Image: Taken from 1960s Cunard advert for cruises on Cunard Queen liners.

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