Posts Tagged ‘history’

The Queen

When I was growing up, we lived in San Jose, California. We didn’t have any family near us. My mom’s family was in Texas and my dad’s in Chihuahua, Mexico.  Then, when I was about twelve or so, my dad got in touch with his half siblings in southern California and we began going to visit them on weekends, several times a year. The drive was a long one, especially before the I-5 section between Los Banos and Los Angeles was completed, in the days when we had to drive south on either US-101 or on SR-99.

Visiting the cousins was  a lot of fun because they were all spread out. Some in Norwalk, some in Baldwin Park, some in Orange County and some in Long Beach and each of the families of cousins had their own standard of living and the neighborhoods were so different from where we lived.

On one of the visits, our Long Beach aunt and uncle took us to the Queen Mary. which had been permanently docked at the Port of Long Beach and turned into a tourist attraction. When I first visited, it had restaurants in it but had not yet been turned into the fiasco that it later turned out to be. I remember the first time I set eyes on the Queen Mary. She was so beautiful. Majestic. Titanic. We walked up the footbridge and set foot on her wooden floors. In that moment I felt like I belonged on that ship. I remember a feeling of awe as I walked around the ship…a feeling that I was somehow linked to the hundreds of thousands of passengers that had walked those same steps and looked over the same rails, climbed the same stairs.

I kept wanting to go back and when I was older and my parents had moved to Long Beach, I went to visit The Queen as often as I could, even if I was by myself, with no excuse to visit her. I had dreams of being a passenger on the trans-Atlantic cruise ship.

Later, as an adult, I was teaching sixth grade in Glendale, California. The year the box office hit Titanic hit the big screen, my students were all about the ship and all things associated with the Titanic. I talked a lot to them about the tragic events of the sinking of the Titanic. Then I talked to them about the Queen Mary, which some of them had visited. I mentioned that the Queen Mary was bigger than the Titanic but they would’t believe me.

My own teenagers loved the movie and one weekend I decided to take them to see the Queen Mary because I had researched the two ships and they had so many similarities. I normally would not have spent the money to take them on the tour and in fact, I had never taken the tour in the dozens of times I had visited the ship. However, they were really fascinated with some of the similarities so I splurged and we took the tour. It was wonderful for me to find out all of the behind the scenes tidbits about the ship and hear stories of some of the passengers that had actually traveled from England to America on board the Queen Mary. The opulence of the ship was more apparent on the tour which took us to areas that were off limits to non-tour visitors. When we were inside of the swimming pool room (I believe it was the First Class swimming pool), I was listening to the guide when I caught a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked and there was a shadow of movement up on what I thought was a balcony overlooking the pool. The shadow was shaped like a person and moved as if it were a person, first watching the tour group then moving away and out of sight. My oldest daughter nudged me and asked if I had heard the voice. I hadn’t. I kept listening to the guide. My daughter kept staring up toward that balcony. She was clearly spooked.

When we left the swimming pool with the tour group, someone asked about the man in the balcony. The tour guide stopped dead in her tracks. She asked who else had seen the man in the balcony. There were about seven in the group who had seen him, although some of us said what we saw was a shadow, not specifically a man. My daughter and one other were the only ones that had heard a voice which they described as a child’s voice although they couldn’t make out what her sing-song voice said. The guide told us that she had never seen the shadow in the balcony nor the child or heard voices although she had heard some splashing even though the pool had been completely dry for decades. She did say that this was one of the places where many people reported shadows and voices and laughter “haunting” the ship.

The tour continued through the art deco opulence of the ship and we heard many more stories and a lot of famous names dropped throughout the tour. I didn’t see any other ghosts or spirits; neither did my daughter. But even now, more than twenty years later, I’m sure of what I saw, just as my daughter is sure of what she saw and heard!

I haven’t been to visit the Queen Mary in many years, about twenty I think, but would love the opportunity to go check her out again. She has seen better days but I don’t think that’s the end of her!

For a comparison between the Queen Mary and Titanic, go here.


The Queen Mary, permanently docked in Long Beach Harbor. Thank you to my niece, Lisa Trimble for the snapshot.


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I was doing a lesson about Thanksgiving with Anderson. We watched some kid videos on the first Thanksgiving and about the pilgrims landing at Plymouth. We talked about what it means to be grateful or thankful for something and about what we each could list as what we are thankful for. He made a turkey out of construction paper and we listed something to be thankful for on each feather.

One thing stands out for me from this lesson that I can’t really discuss much with my six year old grandson. Not yet. But I will get there. What is it?

When the pilgrims arrived, they arrived sick. They spread their disease to the natives who had no resistance to any illnesses coming from Europe. So they died. A lot of them died. And what did Squanto do after most of his people died? He helped the pilgrims learn to hunt and plant things they could harvest for the winter. He helped them to learn how to fight the cold and snow that would come in the winter. And when the pilgrims decided to feast, the tribe came and brought them food.

And what did “we” do? We not only brought them diseases they could not fight but we also took their land and drove them to isolated and barren lands; lands that would bear no crops to sustain them; lands that were harsh. And it continues today as “we” take their sacred land and water and dignity. We take and take and take some more and forget the spirit of giving and helping that the natives showed “us” that first Thanksgiving.

Talk about a sickness.

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