Monday, March 3, 2008

Significant Date #1

A posting Steph made brought to mind the significance of Nones Martius and perhaps even slightly moreso the pridie Ides Martius. (This is the Roman way of saying 7 March and 14 March) For it was on those days in 1958 that I left Liverpool and a week later landed in NYC.
The ship was named RMS Sylvania and here is a little snippet about her. She was the last one of 4 liners built for Cunard to serve the UK to Canada and U.S. routes.
'The fourth of the series, Sylvania, became the last Cunard Liner designed exclusively for North Atlantic trade. These ships were typical of the many new passenger liners built in their day, having excellent passenger facilities, as well as having a large cargo capacity. Each vessel had three holds forward, and three holds aft. The Saxonia Class Liners were revolutionary for their day, as they were the first liners ever built, with tourist class occupying the majority of the ship, offering greatly improved comforts. As example, the Royal Mail Ship Carinthia carried 154 to 174 First Class, and 682 to 714 Tourist Class passengers. They were placed on the Liverpool, St Lawrence route to Quebec City, and Montreal, Canada. Then, during the winter months, they were rerouted to the Liverpool, Cobh, Halifax to New York service. '



I was seasick the entire week and, unable to eat for most of the voyage I was pretty unhappy. The ship left Liverpool late in the afternoon that Friday and went overnight to Cobh (Cork) on the south tip of Ireland. It was there for only 8 hours or so. A very nice young man named Andrew Kelly got on. He had some shamrock with him that we put in the little well which was to catch water draining from the cabin's little porthole window. It was still doing well 7 days later when we got to NYC after another brief stop in Nova Scotia. Andy was a very nice young man about 4 years older than me.

There was also a young Canadian who shared our cabin. He was a lumberjack in Canada and had made enough money felling trees that he was able to take time off during the harsh Canadian winter to travel to Europe. He was about 20 and had spent most of his savings by the time he was going home. On the first day out of Cobh he and I went halvsies on a WHOLE CARTON of fags. He went to get them and came back with Viceroy. Wouldn't have been my choice but they were cheap! After that expense I had only a ten shilling note and a florin ( 2s/0d ) that my girlfriend's sister had pushed into my hand as I left Runcorn station. That was a total of 12 bob which would be about close to $2 then.

There was also an older guy (40 or so) from England who was assigned to the same cabin. So, there were 4 strangers sharing the room. The cost for the trip was 62 pounds which would have been about <$190. I just recalled as I was thinking about this that at the end of the week I gave my room steward the 10 shilling note as a tip with my apologies that I couldn't give him more.
" No problem son," he said, " I understand, and maybe you'll be able to do better in the future" Mmnn, maybe.

I had a suitcase under my bunk that had nothing much else in it but my pajamas. My Mum had insisted on me having pajamas and she had purchased them just before my journey was to begin. At the end of the week the suitcase was full of fruit. Because, although not feeling well, for almost every meal I went to the dining room and tried to get over the bilious feeling. Usually I would push the food away and since I could eat hardly anything I thought I should take something back to the cabin with me..... fruit. My suitcase was almost full after seven days. However upon arrival in NYC the Customs agent on Pier 92 scoffed and chucked all my fruit into the Hudson River.

It was cold as heck in the city- it snowed that week. My sister met me and we took a cab from the dock on 12th Ave to the subway on Eighth Ave. The E train. We went to her apartment in Rego Park Queens and I was introduced to life in America. Not a bad place (after all it had my name as part of its). I became accustomed to TV being on for most of the day and half the night, unlike in England where it was only on for a relatively few hours daily. The Late Show. The Late Late Show. Pizza slices at 15 cents each. Ice cream sundaes and floats. Malts. White Castle hamburgers at 12cents each. I remember I weighed 145 pounds and my waist was 32 inches. Oy Vey.

Baseball and Ballantine,Schaeffer, Rheingold..all 99 cents a six pack...........Whoah Baby!

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great Post. So happy you decided to come to this side of the pond - a mere 50 years ago. I am very proud you are my "American" husband! :)
Love, Bev

EdamameMommy said...

brill daddy. this post alone makes the whole blog effort worthwhile. typing onehanded with second gen Americam baby at breast, your proud third (oy again) daughter who votes the opposite of you (oy oy oy!)

EdamameMommy said...

http://www.marville.org/other/maother-54.html

pics and memerabilia

EdamameMommy said...

i can't spell lefthandeed sorry

Jennifer said...

Great post! And Happy 50th Anniversary! I really enjoyed this post with all the personal history. I had never heard about your cabin-mates, but I remembered the bit about the lost fruit! I hope you will type more about your experience for all your progeny to enjoy, even if it is difficult to post these days...

Emily said...

Fascinating stuff! Yes, please give us more.
How did you get the money for the ship's fare? Seems like a lot!

jason said...
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jason said...
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