Slides of My Father: Queen Mary 1956

We went to Europe in 1956 as a family- two kids, 11 and 13, two parents and a Leica.

The slides of my father shall be a new periodic series.

He loved ships.  He and my mother had gone on their honeymoon in 1939 on the French Liner, The Normandie, but I have found no slides (as of yet) of that trip.

We traveled on the Queen Mary from New York to Southampton in June, 1956 and returned early July on the Andrea Doria, the Italian liner, the trip before it sank on July 25, 1956.

Regular readers know I’ve written about both my father, brother, and both ships previously here and here.

In the depths of winter here in New England, as I begin my 65th year, the images of ships with red smoke stacks have taken me, once again, on a journey-an appreciation of my father’s talent as a photographer.

Stay tuned as I’ve even found a image taken behind the wheel!

Thank you scanning machine–from vegetables to memory, you shall be busy in the coming months.

©Pat Coakley 2010


9 comments on “Slides of My Father: Queen Mary 1956”

  1. My breath caught, reading about you sailing on the Andrea Doria, the trip before it sank. The ” what-ifs ” of life are so compelling and fragile in the same way you couldn’t have known how you’d replicate your fathers ability to capture images so many years later.

    I’m becoming more nostalgically tipped as my own calendar years fly off the wall as if in fast forward mode.
    I recall your previous photos and posts of your father and that vintage, sepia toned ocean liner you presented. Strange too how the name of the vessel changed from ocean liner ( evokes a certain elegance ) to ” cruise ship” which to me only evokes Disney, all you can eat, all you can drink and all the excesses of more is better.

    Don’t know what it was about our generation and fathers, but mine used to take me to the piers on the West Side Highway to look at the Queen Elizabeth- how huge it was, how I wondered what travel would be like, how small I felt.

    • Oh, Bonnie…how small I felt as well in front of these ships and even walking on their decks. Crossing over on the Queen Mary there was a storm and no word of a lie, 45-50 ft waves. No passengers were allowed out on deck. My brother cracked open one of the doors leading to the deck and we stuck our heads out. All I saw was a wall of water where the sky should have been. We were apparently dipping down into the oncoming wave. That cured me of my seasickness. Now, I was just terrified.

  2. A beautiful old ship. In those days they were meant for travel — as in going from one place to another, often in elegant fashion. A few still do. Funny how at our age something simple like the winter weather can lead us off into a pleasant nostalgic revery.

    • Don, the current vessels look like floating condominiums to me. Seriously, the silhouette of the Queen Mary II is so top heavy that it defies aesthetics to me. Profit it may have, beauty it does not.

  3. This is going to be a fantastic series. My father is a ship fan too. He’s spoken to me about the Normandie but I can’t remember much, just the name. I promise to ask him about it for you. When Dad was young he thought he wanted to go into the navy or work on ships. Then he realised he got seasick.sadly he passed that on to me. When I did a year of photography at school I had to pick a theme. I did the port in Auckland. Dad and I used to get up at dawn on weekends to go and shoot tugs and ropes and yachts and broken down rust buckets. Fond memories. Thank you for reminding me. Looking forward to seeing more of your Dad’s slides.

    • Red Cabbage on the shopping list for tomorrow, Epic!! I also have terrible seasickness. Terrible. As I said above, the only thing that temporarily cured it was sheer terror. But, I get motion sick in cars, even IMAX movies unless I sit way way at the top! I love the image of you and your Dad getting up at dawn to go and shoot tugs and ropes and yachts and broken down rust buckets! I bet they are fond memories for your Dad, as well. Sigh.

  4. Could it be the same crossing? In the spring of 1956 our family sailed from New York to Southhampton on the Queen Mary. What a storm it was! I was 10 years old and remember running along the walls of the ship when it keeled waaay over. The table cloths were wet on purpose to try and stop the dishes from slidding off and the short chain attached to the underside of your chair and the floor would keep the chair close to the dining table. Being kids and no fear my sister Diane and I ran the ship from stem to stern. Maybe we talked to you or saw you! I remember looking out a porthole and seeing only green water and then after a minute, waves the size of the Alps. Many people were hurt on that crossing and were taken to hospital once were reached port.

  5. Dave, if it was not the same trip, there must have been another one just like yours, as your description is very apt and your details ring a bell with me as well! The waves the size of Alps is absolutely true and the green water view through portholes as well! I do know that folks were injured as well. It is fun to think it might have been the same trip. I believe we sailed in late said “spring”. So, perhaps, that’s a little too close to summer than spring, but it’s great to hear someone else describe something that I experienced when I was 11 and you were 10. Ah, the fun of blogging!

  6. Going to check old photos and talk to my mom this weekend at her 84th birthday and try to establish sailing date. After crossing we all went to the Isle of Wight…stayed 6 months and returned on the Empress of Britain. Iceburgs littered the north Atlantic and I remember being very seasick contrary to the Queen Mary crossing. We reached Montreal and returned to Beaconsfield Quebec. On a southern cruise some 50 years later the Queen Mary 2 followed us into port in Florida…which prompted my sister and mother to ask ” do you remember…?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: