I remember America

Pictures and memories of sailing on the S.S. America

AMERICATICKET

America 1.778

SEA CHANGE BY JULIA CHILD

As soon as our families had seen us off in fall-colored New York, the America had sailed straight into the teeth of a North Atlantic gale. As the big ship heeled and bucked in waves as tall as buildings, there was a constant sound of bashing, clashing, clicking, shuddering, swaying and groaning. Lifelines were strung along corridors. Up…up…up… the enormous liner would rise, and at the peak she’d teeter for a moment, then down…down…down… she’d slide until her bow plunged into the trough with great shuddering spray.

 Julia Child My life in France with Alex Prud’ homme

America big u CherboutghMy memories are of seeing her next to her big sister ship the SS UnitedStates (this is the ship I was on several times) and seeing her majestic beauty and then going to the website to see what happened to her makes me sick as I think this was carelessness by whomever was having her towed. She too could now be sitting next to her sister in Philadelphia still sitting with pride even though quite a bit older but sitting next to her bigger sister saying wow we made it. It is so terribly sad even to see the SS United States sitting in Philadelphia rotting away waiting her fait even though she was bought by NCL they seem to be beating around the bush. There never was and there never will be again cruise ships as beautiful as these two were. Annie Acker

America-launchTHE LAUNCH

“My first trip inside the yard was when my father brought me to the launching of America. I still remember him setting me on his shoulders so I could see over the crowd to view the ship sliding down the ways” W.A. Raines

 

“My wife carried our 8 month-old daughter in her arms. Sd she was walking in the Yard, she found a ticket on the ground and picked it up. People around told her it was for a seat on the platform for the dignitaries and since she had a baby in her arms she should use it… She was seated besides Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. It was a very exciting day.” Arthur Volheim


aMERICALOGI sailed on her in September 1961 from New York to Bremerhaven. It was wonderful, she was so beautiful. I couldn’t get enough of being out on the fantail watching the wake behind the ship. We were in Hurricane Esther and it was pretty scary. I couldn’t believe how far she would list, it was impossible to walk straight. We had to use the ropes to move around with. My doors kept opening and slamming shut when we would change the way we leaned. They had sides they pulled up at the tables and put wet fabric of some type that kept the dishes and glasses from sliding off. I remember some type of belt looking thing that clipped our chairs to the tables so we wouldn’t slide across the floor. There were some injuries as well. A lot of people were very seasick but I never missed a meal. It was great. I was 21 and thought it was exciting even when we lost some deck furniture over the side. What great memories I have if this beautiful lady. It saddens me to see how she ended even if it is fitting that she is in the sea. I came back to New York on the SS United States and enjoyed that great ship as well. I wish they could preserve her somehow after all, she and the America were our flagships!

Sincerely, Barbara (Tyson) Arnt, October 2013

THE PLAYROOM

My recollections of the children are many and clear. Sea-sick parents shoved their bright-eyed kids, who could be anywhere from age 2 to 12, in the door, clapped hand to mouth, and fled. One trip, we put on a play for the parents— the children’s own dictated script for “The Emperor Has No Clothes”, with the lead deciding to wrap himself in one

Captain Manning visits the playroom. Photo T Hollyman

Captain Manning visits the playroom. Photo T Hollyman

of the ship’s large bath towels, to indicate the lack of clothing. On another trip, I did not put in a moment in the playroom from New York to Southampton but spent every waking moment on the forward crew deck— because we were transporting the U.S. Olympic team. When the children became obstreperous, I used the technique of telling them to make as much noise as they could for one minute by the clock— and then discovered that their voices carried to, and alarmed, people on the tourist deck, just the other side of the portholes. Perhaps the warmest memory is of a five-year-old boy from the Bronx, named Leon, whose mother feared that he would misbehave toward the other children and who did, indeed, jump onto and kick another child’s building made from the Erector set— but who, I discovered, was a brilliant future engineer; he not only made the most complex construction in the booklet that came with the set, but went on to create several new ones of his own, and became the politest, best behaved child imaginable by the time of arrival. If, by some unimaginable coincidence, Leon, you happen be one of those who set eyes on this, please e-mail me! What I learned from you that trip was the foundation on which I built to become a (now-Emeritus) Professor with forty years of teaching. Margaret M. Dardis, playroom associate.

MMe with head turned towards screaming girlerv Wiltshire here. Had a pic if you’d like to share, of me and my brother on the SS America. Not exactly sure of the date. 1954/1953 maybe. I would be the little boy with his head turned looking at the young girl laughing . My brother Robin Wiltshire is back row kind of stooped over between the two girls. I don’t recall anything about the voyage, as I was very young. All my family has long since passed so I have no one to ask or confirm the point of departure or arrival, or dates. October 2013.

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The cadet

Cadet Basil lo resRobert Engler  Cadet-Midshipman Recently in a prolonged fit of nostalgia I was looking at pictures I had taken while on the America as a cadet-midshipman in the United States Merchant Marine Cadet Corps, 1946-47. Then I discovered your web page and was delighted. After reading most of what was available I realized that perhaps my contribution would add something coming from a different perspective. I and two other C/M’s, Anatole Basil Kowalchuk and Donald E. Brown, made the first postwar maiden voyage and stayed with the America for 4 mos. making a number of round trips – NY, Cobh, Southampton, LeHavre. It was the experience of my lifetime at the age of nineteen. Our duties were confined to the bridge and environs and we had little or nothing to do with the passengers. Our quarters were on the bridge deck and we ate in the officers mess. Mostly we stood bridge watch which, for me, was 12-4, ran messages and learned as much as we could about the duties of a deck officer. At times intimidating, but always exciting and fun. This was my second year in the cadet corps and I had spent the first part of my sea year aboard the S.S. Australia Victory, a cargo ship so the America was quite a contrast. Of many memories one in particular stands out and is probably worth repeating because it is perhaps humorous, though at the time it was, to me, humiliating: one of my duties when on watch was to escort the ship’s pilot to the sideport where he boarded the pilot boat after we had left Southampton. The usual path was from the bridge to an adjacent elevator, down several decks, then aft to the side port. For reasons unknown, on this occasion I thought I had a better and more direct route to save time. So I took this old sea captain (he looked like Winston Churchill) directly aft on the boat deck and then down an elevator there which opened into a passenger space. Only one problem. The doors between the passenger space and the crew space which we had to use to get to the port as gated and locked. Since I was not all that familiar with that part of the ship as to be able to find a way around the blockage, I decided to retreat back the way we had come and resort to the more familiar route. Of course, by this time the pilot was huffing and puffing and furious. Well, we finally got there after the ship had been dead in the water for God knows how long. When I got back to the bridge, Commodore Harry Manning, was furious, too. The aftermath is a blank, thankfully! Robert Engler, MD (Ret) 

Working on America

‘America was the first ship I sailed on after graduating from the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point in June 1951… We were very much overstaffed, so the work was easy, pay was good, and the ship was a ‘feeder;’  (We ate Cabin Class, which was very fancy.) After four trips, I got so fat and lazy that I had to transfer to a cargo ship making a run to Australia.” Marty Steffens

 

” I was a member of the crew of America from 1953-56…I have always felt that was one of the high points of  my 13 years at sea. The ship was a real gem with respect to design and construction of its tiem. In spite of tremendous overwork the ship experienced during the war years as West Point, the ship and its machinery were still in great condition when I left in 1956.”

James H Spielberger.

In 1954/55 I was a Junior Engineer on the SS Esso Richmond, which traded between New York and The Dutch West Indies. In March 1955 I paid off and together with two Shipmates we traveled home to Southampton aboard the SS America in Cabin Class. Fellow passengers included young wives on their way to join their husbands who stationed in Germany. They were good company as was a young lady on her way to take up a post at the American Embassy. We all had good fun, even after the band packed up for the night. Far for fun, I think, than they did in First Class, because each night they Gate-crashed our party. Fond memories indeed.  Lionel Reade   May 23 2005

 

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At the races

First class lounge,the horses approach the finish line. Photo from the L Driscoll collection.

TO: Assistant Pursers

FROM: John Lock

RE: Helpful; suggestion for organized fun.

  • Say,” let us all have have lots of fun and remember the more ENTHUSIASTIC! you are the better your horse will respond in the race.
  • I recommend giving the horses funny names, For instance, call the first horse “Chilly, by cold wind out of Atlantic” horse #2 “Pop, by Cork and Bottle”, horse #3 “Mal de Mer, by Trouble out of Rough Seas,” and horse # 4 “High-ball, by Scotch out of Bottle.”

I was born on the America

Captain Frederick Fender of the America presents Mrs. Anne Lacey, holding Marie Teresa, with birth certificate and scroll as Rev. Edward L. Curran, of Brooklyn (left), a passenger who christened the infant, and Dr.Roderick MacPherson beam their approval. New York Daily News Monday, December 3, 1951 “You can add my name to the list of people who immigrated to the United States on the SS America, as I was born on it on November28, 1951, while the ship was en route to New York from Cobh, Ireland… I really feel that I want to take a trip to the Canary Island to see what remains of my birthplace.” Marie Lacey (2/27/2000). (Thanks Marie)

 

New York Daily Mirror, December 3, 1951 STORK ADDS COLLEEN TO LINER LIST
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I came across your wonderful site when trying to find a record of our journey to America on the SS America 1949 – in vain! As you can see from the attached account of our journey, we may have sailed in the name of whoever cancelled so we could travel. Unfortunately, life in America didn’t work our for us and we returned to England in November 1949 and I have found a complete record of that journey, also by boat, from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia, St. John’s, Newfoundland and on to Liverpool, England.

Reading other children’s accounts of their journeys brought back lots of memories but I have only one souvenir – a photograph of a huge wave about to break over the bridge during a mid-Atlantic. Kathleen Curley

Sec. of State Madeleine Albright and Shali biographer Andrew Marble, standing in front of the manifest for the voyage of the S.S. America, the ship that brought Sec. Albright to the United States from Europe in 1948. Image from Facebook page

Sec. of State Madeleine Albright and Shali biographer Andrew Marble, standing in front of the manifest for the voyage of the S.S. America, the ship that brought Sec. Albright to the United States from Europe in 1948. Image from Facebook page

 

   In 1949 my widowed mother and I were offered a new life in Boston, which it seemed like a scan0003chance of a new life.            We were booked to sail in May, but in February a letter arrived, offering us a place on the “SS America “ and we were on our way to the Promised Land. We set off for Cobh and all the grown ups were upset and crying, which I couldn’t understand at all. This was all a fantastic adventure. After about two days at sea, we had lifeboat drill. I proceeded to have hysterics and wouldn’t put on my life jacket in spite of the fact that I was convinced the ship was sinking. Eventually, my mother managed to get me into my jacket and up on deck. We stood in line according to our deck and cabin number and were told which lifeboat to go to in the – extremely unlikely – event of an emergency. Lifeboat drill was compulsory for everyone, except those who were ill or unable to climb all the various stairways. Then, with all the logic of a six year old, once I realised there was no danger, I refused to take off the jacket. My mother made friends with some of the other young women on the ship, many of whom were English GI brides in their way to a new life in America. She tried to get me to stay in the playroom with the other children and the nursemaids, but in vain. As an only child, used to wandering the hills on my own, I hated being cooped up with a lot of other children and the minute their backs were turned I disappeared to explore the rest of the ship. My favorite place – somewhere they never thought to look – was the Library.

Library

Library

Strictly speaking, I shouldn’t have been there, but as I was a quiet child and just sat in one of the big armchairs looking at the pictures in the books, nobody seemed to mind. I attached myself to a young steward from the East End of London, who treated me like his kid sister. He was about 18 years old and one of a big family which he missed terribly. He let me ring the dinner gong and I thought he was wonderful. One of his other duties was to hold open the heavy doors of the First Class Dining Room as we went in to dinner. One evening, as I went along with my mother, I stopped in front of him and, in that clear, carrying voice peculiar to young children, announced, “I’d love you to be my Daddy!” The poor lad nearly died of embarrassment, as did my mother who must have been in her early 30s by then. Refrigeration was rather basic in those days and all the milk was frozen solid. I hated the ice-cold milk, with bits of ice still floating in it, having been used to warm milk straight from the cow. One of the stewards told me that that was how it came out of the very special cow they had on board, which I didn’t believe for one minute. I might have only been six years old, but I wasn’t that green! Halfway across the Atlantic, we were contacted by a sister ship going to other way and warned to “batten down the hatches”, as we were heading into a storm. Heavy ropes appeared in the passageways and everything that might move was tied down. The dishes on the tables had suction cups under them to keep them from sliding off, but that didn’t stop the soup from spilling on to the beautifully crisp linen tablecloths. I had been looking forward to seeing the Statue of Liberty, so when the great moment arrived – about 5.30 a.m. – I was up at the open porthole in my pyjamas, calling out to everyone, “I see the Statue”. I wasn’t very popular with the rest of the passengers who couldn’t have cared less about the Statue of Liberty, especially at that ungodly hour of the morning. For my pains I developed a nasty head cold, which never seemed to go away until we were back in Ireland.

Here it is. The amazing part is that I am in the back row, tallest kid. When I found the photo, I realized that my younger brother is the one holding the plaque SS America. Sailing was in mid 1958. Dan

Here it is. The amazing part is that I am in the back row, tallest kid. When I found the photo, I realized that my younger brother is the one holding the plaque SS America. Sailing was in mid 1958.
Dan

” aMERICAI remember as a young girl my father was in the service and we were headed to Berlin, Germany for his next assignment. This was back in the early 60’s. I was in total awe as I was about to embark on the adventure of my lifetime.  What an enormous ship it was so big a city on the sea I called it then. It had everything imaginable. One moment I never forgot was my family & I were in the dining room and I had become immediate friends with the musicians in the orchestra. They always played this song for me called “Beautiful Dreamer”. I have never forgotten that. Oh the memories!  The trip of a lifetime I shall always remember.  Thank You for bringing them to life!
Sad at what happened to her!
 Anne Richards Kissinger October 2011

What a treat to stumble across your website — you have no idea how special that is to me.  Here’s my memory.

My SS America story:  emigrated to the USA in 1954 at the age of 10 with my mother and 16 year old sister aboard the SS America, sailing from Southampton to New York from 26th May to 4th June.  Like another 10 year old I see who wrote on your web page, I also quickly got a feel for the ship and knew my way around … my mother was always lost.  I remember seeing ice cubes for the first time in my life and I used to go up the bar and order ginger ale, which I’d never had before, which came with ice.  Amazing.  I had fresh melon for breakfast every morning and I can still smell it to this day.  We had very stormy weather, so the voyage took longer.  There were ropes up in the halls to hang onto.  My mother and sister were quite sea sick, but not me — I had a blast.  I had my 10th birthday on the ship — 30th May.  There was a big party for all the children and I thought it was for me, foolishly.  But it was to celebrate Memorial Day, something I’d never heard of!  My mother insisted I wear a big blue straw bonnet with a huge rim and blue satin ribbon … I was so angry.  I remember being on the deck as we approached New York and the view of the skyline appearing, and then the Statue of Liberty.  So moving.  I love NY City and I’m sure that’s why. Thanks so much for creating your website. Christine Anne Bell  May 2011 AT THE RACES.

HELLO, DURING MY DAD’S CAREER IN THE U.S. ARMY, WE WERE STATION ALMOST AROUND THE WORLD.  I WAS ONLY SEVEN OR EIGHT YEARS OLD AT THE TIME BUT I REMEMBERED OUR TRIP FROM GERMANY TO FORT HUACHUCA, (wha chew ka) ARIZONA AS WE SAILED ON THE SS AMERICA. image002MY DAD WAS A PACK RAT AND SAVED A LOT OF ITEMS OF OUR ADVENTURES IN TRAVELING AND I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE HIS MEMORABILIA OF THE SS AMERICA WITH YOU. I AM SORRY I CANNOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO SEND ALL THE PICTURES AT ONCE AND WILL HAVE TO SEND TO YOU ONE AT A TIME. HERE IS A LITTLE TRIVIA FOR YOU; BANDMASTER ACHILLE LA GUARDIA WAS STATIONED IN HERE IN FORT HUACHUCA, ARIZONA IN THE 1890’S. WITH HIM WAS HIS SON FIORRELLO WHO BECAME THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK IN THE 1930’S. YOURS TRULY, De  Wayne Keely 11/2007

SAMPAN~1
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My mother and I traveled to France after WWII on board the SS America. The purpose of the trip was to visit her mother in Provence after the end of the war. I was 8 years old at the time, but it seems just like yesterday. I still have the passenger list and a couple of on-board photographs which I have scanned and attached to this e-mail. Hopefully, others that traveled at the time may find their names in the list. We kids in third class spent a large part of the day in the lounge which extended all the way across the ship. I’m sure our running around in there annoyed the adult passengers. We also played a lot of shuffleboard. I do not remember swimming in the pool, so maybe we didn’t have access. Regards,

Guy Krause  Sept 2007Americguykdr
 I was a passenger on The SS America in November 1962. I was a 15 year old at the time. My Dad was transferred to London, England as a Sgt. in the Air Force. What a great experience it was to cross the Atlantic on that beautiful luxury liner. Somehow we got to go 1st class and have dinner at the Captain’s table!! We left New York and sometime during the trip we hit rough seas. I remember having to use ropes to get were we were going and I remember the rings on the tables to keep the plates from sliding off!! Thankfully it didn’t last too long. Seeing the whales and dolphins from the deck are forever burned in my memory….
Bill Smith  Oct 2007
   Was on the last Trip that the America made under U.S. registry. I remember seeing her laying in Port in Bremerhaven. The first look was from the Train station, and I could not believe that a Ship that showed only her Stacks behind the Customs Building could sail across that huge Ocean. I was Sea Sick before I even stepped Foot Aboard. We had a terrible Storm crossing to Southampton, where almost all of the China and Glassware was replaced. The rest of the Trip is a wonderful memory, and I was so sad to see her laying on the Sandbank rusting away. I now live in the US and we are planning a Trip to see her last moments.
Ray Gabel, Sept 2007

Peter Henderson <phend@sasktel.net> wrote: >  Hello. I am compiling a book of my family genealogy. Our family > emigrated from Scotland to Canada via New York in June, 1953 on > the SS America. I was only three years old at the time and have no > real memories of the voyage but the ship occupies a treasured spot > in my heart for obvious reasons. I have some keep sakes of the > ship – a passenger list and deck plan brochure. If anyone wants a > scanned copy of their name on the passenger list from that voyage, > please drop me an email.  June 2007

   I was one of the lucky ones to have emigrated from Austria to the USA via the SS America! Having almost missed the train in Paris for LeHavre I did manage to board in time on May 14, 1956 for a most impressible cruise to New York! Arriving in New York on May 23! I have fond memories of some people I have met but forgot all names! That was my loss!

Frank Truppe June 2006

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My voyage was in ’54 from Germany to NY. My US Army Lt Col father was surprised with a transfer and given only 6 days notice to pack up and prepare for our move back to the States. We were supposed to spend 3 years in Germany, but an assignment to the prestigious Army War College trumped all other assignments. At age 11, I had gone to Girl Scout camp for a week. When my parents came to get me, they were in a rented Porsche (how neat!) and we went immediately to the boarding dock! Didn’t get to say goodbye to any of my friends, but this was typical of an army dependant’s life…accept change as a normal way of life and look forward to your next adventure. Anderson2.1 The previous year we had traveled from NY to Germany on an Army transport…the DH Hodges. Now, going back to the US, we were on a civilian ship…an actual luxury liner! We were thrilled! What a difference! One difference was the mealtime announcement: On the DH Hodges, we were blasted (over the P.A. system) with, “Now hear this! Now hear this! First call for dinner!” On the SS America, we were greeted with lovely chimes, followed by a calm scan0002 - Copytranquil voice asking, “May I have your attention please. Dinner is now being served in the dining room.” Most of all I remember sailing into NY Harbor. Everyone was on deck and suddenly just the Statue of Liberty appeared on the horizon! None of the other skyline was visible. It was a spectacular sight! All the military personnel started to cry.  We were back in our beloved country! None of my current friends can understand why I find current  cruising ships so darn boring! Recently I toured the SS Alabama battleship which is permanently docked in Mobile, along Route 10. I was pleasantly surprised to re-live some of the smells and the character of the SS America. You may want to visit it. Pam Michelet (now Connor) June 2007


  Hello,

Thanks for creating this fine website. I was five years old in 1962 when we crossed from New York. My father was at that time a Maryannmom and grandma gorskey SSAmerica redoneyoung Air Force Captain already preceding us to Europe, yet somehow he swung First Class accommodation for my mother, older brother and myself. Although I was little, I vividly recall the entire experience. We’d arrived the night prior to launch and this was my first trip ever into a big city. Looking up from the deck I could see the Empire State Building, at that time still the tallest building in the world, gleaming high up into the NYC night. It looked just like it did in about the only movie I’d ever seen to that point, “King Kong”, except this was real and in color! The next morning we launched and I remember sailing by the Statue of Liberty and out onto open water. I was sick for the first day, but that passed. The next days were spent on the deck, eating in that plush dining room and one night we watched a movie. The weather was clear the entire trip and the sea and sky were beautiful. I loved every minute being on the America. Once, maybe twice, we crossed paths with another liner similar to ours. I suppose now that it may have been the SS United States. I recall seeing it from very far in the distance and how eager I was waiting for it to pass right by us, horns blowing and passengers waving to us right there in the middle of the Atlantic ocean! Then, the other liner faded again, this time into the opposite horizon. After a time we came to the shores of Ireland, on to England, and finally France where we disembarked and reunited with my father who was waiting for us. Our car, a 1957 Pontiac, had came over with us and after we drove to Paris where within a day or two of that incredible experience I found myself on top of the Eiffel Tower. That incredible week was the beginning of a three year tour in Europe. By the time we returned to the US in June of 1965, the liners were no longer being used for military transport. In contrast to the journey over, and as we flew back in just a few hours, even then at age eight years, I was already grateful to have lived the experience and to have lived in “the age of the ocean liner”. I have recently come across a Souvenir Log from the trip and have attached both sides to this email for use on your site. Thank you for compiling these stories and images that have brought back so many memories shared by all of us who had the privilege to cross on the SS America. Best Always, Jeff Jatras   April 2007 ________________________________________________________________________ In June of 1950, I was a 15 year old boy from The South Side of Chicago who

sailed on The USS America from New York to Cobh Ireland. Round trip. To me It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Pulling out of New York Harbor, the sea, the people you meet, the food, the service and on and on. When we were three days out we hit a storm. Not too many people showed up for dinner that night. They put a raised board around the table so nothing would slide off.

After that I thought The America was my ship and I felt bad to see her washed up on some foreign shore. Jim OConnor  Chicago March 2007

   I was amazed to find all the memorabilia about this ship. My mother and boarded her  January 7, 1947 in Southampton. we stopped at Le Havre and Cobh. And then out into the thunderous Atlantic. It was an 8 day trip because we had a really fierce storm accompanying us for much of the way. The waves were 50 feet high and crashed and danced across the
decks. My mother stayed in the first class cabin and as a seven year old I felt I had the run of the ship. I loved looking out the porthole an feeling the water smack against the glass.
The stewards were very nice to me and showed me parts of the ship passengers normally didn’t see. There were movies (The Jolson Story) and a huge play room for kids. Some of them were French and did not speak any English, shy but they seemed stuck-up to us. We had a great party the last day there and the French kids, boys and girls, dressed in lace collars a la little Lord Fauntleroy. I had a picture for many years of all of us but, alas, along with a great shot of the waves crashing on the deck, I cant find it. They were professional photos taken by the ship’s photographer I think.
When Mom was able, we ate in the dining room. I remember little silver cradles with handles for corncobs to sit in.
I read later that Sir Michael Redgrave, the British actor, was on that sailing.
Her demise in the Canaries is sad, but it is much more romantic than just being chopped up for scrap. Maybe I can see her one day  before she totally disintegrates.
Montgomery Davis Feb 07

My Mother, older brother & sister & I immigrated to Canada from England, landing in New York on my seventh birthday in March 1955. I remember a breakfast of corn pops in my bowl and the feeling of how strange this food was. I was boldly adventurous; I would go and discover parts of the ship only to be brought back to my Mother by one of the crew members. Other than leaning out of a port hole and the memory of my Mother being seasick, my other memories are vague. However, the SS America represents to me an important part of my childhood. The ship brought me and my family to a new world; I feel a connection to the ship as if I am also part of her history. I am saddened by the pictures of a once proud lady in neglect and ruins in that Grecian seaside. The sight brings stirrings of walking those decks as we steamed across the ocean in 1955.

Malcolm Hollyman, 2006

In January 1956, my father, who was then a major in the U.S. Army, had completed his tour of duty in Germany; and he, my mother and I returned home to the United States in first class comfort on the S.S. America. I had just turned thirteen, and my memories of that voyage are both fond and vivid.

We had several celebrities on that crossing: movie stars Gwen Verdon, Scott Brady, and Rudee Vallee. At the time, they were fairly big stars, and very well known. All were friendly and gracious, and I was particularly taken with Miss Verdon’s glamorous wardrobe, which she took every opportunity to show off. Luckily there were also several of my fellow Army brats on board, and together we explored baggagelabelevery nook and cranny of the ship. The swimming pool, which was at the very bottom of the ship, was especially entertaining, and we spent many hours there every day. The water sloshed end to end in the pool with the motion of the ship; it was like being in the surf on a very small scale. Another favorite spot was the large area up top where the passengers’ pets were cared for, and we stopped in regularly to visit the animals. It seems surprising to me now that there were large outside areas accessible to the passengers, where one could lean right over the railing and look into the water. As the photos show, there were classic deck chairs lined up on the outside decks, and the stewards hovered over us with red plaid wool blankets and delicious hot broth. However, it was too cold to stay out for very long. Our parents passed the time visiting, reading, writing letters and playing cards, primarily in the elegant main lounge. I so enjoyed the pictures of that area with the balcony on each side; it was fun to peek down from the balconies to see who was there. All of the pictures were so familiar to me. The photos cannot, however, even begin to convey the sense of complete luxury that pervaded the atmosphere. There was a huge staff, just waiting to attend to the passenger’s every whim. There was some sort of ambitious entertainment every night, including the “horse racing” game that appears in the photos. Another night I was permitted to dress up and join my parents for a “floor show” in the bar area, and I loved watching the couples on the dance floor afterward. On yet another memorable evening I personally won $100.00 at bingo! We had very rough seas for about two days of what I think was a six or seven-day crossing. For a while it really was a challenge to keep our balance while walking, and thick red velvet ropes were strung about in the open areas to hang onto. We also learned that the tables in the dining room had edges that could be pulled up to surround the table–about 3 or 4 inches in height–to prevent spills into our laps and on the floor, and to keep the dishes corralled. During this rough period many of the grown-ups became quite seasick–including my parents, who took to their beds in our stateroom for two full days. We kids, however, thought the pitch and roll of the ship was great fun–and if we started to get a little queasy, we went down to the swimming pool (there were elevators, of course); the motion

M23761-14 001

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was considerably minimized at that much lower level. However, during the rough period, it was impossible to swim because the water was sloshing back and forth so forcefully, creating a huge wave in constant motion. It would have knocked down anyone who ventured into the pool, and was mesmerizing to watch. We kids also continued to show up in the dining room for every sumptuous meal, even though our parents were indisposed and the dining room crowd was considerably thinned out. Meals were a trip, incidentally. For starters, there were a number of “meals” each day–the usual three, plus elaborate morning, afternoon, evening and midnight “snacks,” and you could always ask the ever-present stewards to bring specially ordered goodies to wherever you happened to be. Every delicacy was on the menu, lobster to steak. Meals were included in the price of the passage, so it felt as if it were all free. On the day of our arrival in New York, my parents got me up early; we bundled up in our winter coats, scarves and gloves and stood outside at the ship’s rail waiting for the Statue of Liberty to come into view. We had been in Germany for several years, and all of us were a little homesick; when Lady Liberty finally appeared out of the fog, we were awestruck. In fact the entire experience was enthralling. After my leisurely tour around this website and its wonderful photos, I realize that fifty years later I remember everything, and in the most minute detail. This magical ship’s terrible fate is heart wrenching. How could this possibly have happened, and why haven’t the incompetents who let this happen been fined, jailed, tarred and feathered? I first viewed the wreck photos several months ago and literally cannot bear to look at them again. I really wish I had never learned what happened, but I have so many questions. Were the furnishings, dishes, etc. still inside? What has happened to all that stuff? Have there been any salvage operations? Have there been any attempts to tow the pieces out to sea and let them mercifully sink into oblivion? If not, why not? Who owns this section of beach, and do they not object to this terrible sight? This is just so, so sad. But thank you so much for this great website, which helps to preserve the glory days and the wonderful memories. Lorna Bergdale Gilbert Houston, Texas  9/2006 In December of 1946, my mother and I sailed from New York to join my father, in Wembley, Middlesex. Every other year, from 1946 to 1957, we traveled First Class on the America. One could say, I grew up on this wonderful vessel. I have many memories; however, the main is that I rarely had a meal in the dining room. The blessed deck steward, Mike (who would visit us from time to time in Wembley), kept me fed on the Promenade Deck with bullion and white rice (both of which I managed to keep down). In 1948, The Boy With Green Hair was shown and I refused to sleep that night in case I awakened with green hair. I shall organize my memories and send them to you to share with others. Also, I shall scan some cartoons on menus which “mock” my lack of sea legs. So, from six to seventeen, the America played an enormous part in my life. I loved it! Best wishes and many thanks for your efforts. Peggy Hendrickx (nee Weed) April 2006


I found this website quite by accident and it brought back memories. Thank you for doing this. My dad was an Army colonel, stationed in Frankfurt from 1955 to 1957. We lived in HiCog at 3 Plattenstrasse. The army sent us home first class on the SS America – my dad, mom, 5 year old brother and me, age 10. We left from Bremerhaven and I still remember the music of the band playing “Aufwiedersehn” in the dark with lights blazing as we left. It was night, probably about midnight. We made stops in LeHavre, Southampton and Cobh before we set sail across the Atlantic. I can remember the Irish ladies coming on board to sell little trinkets and Irish linen when we were in Cobh. I still have the charm bracelet. I was seasick for most of that rough October crossing, 9 days, but the luxury of the SS America was still wonderful. Being wrapped in a blanket on the Promenade Deck and the waiter bringing soup. My little brother loving to run on the parquet dance floor to hear his own footsteps and the elegant ladies staring at him and my mother dying of embarrassment. The crew on the ship could not have been nicer, and the sight of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor was magnificent. I still have a little plastic flower vase with a picture of the ship and a postcard too. So sad to hear her fate. Mary Ann Delaney Mrazek April 2006    On January 22nd 1949 myself, brothers Phillip, John and sister Judith and our parents John and Mary Broadbent boarded the sis America at Southampton, England for the beginning of a huge adventure on our way to New Zealand. I was 10years and Phillip had his 12th birthday on board, Judith was 5ys and Johnny just 2years.We boarded in the late evening and I noticed a sign that said we were sailing at midnight, Dad didn’t believe me but we did and then arrived at Le Havre. Mum had bought Judith and I beautiful dinner dresses, Judith’s was the latest in Blue Waffle Nylon and mine Autumn pure silk. We had come from the North of England and had as many others been subject to food rationing. The white bread that they used to make the turkey sandwiches when were cabin bound was absolutely fantastic to us. The voyage over to New York was wild and rough with huge waves and the ropes with the knots in them to hold onto was to us amazing. Since there was so much movement on the ship they sides of the tables were put up. We children thought it was great amusement when food went skittering from around, even though our parents gave us the frown look. The little shops to us were wonderful full of luxury items that we had never seen. Dad bought Mum some perfume. Johnny and Judith tried the childcare whilst our parents and us went exploring. My father was an officer with the London Scottish Regiment and had served in South Africa so boat travel was not new to him. To us it was one big fun filled time, food, chocolate, sweets and the odd accent from the crew amused us. Unfortunately Judith got seasick and poor Mum ran from the dining room with the crew calling “Gangway” to speed them on their way. This led to us all being cabin bound for the rest of the voyage. We watched on deck as we sailed into New York Harbor and the most magnificent sight of The Statue of Liberty to us it was majestic and impacted to us the meaning of freedom. She was a magnificent liner and I join with the rest of you with memories of all who have sailed in her that dignity will I pray be restored to her final days. Nancy Jull, Auckland, New Zealand. April 2006 Hello S.S.America,     was born in Cornwall, England in 1945. My mother and I (at age 7) emigrated from Southampton, England to New York in Feb. 1953. We were on the S.S.America in a tiny cabin deep in the hull with a pipes passing through the room and a huge porthole (that took up half of a wall) covered with a steel plate. The voyage took 8 days and the weather was awful (I was sick every day). I recall the two of us sitting at a table with an older man who ate most of our allotted food. I also recall sneaking up to the front of the ship (climbing over massive chains) and then staring down at the bow cutting through the water, then a steward grabbed me and took me back to my mother. My best memory was passing by the Statue of Liberty. Still a great memory, Tony  Jan 2006   We left from Cherbourg, France on April 19, 1947.  My sister and I, orphaned during WWII, were traveling from Paris to New York City, to meet family and begin our new lives in America.  My first view of the SS America was spectacular – she was beautiful – I remember it was dusk and the ship was glistening with lights and all of the stewards, dressed in their  whites, were waving at the portholes, welcoming us aboard.  It was a  sight to remember!  I could feel it was going to be quite an adventure.  My sister, who was just eleven years old at the time, was sea sick for seven days and missed all of the fun.  I was eighteen years old and made many friends.  Every night there was entertainment on board. We were in the Cabin Class ballroom or lounge. It was a beautiful elegant room. Mostly Irish ballads were being played by the band. It was the first time I heard the beautiful song “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”.  I also recall that when the ship passed by Ireland, it was pointed out how green the land was. The music touched me, it was very reminiscent of the melodies of Bretagne. I also remember we had a tour of the ship. I can’t remember the First Class accommodations, but I recall viewing the most modern kitchen I had ever seen, the shiny utensils, and those cooks with their chefs hats!!!   There was also a Chaplain on board and I recall going to “confession” and a mass.  barbara2 The first photo was taken on Thursday, April 24, 1947 – the Gala Dinner – the night before we were due to land in New York.  We were delayed all day due to an Atlantic storm, so we arrived on Saturday instead of Friday.  Our cabin was in Second Class but we had our meals in Tourist Class.   I am the young girl in glasses. On Friday, April 25, 1947,  we went to a magnificent ballroom – for a cocktail party and dance.  I had tea, and I remember the boat was rocking, I could hardly hold my cup.   Our chaperone, Miss M., shared our cabin but we never saw much of her.  My new friend Mauricette, nineteen years old,  was due to meet her fiancée in New York City and she tried to get me to dress up with stockings.  She said I still looked like a “school girl”  in my ankle socks. The second photo is of  a group of us on arrival in New York City on Saturday April 26, 1947.  We still had our party hats on.  I am in the center in the back row – wearing glasses, and my sister is up front on the right. We had our first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, everyone was overwhelmed, and  Litta, a New Yorker, cried when she saw the Chrysler Building – where she worked.  I did not know what to think or feel but we left France with mixed emotions knowing we were leaving behind our adoptive parents whom we  loved so much. But we were Americans, born in Paris, and New York was calling. Sincerely yours,   Barbara September 05

   Our family of 4 emigrated to the US in August 1963, and shortly afterward to Canada .
We sailed aboard the SS America from Southampton to N.Y.
We remember it vividly! My brother was 6 and I was 9; he had to get brought back to our area by a snooty 1st Class crew member,as he had “escaped’ into the better part of the ship!
He also got himself shut up in the foldup bunkbed in our cabin.
We always remember that every morning, the Asian steward in the D.R. told us: “NO Flosted (sp) Flakes today”!!!!, even though every other table seemed to be eating them!!
Perhaps he was just looking out for our teeth!!!
It was a great trip, and I’m sad to read that the ship is now rotting away in the sea.
In my local Thrift shop today, I found and bought two picture frames in the shapes of a life preserver, with the logo SS America on the front! They are in great shape.
Can’t wait to see my Mum’s face!!
S. Jackson, Canada. September 05

 

I came to the USA from England on the SS America in September, 1964.  Although I don’t have the exact date I understood it was the last transatlantic crossing for the America.  My recollection is that we were a day late arriving in New York because of a hurricane that made us sail further north than usual.  I remember that the seas got pretty rough and I think I was one of about 12 people in the dining room one evening. The ship was full of returning vacationers, or immigrants like me.  When we passed the Statue of Liberty, early in the morning, it’s surprising the boat didn’t tip over as every passenger was lined up on the rail, most with tears in their eyes. I was in a rather cramped (four bunks) small cabin somewhere way below the water line.  After the first night we never saw one of our fellow roomies as he made the acquaintance of a young lady in First Class, managed to get through the gate and hid out in her cabin the rest of the trip. I couldn’t believe the quantities of food that we were given.  If we ordered steak we were asked to say how many inches thick we wanted it.  Being young we challenged them by ordering thicker and thicker cuts but they always at least doubled them, and then waited to see if we could eat them.  I got up early most mornings and as we approached NYC I saw that the ship was dumping great quantities of meat overboard.  Later I was told that the ship was not allowed to bring meat back into the USA and as many had not eaten because of the storm they had no choice but to dump it overboard.  I’ve often wondered if that was true and would appreciate hearing if that can be verified.  Also, if anyone has records of the September 1964 sailing, I would very much like to know the date I first put foot on American soil.  I became a citizen many years ago and the memory of passing the Statue and my being sworn in as a citizen are two of the greatest moments of my life. She was a wonderful ship.  I feel lucky to have been able to come here on a transatlantic liner and to have first seen New York from the water. Immigrants can only be granted permission to land by an official in the USA.  I had all my papers, including a large chest x ray, that all immigrants had to carry ( it was only when we assembled and I saw so many people all with similar yellow manila envelopes that I realized how many immigrants there were) and I was grilled by a very aggressive and serious Irish American.  Finally he stood up and with a very broad smile reached out his hand: “Welcome to the United States, Mr. Harrow.  I wish you the best of luck”    Tony Harrow September 2005

   My mother and I (Susan T. Annis and Susan E. Annis) traveled on the America in June of 1962. We were traveling to join my father, who was stationed with the U.S. Army in Kaiserslautern. As I recall, we were told we were among the first group of military dependents to join their sponsor after the Berlin Wall went up. I was sixteen years old and was very impressionable. This was the most exciting thing we had ever done. We had to “dress” for dinner every night and I was so pleased to be able to get dressed up. The table next to ours had a large group of young officers; all dressed every evening in their dress whites. At sixteen I thought I was in heaven. My mother passed away in 2001 and among her things I found several menus and mementoes of our voyage. Susan E. Holmes July 2005

   This is my memory of the SS America – similar to others you have collected. My Dad had been stationed in Germany from l955-58 and the Army put us in First Class (!) to travel back to the United States on the SS America from Bremerhaven, Germany to New York in April, 1958. I have pictures of my parents strolling on the 1st Class Promenade deck and sitting in the lounge. I also have menus from the grand meals. I was 11 years old and was a picky eater (and just a little seasick), so I didn’t appreciate the wonderful food. An amazing website – thanks for all your hard work and research on this vessel. What a history she had, but what a sad ending to a grand lady. I think it would make a great movie or documentary showing her service in WWII through the Atlantic crossings, to visiting the romantic Greek ports and beyond. (Hey there, Discovery Channel!) But maybe she should just slip quietly into the sea to her resting place and let us who knew her, though very briefly, have our memories. Pam Brown Pryor June 2005

Frank D 3lowresolution   I came across  the web site by accident. I came to New York on the SS America on November 28,1962,leaving from Le Havre, France. I was 11 yrs old then and remember the entire trip quite well. My family and I did not speak English ,so the voyage was a little difficult but we managed. I have being looking to see if someone has been able to acquire the passenger list from that date and if so could they  let me know. For your files I am also including my family picture that was taking on the ship on the last day. I am the one with the party hat at the end on the left side, also in the picture are my mother, my father, my older brother and my two sisters. They all had fun on the ship, I was the only one that was see sick for the first 3 days.
I now live in Ohio with my family and I always share my experience on that wonderful ship.
Thank You Frank Di Rubba  October 2004

 In December of 1959, I immigrated to the United States in search of a better life (like many others then) on the SS America.  My brother, who had come over two years earlier, had booked my voyage.  As the ship departed from Bremerhaven, I met a young American women on deck.  I had originally been placed on an all-German table, but she took me to the Purser and changed my seating.  We became good friends aboard ship and she introduced me to “the American way of life”.  Her name was Anita Thompson and she came from Toledo, Ohio.  We communicated for several years afterward and then lost touch.  It would be terrific if she read this message and contacted me at “christaschoice@optonline.net” so that we could catch up on the years we missed. For an eighteen year old girl, who had hardly ever left Berlin, the unknown was tremendously interesting if somewhat frightening.  The weather was so rough that the ship had to be turned around to repair a porthole which had been damaged during the stormy weather.  Rather than enjoying all the amenities the ship had to offer, I spent most of the trip seasick in my cabin.  We lost a day and instead of arriving on my birthday, I came a day later.  Because of the delay, I was very concerned that there would be no one to pick me up.  My new friend agreed to stay with me until I either met my relatives (aunt, uncle, cousins and brother) or she deposited me into a cab.  Needles to say, they were all there. It was exactly forty-five years to the day that my son, now twenty-eight years old, accidentally came across the information on the SS America and e-mailed it to me.  Looking at all the pictures certainly brings back a lot of memories and some tears.  Despite the seasickness, having grown up in post-war Germany, I had never known such luxury even though I, undoubtedly, traveled tourist class.  Christa Zago       Jan 2005 Shortly after my parents married in NY in June of 1952, my father was deployed to Germany.  My mother sailed on the SS America later that year to join him.  Attached is a picture of my mother (Nancy Gorskey Morton) and Grandmother (Margaret Gorskey) in front of the ship before she sailed.  Sorry about the quality of the picture.  Are there any passenger lists available on-line?  I’d like to find out exactly when she sailed. Thanks, Maryann Morton Riordan   Feb 2005 Hi. What a shock to see the fate of the ship that holds some of my America First class deckearliest memories.  in 1973 at age 4 my family left Australia for the USA. my family had been living there for about 2 1/2 years when my dad, born in Melbourne, decided his steeplechase jockey career would be better in the US, again. my mom, dad, brother and myself left the first place I remember calling home and all the aunts, uncles and cousins that loved us so. we boarded in I think Sydney for the 22 day trip. I remember all the people in our small cabin with 2 sets of bunk beds there to say goodbye. I knew even then we would never see any of them again. I was confused with this thought. remember I was almost 5 and this was a thought that I really couldn’t comprehend. I remember the daycare where I played with children from many nationalities, the dining room that served powdered everything that I liked and wouldn’t eat it. I was very skinny when we reached ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I remember the pool on deck, the ballroom where we flew paper airplanes, the life boat drills which were frightening as I thought each time we were sinking, the stops along the way; Fiji, Mexico, etc. , I do have a few pictures of the voyage and it seems like another life time. it’s was sad to see the condition of the ship yet at the same time it was peaceful to see what was like Australia, just a memory.  it was real and I will never forget the ship that brought me and my family from there to here. thank you, Sara (Thomas) Barnes   March 2005 First of all, great site! I thought you might like to know that I stumbled across a book which is great for America-philes! A friend of a friend (etcetera!) mentioned it to me, so I had to take a look. I would say it's meant for people who enjoy the Harry Potter and Amber Spyglass stories, but it has a huge section set onboard the wonderful America in the early 1950s! Everything gets mentioned from the decor to the layout, and I felt like I was walking around! I never knew the ship, but I did know people who went on it - a couple who used to live next door to me many years ago back when I was growing up! They had a real affection for it, and I never forgot looking at their pictures of them having a holiday. So to find the ship in a story which could put it back into the public's eyes was thrilling. Take a look for The Guardian Of Time by C C Chambers, which I searched for but only found on the www.amazon.co.uk website. Best wishes, Cathy  Williams

Hello!
     I was 10 years old in 1962 when the Townsend family embarked from new York harbor enroute to Europe on the America. my father was a career military man whom had been transferred to Heidelberg, Germany.
   I remember boarding the ship in New York at the United States line dismemberment center. vague memories of how large the facility was. and the fanfare when we left.
  I remember bunk beds, so I gather we must have been assigned less than first class accommodations. that certainly didn’t matter to me! however, I DO remember the first class dining facilities so I presume we were allowed that privilege…maybe due to dad’s status? anyway, it was there that I was introduced to shrimp cocktails, which I had an over abundance of, and fried frog legs. yum. mom’s favorite story is that all the kids called for a revolt somewhere into the fourth or fifth day of the voyage due to the lack of hamburgers and the like. lol.
   I remember seeing ireland and having tea and crumpets at 4:00 pm on deck with my mother. first time for either, but it quickly became a daily must-have.
   We docked in la harve overnite. my older brother and fellow teenage “ruffians” were chastized for throwing fruit from the ship at the workers below. me?, i was busy racing my new “schuco” racer on the decks.
   I also remember the elevator. seems me and the other young spuds would ride the elevator up (or down) and then raced up (or down) the steps to again meet the elevator operator at the next floor. fun times for the young at heart.
   I never found the pool even though I tried hard…it was probably outside of my “limits”.
   What wonderful memories!
Thanks for such a great site!
Best regards,
Peter Townsend  September 2004

   At 10 years of age, I was on board USS America in 1964 for two transatlantic trips, NY to Cobh, Ireland and return. I recall that at the young age of 10,I had gotten to know the ship so well with the first day, that older adult passengers who were easily confused as to their new surroundings used to ask me if I could take them to various locations. Naturally, I did so with ease and made plenty of tips along the way. This money came in handy in the lounges for the evening’s betting ventures and of course, the old-timer’s favorite – bingo. The ship really catered to youngsters with many party’s and lots of games and things to win. I recall winning a bag of soft balls, all red, white and blue, for the USS America. I learned a lot on passenger liners, to swim, shuffleboard and table tennis. In my youth, I was on quite a few ocean-going vessels: MV Britannic, some Dutch Ship(X2), QE1, SS Sylvania(X2), and the Queen Mary. Business was good! d in those days for a young lad crossing the Atlantic.  Adrian Guns  May 2004

   When my late father came home from the Korean War, he was assigned to the Army Base in Bismarck, ND.  One day mom and dad told my brother and I that they were going shopping and they came home with two Chihuahua puppies.  The little dogs had no idea what they were in for.  We moved from Bismarck to Fort Sheridan, Illinois in 1957.  From there, Dad was reassigned to HQ of 7th Army in Stuttgart West Germany. He requested surface transportation to Europe and we sailed from NY to Europe, on the SS America in early June of 1958.  The two little Chihuahuas from Bismarck found themselves on the SS America with us.  After three years of traveling around Europe by car, they then found themselves on a plane coming back to the US in 1961.  We settled in Deerfield, Illinois when Dad retired from the Army.  I doubt the dogs had any idea that they would become world travelers, much less First Class Passengers on the SS America.dan5  Dan Spannraft 10/2003

   Hello, Yes I remember leaving New-York on the SS America, in 1960 April 29 with my mother and sister, going back to France for my mother. She was in the States for about 14 years. Without seeing her relatives. So we left New York one sunny afternoon, and after a few hours we went to the dining room. Everything was marvelous I was 11 and my sister was 7. I remember appreciating only that diner, because on the trip I was sick as a devil and it last forever as I can recall…there was a few hours of release concerning my sea sickness. With those precious hours I remember going to a huge room where there was a picture  show and they served sandwiches with olives…since I couldn’t eat anything usually…I felt so hungry then…I remember also going to a deck where people played  with a stick  pushing a palette on the ground. I was not familiar with those games…But what I remember well is that the playing deck was sort of under the water once in a while. I saw a shark swimming just beside de huge ship I was so curious that I sneaked on the top deck where now as I can remember was very dangerous…I wanted to see the sea raging like a bull out there! So I did!!! Didn’t want to go further as a few feet from that door. On the top. There wasn’t anything to keep people from going overboard except a little rail…and when I realized that with the sea upheavals like that I was going to be swept overboard. I just decided to go back down… When I told my mini adventure to a waiter he ran and grabbed a key from behind a counter and went up to lock the door …finish my shivering adventure….But now I can say Thank you waiter whoever you are!!..Well after a few days let’s say 5/6..One morning around 9 I heard the boat horn several times and mother said were arrived!!! So we packed up and mother went to the bar on the top floor where she bought several packages of cigars and candy etc…For our relatives who were waiting on us down on the quai…after the customs… And that was it!! Being seasick is the worst thing a child can experience on a big and wonderful playground that boats like that is! Cheers Mme Krajewski Hi, my name is Bob McAlister
                   
                In 1957 I was six years old. My dad was in the air force and we were stationed in New York. He received orders that we were to be stationed in Wurtzburg Germany for three years, and that we were to sail there on board the S.S. America. It took about 5-6 days as I recall. That was a long time ago, but I remember it’s enormity and beauty . Some other memories are; Salvador Dali was on board strutting the decks with his cane and goofy mustache— dining on board was exquisite–our German waiter even talked me into eating celery by breaking the celery in half and taking the “strings” out for me— the pool was huge and scary ( I didn’t swim at the time )—my dad and I played ring-toss and shuffle board on deck— I also saw “gunfight at the o.k. corral” in the theater— I also remember having a tough time keeping my plastic soldiers to keep standing due to the movement of the ship— all in all these memories are precious to me. Hope you enjoyed reading about them as much as I did reminiscing–again.
                                                                                                                           Bob McAlister

   I found your wonderful website and after a hour or two have a tear in my eye for a ship that meant so much to me as a child and still holds found memories of a long past era of eloquence. My Dad, Mom , dog and I all returned to the States on board the America after three years of duty in Germany where my Dad was stationed in the Air Force. We traveled in Cabin Class and I still remember the bad weather we had after we had sailed from LeHavre to Ireland. There was a small single hole putting range on the ships promenade deck which I played day in and out finally winning that voyages gold tournament at the ripe old age of 8 which upset to no end the grownups who tried in vain to beat me. I got a nice plaque which I still have today and a bowl of fruit which I thought was grand. The ships crew were kind and took great pains to insure we kids were taken care of , up to the point of sneaking us into first class for some of the left over cookies from the daily tea reception. Ron S. Thomas 8/2003 I just happened to stumble upon the website while reading up about the S.S. United States and the S.S. America. I was 8 yrs. old when my parents and I made the voyage from New York to Germany.  My dad was in the Army, and we were being transferred. The voyage was extremely rough (spring on the North Atlantic is no fun) and we had 40-ft. seas.  My mother spent nearly the entire trip in our cabin, and I was seasick the first night out; afterwards my father and I took in the sights and sounds of the ship as best we could. The heavy seas washed out some of the windows on the promenade deck, and they had to close down the elevator and the swimming pool (which was indoors due to the colder climate).  Also the bowling alley and the ping pong tables were useless during most of the voyage.  I remember our waiter pouring water from a pitcher all over our linen tablecloths, to keep the dishes from sliding off of the tables as we ate.  I remember the chandelier in the dining room swaying to the ship’s movements as the orchestra played. Our cabin had a bunk bed and a single bed, all of which had “seat belts” to hold you in during the night if the weather got rough.  I was not allowed to take the top bunk, much to my dismay, so my father did instead, realizing the dangers of what might lie ahead. We kept a number of the dining menus as souvenirs, and they are quite incredible to read.  Each day was a different menu. My husband has wanted to take a cruise for some time, and I haven’t been on a ship since I was on the S.S. America, so we’ve made a promise to each other to begin saving our money for a maiden voyage on the S.S. United States when the refurbishing is completed by Norwegian Cruise Lines.  I can hardly wait. I was quite distressed to find out what happened to the S.S. America – it really did come as a shock – almost like losing a member of the family.  What a tragedy. Jean Maxton 4/2003    LARRY – GREAT WEBSITE. YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN MY EXPERIENCE ABOARD THE S.S. AMERICA. As a 13-year old boy, I sailed aboard SS America with my family from New York harbor to Southampton, England; the time was August/September of 1949. The occasion was the military transfer of my father, a US Marine officer, to London for duty there for two years. My father, mother, younger brother and I were in adjoining staterooms and our family car also traveled with us in the hold. I can remember a band playing as we pulled away from the pier in NY and how far it seemed from my vantage point on the rail to the people down on the docks. We passed the Statue of Liberty as we steamed eastward and I remember seeing one of the lightships farther out. At sea my brother and I would watch the flying fish skimming across the breaking bow waves and we played shuffleboard, swam in the pool, and stood at the very peak of the bow a la ” Titanic” movie scenes. The meals in the dining room were superb although as boys we never enjoyed having to be dressed up so much for eating. One of my most memorable adventures aboard was the placing of a note in a bottle obtained from the galley and throwing it into the sea over the stern rail. As I watched it disappear into the wake I thought that would surely be the end of that… but it wasn’t. We made a brief stop off the coast of Ireland to put some passengers ashore by boat at Cobh; I vividly recall the beauty of that bright green Irish countryside seen at a distance and also how impressed I was with the men I saw on the small fishing boats far off the coast – it seemed they were frail                                   Statue of Liberty as seen from the decks of the America. and brave ventures on a vast and unfriendly ocean.                                                         From the Brian Petersen collection When we docked at Southampton we went ashore and had to wait for our car to be unloaded. It was soon swinging in the air from a loading boom and being lowered to its owners. As we waited, my brother and I explored the dockside a bit and wandered into an open warehouse full of large cloth bags full of pepper. It was difficult to stay inside that building without sneezing and we found some humor in going in to have a sneeze or two and then out for relief. Some 20 months later in London, my father came home one day with a letter for me – it was from France. To my amazement, it was from a family that lived on the Bay of Biscay, just south of Bordeaux – one of their children, a 4-year old girl named Marie, had found my bottle on their beach. Their letter was in French and I could read it fairly well with my school-learned French and the level of excitement in our house went up a thousand percent as we considered the travels of that small bottle in the Atlantic. To this day I have kept that letter and others that s prang from our new friendship; the actual note from the bottle has been kept as well. I have never met Marie or her family; she would be a lady in her 50’s today. My wife and I are talking about a trip to France to see what we can find. My memories of the slow ocean-crossing days aboard majestic liners are good ones and it is a treat to share some of them on this excellent website. I presently reside in Beaufort, South Carolina. My name is Earl Piper. 10/12/2011

                         I remember when a rogue wave (at the time I thought it was a leftover mine from WWII because we were not far from coming in to port in Southampton) hit the bridge of the America, breaking much of the glass, injuring at least one officer, and partially flooding the Tourist class playroom.  I was preparing to take the kids up to our lifeboat station when a bellboy came to the playroom door to tell us what had happened, and that we could stay put.    Margaret M Dardis  6/2003

   When I was 7 3/4 ( I turned 8 one week after arrival), my family emigrated to the United States. My mother, two sisters, and I came on the S.S. America while  my father went by plane. It was the most exciting event in my life.

   I cannot remember too many details about the ship, but I do recall getting lost when I took an elevator to first class by mistake ( we were cabin class). There were enormous amounts of food at every meal and in-between they seemed to serve bouillon around the clock. During a storm the ship rolled from one side to the other and I watched the chairs and tables in the lounge do the same. There was a playroom where children were entertained. I remember the stationary was onionskin- for years after there was some in my mothers desk. I never got sick during the journey, but when we arrived in New York I felt sick as soon as my feet stepped on land.

   My neighbor, whose hobby is collecting and selling antique toys, had a metal S.S. America on wheels that I coveted, desperately. My husband bought it for my birthday and it sits on a shelf in my office, reminding me of how I got to America and my new life.

My family left Berlin in August 0f 1960 and departed to the United States from Bremerhaven, Germany. I will never forget the feeling onboard ship wandering through all its public rooms, on deck, in the pool, and on the promenade. Being on the bridge at night was a truly awesome experience looking at the sky and listening to the waves slap the ship. The meals were truly exquisite. The trip was one of the most memorable of my life.

   SS America, First Class Lounge, August, 19607darrenPicture of the First Class Lounge on the SS America taken in August of 1960. My twin brother Michael is wearing the then fashionable “white bucks” and I am on the left, burrowed into the reading material (we were both 13 at the timeMark Anderson

Derry  Koralek    Feb 98

   I sailed on the ‘America’ as the ‘Australis’ in February 1976. I was 10 years of age and spent 3 1/2 weeks exploring the ship. My friend and I went from the funnels to the baggage compartment and we even got in and saw some of the engine room, the noise (to me as a kid) was horrendous. We were the first passenger ship allowed through the Suez Canal after the war and although the canal was cleared of mines we had to follow a tanker just in case. I remember the burnt out tanks and that littering the shore. We shouted “sieta to Siam” which allegedly meant “hello my good friend” to the Arabs who were waving back. God I miss that part of my life. On the trip from Djibouti to Perth we did not see another ship for 4 – 5 days and then we picked one up on radar and steered towards them. The decks were crammed with people waving to this tanker that appeared so close to us traveling in the opposite direction. Then we hit a storm where it is said we were sending out ‘securetay’ messages as we were getting battered around. I remember rolling around in my bunk trying to sleep. My friend and I had a favorite hang out in some dunnies that had a porthole near the waterline. During this storm we opened the port hole to see out and all of a sudden water started to come in from the rolling of the ship. We packed ourselves and scarpered thinking the ship was going to fill up and sink. Talking of sinking  I remember the life boat drill, what a fiasco. We stood there for over an hour and in the end my Dad said “if it takes this bloody long we’ll go up on deck and I’ll throw you overboard”. I have been compiling information and researching this ship for some 12 years and have heaps of information.You may or may not be aware that after several years laid up in Crete she was been towed to be made into a floating hotel when in a storm in 1996 the tow line snapped and she went aground in the Canary islands were she is to this day, she has broken in two and the stern (from just passed the aft funnel has sunk) the rest is above the water resting near the beach, a sad end to a once beautiful ship.   Darren Byrne  May 98   We boarded the SS America in May of 1956, bound for America, to look for a better life. I was 11, the youngest in our family of seven, and had spent all my conscious life in a little French town, lost in time. My provincialism was about to clash head-on with an opulence I had only read about in books. It was night time when we arrived in Le Havre and as we hurried to the ship from the train station, I worried about having to cross the gangplank from the dock to the boat. Would it be very narrow? Would it break? How high above the water would it be? Even as these thoughts were spinning in my head, we passed through a wide entryway into what looked to me like a ballroom, from the red carpet on the floor, to the bright lights glimmering high above me. I seemed to be engulfed in flashes of red and gold. People were bustling all around us and I thought to myself, “what a fancy station this is”! Then, we were escorted down a hallway and shown into a room. Only when I saw the porthole window did I finally realize we were already on the ship! So much for the gangplank! Our cabin had one novel luxury after another, such as its own private bathroom and a telephone from which we could call the rest of the family in the other rooms, as the seven of us were split up in various locations. That night I fell asleep completely bedazzled. By morning, the French coast was far behind us and we were alone with the sea. I don’t know much about the others’ experiences, except that my brother seemed to be seasick most of the time. I spent my days ambling about the ship, checking out the playroom where many toys tempted me, but not knowing English, I didn’t feel comfortable playing with the other kids. I preferred tea time in late afternoon, when the tables in the dining room were set with lovely silver pots of tea and cocoa and plates of cookies. I loved to sit off by myself and listen to the quiet conversations around me, though I couldn’t understand a word. I guess I just loved the sound of English. Occasionally, some nice ladies would smile at me and pass me more cookies. My favorites were Oreos. Once, I accidentally wandered up into the first class area which looked even more luxurious and everything seemed to be white, from the carpet to the upholstery, but I was quickly escorted down. There was a different movie playing every night, there were lounges full of smoke and cocktail-sipping couples, games going on inside and out, deck chairs to relax in, everything imaginable for a life of pure pleasure. Mealtimes were sumptuous and the service high class, for rich or poor alike, with waiters in jackets and white towels over their arms, ready to do your bidding. Either from lack of interest in fancy dishes, or my insistence on ordering for myself, I always seemed to get the same thing for dinner, some kind of turkey dish and fruit compote for dessert. I hated fruit compote and wasn’t too fond of the turkey either, but those were the only things I could pronounce in English. By the end of the trip I could also proudly order “milk”. It didn’t really matter, as before leaving the table, like Heidi, I would stuff my pockets with rolls and fruit and head out on the foredeck to sit on a big cable reel and watch the ship’s prow rise and fall in the waves. Here, I was happiest! I’d munch my goodies, breathe in the salt air, daydream and wish time would stand still. Now, when I look over our souvenir menus, I drool over what I could have had. Our steward must have noticed my fruit pilfering as he suddenly started putting a bowl of fruit in our cabin every day. He also came in the room one day and found my sister and me curled up in the window seat by the porthole, watching the sea. The next day we found a thick, fluffy rug in that space. We ran into some fog now and then, causing the ship to blow its eerie fog horn, which made my mother quite nervous, but the sea itself stayed calm for most of the trip, except for one night when we had to hang on to the walls and handrails just to walk in the hallways, but by morning all was peaceful. Whales were also sighted one day, but unless you had binoculars, all you could see were dark humps above the water in the distance. As we approached New York, there was much excitement over catching sight of the Statue of Liberty, but it was either too foggy, or she was too far away to thrill me much. At first glimpse of the skyscrapers I did feel a little giddy, but what really impressed me was the size of our ship. Out at sea, there had been nothing by which to gauge her size, but now, as she docked, and I saw the waiting people so far below, I realized how huge she was and even more so after we disembarked and I looked back to see her looming high above me, almost like a skyscraper herself. It overwhelmed me to think that I, a little village girl, had just spent six glorious days on that floating palace! Laima Parrish – Sept. 1998

Elke Martha Dorothea Ross’s memories of 1955 SS America Voyage  (she was from Kiel, Germany and was 17 years old):
Please note that spelling errors and punctuation have not been corrected so as to preserve Elke’s German background.  Items in parentheses were added by myself to clarify details.
  (Ross Family: Father-Erich Gottfried Paul Ross-age 48, Mother-Martha Luise Jens Ross-age48, Daughter-Elke Martha Dorothea Ross-age 17, Son-Rudiger Erich Paul-age 12)
  Elke writing (March 2001):
…”By train we traveled to Le Havre, France boarded the S.S. America.  We had one outside cabin with four bunks.  The crossing of the English Channel was very rough and of course everybody, except my Dad (he was in the German Merchant Marines), got very sea sick.  We had a stopover in Cobb, Ireland.  I was able to get better when we were at anchor for a day.  From that time on I was somewhat better and lived off tea & toast.  My father’s sea sickness was an increased appetite.  The food was outstanding, but neither I or my mother or my brother were able to eat.  As a matter of fact my mother and brother were sick all seven days it took to reach New York.  Crossing the Atlantic in February is not the most intelligent way to travel.  We arrived in New York Harbor Feb.7th 1955.  New York needless to say was overwhelming.  Maybe that is why I still don’t care for the city…..
  Sent by Michelle Mika Daughter in Law

Memories ? Pictures? please drop me an Email

22 thoughts on “I remember America

  1. Tanja Boehme-Markgraf

    My dad sailed from Germany to NYC on the AMERICA in November 1961 I am looking for anyone else who sailed on this trip .. I am trying to collect pictures, film , diaries… anything and everything to document the passage to make a documentry of my own I am doing a family tree etc… If anyone might have known him .. his name was Dietmar Wolfgang Gerhard Boehme he was from Berlin, Germany and sailed from Bremerhaven to the UK and then on to NY. My email is evilhomersgirl@gmail.com … thanks so much and look forward to hearing from anyone willing to share!! 🙂

  2. sandra e mccarthy

    I travelled on the s.s.america in 1964.I was returning to the states to my job as a nanny,I was 21. unfortuately it was in august the hurricane season,and the captain had to slow the ship as we were inbetween two hurricanes,they put ropes up on the ship and we had a good four days of rough weather,and I spent most of my time in the cabin for safety.When we first left southampton the weather was beautiful it was like a cruise,but then the next day it really started to get bad,and I thought oh no not again,I had previously returned to england from new york 10months before and it was mid november,we had sixty foot swells and I was sick four five days out of the seven,that was on the s.s.united states,there were people injured and the a deck and stairs were badly damaged by the sea going over and in the ship.The crazy thing is,I was scared to fly so I went by ship,the joke was on me,however I survived it all,even though at the time,most of the time I thought the ships would sink,what a shame I couldn,t enjoy these trips with good weather,I was just unlucky,I guess!..

  3. Felicity Pine

    Wow, I’m so happy to have found this website. I’m Skyping with my daughter’s civics class in a few minutes, which I do every semester, to tell my story of becoming a citizen (finally) in 2002. I was just surfing the web for information about immigration in 1957, which is when we arrived in NYC. My family made the trip from England to the US on the SS America. I was 7 or 8 years old. We were three children and my mother and father. I also remember it as an amazing experience. I remember that we were visited by the ship’s captain and we dressed up and were very polite (of course – we were English). He gave us a memento – a pin of some sort to wear. I remember the food, the sheer amounts of it. My father was particularly amazed at the fruit — the strawberries were so large and ripe and juicy. When we came down the gangplank in NYC, my father had arranged for our car to be there. In addition to the vision of the Statue of Liberty, I remember the image of that mammoth estate station wagon waiting for us. I remember walking from the front to the back and was blown away by the size of it. It went on forever; cars in England were tiny. I think the largeness of everything was what we all noticed about America. Supermarkets, Skyscrapers, and the SS America!

  4. Mary Wernig Breerwood

    I just saw the video on the weather channel of my beloved passenger ship, the SS America. We were lucky to be able to take it from Bremerhaven, Germany back to the United States. We had spent three years with my dad in army barracks in southern Germany. We were at Heidelberg, Robinson barracks and Kelly barracks. I have many wonderful memories of those days. I was 7 and /12 when we arrived on the USS Darby and 10 1/2 when we left on the SS America.
    It seemed we had complete freedom on board. We went to the pool, the theater, played ping pong and just roamed around with our new friends for I think it was ten days. I still have the trophy that I won for ping-pong. I also have other memorabilia from our trip. I remember the food as being delicious and there were many courses. I think I gained a few pounds. I never was seasick, but many others were as it was in December of 1962 that we crossed and it was cold. I remember LeHarve harbor and South Hampton, the white cliffs of Dover and the bay of Cork (or Cobh) in Ireland. where the water was turquoise and the hills were emerald green. I remember being very happy and cheering when we saw the Statue of Liberty. But I was sad to leave the ship though as we had so much fun and it was so beautiful.
    I was so sad to see that beautiful ship wrecked and falling into the sea. They should have made it a Casino and floating hotel like we have on the Mississippi now.

  5. Gisela Beans (Jobst)

    September 1953, accompanied by my aunt, Franziska Edwards, I traveled from NY to Bremerhaven with my parakeet, “Stuffy” (in a travel cage). I was 11 years old and this trip was another exciting experience for me, because I was on my way home after having spent 8 months with my relatives in Bethlehem, PA.
    I Keep checking to see if anyone else traveled to Germany on the S.S. America on that trip.

  6. sharon jacobs

    just found out that a cousin of mine, Clarence John Marsman (known as C. John) painted a mural on this ship. Was hoping to see a picture of it on this website but cannot find any that state it was his. Does anyone know about this??

  7. mary geraghty

    My mother and I [age 12] sailed from Cobh on a stormy night of March 15th 1961. We went out on a tender to meet the ship at midnight. The sight of the lighted ship in the pitch black ocean was memorable to this day. it was a rocky voyage deck furniture had to be tied down as waves tumbled over the top deck. I was terrified to go in to the pool as I thought the bottom was the ocean floor. I saw people who looked so strange to me who wore ethnic clothing. This was the first time I saw corn on the cob and thought it was most unusual. Although we were sick for most of the voyage, the trip holds sad but good memories.

  8. bernadette

    I still have my little blue book from the SS America with the list of passengers and all that was available on the ship…I came in March of 1956 and we hit a terrible storm at sea and were late arriving in NYC…it was pretty scary and terrible and things rolling around the floor and I think we were taken to the dining room…I was 9 yrs old and came with my family…the storm was also up and down the east coast and we arrived in NYC in a terrible snow storm…we left from Cobh, Ireland.

  9. Gabriele Leithead ( Nazeres )

    I sailed on the SS America in 1961. We were aboard during Christmas and New Year. I was only 5 years old and I can remember as if it were yesterday. Going through some papers we found a photo taken by the ship photographer of New Years Eve dinner and the menu’s from the voyage.I remember making friends with the ships captain and at the Christmas party given for the children aboard, the captain gave me a baby doll, because when “Santa” handed out the gifts I received a baby dolls layette, but I didn’t have a baby doll, until the Captain gave me one for Christmas. We sailed from Germany to New York/

  10. Klaus Laaks

    Thank you for the famous articles on ss.America and as well on ss. United States. When I was the Passenger Manager for Northrhine-Westfalia ( Office in Dusseldorf(Germany)
    I travelled on both ships, namely in cabin U-42 (ss.Amerca) and cabin M-85 (ss. United States). I loved it to offer to my passengers both ships for travel either West-or Eastbound.
    Myself have been many times in Bremerhaven for passengers embarkation.
    Great!!!!

  11. Yann Saunders

    May I inquire if the SS America was equipped to carry private automobiles in her cargo hold in 1955? A photo I have shows how an automobile could be loaded/offloaded from a cruise ship (NOT the SS America, in that photo),

    I have two other photos from 1955 taken on the upper deck of SS America during a voyage from USA to Europe (Le Havre or Bremerhaven). These passengers toured Europe that year in their large Cadillac automobile. I was wondering if their car might have traveled with them on this cruise liner.

  12. Yann Saunders

    Does anyone here know where I might find sailing dates, passenger lists or cargo manifests for SS America, between April and October 1955? I would like to contact the owners of a 1951 Cadillac automobile that may have traveled on that liner and in that time frame.

  13. Julia Schilling

    My Father sailed to Europe on either the America or the United States. It was before 1953. Is there any way to find out which ship
    he sailed on and when?

  14. Ron Hoddinott

    I crossed the Atlantic from New York to Bremerhaven on the SS America in March of 1963 with my family. My father, a Major in the US Army, my mother, and my little brother. A full gale followed us all the way across the Atlantic, and the ship listed to one side for several days. One night we were confined to our cabins, and plate glass windows on the promenade deck were knocked out. One man died and his body was stored in the freezer of the galley. Leather covered steel cables were strung all along the hallways so you could get to the dining hall and other places on the ship.

    This was my second Atlantic crossing, but the first was on the Ile de France when I was 3 years old. This time I was 16, and full of myself. The second or third night out was “Gay 90’s night.” My first taste of beer seemed to help me walk straight on the heaving deck back to our cabin afterward. “Fly me to the Moon” was the favorite song played by the orchestra every night, and I became stricken with a young american girl going to France for her “Junior Year Abroad.”

    During one particularly rough night, water was rushing from one side of the ship to the other as she rolled in the sea. The young teenage girls made sport of it by sliding on their bottoms with the rushing water – side to side and back again.

    I took some amazing photos of the seas, higher than the promenade deck, but sent them back to my high school counselor and never saw them again.

    My mother had never experienced the Atlantic during a gale, and was writing her “Last Will” in the cabin one night when I came back from dinner. “What are you going to do with that,” I asked,” put it in a bottle?”

    I recall how rough the seas of the English Channel were with the small fishing smacks and tugs knocking about and throwing spray over their cockpits, but we felt we had reached “calm waters” after crossing the Atlantic in the SS America during the Gale of March 1963!

  15. Oliva Melendez

    My father Pedro Melendez – Merchant Marine sailed on this ship August/1950 NYC to LeHavre, France. How can I get a copy of the ships registry. I’m looking for my father.

  16. Eleanor woodward (nee Phelps)

    Hi, I was sorting through some old family papers and found two menus from the ssAmerica” for the dates March 28th and 29th. My family sailed on this ship in March 1948 from New York to Europe, and then on to Frankfurt, the Rhein Main airforce base, where my father was working on the Berlin Airlift until 1953. His name was Fayette Parkes Phelps. I was only two years old. I would love to see a passenger list or chat with anyone from that time. Commodore Harry Manning, Captain E.J. Bramley, or Bromley.

  17. Eleanor woodward (nee Phelps)

    Hi, me again! Extra details. I have the menu for the Gala Dinner, the musical Director was Richard Kraetke, and there were food restrictions, as per the President’s request.. The dates were Sunday and Monday March 28th, 1948.

  18. Gillian poole

    I travelled on ss united states in 1958 as a child would love to know price from southamton to new york

  19. Dan Strohl

    I was only 8 years old when I sailed from NY to Le Havre in October 1954 on the SS United States. Even as a youngster I proudly knew that she symbolized the might of American technology.

    Having sailed the previous year at age 7 from Le Havre to NY on the French Line’s Ile de France, I also recognized the contrast between the older ship’s subdued elegance and the modern power of our flagship.

    I have a beautiful portrait of the Ile de France framed in delicate, fine wood. I also have a portrait of the SS United States, aptly framed in steel and glass. (I well remember that she was constructed with virtually no combustible materials.)

    I also have an 8mm home movie taken by my father from the deck of the Ile de France as it and the SS United States met one another in the mid-Atlantic. They greeted one another with blasts of their horns, and I recall wishing that I someday would sail on the SS United States. I did exactly that 14 months later.

    When the filming of “The Last Voyage” in 1960 ended with the destruction of the Ile de France, I felt a terrible sadness. I would hate to see the SS United States end in such an undignified way.

    These events have instilled in me a romantic attachment to both of these ships. They were a significant part of the best memories of my youth. Now 70, I still enjoy travel by ship. Today’s cruises, however, don’t compare to the sense of adventure experienced years ago.

  20. gilian

    Would love to know cost of southampton to new york in 1958 as i travelled as a young child on ss united states a ss america can any one help please

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