Nearly 6 Foot Long QUEEN MARY Model

This waterline model of Queen Mary is built in the tradition of what were called “Studio Models” in the middle decades of the 20th century.  They were designed to attract potential North Atlantic travelers and displayed in the windows of upscale travel agencies.  In the late 50s, air travel had advanced to the ability to fly from New York to Europe in 11 hours or so.  Before this time, ocean liners were literally “The Only Way to Go.”  The Queen Mary was made a dinosaur nearly overnight by advances in technology gained during World War II and only dreamed of at the time of her maiden voyage in 1936.  Not only was it cheaper to fly, but reaching the opposite ends of the Atlantic in hours rather than days was very much embraced by the traveling public.  The jets spelled the end for great liners like Queen Mary.  Cunard White Star tried to utilize her majesty as a cruise ship but she was so large, she couldn’t fit into the smaller ports. She was built for the North Atlantic to transport huge numbers of passengers at magnificent speed in unparalleled luxury.  She was retired in 1967 and sailed on her last voyage to Long Beach, CA to be turned into a museum and hotel.

Nearly 6 feet long, one can see in the photographs that the studio models were quite impressive.  Mine was built by Ered Mathews and it is quite detailed and built using original building plans.  The specially-built table it rests upon is 32 inches tall, 18 inches wide, and 72 inches long.  My collection is taking up more and more room in my house and I hope to one day live in a large house with a room specifically built for Queen Mary memorabilia with this table and model in the center with ceiling floodlights shedding light upon it.  I have a 10 year-old nephew who informed me upon seeing it that all he wants from my estate when I die is this model!

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QUEEN MARY Butterfly Wing Souvenirs

The photographs above capture a few unusual items of memorabilia from Queen Mary.  From her maiden voyage to the early 60s, souvenirs with exotic, incandescent butterfly wings were used in photos, ashtrays, and jewelry.  As can be seen, these souvenirs have withstood the decades and remained primarily blue but many have faded to brown or, worse, turned to dust and simply discarded.  My collection includes a framed example, a ring still in its case, a brooch, an ashtray, a tieback, and cufflinks. In today’s politically correct society, Cunard White Star would have outraged many by killing butterflies to display their wings as a background for hand-painted vignettes of the ship.  But these souvenirs were quite popular in the middle of the last century and, fortunately, many have remained incredibly preserved, serving as a herald to a bygone era of ocean travel aboard the most successful, popular liner of all time.

 

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QUEEN MARY Caps

Officer caps 001Officer caps 002Officer caps 003Officer caps 004The above-pictured caps from Queen Mary are, from left to right, a steward’s cap, a captain’s cap, and a sailor’s cap. I am not as knowledgeable about the caps from her majesty as other pieces of memorabilia but recognize them from the black and white footage of her at sea. The steward’s cap has the double house flags of Cunard and White Star emblazoned above the bill. The captain’s cap is identical to the one worn by Commodore Edgar Britten on the maiden voyage and seen in the interviews he gave upon arrival in New York. There is also an identical one displayed in the captain’s suite in Long Beach today. The sailor’s cap is not only captured in the black and white films but also in advertisements of sailors climbing the rigging or working on deck. The captain’s cap is in the best shape of the three and is heavily embroidered. The attention to detail is remarkable on the caps as was everything on the liner. Craftsmanship was Cunard White Star’s hallmark on Queen Mary. If anyone has more information on these spectacular pieces, please contact me.

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QUEEN MARY Robe from First-Class Pool

QM Pool Robe 001 QM Pool Robe 002 QM Pool Robe 003 QM Pool Robe 004This recently acquired navy/burgundy robe came from a Queen Mary passenger in 1939 according to its owner’s grandson.  I have never seen another but the fragile nature of the collar and shoulders indicate decades of age.  The man I bought it from related that his grandparents had enjoyed the pool on a Southampton to New York voyage but his grandfather had forgotten a robe.  While towels were certainly plentiful, I simply do not have photos of passengers using this Cunard White Star garment.   A pool attendant produced this robe and the grandfather was delighted with its embroidered detail and the attendant supposedly told him to pack it along with his other clothing as there were plenty more and one missing would not be noticed.  With the obvious age and attention to detail in the embroidery, I tend to believe the story.  At any rate, it is a marvelous piece of memorabilia with expert detail which was a penchant of Cunard White Star.

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Model of QUEEN MARY Liquor Bottle

Garnier Liquor Bottle 001 Garnier Liquor Bottle 002 Garnier Liquor Bottle 003 Garnier Liquor Bottle 004This commemorative liquor bottle from the Queen Mary has never been opened.  The contents of Creme de Menthe can be heard splashing when handling the exquisite piece.  It was made by Garnier of France.  The sticker and cork have never been removed from her first smokestack as can be seen by the photos.  An internet search reveals that occasionally the Creme de Menthe stains the white superstructure but so far, this example is pristine.  One of my favorite, unique pieces!

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QUEEN MARY Travel Posters

QM Posters 004 QM Posters 003 QM Posters 002 QM Posters 001Except for the poster depicting the swimming pool aboard Queen Mary, these impressive reproductions are a treat for the eye.  The 2 largest are over 20 years old and the smaller, gold-trimmed one is about 5 years old.  The poster advertising the First-Class Swimming Pool and stating “Getting There is Half the Fun” is an actual advertisement from the 1950s.  The reproductions of the older posters indicating “Cunard White Star” illuminate the change of ocean travel during the Queen‘s career.  Through the 1930s and 1940s, Cunard White Star attempted to sway travelers to their liners with the magical illustrations when crossing the Atlantic was only possible by ship.  The posters exuded class, style, and sophistication.  But the increase in technology gained from World War II enabled jets to cross the pond in hours rather than days during the 1950s and ship passengers began to dwindle.  Cunard dropped White Star from their name, changed their advertising efforts to holiday, and attempted to entice travelers with the public relations catch phrase “Getting There Is Half The Fun”.  Queen Mary began losing money for Cunard as a result and although she sailed until 1967, she and other giant liners became dinosaurs.  Aside from the liner United States which awaits redemption from her rusty exterior and stripped interiors on the East coast, the Queen Mary is the only liner in the world to showcase the golden era of ocean travel.  An engineer friend from California stated recently that the Queen could potentially last 300 years given proper protection from corrosion and rust.  We can only be bold by exclaiming to future generations, “Long live the Queen!”

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QUEEN MARY Hand-carved Musical Motif Clock

Long Gallery Hands Long Gallery Decor 004 Long Gallery Decor 003 Long Gallery Decor 002The above black and white photo (courtesy of the Craig and Shara Anderson collection) shows what the Long Gallery’s original clock looked like during her career.  It was nearly 4 foot wide and completely hand-carved.  Once Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach, though, the renovators tore out this beautiful clock and the wreath of musical instruments and hands were divided into several separate pieces and sold at auction.  While I would certainly love to own the complete wreath, I have 2 segments on display in my bedroom as seen in the color photos.  The attention to detail and the sheer enterprise of creating such a masterpiece is remarkable.  In fact, most of the wood aboard her majesty were treated with human hands, not machines.  It is an inescapable fact that no present liner can even approach Queen Mary’ s grandeur.  Mankind will never build such a hands-on liner again and although it is shameful that so much was thoughtlessly dismantled by Long Beach, at least her corridors and public rooms are essentially the same as when she sailed.

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Author of the Year Award – Champagne Book Group

mccoy awards graphic

Champagne Book Group proudly applauds author Keith Wayne McCoy as Author of the Year!  His novel “The Travelers” was given a glowing review from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY – a first-time accomplishment for a writer contracted with this publishing house.  A hybrid of genres ranging from mainstream, literary, science fiction, urban fantasy, and even romance, Mr. McCoy masterfully blends his writing with lyrical sentences and philosophical meditations. CBG takes great pleasure in presenting this award.

Congratulations, Keith!

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YouTube Video of “The Travelers”

100_3706 (1)A marketing friend suggested that I commission a video for distribution on YouTube.  Videographer Keith Kingery did a splendid job – his first YouTube video!  You will see a very few items from my extensive Queen Mary collection.  I was a Communications minor in college and have been involved in many civic organization events by voice-overs, narration for videos, emceeing events, acting in community and college theatre, and voicing church programs.  But I had never really heard myself.  That Midwestern twang is embarrassing and awful.  I had no idea I sounded like that!  And snobby to boot!

Please view the link below.  The background music played during the excerpt reading is from the soundtrack of the ABC TV series DARK SHADOWS entitled “The Secret Room”.  I very much welcome your observations and comments!

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My QUEEN MARY Painting and Excerpt From “The Travelers”

Paintings 005Above is an aging painting I made of my obsession with Queen Mary when I was a teenager (and can’t believe how the years have passed).  She is at a full-gallop at sunset on the North Atlantic with an enormous bow wave breaking at her stem due to speed.  Racing at approximately 32 knots, she was the fastest, largest, most popular and luxurious liner on the transatlantic run.  Her 24 boilers were 3 stories high and supplied steam to the engines which produced 240,000 horse power to propel the ship’s 81,000 tons.  Although it is obvious I am not a full-fledged artist, creating this portrait of her was very satisfactory to me then and now.  Many friends and family have color copies made which they then frame in 11X14.

Below is an excerpt from “The Travelers” depicting Jim and Jess Bennett aboard in 1947 headed for New York.  The building action prefaces the unnerving feeling Jim and Jess felt of being at full speed then, with a complete loss of power, absolutely dead in the water.  This is from the last part of a chapter before the extraterrestrial encounter occurs.

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“We arrived at the Southampton docks on a dark, foggy morning and Jess and her mother were both quite subdued, understandably.  The fog drifted in thick blankets around us but an endless black wall of portholes and those famous stacks peeked through.  This was the first time Jess had ever seen her and the first time I’d seen her in peacetime colors so when the occasional ray of sunshine melted through the fog and we saw her clearly in all her glory, our breath was literally taken away.  We had no choice but be staggered by her, like being in the presence of royalty.”

Guy was familiar with that lifelike facet of the Queen Mary and could easily imagine her asserting her dominance over the entire harbor.

“Jess embraced her mother fiercely for a very long time but never broke.  Her mother sobbed, as you can imagine, but Jess held her tight and silently hid her face in her mother’s hair.  Her mother understood her much better than I and undoubtedly knew her daughter was screaming inside.  After they parted, we walked up a narrow canvas gangway with Queen Mary emblazoned on its sides and Jess never looked back.  Of course she didn’t look up, either, until we stepped aboard.  She didn’t want to wave to her mother from the railing as we pulled away from dock.  Safer that way, I suspect.

“We found ourselves in another world.  Queen Mary was not at all what I remembered as a troopship.  Looking back, I can see how young we were with only one suitcase between us, standing so completely overwhelmed by those glistening wood interiors.  We really were backward kids, barely out of our teens, and we wandered for hours taking everything in.  How simple we must have appeared.  She lingered in the Swimming Pool with its elaborate staircase and balcony, richly tiled all the way to the ceiling that was mother of pearl.  It was empty but not quiet with the water splashing against the sides with the movement of the ship.  The lounge was the most beautiful room on the ship and in light of what we would encounter there in a few days, I will grant you that Jess recalls every mirror, chair, and column just as I do.  I remember how hesitant she was when we opened the door to our stateroom, B27, starboard forward.  At first, she wouldn’t step over the threshold but peered in as if she were afraid her shoes would soil the carpeting.

“The Dining Room was as soaring and majestic as any cathedral I had seen and we were both embarrassed to be so under-dressed.  Good God, we were out of place with those tuxedoes and gowns all around us.  I wore my uniform which had some formality but poor Jess had only a yellow chiffon dress she’d bought for Easter services a few years before.  ‘Memories of a lifetime,’ I kept whispering to her.  When a waiter came to our table and began to flambé a dish, all diners turned excitedly toward us.  Jess was mortified.  When the flames burst upward, she screamed and brought a ripple of laughter.  Our unease must have been glaringly obvious because an older couple watched us from a nearby table for some time, smiling at us and we were certainly the topic of their conversation.  Before dessert, they came over and introduced themselves as Frank and Emily Schofield from upstate New York and we were placed under their wing for the rest of the voyage.

“Now, Guy, sometimes older people take a vicarious interest in young people in love because that is a part of their lives that has become history.  They can’t help themselves.  As you age, you’ll understand the fascination, mark my words.  Well, Mr. and Mrs. Schofield had been married for so long that they were able to complete each other’s sentences, or rather, Mrs. Schofield completed his sentences.  She always carried their conversation.  I have never met another human being who could talk like her.  Her husband rarely finished a sentence and he simply nodded when she asked, ‘Isn’t that right, Frank?’  I told Jess that we needed to open a porthole after she left to let all the words out.  They seemed ancient to us but young people have no concept of age whatsoever and they were certainly not as old as I am today.

“They owned three restaurants in Manhattan and were expert people-watchers.  Mrs. Schofield proudly told us she knew from first sight that we were not newlyweds but were just beginning our marriage, we had never been aboard a luxury liner, we were not traveling for pleasure, I wanted only the simple things in life and, amazingly, she said that Jess was a very guarded person with her emotions.  Looking back, I believe she recognized the obvious but we dumb kids thought she had some supernatural ability that, by the way, she did nothing to discourage.  She also informed us that she would be happy to read our tea leaves.

“The Schofields were early risers and knocked on our cabin door each morning at five for a ‘constitutional’ walk on the Promenade Deck.  Jess was queasy this particular morning after an incredibly rough gale the day before and almost didn’t get out of bed.”

Guy interrupted with some wonder, “The message indicated that there had been rough weather and, in fact, Illingworth commented that it ‘gave passengers fits’.”

Jim nodded.  “Yes, it was quite rough but September 6, 1947 dawned with a much smoother sea.  At the last moment, Jess decided to go with us.  It was bitterly cold but the first rays of sunlight reached out over the ocean and cast the Queen Mary’s promenade deck in bronze.  We walked and waited for the sun to peek over the horizon, listening to Mrs. Schofield talk all the while.”

“Do you remember an electrical storm?” Guy asked.

“Yes.  Lightning streaked from the dark clouds across the western sky.  Yet there was no thunder.”

“What about static electricity?”

Jim nodded gravely.  “But that was overshadowed by the concern that we felt when the deck lights went out and then, within seconds, the engines stopped.”

Guy felt a quickening of his pulse as that inner music drove onward in tempo and timbre, a marching progression toward the crescendo of revelation.  “That was the electrical interference again but much closer; close enough to trip every breaker,” he ventured.  “And with the electrical systems gone, the engines must have shut down completely.  I’ll bet the navigational systems were gone as well.”

“I have no idea,” Jim said.  “The decks were, of course, deserted at that hour except for some officers on their rounds.  We saw two of them racing toward the bridge, no doubt to inquire about the sudden stopping.  We hadn’t felt anything to indicate a collision and I remember wondering aloud if she hadn’t thrown a propeller.  But that didn’t explain the loss of power.  The Queen Mary was absolutely dead in the water and it was a strange feeling to drift lazily after being at a full gallop for three days.  The sunshine slowly faded as those dark clouds from the west overcame us.  The humidity changed as well.  Our coats and shawls became unbearably warm and condensation was forming on the promenade windows.  Streaks of lightning began striking all around the ship and we decided to wait in the lounge until a steward or bellboy appeared for us to question.”  Jim took a deep breath and looked sideways at Guy.  “And then began the most extraordinary event in our lives.”

 

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