A Tale of Two Stacked Ladies

Jack Dawson, I’m calling you out.

1961. The first photo I ever took, long before the selfie craze.

My photo op was dramatic only to me. Steaming across the Atlantic,  the Queen Mary’s three smokestacks poured a layer of smoke along the horizon. Above the ship, a 707 contrail foretold the death of this ship’s service, a slower death than Titanic.

On the second day we crossed Titanic’s grave, two and a half miles beneath our keel. I was much younger than Leonardo in Titanic. But at nine years old I knew this: a cabin-class kid would never make it past her vigilant British merchant marine crew to crash the first class lounge, or the captain’s bridge, or the prow of the ship to declare “I’m the king of the world!”

Yeah, Leonardo made it, with help from an imaginative script. Nice photo op.

Earlier that morning the foghorn in that photo blasted steam, helping sound the world’s lowest musical chord, heard and felt like manmade thunder for miles on the open sea. Every five minutes her foghorns warned that this 80,000-ton lady was charging blindly through a pea-soup fog at 30 knots.

She crossed the Atlantic in five days averaging 13 feet per gallon.

Exciting stuff for a kid with a Cub Scout Kodak box camera. But I didn’t think I was king of the world. That happened two weeks later in Paris, when I saw the naked ladies at the Folies Bergère.

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