A Tale of Two Stacked Ladies

1961. The first photo I ever took. 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 a vigilant crew to get to 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.

My photo op was dramatic only to me. Steaming across the Atlantic, Titanic’s grave 2.5 miles beneath us, the Queen Mary’s three stacks poured a layer of smoke along the horizon. Above the ship, a 707 contrail foretold the death of this ship’s service.

Earlier that morning the foghorn in that photo blasted steam, helping sound the world’s lowest chord, heard and felt like manmade thunder for miles on the open sea. Every five minutes the horns 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 Bergere.

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