SS Washington and steamship experiences


Mary S. Lynn

I discovered that I was aboard this ship from New York to Bremerhaven in 1951 at the age of five. I'm not sure of the time of year, but do remember that it was a rough crossing, and I was mostly seasick. Dad (a US Army Major at the time) had been assigned in Stuttgart, and we were following. I remember bunk beds and my mother being concerned that my brother would "climb out of the porthole". I remember chocolate ice cream (mostly melted) easing seasickness. I remember being forced to don fancy clothes to dine each night, and I remember meeting a "Captain", and shaking hands. I remember a large playroom with plenty of toys, but not enough books, so I puked and pouted. I remember live music and people dancing, and someone bringing me a chicken sandwich. (Not a bad memory for a five-year-old, eh?) When we returned to the States in 1954, we were supposed to be on the SS United States, which was new, but got bumped, so returned on the SS Washington a week later. I can now - proudly, I guess - claim passage on two steamships..the SS Washington and the Norway nee SS France. (seven voyages in all). See links below on the SS Washington.

Of course, I had no idea at the time in 1951, that this would be a great adventure! Bratty little brothers, well-intentioned stewards, and pukey days do not constitute a great adventure! "Miserable" would be particularly descriptive. Oddly, the voyage home in 1954 was delightful! My broken German/English didn't get me far in terms of ice cream and bribery, but I wasn't sick at all, and wore Mom's high heels with a pair of very ugly thick socks (which I thought to be stunning) to dinner each night, with French braids and painted (gasp) nails. (Imagine my dismay when I was enrolled in a public school third grade in Atlanta! Major culture shock)! I don't think that my Queen Mary tour in Long Beach would count as a "voyage", but it was another steamship encounter. Guess I'm lucky to have been on the SS Washington so long ago, and to have been on the SS Norway five times in recent years. Steamships have their own appeal, and those of us who have been aboard may recognize how special they are!

P.S. Little bio here: Dad was a Bataan Death March survivor and was never a ship afficiondo. He preferred terra firma until his dying day!

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