The Queen Mary was launched
in England in 1934, and on the day of her launching a London
astrologer named Lady Mabel Fortescue-Harrison had this to say:
"The QUEEN MARY, launched
today, will know her greatest fame and popularity when she never
sails another mile and never carries another paying passenger."
Today, of course, it stands
imprisoned presumably for all time in Long Beach, its every secret
revealed, its every room opened for paying perusal. For a fee
slightly higher than the day ticket one can actually stay the
night, imagining one is not in a modern harbor but in the middle
of the Atlantic, in the late 1930's, perhaps. You could imagine
someone drifting quite easily off to sleep, full of such dreams
. . . that is, until the chains began to rattle and the pipes
began to clang, and voices came drifting out from places most
definitely uninhabited by any living things . . .
The best way to get first hand
accounts is to actually go down there and strike up a conversation
with one of the tour guides. Most of the spectral manifestations
have apparently been witnessed by these guides over the years,
although sightings are reported by day and night visitors,
as well as the current "captain" of the ship, and at
least one formerly skeptical reporter.
The reporter, Tom Hennesy,
spent a night on the ship, with the intention of writing an article
completely debunking the rumors. Instead, he was confronted with
mysterious clangings, oil drums that suddenly appeared before
him, blocking his way, and finally an overheard conversation,
between two or three men, at 3:30 in the morning, when the nearest
living person was two or three decks away!
The ship's morgue was probably
located on "G" deck, and nowadays doors slam and lights
go on and off of their own volition. The swimming pool is rather
active, with ghostly splashings often heard and a woman who seems
to be about to dive in, only to disappear - the pool on these
occasions is, of course, empty of water.
Other ghosts include that of
a crewman who, in the early days of World War II, was crushed
to death by metal objects in one of the hatchways. Today one
can often hear the sound of rolling metal there. Another wartime
incident occurred when the ship, which transported soldiers during
the war, had on board a very unpopular cook. The passengers eventually
decided to take matters into their own hands, and the cook was
found cooked in one of his own ovens.
A ship's officer was once accidentally
poisoned near the bridge, and to this day his ghostly figure
can be seen roaming in that vicinity. There is also a specter
known as the "Woman in White" (why is it that everybody
has to have a "woman in white"?), who has the disconcerting
habit of draping herself over the salon's piano.
The skeptical Mr. Hennesy's
article appeared in the Long Beach Press-Telegram on March
6, 1983. The sightings go on.
I'll see you next time, in
our Halloween issue . . . there's a little antique shop I want
to show you.