The Queen Mary in Long Beach - Special Guest Post!
A few months ago, I was contacted by Gorillas Don't Blog and Meet The World follower, commenter, and special guest blogger, "JG." He had seen my post from June 2018, which included some vintage pics of the Queen Mary, and was wondering if I would be interested in seeing some of his personal (and more recent) Queen Mary photos. He thought they might make a good addition to my post. However, I thought the photos and information that he provided, were worthy of their very own post. So here is "JG," in his own words, accompanied by his own personal photos:
My wife and I visited the Queen Mary in 1983 for a conference, but we couldn’t afford to stay on board then. When we had a chance to return to Long Beach for another conference, we decided to stay one night on the Queen Mary before moving to the Convention Center hotel, since 34 years later, we could afford a nice room.
Since we were only staying one night, we chose one of the fancier suites, which was comparable in price to our room at the Convention hotel.
We got the Queen Elizabeth Suite, which was quite a large suite of rooms. There were two bedrooms, one large and elegant, the other small and humble, for one’s valet or maid. There was a foyer off the main corridor, which opened into the trunk room (!) to store one’s empty luggage, the bath, a large elegant sitting room, the big bedroom and the servant’s room. (I took a picture of the servant’s room, but only after I unpacked my suitcase and had clothes scattered all over it, so I didn’t include that photo.)
The large bedroom:
(JG has informed me, that the round items on the wall on either side of the bed and also the dressing table, are the original ventilation outlets. However, they have now been disconnected.)
The sitting room had a built-in dresser/make up table and a built-in writing desk. It was updated with a large screen TV. The original furniture was changed out to modern pieces, somewhat the worse for wear, but compatible with the original style.
The sitting room:
The large bedroom had similar built-in dressers, desks, and closets as the sitting room. Many old original light fixtures. The information guide said that these rooms were set up so that several could be connected together to make very large connecting suites of up to 10 bedrooms if desired. Hard to imagine that kind of entourage.
The bath was modern for 1930’s standards, but far from today’s norms. The old tub still had the original valves for hot and cold, fresh and salt water, but had been refitted with a modern shower valve. It was all set up in separate rooms so multiple people could use at once.
Our suite was on the west-facing or port side of the ship and was quite warm, even in October. The rooms were re-fitted with air conditioning as part of the Long Beach remodeling, but the AC didn’t work. We asked for a fan, but none were to be had. We decided that the heat was part of the experience that Clark Gable or Myrna Loy might have had, and so we sweated while pretending we were film stars of the 1930’s silver screen. Fortunately, the amusement park setup was not yet running, this would be a reason to avoid staying during mid to late October as the suite would be quite noisy with the rides running right outside.
We ordered a bottle of wine and read quietly, did not turn on the television at all, as this would spoil the cinematic mood.
The next day, we took the Steam and Steel tour, which was interesting and somewhat disappointing. I had remembered so much of the old engine room and equipment remaining, but a lot has been removed. I’m not sure when or how this was done, but I think the stories of the ship no longer being seaworthy are probably accurate since a lot of structure seems to be taken out.
The interior public rooms on the upper decks are still in good repair, but the exterior areas are suffering.
I remember being able to walk out on the side bridge walkways (not sure what these are called), but now they are boarded off, probably because the wood decks are rotten.
We had a drink in the Observation Bar, (the old First Class Lounge) which I vividly remembered for the beautiful Art Deco design and red enameled lighting. Most of this was unchanged, but again, run down and shabby feeling. There are a lot of TV’s now, like a sports bar, and a lot of loud people. No longer the quiet elegant experience I remembered. The drinks were not exceptional either.
Staying in the Queen Mary now is like staying in an 80 year hotel, it’s genteel but shabby. If you want a first class lodging experience, go elsewhere. But, if you can overlook the broken AC and the loud people in the bar, you can still hear the echo of the old days.
(I hope everyone enjoyed this tour of the Queen Mary! And a great big "THANK YOU," to JG, for sharing your photos and memories of your experience aboard the ship!)
I thought I would include some interesting "odds and ends" bits of information about the Queen Mary, here:
The Queen Mary has had a long and fascinating history, since her maiden voyage in 1936. In 1967, she was retired from service and sold to the City of Long Beach (for $3.45 million!). Unfortunately, after she arrived in Long Beach, many areas of the ship were severely altered or completely gutted and removed (as JG mentioned above, about the engine room.)
One of the areas that was altered was the Observation Bar, seen in that last photo taken by JG. This vintage image shows the Observation Bar, before an expansion that took place in 1967. Here, the seating area ends with that drapery, which was covering up a long curved wall and a row of windows.
The other side of that wall and it's row of windows can be seen here, in this photo of Walt Disney, standing on a covered walkway just outside of the bar. When the Observation Bar was expanded, that wall and those windows were removed and the interior space of the bar was bumped out, towards the row of windows seen on the far right.
If we go back and take another look at JG's photo of the bar, we can see a wooden support column on the far right. That was originally part of the back wall of the bar (behind Walt Disney). When JG took his pic, he was actually standing in what used to be the covered walkway seen above!
We'll end today with this photo from 1945, showing the Queen Mary arriving in New York Harbor. During World War II, the Queen Mary and her sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth, were both converted into troop transport ships and their exteriors were painted battleship grey. According to Wikipedia, the two ships were the largest and fastest troopships involved in the war. Because of her new color and her speed, the Queen Mary was given the nickname, "The Grey Ghost."
And with that, I would like to wish everyone, a Happy Memorial Day!