View Full Version : Scribblings from puerto vallarta

Doc Vernon
22nd May 2017, 08:16 PM

Fri Mar 17tth Union City NJ: St Patrick's Day supper & the guest list included Mrs Stickel, my high school typing teacher of 1963. She's 88 now, but looking terrific & sharp as a knife.

Sat Mar 18th Manhattan: Curtain up! In a Broadway matinee, saw War Paint, the story of cosmetic queens Helena Rubinstein & Elizabeth Arden and altogether so wonderfully portrayed by Patti Lupone & Christine Ebersole. Glamorous sets, exquisite costumes, some great songs (like Fire & Ice about fierce competitor Charles Revlon's appearance). One scene in particular was a standout: It shows Madame Rubinstein arriving in NY on the Berengaria: bellboys, a canvas-covered gangway and "mountains" of Vuitton luggage.


Afterward, a party in a penthouse (at $11,000 a month rent) down in Tribeca. On the 45th floor and poised just above the Hudson, the night was misty & foggy and so the City was playing its most alluring, romantic, even seductive role.

Sun Mar 19th Manhattan: Some plans are not meant to be! All set for a luncheon on the Norwegian Gem docked at Pier 88, but a huge, 19,000-runner marathon across West 42nd St & then southward to the Battery. We couldn't get near the pier & so turned around and back home.

Fri Mar 31st Manhattan: A cold, wet & often windy night – but the show must go on. Gave a talk to the World Ship Society called First Class Cargo, something different & new about passenger-cargo ships.

Tue Apr 4th Carlstadt NJ: Birthday lunch & candles for Des Kirkpatrick. Dear friend, shipmate & extraordinary traveler. It is his 85th and, undaunted, he's off to Tokyo in a few weeks (and perhaps Australia before the year is out).
Fri Apr 7th Providence, Rhode Island: Off to Providence to the Steamship Historical Society of America headquarters here & later (on Sat night) their annual ocean liner gala.

For me, I was immediately transported – I was in "maritime heaven". The SSHSA is not just one sultan's treasure of maritime research items, but quite honestly maybe 50 or even 100 treasures. Thousands of books, but then hundreds of thousands of photos, brochures, anything & everything one could think of on the likes of the Queen Mary to the smallest Greek steamer in, say, 1928. Just superb, dazzling too, but in ways also overwhelming – I barely knew where to go, to turn, to look first. But hours spent wisely – the classic "kid in a toy store".

Dinner tonight in the charming Warwick Yacht Club, panoramically overlooking Narragansett Bay.

Sat Apr 8th Providence: Some more daytime perusing & research in the vast SSHSA photo archives (thousands upon thousands of wonderful images, unseen views & alluring material), but then the 6 o'clock gala.

The 2nd annual SSHSA gala was dubbed "A Night To Remember" and themed to the immortal Titanic. Held in grand Edwardian splendor in an 1896 mansion, cocktails first with period music, some guests in period dress & all centered around a 5-ft long model of the Titanic but carved in ice.

A 7-course dinner followed in the 2nd floor dining room: chandeliers, high ceilings, splendidly set tables & all seeming as if being aboard the Campania, a grand Cunarder from the 1890s. Speeches, a fundraising auction, I gave a talk on the Floating Palaces. In the end, a great moment for me: I was presented with the prestigious Samuel Ward Stanton Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Steamship Historical Society. A great moment – my Academy Award. I was honored, grateful, humbled – but promised to continue my work as a maritime ambassador, spreading the word & the history of the great liners and, yes, maybe writing another 100 books. Friendship, fun, applause! Yes, my "night to remember".

Wed Apr 12th Toms River NJ: Southward to Toms River & a visit to Willie Tinnemeyer, a old friend (he's 89 now) with a huge & meticulous ocean liner collection.

Thu Apr 13th Manhattan: Evening talk (on the great Port of New York) at the West 44th St headquarters of the very distinguished & very old General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen (founded in 1785). They've got a huge library & have been offering lectures for something like 200 years. A full house, a big framed certificate & I was made a lifetime member.

Fri Apr 14th Manhattan: Indulgence – a long massage & chiropractic session in a Fifth Avenue salon. A present from last Christmas.

Thu Apr 20th Manhattan: Evening talk (something new, in fact, on Edwardian liners) to the fancy Victorian Society, an arm of the English Speaking Union over on East 39th St. Lovely setting, interested audience and – thanks to all the sea gods – standing room only.

Tue Apr 25th Sachem, Long Island: Evening talk to this big, very active & very productive local library on Long Island's south shore. Adventurous, if longish train ride: Secaucus to Penn Station (Manhattan) then to far-off Ronkonkoma. But a good audience and afterward, in the wake of a long day of rain & fog, I was intrigued by the near countless empty stations & platforms on the return train run to Manhattan. Crowds had filled those stations earlier in the day, but now, after 9pm, they were silent and empty – and I was intrigued by the way the hard yellow light of the station lamps starred down on the glossy, wet pavements. Not even a station master could be seen – it was all very Edward Hopper.
Fri Apr 28th Newark-Los Angeles: It might just have been me, but the crew on the United flight seemed just a bit nicer & kinder – and maybe all in the wake of the very unpleasant recent headlines about evicting passengers.

Sat Apr 29th Los Angeles: To me, California and especially southern California has its mood, a delightful, very welcoming mood: sunshine, palm trees & lots of charm. Today, we drive up in the hills, to places likes Palos Verdes. Some grand & glorious homes, enchantingly rugged sea coast & picture perfect weather – we could almost see all the way to Honolulu! Also stopped at the LA Maritime Museum & where they're selling old Bill Miller books for $2 and $3. Also a quick look at the Queen Mary, but which is, quite sadly, looking very tired on the outside.

Sun Apr 30th San Pedro CA: Toot-toot and we're off and aboard the super-luxurious Crystal Symphony. Nearly 80 trips with six-star, gold-plated Crystal now. But last minute change: The ship was rerouted to San Diego (2 hrs south of LA) & so we are bussed southward following a gourmet hotel breakfast buffet provided by ever-thoughtful Crystal.

Mon May 1st at sea in the Pacific Ocean: Very busy day – in fact, we have so many speakers, entertainers, etc that we are doing "side-by-side" talks: at 1:30, Hollywood expert Richard Gordon is doing his lecture on Barbra Streisand's film career while I'm doing the Floating Palaces.

Rendezvous: At 2:30, we meet the LA-bound Crystal Serenity. A drone from our ship was supposedly sent up for aerial photography & the captains of each ship dabbled in the "fog horn contest" – who's the loudest & the longest!

Wed May 3rd Puerto Vallarta (Mexico): Even after the first two sea days, I feel the golden caress of Crystal: welcoming, restful, extraordinarily served & fed. Otherwise, a little cake, some candles, a handful of waiters sang – it was Birthday Number 69 for me.

Captain Kong
22nd May 2017, 08:35 PM
That first photo is the MEDIA of Cunard. I sailed on her several times on the Liverpool New York Run.
All the passengers were First Class and many movie stars enjoyed sailing on her and her sister Parthia, as it was more Private than the big liners.
Thanks Vernon , I saved the photo.

Captain Kong
22nd May 2017, 10:09 PM
Here is the Cruise liner , CRYSTAL SYMPHONY berthed in San Diego on Sunday 30 April as in the first post above after being diverted from L.A.
It was facing our hotel.