Thursday, January 31, 2019

Ep. 290 - Return to the Queen Mary

Moment in Oddity - Humpty Dumpty Cannon
Suggested by: John Michaels

Humpty Dumpty is one of those fun nursey rhymes we all remember from childhood. Humpty Dumpty is this giant egg that has facial features and seems to be alive, which is weird enough. For some reason, he's sitting up high on a wall, falls and breaks and nobody can put him back together. I hate to ruin all your childhood memories, but apparently Humpty Dumpty was not an egg after all. He was a cannon. How did we get an egg from a cannon? Well, the nursery rhyme never said he was an egg. It would be Lewis Carroll's book "Through the Looking-Glass" where we would get that idea because the illustrator depicted Alice talking to an egg on that wall. The real Humpty Dumpty was a devastating heavy cannon used during the English Civil War in 1648. it was placed on the church of St Mary-at-the-Wall to protect Colchester. It was destroying the Parliamentarian forces when a cannon shot blasted into the wall under the cannon, bringing it down. So there was the great fall and all the King's men were not able to lift the heavy cannon back up onto the wall and get it to work again. Why did they call a large cannon Humpty Dumpty? Because rotund men of the time were referred to as Humpty Dumpty. So now you know that Humpty Dumpty was not really an egg at all even though that's what we were lead to believe all these years and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Frisbees Enter the Toy Market

In the month of January, on the 23rd, in 1957, Wham-O bought the rights to the Pluto Platter, which became the Frisbee. The original flying discs were probably invented by the Greeks, but it would be Walter Morrison and his wife that would devise the first light flying disc. This first version was a cake pan they tossed back and forth on a beach. After serving during World War II, Morrison and a partner produced the first plastic flying discs in 1948. Eventually, Morrison designed an even better model and called it the Pluto Platter. He sold the rights to Wham-O, which is a toy company that has brought us such treasures as the Hula Hoop, Slip'N Slide, Hacky Sack and Silly String over the past 70 years. The founders of Wham-O decided to call the disc "Frisbee" because college students at Yale University had been throwing pie tins from Frisbie Pie Company around on campus. The company redesigned the frisbee giving it more rim thickness and mass and this made it more controllable. The Frisbee was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998.

Return to the Queen Mary

We first featured The Queen Mary all the way back on episode 13 in November of 2014. I had the opportunity to visit this magnificent ship recently (January 2019) and so on this episode, we revisit the history and hauntings and share our own experiences from visiting the ship. Construction on the liner began in 1930 under John Brown & Company and was named for King George V's wife Queen Mary. It would serve under various capacities over the decades and find its final home in Long Beach, California where it now serves as a hotel. Historical tours are offered as well as ghost tours and investigations. Join us as we board the Queen Mary and seek out her elusive spirits!

The Queen Mary sailed from 1936 to 1967. The article that ran in the Daily Telegraph when the Queen Mary launched said that the ship would "carry British maritime supremacy to still greater heights." And the ship was very fast. In fact, it won the Blue Riband in August 1936, which was awarded to the fastest ship to cross the Atlantic. She lost it the following year, but got it back the next year and held it until 1952. The Queen Mary had onboard kennels and these were used once by Elizabeth Taylor for her French Poodle Teeny in 1947. The ship also had a music studio, nurseries, libraries, beauty salons, a lecture hall, two swimming pools, a garage for 36 cars and telephone connectivity to all over the world. The kitchens were large enough to serve 50,000 meals a crossing. There was also the technological marvel of a map in the dining room that featured the Atlantic Ocean and a crystal model of the Queen Mary that moved on the map according to where the ship was located. The turbo generators on the Queen Mary could power a city of 100,000 people.

William Stark had been an employee on the ship and one night after he got off his shift, he went to get some gin. He noticed a burning when he drank his drink, but he ignored it thinking the alcohol was unusually strong. When his shipmates joined him, they immediately could smell that something was wrong with the gin. A steward had poured some excess tetrochloride into an old gin bottle. Stark had not smelled it because he had a cold. When his crewmates found out and told Stark, he just laughed it off. He didn't seek medical attention. Since he wasn't immediately sick, he just went to sleep it off. He fell ill later that night and was found in a coma in the morning. He died two days later and received a burial at sea. Stark is said to haunt the ship now. A tour guide was taking a group through and they recorded an EVP telling them to, "Get out!" People think that Stark is just trying to keep people away from the bridge.

(Queen Mary Ghost Story Elevator) The piano in the Starboard Lounge features the Lady in White on this ship. The piano is original to the ship. She seems to be attached to the piano. She is usually seen as a full-bodied apparition next to it or dancing near it. The piano had been moved from another deck and this spirit followed the piano. A picture was taken of her in the middle of a hallway and she has also been seen in the Queen's Salon, which has a stage. A tour guide was playing a piano for his tour group one night and a person in his group caught the ghost in a photo as he played. They believe this woman was a war bride brought over after the war. This woman probably was not met by her husband when the ship got to port in New York. She maybe killed herself in sorrow or returned later in life after her death to a place where she had lost her love. There is also a Lady in Red on the ship.

Room A023 (Queen Mary A023) Classes of ride were according to smoothest ride versus decks. The center was for the more wealthy. Tuck in service was offered, which was stewards going to rooms to tuck people into bed real tight so they wouldn't fall out at night. One flight of stairs near the front of the ship, third class staircase, was very steep and when there were high seas that stairway would go from 45 degrees to almost 90 degrees. People were thrown on it and a few did die. (Queen Mary Third Class Staircase) The Third Class Nursery is said to be haunted. People hear children's voices in there even though this has not been a nursery for decades.

B340 is most haunted room on the ship. So many complaints about activity caused the Queen Mary to shut the room off from service for a decade. After ghost hunter TV shows went in, interest skyrocketed, so the room was remodeled and opened to the public in April on Friday the 13th. Guests have to sign a waiver to stay overnight. Activity included drawers opening and closing on their own and the water shutting on and off by itself.

We went down to the Isolation Ward for those sick with infectious disease. Along the walls are lists of all the passengers who died on board and what they did from. There were also lists of all crew who had died. On another wall were several lists of stowaways. They would be kept in a separate area of the Isolation Ward. Some of the names had stars next to them and this meant that they were able to wire home to get family to pay for their passage. Some people feel emotions down here like anxiety and fear and guides think this is because two of the stowaways committed suicide before reaching port. On our way to this area we passed a set of creepy looking stairs leading down to some boarded up looking doors. This was the cold holding area for desserts like cheesecake and such. This would also serve as cold storage for dead bodies. And in case you think this is a thing of the past, cruise ships still do this if someone dies on board. (Queen Mary EVP 1)

The Pool is considered the most active area of the ship. The most famous spirit here is known as Jackie. (Pool story) (Queen Mary EVP 2 Intro) (Queen Mary EVP 2)

Imagine if you will that you have climbed on the elevator leading down to the bowels of the ship, the Boiler Rooms. The elevator bounces up and down as it calibrates for weight. We ride down 36 feet and the doors open. (Here is the sounds from inside the Boiler Rooms) You look up and see these cat walks all over above you. Maybe a foot wide. Can't even imagine walking along those, so dangerous. The boilers were even more dangerous. The men who worked down here, worked in four hour shifts. They would walk around with wooden sticks in front of them to reveal leaks because they could not see steam leaks with their eyes. There would be an indication that there was a leak, but no location. The steam was so hot and pressurized that it would slice the stick in half. One man was down here and he was getting ready to leave his shift. As he approached the area where they clocked out, a pipe burst and knocked him from the platform and he fell to the floor of the boiler room. The fall probably didin't kill him, but the steam most certainly did. Workers would whistle to each other or knock on pipes to communicate with each other. Disembodied or phantom whistles or knocks are heard. Footsteps on the catwalks are heard as well. Henry is the ghost down here and he is the most malevolent spirit on board. He scratches and pushes people. Some of the guides wonder if he is just trying to warn people and keep them out of the boiler room because clearly we don't work here. So maybe he is just trying to protect people.

The water-tight doors of the Queen Mary were built with lessons in mind from the Titanic. The doors on the Titanic compartmentalized the water, but were not truly water-tight. The Queen Mary would sail with the doors sealed tight when it served during war time just in case it was hit. They were sealed at other times through the years when the ship encountered rough water. (Story of Door 13)

When the Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach, CA in 1967, it was agreed that she would be decommissioned and so all of her twenty-seven boilers were dismantled, along with both turbo generator rooms and the forward engine room. Three of her four massive propellers were also removed as a part of this process. The one that is left is in a specially-built box and still attached to the ship. You can see the screws which are 18 feet in diameter. The propeller weighs a total of 32 tons and is made of manganese bronze. Another propeller is on display near the entrance of Carnival Cruise Line's parking structure on the other end of the property. It used to be mounted in the Queen Mary Seaport Village but was moved a few years ago due to renovations. A third propeller is located behind the second one. The fourth prop is located at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro, CA.

The Queen Mary is a gorgeous ship that I recommend you make time to visit at some point in your lifetime. It carries you back to a bygone era and just maybe something from the past will make itself known to you. Is the Queen Mary haunted? That is for you to decide!

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