The Titanic Historical Society


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drawingFirst day out was foggy but calm, according to my sister's diary, which I still have. She and the teenage set spent a good deal of time in the pool, but I never went in once -- perhaps because I didn't know how to swim yet. But the gym, with its mechanical horse, and the "bicycles" were an unending source of fascination for any small boy. Of the public rooms, the one I remember best was not the ornate lounge or smoking room, but the verandah and palm court, all the way aft on A Deck. It has never received much attention from Olympic and Titanic buffs, but to a small boy, the mere fact that there were green plants actually growing there was intriguing and somehow said more about the size of the ship than anything else.

The next four days passed with magical speed. I remember chiefly walking endlessly around the promenade deck and also playing shuffle board with whomever could be bludgeoned into the chore of taking me on. There were no other children my age on board, and I felt quite a sport, consorting with teenagers and even grownups in these pleasures. I must have looked dignified too, for in the snapshots that have survived I am invariably attired in a suit, usually blue serge or grey flannel with short pants that just touched my knees. No crumpled stockings for this shipboard dandy ­ mine always seemed to be neatly pulled up to just below the knee.

Walter Lord on the deck

There were two high points to our voyage. The first was when we passed the Leviathan going in the opposite direction. She was very far off on the port horizon, and for a long time I couldn't see her at all, just looked where everyone else was pointing. Finally, I saw, or thought I saw, a grey three-funneled form far off in the haze and in fact it almost certainly wasn't my imagination, for another snapshot shows her steaming along on the northern horizon, looking just the way I remembered.

USS Leviathan drawingThe other high point taught me a lesson too. This was the ship's treasure hunt, an exciting pastime cooked up for all the first class passengers. We assembled in the A Deck foyer shortly after lunch, and the purser gave us our first clue. I didn't understand it at all, but in a mass we all surged down the staircase, I along with the pack. Reaching D Deck, we rushed through the reception room into the dining saloon and began turning dishes, trays, pots, everything, over. I had no idea what I was looking for, but I proceeded with every bit as much energy as the rest.

reception roomWe did this for a long time, and eventually some of the passengers began to get tired and drift off, but I continued ransacking the place. Suddenly I turned over a large silver tray and there was the next clue. A more worldly treasure hunter would have kept quiet and slipped off, content with this sudden advantage, but I shouted my discovery and my yell could have reached the crow's nest. The rest of the mob surged over and there went my last chance to win the treasure hunt. It taught me the virtue of silence under certain conditions.

dinning roomThursday, July 16, we touched at Cherbourg, and along with every one else I leaned over the rail watching Cherbourg passengers get off in the little tender [White Star's Nomadic and Traffic in foreground] and chug away toward land. While we were doing this a blimp flew by overhead, and this was an extra dividend to the excitement of the crossing.

Then the trip across the channel to Southampton, where we landed about 3 p.m. It was a hectic landing -- mother lost the railroad tickets, we couldn't find a porter, and had a lot of trouble with the luggage -­ but eventually we were on the boat train moving away from the Ocean Terminal. We were abroad at last, but I knew that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be more exciting than the six-day crossing just ended. As the train moved off, I pressed my head against the window, looking back as long as I could at those four great buff funnels of the Olympic.

From White Star Magazine
- March 1927


In preparation for the coming Canadian emigration season, the White Star Line announce that they have acquired the large and modern steamers, Ohio and Orca from the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, and that they will operate between Liverpool and Canada under the names of Albertic and Calgaric. The former is a twin-screw vessel of 19,000 tons; she will be the largest vessel sailing to Montreal; her operating trips starts on the Mersey on April 22nd. Calgaric is a triple-screw steamer of 16,000 tons and her first voyage begins on May 4th.

Both vessels, like Doric and Regina, will run the White Star Canadian Service for the conveying of cabin, tourist third-cabin and third-class passengers. Further reference to these important acquisitions will be made in due course.
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company's "Orca" (above) became White Star's "Calgaric" (below)

Orca (1918) was built by Harland and Wolff for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. (RSMP). Royal Mail operated a North Atlantic service to New York from 1921 to 1927. Renamed Calgaric in 1927; she was one of the many White Star ships that were disposed of by Cunard when the company merged in March 1934 to become Cunard White Star. Calgaric was scrapped in 1935.
Ohio - Albertic
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company's "Ohio" (above) became White Star's "Albertic" (below)
Ohio (1923) was built by Akt. Ges. "Weser" Bremen, Germany and originally laid down as the Munchen for North German Lloyd but never in their service as the vessel was acquired by Royal Mail and renamed Ohio. Her maiden voyage to New York was April 4, 1923. She suffered the same fate as Calgaric and was scrapped in 1934.

Reflections of
A Night to Remember
Walter Lord Books and Video
An interview with the
author, Walter Lord
 (the story continues)