Adventures on the Queen Mary... Tales of a Teenage Crew Member!
Reviewed by Mike Keenan, What Travel Writers Say
Adventures on the Queen Mary... Tales of a Teenage Crew Member! by Dave Wooders with James Radford is a terrific book loaded with wonderful pictures and history of the RMS Queen Mary, flagship of the British-American Cunard-White Star Cruise Line, began her storied run in May 1936 as part of a two-ship weekly express service between Southampton, England and New York City.
The Queen Mary or Gray Ghost also served during World War II, converted to a troopship that valiantly ferried up to 10,000 Allied soldiers at a time to and from Europe for the duration of the war. In my father's wartime diary, I read that he helped ferry back a boat load of captured German soldiers in 1943, docking in New York City, where, having served in England, my father says, it was good to see city lights on again.
I brought the book to read at my doctor's office, and when he saw it, he was ecstatic, relating to me that he served as medical officer of health on board early in his career and he gleefully pointed out to me his favourite positions on the ship to observe the ocean as Mary would rip along at 30 knots, faster than a German submarine could keep pace. Rivets made the ship sturdy and powerful and able to plow through high seas.
After the war, 16-year-old Dave Wooders saw her steaming into the Southampton harbor, and felt the tug of excitement as a life at sea beckoned. Hired as a bellboy after securing an interview with the ship's personnel officer, he started a voyage and job of a lifetime, which he and co-author James Radford have chronicled in their book.
There are interesting first-hand accounts and fantastic archival images, and I was taken by the historical facts and first-hand accounts including lifestyles of the rich and famous who traveled aboard - from movie stars to Olympic athletes and captains of industry, the ways in which the Queen Mary embraced religious and ethnic diversity of her passengers that was well ahead of its time, the spirits that haunt the Queen Mary to this day and how the Queen Mary came to rest in her final home of Long Beach, California.
Radford was infatuated with the Queen Mary after seeing the ship in the classic disaster movie
"The Poseidon Adventure." He is also the author of the children's book The ABCs of the Queen Mary, which has been available on board the Queen Mary since 2004. This past summer, Radford experienced the voyage of a lifetime, sailing two back-to-back, trans-Atlantic crossings on the Queen Mary II with noted maritime collector, Johnathan Quayle.
Adventures on the Queen Mary is now available in paperback at Amazon and select independent retailers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and my doctor can't wait to get a copy!
Mike Keenan writes for Postmedia Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune, Niagara Falls Review and Seniors Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.