The S.S. Argentina articles contained herein were published by and for Mooremack Employees Ashore and Afloat.


The Doctor Operates

("The Mooremack News," June 1948)

(Courtesy of Vincent Fiorenza)

Just a few days before he sailed as ship's doctor aboard the S. S. Argentina, Dr. James J. Finnerty, of Springfield, Mass., took as his bride Miss Anna Lowell Putnam of Cedar Street, Boston.

Mrs. Finnerty went along on the trip, and the photographers commented with considerable enthusiasm on the photogenic qualities of the couple.  (The News agrees, and herewith publishes the picture of the doctor and his bride as evidence, to the skeptics who think handsome ships' doctors and their handsome brides are figments of the Hollywood imagination.)

As the Argentina headed north, from Santos, the groom found a sudden unexpected task at hand.  One of the passengers reported ill and Doctor Finnerty was called.  He found appendicitis and ordered an immediate operation.  With his anesthetist, a Massachusetts doctor, who was aboard ship returning home from service with a medical mission in Brazil, and his assistant surgeon, a Canadian doctor, also a passenger en route home, Dr. Finnerty performed the operation at sea.  Six days later the patient was up and around.  When the Argentina reached New York the incident was nearly forgotten, the patient by that time having resumed her place as an active participant in the social life of the cruise.


Terpsichore Extraordinaire

("The Mooremack News," July 1949)

(Courtesy of Vincent Fiorenza)

A new dance soon will be sweeping the nation, we expect, and Mooremack is the proud grandfather or co-sponsor or what have you.  Itís the Good Neighbor Cueca, an exciting and happy ballroom version of an Argentine native dance, introduced by Tony and Billie Cansino, our dance instructors aboard the Argentina, and recently released to the press and dance schools of the country by the Public Relations Department of Mooremack.

While typically Latin in its feeling.The Cansinos The dance as developed by Tony and Billie has a step that should make it popular with the audience, and another that will make it very popular with the dancers themselves.  The dance opens with an eight-bar introduction, with the dancers stomping their heels and the audience clapping their hands in time to the music, somewhat reminiscent of the hand-clapping sequence in the song  "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and with much of the feeling that came from that simple action.

Most exciting of all is the finale or final step of the Cueca.  The dance has built up all during its course, a chase of the male after the female, and it is culminated in the last step in a kiss, called the "Besito."  Tony and Billie introduced the dance on the Argentina and then began giving lessons to their dance classes.

"We had the passengers lined up three deep waiting for the lessons," Billie said, "and the men were just as anxious to learn it as the women. I think it's because of the kiss, but none of them would admit it."

The Cansinos saw the original native dance in Buenos Aires, and while it is a riotous and frenzied affair as such, they saw the possibilities of arranging it as a ballroom dance that could be learned and executed easily with no accessories other than a manís handkerchief.

The dance came originally from Chile, and has as its original theme, the courtship The Cansinosof the rooster for the hen.  Years ago it traveled, still as a native dance, to Argentina, where with slight variations it has remained.  The music for the dance, also called "Cueca," is in 6/8 tempo, and up until now has remained in Argentina. But all of the bands on the Big Three ships of the Good Neighbor Fleet have been playing the cueca music for the last few voyages and the music is as popular as the dance itself.

"We are more excited about this dance than we ever have been about any other one," Billie said, "and weíll be very surprised if it doesnít soon rival the samba in popularity. ltís easy to do, and everyone wants to learn Latin dances.  In this one you stamp your heels, and as soon as a North American dancer stamps his heels, he feels heís a real Latin expert."

Tony, who is an uncle of Rita Hayworth, says that it is one of the simplest dances to perform, yet one of the prettiest to watch.

After the opening eight bars, the gentleman removes his handkerchief, and the dancers waltz around each other, the man holding his handkerchief over his partnerís head.  This is then followed by the Paseo, a side step in three units of three counts each.  The gentleman then captures his partner with the handkerchief around her neck as they waltz for four measures of music.

The girl then breaks away and, with each holding an end of the handkerchief, they waltz around and under it.  The gentleman then snaps the handkerchief out of his partnerís hand, and this is followed by the heel-stamping for four measures in the same rhythm as the hand claps at the opening.

The end of The Cansinosthe dance comes after the couple waltzes again under the handkerchief, and on the fourth measure, they place the kerchief on their outside shoulders, and with their heads close together, finish with the Besito.

Tony and Billie have been dancing on the Argentina since the ship made the first post-war voyage January 15, 1948.  Prior to that, they danced in some of the foremost nightclubs in the country, and also were associated with Eduardo Cansino, father of Rita Hayworth, in Hollywood, where he operates a dance studio.  Tony studied in schools in Madrid and Barcelona, and has danced in many resorts and hotels in France, Belgium, Australia and in this country. He appeared with the Marx Brothers in "The Coconuts" and in a play on Broadway, "Henry Dear."

From 1942 to 1944 he appeared in Kansas City, where he met Billie and after a backstage romance, they were married in 1944, to become another couple of "Dancing Cansinos."




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