This is the
second letter from Mom. If you enjoyed the first one, you'll
definitely enjoy this one. This letter describes an automobile
accident we had in Rio while driving back to the S.S. Argentina during
Carnaval in hopes of claiming lost baggage.
March 9, 1962
My first attempt at letter writing since our
return. Have skeen_teen letters to type (thought all of you might be
interested in our trip) so will make carbons for the first part.
Starting with February 9, we were so very glad
that some of you were able to come to New York to see us leave. The band,
the streamers, whistles, etc. made it a gala affair for the ones who were
leaving on the cruise, but I wish I could have scooped all of you from the
pier and taken you right along with us. It was bitter cold sailing down the
river, but I stayed on deck to see the S.S. France that had just made such a
rough, miserable maiden voyage, and also to see the Statue of Liberty. Again
I had that sinking feeling when she faded into the distance - at least this
time we knew exactly where we were going. Still hope the next 3 ˝ years pass
quickly so we can see and be with all of you again.
Returning to the cabin, I found Walt unpacking!
His major occupation on the entire trip was packing and unpacking, from the
time we left Rio until we arrived back in Rio. Naturally everything was all
over the two cabins at one time - who do you think had to unscramble all of
Went down for lunch at 2 PM. It was served in the
deck café, buffet style. Five or six different salads, a number of dishes
with little fish (did not know what they were), six or eight kinds of meat,
choice of two hot dishes and TURKEY! We had that and of course, I had at
least one slice every day of the voyage, plus cranberry sauce.
Cocktail hour from 7 to 7:30 with Bill Victor and
orchestra. Down to dinner by 8 and met the other six people at our table.
Fortunately they were all agreeable, one other couple, three wealthy widows,
and an officer of the ship. We seldom finished dinner before 9:30.
Festivities in the Lounge began 9:45 or 10:00 PM. Tonight was "Get
Acquainted Night". We had to introduce ourselves to the people at the next
table. The staff was introduced, social director and directress, dance team
(Betty and Howard Harvey from the Greenbriar and also Philly), the trio, and
the orchestra. Dancing was until 1 AM and we put the orchestra and the trio
to bed every blessed night. The children ate at 6PM and then went to see
cartoons or a movie in the theater. Made it very nice that the adults could
have dinner and really enjoy it. Only about 40 children on board - in '56 we
had 116. Midnight snack was served at 11:30 and as much was served as was at
Saturday at noon, we were off the coast of
Charleston, S.C. Every day at noon the location of the ship was announced.
Each cabin had a radio with two stations, one was on shore (if and when we
could pick it up), and the other was music from the ship that played from
7:30 AM until 3 AM. Any special announcements to be made would come over
this. Never did turn ours off. Bouillon was served at 10:30 and tea at 4:30.
So if one cares to eat seven times a day, it was entirely possible. Is it
any wonder we gained ten pounds? Boat drill this afternoon and everyone
looked charming in their Mae Wests! Still cold but they did not make us
stand outside too long.
We enjoyed the Harveys dancing even though the
ship rolled and pitched. The Trio was also excellent, even when the gal had
to hold onto the piano to keep her balance, then the piano would roll back
and forth and she went right along with it. Took more dramamine on this new
ship than I ever did on the old one and the new is supposed to have
stabilizers! Tonight we met Pat and Ward Williams from Mount Kisco, New
York. Both are 26 years old and take a cruise or trip every year. Mention
their names because we were with them quite a bit and will refer to them
again. We now have company to help put the ship to bed every night.
Sunday, we arrived in Port Everglades around ten
and immediately fell in love with it. A beautiful clean harbor and city.
Here a couple met us whom we hadn't seen in seventeen years. We had
corresponded all this time and kept abreast of all the children, and did we
ever talk! The Thalgotts drove us around the city and then back to the ship
where we all had lunch. They stayed until the ship was ready to sail. Once
again the orchestra played, whistles blew, serpentino and pom poms were
thrown. Tonight was horse racing. A roll of the dice determines how many
spaces the horses will be moved. Just can't seem to win at this sport. Saw
the first flying fish today on this trip. They will be with us from now on.
Monday was the first day for the tables to be set
up on the deck for breakfast and lunch. We had our choice of eating in the
dining room for these two meals but we lived in bathing suits until 6:PM so
we chose the deck. Besides, I never tire of watching the beautiful blue of
the ocean. Arrived in Nassau this AM and had to take a launch to shore. Two
other ships were anchored nearby, the Atlantica and the Amsterdam. Met quite
a few of these people ashore and really compared notes about the ships. This
place is strictly for tourists, highly overrated and prices are dreadful!
Did go over to Paradise Beach, a short trip in a glass bottom boat, and
walked around for a couple of hours. Had a nice lunch and Planters Punches,
deelish! This island is privately owned by one of the heirs to the A & P
fortune. Back to the mainland and a visit to Blackbeard's Tavern -
supposedly a haunt of the famous pirate. One entire street was devoted to
the straw markets. Saw all the different articles being made - hats, mats,
tags in all shapes and sizes, also different kinds of animals and dolls.
Almost every woman came aboard with a hat or bag. So expensive compared to
Rio!! Sailed away from the Bahamas at 8 PM.
Tuesday, 13th, a whole day at sea. Did get a
chance to sunbathe and go swimming. This night we had the Commodore's
Cocktail party. No one misses this because all the drinks are free and
everyone needs them after going through a line of ten officers or more.
Horseracing again, but this was different. Racing sheets were given out with
a certain number of horses with fictitious names. Then a sealed film is
opened and shown. If the horse comes in with your number, you win. The films
are of actual races run throughout the States.
Wednesday, arrived Puerto Rico at 7 AM. The five
of us toured the Old City and went to see the Fortress El Morro, in San
Juan. It was beautiful, ancient and loaded with history. Walked across the
moat, into the dungeons, around the cannons, and. saw where cannon balls
were imbedded in the walls. This entire Fort rises 140 feet above the sea at
the western end of the island. The grounds on one side of the Fort have been
made into a golf course and officers quarters for the Command Post of the
Lesser Antilles. What a life! Had dinner aboard, sent the children to the
movies, and went ashore with the Williams to the new San Juan for some night
life. So modern and luxurious. Went to a place called "Calypso". After 30
minutes of steel bands we could not take the music anymore and went to the
"El Concho". The lobby had a small brook running through and plants and
flowers were growing alongside. The night club was fabulous. "Concho" means
shell in Spanish and Portuguese, the ceiling in this room was in the shape
of a huge clam shell. One side of the room looked out onto the ocean, in
fact, it seemed that the entire room extended over the water. Was fascinated
to see the gambling rooms and so many more women playing than men! The most
popular dances here and aboard ship were the Cha Cha Cha and the Meringue.
Back to the ship by 3 AM. At the top of the gangplank were two officers and
I told them how nice it was to be back home and it had been a good many
years since anyone had waited up for us. Guess they were hoping we would all
make it and not fall into the briny deep!
Sailed at 6 AM from Puerto Rico and passed the
island of St. Croix at 11. Another lovely day. Walt played shuffleboard and
I sunbathed. The children spent the entire day in their pool. Several days
Walt and I went down to the gym and rode bikes, rowed a few strokes, had our
tummies and other side jiggles by the belt contraption, punched the bag
around a bit, but it only increased the appetite.
Night must fall and this one brought about ten of
us to the Commodore's quarters for cocktails and dinner. Every evening he
has a group for this sort of thing and ours was the first because we were
all returning to our homes in S.A. and would be getting off before turistas.
Best to get it over and done.
Champagne Hour is the night the dance team dances
with various passengers for the type of dance the individual selects. Then
the audience chooses the winners. The first prize is a statue of a dancing
couple on an ashtray, and the second is a bottle of Champagne. So, Walt
chose jitterbugging and won the ashtray. The first trip down, he also won
first prize but that was only the statue - this one is more useful.
Friday, arrived in Barbados, British West Indies,
and the place we both love. Hot, hot, hot, at last I am warm! This time we
had the chef pack seven box lunches for the Querings and the Williams to
take out to Accra Beach Club. We all went swimming. Such clean white
beaches, beautiful blue water and TURKEY sandwiches in the lunches, and
Planter Punches to wash them down. Three hours on the beach and then back to
Bridgetown. This is so picturesque with the fishing vessels that come right
to the center of the city, and of course, the ever present statue of Lord
Nelson that one finds in every British Possession. Barbados has built a
beautiful deep water harbor since 1956. We docked right at the pier with the
Calypso Band playing for the ship the entire day. This was a clean, clean
pier, held hundreds of tons of sugar and one could almost eat from it. We
sailed at 4 PM and watched the island until it was only a dot. This ship is
really fast, am sure it never did its top speed and could it ever turn,
almost on a dime. Walt won the ship's pool for the day by guessing the
correct last number in the number of miles the ship would travel for the
day. Won this twice - which helped quite a bit with the bar bill.
This night, the Cruise Director gave a party for
"Repeaters" - that means the ones who had made the voyage before. Was very
nice but every time we left a Port, it was rough and not to many drank more
than one cocktail. One feels rather ridiculous to be running from railing to
railing just to be able to get any place without falling. Dancing was
hazardous - climbing up one side of the floor and running down the other.
While brushing the teeth., one held firmly with a hand, swayed back and
forth and hoped to hit the basin while rinsing. Fortunately they have the
railings everywhere, even in the showers and alongside the "johns". We had
two bunks, one with the length of the cabin, and the other, with the width.
Walt changed with me from the bunk that rolled me from head to toe, to the
one that rolled me from side to side. That actually put me to sleep. The
officer who was assigned to our table for dinner was in charge of the
stabilizers. He only came to eat about five times because we gave him such a
ribbing about the roughness of the ship. For all this we loved it, and the
ship is "the place". Each night we would walk around the Promenade Deck,
then topside to the Observation Lounge and just watched the ship cutting
through the water, the millions of stars and the beautiful full moon.
Saturday, the finals of Deck Shuffle board - and
Walt won this too. He won just about everything that was to be won. A
meeting was held for all "Repeaters" to prepare for the boarding of King
Neptune. Walt was made a policeman in the Realm of the King.
At night we had a "Come as a Song" party. We took
the blue spread from the bed and went as "Under a Blanket of Blue". Ginger
went as a Flapper and did the Charleston, & Linda as the "Hungarian
Rhapsody". The two girls won in this and the winning adult was "Ah, Sweet
Mystery of Life". She carried an egg around the room. Pretty clever, eh?
Sunday, at noon, we were 4 degrees north of the
equator. Crossed the waters from the Amazon River and our first night to see
the Southern Cross. King Neptune boarded the ship at dinner time and warned
all to beware, for the following day his Court would be held and all
"Polliwogs" would be punished!
Monday, crossed the Equator 18 minutes before
noon. At 4:PM the policemen from Neptune's Court rounded up all children and
offenders and put them in the brig. The Court was composed of King Neptune,
his judge, the royal princess, the royal baby (about 250 pounds), the queen,
the royal barber (who used shears two feet long for clipping toenails and
fingernails, and also shaved with a long razor), and the royal surgeon, and
twenty or more policemen. All were in costume and all were men. The children
had to kneel before his majesty and water was thrown over the entire group.
It made no difference if they had crossed the equator before or not. The
Williams had to do the Twist. Ward, because he went swimming at 3 AM and
made noises like a walrus, and Pat, because she allowed him to act in such a
disgraceful manner. Guess who made the charges? Others were sent to the
royal barber and shaved with the razor - others were clipped with the
shears. Of course the shaving soap was a bucket of soap suds. Others were
sent to the royal surgeon, made to lie on a mat and had spaghetti and sauce
poured all over them. Ugh! Everyone had been warned to wear bathing suits
and caps. Still others had to kiss the royal toe, a fish that wasn't too
fresh! When the Court adjourned and all offenders had been punished, King
Neptune and all jumped into the pool and vanished into the depths of his
In the evening we had "Sadie Hawkins" night.
Programs were given out to all women and we had to ask the men for various
dances. Walt loved that! He didn't have to move an inch and had his program
filled in no time! Linda enjoyed it too, immediately signed her father for
one and Ward for the Twist. We had to go get the men, escort them to the
dance floor and then back to their tables. No pinching was allowed on the
dance floor. Also had to buy their drinks if they wanted one. Lots of
laughs, but the women were happy it lasted for only 12 numbers.
Tuesday morning, about two hours from Recife,
Brasil, we were passing the little fishing rafts with one sail, call
Jangadas. Miles and miles out from shore were these "Homen do Coragem" and
"men of courage" they surely are. Such a contrast, our beautiful luxury
liner and the tiny rafts made.
Walt had been to Recife several times on business
and knew the area fairly well, so decided to take us to Boa Viagem Beach and
hotel. The Williams wanted to join us. We argued with a taxi driver, he
wanted to put all of us in one car and we wanted a Kombi (VW station wagon).
"Okay", but we must wait 20 minutes until the wagon would arrive. When it
finally did, it was a bus and passengers from the ship poured into it. After
they were all settled, the seven of us were still waiting and discussing the
matter of the wagon. I decided to ask the people on the bus where they were
going. They didn't know, except that they were going with us! It turned out
we were now 18 and Walt was the guide. Was it ever fun, something so
spontaneous and we all enjoyed it.
Recife is called the Venice of South America and
it was really beautiful. Walt had the driver stop along the beach so the
people could get out and take pictures of the Jangadas, and again at the
house that was built to resemble a ship, and then to the hotel for drinks,
and souvenirs. The ship has tours at every port, but they are quite
expensive and usually you wind up in museums and a dozen churches. We never
have been on one, just wander around by ourselves, but quite a few of these
people had been on them and they agreed that this was much better and a heck
of a sight cheaper. Recife also had a deep water harbor rather tricky, but
we all helped the Commodore take the ship out safely as we had helped him
get into it that morning. All he did was bellow through a megaphone while we
all motioned to the other ships to make way, otherwise he never would have
made it. Know he appreciated all the help
This was the day John Glenn went up. We were
sorry to have missed it on TV, but we heard a great deal of it over the
Voice of America that was put over the loudspeakers on deck. Heard the
entire program on a repeat when we returned from shore.
Wednesday 21st. Walt's thoughts have once more
turned to packing. So, all the bags are brought up from the baggage room.
All over the cabins and spilling into the corridors, a mess! One bag was
missing and could not be found. Not too large of a one, but filled with
articles that cannot be replaced until we return to the States. In the
afternoon, Walt C. and yours truly, had a guided tour of the engine room by
the Stabilizer Office. We went down, down, and down, understood we were in
the very bottom of the ship. Something like 14 or 15 feet beneath the
surface of the water. That wasn't too bad considering there was 1200 feet of
water beneath us. Whew, was it hot! The men work here for 4 hours and have
eight off. Everything was clean as a whistle. Saw how the salt water was
distilled for use throughout the ship, the huge section where all the ice
was made, and the air conditioning machinery, the huge engines of the ship,
work shop, metal shop, etc. The most important things were the stabilizers.
Of course they were not working, but, I was told that they were not needed
when the sea was calm. My question was not answered as to whether they had
worked at all on this particular voyage!
This was Walt's 13th birthday. Wore his tux
trousers and white dinner jacket. Looked real sharp! Had a birthday cake and
later in the lounge we bought a bottle of Champagne for the kids.
After the orchestra finished playing, 8 of us
were invited down to the officers quarters for some more dancing and drinks.
They had a very nice lounge, complete with refrigerator, bar and hi_fi set.
The two of us left at 3:AM as the waiter was setting the table for another
snack . Eat, eat, eat.
Thursday, Walt did some more packing, searched
the baggage room and blew up at the officer in charge. We also had two
shirts stolen, two lighters, and by this time Walt was in no mood for
Tonight was more horseracing and this time Ginger
won $8.50. She played only once and that was it. She bought the traveling
clock that she had admired from the time she first saw it in the ship's
Friday, we arrived in Santos, a coffee port, and
our final one. The Brasilian health authorities and immigration officials
wanted everyone disembarking in Santos to be in the lounge at 6:30 AM. What
a horrible hour! After that, we had our final breakfast on deck and left a
dream behind us. Rudy, the fellow who works with Walt in the office, met us
on the dock with a desposhonti. Waited two or three hours before we were
through Customs. Heavens above, we paid the barest of duty and the Inspector
even found the electric trains. Couldn't believe it, but I never heard what
the bribe was to the desposhonti. Rudy had hired a Kombi to take us to the
airport in Sao Paulo, and the luggage was air_freighted to Rio. Santos is of
course a seaport and Sao Paulo is on a mountain. It was a beautiful drive up
there, but we were so darned tired that none of us appreciated the view. The
drive took about an hour and a half. The plane trip took about fifty minutes
and by 3:30 PM we were home in the apartment. The maid had everything ready
for us and taken care of things very good while we were away. We all had a
nap until dinner and afterwards we all unpacked.
February 26th, Walt went back to work and school
began for the children. I tried to find places to put everything. We were
exhausted for a week. The 3rd of March was the first time we ventured out
socially and then into the city to see part of the Frevo Parade. Rio Branco
was again decorated attractively for Carnaval - thousands of lights and
thousands of people.
Sunday, Walter C. went mountain climbing with
some boys and the rest of us started down to the docks because the S.S.
Brasil and the Argentina were both in for the festivities, also to check on
the bag. Three blocks from there we had an accident with a taxi. Remember
what I told some of you, if we were ever involved in an accident in Rio that
it would be the end? If anyone helps in any way they are immediately
involved? Well, this was quite an experience and a most pleasant surprise. A
man came up and wanted to know if we were hurt. At that point we just didn't
know how badly or if at all, but one look at Walt and Ginger I knew they
both needed stitches. Walt had a bad cut on the head and Ginger had an
entire piece out of her lip and her front teeth were loose. Linda and I were
bruised but nothing more. I told the man the two of them should go to the
Pronto Socorro (emergency hospital), and at that time two Brasilian marines
in a jeep stopped and put the two in the jeep and took them away. Linda and
I stayed with the Kombi. The police came, asked and wanted to know how badly
the Senhor and daughter were hurt. After an hour, another car drove up. A
man introduced himself as the Chief of Traffic, said he saw the two of us
sitting there and could he be of any help. He spoke beautiful English, and
had studied at the University of Michigan. I wanted to know where they had
taken Walt and Ginger. He said he would go over to the hospital, check on
them and return to tell us. Right after he drove away, the two marines came
by and said everything was alright and Ginger would not lose her teeth.
These fellows had stayed with them the entire time. The Chief returned with
Walt and Ginger, then took Walt to the police station, waited for him and
returned to the Kombi. Ginger had her lip stitched and her two from teeth
wired and Walt's head was stitched. There are several of these hospitals
located in different sections of the city for emergency treatment and they
will not accept any money for services rendered. None of us knew just what
happened or whose fault it was but we were fortunate - were just starting
after a full stop and the taxi wasn't going very fast. Were able to drive
the Kombi home.
The Williams had left the ship in Rio and were
going to fly over to Chile and then home. We told them we would take them to
the Carnaval Dance at Paissandu on Monday night. We did, but Walt's knee was
bruised and neither of us were able to dance, but we enjoyed being with the
Williams again. They enjoyed seeing the costumes, the style of dancing at
Carnaval, and the atmosphere of the predominately British club.
The Twist had finally hit Rio when we arrived.
Records of Chubby Checkers were being played and "heavens to betsy" Big Bad
Sam. We heard it in the States and believe it was fairly new. As a contrast
the Man With the Golden Arm is just now becoming popular and it was when we
left 5 1/2 years ago. The Twist here is known as the Big T, but they do not
know what an "L 7" is.
Today, March 15, took Ginger to the dentist, the
wire was taken off her teeth, the X-Ray showed no broken roots and she is
back to her part-time braces. So, I hope the Querings have returned to a
normal life and when the Kombi is out of the repair shop, we will all be
One little item - Janio Quadros is back - quem
The Querings, Walt, Jinny, Walt, Ginger & Linda
Industrias Dentarias Caulk
S/A Caixa Postal 2275
Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara,