S.S. ARGENTINA

Artifacts

Jinny Quering's Second and Third Letters to her Friends Describing the Voyages

 

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 it? Me!

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 lunch.

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 realm.

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 anymore.

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 store.

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 together again.

One little item - Janio Quadros is back - quem sabe agora?

Sincerely,

The Querings, Walt, Jinny, Walt, Ginger & Linda

Industrias Dentarias Caulk

S/A Caixa Postal 2275

Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara, Brasil

 

 

Click on Envelope above to read letter from Jinny, dated July 10, 1964

(Adobe format)

I left this letter in original format because Mom wrote it on the S.S. Argentina letterhead.

 

 

(Music on this page is "Coisa Mais Linda")

 

 

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