Down Memory Lane

(As told by Purser Robert Melsopp)


"Your Valuables are VERY Safe on the S.S. Argentina"

Just before the ship departed from New York, a person employed with a safe company came on board to encode a new safe combination for that particular voyage.  (For each voyage this happened so the passengers' valuables, travelers checks, etc., which were placed in the safe would be as secure as possible.) 

When the safe-lock person finished encoding the new combination, he wrote it down on a piece of paper and handed it to Thomas Murphy, Chief Purser.  This piece of paper is the only place the combination to the safe was recorded.  Murphy would then thank the safe-lock person and that person left the ship.

On one particular cruise, Murphy placed the paper with the new combination to the safe into the safe and locked it!  As the ship left the dock, he realized what he had done and no one on board had the combination!!  Murphy knew the safe-lock person was the only one who could possibly know the combination, so he frantically tried to reach him on the telephone and was so-o-o-o relieved when he was able to reach him, BUT he informed Murphy that he didn't remember the combination.  Oh, oh!  ALL the passengers' valuables, etc., were locked in the safe with no way to access them.

When the ship reached the first port of call, a safe cracker was waiting to board to try to crack the safe.  BUT the safe wouldn't crack!  This pattern repeated at each port.  No safe cracker could crack the safe!!!  While the safe was holding true to its name, Moore-McCormack Lines had money flown in at each port for the passengers. 

As it turned out, no one was able to crack the safe open.  It was only finally opened when the ship returned to New York over a month later!!!!  Only in New York!!

Poor Tom Murphy!!!


"Jewels and the FBI"

After each voyage, it was someone's job in the Purser's Office to go through the deposit boxes in the safe and check to make sure they were all empty.  This was done so the Office could be assured that the passengers who had deposit boxes assigned to them had received all their valuables before debarkation. 

Upon arriving back on board the S.S. Argentina after a vacation, Robert Melsopp was surprised to hear fellow employees on the ship telling him that FBI agents were on board investigating "something."  As he entered his office, one of the FBI agents pulled him aside into the Purser's Office and asked him if he could answer a few questions.  Naturally, he said "sure."  The agent then removed a deposit box from the safe and opened it so he could see what was inside.  R. Melsopp saw high quality, precious jewelry inside the box.  The agent then asked R. Melsopp if he knew anything about this.  Because he just returned from having been away from the ship for some time, he had no idea as to who owned the jewelry, and he told the agent he didn't know anything about it.  Shortly after that he was told that the FBI had been brought on board because the deposit box was not assigned to anyone. 

The next day a male entertainer, who had been oblivious to everything that happened the day before, entered the Purser's Office to get into the deposit box with the jewelry.  It wasn't until then that they found out the jewelry belonged to the entertainer!!



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