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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

All at sea

Monday, October 9th., Lusitania at sea.

Our third day at sea.
Strange noises through the night. Tappings. Waiting for the dawn to come, forgetting that there could be no dawn. The dawn was the turning on of the electric lights on the corridor.
Lovely Sunday morning. Rippled sea as we left Ireland.
Going out onto starboard deck (on this floor) I am startled to see it crowded. Steerage passengers. This is their playground. I walked round the forward part of the ship, and saw their dining rooms, kitchens and broad staircases leading to the different sections of berths. I had a glimpse of one berth; it seemed all right. All along deck here and there were entrances to paradises forbidden to them.

3rd. class cabin

Third Class passengers were not meant to feel as if they were visiting their country getaway for the weekend. They had no doubt whatsoever that they were aboard a ship. Accomdations were Spartan and designed for heavy use and easy upkeep. Everywhere the Steerage passnger looked, exposed bulkheads and rivets reminded them that they were not there to enjoy themselves. Stark white walls and brightly lit passages further enhanced the utlitarian atmostphere. Third Class cabins were small and deep within the ship. Four metal bunks looked more like hospital beds than anything. A steel wash basin, a single porthole (on outside cabins) and a small closet were the only other features in a Third Class room. Access to the open decks was restricted to First and Second Class passengers. The Second Class Smoking Room featured benaches and a few swiveling chairs. In the large Third Class Dining Hall, one would be fed a simple but no doubt above average meal. Breakfast typically consisted of oatmeal, porridge and millk, steak and onions, corned beef, curried veal or an omelette. Dinner menus featured items like roast beef or pork, fish or steak with a side or vegetables, rice and bread. Available meals varied by day and season.

A certain natural brazenness about some of them - girls, who would not give and take to me in passing.
Today, ragged sky. Black water all round horizon. Nothing in sight. Moon not set. Full moon.
Inspection of ship with Chief Steward. 3rd Class - men watching girls and girls then watching men. "Having their sweet revenge" said the Chief Steward.

2nd. class public room
The second class was like 1st class on a small scale. Less space. Many obviously well-to-do men in smoke-room. Fine view over stern of the ship.
Forbes Robertson, Knoblock, Burton and me in lounge after dinner. Got talking of theft of Mona Lisa, and then each told tales of thefts.
Bit of wind at 11 p.m. Looking through porthole of hall of E Deck. Waves swishing by. Hopeless position of anyone overboard. Suddenly a wave bangs up against porthole with a smash, and you draw your face away startled.

The construction of the RMS Lusitania was begun in September 1904. She was launched on June 7th, 1906 just fourteen months, three weeks, from the laying of her keel. During the whole period of construction her progress was eagerly watched by all interested in shipping, the vessel having aroused - by reason of her size, her magnificent accommodation, her speed, and turbine engine - worldwide attention. On September 7th, 1907, the Lusitania sailed from Liverpool to New York on her maiden voyage; and it is no exaggeration to say that never before had such widespread interest been taken in the first sailing of any liner. Fully 200,00 people witnessed her departure. The cheering of the vast crowds, supplemented by the steam whistles and sirens of all the shipping in the river at the time, as the leviathan moved from the Stage, and slowly disappeared into the darkness, made this epoch-marking event a most memorable one. From the first, the Lusitania became a great favorite with Atlantic travelers, and no wonder, for in addition to her speed, she was so luxuriously appointed that her passenger accommodation was the acme of comfort, and well merited the description of a ‘floating palace’. Her decorative and architectural features compared with those of the world’s finest hotels - lofty domes, fashioned and painted by expert decorators, panels prepared by skilled workers, handsome tapestries, curtains and carpets. The First Class Dining Saloon was a vision in white and gold. The style was Louis Seize, and the predominating colour was vieux rose. The magnificent mahogany side board, with its gilt metal ornaments, was the admiration of all who saw it, while high above towered the wonderful dome with painted panels after Boucher. The Lounge was decorated in late Georgian period, and the fine inlaid mahogany panels, richly modeled dome ceiling and marble mantelpieces constituted a luxurious ensemble. On her second westbound trip she averaged 24 knots, and reduced the passage between Liverpool and New York to well under 5 days, and logged 617 knots for the highest day’s run, incidentally bringing back to the British mercantile service the ‘Blue Riband of the Atlantic’.

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