Aunt Delores Memories

Aunt Delores will be 92 this year. She doesn't seem old at all.

 I stopped to see her this weekend and she shared a story from 1938 when she and my mama's youngest brother were sweethearts.

Delores and Bill loved to sing and, along with other family, were members of a choir at a considerably large Seattle church.  When the choir raised money for a private cruise up to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, there were no objections for lack of chaperones and they looked forward to a romantic trip.

She didn't remember why, but the ship acquired for the trip was an old wooden sub-chaser. It must have been decommissioned and purchased by the private company.    Although the trip today can be made in several hours in one of the modern fast speed ferries, back then it was a much longer voyage.  It became very apparent when they set sail that the small warship, already a bucking bronco, was not equipped to be graceful in the stormy swells and would reek revenge on most of the passengers breakfasts, and be especially cruel to Delores.  She stayed close to the rail and watched the horizon dip and roll along with her sensitive constitution.

She composed herself upon arrival.  Even with the hangover effect of the trip, Delores was able to join Bill and enjoy the planned tour of Butchart Gardens and other popular destinations on Vancouver Island, where the city of Victoria still reigns in regal beauty.  But when the choir gathered to sing at a pre-scheduled activity, Delores couldn't climb up to her position on the risers for fear that her spinning head would topple her backwards.

After the concert, she chose to go back to the dock and rest while Bill and most of the others decided to take in a few more sights. Bill had a beautiful singing voice, and would be described as an Irish Tenor.It is possible that Bill may have started singing along the way, because when he returned to the ship, there was a group of people following him. Someone had asked, "Is that Bing Crosby?" and the word spread through the tourist crowd.

(Photo from the actual trip: Bill and his niece Dorothy in the hat behind him to the left)
The return night trip through The Straights of Juan De Fuca, and through Puget Sound was even worse than
the early morning journey.  She never left the deck and spent the night watching the horizon go up and down; dark water, then dark sky, dark water, then dark sky.  It also meant that their traveling time home was doubled.

The ship reached Seattle during the morning rush hour.  This meant that the bridge would have to draw open and traffic halted in order for them to pass through it.  Then the ship would navigate the locks into Lake Union. 
The Captain announced that the bridge master communicated that they would not open until later in the morning and the ship could not pass.  However, he told the passengers, "We are only just barely too tall to clear the high point of the bridge."  Then he asked if they were willing to follow his instructions to the "T" so that he could make adjustments that would allow him to clear the bridge.  The response was unanimous -  "we will!"

The Captain then ordered "every last" passengers to gather on one side of the small ship near the rails.  The result was the old sub chaser leaned heavily starboard causing the sail to lower considerably .  Then the engines roared and the Captain maneuvered the vessel safely through the clearing.

Bill and Delores married within several months and never went on another cruise.


Jan n Jer said…
What a story...I am sure it was a nightmare for your Aunt at the time!!! Being that sea really do feel like your going to die!
Coffeypot said…
I love these old stories. Something similar happened to us in Cancun. We were going an island for some sightseeing and had to take an hour trip acorss some bay. We were inside a boat and it was a rocking and a rolling. The crew was busy passing out barf bags to almost everyone. The funny thing was most of the barfing was due to being sick listening others bar from sea sickness. I just chuckled and told my family, who made it through all right, to imagine doing this 24/7 for weeks. Landlubbers are funny.
Sandy said…
I love the Captain's solution! My brother-in-law was chief engineer on one of the ferries between Port Townsend and daughter, when she was 5, got to steer the ferry one day when we visited Butchart gardens. Thanks for jogging my memories by sharing your aunt's.
What a great memory she shared with you! Poor sea sick..I had to feel sorry for her! :)
ChrisB said…
What a lovely story-I'm feeling sea sick just reading it!
Molly said…
You have written a lovely story about Bill and Deloris. These kind of memories will be enjoyed by your family for years to come.
Karmyn R said…
Well - he sort of had a similar look to Bing Crosby! hahaah.

Poor Delores. Romantic weekend turned pukey.
Peter said…
There were parts of this story that had me thinking TMI but the climax of the ship sailing lopsided under that bridge made up for it.
Nice to hear from you again Pamela.
Kathleen said…
What a fabulous story! I love it. These are the best treasures ever. You really need to write a book, but maybe I've told you that before ! Have a great week!
Intense Guy said…
Having been on the Ferry to Victoria once, and around the Lake and through a lock too - I felt my memories awaken with your relating this marvelous (except to Delores!) story! Clever Captain, to make the boat lean under the bridge - I wonder what Delores thought of *that* particular manuever!

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