Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Grey Ghost

Now permanently docked in Long Beach Harbor, the Queen Mary has had a fascinating, and deeply haunted, history. Eighteen years after the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage, construction began in Scotland on a luxury liner that was even bigger, as well as being faster. The Great Depression put a halt to the building activity for some years; finally, the completed ship made its (successful) maiden voyage on May 27, 1936.

For the next three years, the elite traveled the new liner. Such guests as Greta Garbo, David Niven, Mary Pickford, and the Gershwin brothers graced the ship. The liner held the record for the fastest crossing of the North Atlantic.

Upon the outbreak of World War II in 1939, luxury travel came to an end. The large, powerful Queen Mary became a troopship. Painted grey, she came to be known as “The Grey Ghost” - a very prophetic title indeed. By the end of the war, the ship had carried almost a million troops and had sailed more than half a million miles.

After the war, the ship was renovated, and in July of 1947, started weekly across the Atlantic once again. By the early 1960s, with the increasing popularity of air travel, the ship started cruises to warmer climates such as the Bahamas. Lacking the modern amenities of the more modern ships, she was taken out of service in 1967.
That year, the ship was sold for $3.45 million to the city of Long Beach, California, to be used as a maritime museum and hotel. On December 9, 1967 she sailed to Long Beach, there to remain.

Word is that there may be as many as 150 ghosts in this floating hotel. At least 49 deaths have been reported in more than half a century.

The first-class swimming pool, closed for decades, is the site of female apparitions wearing swimming suits from the 1930s. Wet footprints going from the deck to the changing rooms have been seen. One little spirit is that of a young girl with a teddy bear. A live ghost webcam has been set up here.

Another little girl, named Jackie, has been seen and heard around the second-class pool. She drowned in the pool years ago, and has never left the area.

In the Queen’s Salon, formerly the first-class lounge, a young woman wearing a white evening gown has been seen dancing alone in one corner of the room.

Many first-class staterooms experience paranomal activity. A tall dark-haired man wearing a 1930s suit; water running; lights clicking on in the dead of night; phones ringing with no one on the other end of the line.

Stateroom B340 has had so much activity that it is not rented now. The faucets are said to turn on by themselves, and bedding has been yanked off the beds.

One famous ghost is believed to be that of John Pedder. He was a fireman in the engine room who was crushed by "Door 13". During a drill, he apparently tried once too often to jump back and forth through the doorway before the door closed (this, evidently, was common practice among crew members), but the door was faster. His ghost has been seen, still wearing the blue coveralls, walking down the area known as "Shaft Alley" and disappearing at the fatal door.

During World War II, the Queen Mary once accidently collided with one of her escort ships; the other ship sank. Screams can be heard at times in the bow of the ship where she rammed into the escort.

A server once saw three guests walking towards her along the hallway leading from the deck. She checked the reservation book for a party of three, but when she looked up, she saw only two people. She asked the guests if they would like to wait for their friend before being seated, but the guests said there were only two in their party. The server also claimed that the faucets in the women's bathroom nearby turn on and off by themselves.

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