Land of Opportunity: Dockyard Last Glimpse of England

Woman misses English countryside as she journeys through America to finally find her own land of opportunity in Montana.


| Good Old Days



Dark murky water churned 'round the ship as it slowly headed out on its journey across the Atlantic to the land of opportunity. Hoping for a last glimpse of the emerald English countryside, I stood on deck, clinging to the guardrail while scanning the view. All I could see was the Southampton dockyard, with its outline of tall cranes and other ships in port. As the dismal gray sight receded, a loudspeaker bellowed instructions for passengers to stay in their cabins as we headed into a storm.

The cabin was lined with narrow bunks intended for servicemen's wives. Three other women occupied these bunks. A small central floor space contained a crib for my 10-month-old son, leaving barely enough room to stand and turn around. As the pitching of the ship increased, I soon learned to balance by planting my feet apart and rolling with the motion.

Ferocious winds and mountainous waves relentlessly battered our vessel as it tossed and rolled. Rising and dipping, we rose to the crest of huge walls of water only to plunge down, then up to the next. Most of the crew and passengers were seasick. Daily fire drills became our only exercise. We grasped handrails along the gangways and desperately clung to cold iron ladders while climbing between decks. After days of battering, a short lull between storms made it possible to go up on deck.

The bitter, salty wind stung my face and turned my cheeks apple red. Reclining in a sturdy, slatted wooden deck chair, I gazed at the azure horizon where sky met ocean. The sun glinted on choppy waves in the never-ending sea. From the clouds in the sky to the angry water to the rising and falling of the deck, all was motion.

The only distraction from the monotony of sea and sky was spotted midway on our journey. The loudspeaker announced that a ship could be seen passing on the horizon about five miles away.

The storm returned with a vengeance and was with us for the next week, until we finally arrived in New York on January 23, 1956. 





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