The whistle let out a long, booming blast, and a light outside drifted slowly by the porthole, showing that the Olympic was under way. But that's all I saw, for these were the days of midnight
sailings, and I was around nine years old. It had been decreed that I must go directly to bed, and so I was never able to join the crowds that lined the rails as the great White Star liner eased from her New York pier on July 9, 1926. [If it had been daylight, it would have been similar to this scene
of Olympic (right) at her pier and steaming past the Statue of Liberty (left, below).]
Next morning it was different. I was up bright and early and out on deck exploring the ship. At the time, I considered myself quite an Atlantic traveler, having been to Bermuda on the Arcadian (bottom left), a 12,000-ton RSMP liner that rolled all the way, and returned on the sturdier Orca a comfortable
But neither of them prepared me for what I now saw. The decks on the Olympic seemed to go on for miles; the public rooms seemed like a palace; the four funnels seemed big beyond belief [photo taken at her pier in New York]. The buff color of the funnels especially fascinated meit wasn't simply a yellow-tan,
the way they are often colored; there was a touch of pink in the buff, and I spent hours trying to duplicate the exact shade with crayons.
I first saw the name, Walter Lord, in the December 1955 edition of American Heritage Magazine, in a "teaser" titled Maiden Voyage with photographs and text to introduce the reader to the forthcoming book published by Henry Holt & Company. A short time later, I bought A Night to Remember
at Johnson's Bookstore in Springfield. It was a book that I will never forget.