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A Trip Through Europe: 1938 by Father Regnat

From “A Trip Through Europe: June 19-September 2, 1938 written for the amusement of my friends” by Father William Regnat, one time priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Salisbury, NC.

Wednesday, June 22 – The long-waited day has come at last. Today I sail. Why do they still say “sail”? There isn’t a sail in sight anywhere on that steamer. I boarded the QUEEN MARY at 11 A.M. with Father T. of the Abbey who had never seen a large boat. We inspected the entire ship with exclamations of ah and oh from T. All in all, except for fancy touches here and there, first cabin is little more luxuriously furnished than tourist class. Anyway it’s good enough for me. There must have been at least 2000 visitors who left the boat at 1:30 pm, half an hour before sailing time. They all stood on the pier waving us good-bye. At 2:00 on the dot her ladyship QUEEN MARY backed out of her slip under own power – meaning no slur or unseemly jest on her Majesty the Queen.

RMS Queen Mary 1945
RMS Queen Mary, 1945

At 5:00 P.M. we were given an emergency drill. Each cabin has as many life belts as there occupants. When the fog horn gives six short blasts followed by a long wail, the passengers are to put on heavy clothing, grab the life belt and fasten it as demonstrated, while rushing to the top deck, following the green arrow: the odd numbers (of the cabin) to the port side, the even numbers to starboard: left and right to you land-lubbers…we treated this drill as quite a joke, but I have a suspicion that all offered a little prayer that we wouldn’t need the life belts. A young flapper next to me said: “aren’t we looking a sight?” I told her: “if we ever have to use them we won’t worry about our looks.”

Socializing on a Trip Through Europe

Supper was well attended. Not an empty chair, all hoping to distinguish themselves by regularity and punctuality to the end of the voyage. I don’t intend to miss a single meal: not after paying about $35.00 a day in this “Grand Hotel”.

I got chatting with my table mate and casually remarked how difficult it was to distinguish nationalities in a cosmopolitan crowd like the present. “You can tell mine, can’t you?” he asked. I had a suspicion but hesitated to commit myself. “I am Semitic”, he admitted. Then we drifted into the Jewish situation in Germany and particularly Austria, and I expressed my sincere sympathy with the deplorable state of his race in that unhappy country. He spoke of the cruelty and inhumanity inflicted upon his people and asked: “why doesn’t’ the Catholic Church voice a protest against it?” My answer was that the Catholic Church wielded no political power or influence and that we were very much in the same boat.

Image: U.S. Navy photo 80-GK-5645; U.S. Defense Visual Information Photo HD-SN-99-03026; via Wikipedia, licensed Wikimedia Commons ( accessed 5 Feb 2021).