The Vacation Away from 790C – A Trip on the Panama Line.
By George Chevalier

Let us recall those trip to New York on vacation. We would book for late May and my Dad would apply for a deck side stateroom on the starboard side north bound and portside south bound. Deck side so your parents could sit out on deck and walk around in the evenings and still keep an eye on you after you were in bed. Also it was best to get the morning sun on your side of the ship not the heat of the afternoon beating in on your stateroom and deck chairs. We took the boat train, which left around noon and your car would be shunted over on to the pier along side the ship. Because of us kids we would eat at the first sitting. We were all ways hungry and the sound of that dinner tune played by a steward with a 5or6 tone music box was music from heaven. During the day little kids took over the Social Hall and the older retreated to the smoking lounge where the Bingo was held every night. Who can forget the bowl of fresh fruit on each table in the evening at meal time? Those oranges and apples were gourmet types not available in the commy but supplied by the chandlers in NYC. The crewmember with the most passenger contact was the Deck Steward who was Whitey on the Ancon and Max on the Cristobal. Whitey was with out doubt our favorite and Max too surly to be held in much regard by us kids. The diving boys in Haiti would not dive for copper coins so we would wrap pennies in cigarette tinfoil and toss to them luring them to dive only to receive the latest Patois profanity. Next of course was to fling used soap bars at them when they broke surface. We also went ashore to buy a nice basket of avocados at 15c a basket. We kept the basket but used the fruit to bomb the divers. This usually caused them to fling the fruit back aboard the ship which brought the wrath of the ships officers down on us. The first day out of Haiti was spent passing through the Bahamas and I recall the story about the light house keeper on one we would pass fairly close to and legend had it that he planted a palm tree each time his wife had a child . A hurricane came by and knocked all the palms down and my Dad wondered what the Keeper would do now. At Cape Hatteras it turned cold and rough and we burrowed under the covers. The early morning entrance into NYC was exiting with heavy fog a certainty and the sounds of ships fog horns coming and going as we crept along ever fearful we might be rammed. At that time of year you could count on it being cold for us just out of the tropics as we made our way up river to our pier and relatives waiting.