Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sidebar - The Ile de France

A few years ago I was looking through old photo albums from Ed's family.  I was surprised to find a picture of a young Ed standing on the deck of a ship, with a large lifeboat behind him.  He was alone in one photo, and next to his mother in a second picture.  What really blew my mind were the captions for the photos.  Ed's family was celebrating his 7th birthday (January 1952), and they were standing on the deck of the Ile de France.  This was the ship pictured on the postcard that had terrified me in my youth.  Ed had never told me he'd been on the Ile de France.  I could only assume he'd forgotten.

I showed Ed the pictures.  He explained that, when he was growing up on Long Island, steamships were making regular runs between New York City and Europe.  His family occasionally drove into the city to see which ships were in port.  People could go aboard and tour the ships.  Schedules for the ocean liners were listed in the local newspaper.  Sometimes Ed's family would go to Jones Beach, on the southern shore of Long Island, to watch the parade of ocean liners as they left the port of New York to head for Europe.

I asked Ed if he'd forgotten that the ship he had visited was the Ile de France.  No, he hadn't forgotten.  Then how was it, knowing what this ship meant to me, he'd never mentioned he'd been aboard the Ile de France?  He told me he didn't really see any connection between the two things...  

I found it hard to believe, while I was growing up in Connecticut with my irrational fears, Ed lived not that many miles south of me, where those ships were considered a normal part of everyday life.

At four years old, I was leaving Connecticut for my first Atlantic crossing.
My dad, who was in the Air Force, was stationed at a base in England.
My uncle and grandparents were taking us to the airport, on our way
to join Dad in England.  

Using Photoshop, I extracted myself from this picture, and joined Ed on the deck of the Ile de France.

I hadn't saved the actual postcard my grandmother had given me, but I found it again through Google Images.

The Ile de France

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