Queen Mary and Spruce Goose

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June, 1985

Queen Mary and Spruce Goose, Long Beach, CA


We lived in California a few years (almost 4) and loved it there. There was a lot to do.  We were stationed at March AFB, CA.  Alas, I was pregnant and in the Air Force the first year and got out when I had the baby (worked out I had the baby and came back for only ONE last day after my maternity leave ended...just so happened to correspond exactly with my end of enlistment!).  Anyway, my favorite thing there was the Swap meets on the weekends and going to the park with the kids.  We did get so see a lot of stuff there too like the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose.

   The Queen Mary is  1,019.5 ft. in length, weight 81,237 tons; first launched in September, 1930; 2000 portholes.  10 million rivets; 12 decks; holds 1957 passengers and 1174 crew. 3 smokestacks. Served during WWII March 1940-September 1946; Transported Winston Churchill 3 times. Retired September 1967 and December llth, 1967 was removed from the British registry and ownership turned over to the city of Long Beach. We visited and just looked around; nothing special was happening that day, but we hear there were events like weddings, ceremonies, studios filmed on it etc. 

  The Spruce Goose we also saw but did not take photos of for some reason. I think that they either didn't allow it, or because it was in such and enclosed space we couldn't get a full shot of it.  We were not allowed to go in it, but I think they did have a ladder to look up inside the cockpit. The idea for the HK-1flying boat came from Henry Kaiser....Head of one of the largest shipbuilding firms of the time, Howard Hughes was known as an innovator in aircraft construction and design. The new plane's official name bore the initials of the principals in the project HK-1....But to most of us it's always just been "Spruce Goose". The huge plane would be made primarily of wood, saving materials critical to the war effort. Hughes obsessed over the plane, wanting it to be perfect but because of his obsessive nature, the plane was not ready in time for the war, and the critics pounded him for it. They held hearings where Hughes enamored the public but the senators reviled him.  During a recess period of the hearings, Hughes scheduled a test run of the plane, which ended up vindicating him in the public eye. It missed the war and was deemed useless and put into storage hidden from public view until Howard Hughes' died, in 1976. We saw a few artifacts and heard a story but that's all I remember. I think it's even better now.  They have a gift shop, place to eat etc. The museum contains other planes and a portrait gallery.

   My only other impressions of Long Beach were negative.  The water and streets seemed polluted, run down and crowded.  I don't know if it's still like that today.


 Left to Right:  1) The Queen Mary's smokestacks from highway 2) My little men on the ship 3) Scott and the view from the ship 4) Jeremy 5) Jason



Left to right:  1) On deck 2) In the Engine Room


Sites you might like to visit in Long Beach:

Aquarium of the Pacific

Gondola Getaway

Queen Mary

Long Beach Grand Prix

Museum of Latin American Art

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