My dad did not have a Cruise Book. Apparently, they are incredibly rare – a limited number were printed (once only – no reprints.) The National Archives has a copy. Some crewmembers” families possess one . . . a memento of their loved one’s service aboard the great ship. While I knew of their existence, I had never seen one until I met Pat Fedele. Pat has a copy. None of the other plankowners I met had one. After all those years (60+), no one seemed to remember who got them, how they got them, or why. I was curious why my father didn’t have one . . . (By the way, Pat, loaned me his book – let me take it home for a couple of weeks so I could scan the pages. Another reason I love this guy. He was willing to trust a stranger with that prized possession.)
Fast forward a couple of years. I visited Frank Studenski in his home in N.C. There on the wall was this great black and white etching of the Boston, framed with handles on the side. I recognized it immediately. One just like it hung in my room when I was a kid. (It had long since disappeared.) The protective glass on Frank’s copy was missing, but the right-angle handles were intact. You see, it is a tea tray.
I asked Frank about the Cruise Book. He didn’t have one. I asked him about the “Boston Tea Tray” that was hanging on his wall and he said he wasn’t sure why, but some guys got a Cruise Book, and some guys got the picture. A few years later Frank died. In one of the strangest twists of fate that I have experienced, Frank’s tea tray (minus the handles) came into my possession. I am humbled and honored to own this, but it came to me in a cloud of great sadness.
Speaking of souvenirs from the ship . . . Bob Knight told me that when they mustered off the ship all they could take with them was whatever fit inside their duffel bag. Bob, like many others, had to leave behind many items that he had saved for his return to civilian life.