Leaving the USA

Was I the only one who did not know about Grandpa’s trip to Russia as a boy? Uncle Dave sat down and made the video which showed the photos on the ship, so did Grandpa tell him the details that day? Did he tell Aunt Ar when they took the trip to Russia together? Uncle Mart is interested in history, so did he know?

I am thinking about it today, because on this day in 1931, Grandpa’s family was arriving in Europe from New Jersey after a week-long journey on a surprisingly luxurious ship—the Berengaria—which was built as the replacement for the Titanic.

The sea was rough during half of the trip, with a lot of wind and rain. Grandpa, his brother Pete and their mother got quite sick one day. Although travel in third class was not luxurious and they did not have a bathroom in their cabins, the dining room was quite nice and they were able to enjoy several movie days at sea.

Their ship arrived first in Cherbourg France at 4:00 in the afternoon to discharge some passengers and pick up others. From their ship they were able to see a French fort, some sea planes, a submarine, and several of the ships which had also from left New York. That must have been fun to see.

They took a short ride across the English Channel to Southampton, England, which is the same port from which the Titanic left. Dad and I took a train there from London last year and went to a museum, which had a replica of Grandpa’s ship. His family probably traveled on those same tracks to London, where they spent five days before the next leg of their journey.

I was surprised to learn that they were able to tour the city, visiting all the typical tourist sites of London such as the House of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, and Hyde Park. It was nice to see that my grandparents were able to give the family this nice little vacation before the big move to Leningrad, which I am guessing did not go over well with any of the kids.

Dad and I were able to see the hotel where Grandpa’s family stayed, which was in a very nice area of London. The hotel has not changed much from the outside (we saw a photo of the hotel at a nearby library), but it has now been converted into apartments.

They left London on the morning of December 23, traveling by train to the port city of Hull, which is on the North Sea. From what I learned based upon the diary I found, the rest of the trip was not as much fun except for Christmas Day. On that day, they spent the afternoon walking around the city of Copenhagen, where they were allowed to buy some candy.

They spent two very rough days at sea on a very small Finnish steamship, and everyone got sick. Even the dishes were rolling off the tables. Having been on several cruises where a rough day did not even approach that, you can just imagine how awful that must have been.

The trip ended in Helsinki, Finland on a very snowy and windy day. They disembarked the ship, walked around the city and bought some souvenirs before boarding a train for a thirteen hour ride to the Soviet Union. By 6:00 on the evening of December 29, they had arrived at a hotel in Leningrad, eighteen days after leaving their home in New Jersey. Were they scared, excited, or just too tired to feel anything?

Grandpa and Family- December 1931

Grandpa on SS Berengaria- December 1931


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