February 9th, 2011:

A SAILING WE WILL GO ON A BIG NAVY SHIP

As a frequently sentimental woman, the following description of the Rose, which I found on the Internet, reads like an obituary and brings tears to my eyes. There are many of us former military dependents and military personnel who probably have fond memories of the old ship that gave us not only transportation, but pleasure.

The General Maurice Rose operated out of New York in the Atlantic and Mediterranean from 1950 to 1965. Steaming primarily between New York and Bremerhaven, Germany, she completed more than 150 round-trip voyages. In addition, the Rose was deployed to the Mediterranean 17 times. Between January and March, 1957, the Rose made three trips to Europe in support of transporting Hungarian refugees back to the United States. The Rose departed New York August 14,1957, for transport duty to Southeast Asia and returned to New York October 18. For the first eight months of 1966, she made eight round-trips to Europe and back. She sailed again from New York on September 8 for troop-lift duty to South Vietnam. The ship returned to New York in late January 1967 for overhaul and was placed in Ready Reserve status at the James River Reserve Fleet, Virginia. The General Rose was scrapped in Texas during the year 2000.

On a Thursday at 2 p.m. in June 1958, about 160 passengers boarded the US Navy ship, General Maurice Rose. My mother, my sister Tupper and I were sharing Cabin 0116 on the port side of the boat deck, which were quite nice quarters. We were to have the third seating for meals at Table 18 in the dining hall aboard ship.

Family passport circa 1955 -- Joan Tupper, me, Darby III, and Mama Garnette Williams

The young people who’d lived in Tripoli or on Wheelus Air Force Base, who came with me, according to my “meticulous” records were:

Diana, Merle and Russ Darling; Jon Jorgenson, Charlene and Chuck Montgomery, Judy and Kathy Jones, Diane Penn, Pat Sabo, Wilnetta Edwards, David Crabtree, Mike Branham, Willy Maguire and Ronnie Yarbrough.

I know all these specifics because I kept, for lo these many years, a scrapbook of our Mediterranean Cruise. It’s one of those cardboard photo albums with black pages; I used the old-fashioned corners, in this case pink, to hold photos, postcards and odd bits like tickets, the Rose daily newspaper, a menu for the farewell dinner on July 7, and the wrapping paper from a box of Italian shoes (sexy backless cork wedge heels) my mother bought for me in Naples.

My reduced family had a terrific time, mainly because my strict father had flown home with my little brother. Since my mother was fun and indulgent, I knew I was going to have a fabulous trip and I would document it in detail, in white ink, mind you, so I’d never forget.  I listed every teenager getting onboard with me, every teenager seeing me off (including three Italian boys), and the fact we actually left the harbor at 6 a.m. on a Friday. After sailing to and docking in Athens, Istanbul, Izmir, Naples, Leghorn (Livorno), and Gibralter, we would finally arrive at Brooklyn Navy Yard on July 8.

Stay tuned as I share adventures in the coming weeks.

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