|JOHN MAXTONE-GRAHAM LECTURES|
ABOARD QM2 IN HIS TRADEMARK KILT
(MY PHOTO, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)
John possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of ocean liners and cruise ships, and delivered it--both in writing and at speaking engagements--with grace and humor.
One of my favorite of his tales describes an incident one night aboard the Bergensfjord of the Norske Amerikalinje (Norwegian America Line) in the 1960s, captured in his 1985 book Liners to the Sun:
A woman, after having caught several garments on a protruding screw in her cabin panelling and forgetting to tell the steward about it, decided to fix it herself. She couldn't get the screw in any further, so she took it out instead. Just as she removed it from the wall, the Bergensfjord was struck by a tsunami and heeled violently to port, throwing people and contents to the deck. Until she learned the cause of the accident, she was secretly terrified that her meddling with the ship's infrastructure had somehow triggered it.
John and wife Mary were frequent passengers as he was often called upon to give lectures on board, particularly for maiden voyages and others of historic significance. Whether in suit and tie or his trademark kilt, he struck a distinguished and gallant figure.
My father and I had the privilege to hear John speak several times as the RMS Queen Mary 2, flagship of the storied Cunard Line, made her inaugural crossing from Southampton, England, to New York in 2004. Despite the number of ship enthusiasts and industry names on board, I somehow ranked to have breakfast with him, and he patiently endured a tour of the amateurish design I had created for a ship like the QM2 before Cunard had the funds or the will to do so themselves. My copy of his coffee-table book about that ship bears both an inscription (in which he amusingly took the heat for smudging his own signature) and a stamp commemorating the fact that our encounter took place during that historic voyage.
|MY MEMORABILIA FROM THAT VOYAGE INCLUDES JOHN'S INSCRIPTION IN|
THE COMMEMORATIVE BOOK, AND HIS APOLOGY FOR SMUDGING IT.
|HOMER SIMPSON AMONG THE MARVELS OF THE EARTH ON A FAUX-BRONZE RELIEF|
ABOARD THE RMS QUEEN MARY 2.
PHOTO CREDIT: GARY BEMBRIDGE. USED UNDER CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE.
While the movie Titanic takes some credit for the renewed interest in the golden era of ocean liner (which spanned from roughly 1890 til 1960, when jets began carrying the majority of passengers across the Atlantic) it is writers and historians like John who make sure this unique era is thoroughly and engagingly documented for generations to come.