My sister bought my wife and I a night aboard the Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach Harbor, Ca. many years ago for our anniversary. The ship is very near to where we live and a fantastic piece of floating history. I was very eager to go as was my wife.
It was a great hotel with a fine restaurant at the top called “Sir Winston’s.” There was always a long wait to eat there, but the wait was well worth it.
As we arrived at the parking lot for the ship, The QueenMarry loomed large in the dark distance, filled with history and many stories from the past.
Strangely, the parking lot was filled with motor cycles which I found very interesting. I had never seen so many “Choppers” in one place in all my life.
As we walked through the crowed dressed to the nines with our little over night suitcases we came upon hundreds of men and women dressed in their “leathers” with their affiliations sewn into the back of their black leather jackets and tattoos a plenty.
It was a little unnerving to say the least. We were in the midst of a totally different crowd than we were used to being around. Not necessarily worse or better, but certainly different.
As we tried to work our way through the crowd a siren screamed in the background behind us and then two. The police car and ambulance came closer to us as we walked in the direction of the majestic ship. She sat tall and proud and rightfully so. She had helped the war effort a great deal and was a sailing masterpiece.
Soon the police car and an ambulance started to roll through the giant black crowd along the right edge and turned left to arrive at the entrance. They creeped slowly forward as the defiant men and women moved slowly aside. These two groups are not always on the best of terms.
We had no idea of what had happened.
Eventually the ambulance hurried away with its siren screaming and the two more police cars arrived. The officers fanned out and asked their questions of some of the crowd as we walked past them.
We walked slowly through the crowd and eventually made it to the gangplank and stepped upon it.
A man at the top of the wide steel ramp washing it down with a powerful hose. It was dark now and we couldn’t see what he was hosing away.
“What Happened?” I asked.
“Oh, one of these fellows just stabbed and killed a man from a different gang. Apparently they had a long running dispute.”
“Oh, how awful,” was my response. My wife stood next to me and tightened her grip on my hand.
I couldn’t see it at the time of course but the man was washing the now dead man’s blood off of the gangplank.
We continued on our way up the entry and past many people who were now hurrying past us in the opposite direction toward the parking lot, suitcases in hand.
We found the registration desk and signed in.
We received our keys with a questioning glance from the desk clerk and ventured on our way to find our room.
It is a very large and beautiful ship of course with high ceilings, fine art and well-crafted furniture. It was built with the finest of everything available at the time of its construction. We soon found our room and entered.
It was like we had entered a time machine and had been sent back to the 1940’s.
The room was lined with wood paneling and a soft deep carpet that comforted our feet as we walked in. The furniture was art deco and the bed was very soft. There were lovely paintings hanging on the walls. Some were sea scapes and some were English landscapes. It was not a large room but what a wonderful room it was.
I sat down on the bed and found the phone. I had to call my sister to tell her what had happened in the parking lot.
I dialed her number and waited for her to pick up.
“It’s R.C. This place is beautiful sis and thanks for the unnecessary excitement as well.”
“What are you talking about?” was her response to me.
“Oh, just that some poor “biker” has been killed here on the Queen Mary as we tried to “come aboard.”
“That’s crazy. Are you leaving?”
“No. I don’t think there will be another murder her tonight and many folks are leaving. So I think it will be a short wait to get into Sir Winston’s tonight for diner.”
We learned later that it was the First Annual Easy Riders Convention at the Queen Mary. I don’t think there was a second.