Sunday, January 24, 2016

Florida Trips on Clyde-Mallory Lines

Ah, winter. Anyone who's reading this on the East Coast is probably wondering "what does this jerk from Indiana know from winter when we've got 3 feet of snow and they've got squat?" Fair question, I'd take the snow myself, but then I'm one of those weirdos who really love a good snowstorm. Here in Indiana winter's a time when the sun goes on hiatus and we roll out the gray flannel skies for about five months. Even though I do like the cold and get as excited as a schoolboy when there are predictions of snow, I can't help but let my mind drift southward when the wind is biting my ears. Yes, the holidays are done and it's time to think about retreating from the cold and, if you spring from the Midwestern blue-collar soil like I do, that probably means Florida.

The old saying goes "getting there is half the fun", but in our day and age the airlines have gone to extremes to punish anyone who goes about with thoughts of enjoyable travel. To fly to Florida we're goaded and prodded through security checks by TSA agents who were to inhumane to work at Guantanamo Bay. Afterward we are herded into holding pens while our flight is delayed so that the baggage handlers can work over our suitcases with blackjacks before evenly distributing them on planes bound for Eastern Europe and the Sudan. Eventually we trundle into steerage where we sit in seats designed by Joseph Mengele and fight for space with the UPS parcels. Eventually we're winging our way to Miami via New Jersey with a seven hour layover in Potsdam. Yes, modern convenience is a wonderful thing! Oh what fools our grandparents must have been. Why just imagine what a trip to Florida must have been like a hundred years ago! Okay, you don't need to imagine, I'll tell you.

In the January 1918 issue of Outdoor Life Magazine, the Clyde-Mallory Lines ran an ad for 5 and 12 day tours to Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Miami, Palm Beach, Key West, Tampa, and St. Petersburg with a full stopover in Charleston, SC. Passengers would depart from New York and enjoy meals in the ship's dining room, relaxing in the smoking lounges, dancing, music, and deck-side sports and entertainments as they made their way down the Eastern Seaboard to their final destination. Then they'd wend their way through Florida, eventually rendezvousing with their return ship

The 12 day tour went for $65.40 which, adjusted for inflation, roughly equates to $1065 round trip. However, considering the obscene excess of modern cruise ships, the amenities probably seem paltry. There are no all-night binge-bars, no casinos, no eight-story mezzanines, no in-pool movies, just three squares a day served on real china, the sea air, and the scenery passing by as you made your way southward. Something to be said for simplicity, the lack of screaming kids, not worrying about gaining 25 pounds just because you're exposed to 24-7 all you can eat buffets, and the time to write a letter or postcard or two. Yep, I think I'll trade the Mega-Giganto-Disney-Princess-in-your-bathroom Cruise and just enjoy the sea itself.


Cage said...

Charleston NORTH Carolina? That must've been quite a feat in those days.

Gary Madden said...

I think the feat is my writing what's in my brain! Thank you for the catch!