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Old 05-17-2015, 09:25 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,573

*Dollar values/City Ticket Offices 1951*
Steamboating colleagues,
Jim Blum is a man who knows where to look, what to find for interesting facts listed above with "Just a few stray observations from June, 1951." Jim, you bet I remember 'City Ticket Offices' here in Cincinnati and other cities large and small, towns. Travel agencies or 'Tourist Offices' as they were called was a big business emerging--on a % basis then like now. All railroad terminals, depots etc. usually had a desk or an agent to book on-going rail, steamboat, steamship tickets--even hotels in U.S. cities and around the world. Most to all big banks had a simialr tourist desk or agent usually prominent on the main banking floor or in an office or alcove nearby. Reservations made by telephone, letter or even ticker tape. No credit cards, so people paid by check, cash or simply charged to your checking account etc. Heavy steamer trunks then could be sent early to the ship pier by Railway Express until passengers arrived for their crossing. Steamship cabins [some] then had a trunk storage alcove with metal tabs and straps to secure against the bulkhead in case of rolling seas--which was common before stabilizers were installed.

Depending on the source: U.S. Federal Reserve, Census Department, official studies and reports, the AVERAGE U.S. wage earner--give or take--brought home on/around $3,000 per year in 1951. This just six years following the end of W.W. II, 1945. Yet, with statistics, you have to note the medium and mode in calculations with averages often waffling + or -. CUNARD rates you mention fascinating. The 1st Class QUEEN MARY/QUEEN ELIZABETH then in U.S. dollars would today be on/around $3,405.00. The 'Winter Rate' would tab out at $1,498.00. In my time sailing on old QUEEN MARY/QUEEN ELIZABETH in the early to late 1960s the fares for R/T Sea/Air tickets was for cabin class about $400 to $470 [I'll have to dig out my tickets to check from the dusty boxes]. Drinks, tips, boat train tickets, sundries all extra naturally. Some of the CUNARD ships, as other lines, sailed in and out of Canadian ports: Montreal, Quebec. Some lines even ran in and out of Boston and not always New York. All three Cincinnati newspapers then I remember each day printed New York and other Port News with listing of ships, passengers to and from Europe. Until air service kicked in you sent mail and other packages by ship called 'Surface.' If you hit it right with a CUNARD or other ship, your mail could be in England or continental Europe within 8 to 10 days; other times longer. Remember also that most to all major steamship lines then were partially to heavily subsidized by their countries for mail contracts. The pivotal year when air travel surpassed surface passenger ships was the year 1958. From then it was all down hill for the great Atlantic liners.

The GREENE LINE did all reservations/ticketing in the offices on the big GL wharfboat here by phone or letter--no computer terminals then. GREENE LINE tickets--at least some I have here--were typed in triplicate: white, pink and a kind of blue or green copy. The passenger copy came to you in white with balance to pay etc. I'm sure Jim Reising, like me, can never forget the GREENE LINE phone number on the wharfboat. For years their number was MAIN 1445. There were no phone area codes then with Cincinnati divided up in districts: MAIN, TRINITY, CENTRAL, WOODBURN, UNIVERSITY etc. etc. How many remember those? Most to all local travel offices would encourage prospective passengers "To phone the GREENE LINE direct or write for their brochures or booking." Many major agencies considered the comany then a "peripheral service." No argument or debate as I heard it constantly.

Jim's ciphering above with comparisons, projections on past/present/future river cruise rates about right. No doubt present/future rates will be higher. The days of recalling early and rather 'cheap' cruise river rates long a thing of the past.

Jim, I have to question your prediction on fate of river cruises. Those able to afford the much higher rates on one company I won't mention doing very, very well. A known fact on ocean cruise ships and some river lines is that the most expensive accommodations usually always book first and earliest over lesser. It's a fact documented. Well, what do I know--or remember? There's that old, cloying line, "It only costs a little more to go first class." Again, "you get what you pay for."

R. Dale Flick
Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.
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