Thursday, July 10, 2008

S.S. United States, and the Pompton Lakes Library

A new documentary, which has been airing on PBS stations throughout the country, concerns the S.S. United States, the ocean liner which plays a part in The Lucky Strike Papers. The film is called S.S. United States: Lady In Waiting. DVDs of the film can be purchased via the film’s web site:


I mentioned the S.S. United States, when I spoke about The Lucky Strike Papers on June 30th, at the Pompton Lakes (New Jersey) Public Library. I’ve lived in Pompton Lakes since the fall of 2002.

June 30th was a day of great significance at the Library—the last day at work for the Library’s longtime director, Dr. Margaret Freathy. She had overseen the Library for 18 years.

I enjoyed speaking with a small group of Library patrons and staff members (including Dr. Freathy).

When I referred to the S.S. United States, a gentleman in attendance told me the following: he said he was unsure, but he believed that the S.S. United States was the ship featured in the 1957 film An Affair to Remember, starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

I had not heard this, and so, last week, I rented the film. There were, in the film, many exterior shots of the ship; the ship plays a prominent part in the film. As one who has seen many photos of the S.S. United States (and took two tours of it, in the year 2000, on the Philadelphia waterfront), I was sure the gentleman at the library was right: it looked, I thought, just like the United States.

However: in an image of the bow of the ship, in the film, one sees the name “Constitution.” I thought, though, that perhaps the liner was still the United States, but that it had been renamed for the purposes of the film.

Yet so often today, of course, DVDs include additional footage and features, and one newsreel-type feature, on the DVD, concerned a 1957 event related to the film’s debut, an event which took place on the S.S. Constitution— the ship, the narrator noted, that had been featured in the film.