Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cruising on the SS Lurline - 1949

SS Lurline – April, 1949

A few years ago I wrote about how my grandparents, Sig and Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy, loved to cruise.  You can read about it HERE.  At the time I knew they had cruised on the SS Lurline during the 1950’s based on Passenger Lists I’d found but I hadn’t run across any photos or anything to tell me much more about those cruises.  Until today.

A few months ago my husband rescued a box of “stuff” from the garage and brought it inside so I could go through it.  There were quite a few scrapbooks (my grandfather was the king of scrapbooking) but being that they are, for the most part, history of real estate transactions in Fresno, I wasn’t too interested.  But thrown on the top (not inside the plastic box but literally thrown on the lid of the box) was a pile of things that I never got around to going through.  But today was the day.

The first thing I found was a pile of what looked to be prints of some kind.  Beautiful in their own right but even more beautiful when I opened them up and saw they were dinner menus from the SS Lurline in 1949, 1951, and 1956.  Here’s a sample.

Dinner Menu Front

What fun to read about the what was on the menu when my grandparents were sailing.

Dinner Menu 4_25_49

Now that’s some interesting selections – Broiled Fillet of Barracuda?  Turtle steak Saute?  Yes, I think that really is steak of a turtle (thank you, Google), although I’d prefer to think, instead, it was a special cut of beef steak.  I’m not too adventurous when it comes to eating so I can’t get past the thought of eating a turtle.

I picked this particular menu because of the date – Monday, April 25, 1949.  As I was going through some envelopes in the same stack I found some photos from what appears to be this trip!  And there on the back was the date April 25, 1949 “on board the Lurline bound for Honolulu”.  How ‘bout that?

Loraine 4_25_1949
Mildred Loraine (Guzendorfer) Levy
April 25, 1949, On board the Lurline bound for Honolulu

Sig 4_25_1949
Sigmund Levy
April 25, 1949, On board the Lurline bound for Honolulu

Were they dressed for dinner?  Knowing my grandparents and their love of dressing up, I’d say they were dressed for the daytime activities and then later changed for dinner.  But anyway, at least I know it was the same day.

And the next day they took a few more photos.

Loraine 4_26_1949
Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy – April 26, 1949

Her dress is so interesting – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.  The 1940’s sure brought out some wonderful styles.

Sig 4_26_1949
Sigmund Levy – April 26, 1949

Not only did I find the photo above of the Lurline (I’m assuming they purchased from a professional photographer) but in with their personal photos was this photo from the deck of the Lurline.

Lurline Deck

What fun to see the deck of a cruise ship from back then – although I’ve never been on a cruise ship like that, I can’t imagine you’d have too many people lying right on the deck as they are here.

I spent a little time on Google and found an interesting short movie titled “Over the Sea to Honolulu 1940”.  It is a great way to really understand what life was like sailing across the Pacific in 1949 – I could visualize (my dad loved to say that) my grandparents on the ship.

Some fun activities on the typical cruise:
  • If passengers missed golf while they were away, they could golf from the deck and would always get a hole-in-one when their ball landed in the Pacific Ocean.
  • There was shuffleboard, swimming (see that pool above?), and even horse racing (you have to see it to believe it).
  • The 5th day at sea brought the first glimpse of Diamond Head.  Being that I know they arrived in Honolulu on April 27, 1949, I can assume this dinner menu was from their 3rd day at sea.
In the event you’re interested, the link to the movie is below.  It’s a 10 minute video with the first 3 minutes or so being specifically about the Lurline.

My grandparents sure lived an exciting life – who knew?


  1. When I started reading the menu I thought thank goodness I wasn't on that cruise -- I might have starved. But it got better as I read along. Poi cocktail? What the heck? And wasn't that a sad little pool by today's standards? But I'm sure it was the ultimate in luxury at the time. I don't think Sig and Loraine ever went cheap.

    1. You're right about that, Wendy. I don't think cheap was in their vocabulary.

  2. As Wendy said, I'd have starved if those were my menu choices! Maybe the side of zucchini would have held me over. :) Thanks for posting it---fascinating.

    1. I have lots more but don't worry, I won't post those (at least for now). It is interesting to see what kind of food they ate.

  3. Debi,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. LOVE those photos! I guess I hadn't really considered that there were cruises in the 40's and 50's. It's really neat reading about the cruises, food, entertainment, etc. We are headed off on our own cruise soon, but I think ours will be quite different from what your grandparents experienced!