Elaine Bakker loves the Queen Mary, which has resided in Long Beach for nearly 55 years. The British-born lady, who looks out her Sunset Beach window at it daily, can’t wait for the legendary vessel to re-open to the public, after being closed for nearly two years.
She’s been on it many times, had wonderful dinners there, visited friends lodging aboard, and enjoyed walking on its wooden decks, bathing in its elegance and history.
“To think Winston Churchill walked these decks,” said the former resident of Westbourne. “He was such an inspiration to our country and to the world. He never backed down from difficult times and urged people to keep plodding on, no matter what.”
(Her grandfather, Reginald Woodward, played his part in maritime history, having a successful business in Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, doing the laundry for numerous large ships. She said he was known for his exceptionally quick turnaround.)
“I can’t wait to get back on the Queen Mary’s decks,” said the woman, whose husband, Eric, has sold some of that ship’s faucets, doorknobs and handles, which he purchased when it had to be upgraded, after it was retired to Long Beach in 1967. (Eric runs Antiques of the Sea in Sunset Beach.)
Currently, the Queen is undergoing a $5 million repair, which Long Beach officials say may allow it to reopen later this year. They say the initial effort involves removing many deteriorated lifeboats, structural and electrical work, installing bilge pumps and other things.
Working through its public closure is the ship’s Commodore, Everette Hoard, who has lovingly labored in the famed ocean liner turned floating hotel, for more than 40 years.
The well-known nautical counselor, maritime historian and chief ambassador, who has even officiated weddings on the Queen, looks forward to being on her full-time again and giving tours to college students, the media and visitors of all ages.
“I still go down to my office at least three times a week,” he said. “I’ve been keeping busy organizing the archives and inventorying our collection of original furniture.”
Hoard said he will be lecturing about the Queen Mary on some trips this Summer aboard the Queen Mary 2. He recently lectured over Zoom to a UCLA Architectural and Interior Design History Class, explaining the exciting past of the vessel as well as the sensational collection of art aboard.
Hoard also told Professor Eleanor Schrader and her students about various woods used on the City of Long Beach-owned ship, including Cedar and Tiger Face.
“The Queen Mary is almost like a human. It has a soul,” Hoard said. “I look forward to giving your class tours on the ship, like we used to, before the Pandemic.”
“You are our own treasure,” Professor Schrader told Hoard. “Your extensive knowledge brings architecture and design to life. We can’t wait to get back on the ship for your incredible, memorable tours!”