David Royko Psy.D
Aboard the SS France in 1972
Robby and me boarding the boat, NYC, July19th, 1972
(Photo by Mom)
The 1971 publication and subsequent best-seller status of Dad's book, Boss - Richard J. Daley of Chicago allowed Mom and Dad to fulfill a fantasy: a family trip to Europe. Dad's fear of flying meant that we got there by boat, and not just any boat, but the SS France, the world's longest ocean liner.
We left Chicago by train on July 18th, 1972 and caught the ship in New York the following morning for a 5-day jaunt across the Atlantic Ocean, destination: Southampton. For my younger brother Robby and me (9 and 13 at the time), the boat was the best part of the trip, and not only because we came to practically hate Europe. Dad was determined to see everything--everything--of significance in England, France, Germany, and Italy -- in one hot summer month. Ever see the scene in the Chevy Chase comedy, Vacation, where the family pulls up to the Grand Canyon, nod their heads as they glance at it, and take off? Subtract the car (we walked everywhere), and that was us. Maybe some 9 and 13 year olds are into architectural wonders and museum'd masterpieces, but Rob and I weren't. By the half-way point, we told our mother that we wanted to fly back to Chicago and stay with Gram and Gramps, which didn't sit too well with Dad. Ah well, poor Dad had the best intentions, but it was largely wasted on us ungrateful little bastards.
But the SS France! Us kids were on our own, had no bedtime, made fast friends (one friendship continued in Chicago for many years), had lots to do, and, hey, we were on a boat in the middle of the freakin' ocean!
Below are a few photos from the boat, the daily schedule of events and the lunch and dinner menus for July 20th, 1972, as well as some additional front menu covers, and excerpts from my SS France diary entries. Robby and I usually ate at the earlier seating, Mom and Dad at the later. And I've never had better ox tongue...which I couldn't believe was really a tongue. But having tried it just because it seemed so bizarre, I ended up ordering it on the ship every day thereafter, and on the trip back, too. So, I was a weird 13 year-old.
(And a couple of minor corrections to the "official record," Dick Ciccone's 2001 biography, Royko - a life in print. In it, he writes that we left for Europe in August, and traveled First-class. In fact we went Tourist-class--the SS France had only First-class and Tourist-class--and set sail (or steam) July 19, returning to New York on August 30.)
Dad and me and NYC in the background as we head into the Atlantic:
Are we having fun yet?
Big excitement - ICEBERG!
Yep, it's that tiny white spot on the horizon.
I don't think it chased us.
Menus and Daily Events schedule
(Click on the thumbnails to see the full-sized scans.)
Six more menu front covers by Jean A. Mercier:
some excerpts from the boat