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I received another original vintage poster in the mail today. I bought it because I fell in love with its image, which transported me back to a time when travel on an ocean liner was considered a luxury. 

The poster reminds me of the movie, An Affair to Remember, with Deborah Kerr and Mr. Suave, Cary Grant. It represents an era when good service was the norm and casual dress didn’t mean sweatpants. When Americans were welcome in every corner of the world, except maybe the U.S.S.R. and Cuba.

The poster depicts couples on a romantic beach outing with the ship moored in the background. Aside from the beautiful artistry, the elegantly casual attire of the picnickers grabbed my attention. Two of men are in sportcoats, the women in dresses or capri pants.

My practical side asks, “Who would dress like that to sit on the beach?” 

The poster, printed in 1961, when most women still wore girdles and wouldn’t be caught dead in public wearing rollers in their hair, depicts a time when packing for a trip meant steamer trunks, train cases and hatboxes, not a carry-on that fits in the overhead bin.

I have a friend who takes several cruises a year. (Hola, AC!) I’ve only been on two, both to the Caribbean, ages ago.

Accompanied by my aunt, uncle and cousin, I went on my first cruise in the mid-seventies. I wish I could say I looked as elegant as the people in the poster, but to my credit, I did manage to fit everything into one suitcase.

My aunt is an excellent seamstress. She and my uncle always wore matching his and her shirts she’d sewn. The dress code for the ship’s dining room for the dinner seating required that men wear sportcoats, women in dressy pantsuits or dresses.

The Captain’s Dinner was the night everyone dressed their best.

Like most girls my age, I was picky about my clothes. I had planned to wear a long, pale yellow dress I’d made to the Captain’s Dinner. However, my aunt insisted I wear a dress she’d made for me. Not a problem until I discovered that she’d made a dress for herself from the same fabric and matching shirts for my cousin and uncle.

Standing together, the four of us resembled a sofa.

Embarrassed doesn’t begin to describe how I felt. I was at that awkward age, a seventh-grader, who didn’t want to draw attention to herself. As we made our way from the cabin to the dining room, we garnered lots of comments. 

And worse, instead of being whisked away to our table, we had to wait in line with the other passengers, none of whom wore matching outfits, to get our picture taken with the captain by the ship’s photographer. (No, I’m not posting the pic.)

I remember a girl my age staring at me with a smug smile on her face.  

My aunt, who’s like a second mother to me, has a very special place in my heart. I wouldn’t think of saying no to her. And although I endured remarks about matching outfits for the rest of the cruise, I had a great time. As a young foodie-in-training, the best part about the trip was the fabulous food. I tried things I’d never had before, like hearts of palm salad, baba au rhum cake and lobster thermidor.   

Have you ever been on a cruise? What’s your idea of a great vacation?

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