From the first visit to the ship in 1989, there was always something about the Queen Mary that made it difficult for this writer to stay away from. It was almost like “love at first sight”. The way she looked, in the harbor of Long Beach so majestic and so beautiful, at that first visit it was apparent that it would not be the last time for this examiner. Some years later in 1998, this Los Angeles Examiner found herself needing to get a job. Living in Orange County at the time, she took a chance and paid a visit to the Attraction’s Department on the Queen Mary and found herself in an interview for an open tour guide position. Starting immediately, there was no time to waste in memorizing the script that the tour guides are required to recite as they guide tourists throughout the ship. Like many other people, one of the first questions that she asked of her supervisors was, “So, is the Queen Mary really haunted?” This answer was met with a grin and an answer of, “I don’t think so, but ask some of the other tour guides. Some of them think that it is haunted.” Of course, that is exactly what she did. Traci found camaraderie among a few other tour guides that believed, quite passionately, that the Queen Mary was, indeed, haunted. Now, it is not this way on the ship today, but back then, the tour guides had master keys to just about every interesting place on the ship.
After about a week of employment, Traci and her cohorts managed to talk their supervisor into taking them on an afterhours “ghost tour” of the ship. It was a rainy and windy February night. Having changed out of their Queen Mary uniforms, they met after work near the time clock. Armed with flashlights, and good old fashioned tape recorders, they proceeded to go into the various parts of the ship that were not typically part of the regular tours to the public. The first destination was the cargo hold. To get there, a person had to really know where they were going or they would definitely get lost. There was a stairwell on C deck that is not original to the ship and it leads to the bowels of the ship where they were headed. This stairwell goes all the way to the lowest decks of the ship and into the boiler room. As the group of six made their way to the bottom of the stairwell, Traci began to hear a higher pitched voice, like that of a child, yelling something inaudible. She brushed it off, thinking her imagination was getting the better of her. The brave group of tour guides headed down and through the boiler room and into one of the cargo holds. (The other cargo hold is used for archival purposes and no one except those in the archive department has access to it.) Roughly twenty minutes was spent in the cold and damp cargo hold, and there was not a spirit in sight. There was a great deal of thinking that someone or something had just moved from the corner of one’s eye, but no spirit activity in the cargo hold or the boiler room. When boredom had completely taken hold of the group, they started back toward the stairwell. At the base of the stairs, a voice was heard again. This time, it was not just Traci who heard it. One other person in the group also heard the voice. It was the sound of a little girl who was frantically calling for her mother. “Mama, Mama”! It was strangely loud inside Traci's ears, but the other woman who heard it also, was braver and tried to speak to this disembodied child. She said that her name was Jackie and she just kept calling “Mama”. The group was sure to tape record this interaction. Not being able to get clear answers from the ghost child, the group asked her to meet them in the first class swimming pool area. As they made their way back up the stairwell, Traci continued to hear the child plead, “No! Don’t leave!” This was quite upsetting as she was able to feel the pain and sadness of this lost little girl. Upon reaching C deck, the voice finally ceased. As the group spent time in the first class swimming pool, there was no sign of the child. There was no other spirit activity either. After some minutes in the pool area with no results of spirits showing themselves, the group called it a night. They turned in their keys and went to check the tape recorder for evidence of what they had heard. To their amazement, the voice was caught on tape, although it was somewhat faint. To hear it well, the volume on the car stereo had to be turned up all the way. No matter, though! They had caught their first EVP!
There were more incidences of paranormal activity that Traci experienced while working there on the ship, but the disembodied voice of the little girl named Jackie remains to be the most fascinating.
The Queen Mary is located in the Port of Long Beach, at 1126 Queen's Highway, Long Beach, CA 90802
~Until next time, Traci Otake, Los Angeles Paranormal Examiner