It’s been 52 years since Pamela Wojnar and her family sailed on the ocean liner SS United States from New York to England, but she still has some vivid memories.
There was the day her older brother secretly slipped into the first class section of the ship and the crew wouldn’t let him back into the passenger class.
There was the shipmate who kept bringing her younger brother peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from his private food supply, even serving one on a fancy silver plate.
And, of course, there was the excitement of a 6-year-old seeing the ocean on the fastest ship of its kind and running around a deck that the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Harry Truman and John Wayne traveled on.
So it’s no wonder that the North Attleboro woman is working with a group of people who saved the ship from becoming scrap metal and wants to rehabilitate it through their organization, SS United States Conservancy.
They are raising money with the hope of renovating the rusting hulk that now rests on the Philadelphia waterfront.
The liner was built in 1950–51 for the United States Lines at a cost of $79.4 million.
It was the largest ocean liner constructed entirely in the United States and the fastest to cross the Atlantic in either direction, earning it a prestigious Blue Riband for the highest average speed since her maiden voyage in 1952.
It continued transatlantic passenger service until 1969. Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, ownership of the behemoth changed hands several times but no one was able to make it profitable again.
The ship was stripped in the mid-1990s and towed to Pier 82 on the Delaware River in Philadelphia where it sits today.
The SS United States Conservancy would like to see the liner turned into a combination museum and hotel.
In the meantime, it is seeking donations.
More information about fundraising is available at www.ssusc.org.
A donation Wojnar and her brother made recently won them a tour of the ship last Saturday, with author/illustrator David Macaulay — the former Rhode Island School of Design professor who authored the illustrated books “Cathedral” and “The Way Things Work” — acting as tour guide.
“We’re working every day to save the United States, but she is still not out of danger,” said conservancy president Susan Gibbs.
“These supporters — and so many others — are our ambassadors across the country. They are making sure that this iconic monument is not forgotten and that America’s Flagship has a future.”