Rough Seas

The Niagara faced strong winds as she began to cross the North Atlantic, and the rough seas kept Eliza Baylies Wheaton in her stateroom.  She noted that she thought her husband made it to the upper deck despite his own seasickness.  David Holman reported that guards were needed at the tables to keep the goose and mutton leg from sliding off and “then a cup of coffee upset in his lap.”  This report gave Wheaton the opportunity to describe the dining arrangements on board the ship.

The fare, she noted, was similar to that on riverboats.  Passengers chose their seats for the duration of the voyage on their first day on board the ship.  They pinned a slip of paper to the cloth at the seat they preferred.  Breakfast was served between 8:30 and 10:00, lunch at noon, dinner at 4:00, tea at 7:30, and supper at 9:00.  Wheaton found the dining room overly crowded, and thus she remarked on the servers’ ability to maintain their poise and courtesy in such conditions.  She credited the captain with running a well-managed ship.

She also described the invalid diet to which she kept throughout the voyage.  It consisted primarily of “oatmeal mush” or “a bowl of arrowroot” with milk or tea.  “I lost quite an am[oun]t of flesh,” Wheaton wrote.

Eliza Baylies Wheaton, Travel Journal, Wheaton Family Collection (MC089), Marion B. Gebbie Archives & Special Collections, Madeleine Clark Wallace Library, Wheaton College, Norton, MA.

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