Herbert & Norma Beazley
This collection of cruise ship menu prints is courtesy of the Estate of Herbert Beazley, a lawyer and an avid collector of maritime memorabilia.
Born in 1932, Herbert would accompany his father to the docks in his home town of Houston, Texas, to watch cargo ships loading and unloading their goods.
In 1948, when Herbert was a teenager, he persuaded his parents to allow him to take a trip on one of those cargo ships to Cuba. “There was a strike at the port and he had to stay in Havana much longer than planned, but he wandered around the city quite happily on his own,” his wife Norma says.” It was an amazing adventure and it stayed with him for the rest of his life.”
Herbert began building his collection upon his return. ”Herbert was the quintessential city boy but he loved anything to do with boats and ships,” recalls Norma. ”Any time he had two nickels in his pocket, he’d buy something ship-related.”
Starting in the 1960s, Herbert re-doubled his efforts and bought menus and other memorabilia from antique dealers and other collectors. He put advertisements in small local newspapers all across the country, trawling for treasures. “For somebody living in a landlocked state like Iowa, a trip on an ocean-liner was a big event and so people saved every scrap of paper connected to that adventure,” says his wife. “When a person died and relatives were clearing out the house, they contacted Herbert, sometimes just giving him the menus because they didn’t want them to be destroyed.”
Herbert and his wife took a wide variety of trips around the world during their 30 year marriage, from Eastern Europe to the Marquesas, Rio to the Karakoram Range (in a jeep), and the Antarctic to the Gobi Desert.
But travelling on a ship was always the “best” to Herbert. Sailing on the QE2, NORWAY ( formerly FRANCE), KUNGSHOLM, ACHILLE LAURO and NORDYLS provided life long memories, They even visited the moored Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, to see the cabin Herbert occupied as a student on his way to study in Europe. In all, Herbert probably sailed on between 70 and 80 ships – all lovingly remembered and all well before the current cruise craze.
On these trips, the couple would search junk and antique shops looking for memorabilia as well as visiting dealers and collectors Herbert knew in that area.
“He was just in love with all ocean liners. There were no bad ones – some might be more interesting than others – but he loved them all. He was also very well read and he knew the history of the ships that were represented in his collection,” says Norma.
Herbert died in 2001 and the bulk of his maritime memorabilia collection has been donated to The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia.
However, Norma has kept the majority of her husband’s menu collection and is thrilled to collaborate with Cool Culinaria in making the original menus available as prints and other giftware. She is a supporter of the company’s mission “to rescue vintage menus from obscurity.”
“The menus that Herbert collected are so interesting and pretty, I’m glad other people are going to get the chance to see them,” she says. “I think Herbert would have approved.”