Mr. Darrell Kaikkonen
(Voyage: October/November 1953)


The first night at sea was Halloween night of 1953. 

Seated left to right: Andy Theisen, Lillian Theisen, Stanley Theisen, Darrell Kaikkonen, Phyllis Kaikkonen and Donna Kaikkonen.  The family was enroute to Flavigny, France where they lived until 1955. 


We were a family from Wadena, MN and my stepfather was in the Army stationed at Toul Engineer Depot near Toul, France.  We went there to live and we were very fortunate to have the U.S. Army send us over Cabin Class on the SS United States.  I recall leaving Fort Hamilton, NY on a bus and when we rounded a corner near the pier, there she was, the most beautiful ship ever. Our first night out to sea was on Halloween night October 31, 1953 when the ship was still very new.  It was a beautiful sunny day when the ship was backed out of the pier, and we headed past the Statue of Liberty.  That was a great view as we were standing on the raised aft navigation deck.  I spent that whole afternoon exploring the ship and enjoyed every minute of it. On our first night out to sea, the ship had a Halloween party and passed out balloons with the ship logo on it.  The ship photographer took our picture as we sat at our dining table right next to where the orchestra was playing. At night I would go out to the stern railing next to the flag staff and watch the white foam trail that the propellers left behind.  I met some other teenagers there, but don't remember their names.  We had a very nice steward from our home state, he was from Duluth, MN. It took us about 4 1/2 days to get to Le Havre, France.  I didn't want to get off the ship, so I stood by the gangplank scraping my shoes on the deck a last few times. My mother laughed and told a nearby crew member that I liked the ship so well that I didn't want to leave.  Our whole family was always fond of the SS United States and we never forgot that trip.  I am currently building a 42" model as a remembrance.