Nebador Archives presents an epic young-adult science fiction adventure - Queen Mary

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Colby Ghost Hunt: 8 December 2017

J. Z. Colby will lead a "paranornal investigation" using dance, meditation, and respectful dialog to coax some of the restless spirits of the Queen Mary to reveal themselves to us. Eight young dancers, and possible one other leader, will help with this effort to contact "the other side."

Matt Schultz, the official Queen Mary paranormal investigator and tour guide, is our host. He gives weekly public and private group tours of the haunted places on the Queen Mary. On one of his tours in 2014, J. Z. Colby recorded an audible one-word reply to a question Matt asked of the assembled spirits in the Boiler Room.

The Ghost Hunt will include the Queen's Salon (if free), the site of the 1942 H.M.S. Curaçoa accident in the bow of the ship, the First-Class Swimming Pool, the Print Shop and Carpentry Shop area near the old Hospital and Operating Room, and as close as we can get to the Cargo Hold in Boiler Room No. 1.

After the investigation, the young dancers will share their experiences in words, drawings, or audio, and the finished products will be posted here.

The Dancers

J. Z. Colby will select 8 young dancers from the Long Beach area. Ghosts have shown a tendency to respond well to young people in the 10-15 age range. The selected dancers must have some experience at free-form interpretive dance. Most importantly, they must be emotionally prepared to feel, hear, or see a ghost.

From a great deal of study, J. Z. Colby is convinced that ghosts are more afraid of us than we are of them, and have more reasons to be afraid. They have little or no power to change their environments, move to a different place, or any of the other things we take for granted. Therefore, the dancers must be emotionally stable, willing and able to continue dancing, meditating, speaking, or listening, even if they feel, hear, or see something they can't explain. Screaming, freaking out, crying, or bolting is what children do, not paranormal investigators.

Judging by recorded experiences, "seeing" a ghost is the least likely way of encountering one. It appear to be very difficult for ghosts to manifest themselves visually. "Hearing" ghosts is much more likely, although they are often very quiet and easy to miss at the time. At least one ghost on the Queen Mary is able to speak so that all those present can hear, and has been recorded at least twice. "Feeling" a ghost, usually by unexplained temperature changes, or by a soft touch when no one else is near, is the most common way of sensing that a ghost is present.

The selected dancers must also be able to express themselves in writing, drawing, or audio. The Ghost Hunt will not be complete until the participants share their experiences on this web site by creating a written report, short story, work of visual art, audio narrative, or song. The young authors or artists will retain copyright, so no one will be able to use their work for profit without their permission.

Each dancer must come wearing shoes they can walk, climb stairs, and dance in. They must also bring a small sitting pillow or mat. The lower levels of the ship can be cool, so a light sweater or sweat shirt, something easy to put on and off, is recommended. The dancers MAY NOT bring phones, cameras, other gadgets, food, or drink. J. Z. Colby or his assistant will take group pictures that we can all use to remember the event, but we will not be trying to photograph ghosts or detect them with instruments.

None of us will meet before the actual event. We will have no opportunity to see each other's dance style, or coordinate our dances in any way. We must all be prepared to dance OUR dance to the music, and completely ignore how others are dancing, including how good or bad each of us is. The only way we can interact, during the dances, is to avoid bumping into each other, a skill any dancer must have.

Application Process

Do you live in or near Long Beach, California? You must to be able to get to and from the Queen Mary on the evening of Friday, 8 December 2017.

Are you 10-15 years old? Slight exceptions are possible on both ends, but you will have to convince us that you otherwise qualify.

Read everything about the event on this web page. It should answer most of your questions. Be honest with yourself about your ability to stay calm, cool, and collected even if you feel, hear, or see something that might be a ghost.

If you're still interested, have your parent(s) read everything about the event on this web page. They have to approve.

Listen to the samples of music we will probably be dancing to. For legal reasons, we can't put the full music pieces on this web site, but there is enough for you to get the feel of each piece. See if you are comfortable with them. It is possible that some will change, and we will even consider suggestions from you, but we have been looking for the right music for several months, and each piece fits somehow with the location on the Queen Mary where it will be played, so we have to be picky.

Email any questions you (or your parents) have to J. Z. Colby:

(This email address is not a button. It must be READ and ENTERED into your email application. No attachments over 1MB, please.)

Once you have thought about it, gotten your questions answered, and your parents are okay with it, write an application email letter to J. Z. Colby:

  • Start with basic information like your name and age.
  • Describe your free-form interpretive dance experience.
  • Tell us what you think about ghosts and ghost hunting.
  • Convince us that you have the emotional maturity to feel, hear, or see a ghost without freaking out.
  • Describe how you would like to share your experiences in writing, drawing, or audio after the event.

We DO NOT need to know:

  • Your address or telephone number.
  • Your school grades or anything else about your past (but you can share if you have something that supports your application for the Ghost Hunt).

If we select you, you can download and print a Permission Form for one of your parents to fill out, or we can send a printed one by mail if that works better for you. (We will not use your mailing address for any other purpose.) On this form, your parent(s) will specify where they will pick you up after the Ghost Hunt, or if you should get on the bus to downtown Long Beach. Your parents will have to get the form notarized, and they will have to have valid picture ID to do that. They must then mail the form back to us.

Permission Form PDF

We will keep in touch with the selected dancers by email all through November, and share any new information. We will also watch the news to see if anything huge is happening, like World War 3, that might force us to cancel the event. But on 1 December, we will leave home and not be able to get or send email, or any other communication, before the Ghost Hunt. (We live in an area where there's no mobile phone reception, so there's no point in having them.)

Bus, Parking, Arrival, and Departure

You can be dropped off by car at the Queen Mary, or arrive on the Long Beach Transit "Passport" bus from 3rd at Promenade (6:14pm), Ocean at Pine (6:18pm), Shoreline Village (6:22pm), or Aquarium of the Pacific (6:27pm).

The Queen Mary tells us that the first 30 minutes in the parking lot is free, so drop-off and pick-up, as long as you don't linger too long, could be without cost. There is a 3-hour rate, but 3 hours is not long enough to stay and wait for the dancer, as they must be there from 7:00-11:00pm (4 hours).

We will list the dancers names "and parents" on the list we give to the entrance guards so that parent(s) who want to come onto the ship MIGHT be able to enter without a ticket. It's a gray area, because parents are not technically part of the event, but considering that most everything is closing at that hour except the restaurants and lounges, it's a fair chance. Parent(s) should be prepared either way. Remember that dancers MUST arrive on the Promenade Deck by 7:00pm.

On the Permission Form, parent(s) will indicate how they want the dancer to return home. In all cases, J. Z. Colby will stay with them until pick-up or bus departure. We will make sure that each dancer recognizes the person picking them up.

    1) Parent(s) pick up the dancer on the Promenade Deck, near the tour desk, between 11:00 and 11:10pm. This MIGHT require them to buy a ticket to get onto the ship.

    2) Parent(s) pick up the dancer at the ground-level entrance between 11:10 and 11:20pm. No ticket required, as they would not have to enter the ship.

    3) The dancer gets on the 11:30pm Long Beach Transit "Passport" bus to Aquarium of the Pacific (11:40pm), Shoreline Village (11:43pm), Ocean at Pine (11:47pm), or 3rd at Promenade (11:56pm).

If any parent(s) are late for pick-up, we will wait with the remaining dancer(s) at the ground-level entrance after the bus leaves at 11:30pm. If the late parent(s) are on the ship, they will NOT find the dancer(s) on the Promenade Deck, but will need to come down to the ground-level entrance.


It may cost your parents about $5-$10 to get the Permission Form notarized, and a stamp to send it to us.

Whatever bus fare or gasoline you need to get to and from the Queen Mary.

If parent(s) park in the parking lot from 30 minutes to 3 hours, the parking fee is $8, and longer than 3 hours (but not overnight), it's $18.

If your parent(s) want to come onto the Queen Mary with you, they MIGHT have to buy a ticket, which could cost as much as $34 each (there may be cheaper options, especially at that hour, but they don't advertise them). We can only guarantee that the actual event participants (the dancers) can get onto the ship without a ticket.

That's it. We are covering all the other costs.


Eat dinner! A ghost hunt is exciting and dancing in a strange place can be stressful. There will NOT be opportunities during the Ghost Hunt for refreshments, other than maybe water. Fainting will not help you or the ghosts.

If you are coming by bus, catch the Long Beach Transit "Passport" bus at one of its 4 stops in downtown Long Beach.

ARRIVE at the Queen Mary. The entrance guards will have a list of the dancers, and you just need to mention "Colby Ghost Hunt" to be admitted without a ticket. Come up the elevator or stairs to to top level, the Promenade Deck, and find J. Z. Colby in the tour assembly area, near the tour desk, just to the left as you step onto the ship.

We will meet each other for the first time, share any new information, and review the format of the Ghost Hunt. This is NOT a time for dancers or parents to ask questions you could have asked in the application process.

Toilet break

Matt Schultz, our host, will join us, and we will see if the Queen's Salon (First Class Lounge) is free. We will be mainly looking for the Lady in White, a ghostly "lounge lizard" whose name is not known.

Our tentative music is "Lady In Red" by Chris de Burgh, a very romantic piece. We just hope the Lady in White will forgive us for the color mismatch.

Lady In Red (sample) mp3

Bow of the ship, the site of the H.M.S. Curaçoa accindent, R Deck or below. On Friday 2 October 1942, 329 of the Curaçoa's 430 crew members died in this accident. Some of their spirits may linger here. Their names are known from historical records. This area may be physically tight, so our dancing may have to be "in place."

Our tentative music is "Kyrie" by Mr. Mister, a very spiritual but non-religious piece. It begins with a non-rhythmic section to challenge us.

Kyrie (sample) mp3

First Class Swimming Pool. We will be listening for Jackie, Sarah, "grumpy," and perhaps others. Peter James himself, the famous psychic investigator who discovered more than anyone else about the restless spirits of the Queen Mary, may also linger here.

Our tentative music is "Toy Soldiers" by Martika, which has a theme similar to "London Bridge Is Falling Down" that Jackie seems to like, but is much more dancable.

Toy Soldiers (sample) mp3

Toilet break

Print Shop, Carpentry Shop, Hospital and Operating Room area. This area has spoken to J. Z. Colby personally, but the names of the possible spirits are not known. They may include military personnel who died in the Hospital from heat, ventilation, and other poor conditions. The Hospital has been completely demolished, which is why we have to use the near-by Print Shop area.

Our tentative music is "Journey" by Cybertribe, partly sung by children and youth. It has one non-rhythmic bridge to challenge us.

Journey (sample) mp3

Boiler Room No. 1, as close as we can get to the Cargo Hold. We will be listening for the voices of the hundreds of prisoners of war who died here. The responsible governments destroyed all records of their names at the end of the war. This is another good location to listen for Peter James, as this area was special to him.

Our tentative music is good old "Triller" by Michael Jackson, who has also now passed over to "the other side," a fitting tribute to the ghosts of the Cargo Hold.

Thriller (sample) mp3

We will hopefully be able sit down in the Promenade Cafe or the Chelsea Chowder House for desserts, hosted by J. Z. Colby. We will try to confirm this before the event. It may require them to stay open a little later than usual, so it may depend on who is working that day.

J. Z. Colby will make sure each dancer is connected with their ride on the Promenade Deck, at the ground-level entrance, or onto the Long Beach Transit "Passport" bus, as each family has indicated on the Permission Form.

Format at each location

3-5 min.        Historical background
4-6 min.        Music/dance
2 min.           Quiet listening/meditation
5-10 min.      Attempts at respectful contact
1-2 min.        Thanking and saying farewell to the place and spirits
5-10 min.      Transit to the next location

Information about the dancers that will be posted on this web site

The young dancers can use first names only or "pen names" on this web site, instead of their real names, if they (or their parents) prefer. They can include a picture of themselves, and/or a biography, to go with the creative work they send, but those are optional. We will not post any contact information, such as email addresses.

We will post some group pictures after the Ghost Hunt, but there will be no identifying information with them, and no way for viewers to match faces to creative works, names, or pen names.

We hope to see you there!

You can continue below if you'd like to see some of the art works that are (or were) on the Queen Mary, or learn a little more about Peter James, the psychic investigator.

RMS Queen Mary works of art

For a number of reasons, not all of them rational, the Royal Mail Ship Queen Mary has had a profound effect on the author. His parents crossed the Atlantic on her exactly one year before he was born, and he grew up close enough to her final resting place in Long Beach, California, to visit after she opened to the public when he was 16 years old.

She is the second-largest passenger liner ever built. The largest, the RMS Queen Elizabeth, was destroyed by fire in 1972 (after retirement). The SS France was slightly longer but much lighter, and has now been scrapped. More recent ships are cruise ships, not passenger liners, and are not designed for all-year, all-weather transport.

Decorative Map of the North Atlantic
Decorative Map of the North Atlantic
MacDonald Gill
oil on canvas, 23' x 15'
first-class Dining Room, R deck (originally C deck)

The Queen Mary, at 13 feet of movement per gallon of oil burned in her huge steam engines, was the ultimate gas guzzler, but she was moving 80,000 tons. She is a monument to what can be done when energy is cheap and abundant (which may never be the case again). The author sees many reasons to believe we will never again build a passenger ship so large and grand.

Hunting Scene
Hunting Scene
Charles Cameron Baillie
marquetry panel, 57.75" x 34.5"
third-class Smoking Room, A deck

Her ghost stories piqued the author's interest in spiritual matters early in his life, and were part of his motivation to study such things much more deeply later.

Garden Scene
Garden Scene
artist unknown
marquetry panel
third-class Garden Lounge, Main deck

The Queen Mary is also a museum of the art works and fine craftmanship that adorned her walls, ceilings, and floors. Some of those works were lost during her troop transport days in World War II, or during her conversion to a hotel, museum, and convention center after her ocean-going days ended in 1967. Most of the art works remain, and can be seen when touring the ship, or having Sunday brunch in the first-class Dining Room. A few, mostly those from the second-class and third-class areas, are locked away.

Unicorns in Battle
Unicorns in Battle
Gilbert Bayes and Alfred Oakley
carved gesso panel tinted silver and gold, 12.5' x 22'
first-class Main Lounge (now Queen's Salon), Promenade deck

Unicorns in Battle (detail)
Unicorns in Battle (detail)
Gilbert Bayes and Alfred Oakley
carved gesso panel tinted silver and gold, 12.5' x 22'
first-class Main Lounge (now Queen's Salon), Promenade deck

Four Seasons
Four Seasons: Spring (lost), Summer (39"), Autumn (44"), Winter (lost)
Norman J. Forrest
aft transverse passageway, Promenade deck

The Four Seasons (detail)
The Four Seasons (detail)
Anna K. Zinkeisen
oil on canvas (lost)
first-class Ballroom, Promenade deck

The Four Seasons (detail)
The Four Seasons (detail)
Anna K. Zinkeisen
oil on canvas (lost)
first-class Ballroom, Promenade deck

The Royal Jubilee Week
The Royal Jubilee Week
Alfred R. Thomson
oil on canvas, 19.5' x 4'
Observation Lounge, Promenade deck

The Royal Jubilee Week (detail)
The Royal Jubilee Week (detail)
Alfred R. Thomson
oil on canvas, 19.5' x 4'
Observation Lounge, Promenade deck

Deer Group
Deer Group
John Skeaping
gilt and silvered mohogany (lost)
Starboard Gallery, Promenade deck

Flower Study
Flower Study
Cedric Morris
oil on canvas (lost)
Starboard Gallery, Promenade deck

"The Queen Mary, launched today, will know its greatest fame and popularity when she never sails another mile and never carries another paying passenger." -- British psychic Mabel Fortescue-Harrison, 26 September 1934

The Queen Mary's New Home
The Queen Mary's new home in Long Beach, California

Sunday Brunch on the Queen Mary

detail from a Fantus Paper Products greeting card
artist unknown, imprinted "A-75" and "WBA3226TV2(7)"

The RMS Queen Mary at Halloween 2011
photographer unknown, wish we could credit

The Princess Diana exhibit at the Queen Mary
from 2012

The Queen Mary played a substantial role in World War II,
so it is only fair that she gets fireworks every year!

painting of some of the ghosts of the Queen Mary
artistic team: J.J. Wickham, Julie Guaderrama, Kenny Felix, Aaron Okayama

The Queen Mary ghosts in the painting above, new Dark Harbor names and possible historical parallels:
-- Top left: Graceful Gale = The Lady in White
-- Top middle: The Ringmaster = (no known historical parallel)
-- Top right: The Captain = Senior Second Officer William Eric Stark
-- Bottom left: Half-Hatch Henry = John Pedder
-- Bottom middle: Samuel the Savage = a violent 1937 or 1948 passenger who was locked in room B340 and may have killed his 5-year-old daughter, OR a pursur murdered in room B340, OR cook Leonard "Lobster" Horsborough (buried at sea 1967), OR Italian P.O.W. Carlo Giovetti (possibly a.k.a. Faustino Filippini)
-- Bottom right: Scary Mary = Jackie Turin/Korin

painting of a ghost of the Queen Mary
Scary Mary = Jackie Turin/Korin
same artistic team as above


Peter James, the American psychic investigator, was an inspiration to the author over a period of many years, as he fearlessly shared his perceptions of "ghosts" and other spiritual beings, without limiting himself to the cultural myths and dogmas that govern most people. Although the author did not have the honor of knowing him personally, his courage and ideas, and even the voices of one or two of his non-material friends on the Queen Mary, have crept into the NEBADOR series.

He passed away on 31 July 2007, exactly 60 years, to the day, after his beloved Queen Mary was "reborn" into her greatest period of trans-Atlantic service. Please do not confuse him with the English crime novelist, several other authors, and many other people with the same name.

The author's RMS Queen Mary collection

RMS Queen Mary
RMS Queen Mary
artist unknown
from the first-class Farewell Dinner menu, 5 April 1954

Within copyright law, the author will scan a small number of pages for any researcher.

Queen Mary first-class dinner menus from 3, 4, and 5 April 1954

Queen Mary Souvenir Reel, View-Master A1815, undated (pre-Long Beach)

RMS Queen Mary: Queen of the Queens, William J. Duncan, 1969

Ocean Liners of the Past: The Cunard White Star Quadruple-Screw Liner Queen Mary, 1972 reprint

The Grey Ghost: The RMS Queen Mary at War, Steven Harding, 1982

A Visit to the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose: The Official Souvenir Publication, Tony Thomas, 1984

The Official Pictoral History: The Queen Mary, Robert O. Maguglin, 1985

RMS Queen Mary: 50 Years of Splendour, David F. Hutchings, 1986

The Art of the RMS Queen Mary, Douglas M. Hinkey, 1994

A Guide to the Haunted Queen Mary: Ghostly Apparitions, Psychic Phenomena and Paranormal Activity, Robert Wlodarski, Anne Nathan-Wlodarski, Richard Senate, 1995

Queen Mary, James Steele, 1995

The Ghosts of the Queen Mary, Peter James Investigations, video, c. 1996

Ghosts of the West Coast: The Lost Souls of the Queen Mary and Other Real-Life Hauntings, Ted Wood, 1999

The Great Liners, Volume 13: The Queen Mary, Des Cox, Snowbow Productions, video, 2000

Destination Long Beach: The Queen Mary Story, Renee B. Simon, 2001/2007

Picture History of the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, William H. Miller, Jr., 2004

Warrior Queens: RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth in the Second World War, Daniel Allen Butler, 2004

The Queen Mary: Her 70 Year Reign, video, 2006

Ghost Encounters: The Queen Mary, video hosted by Peter James, 2007

The Queen Mary: A Floating Phenomenon, video by Bill Murphy, 2007

Heaven Can You Hear Me?, Peter James and Gian Temperilli, 2009

Queen Mary Ghosts, Robert & Anne Wlodarski, 2010

First Class Hauntings: Queen Mary Swimming Pool, Robert & Anne Wlodarski, 2014

The RMS Queen Mary and Peter James
image editing by Paula of Poltergeist Radio

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by J. Z. Colby
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