Tuesday, October 06, 2015


During some idle time at work I found myself browsing sites about the Hindenburg and the other zeppelins. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I started. What was it? Maybe the menus, the food. I was suddenly gripped with a desire to know what they all ate on their lazy way across the ocean, what they drank. And I wanted to know what the interior looked like. Wasn’t it small? But wasn’t it also luxurious, graceful, a triumph of sophistication, elegance, of civilization?

The Hindenburg had a beloved bartender. His job was to mix drinks and tell jokes but especially make sure no one got out of the adjacent smoking room with anything lit. One night an American socialite made everybody dance to jazz. The bar ran out of gin so she invented something wonderful and forgettable made with rum. Barkeep couldn’t make a Manhattan for shit.

You better stay in that smoking room, sir.

They feasted on roast beef, boiled trout, asparagus, potatoes. Good, homogenous, boring food from smack dab in the middle of Europe. Naturally there were fine German white wines. And French reds. What more could you want? The breakfasts were continental style. Of course.

They had an aluminum piano. For some reason it didn’t make the final trip.

They were so proud of this, the Germans. Evidence for sure of the preeminence of their people and a glimpse of what the future was to bring: hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years of glory and beauty and pleasure. Of civilization.

People spent the two or three days they had on board in a reverie, lulled by the distant hum of the engines, the sun streaming through the windows, nothing much to do. They napped in the sitting room, newspapers crumpled in their laps.

Didn’t anyone see the horror that was soon to come?