Whenever someone enters a building or boards a ship or visits a town they've been to before, the recollections of what they did there the first time around tend to pop into their minds straight away.
The brunch they ate, a honeymoon suite, the time they got lost on the third floor? Instantly recalled. We're made of memories, we humans.
But for many veterans a visit to the Queen Mary doesn't summon a vacation or a tour; it brings back the time they left for World War II, aboard the Grey Ghost. That was the ocean-liner's handle at the time, and some rather astounding photographs inside the Long Beach landmark show thousands of people in uniform shoulder-to-shoulder on the ship's deck.
The big boat remembers her World War II heritage each year with a Spirit of '45 weekend. The Saturday and Sunday gathering summons the songs and fancies of the Greatest Generation, and the history and memories, too.
Dates? Saturday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 10. The entertainment? A USO Dance will fill out the Capstan Room while The Stardust Trio, The Lindy Sisters, and The Sentimental Singers shall all make music at different points of the weekend and sing some nightingale tunes.
Are you thinking shoulder pads? Snoods? Suits? Hats? They'll be there, on the performers and many visitors alike.
Vehicles of the time will be on display and uniformed re-enactors will call upon the ship. And the tours looking back at the Queen Mary's role in World War II? They'll happen throughout the weekend.
As The Spirit of '45 draws to a close, vintage planes will take to the skies over the ship in a memorable flyover. That's on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Want to summon that spirit? You just need to purchase a Queen Mary Passport for the day you want to attend. The USO Dance is a separate ticket, too.