Excursion to Death


In my teens, sailing out of Chicago aboard the old Christopher Columbus, I saw the Eastland once more. She had been bought by the Navy and, with a deck cut off, was transformed into the training ship Wilmette. I recall that she still had the smartest lines of any vessel in sight. I learned later that she served as a gunnery practice ship in the Second World War, and finally, in 1948, after sailing more than 150,000 accident-free miles for the Navy, the beautiful but deadly Eastland was broken up for scrap.