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The Sway Of The Grand Saloon
In the sumptuous history of transatlantic passenger travel it wasn’t all mahogany panelling and ten-course meals. Consider, for instance, war and seasickness
October 1971 | Volume 22, Issue 6
Among the random and gratuitous kinds of advice for the victim were a number of ideas based on this diagnosis. “If qualms persist,” said one authority, “pack the ears with gauze until a firm pressure on the tympanic membrane can be felt.” When therapy by electric device was possible, someone invented a “seasick collar,” by which to warm the neck and the base of the brain; and there was a related device by which the ear canals could be “toasted.” The closest thing to Dramamine in its effects was probably the therapy offered by the medical staffs of the Bremen and Europa in the early thirties. This was the Dammert Inhalation Treatment. For fifty cents a go, this could be administered, to those in need of it, twice every day. As one advocate of the method said: The patient who takes it lies down and breathes, through a nose-and-mouth cap, a mixture of oxygen and atropine. Atropine acts specifically to soothe the balancing system of the body which lies in the vestibulary apparatus of the inner ear, and once these centers are calmed, even a tottering great-aunt may become a trapeze performer.
To such instances of ingenuity old salts remained impervious and unconvinced. “The cure for seasickness,” said a commodore of the Cunard fleet, “is to separate the passenger from the ship.” Yet one of the most remarkable things about the ocean was that its romantic attraction triumphed even in the teeth of its tendency to reduce the most ardent sea lover to a comatose bundle of bile. At its boisterous worst the sea for many people was a manifestation of divine grandeur not to be denied by so trivial a thing as a man’s organic disfunction. One of these wrote: The solitude of a stormy night upon the ocean! What pen can describe! And yet who can be insensible to the luxury of that solitude—to its melancholy sublimity! And now as I write, our ship plunges and rolls in the heavy sea, and a death-like nausea comes over me. Our ship rises and plunges over these vast waves with much grandeur. It is majestically sickening, sublimely nauseating.