June Allen: Ninety Years of Courage, Perseverance, and Love

 

She was twelve when war broke out. She was eighteen when she first sailed aboard the RMS Queen Mary, and with her was her baby son.
June Boots Allen celebrates her ninetieth birthday today, August 3, 2017. Those years have been rich and vivid, filled with happiness, but also with more heartbreak than most know. Yet, despite the extraordinary ups and downs of her life, she remains a positive force of inspiration, not only for her own family, but far beyond.

A long-time resident of Anderson, Indiana, June came to the United States as an English war bride in 1946, aboard the Queen Mary. It took June sixty-seven years to get back to the ship again in 2014, this time as an honored guest of Long Beach, in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the ship’s launch. She’s been back to the city and the ship twelve times since.
Even though she had a tough childhood and was so young when she married, she broke many traditional molds. Her grandson, Christopher Boots, says, “She never settled for the status quo of her day. She was driven to become a successful realtor in Anderson, and continues to be a source of encouragement to her grandchildren and many others. ‘There’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it,’ is what she’s always told me.”

Today, she maintains an active and passionate voice in politics. She met John F. Kennedy, and has been escorted around the Queen Mary in her dozen visits to Long Beach by none other than Commodore Everett Hoard. For many, she’s like royalty herself. Having said that, according to Joe Bertoldo, long-time friend of both the Queen Mary and June, she’s never too proud to enjoy pizza and a cold beer.
June has also inspired two authors ─ myself, and Sue Meissner. Ms. Meissner’s novel, A Bridge Across the Ocean, came to fruition after interviews with June, and in my “Secret Spice Café Trilogy,” three novels which are set aboard the modern-day RMS Queen Mary, June makes a cameo appearance as herself among fictitious characters, in Book II, “Spells and Oregano.” I won’t be surprised if she inspires many more authors in future. Here’s my birthday interview with June:

Q: We met because of a shared love of the Queen Mary. What are some of the things about her you love?

The Queen Mary has been such an important part of my life. I believe she has a soul. Once you’ve visited her, she draws you back. It took me sixty-seven years to see her again, but since then I’ve been back twelve times. Without the Queen Mary, I wouldn’t have my beloved grandchildren.

 

Q: I think it was brave of you to travel to a strange country on your own. Do you think your generation of young women was braver than young women today, or do you think it was the war that forced you to be brave?

I didn’t feel brave then. I thought of it as an exciting adventure. There were so many of us doing the same thing, it seemed normal. I think today’s women are more self-centered, which they need to be, as men have dominated us for too long.

Q: Your social media posts are smart and current. What is it that you wish people knew about the state of the world today?

I’ve been an American citizen since 1954. I take it seriously. I’m involved in politics and I always vote for the candidate I believe is the most qualified. I’m old enough to remember the rise and fall of Hitler, and I’m afraid history is repeating itself. The thing that bothers me the most is people who don’t vote. They caused this mess, and frankly, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Q: If you could tell your younger self something that you know now that you didn’t know then, what would you tell young June?

If I could speak to young June today, I’d tell her not to get married so young. Go to college.

Q: What are some of your joys? And if you’d care to share, what particular sadness sticks out in your mind?

My greatest joy is my family and friends, both here in Anderson, and on the Queen Mary. My biggest sorrow is the loss of my son in 1969. You never get over the loss of a child.

Q: You’ve been an inspiration for many, but in particular for Sue Meissner for her novel, A Bridge Across the Ocean. What were some of your favorite parts of the novel she wrote about war brides?

Susan and I have become good friends. I love her book. The things I told her about being on the ship are all in her story, and that’s thrilling. I also love your book, Cooking For Ghosts. It’s a book you cannot put down once you start reading it. Also it’s been a joy making another new friend.

Q: What are some of the fun things you have planned for your 90th birthday?

My grandson is having an open house for me. I can’t believe I’m that old! I hope many of my family and friends are there. As for my Queen Mary friends, I hope to celebrate with them in December when I go back to the ship for her 50th anniversary in Long Beach

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