James Marcus Patten (1869-1944) was a lifelong resident of the Ray’s Mill area (now Ray City). He was a son of Jehu John Patten and Mary Ellen Lancaster. He married Ida Lou Hall, of Newton, GA about 1902. They were both teachers and they taught in the common schools of the Ray City area for many years.
In October of 1932 James and Ida Lou took a cruise to Cuba. Thirty-three years earlier, the U.S. had fought the Spanish-American War which had liberated of Cuba from Spain, along with the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. U.S. efforts to normalize relations with Cuba had helped to make Cuba the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean.
The Pattens traveled on the S.S. Cuba, sailing out Tampa, FL to Havana, Cuba, and returning by way of Key West, FL. Port of entry records at Key West, FL show they sailed from Havana on October 25, 1932 for the return voyage.
“Twice weekly the S. S. ‘Cuba’ of the Peninsular & Occidental Steam Ship Company, makes the trip from Port Tampa to Havana, via Key West and return.”
“S.S. Cuba – Twin screw, oil burner, length 342 feet, width 47 feet, speed 17 knots per hour, passenger capacity 512. Especially designed for service in the tropics, having wide decks, all outside rooms and spacious saloons. One hundred and thirty-two first-cabin rooms with 16 parlor rooms containing double bed and sofa berth, private shower bath, toilet, running water, electric fans and every convenience for comfort.”
Just days after the Pattens left Cuba a hurricane struck the island, making landfall on November 9, 1932 at Santa Cruz del Sur. Thousands of lives were lost in the storm.