Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Iceberg Right Ahead

At 11:40pm last night the ships bell rang three times. Frederick Fleet, the Titanic's lookout shouted "Iceberg right ahead" into the cold, clear night. Though the crew did everything in their power to prevent hitting the iceberg, the warning came too late. It prevented a head-on collision, but the mountain of ice damaged 250 feet of our hull, just below the waterline.

The builder of the Titanic claimed it would be near impossible to sink this ship, the unthinkable has happened. In spite of the efforts of the crew to load the women and children into the lifeboats, many are not taking this seriously. A group of Frenchmen are refusing to end their bridge game.

Due to language barriers in the third class deck there are reports of great confusion.

Major Butt is helping the ladies into the lifeboats. While helping Miss Marie Young into a boat Major Butt said to her "Good luck to you, and don't forget to remember me to the folks back home." he then waved to us as the lifeboat was lowered. Major Butt went down with the ship, within minutes of helping Marie into our lifeboat.

There was quite a stir as the men tried to help Mrs. Ida Straus into a lifeboat. After forty years of marriage she would rather stay and share the same fate as her husband. Mr. John Astor assured his young bride he would take a later lifeboat and join her later, as he safely placed her into a lifeboat. The Strauses died together. And Mr. Astor perished. Mrs. Astor was among the survivors.


The evening will cause many to be remembered for their courageousness, while a few will be remembered for their cowardice. When Mr. Guggenheim became aware of the seriousness of the situation, he decided to "meet my end like a man." He asked the steward that if the steward survived while he perished that he relay a message to his wife. "Tell her I played the game out straight and to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward."

The same could not be said for a man who when the call came for women and children, dressed in a woman's skirt, hat and veil. Unfortunately the brave Guggenheim died while the coward survived.

The Countess of Rothes manned the tiller through out the cold night. Her act of compassion in comforting the grieving Maria Penasco, a newlywed whose husband remained on the ship to perish has earned her a new nickname. I have heard folks beginning to call her "the plucky Countess."

The Penascos had not planned to be on board and their last minute decision made it hard for family members to accept Victor Penascos death. Maria and the Countess survived.

Margaret Brown became known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" as she fought to find survivors in the water. She would continue her life fighting for workers, women, literacy for children and historic preservation. During World War I she worked to help rebuild the front lines in France, while helping the wounded French and American soldiers.

Marion Wright wore the same coat she fled the Titanic with to her hasty wedding to her sweetheart, Arthur Woolcott, on April 20th, 1912. Mr. Hoffman placed his two young sons into a lifeboat to be cared for by strangers. Mr. Hoffman perished alone on board. When the two sons arrived in New York they became known as "the Titanic waifs." Their mother finally knew of their whereabouts after seeing their pictures in a French newspaper. They were actually Edmond and Michel Navratil and their father was Michel Navratil, Sr., who had left France because of his unhappy marriage.

Many lifeboats were set to sea only half full. However, this was not the case of the boat Annie Clemmer Funk found herself in. After seeing a mother place her children into the lifeboat and seeing no place left for the herself Annie selflessly gave up her own seat to save the mother. Annie was one of the many who perished.

Rosa Abbott, the single mother of fourteen- and sixteen-year-old boys, was permitted to board a lifeboat. However, her sons were not allowed to board because they were considered to be adults. Rosa refused to leave the ship without her sons. All three were swept off the deck during the final plunge of the Titanic. Rosa was the only woman recovered from the ocean, suffering from shock and severely frostbitten. However, her sons were never found. Despite Rosa's own pain and suffering, she took care of Amy Stanley on board the Carpathia. The two became friends and continued to write to each other for years.

Mr. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line, boarded a lifeboat while so many others perished.

It was 4:10am by the time a rescue came in the form of the Carpathia. Carpathia's crew and passengers did what they could to bring comfort to all the survivors of the Titanic. After the final count was taken, only 705 of the 2,228 Titanic passengers and crew were saved. The Carpathia circled the area for another 4 and a half hours looking for survivors before turning towards New York. On the Carpathia Molly Brown formed a committee to ensure the less fortunate survivors were treated fairly by the White Star Line.

 


This disaster would result in great maritime change. Lifeboat seating would be required for each passenger along with lifeboat drills. Telegraphs would need to be maintained twenty-four hours a day.

The Ice Wall from the Titanic exhibit
One of the items in the Titanic Exhibit is the Ice Wall. Visitors are encouraged to place their hands on the wall and keep them on as long as they can. After just a few seconds people pulled their hands away, trying to rid themselves of the chill that ran through their bodies. Only a few hand imprints could be seen in the ice, since most couldn't stand the cold for long enough to make in imprint. This really made an impression on our son when he realized that the people who went into the water that night were immersed into water that was 2 degrees colder than the temperature of that ice wall.

One little known fact is that the Titanic was in danger from the minute she left Southampton. The ship had a blazing inferno in one of the boiler rooms that they were never able to put out during the entire voyage.

My son gave me a special gift from our day at the exhibit—a necklace with a cage and in the cage is a lump of coal dredged from Titanic as she lay on the ocean floor. Due to ownership rights and litigation issues this is all that is allowed to be sold of the Titanic. I love my piece of history.

3 comments:

Sharon said...

It is just so tragic! I wish that it had a better ending. It is frustrating when we know that a lot of lives could have been saved if just a few things were done differently. God was in control that day and had a purpose for it all. When we go to heaven we will learn.

Thank you for this great blogging experience!

Hugs, Sharon

Anonymous said...

One little known fact is that the Titanic was in danger from the minute she left Southampton. The ship had a blazing inferno in one of the boiler rooms that they were never able to put out during the entire voyage.

Please correct this paragraph
to read that the fire burning in the coal bunkers was put out at least two days before the ship sank and was not a factor in the sinking of the ship

Kim said...

Anonymous:
My information comes from the account of J Dilley, fireman from the Titanic. The account was included in Logan Marshall's 1912 narrative "The Sinking of the Titanic" The historical accounts of the survivors were recorded within weeks of the disaster.
J Dilley stated "I was assigned to the Titanic from the Oceanic, where I had served as a fireman. From the day we sailed the Titanic was on fire, and my sole duty, together with eleven other men, had been to fight that fire. We had made no headway against it."