Wednesday, March 28, 2012

1912 June Titanic Article: What Really Happened!

Loading something on the Titanic as it is being built around 1910. 

My storyThreshold Girl takes place in the Titanic Era and is based on real letters. Here, below, is an 'experimental film' using slideshow and 1912 era Nicholson pics and a song by my friend Gary Jewell. Gary died a few years ago, his songs all lost, apparently. Then, one day, cleaning out my garage, I found a box of old used tapes he had given me, in case my kids (then youngish) wanted them. (Full of his songs he had transferred to MP3 format.) Of course my kids didn't want the tapes.  Kids don't like old technology. But when I found this box, after Gary's death, I was thrilled.  I got my youngest, who still had a tape deck, to play them and edit them all onto one cassette.  (He was at that age where he still would do things for you, although grudgingly.) So I captured Gary's songs. But then I had my brother in law put them on a CD. Much later, last year or something. I was afraid the tapes would disintegrate. He did. But he put them on a strange movie-type CD that makes it next to impossible to access them.

But I took that CD and somehow copied it to my computer, my laptop, and I just now played the song, off of there. For this bit. That's why it is tinny.  But here is the original song Pretty Young Lady - as a soundtrack to my 1912 era slideshow, a random slideshow. I'm just seeing what I can upload here. Only small files, so the slideshow is hazy. (And I taped it off a small tv. Am I crazy? There's GOT to be an easier way.)

I haven't done this since college. 

Back then you had this slide projector and tape that you punched holes in. My slideshow project back then was about the Pre-Raphaelites. It was a media class, and we were making media to some long Ezra Pound Poem. The one that mentions the Pre-Raphaelites, I guess. Some people made films. Anyway, I recall the teacher liked my project best, because it was the only one fulfilling the purpose of the project, whatever that  was. 30 years ago. This is the same teacher, I recall, who wasn't keen on the idea of personal video recorders. He was a filmmaker himself. A student was breathlessly telling him about this new invention on the horizon  and he replied: "It would only be used for porn." 

Another try, changed the setting. Bigger File.

Oh well. I'm gonna enlist my husband, a professional video tape editor, to help me do it right.

Here is the rest of a Titanic article from Fireman and Engineer's Magazine, June 1912, about the Sinking of the Titanic.The first paragraphs are located two posts ago on this blog.

Some Terrible Moments

Except in their general outline and their tribute to heroism of the crew and their male passengers, in which they are unanimous, stories of what followed conflict somewhat widely. One of the most coherent and detailed accounts of the accident and the immediate subsequent developments in that the Mr. R. W. Daniel, a passenger on the ill-fated boat, who states that the ship continued to move about a mile before coming to a stop: that the passengers assembled on the deck, and being assured that the Titanic was unsinkable, were at first calm, and later, when ordered to the lifeboats, many of them refused to go, feeling safer in the great ship.

We quote the following from Mr. Daniel’s statement:

“I learned later that there was a conflict in orders given when the boats were filled.  On the starboard side the husbands were ordered to enter the smaller craft with their wives. On the port side, husbands were driven back, the order being ‘women and children first.’ That explains why so many men survived.

In many instances within the range of my vision, wives refused point blank to leave their husbands.  I saw members of the crew literacy tear women from the arms of men, and throw them over the sides, to the boats.  Mrs. Isador Straus clung to her husband and none could pry her from his side.

Fully two hours elapsed between the Titanic striking the berg and her foundering. Not until the last five minutes did the awful realization come that the end was at hand.

Deck after deck was submerged.  There was no lurching, no grinding, or crunching. The Titanic simply settled. I was far up on one of the top decks. Two minutes before the final disappearance of the ship, I jumped.  About me were many others in the water.  My bath robe floated away. It was icily cold. I struck out at once. Before the last I turned. My first glance took in the people swarming the Titanic’s decks. Hundreds were standing there, helpless to ward off approaching death.  I saw Captain Smith on his bridge. My eyes clung to him. The deck from which I had leapt was immersed; the water had risen slowly and was now on the floor of the bridge. Then it was at Captain Smith’s waist.

I saw him no more. He died a hero. The bow of the Titanic was far below the surface. To me only her four monster funnels and the two masts were now visible. It was all over in an instant. The Titanic’s stern rose completely out of the water. Up it went, forty, fifty, sixty feet into the air, then with her body slanting at an angle of 45 degrees, slowly the Titanic slipped out of sight. 

Until I die the cries of those wretched men and women who went down clinging helplessly to the Titanic’s rail will ring in my ears. Groans, shrieks and sounds that were almost inhuman came across the water. I turned and swam. Only the preserver about my body saved my life. The Titanic simply lay on the water, settling slowly. The sea was absolutely calm.

Captain Followed the Ship

In the foregoing statement Mr. Daniel says he saw Captain Smith no more than beholding him waist deep in water on the bridge, but the captain followed the ship, according to one of the crew, G. A. Hogg, able seaman, who after stating that himself and a few other men landed on the raft when washed overboard when the Titanic sank,(sic)  said:

“The next moment I saw Captain Smith in the water alongside the raft. “There’s the skipper,” I yelled. “Give him a hand.” And they did. But he shook himself free and shouted to us, “Good bye boys. I’m going to follow the ship.” That was the last we saw of  the skipper.”

Several ships came to the scene of the disaster in response to the Titanic’s wireless calls for help, the Carpathia being the first to arrive. Reading the spot about daylight she rescued those aboard the sixteen lifeboats and the few that were on the rafts.  J. B. Boxhall, fourth officer of the Titanic, said he sighted a steamer not five miles distant, which cold have reached them in ample time to have saved all aboard, but which, for some reason, failed to respond to the Tiatanic’s rockets and other signals of distress. The natural inference is that this ship did not carry a wireless telegraphic and that the rockets were not seen or not understood.

Amongst the most notable of the passengers who lost their lives: Isidor Straus and wife. William T. Stead of the English Reviews of Reviews, President C. M Hays of the Grand Trunk Railroad. F. D. Millet, the artist. Jacques Futrelle, novelist; Henry B. Harris, theatrical manager. Major Butt, President Taft’s military aid; Benjamin Guggenheim, John Jacob Astor.

A False Sense of Security 

Lulled by a false sense of security based upon the theory that the shop was unsinkable, those responsible for her equipment seemed to have regarded precautions and appliances for the safety of passengers and crew in case of accident as a merely matters of form and the necessary discipline on the part of the crew in operating her meagre life saving equipment as entirely superfluous.

At least such a conclusion is justifiable. First, from the declaration of Mr. J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of the International Mercantile Marine Company, and managing director of the White Star Line, who being on board the ship, said, “She cannot sink” when informed that the vessel had been struck  by an iceberg.

Second from the fact that the number of lifeboats, rafts, etc. was not sufficient to save more than one-third of the person on bard; and,
Third: because the discipline of the crew in this terrible emergency was miserably deficient, to which fact alone is attributed the loss of nearly 500 lives, that a disciplined crew could, by properly loading the lifeboats, have saved. Many lifeboats were not loaded nearly  to their capacity, some not being half filled – and it is reported that one was overturned during loading and all the passengers drowned.

From the evidence given at the senatorial investigation, as well as from other statements form rescued passengers, it is clear that the crew was unorganized, incapable of pulling together, with no life boat drills, no training in the rudiments of launching, manning or equipping boats, and that many of them were unskilled, even in handling an oar.

Fully two hours and 25 minutes (according to the most reliable estimate) elapsed between the collision and the sinking of the vessel. The night was calm and brightly star  lit and the surface of the ocean smooth.  Had the number of lifeboats been adequate and the crew properly disciplined, comparatively few lives, if any, would have been lost.

Luxury Vs. Security.

Instead of making necessary safety provisions for passengers and crew in the construction of some of their recently built vessels, the managements of the White Star and other lines seem to  have been bent upon catering to the luxury loving propensities of an international aristocracy who spend much of their idle, worthless, pleasure seeking lives in travel.  This is evidenced by the immense amount of space on these ocean going vessels devoted to their inordinate indulgences that should by right be occupied by safety devices, and it is also apparent from the prominence with which the management of the White Star Line advertised the Titanic and others of its shipped equipped with, “ Sports, decks and spacious promenades; commodious staterooms and apartment ensuites; cabins de luxe with bath; squash-racquet couts; Turkish and electric bath establishments; salt water swimming pools; glass-enclosed sun parlours; veranda and palm courts; Louis XVI restaurants; grand dining saloons; electric elevators.

The New York Herald Says:

“Had this latest expression of mercantile naval construction been supplied with few fol-de-rois, such as gymnasiums, swimming tanks and other non essentials to safety at sea, more boats and life rafts could have been carried and every life have been saved under the conditions that prevailed when the Titanic received her death blow.”

We find the same obsequious catering to wealth in the columns and columns of matter devoted by a money-worshipping press to a few millionaires who lost their lives in the Titanic disaster, while even a passing mention is denied the engineers, firemen, oilers, coal passers, and other employees below deck, but for whose skill and toil and sweat the vessel could never have been put to sea.

No Room for Lifeboats.

Captain E. K. Roden, in a notable article written for The Navy some time ago and which has been widely quoted since the Titanic disaster, said, in effect, that safety appliances in passenger ships were not keeping pace with the constantly increasing demand for luxury and comfort in ocean travel.  Representatives of certain shipping interests have been quoted as saying that the public demands these luxuries and that is the reason they are offered.
The New York Evening Post, taking issue with claims of this kind, says that, as a matter of fact:

“Each and every line seeks to outdo the other in new and original features, so that their press agents may have more to talk about, and that the newspapers will give more space to descriptions of the extra ordinary success that they have attained duplicating on the ocean ‘all the features of the most luxurious modern hotels.’ Then they forget to make a few thousand dollars of expenditure necessary to buy sufficient lifeboats and rafts, but tell us that is the fault of the public.  The Post says further, “every humanitarian advance in shipping the world over has been purchased by suffering or loss of life.’

A statement in this connection  which is now very significant was made by a White Star Line official three years ago.

“It is well-know that it is impossible for a steamship in passenger service to carry enough lifeboats to accommodate all hands at once. If this were done so much room would be utilized for lifeboats that there would be no room left for passengers. The necessary number of lifeboats would be carried at the cost of many of the present comforts of our patrons.”

J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of the International Mercantile Marine Company and managing director of the White Star Line was among those saved, and the fact of his occupying a lifeboat while so many passengers lost their lives through lack of lifeboats, leads even the Wall Street Journal to say.

“Is there any passenger who should not have found place in the boats before the greatest or least official of the line.”

Speed Madness

The general inference is that Mr. Ismay was responsible for urging the Titanic at the excessive rate of speed she was making under such dangerous conditions with a view to ‘breaking the record’ which was also the incentive for taking the Northern Route, the most perilous at the time because of icebergs.

He however declares that ‘he would not have ventured to make any suggestions to a man of Captain Smith’s experience. That the responsibility for the navigation of the ship rested solely with him.”
The conclusion seems to be fully justified that speed madness was primarily responsible for the ship’s rushing ahead at night through perilous sea lanes after repeated warnings about icebergs.
The New York American: “Heedless of warnings, indifferent to disaster, the White Star Officials raced with Death and Death won.”
The New York World: The public has encouraged and inflamed this speed madness and must share in the blame.”
That the officers of the line considered speed before safety is to be inferred from the following statement of the Titanic’s quartermaster:
“We were crowding her to the limit. Every ounce of steam was crowded on, and she was under orders from the general officers of the line to make all speed of which she was capable. We had made 565 miles that days and were tearing along at a speed of 21 knots when we struck the iceberg.

The captain went down with the ship so the captain could not testify on his behalf.  Many are inclined to remember only his heroic end and cover what might be his shortcomings in a mantle of charity. Others seek to hold him personally responsible.

“Ice was in plain sight, floating ice and bergs. Not only that but Captain Smith had received by wireless messages at least three warnings that icebergs were in his path.  He had acknowledged with thanks the Mesaba’s warning that dead ahead of him lay much heavy packed ice and great numbers of bergs.” Yet straight into the jaws of destruction he steamed at high speed. The company is in no way absolved. Undoubtedly the captain was aware of the desire on the company’s part for a quick voyage. It would please the passengers and bring trade to the line.
Wireless Facilities Limited

That wireless telegraphy has, as the Baltimore Sun expresses it,” fallen short of its possibilities from lack of systemized organization and co-operation” in connection
 with the Titanic disaster was sadly evidenced by the failure of the vessels within comparatively close range to turn to the aid of the doomed ship when she flashed her message of distress. One vessel that might have saved all or nearly all of the passengers and crew failed to receive the call from the Titanic because her wireless telegraphy operator was asleep and it was only because the one only operator on the Carpathia had by chance postponed his usual hour of retirement that the vessel heard the call for help. Th events of that evening have created a strong and general demand for strict regulation providing among other things, for the equipment of freight as well as passenger steamers with wireless outfits and the requirement that every passenger boat be equipped with two operators. The New York World says: “Out of the revelation of lax and chaotic methods of wireless communication on the ocean should come a reform which must secure its stricter regulation for the public benefit.  The exhaustive investigation of the disaster by the United States Senate and the British Parliament augmented by the force of public opinion, will undoubtedly result in the enactment of legislation requiring the thorough equipment of all vessels with safety appliances and the resultant elimination of at least some of ‘the features of the most luxurious hotels.”