Friday, August 05, 2005

Ahoy Matey!

My nephew Patrick and I set sail aboard the R.M.S. Titanic today.

The exhibit is located at The Whitaker Center in Harrisburg.

Upon entry to the exhibit, you are given a boarding pass which details the real life passenger's information as seen here on our boarding passes. You don't find out if you survived or not until the end of the exhibit. Patrick was a 25 year old man from Sweden traveling in second class named Kurt Arnold Gorrfrid Bryhl traveling with his sister and her fiancee. He was going to America to stay with his uncle in Rockford, IL. He boarded the ship at Southampton (isn't there a Beatles song in there?) I was a 53 year old woman traveling first class named Mrs. Helen Churchill Candee from Washington D.C. and traveling alone (hello sailor!) I had spent several months in Europe doing research for my latest book Tapestry. I was attempting to get home to care for my son Howard who had been seriously injured in a plane crash. I was a practical and freethinking woman who had written a book titled How a Woman May Earn a Living which gave advice to women on how to get along without a man to support them (kinda eerily coincidental?)


In the exhibit, there were film reels of the ships construction, rivets, bolts, and stories of the men that helped to build her. These men worked six days a week for nine hours a day to meet the deadline of completing the ship. Once the ship was put into the water it took 10 months to completely outfit the ship with the amenities that made it the luxury liner of the time.

There was fully constructed state rooms for first and third class. The third class travelers bunked with three other people per room. While the first class travelers had sitting rooms, fine tiled bathrooms (found examples of each of the tiles from the different classes were on display), access to the smoking rooms and the Turkish baths. A top notch, first class ticket on board Titanic cost $4500 ($79,000 in today's money.)

Other found objects were perfume bottles, medicine bottle (with the contents still in tact), hair brushes, cuff links, money, blankets, uniforms, a porthole, plates, cups, silverware and a first class chandelier.

At the end of the exhibit, was a real iceberg. You could touch it and see how long you could keep your hand on its 32 degree surface. The water these passengers were dumped into was 28 degrees. Most died from hypothermia not drowning. There were story boards that detailed the life of some of the more prominent passengers and their fate. These boards told the very sad stories of human nature in a time of crisis. Like that of Bruce Ismay, the directing manager of the White Star line who pushed in line in front of women and children just as the life boat was being lowered to safety. He was rescued by the Carpathia and even asked for an isolated state room there. He was ridiculed for the rest of his life because of this. There was another story of a woman that was separated from her infant child who were later reunited but only after another survivor claimed the child as her own. The best stories (and yes, I almost shed a tear) were those of the band leader and band members who played (purportedly Nearer My God To Thee, the song the band leader wished to have played at his funeral) on the deck as the ship sank. There was also the priest who was returning to America to perform the wedding of his brother who saved the souls of those who knew they were going to die and prayed on the deck as the ship went down. There was also the wife who could have been saved but had been with her husband for 50 years and said as in life they would also die together. Much of this was portrayed in the move Titanic but to actually be there and read it for yourself is so much more moving.

By the way, Helen Churchill Candee survived, Kurt Bryhl did not.

9 comments:

Melody said...

That sounds really intense. I've always been enthralled by the Titanic and those who travelled on her.

pain said...

congrats on living helen!

Carnealian said...

I agree Melody...I'm the same way, there's that morbid curiosity about it. I'm the same with the Holocaust, just mesmerized!

Thanks Mysrey!

And why is it I only find my spelling errors, etc. after I've published it?!?

InterstellarLass said...

You can edit your posts...hypothermia. ;)

I've seen this exhibit too in Kansas City several years ago. It was amazing and moving. I can't remember if I 'survived' or not, but it was a fantastic experience. I can't hardly watch the movie Titanic. I watched it the first time, and I bawled my eyes out. Especially the scene with the third class mother tucking in her children to go to sleep because she can't get them out. She's telling them a stor...*sob*. Gut-wrenching to think about that kind of tragedy.

Carnealian said...

I agree, I would hope to be that noble if I should ever have to endure something like that.

InterstellarLass said...

Oh, btw, your nephew is a cutie. Those blue eyes are GORGEOUS!

Carnealian said...

Thanks! I'll be sure to tell him. He hasn't quite developed that thing that makes the girls go wild. He plans on going to the Naval Academy in Maryland. I'm sure once he adds that crisp white uniform, look out! As a matter of fact, I'm looking forward to going to that graduation!

Findley Labrador said...

Great report...A+! Now I want to see the movie again...

InterstellarLass said...

Oooh yeah! Put that kid in a uniform and you'll be swatting the girls away!