Sunday, April 22, 2012

100 years later… arriving in New York

I never would have thought 19 days ago when we left New York City we would have the experience we have had.  We left with excitement of participating in the chance of a lifetime to pay our respects at the memorial service at the exact spot and time where the Titanic sank 100 years ago.  For those of you who have been following my blogs you know it has been an adventure and many moments of reflection and sadness.  I somewhat knew that would happen. I was also Chasing Molly to see if I could capture what she might have felt or experienced during this journey.  After the memorial service I had reached a level of sadness but I reached another perspective after arriving in New York after the journey.   

After picking up the survivors on Monday morning, the Carpathia took three and a half days to reach New York.  It steamed into the harbor on the evening Thursday April 18.  We were on the same route coming into New York Harbor as the Carpathia.   The morning was foggy and cold and again another solemn moment as we caught our first glance of the Statue of Liberty.  I felt very sad to think how this moment looked through the eyes of the immigrants on board the Carparthia.  Just a few days prior their thoughts would have been entirely different.   Perhaps they had happy thoughts about a new life in America.   Even though they were survivors, many had huge personal loses and their new beginnings were still unknown.  In most cases their future would never be the same.

All this time during this tragedy in the back of Margaret’s mind was her thoughts about her grandson’s health but she still moved forward to aid the survivors all the way to the arrival to New York.  She continued her support post arrival by making sure everyone was accounted for and had been provided shelter.  When she arrived she was blessed to hear that her grandson was fine and had only had an allergic reaction to milk.  She stayed for a period of time in New York assisting survivors until her return to Denver.  She would have left from Grand Central Station for that long train ride back to Denver, Colorado. 

Margaret returned home as Denver’s Heroine.   Denver celebrated her arrival and hosted a special luncheon for all to attend.  Margaret then returned to New York to present Captain Rostron, captain of the Carpathia, with a loving cup and medals to all the crew in gratitude for rescuing all of the survivors.

We had the opportunity this time in New York to experience the impression left by Titanic. New York was the destination of the maiden voyage.  Many living in New York were waiting for family and friends to arrive on this maiden voyage. The news of the Titanic sinking had been sent from ship to ship by wireless, but the first reports contained little accurate information.  It wasn’t until 6:20 pm on April 15th that the White Star offices learned the truth in a telegram from the Olympic.  The first public list of survivors posted was handwritten on a large board outside the offices of the New York Times early on April 16th.

We had the opportunity to visit the original White Star pier 58 where Carpathia dropped the Titanic lifeboats (now a golf driving range). They were lowered into the harbor and each rowed to the pier by two Titanic crew members. It was the last job they would do as members of the Titanic’s crew.  Then we viewed pier 54, the Cunnard dock, where the Carpathia finally docked, and the survivors finally reached land.

At 8:00pm, 30,000 people crowded around Cunard’s Pier 54 while another 10,000 filled the streets leading up to the docks.  Some of the people waiting at the pier did not know that their loved ones died.  For every joyous reunion there was one that would never take place.  The immigrants were not required to go through Ellis Island which was the normal process for entering America.  They were considered survivors and not required to go through that immigration process.

Pier 54 - Where Carpathia Docked
Original Cunnard-White Star arch at Pier 54

New York had many connections to those who perished and also survived.  During this stay in NY, we toured Manhattan to observe several of these memorials.

Isadore and Ida Straus
Isadore and Ida Straus were the owners of Macys. Isadore was one of the three brothers who made Macy's one of America's leading department stores. In addition, each of the brothers carved out a career in distinguished public service.  Isadore and Ida led very philanthropic lives by helping others in need.   They had been traveling in France before boarding Titanic to return home.  At the time to get in the lifeboats, Ida made the decision to stay with her husband.  She said she had been married for 40 years to Isadore and could not see living her life without him.  She gave her fur coat to her maid and made sure she got a spot on Lifeboat #8.  Both perished with the sinking of the Titanic and the maid survived.

The Molly Brown House Museum currently has on display in their Titanic Exhibit the original sheet music for “The Titanic’s Disaster” composed to commemorate Isadore and Ida Straus.

The memorial is a triangular park next to where the Straus’s had lived in the middle of Manhattan.  It has a beautiful reclining statue and inscription with a fountain.

William T. Stead
William T. Stead was traveling on the Titanic on his way to a peace conference on April 20th at Carnegie Hall to speak in front of President Taft.    He was a very well-known newspaper editor in London.  He was known as a “moral crusader”, advocate for women’s rights, human rights, and spiritualism.   Somewhat ironically, he had written two stories about ships that sank in the Atlantic.  He wrote in 1886 “How the Mail Steamer Went Down in the Mid-Atlantic, by a Survivor” in which a mail steamer collides with another ship - loss of life was due to lack of lifeboats.  He wrote at the end of that story “This is exactly what might take place and will take place if liners are sent to sea short of boats”.  In 1892, he wrote “From the Old World to the New” in which a cruise liner hits an iceberg and sinks in the Atlantic.   Both stories feature E. J. Smith as the Captain.  That is the same name as the actual captain of the Titanic.  When he heard the Titanic was going to sink, he went to the first class smoking room to read.  This is where he was last seen.  His body was not recovered.   It was rumored (but not confirmed) that he was going to receive a Noble Prize later that same year.

Titanic Lighthouse

On April 15, 1913, one year after the sinking of the Titanic, the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse and Time Ball, mounted atop the Seamen's Church Institute, were dedicated to honor the passengers, officers, and crew who perished in the sinking.

The Titanic Memorial Lighthouse exhibited a fixed green light that could be seen throughout New York Harbor and down as far as Sandy Hook. Five minutes before noon each day, a time ball would be hoisted to the top of a steel rod mounted atop the lighthouse and dropped at the stroke of twelve as indicated over the wires from Washington, D.C.
Today the Lighthouse sits at the entrance of the Seaman’s Museum at the Seaport center on the East River – the original docks during the sailing ship age.

New York City never had the chance to celebrate the Ship of Dreams like Southampton, Liverpool, Belfast and Cobh.  They did have one thing in common.  They were all stricken with the grief of the disaster and the challenge going forward to support the families and friends of the perished and survivors. 

Now, our TMC journey has ended.  It was something I will never experience again.  It was an emotional roller coaster along the way.  I will be collecting my thoughts over the next few days and enter my last blog on Chasing Molly My TMC Journey.   I will have digested this experience and be able to share with you what I have captured emotionally, the feedback from fellow passengers, and answer the question “Does the fascination still live on?”

1 comment:

  1. Dear Janet,
    Thanks for these thoughts and photos from the last stop of the trip, arriving at the final destination of the Titanic and the memorials that were raised in honor of those who sadly were not able to reach the Statue of Liberty and all that she represents. Getting onto dry land again, saying goodbye to your ship and fellow travelers, must have been arresting, like waking up from a bad dream. At these times we look to find the good in the world and what we can be thankful for. The memorials are very sweet tributes to those who were lost, yet they live on in our lives today, their spirits alive for us. You must feel tired, I would guess and happy to be back on solid soil, thankful to have made the trip safely and to have participated in a mission trip to find Molly's spirit. Bravo, well done.
    Nancy in Denver