Titanic, Yesterday and Today

 

At noon on Wednesday, April 10, 1912, The RMS Titanic began its maiden voyage to New York from Southampton, England. She would never reach her destination. Instead, she sank in the North Atlantic on April 15 after striking an iceberg. Approximately 1,496 people are believed to have died.

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Today, on the 107th anniversary of Titanic’s departure from Southampton, interest in the ship and her passengers and crew remains at an all-time high. Millions have visited Titanic artifact museums, read one or more of the hundreds of related books and articles, or viewed the many movies and documentaries. If you or someone you know has attended a Titanic conference, dinner, or similar event, chances are good it took place during the second or third week of April.

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Two of the largest Titanic-related projects have been under construction for some time. In China’s Sichuan province, a full-size replica of the Titanic was begun in 2014. It will be permanently docked on the banks of the Qijang River. The builders claim it will function as a tourist attraction and hotel, with many features of the original ship, including the dining rooms, staterooms, and Grand Staircase.

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Another long-awaited endeavor is Titanic II, a remake of the RMS Titanic, set to sail around the world, beginning with a voyage from Dubai, then Southampton to New York, which the first Titanic failed to complete. Financial setbacks have stalled construction, leading many to wonder if it will ever happen. However, millionaire developer Clive Palmer claims that the ship’s targeted launch date is now set for 2022. Titanic II will resemble the original as much as possible, but with modern technology, safety features, and more than enough lifeboats to accommodate all those on board.

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An expedition to Titanic’s resting place, roughly two miles below the surface of the Atlantic, is set to take place this year. At $105,129 per person, the sold-out, eight day trip from Oceangate Expeditions will depart from Newfoundland. Once near the site, passengers will board a submersible vessel that will take them down to what remains of the ship. They will collect scientific data and study the ongoing decay of the wreckage.

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Photo credits: Wikipedia.org, TitanicUniverse.com, Dailymail.co.uk, Placesyoullsee.com, Oceangate.com.

Two Victims, Years Later - Titanic Honeymoons Part IV

Clara Rogers, the daughter of well-to-do Jewish-German immigrants, found herself in an unhappy marriage and filed for divorce, despite the views of polite society in 1906. She didn’t expect to marry again, and devoted herself to raising her daughter, Nathalie. Henry Frauenthal, also raised by Jewish-German immigrants, was a brilliant orthopedic surgeon and co-founder of New York’s Hospital for Deformative and Joint Diseases. He treated patients of all races, ages and financial standings, unlike some of his medical colleagues at the time, and became famous for his new treatments for children with polio. At the height of his career, he had neither the time nor the interest in finding a wife.

Clara and Henry met through her brother, who was active in raising funds for charitable organizations. They became friends and gradually fell in love, although neither ever expected such a thing to happen to them. With the scandal of John Jacob Astor and his young bride filling the papers, Clara and Henry decided to bypass any possible negative press and get married in Europe. Henry’s brother came along as best man, and they were married in Nice, France. Following a short honeymoon, Henry booked their first class tickets home on Titanic.

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Clara and Henry Frauenthal

Henry’s skills as a physician were well-known on the ship. When a passenger tripped and fell down the Grand Staircase and broke a bone in her elbow, she refused the care of the ship’s doctor and insisted that Dr. Frauenthal attend to her. He supervised as her arm was set in a cast.

Isaac Frauenthal, Henry’s brother, told the couple about a nightmare he’d had two nights in a row onboard the ship. He recalled the vivid dream of the ship slowly sinking and the cries from terrified passengers. Then on the night of April 14, Isaac heard “a long, drawn-out rubbing noise.” He went up to A Deck and investigated until he overheard Captain Edward Smith telling John Jacob Astor they would be loading the lifeboats. Isaac hurried to wake Henry and Clara.

On the boat deck, Clara was led by Fifth Officer Harold Lowe to Lifeboat 5 and helped to board. Not wanting to leave her husband, she tried to get out but couldn’t get past those who were being lifted or helped aboard. With seats still available and Officer Lowe about to lower the boat, Henry and Isaac were allowed to board at the last minute. After the ship sank, the officer in charge of Lifeboat 5 tried to go back to pick up survivors in the water, but others in the boat feared they could all die in a rescue attempt. Henry stayed silent, knowing it would probably be too late to save anyone. He listened to the moans and cries of those in the water until they gradually subsided.

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Titanic passengers disembarking Carpathia in New York City

When the Carpathia docked in New York on April 18, the Frauenthals were the first passengers to disembark. With no counseling available to the survivors or knowledge of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, everyone fended for themselves. Henry returned to work at the hospital the next day and tried to forget the horrible shock of what he and his new bride had just endured. Like other male survivors, he and his brother faced criticism for having boarded a lifeboat when so many others perished. Some of the press coverage had an anti-Semitic tone, which could have added to Henry's growing depression.

Clara and Henry avoided talking about Titanic. But Clara’s mental health was in jeopardy and Henry became increasingly depressed. In 1927, tormented by memories of the sinking and by his wife’s worsening condition, Henry jumped from the seventh floor of the hospital he founded. His funeral was attended by well over 1000 people, including many former patients. Clara was committed to a sanitarium, where she lived until her death in 1943.

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New York Hospital for Joint Diseases today

A Changed Man - Titanic Honeymoon Part III

Albert Dick wasn’t ready to settle down. By age 30, he and his brother had opened a string of businesses in Alberta, Canada, and Albert used his spare time to pursue his interests in poker and beautiful women.

Then he met a stunningly attractive 16-year-old, named Vera Gillespie. Vera had all the right family connections, and Albert viewed her as a potential business asset. They were married in May 1911 in Calgary, but postponed their European honeymoon until the end of the year. For their return trip, Albert booked two first class tickets on the great Titanic. They boarded with several cases of new furniture, purchased in London for their new home in Calgary.

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Albert Dick

Vera Dick

Vera Dick

At their first dinner on board, a handsome 20-year-old steward from Southampton named Reginald Jones attended their table. Vera struck up a conversation with him about the ship and the food. Annoyed, Albert told Vera she was not to fraternize with the wait staff and accused her of flirting. But Vera continued to speak with Reginald during the meal and whenever she encountered him during the voyage.

On Sunday, April 14, Albert and Vera were invited to dine with Thomas Andrews, Titanic’s main designer. Following dinner, they took a short walk on deck but soon went to their cabin, due to the cold air. The temperature had dropped that evening from 55 to 34 degrees, an indication the ship was entering an ice field.

The couple retired to bed but argued about Vera’s flirting and Albert’s gambling. A noise “like a thunderclap” interrupted them. They were still wondering what could have caused it when someone knocked on their door. It was Reginald Jones. He urged them to dress warmly, bring their lifebelts, and report to the boat deck. He told Albert they may need to board the lifeboats as a precaution.

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Passengers strolling near lifeboats on board Titanic

They ran into Thomas Andrews, who led them immediately to Lifeboat 3. Reginald Jones was once again at their service, and helped a frantic Vera aboard. He told her, "Put your life jacket on, Ma'am. It's the latest thing this season." When no other women would board the lifeboat, Albert was allowed on along with other men, including ten firemen. Still only half full, Lifeboat 3 was lowered to the ocean’s surface. Albert and Vera would never forget all the horror that followed as Titanic sank and hundreds of voices moaned for help in the frigid north Atlantic.

Aboard the rescue ship Carpathia, Vera inquired about the friends they’d made on the ship, including Reginald Jones and Thomas Andrews. She was shocked to learn they had both perished. She claimed she and her husband would not have survived if it hadn’t been for their acquaintance with the steward and his kind actions.

Albert and Vera soon returned home to Calgary. Vera studied singing, and had some success in Calgary. Albert, like other men who survived the sinking, was hounded by reporters for years, who questioned his actions on securing a seat in a lifeboat. Patronage declined at one of his businesses, the Hotel Alexandria, so he sold it. In a magazine interview, he stated, “Previously I thought of nothing but money. The Titanic cured me of that. Since then I have been happier than I ever was before.”

The Dick’s had one daughter, Gilda, and one grandson, who is still living. Albert died in 1970, and Vera in 1973.

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Plaque commemorating the Albert Dick business block in Calgary

Photo credits: Alan Hustak

Thoughts for the Season

During the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, we're going to take a break from the Titanic posts. Instead, each week I'd like to share a word about Christmas from one of my favorite authors. None of the posts will take more than a minute to read, but hopefully the words of one or two will touch your heart and remain there.

May you each have a blessed and joyous Christmas.

Peggy

ChristmasMom